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post #255 of Old 11-03-2012
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Bounty crosses the Rubicon

Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
You guys are really too much. Sitting in your computer chairs making speculations and pronouncements with only the evidence you can find on your computer screens....and then whats worse...making judgements with the limited information you have....

....Slow down here, two people have died......hardly any of the facts are in yet. The ship left on the 25th,THE CG is remarkable. Those are really the only facts which are really undisputed and have been verified. There will be plenty of time to understand and process the facts and I am sure it will be done by real experts on the field and real lawyers rather thean the computer screen lawyers here. Then and only then will we really have the truth about this. Until then tell me....what pleasure do you derive from speculating on this.

Dave, I agree with some of what you've said about arm chairs and computer screens, but I disagree with your conclusion. The computer screens have provided us with more than the departure date and the heroism of the USCG SAR forces. For example, we know for a fact the track of the vessel and we have the weather charts and model runs available to the crew before they left and presumably after they were underway . Apparently, we also know that the captain intended to run down the west side of the storm as it was moving north. And we know the vessel had been launched after a yard period in Maine less than two weeks before the accident -- given that she was a wooden vessel that means it's highly probably she was making water sitting at a dock.

I see no harm in the sailors here who have gone on long offshore/ocean passages and faced departure and routing decisions discussing the evidence, options available to the vessels skipper, and then providing their opinions regarding the Bounty captain's decisions on departure and the track chosen. Such discussions help us all learn from each other's experinece and knowledge.

In that spirit I offer the following. The facts available to us (ship's known track and NWS weather charts / model runs) when combined with knowledge of the Gulf Stream's nature and location suggest that when Bounty left New London her captain made two fateful decisions -- first, to go to sea, and then once at sea the decision to cross the Gulf Stream. Crossing the Stream south of Long Island in moderate easterlies was probably not difficult, but by crossing the stream when he did, with the storm where it was and where it was forecast to go meant that he could not seek safe haven along the east coast until he was well south of the storm. It was at this point that options begin to disappear and the course of the vessel becomes more or less fixed. Why? Because by the time the Bounty was on the other side of the Gulf Stream, the storm was far enough north and he was far enough south that the winds were or were very soon to be out of the north, building in force AND running against the current of the Gulf Stream.

In vicinity of Cape Hatteras the Stream is 80-90 miles wide, the set NNE and it's speed is often 2-3 knots. 40-50 kts of N-ly wind against a 2-3 knot current is a very dangerous combination. An experienced seaman would not think of trying to cross the Gulf Stream in those circumstances. This means that by the time the Bounty was approaching Hatteras from the NE they had no place to go but straight ahead. They were literally squeezed between the storm and the eastern wall of the Gulf Stream into an area where seas were 20-25 ft and winds were approaching 50 knots both out of the north (according to Monday's wind wave charts available via computer screen). If he went further east toward the eye of the storm and thing would get worse. Going further west into the Gulf Stream itself, the wind speed might decrease but the sea state becomes untenable. If you plot the position where Bounty was abandoned on the OPC wind-wave chart for that day it suggests that Bounty may well have already been slightly west of the east wall of the Stream, bucking a northerly current running against 50 plus knot winds.

And the really sad thing is that ALL of this was more or less predictable once the vessel crossed the Gulf Stream headed SW sometime Saturday. The combination of the postion, speed and track of the storm and the position and direction of the Gulf Stream meant only one thing -- Bounty was in for a very rough ride and her skipper and crew had NO way to avoid it. That's not arm chair speculation, nor supposition based on hypotheticals, it's the facts.

Had he not crossed the Gulf Stream other options would have been available to Bounty and her crew, but once the ship crossed it.....well as Caesar said crossing the Rubicon, "The die is cast." At that point all that remained was to learn of the consequences of the decision to cross the Stream....and now we know that as well.
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