More news trickles in.
He was on the windward leg of the course in 30 knts apparent (or more) when Wabbit was knocked down by a gust and apparently began taking on water through a open companion way. His crew (from what I hear) was unable to recover the boat and offer assistance.
Other boats lost rigs and were knocked down by the same squall.
Ralph managed to get to a life ring thrown to him by another boat, but apparently was unable to hold on to it and slipped under, then floated face down for a few minutes before that boat (C&C 39, Beagle) was able to recover him aboard.
By that time he had no pulse, was in cardiac arrest and was cyanosed. A MD was the skipper of the recovering boat, so he could not have been in better hands. CPR was provided for 30 minutes while getting him to the nearest dock where EMT's took over.
He was originally listed as in critical condition, then slipped away during the night.
Having sailed with him on Wednesday's as crew I can assure you he was experienced and safety minded as a skipper. It is unsure if the COD was drowning or cardiac arrest. Ralph was contemplating retiring to Florida this fall.
I appreciate the condolences and ask all of you to consider wearing PFD's when conditions are less than perfect. Mary (MMR) and I have already purchased and equipped our boat with auto inflatables just last month to encourage us to wear them more often. Man overboard drills are a necessary part of spring commissioning, but bear in mind the boat you fall from may not be able to affect a quick recovery - ask your self how long you can tread water when it's 50 degrees and choppy as stink out.
In my celebration of his life and passion for sailing there will be caution and reflection on possible lessons learned. I will no longer boast that my boat is safe and secure enough that I have no need for PFD's.