Sinking of Rule 62 - Page 21 - SailNet Community

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  #201  
Old 12-03-2010
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For the most part, I have stayed out of this discussion. For me personally, I wanted to make sure the focus was on a safe return for Laura and our thoughts and wishes for her return. That appears to not have happened, against mine (and everyones) wishes. With the finality of such, I feel we can move on.

In my opinion, we can honor her memory, not by staying quiet, but by discussing how others might be saved in the future. That includes making assumptions on what happened that night and what we might do different. It will not bring Laura back, but it might save another life should anyone reading this thread be put in a similar situation... even if that situation is based upon hypothetical (but educated) assumptions. I feel the assumptions are imporatant because they portray different scenarios that might be played out in different circumstances.

With that in mind, I will now say what has been nagging me from the very beginning of this: Entering a foreign port at night... why did he do that? What could have compelled him to do that? To me, with all due respect, that is like offshore sailing 101. It goes down to what I feel are one of the very basic no-no's in cruising and passagemaking. I will enter my home port (Fort Myers Beach) at night, but only because I know it almost by heart and what to expect. But all of my other departures I plan on daylight approaches. That is why we do so many night passages - so we can arrive at daylight. Even on this last trip to Marathon, I slowed the boat down to make sure we did not arrive before 730 am.

I can only imagine that they were all absolutely drained and had terrible fatgiue. Sleep deprivation, sea sickness, the sea state, and the night (which puts me on edge in a blow) probably caused a momentary lapse in judgement. That was all it took. I differ from some things that I have read elsewhere on here because I really do feel that it only takes one bad decision to put boat and crew in peril... even if you did everything else right to that point and after it.

I will sit here and tell everyone that I have never entered a port I did not know VERY WELL at night - and even then I do it with extreme caution. To me, that is basic seamanship and offshore sailing. I will also honestly say that I was not in their shoes and did not experience what they did that night so I am very careful not to judge them too hard. It is a mistake that any of us might have made had we been in those exact same conditions... though most of us know better than to do it. For those that don't, now you do. And hopefully this basic rule will imprint itself heavily enough on each of us such that when YOU are faced in a similar situation and are not thinking clearly, you will still remember back to what happened to Rule 62 and the circumstances that brought her down.

I am sure there were other decisions made that night and many nights before that were poorly thought out... but that particular decision for me was the critical error. We all make mistakes - heck I do it all the time. But there are some mistakes that carry a catastrophic repercussion should they go awry, and in my opinion, knowing NOTHING else of what happened that night, that was the one.

But like others have said, I am not assessing blame or pointing fingers at the captain. Not at all. We simply do not know what mental state he was in and what he was dealing with. In times of complete exhaustion, we simply do not think straight and we might be prone to forget even the basics of what we know or should know. My thoughts go out to him and his crew because it will be very hard for them to find peace for a very long time, if ever. I suspect we may have lost some very good sailors (and very good people) that will never again set foot on the water and will never forget that terrible night. And that too is a tragedy.

Brian
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  #202  
Old 12-03-2010
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I opened this thread about the 3rd post. My first thought was what happened to hove to before things got bad? These problems with sailing in snotty weather are a domino effect. Once they start falling it is inevitable it will get worse.

I believe Bill typed knowledge that needs to be known. I don't believe anything mean was meant. If you haven't been there, and experienced it one might think he was picking on the captain. Hove to is a very simple move, and if you don't know how. You better check it out next time you get on your vessel.

You can go from green water washing the deck to I think I will fix something to eat. When the deck dries if it's not raining you can add fuel to the boat if needed. I learned it in my sailing lessons, and it made my life easier to cope when single-handing the Baja Bash. Learn it the next time out!.......i2f
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  #203  
Old 12-03-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
Because of your experience your opinion is useful.

But it is still just an opinion.

The options that you listed are obvious to any well-rested sailor sitting comfortably in front of his computer. I'm not so sure how obvious they may be to a debilitated crew suffering from fatigue, seasickness, possible equipment failure, and severe weather conditions.
I know Bill, but we mostly talk radio and not offshore sailing, so I can't speak to his specific experience.

I can speak to mine. I've been offshore with the flu and come in to a safe harbor. I've been offshore the only time in my life I was sea-sick and we kept going - it was the right choice. I've had sick crew a number of times; sometimes we drop them off, and sometimes we have to keep going.

Based on what we do know, it continues to appear to me that a series of unfortunate events followed a very bad decision to "get the heck out of here and go to the Bahamas." That decision seems to be the root cause.

Many other people might have made the same poor decision. That doesn't make it any less bad.

