I also hope they learned from this close call. But I don't blame them. You can't expect novices (including myself) to "know what they don't know." They're at the mercy of their mentors. It's the responsibility of the captain and other certified crew to guide them appropriately, and in this case they were failed by their ship's leaders. It seems like many of them were merely apprentices, but the boat was staffed in a way that expected them to perform as if they were fully qualified. The responsibility for that deficiency rests with the captain, for he is the one with experience and training to recognize the appropriate balance of experienced crew and apprentices. It was also the responsibility of the Foundation to provide him with adequate funding to hire people with the right level of qualifications, so IMO the Foundation shares blame with him. And if they lacked that funding, they should should have stayed in one place as the "dockside attraction" stated in their certification.
That being said, I am concerned about how some are using their 20-20 hindsight to point blame. Case in point: All those who point fingers because the hurricane was so "very accurately forecast" (to quote Jan Miles' letter). That's a sure sign of hindsight, since you don't know the forecast was accurate until after the fact. I'm not saying that Walbridge should have ignored the forecast. It was clearly arrogant of him to think he knew better than the forecasters with his apparent belief (based on the track that he steered) that the hurricane would continue out to sea on a northwest path.
I am appalled at Jan Miles' self-serving letter. Aside from feeding our never-ending curiosity and letting off some of his own inner rage, what good comes from an open letter to a dead man?
What I want to know is where were all these experts as Bounty was preparing to head out to sea? A place like New London must have had dozens of knowledgeable captains and crew roaming the docks to prepare their craft for the approaching hurricane. They should have been telling Walbridge that he's out of his mind to go out. They should have been doing everything they could to convince Bounty's novice crew to mutiny. A ship that large can't just sneak out of the harbor unseen. They should have hopped into dinghys and followed Bounty though the harbor, yelling through megaphones what a big mistake they were making.
Tall ship captains are a small community that apparently "talks" (voice, text, and digital) among themselves a lot. If any one of them heard about Walbridge's plan ahead of time and didn't forcefully try to convince him otherwise, then they have blood on their hands too.
What also bugs me is the apparent disconnect between Walbridge's arrogance that we hear about now, vs. the reports that he had a "great reputation" before this accident. Which is it? If this tragedy was foretold by his prior history of chasing hurricanes and getting away with it (including a prior USCG rescue when his bilge pumps failed previously), why weren't his "friends" in the tall ship community expressing their concerns to him about his reckless past history? If everyone knew the new planks were nailed onto a rotted frame, why weren't his "friends" ratting out this dangerous vessel? If the tall ship community knew that this "shoreside attraction" was skirting the rules by disguising unqualified passengers as qualified crew, why weren't they protecting their colleagues by reporting them to the authorities?
It seems now like everyone in that community is piling on with their hindsight about how reckless the captain was. Too bad they didn't do a little more piling on before two people lost their lives.
All things aside as far as the Captain which most of us have determined bears the brunt of this looking at some of the tangential issues like these two. The first is a personal observation, and the second may have bearing on the actual cause of the excessive leaking in the vessel.
I must say I have to agree with you about Captain Jan Miles statement He reminded me of the man who always said greeted you at a party called you his friend, and then when you werent around talked about you in negative terms. If he knew of the deficiecies aboard the Bounty but he turned a blind eye to them, and then complains about them, my question is where were you?. If he knew the "dockside atraction" was unseaworthy" but failed to noitify even others in the TS community, what kind of organization does he belong too. Maybe it was jealousy on his part as the Bounty was clearly the main atttraction at the gatherings and had to play second fiddle to a Captain who when finally dead he could unload on. he surley wasnt his friend. I lost respect for this man and would never sail on any of his boats. He is the ultimate Monday morning quarterback, with an art of turning the spotlighht on himself to issue is letter to the dead Captain. It was a major grandstand stunt.
I am still sorting through the testimony and have great issue with the Boothbay Shipyard taking money from a person and nailing good planks on rotten substructure and pronouncing fit to sail away. The same rotten substructure they had repaired only a few years earlier, At a certain point you cant keep adding omn to a poor steucture, and someone should call a halt or even blow the whistle that its unsafe. Of course that would mean a loss of revenue for Boothbay and that may drive this also. I know their previous reputation from others her was that this place was a fine place. However further research into the Shipyard shows them loosing a civil law case of poor workmanship, repair and materials in the fixing another tall ship during the same time period the Shenendoah. I am still researching, No mention in tesimony of a catastrophic coccurance like someone saw the planking on the hull pull apart or a joint egde come apart will make fixing any responsibility on them next to impossible inless someone broings her up and finds her that way. Harly likely.