Sinking of Rule 62 - Page 40 - SailNet Community
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post #391 of 636 Old 12-13-2010 Thread Starter
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Stirring the pot...

OK.....I know I'm sticking my neck out here, but I got to thinking yesterday....what was the weather off that inlet? And how big an inlet was it? I've gotten an impression from our conversation here that it was "raging" -- wind blowing a gale, seas breaking port and starboard; and that it was a narrow inlet in a reef only a fool would enter under the best of circumstances.

So I decided to look for some facts.

CD provided a chart in post #43. My crude estimate indicates the inlet they were attempting to run is about 300 yards wide. On a boat like Rule 62, 300 yards is about 400 boat beam widths. There's a little room for error there.

I also checked a Grib file of the weather in the area I downloaded on Friday, the day before they were wrecked. (I was following the Carib 1500). The Saturday forecast was for north winds, 15 knots in the area of Abaco Is.

Question: was the forecast wrong, or was it "raging" at 15 knots? Does anyone know what the weather conditions actually were that night? Locals apparently said it was a rage. Was it a rage on Friday, or Saturday? Was it raging Saturday night or had the winds calmed down a bit? Conditions on a stretch of beach 10 miles north or 10 miles south might have been very different to those off the inlet Rule 62 attempted to run. In one area the swell might break a 1/2 mile off the shore, in another it might be 100 yards off the beach. Conditions along a beach front are not the same as conditions off an inlet. Anyone know what the conditions were off the inlet that night....for sure?

If the 15 knots wind is approximately right, and if my calculation of a 300 yard wide inlet is correct, then all we've got here is a really big swell, which obviously got much bigger as they approached a fairly wide inlet. If the 1/2 moon was 45 degrees up to the south, the visibility wouldn't have been that bad........

......and I go back to my earlier post that they were "feeling their way in" and got swamped by a really big wave that got big because of shoaling water and an outgoing tide in in the inlet.

I'm not saying it was a good idea to attempt it....I'm only saying you don't have to be a complete idiot to initiate the approach, to see how it goes, to "feel your way in", and then you find yourself in breaking waves and deep doo-doo.

I guess what I'm saying is that I can understand how it happened, and it's not a case of black and white, dumb and dumber. A tired skipper with a tired, but alert crew approaches a coast to have a look to see if they might get in....they proceed slowly attempting to see what lies ahead and....
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post #392 of 636 Old 12-13-2010 Thread Starter
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Then what is the best option for a Type-1 that isn't crazy bulky and is somewhat comfortable? Does such a beastie exist?
No.
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post #393 of 636 Old 12-13-2010
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Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
. Anyone know what the conditions were off the inlet that night....for sure?

If the 15 knots wind is approximately right, and if my calculation of a 300 yard wide inlet is correct, then all we've got here is a really big swell, which obviously got much bigger as they approached a fairly wide inlet. If the 1/2 moon was 45 degrees up to the south, the visibility wouldn't have been that bad........
How do you predict the swell based on the width of the inlet and how can you tell if it's breaking just by looking at current wind condition?

I will certainly **** my pants navigating reefs with moon light good companion at sea though.

The problem then is the skipper had to trust his GPS position and chart accuracy. 300 yard divide by 2, that 150yard. easy to be off by 100 yard.
Even it it was calm and no rage, there was a good probability he end up on the reef.
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post #394 of 636 Old 12-13-2010 Thread Starter
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How do you predict the swell based on the width of the inlet and how can you tell if it's breaking just by looking at current wind condition?

......easy to be off by 100 yard.
Even it it was calm and no rage, there was a good probability he end up on the reef.
"How do you predict"....didn't say you could. That's why someone might be tempted to have a look-see.

"easy to be off by 100 yds".....if I were to attempt something this foolish, I'd have the radar on to keep me in the middle, and, of course, the depth sounder going to avoid the really thin water.....

but all that doesn't do you any good when you get hammered by a really big wave.
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post #395 of 636 Old 12-14-2010
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Still scares the **** out of me!

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post #396 of 636 Old 12-14-2010
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Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
I also checked a Grib file of the weather in the area I downloaded on Friday, the day before they were wrecked. (I was following the Carib 1500). The Saturday forecast was for north winds, 15 knots in the area of Abaco Is.
Remember that gribs don't show the effect of fronts and other discontinuities. Check the real weather products from NOAA or UK Met for that period.

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post #397 of 636 Old 12-14-2010
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Exactly!

The nearest WX station in the Abacos was reporting at the time of the incident:

WSpd 10.5 m/s 19kts
Gusts 12.7 m/s 23 kts
WvHt 4.19 mtrs 12-13'

Conditions were moderating. However, this says NOTHING about the fact that a hurricane (Tomas) had recently passed and it had been blowing hard for some days.

Approaching an unknown Atlantic inlet on a lee shore at night for a "looksee" after days of heavy weather is madness -- or just plain ignorance.

....like sticking your arm into the lion's cage to see if he's friendly

Bill
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post #398 of 636 Old 12-14-2010
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Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
OK.....I know I'm sticking my neck out here, but I got to thinking yesterday....what was the weather off that inlet? And how big an inlet was it? I've gotten an impression from our conversation here that it was "raging" -- wind blowing a gale, seas breaking port and starboard; and that it was a narrow inlet in a reef only a fool would enter under the best of circumstances.

So I decided to look for some facts.

CD provided a chart in post #43. My crude estimate indicates the inlet they were attempting to run is about 300 yards wide. On a boat like Rule 62, 300 yards is about 400 boat beam widths. There's a little room for error there.

I also checked a Grib file of the weather in the area I downloaded on Friday, the day before they were wrecked. (I was following the Carib 1500). The Saturday forecast was for north winds, 15 knots in the area of Abaco Is.

