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  #1  
Old 06-10-2010
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Couple Die Sailing To San Francisco

Recently, a couple of experienced sailors died during a short sail from Half Moon Bay, CA to San Francisco, on a Ranger 33. I'm guessing that they tried to cut the corner on the approach to the Golden Gate and got rolled by a wave. They apparently were not harnessed to the boat, and were both found on the beach. What really concerns me is the article covering the incident.
Couple die in boating accident off S.F. - SFGate
First, the reporter implied the predicted conditions ("winds up to 25") actually manifested. In fact, the winds were 30-40 plus. When found beached, the boat was fully reefed.
Secondly, the Coast Guard spokesperson reported that the boat was beached in Marin County. In the article's picture, Marin County is the distant shore on the other side of the Golden Gate. Despite the fact that the media photographed the boat clearly beached in San Francisco County (the two shorelines are very different), they reported what the Coast Guard told them!
Is anybody paying attention?! I hope if I call the Coast Guard and say I'm sinking off the SF coast, they aren't looking for me in Marin!
I emailed the reporter and asked him why he reported the predicted conditions instead of the actual conditions. He told he didn't have access to the meteorological archives (he works for the major SF newspaper!).
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Old 06-10-2010
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The marine forecast is not the same as what gets reported by the news. It's possible that he was reading the inland non-marine forecast or the forecast for SF Bay. I'm sure the USCG who was on scene knew where to look; they recovered one body at the scene and said that the second was lost while trying to recover him. I don't know if this was before or after the boat beached; but I think it was out near Mile Rock.

We crossed the South Bar at the end of a trip to HMB 2 years ago; and while the wind was relatively light for most of our trip (we motored from HMB up to Pt San Pedro), when we got close to SF Bar the wind really picked up and we ended up sailing through heavy swell (more like chop but 10-12 feet with caps); winds 15-20. We were on a deep reach so I was able to steer around most of the big waves; and far enough offshore that we definitely were not in the Ocean Beach surf. When we got up to the mouth of the Gate the wind suddenly shut off; and we had to motor-sail the rest of the way in. In consideration of this I'll say that it would be a horrible place to be if the offshore wind pipes up; and there may be a compression zone in the South Bar area when winds approach the coast.

When I was on my boat the weekend of the 25'th the wind was blowing from the North and it was strong wind. The slip I'm in is one of the most protected slips in my marina. When it's windy from the North-NW at my slip it's usually a sign of an offshore gale; or one that is moving inland. We ended up not going out on the bay because when I'm bow in it's a bitch to get out of the slip when the wind is from the stern; and I had other work to take care of so it was a better "work day". Normally in the summer the wind at my slip is from the South and the slip is upwind; and I park stern in during the winter months.
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Old 06-10-2010
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Just the facts!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeelHaulin View Post
The marine forecast is not the same as what gets reported by the news. It's possible that he was reading the inland non-marine forecast or the forecast for SF Bay. I'm sure the USCG who was on scene knew where to look; they recovered one body at the scene and said that the second was lost while trying to recover him. I don't know if this was before or after the boat beached; but I think it was out near Mile Rock.
.
If you look at the article (link in OP), the reporter was accurately quoting the Marine forecast, and using it to imply it was just another Summer day on the Coast. As you have acknowledged, it wasn't. That fact is probably a major clue as to the cause of the accident. Aren't reporters supposed to deal in facts ("What, When, Where and Why)? The way he reported it, it appears that an experienced Skipper (he sailed the boat for over 20 years) and his wife fell out of a perfectly seaworthy boat under usual weather conditions ("Why"?). It simply didn't happen that way, and if the reporter was outside in the Bay Area that Sunday, he should have had a clue. Bridges issued high wind warnings, Great Highway was closed do to sand drifts, and at my marina, which is relatively sheltered, we had gusts to 40, etc.
Then...the local TV station repeats what the Coast Guard told them ("Where"), despite the stations own helicopter video footage showing the Boat clearly on China Beach in SF, NOT Marin.
Yes, the Coast Guard found the boat (still afloat) off Seal Rock when it was reported in distress by someone dining at the Cliff House. In fact, (as reported in the article) the CG "opted not to tow it due to rough conditions" (yet another clue that it wasn't a usual day!). But it still concerns me that a spokesperson for the CG could get a geographical fact wrong, and release it to the Media.
I was able to read through the BS simply because I'm a sailor, and know the area. How often am I accepting incorrectly reported facts on something more important, on which I know less about, i.e., Finance or Foreign Affairs.
Simply another case of junk journalism and several people not paying attention to their jobs IMO. Don't mean to rant, but as this story unfolded, I kept thinking....Huh? If I did my job with the same attention to detail, buildings would be falling on people!
Anyway, back on topic. In a small way, I think I felt a little defensive for the Skipper who can no longer speak for himself. I don't think the cause of the accident has been (or may ever be) determined. However, I certainly don't think he fell out of the boat under "usual" conditions! I guess the lesson I take away is that; if you go offshore, you should have jack lines and harness at the ready. Even for short distances, when "normal" conditions are predicted. Though I don't know it applies to this case, it's also a reminder not to hug the coast when approaching the Gate. I can see where it is very tempting when you've been Beating forever, and want to get home (you can see the GG Bridge peeking around the corner from where the boat was first spotted!). However, you can get in serious trouble in a hurry. "Stay outside young man", until you are in the channel (or you may not get old )!

