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post #227 of Old 12-03-2010
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Originally Posted by svsirius View Post
I have not jumped in to this one before now.. but to all of those who are defending that we don't know enough to form some conclusions.. listen to Bill Trayfors, S/V Auspicious etc. There is no reason to attempt what they did, Even if someone was having real medical difficulties you first get on the radio to local authorities to determine the best cause of action. Trust me there were other alternatives some of which were outlined earlier.


There is no excuse, second guessing .. that was simply a failure of the captain which allowed that to occur. It is especially true of cuts between islands with an lee shore and current conditions which is very well documented to occur in the Bahamas.

Hello Jon,

C’mon, man – such old-fashioned “rules” went out the window with the advent of Loran, and then GPS… (grin)

I’ve followed this thread with interest, lots of good perspectives offered here. However, I’m planted firmly in the camp with those who’ve asserted that this tragedy was entirely avoidable – no matter what cascading series of circumstance occurred, everything stems from the unfathomably poor decision made that night to enter that cut…

Perhaps the greatest danger to any sailor – no matter how experienced – is the lack of a healthy respect for “knowing what you do not know”… First and foremost, such an awareness should always inform the thinking of anyone whenever they venture off in a small boat, knowing the limitations of your skill and/or experience is perhaps the greatest responsibility of any skipper… It’s painfully apparent to me the master of RULE 62 had precious little experience running inlets of the sort found between Montauk and Canaveral, much less a Bahamian cut – otherwise, he simply would have KNOWN, beyond any doubt, that to attempt the North Bar Channel in such conditions was virtually suicidal…

More than anything else, what strikes me about this incident is that it a classic example of a “GPS-enabled” mishap… Quite simply, had the GPS aboard RULE 62 been disabled or inoperative that night, there is no way in hell the skipper would have been sufficiently emboldened to attempt that entry, treating it like the virtual equivalent of a video game… “Just keep the cursor in between those rocky things on the screen, and we’ll be in smooth water before we know it, and drop our hook right on top of that little “anchor” symbol indicated behind Lynyard Cay…”

Monty and Sarah Lewis were one of the best things that ever happened to Bahamian Kroozing. Unfortunately, the precision of their Explorer Charts is also one of the worst things that’s ever happened out there… I’ve witnessed this trend for years, yet it still boggles the mind - he amount of false confidence that many cruisers are displaying these days in the accuracy of electronic positioning and charting is frightening to a degree I’m still hard pressed to express…

For example, the professional pilots of Spanish Wells who guide cruisers through the Devil's Backbone passage to Harbour Island will not make that trip during a rage condition... Those guys who've been doing that trip for 60+ years, could probably do it blindfolded, but they will simply NOT attempt it in a rage... And yet, cruisers armed with a set of Explorer Charts waypoints, and their trusty plotters, will do so - especially when their schedule dictates it... WTF is wrong with that picture? Yeah, I know, even the Bumfuzzles "proved" that the Devil's Backbone could be transited in a rage and poor light, right? Last winter, I spent a few days at Samana Cay, which features one of the most challenging and dangerous reef passages in all of the Bahamas... Extremely tight, difficult to read in even the best light, you're in one of the most remote areas to be found down there - put a boat on that reef, or suffer a grounding that might damage a rudder or pop a couple of keel bolts, you could be well and truly screwed in that place... And yet, I awoke one morning to find a Nordhavn trawler that had come in during the night, through a break in the Columbus reef perhaps 3-4 times the beam of their vessel in width, relying on a chartplotter alone... UFB, some of these people are freakin’ insane, the risks they're willing to undertake simply to avoid spending a few more hours outside...

I saw it to an even greater degree a couple of years ago in Belize. The charting there is not nearly as accurate nor complete as it has become in the Bahamas, so cruisers are relying to a considerable extent on lists of waypoints that get passed around like so many trading cards. One morning, I heard a net controller on the NW Caribbean Cruiser's Net provide some waypoints for Ranguana Pass to a boat that was coming over from Roatan, and wouldn't be arriving until after dark... Unbelievable - these waypoints should be considered the navigational equivalent of an STD, who knows where they originated, or where they've been? We all know how easily a couple of digits might have been transposed in copying somewhere along the line, such a mistake could easily spell the difference between deep water, and the reef... What's so hard about slowing down/standing off for the night, then making your approach with the sun behind you in the morning? The unwillingness on the part of some to tolerate even the slightest discomfort in the name of safety/proper seamanship, it's amazing...

As long as I’m on an electronic chartplotting rant, one more point… Not only in giving a false confidence regarding the accuracy of waypoints in the cut, etc, but also in making it more difficult to see the Big Picture in strategic terms... This is just my hunch, of course, but I'd venture that the master of RULE 62 was likely relying solely on electronic/computer navigation on his approach to the Bahamas... IMHO, there is no substitute for a large paper chart spread out in front of you for assessing your options, this in one area in which electronic charting is very weak for planning purposes, it's extremely difficult to grasp the bigger picture... The need for endless zooming/panning on a computer or plotter screen to obtain the same information that can be gleaned at a glance from a paper chart can really cloud the decision-making process, especially when you're being forced to consider an alternative plan, and then factor exhaustion into the equation... The greatest mystery to be about this whole deal, is why it wasn’t so apparent to him how much safer the option to continue sailing just a bit further south to places like Sandy Point or Spanish Wells would have been, and I've got to believe such options might have been so much clearer to him had he had the proper scale paper chart spread out before him, and the luxury of studying it repeatedly at his leisure once the decision had been made to divert to the Bahamas...

Anyway, that’s probably enough for one night, and my first post here, eh? (grin)

Best regards,

JonEisberg is offline  
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