Sinking of Rule 62 - Page 30 - SailNet Community
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post #291 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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Billyruffin nailed my conceptualization of how this tragedy unfolded and I think it highlights another lesson to be learned and that is the danger of assuming the skipper of Rule 62 was monumentally incompetent and this couldn't happen to you.

Yes I believe GPS was partly responsible, but I also don't think that standing on the deck of that boat that you couldn't determine how dangerous that cut was under the circumstances. There were no flashing neon signs warning of a rage. It didn't look like the gates of hell guarded by the Kraken. It was likely only slightly worse than what they'd been dealing with for days, right up until it all went to hades.

It was a rare, and severe event described by the locals as the worst they've seen outside a hurricane. Now you've been out sailing in those conditions for a week, so its easy to see how you could be lead to thinking its as bad as its gonna get and we'll soon be in sheltered water.

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post #292 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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Thanks mc1
13 is key
still, people die at sea. It's great if someone can learn from this thread.
It's not fair for you guys to make any judgement.
Safe sailing.
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post #293 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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Billy ruffn probably has the psychology right but the seas already were 20 ft. out in the deep water - that is what presumably made them go for shelter.

and speaking as one who was "in the pack" for several days, we didnt see a single other boat for 5 days. It is a big ocean
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post #294 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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Originally Posted by midlifesailor View Post
Billyruffin nailed my conceptualization of how this tragedy unfolded and I think it highlights another lesson to be learned and that is the danger of assuming the skipper of Rule 62 was monumentally incompetent and this couldn't happen to you.
This is one of the most important lessons of them all.

Another that should be added to mc's list is; be able to do each of these things when people you love are begging and/or screaming at you to get them out of what you got them into. That makes all of the above much, much more difficult.


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post #295 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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and speaking as one who was "in the pack" for several days, we didnt see a single other boat for 5 days. It is a big ocean
Wow! I was thinking that everyone started at the same time. So evidently, once you got the transponder aboard you can take off. I'm sure some people might be racing together? NO?

I really have no idea, obviously... How does this race go down?

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post #296 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
The pack? It's a big ocean. There may be seventy boats within a hundred fifty mile circle, but you don't see many, if any, of them.

You do a 360 scan and chances are you're the only one there. The ocean can seem a very lonely place, particularily when things aren't going as you might have wanted them to.
What about radio contact, scarce? I know if I was racing i'd want to do it with a friend... I know that's not how it happens, just talking out loud.

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post #297 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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Boats in the "Cruising Fleet" could start whenever they wanted, determine their own route, and use their engines as much as they wanted without penalty. The "Rally Fleet" had a scheduled start, all classes at the same time. Engine use was penalized. After the first 24 hours, we didn't see another boat until we converged with one other boat close to the finish and then it was only tricolor lights in the darkness. Two boats did divert to stand by a non-fleet boat that was taking on water and stayed with that boat until a Coast Guard Helicopter dropped a pump and the leak was controlled. There was some other boats with trouble - lost autopilots, crashed electronics, broken booms, blown sails, no engine power, etc. As Captain Ron said - "If its going to happen, its going to happen out there". A number of other boats diverted - to Jacksonville, Beaufort, Bermuda, and other safe harbors. One boat tried to enter an inlet at Hatteras and bounced their way in. We were able to comunicate with some boats by VHF but SSB contact was limted to the sceduled times. I think that in future Rallys that there should be designated boats along the fleet with SSBs tuned to the fleet frequency at all times for emergencies. Many boats had Sat phones - Globalstar was still useless for voice communication (first group of new sattelites have been launched). By the way - that Email that Billy Ruffin refered to was sent by my wife. She emailed a diary every day to a group of friends. The Rallys have now been taken over by the ARC group (World Cruising Association?).

Last edited by speciald; 12-10-2010 at 08:33 AM.
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post #298 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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I have a much smaller boat with a similar keel and rudder configuration. It will not keep a straight course for a minute without attention to the helm. It really does not like to heave to.

If this Jeanneau with 4 not so young (my age) crew experienced an autopilot failure early in the race, they must have been exhausted from steering manually for a couple of days in those waves and conditions.

I'm curious as to whether this type of boat would be able to heave-to in those conditions, as we have all said they should have done (for rest and daylight).

The reason I am curious is that as I get ready for retirement I was thinking of buying a used Beneteau 37 for cruising the Caribbean and Med. The design is similar to Rule 62. The heaving-to, the long unprotected rudder, the open walk-out transom (was boat pooped and rudder broke off?)

