Last Man Standing
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Re: Sailboat perishes off Hatteras, USCG rescues crew
I would like to publish the letter from the captain of the SP Cruiser that was abandoned. This was on the IP Owners forum:
Many of you are aware of the SP Cruiser that was abandoned by the delivery crew off of Cape Lookout, NC earlier this month. Dramatic FLIR video from the USCG helicopter that pulled the crew to safety is now on YouTube, among other places. One of the crew members called me yesterday to tell me of the events leading to their abandonment. The call was because he felt he needed to thank the people that built the yacht that took care of them through the storm with 55+ knot winds and 30+ foot seas. I asked for a brief written report that I could share with our owners. His email is below:
Dear Bill :
I want to recap briefly the events that lead to us abandoning the Island Packet SP Cruiser off the coast of North Carolina on March 7, 2013. This is a major endorsement for your boat and I was very thankful to be on an Island Packet during that storm.
First, it was the hope of the delivery crew that we would be able to get south of the predicted storm before it pushed offshore. Unfortunately, the storm didn’t watch TV and know it was projected to follow a more northwesterly path. It caught us with winds over Force 8 and seas in the 30 foot plus range approximately 25 miles off Cape Lookout.
We lost engine power due to a fuel starvation issue (although the generator worked continually). Without power and way on we lost steerage. We were at the mercy of the storm. The yacht was knocked down at least once under bare poles and the windows in the cabin house were remarkably leak free even under when submerged under a foot of water. I fell from the high (starboard) side seat across the boat landing on the windows during a knockdown and was surprised the windows took my roughly 300 pounds of weight.
The USCG report of the yacht “taking on water” was an exaggeration. To me, “taking on water” means more water is coming aboard than can be pumped out. We were taking about ˝ gallon of water aboard every time a 30 foot sea would break over the boat, some of it through the bell ringer tube! I suspect that the yacht is still intact and afloat out there somewhere.
I would recommend a better defroster system be installed on the SP Cruiser, as we had to contend with constantly fogging up windows in the conditions we encountered. More handholds everywhere (there never seem to be enough) and please check the security/durability of your push button latches. We had a lot of loose gear rattling around after the cabinets below opened up during the knockdown and severe rolling.
Thanks, again, for a terrific yacht!
Of further interest, one of the USCG rescue crew (who also happens to be a sailor and ocean racer with trans-Pacific experience) passed along his assessment that the vessel was not taking on water and that the rescue was more likely driven by crew exhaustion after the engine failure. All of this is a real world endorsement of the seakeeping ability of the SP Cruiser!
All the best,
Good write up. The red line for rescue always seems to be "We're taking on water."
It's interesting that he says the USCG report is exaggerating this. My hunch is that the skipper/crew on the boat made this statement in the discussion with the CG - as it is that clear red line for rescue.
That's what I respect most about the CG. They won't argue with you, they'll just rescue you.
But if anyone is going to exaggerate, it will likely be the skipper on that boat in tough conditions. We've seen that a lot.
S/V Dawn Treader - 1989 Hunter Legend 40