Last edited by L124C; 06-12-2010 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 06-10-2010
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knothead has a spectacular aura about knothead has a spectacular aura about knothead has a spectacular aura about
Not once in my life have I read a completely accurate news account or story of an event about which I knew the facts. Not once.
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Old 06-10-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knothead View Post
Not once in my life have I read a completely accurate news account or story of an event about which I knew the facts. Not once.
knothead

I tempted to use that above as my sig line, truer words have never been said.

John
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Old 06-10-2010
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It's such a senseless tragedy when harnesses & tethers might have prevented the loss of this couple as well as the 28 year old lawyer mentioned in the article.

I just hope the Anti Zac/Abby/Jessica crowd doesn't propose banning 59 year olds from sailing in the ocean. I'm only a year away. Yikes!

Mike
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Old 06-11-2010
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I Am Not A Crook!

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Originally Posted by knothead View Post
Not once in my life have I read a completely accurate news account or story of an event about which I knew the facts. Not once.
Yeah....but to me "completely accurate" and missing the "Where" as well as the possible "Why," are two different things. It's as if the Watergate complex had actually been in Chicago, and the burglary had been executed by the Democrats to make "Tricky Dick" look bad. Yet, the Washington Post told us what they told us!
OK...a little over the top; Off topic; Inappropriately brings politics into a sailing forum, etc., etc...but you get my drift, don't you?
Note to younger Sailors: You had to be there. Thankfully for you, you weren't!
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Old 06-11-2010
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This has been written about extensively over at sailing anarchy. It'd be worth a look L124C:

Windy Conditions Claim Sailor - Sailing Anarchy Forums
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Old 06-11-2010
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Yeah that thread on SA pretty much sums it up. Remember; the waves on SF Bar are much bigger than what you would see on the open water surrounding; and they had swell+chop heights of 12 feet outside of the SF Bar. That could translate into 20' or bigger breakers on the South Bar.
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Old 06-11-2010
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The wind archives had the following for 4pm on the 23'rd (unfortunately Sailnet won't allow me to make this image or any other an attachment):

SFBay Winds: 5/23/2010 16:00 PST

In my experience; the wind predictions on that page are on the conservative side; as they only have about 10 wind data collection sites from which to make the model. The wind predictions yesterday were for 10-15kts east of Angel Island up to San Pablo Bay; but the conditions on the bay were 20-25. It looks like amid an already rough and windy day there was a compression zone that formed off of ocean beach; which might have resulted in even more difficult conditions for the couple.
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