IIRC, the theory that had the most backing was that one of them had fallen overboard, and the others fell overboard attempting to retrieve the MOB.
I haven't gone back and read those articles, but I vaguely remember speculation that they had all gone for a swim while becalmed, and the boat sailed away from them??
It can happen. I once read an account by folks whom this had nearly happened to, mid-ocean. Fortunately, one especially strong swimmer, and a brief lull, got them back aboard.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.