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  #1  
Old 07-29-2010
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Inquest finds yacht name mix-up causes sailor's death

Dunno how I missed this in the Sydney Morning Herald only a few days ago - just busy I guess - but there's a warning in there for all of us.

I guess it's that if you're in trouble, use an EPIRB - don't relay on the radio.


Two experienced sailors had been dead for up to 12 days by the time a search party was sent to find them, after a radio operator muddled up similar-sounding yacht names, a coroner has found.

Good mates Bruce Nicholas Glasson, 58, and Graeme Eric Woodhouse, 60, went missing on Mr Glasson's yacht Blessed Be, in the South Pacific Ocean somewhere off the coast of northern NSW and southern Queensland in August 2008. Neither the yacht nor the men have ever been found.

The pair, who were sailing the 41-foot (12.5 metre) vessel from Tahiti to Brisbane, last made radio contact on August 23 with Adelaide-based volunteer Coast Radio. Mr Glasson reported the weather was rough and that Blessed Be had been "knocked down" but the vessel and crew was "okay", the inquest into the pair's disappearance was told on Monday. Four days later and with no further contact, a friend of the men's families made inquiries with authorities.

Queensland's Seaway tower at Southport reported the men had made radio contact and were en route to Newcastle where they expected to arrive on September 4. When the Blessed Be failed to meet that deadline, authorities realised that Seaway tower had heard from a yacht called Placid Sea, not the Blessed Be. On September 5 an extensive but unsuccessful seven-day search began for the Blessed Be and its crew, covering more than 800 nautical miles between Bundaberg in Queensland and Newcastle in NSW.

"It is anticipated (that) concerns with the delays in commencing the operation of the search may be an issue of concern," counsel assisting the coroner Sergeant Greg Robinson told Sydney's Glebe coroner's court on Monday.

However, Deputy State Coroner Paul MacMahon said there was no firm evidence to suggest that if the search had begun earlier, it would have saved the lives of Mr Glasson, from Uralla in northern NSW, and Mr Woodhouse, from Riverview in Sydney.

"I cannot make a finding that had the search for them commenced earlier that they would have been found in sufficient time to ensure their safety," Mr MacMahon said. "... whilst it is unfortunate that the wrong information was given ... and did not come to the attention of the search and rescue people until later on, it does not seem to me that the evidence can support that those matters contributed to the death of Mr Glasson and Mr Woodhouse."

Mr MacMahon found that both men died on or about August 23 and that the Blessed Be sank. "As to the manner and cause of death, the evidence available does not allow me to make a finding," he added. Family members and friends attended Monday's inquest and some were unhappy that a recommendation was not made.

"My observation of the search and rescue was that there was a lack of coordination of relevant and crucial information," friend and former crew member of the Blessed Be, Garry Palmer, told AAP outside the court.


Sailors would have died anyway: coroner
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Old 07-29-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartley18 View Post
Dunno how I missed this in the Sydney Morning Herald only a few days ago - just busy I guess - but there's a warning in there for all of us.

I guess it's that if you're in trouble, use an EPIRB - don't relay on the radio.
..
If I have understood currectly in the States, to sail offshore, or even to cross the Atlantic you will not need a license (that says you are able to do the job) nor any kind of mandatory equipment on the boat.

On most countries in Europe you need an offshore license (that you can only get after getting 3 or more other more basic licenses), you need a certified boat for offshore work (EC class A) and a mandatory requirement on equipment that include offshore liferaft, Epirb and a way of receiving long distance weather reports and (even if it is not mandatory on all countries) you need an insured boat (the marinas will nhot accept you if you do not have an insurance).

You can say that this takes away personal freedom... but who is going to pay for the search and rescue?

If we allow that badly prepared boats and sailors to do what they want in the future the freedom will finish for the rest of us. The costs of search and rescue operations are raising in such a way that it is a question of time that the contributors start to ask: Why am I paying a lot to allow some mad guys to do a dangerous thing?

It is absolutlly irresponsible to allow a boat offshore without am Epirb. It is dangerous to the sailors (and that it is their business) but will also make any search and rescue a very complicated and expensive affair, and that should also concern the ones that are paying that.

Regards

Paulo
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Old 07-29-2010
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I must be missing something here. How does a coroner determine the DATE of death if they have never found the boat nor any bodies?
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Old 07-29-2010
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Originally Posted by bljones View Post
I must be missing something here. How does a coroner determine the DATE of death if they have never found the boat nor any bodies?
You are not the only one. Was this an old news?
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Old 07-29-2010
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Ouch. I'm immediately changing the name of my boat - which was up until now "Flaccid Pee".
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Old 07-29-2010
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The Coroner

Quote:
Originally Posted by bljones View Post
I must be missing something here. How does a coroner determine the DATE of death if they have never found the boat nor any bodies?
guesses that they died "on or about" the 23rd of August. Nothing too definite, and as good a date as any other, since that was the last time anyone (in this case a volunteer from Coast Radio, based in Adelaide) had contact with them.

Last edited by paulk; 07-29-2010 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 07-29-2010
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The radio is irrelevant, the name of the boats is irrelevant.

