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Old 07-21-2009
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Mel,

Thank you VERY much for sharing that tale. Honestly, I have seen a number of these pop up here, but that was the first one I read from start to finish.

I also agree that we will keep this discussion on topic and nothing inappropriate.

I have long said in these discussions, whether Barnes or others, that the point here is to learn from others mistakes. Just remember as we discuss what WE would have done, that YOU were not there and it is really easy to sit at a computer to decide what you would have done than be in the thick of it and trying to decide.

That being said, my opinion is that his most critical mistake was the shake down cruise. I remember I was on the phone once with Frank Butler about dropping our 380 in Houston and sailing straight across the gulf and he said, "Making that kind of a trip without a super shake-down cruise is a recipe for disaster." Of course, I would not have done that - but the point was that even with a brand new boat that we knew well, a shake down cruise is mandatory. I figure that would have saved Gringo because he would have had issues popping up all over the place. It would have at least given him more time on his boat and how she handled. Even if just one of his issues had been resolved, the odds were that he would have made it to Bermuda. Instead, it was almost a total failure short of sinking.

I will also point out something else we do not talk about much here: Jerry Cans. For those of you that have never tried to pour fuel out in a rolling sea (I have never tried to use Calder's method of blowing it through a tube) or seen the movement of the cans in a rolling or breaking sea, I will tell you that it is a mess. We have done it and I have hauled more diesel than Exxon on my rail, but we are going to great lengths right now to avoid using jerry cans. A fairly inexpensive option (that I will report on when we finish the project) are the fuel bladders. You can get them for water too. Anything you can do to get that fuel/water in a safer environment and below decks is a plus. Not to mention the stability aspect depending on how much fuel you are saving. I have been told that a breaking sea can rip the cans (with lifelines attached) right off the boat. I have never witnessed this - but it certainly seems plausible to me.

I cannot think of a single diesel tank that does not have an inspection port. Dad is in the process right now of checking out his tanks and cleaning them. We have a neighbor on a Panda 38 that did that and totally re-did his tanks. Glancing at the fuel tank periodically is a very simple matter and I am not sure it would take 10 minutes of your time.

As far as Gringo goes... I am of the belief that the poor guy just had a strong dose of bad luck. I firmly believe that a shake-down would have identified many of his problems (not all), but even a shade of good luck or one less failure would have gotten him to Bermuda at least. If he reads this, or you speak to him again Mel, please tell him that we are all sorry for his loss. I cannot imagine the frustrations and dissapointment he is dealing with. Tell him also that it cannot rain every day. A change of fortunes will come and hopefully he will find another boat carry him back to his dream(s).

- CD
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