"When in doubt go out."
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  #204  
Old 12-03-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
"When in doubt go out."
For those of you seasoned offshore sailors trying to make an impression on the less experienced sailors on the board, I want you to know there are some of us paying attention and the knowledge transfer is appreciated and will be taken to heart. Hopefully the owners of Rule 62 and Laura's family and friends can also take heart in some good coming from this tragedy.

There's another tragedy that happened a while back where I live where a very experienced small aircraft pilot / flight school owner / FAA examiner hopped into a plane without checking the fuel level, flew about 15 minutes into a 30 minute flight, and died trying to land his out of fuel plane in a field. That one really bothers me to this day. Is there a common parallel with sailors that have a lot of experience and certainly "know better" choosing to disregard their own basic life saving knowledge?
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  #205  
Old 12-03-2010
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As someone who has zero offshore experience, I want to express my sincere appreciation to those of you who are taking the time to share your experiences. Even though some of my messages posted above may come across as challenging your assumptions, I do not mean to appear unappreciative. Like everyone else here, I am trying to learn whatever I can from this tragedy in hopes it never gets repeated on any vessel that I am on.

Personally, I am reluctant to pin blame on the captain without more factual information. But even without those facts, making assumptions about different scenarios is useful for teaching purposes (but not for assessing blame on the captain).

Although I have no offshore experience, I have 25+ years working for a Fortune 100 industrial company, so I am very familiar with the mantra that all accidents are preventable. It is a goal that we should all strive for, but it is sometimes only achievable when zero mistakes are made. In a hazardous situation, one mistake may be all it takes to initiate a chain of events that leads to a fatality.
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  #206  
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@RhythmDoctor:

I don't think I said the captain made a bad decision. Someone made a bad decision. Recreational boats with owners, family, and friends aboard have challenging dynamics. It can be tough. The role of decision-maker may shift and not always be obvious particularly in high stress conditions.

We KNOW that a decision was made on Rule 62 to change destination from Tortola to Abaco. We don't know why for sure, or who for sure, made the decision. We can say with some surety it was a poor decision. Looking at the weather at the time and the forecast at the time, and based on reporting of conversations with the boat, a better decision (my opinion) would have been to move further offshore to get out of the Gulf Stream and heave to until conditions settle out.

We can talk about what the best decision might have been, but the decision that was made was poor on the merits even if events had turned out differently.
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  #207  
Old 12-03-2010
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These last 2 post is what it is about. Giving of our knowledge to help, and make people think. I am absolutely sure the loss of Laura will save someone else.......i2f
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  #208  
Old 12-03-2010
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No doubt about the lesson learned part, it's the speculation that makes me uncomfortable.

I don't like kicking people when they're down and it appears to me there is a whole lot more to this story. Hence the silence from the parties involved.

Any sailing book you read, you will read about "hove to" and not entering ports you're unfamiliar with. I agree with Brian, that is the most basic of sailing rules. When this finally unfolds, I hope there isn't even more tragedy involved!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC1 View Post
There's another tragedy that happened a while back where I live where a very experienced small aircraft pilot / flight school owner / FAA examiner hopped into a plane without checking the fuel level, flew about 15 minutes into a 30 minute flight, and died trying to land his out of fuel plane in a field. That one really bothers me to this day. Is there a common parallel with sailors that have a lot of experience and certainly "know better" choosing to disregard their own basic life saving knowledge?
Two aquaintences of mine, both commerical pilots with hundreds of hours, have died in seperate airplane accidents in the past 10 years due to stall spin situations in clear weather.

You are taught stall avoidance from day one as a student pilot, so obviously, "knowing" the right thing and making yourself do the right thing when thrust into a dangerous and stressful situation is not so simple as it appears. I'm sure the same factors apply to sailors.
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  #210  
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Finally, we seem to be getting somewhere.

Yes, it's all about decision making. And, Dave is right, we don't know for sure WHO made the decision(s), since in family and some other situations the actual decisionmaker might not be the one you would expect.

No matter.

The central point to take away is that not all decisions are created equal.

Some matter hardly at all. Beans or soup for dinner.

Some matter more: trim the sail to get a little more speed or not.

Some matter quite a lot: Divert to another port. Tuck in another reef. Heave-to to get some rest. Talk to others on the radio to get navigation info.

Some matter so much that mere survival is dependent: decision to enter an unknown inlet at night in rage conditions.

Experience and professionalism help to sort out the important decisions from those less important.

If you're headed for the rocks, your main just blew out, your crew is threatening mutiny, you've sprung a leak, and there's a fire in the galley, it's critical to know what's most important (the fire), and to act accordingly.

It's equally important to recognize when you're faced with an absolute NO-NO decision. No matter the circumstances.

Despite the long line of good, bad, questionable, and dangerous decisions which precede this, the absolute NO-NO decision is by far the most important and, in a very real sense, the only one which matters.

FWIW.

Bill
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