The captain cannot singlehandedly fund the entire maintenance of the ship - he is just an employee, and the financial support of the foundation is needed for maintenance and repairs. Yet if everything must be working perfectly with fully redundant backups for everything, no ship would ever sail. So a calculated decision must be made every time the ship ventures out. The captain does not make those calculated decisions in a vacuum - the safety culture of the overall organization always plays a role in those choices.
This is the kind of stuff that the USCG will probe, and I would be very surprised if the USCG investigation does not reveal other systemic factors that contributed to the root cause, and will thus assign some responsibility to others.
Even it the Bounty was a brand new ship in perfect condition it would be always a wrong decision to rake a XVIII years old designed wooden tall ship with auxiliary engines with an hurricane coming and even a worse one sailing in its direction than on the opposite direction.
Regarding the condition of the ship it is a Captain's duty to know the condition of the ship and regarding that condition decide in what conditions the ship would be safely sailed.
In my opinion the Bounty was a fair weather boat, not in a sense that it was not an offshore boat, but in a sense that, like most sailboats, should not be sailed in high latitudes and really bad weather.
Obviously the Captain thought that the Bounty, in the present condition, was a ship able to sail in an hurricane and that's why he chose to sail a hurricane. This is confirmed by what was said by the Captain about the ship: "The Bounty has no boundaries".
This is a ridiculous statement as it was ridiculously dangerous to take that ship to an Hurricane. That was my first conviction but I would not have come forward with this opinion if I didn't see it confirmed by the nautical community, I mean, the professional one.
Going over a natural corporatism defense I had heard several tall ships captains saying he had done very wrong in sailing the boat to an hurricane and dozens of professional sailors practically saying the Captain was crazy and utterly irresponsible. I have not heard a single Captain or professional sailor saying that the captain had done the right thing.
The only one that I saw defending the captain was the owner of the boat, Bounty people and some in this thread, saying that he had done the right thing because it was better in an Hurricane to sail the boat out to sea than staying on the port. Regarding that case the opinion of professional sailor is this one, that seems evident to me, even if I am a newbie compared to them:
It is not because you sail on a 1784 tallship replica that you have to replicate the way they sail in those days and ignore tecnology. Category 2 hurricane Sandy was very well forecasted by the NHC and could not be ignored.
"a ship is safer at sea than in port."
It was not really a matter of laying in port or not. Bounty had amply time to leave and keep Sandy relative position in respect. It was more a question as to which direction to steam after the decision to leave the harbour was taken. At barely six knots ... the only courses that could be recommend are the ones heading to the east and then to the north.
Since Sandy altered its course toward the land instead of out to sea, if Bounty would have kept its original course ... more to the east than to the south ... instead of crossing the hurricane ahead of her path and hoping to fly along a north-eastern gust and against the Gulf Stream, she would have succeeded in her passage.
I have made some plane sailing calculations ...
On Thursday the 25th, Sandy was at more than a 1,000nm away from the Bounty
On Friday the 26th, Sandy was 800nm away
On Saturday the 27th, Sandy was 600nm away
On Sunday the 28th, Sandy was 200nm away
On Monday the 29th, Sandy was 100nm away on a north by east bearing
From the 26th to the 27th, Sandy runned 60nm a day
From the 27th to the 28th, Sandy runned 260nm a day
From the 28th to the 29th, Sandy runned 250nm a day
When Sandy caught the Gulf Stream, she was accelerating its dangerous roar very rapidly to the north ...
The whole vessel at sea is safer then at port thing just comes off as pure dumb fuckery to me. With insurance now a days who should care what happens to a vessel while at the dock? Tie the ****** up and head for the hills. Two people would be alive right now if they used common sense.
Saying "well the U.S. Navy does it" is just another sign of these peoples ignorance. They are in steel hull boats several hundred feet long so yes they can do a lot more damage to the docks and themselves with high water and winds, but they have the sense also to go the complete opposite ******* way of the storm. ...
There is a real purpose and some reasoning to that, but to send people out to potentially save what essentially amounts to a rich mans toy is criminal. How these people in their wooden and plastic toys think they are in the same league as a 500 hundred foot ship is beyond me.
Hell all of us are on vessels that could weather anything worse then these amateur sailors could ever imagine and none of us would have even thought of attempting some of the **** I have seen done by those idiots.
But I've never gotten the fascination the hard core amateur crowd has for saving their toys by putting their lives in danger to do it....
They are sticking like limpets to the idea that the safest place to be in a storm is at sea ... they embrace that dangerous myth and defend their own ignorance based on their short time riding a navy ship before becoming accomplished yachtsmen. I never thought I would ask for the CG to get involved in recreation but the TSC and the toy boat crowd really do need a kick in the ass to move them toward some kind of reality. Bring on the CG dogs and the ambulance chasing lawyers ...
As sorry as I am that Capt Walbridge lost his life on board the Bounty, as a fellow mariner, it doesn't deviate from the fact that seriously bad decisions were made for the Bounty to leave port in the first place when she should have stayed tied up alongside.
No amount of convincing can show me otherwise. However, that dirty deed was done and it just shows how many balls he had had to stand up against his company and refuse the sailing order, if he indeed had to, given that he may well be the one to suggest sailing in the first place and his boss tagged along with his so called professional decision.
Irrespective, I see this as a 'rape of nautical intelligence' and one that has sent the marine community in the US on its head and hopefully a review of its regulations governing Tall Ships and bring them in line with the rest of the marine community.
Clearly there has to be a careful look at how these TS are audited and Classed. For them to sail outside of Near Coastal voyages without all the safety infrastructure that is beneficial to them and what is mandated on other vessels is a sin. ...
If you watch the video interview with the Bounty Captain, and I use that term very loosely, whilst at Belfast, it only clearly shows his level of Nautical competence and professionalism when he comments on the sea conditions and his intentions to get close to the 'eye' of the storm as he tries to ******** his way into the history books. Well he certainly did that without any help from anyone else.
Robin Walbridge is No Master Mariner, he might have the license, but not the skills. He might have the respect from his own crew, but not the professional marine living desire to respect the sea for what it is. And the sea has taken what was not respected.
gCaptain - Maritime & Offshore News
Dave asked why I keep posting on this thread. Well, in fact it seems to me that there is still some lack of good sense among some that keep posting. I believe that a forum like sailnet should have also an educational character. Many here, including me, want to learn and use this forum for that.
Look at what I have posted as a small contribute and take into consideration that I am not posting mainly my personal opinion but mostly the opinions of professional sailors that based what I think about this unfortunate tragic accident. I strongly believe they know a lot more than us.