Anybody with experience heaving-to with this keel and rudder configuration. If so, how did you do it? How long does it hold? How about following seas with open transom? Any experience?
Good question, you’re wise to try to sort this out before heading offshore. I still can’t wrap my mind around the notion that someone would set out on a passage from north of Hatteras to Tortola in November without ever having done so, experimenting with various methods of parking one’s boat at sea…

Every boat and situation is different, of course. Obviously, a design like RULE 62 would not be likely to properly heave-to in the classic sense, like that described by the Pardeys, where the key element becomes the creation of a slick to weather in which the boat remains planted. With a split underbody, a modified or fin keel with a spade rudder set well aft, I think the more advisable tactic is akin to fore-reaching… Much more easily accomplished and maintained, and the slow forward progress minimizes the greatest risk in attempting to heave-to in a boat with a separate spade rudder – namely, the possibility of a breaking sea driving the boat back hard against the rudder…

My boat happily happens to forereach very nicely under a deeply reefed main or trysail alone, with the windvane doing the driving. YMMV, of course, and RULE 62 still would likely require more attention from the crew to comfortably park at sea… I just happened to stop in Hampton a week before the original scheduled departure of the 1500, and one trend I observed that is becoming more commonplace, but I feel is a very poor practice, is that of placing a large SUV-style tender on davits for an offshore passage. The excessive height and resultant amount of windage of some of these gargantuan stern arch/davit configurations can only serve to inhibit the ability to heave-to or park the boat. That much windage that far aft will make the boat more inclined to want to tack through the wind when fore-reaching, and is one of the many reasons I feel a dinghy on davits has no place offshore, on anything less than the very largest boats…

Until you’ve successfully parked a boat offshore in the sort of conditions or circumstance that warranted it, you cannot begin to appreciate the sort of relief it can afford… It’s almost like a revelation, someone else has perhaps best described it as “The Miracle Cure”… I feel very comfortable assuming the crew of RULE 62 had never successfully parked the boat prior to this passage, otherwise they simply would have KNOWN it was the best tactic to employ when the crew was becoming exhausted, even well before they approached the Abacos…

Their possible prior reluctance to do so gets to one of the problematic elements of the whole nature of a cruising cattle drive such as the Caribbean 1500, for me. I would suspect there would be a natural resistance to employing a tactic that would cause them to get “left behind” the rest of the fleet, and one might be inclined to keep pushing on simply because everyone else is. Parking the boat is no different from reefing – the time to do it is usually when the thought first occurs to you to do so, but I would guess the sort of groupthink that might pervade a fleet of rally boats could easily tend to inhibit a skipper or crew from making their own decision that it’s time for a break…

Cruisers really do themselves a disservice, in my opinion, by considering heaving-to as primarily a heavy weather, or otherwise exceptional tactic… In reality, it should be considered much more as part of a cruiser’s ROUTINE, and practiced regularly… Quite simply, it is very often the smartest thing you can do, in a wide variety of situations…

I had a good reminder of this recently, classic example of how the best and most experienced sailors out there park their boats with regularity. A few weeks ago, I was running a Trintella 47 down from Maine to Annapolis. Nearing the end of a fast passage from Camden across the Gulf of Maine, I was a bit ahead of schedule to catch the tide through the Cape Cod Canal, an hour or two before sunrise… Hadn’t seen a soul out there all night, but about 0300 I came across another boat holding station about 12 miles from the canal entrance. Turned out to be the 56’ McCurdy & Rhodes cutter MORGAN’S CLOUD, John Harries and Phyllis Nickel aboard… They’re a couple of my cruising heroes, vastly experienced in some of the most challenging high latitude cruising grounds in the world – Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, etc… If you’ve never seen their website, it’s definitely worth a look – one of the very best and most complete resources for any cruising sailor out there…

Attainable Adventure Cruising, Morgan’s Cloud

We had a nice chat for 10 minutes or so – John was all business on the VHF, extremely professional, you just knew this guy is the real deal. They’ve written a fair amount for CRUISING WORLD and other publications, and I remember reading awhile back that they routinely hove-to when they were faced with the prospect of sailing to weather in anything much more than 20 knots… Now, MORGAN’S CLOUD is a big, heavy boat that should go to weather like a freight train, and yet… they were simply smart enough to spare themselves and the boat such punishment, and live to fight another day… They were doing the same that night, just standing off the canal entrance for a couple of hours, waiting to enter it in daylight… Struck me as being exceedingly prudent for sailors as experienced as them, and an entrance as straightforward and easily navigated at night as the Cape Cod Canal – but, obviously, such caution and routine adherence to the most basic skills of seamanship has stood them in very good stead over all their years and miles of sailing, we could all do well to follow their example…
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post #299 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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Amen. To all the thoughts in your post, Jon.

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post #300 of 636 Old 12-10-2010
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I agree that carrying a dinghy on davits off-shore is bad. A friend of mine on a 56 ft Oyster broke his heavy davits when following sea pooped the dinghy. We carry our's inverted and partially deflated on the foredeck between the mast and staysail, tied down strongly. Even when tied securely, it has moved around with boarding green water. The other potential problem with the fleet was the number of boats with fuel containers tied to the life lines and stantions. On most boats the stantions are not designed for the potential stress. Boarding waves could potentially tear the stantions right off the boat.
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