This has been bothering me for some time, now. I just don't understand what's going on with all these tall ships and yachts being abandoned or sunk, or like the racers off California last year, with significant loss of life.
For years vessels like the Bounty, the Astrid, the Nina and Concordia sailed the seas avoiding hurricanes, "downdrafts" and rocks, but they all perished in the last few years.
Never before have multiple vessels been abandoned in one season (that I know of) sailing from the East Coast to Bermuda, and it's happened two years in a row! Not racing, which is a whole other ball game, but just cruisers on their way to the Caribbean.
And now Archangel is lost in an area well known and oft traveled by forum members; a seemingly unexplainable loss.
So what is going on? Is the weather changing so drastically that experienced mariners are unable to adjust? Is it just a numbers game; there are many more boats out there doing this, so there are going to be more tragedies? Or is it the crews, the captains and owners?
I continually see professional captains operating charter and private yachts down here in the Caribbean who seem to emulate the most inexperienced bare boater. Of course, we all screw up now and then, but why is it always happening while I'm watching? Honestly though, ask any cruiser and they will all have astoundingly similar tales, of big bucks boats seemingly handled by novices.
Thirty years ago when I was operating the big bucks boats, I saw very few screw ups by professional crews. There was competence and pride in our boat handling (without bow thrusters or even twin screws) that seems to be missing in today's professionals and a serious lack of basic seamanship in many of the cruisers of today.
Or maybe it's just global warming.....
Who knows? Too many helm stations, perhaps? Too many 15" Simrad Glass Bridge displays?
Or, not enough? :-)
If I had to point my finger at any single element, it would be at modern electronics and related systems that has made much of the business of running our boats all too easy... Certainly, all too easy to become complacent, or distracted, or whatever... Here we had a multi-million dollar yacht equipped with the absolute state-of-the-art equipment, theoretically there should have been NFW that boat should have hit the bricks on a short daysail on a perfect afternoon, while under the command of a professional captain... And yet, it did...
It's become all too easy to take this stuff for granted, I've been guilty of that numerous times, myself... Anyway, that's the most likely explanation I can think of...
Having said that, however, I doubt the incident involving ARCHANGEL is necessarily representative of any particular 'trend'... I imagine the captain may have been simply distracted, they were likely just getting underway with a new group of guests... I certainly don't envy the job these charter crews have, a crew of 2 on a 70-footer, the skipper has to be a bit of a one man band... And given how demanding of attention and being 'entertained' some of these charter guests can be today, it's not hard for me to imagine how easily the skipper might have been distracted...