Unless you are making regular contact with a shore party and you come up "overdue" or MIA, no one and no thing is going to trigger a search for you. (Ignoring EPIRBs which still have to be triggered by someone to make contact with a shore party.)

Bottom line, have a float plan.

"We should be back around...Call this number and declare us overdue on..." and hand someone a pre-filled SAR form. The USCG form used to be quite a few pages long, asking for details like yacht make, number of sails, color of hull and deck, all sorts of things your friends are not likely to have at the tip of their tongue, that can help get a SAR effort launched ASAP.
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Old 07-29-2010
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A couple of misperceptions

Quote:
Originally Posted by PCP View Post
If I have understood currectly in the States, to sail offshore, or even to cross the Atlantic you will not need a license (that says you are able to do the job) nor any kind of mandatory equipment on the boat.

On most countries in Europe you need an offshore license (that you can only get after getting 3 or more other more basic licenses), you need a certified boat for offshore work (EC class A) and a mandatory requirement on equipment that include offshore liferaft, Epirb and a way of receiving long distance weather reports and (even if it is not mandatory on all countries) you need an insured boat (the marinas will nhot accept you if you do not have an insurance).

You can say that this takes away personal freedom... but who is going to pay for the search and rescue?

If we allow that badly prepared boats and sailors to do what they want in the future the freedom will finish for the rest of us. The costs of search and rescue operations are raising in such a way that it is a question of time that the contributors start to ask: Why am I paying a lot to allow some mad guys to do a dangerous thing?

It is absolutlly irresponsible to allow a boat offshore without am Epirb. It is dangerous to the sailors (and that it is their business) but will also make any search and rescue a very complicated and expensive affair, and that should also concern the ones that are paying that.

Regards

Paulo
Anyone in the U.S. can buy a SAILBOAT and take off for wherever they'd like. Licenses would probably not do much to change the numbers of SAR's . Look at handguns. Licences ARE required for them, yet the US is seen as the murder-by-gun capital of the world.

Operating a POWERBOAT generally does require a license. They are issued by each individual state, usually by the Motor Vehicle Department. Most include a test that asks about how often the tires on your boat trailer should be changed, or how long after you change the color of your boat trailer should you notify the Motor Vehicle Department. Or how many people can get into a 4-person dinghy. Jeffersonian ideals (Thomas Jefferson -President 1801-1809) call for an educated electorate making the correct decisions in a Democracy, and generally credit the common man with making sensible choices. If someone doesn't have enough sense to know he shouldn't take a leaky seive across the Atlantic, it will be a learning experience for him.

The U.S. Coast Guard DOES does have lists of required equipment for vessels of different types and sizes. They are not equipped to stop every vessel to determine if they have each piece of required equipment, however. And EPIRBs are not a required item. If someone takes off for Tahiti short of sense or lifejackets, they can stop it if they see it. The scene is entirely different from Europe, however. Except for perhaps England, European countries have comparatively short coastlines. The state of Maine, by itself, has more than 10000 km of salt-water washing its jagged shores, and it is not the biggest state, nor the one with longest coast. There is no way to effectively control that much space with so many independent-thinking sailors. To give you an idea, US Sailing recently suggested that anyone racing be required to be one of their members. In Europe, this is a non-issue. If you want to race in France, you go to the regatta with your FFV inscription number: no problem. The tidal wave of rancor this idea met almost swamped US Sailing. There were calls for the ouster of the board and its un-designation as the body of record for the sport of sailing in the United States. So... we're willing to spend some big money on SAR, when necessary, but not $25 to join USSailing if it is REQUIRED.

Besides, isn't it usually the Australians (as in this thread) who are mounting the expensive SAR missions looking for dismasted or turtled Europeans most of the time? And the Europeans are the ones with licences!
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Old 07-29-2010
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In the UK we need absolutely nothing before going to sea-leisure boats do not have to be registered;there is no leglislation regarding safety equipment to be carried; and no licencing or training is required for any captain or crew member.
Most people are sensible but once in a while!
Recently someone bought a 20 foot river/estuary cruiser on the south side of the River Thames estuary. He decided to sail it around to Southhampton on the south coast of the UK.
Armed with a road Atlas he sensibly decided that if he kept turning to the right and kept the land to his right he would travel down the east coast of the UK and westwards along the south coast until he reached his destination.
He was unaware of the various islands along the south shore of the Thames estuary running aground and out of fuel after having ended almost circumnavigating one of the islands.
He called for help on his cell phone which set off a full SAR operation including a SAR helicopter.When found he asked the way to the nearest gas station-he could not work out why he could travel to Southhampton down the Motorway on 10 gallons of fuel yet he had used this up whilst going around the Island-he had expected to get to his destination on the 10 gallons of fuel.
Nothing could be done to stop this individual trying again!
One word of warning-I recently heard that emergency beacons-particularly personal beacons- are so often going off by mistake that unless you clearly log with local SAR just where you are likely to be your beacon might be ignored.
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Old 07-29-2010
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Heh-heh. I read about that fil.

That guy is a true legend of sailing. I'd buy him a pint or four.
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