Question: was the forecast wrong, or was it "raging" at 15 knots? Does anyone know what the weather conditions actually were that night? Locals apparently said it was a rage. Was it a rage on Friday, or Saturday? Was it raging Saturday night or had the winds calmed down a bit? Conditions on a stretch of beach 10 miles north or 10 miles south might have been very different to those off the inlet Rule 62 attempted to run. In one area the swell might break a 1/2 mile off the shore, in another it might be 100 yards off the beach. Conditions along a beach front are not the same as conditions off an inlet. Anyone know what the conditions were off the inlet that night....for sure?

If the 15 knots wind is approximately right, and if my calculation of a 300 yard wide inlet is correct, then all we've got here is a really big swell, which obviously got much bigger as they approached a fairly wide inlet. If the 1/2 moon was 45 degrees up to the south, the visibility wouldn't have been that bad........

......and I go back to my earlier post that they were "feeling their way in" and got swamped by a really big wave that got big because of shoaling water and an outgoing tide in in the inlet.

I'm not saying it was a good idea to attempt it....I'm only saying you don't have to be a complete idiot to initiate the approach, to see how it goes, to "feel your way in", and then you find yourself in breaking waves and deep doo-doo.

I guess what I'm saying is that I can understand how it happened, and it's not a case of black and white, dumb and dumber. A tired skipper with a tired, but alert crew approaches a coast to have a look to see if they might get in....they proceed slowly attempting to see what lies ahead and....

A “rage” is the Bahamian vernacular for the sea state surrounding a cut or break in the reef… the actual weather conditions and wind strength can often be immaterial, it’s entirely possible to have “rage” conditions persisting for days in calm conditions, when they would be entirely a function of the swell…

But, we do know that the swell that had been running in the Bahamas and along the Florida coast during that time was the biggest they had seen in many years, and would have created rage conditions about as bad as you’ll ever see…

Actually, I think your scenario could actually be a likely one, he may have intended simply to attempt to work in closer to simply assess the situation without necessarily committing himself to an entry…. But again, that’s just another indication of his lack of awareness of the potential danger of doing so, especially at night… As anyone who has sat off an inlet entrance for awhile assessing their entry knows, it’s entirely likely a rogue or larger set of seas can surprise you at any time, cresting or breaking much sooner than the average, and catching one unaware…

Still, any way you figure it, the math of attempting to enter a cut with a 6’ draft when the reported swell height roughly equals the water depth is not very favorable, and one should be able to figure that out without having to go in to “have a look”…

Incidentally, you mention the use of radar to assist such an entry in your other post above. In such conditions, with that sort of wave height, the degree of sea clutter would have likely rendered radar virtually useless… Furthermore, it is a fringing reef, not the cays themselves that border the North Bar Channel, that define the width of that cut… And that, of course, is the primary reason why it is so risky to navigate so many parts of the Bahamas at night or in poor light, where eyeball navigation and the ability to read the water - and what is BENEATH the surface - is the surest way to go…

One thing I’ve wondered about this incident right from the start, has anyone ever seen a photo of RULE 62 from the start of the Rally? I’d be very curious to know whether she might have been equipped with a full-cockpit enclosure? In the pics Skip posted, I do see a couple of fittings on the stern rail that indicate some sort of bimini might have been in place, but that’s about it… But IMHO, the trend towards these cockpit greenhouses that are becoming so commonplace today can be a very dangerous one, making safe navigation at night all but impossible, and insulating the skipper from the actual conditions that may exist “outside” to a great degree… If in fact RULE 62 had been so configured, in my opinion it could have played a major factor in this incident – but all that is just a hunch, of course… But I’d still be very curious to see what sort of dodger and whatever else this boat may have been fitted with, on so many boats today, these measures of cockpit/companionway protection can really inhibit piloting and the safe operation of a vessel from the helm to an extraordinary degree…
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post #399 of 636 Old 12-14-2010
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A “rage” is the Bahamian vernacular for the sea state surrounding a cut or break in the reef… the actual weather conditions and wind strength can often be immaterial, it’s entirely possible to have “rage” conditions persisting for days in calm conditions, when they would be entirely a function of the swell…
Very true! I have seen cuts (from the safety of a hilltop) looking like Hawaii Five O when the wind speed was 10 -15 knots. The swell is a major factor and when they predict large northerly swells - take care.

Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.

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post #400 of 636 Old 12-14-2010
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So far i learned they have a different name for how the current can affect the sea state as it passes over shallow water and its bad to try and pass through

Rages:

Rages generally occur on the Atlantic side of the inlets during the passage of cold fronts when the strong northeast swell enters the shallow Bahama Bank in one of the
passages. The result is is very big, steep seas that can make the passage - well not passable in those conditions. Although this can be an issue in many places, one
notable place this occurs that affects many cruisers is the Whale Cay passage in the Abacos. A long sandy shoal extending from the Treasure Cay peninsula out to Whale
Cay means most moderate to deep draft boats must exit the Sea of Abaco and pass on the ocean side of Whale Cay. A rage can shut this passage down for days. One way I
often work with this weather when heading south is to time a passage south through here with the final day(s) of a northwest wind before it turns northeast creating rage
conditions. I then usually still have a few days of northeast and east wind to continue south perhaps to Little Harbour. If I'm heading back to Marsh Harbour (when chartering
for example), I can then ride the east to southeast wind back

Which happens in inlets all over the place except they seem to last much longer down there

On the weat coast of the US passing over Bars at a bad time seems to be the killer mistake

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Last edited by tommays; 12-14-2010 at 09:52 AM.
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