Given the number of cruisers making passages every year it's amazing how seldom I hear of losses like this. My feeling is that most ocean sailors and their boats are pretty well prepared before setting out on a crossing. Any thoughts from others who hang with the long distance crowd?
They last pulled in with a "broken boom" nailed together with two 2x4's. This suggests a wooden boom. For a wooden boom to break at sea is to me, unheard of. It suggests to me the boom was rotted (and severely rotted) and, if that's the case, this boat was in serious condition (as in "sink at the dock" condition). Crossing the Pacific in October in a boat that failed survey is an invitation to trouble.
Last thought....I hope that both partners were equally 'eyes open' on the risks they were taking....then it is their adventure and their lives to live, however tragic the outcome. Not sure that is typically the case where you might have a strong willed overly eager skipper.
I suppose they had to go in eyes "wide open" on a boat that failed survey. But why survey a boat that you're going to buy anyway even if it fails? It's the sign of a "strong willed overly eager" buyer
. They liked the price and got what they paid for.