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i really wonder how often this happens - a crew/person sets off for a wonderful sail offshore, and are never seen again. i've known people who have made that trip; this boat of mine has done it. the takarora II tried, and by all evidence, didn't make it. why?
No EPIRB, no clue, although it's possible the EPIRB malfunctioned if they had one.
I recall seeing one picture and hearing more than one story of supertankers and freighters coming into port with pieces of sailboat debris jammed onto their bow bulbs.
I think what has to be acknowledged is that while you can contest to a point with a storm, you must consider all merchant traffic oblivious until proven otherwise, and even if they see you, if you are too close they will be unable to change the outcome.
This is why watch-keeping remains so important. A seamanlike pair of adults on passage would normally only see each other at watch change (unless they happened to be awake at the same time), because there is never a time that someone shouldn't be on watch. This doesn't mean lashing oneself to the wheel, but it does involve an awareness of height of eye, visual distance to the horizon, the time in which a ship could close with yours assuming it appeared the moment you put down the binoculars, and so forth. Add "night", "shipping lanes", "rain" and "fog" to the mix to determine your personal level of vigilence. I keep a log on the Great Lakes, even for my stupid little day sails, but that is a conscious preparation for what is to come. Not many people keep to this practice, but the few that do tend to exhibit the whole package of "keeping an eye out for trouble". More than one boat around here has been
The various bits of cool technology (radar reflectors, VHF dual watch, AIS, radar) should always be considered mere extensions to the senses, because they can fail, and, unlike humans, don't have a vested interest in avoiding being killed.
But it is also possible that the boat is fine, and will be found empty or with bodies aboard. Foul play might have occurred, or they might have been poisoned by something they ate, overcome with CO poisoning or some other nasty but explicable fate. "Captain's privilege", anyone? Not lashed on? No PFDs on deck?
A container strike or a whale strike could have taken them down in seconds, and would be hard to avoid even with fastidious watch keeping. Again, normally an EPIRB would have been activated, but that wouldn't have helped had they been at the mid-point, beyond the reach of most SAR resources.
All these things taken into account, and I still believe that the miles travelled by recreational boaters are safer per capita than the miles travelled by car drivers, and we don't think twice about getting into a car, do we?
Last edited by Valiente; 11-26-2007 at 01:31 PM.