Sinking of Rule 62 - Page 43 - SailNet Community
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post #421 of 636 Old 12-15-2010
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And there is the crux of the discussion. The only way to get experience is to go get experience. If you pass the test, then you learn. If you don't pass the test, you become a thread on a sailing website to be flogged over incessantly. Knowing and heeding sage advice from mariners of old increases your odds of passing the test.
Well, not exactly. Some people just don't learn. When I sold my Pearson 365, a gentlemen came to have a look. He was upset that I had no electronics, aka no radar, no chartplotter, no wind meter. And basically, he told me electronics are a must for cruising, even though I had just done 40000 miles without them.
Then he explained how he lost his previous boat, a Moody 42. He was navigating in reef infested waters at NIGHT, with the chartplotter! He went
on the reef, and lost the boat. but survive thanks to the coast guard.
He was very proud to tell me, how the insurance covered him and he got his money back, because, the charts he carried were off !! So he was right and did nothing wrong!
some people just never learn...
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post #422 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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Yes, I think the captain is ultimately responsible, regardless of whether they are incapacitated. If they are incapacitated to the point they should not be held responsible, they should probably not be captain at that point in time, being unfit for the responsibilities involved.

As for Laura, I don't think it matters whether she had full use of both arms or not. As Ikena points out, when a boat goes aground on a reef in those conditions, luck plays a far greater role in anyone's survival. Of course, the events that led to the boat going onto the reef are the real problem. Don't blame Laura, since I doubt she was the one making the decision to try and approach a coral strewn lee shore in those conditions.

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Hesper has given us some good second-hand data points in #408 above. My sources indicate Hesper is not far off.

If true, how does this information change assumptions / conclusions reached thusfar?

Is an incapacitated captain responsible for the decision-making on the boat? It was drilled into me in the Navy that the captain is always responsible, but this wasn't the U.S.S. (or H.M.S.) Rule 62. Do we hold yacht skippers to the same standard as captains of warships?

If Laura was partially handicapped, should she have been given a berth on this passage? Is it plausible that not having full use of an arm would have contributed to her tragic loss?

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post #423 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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Yes, I think the captain is ultimately responsible, regardless of whether they are incapacitated. If they are incapacitated to the point they should not be held responsible, they should probably not be captain at that point in time, being unfit for the responsibilities involved.
I don't think this is necessarily true. Like any organization (military, corporate, whatever) there should be a clear chain of command - with someone on board who is qualified to take over if the captain is incapacitated.

Granted, that's far more challenging on a small boat - but it's pretty critical.

If it turns out in this case that the captain was incapacitated by seasickness, the danger of him/her making a bad decision rises pretty dramatically. So in that case, who steps up into that role?

I always read that the wife and eventually kids (and/or who ever else is sailing with you) all need to know how to sail the boat and how to think through very tough conditions. So, I don't think it's about "captainship" being assigned or taken away, it's about setting up a chain of command and preparing your crew to deal with it.


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post #424 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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If it turns out in this case that the captain was incapacitated by seasickness, the danger of him/her making a bad decision rises pretty dramatically. So in that case, who steps up into that role?
Seasickness should not affect the decision making of the captain, otherwise he should not be captain in the first place. ..it's not like he being drunk...

Now, this brings to an interesting subject: what to do if the captain is really incapacitated, like "can't talk, and can't move". Life on a cruising sailboat is not a corporate world, where a backup captain would readily available.

First of, single-handing is a skill all captain should have. This means being able to stay in command and able to preserve your life and the boat. If I were that bad seasick at that time, I would at lay ahull, so not to have to worry about the crew doing silly things. Laying ahull in a 45 boat should be somewhat uncomfortable, but not dangerous. I've laid ahull many times, with no problem.

Second, if the captain is really incapacitated, meaning cannot instruct the crew what to do, what shall be done? We have to be honest, usually there is no backup captain on board (one with the same skills AND spirit). Plus, now the crew IS responsible to bring you back ashore to get you to a hospital or something ( I assume the captain is in serious condition since he can't talk, or maybe delirious because of infections, or whatever).
I would be interested to know what others think, as honestly, we never really talked about this with my wife. Probably because we have so solution!
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post #425 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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I cant think of any boat i have done a distance race on that did not have many crew who could get the boat home safe as its rare to not rotate the helm a lot and have at least two people doing the navigation

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post #426 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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Seasickness should not affect the decision making of the captain, otherwise he should not be captain in the first place. ..it's not like he being drunk...

Apparently you have never seen someone that is severely seasick. Whether they should be the captain or not is irrelevant, if they are seasick to the point of near unconsciousness they are not going to be making good decisions.

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post #427 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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It is common for someone to think they are dying when in extreme seasickness. A dying person cares not what kills them. They in most cases just want it over.........i2f

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post #428 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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I cant think of any boat i have done a distance race on that did not have many crew who could get the boat home safe as its rare to not rotate the helm a lot and have at least two people doing the navigation
There is a big difference between a well crewed ocean racer and a minimally crewed cruiser. On all the distance races I've been on, measured in many hundreds or thousands of miles, more than half of the crew could have taken over and done a good job as skipper. Usually on those kinds of boats there is a well delineated chain of command, skipper, watch captains etc. and the skipper is pretty used to being in big waters so is unlikely to get sick.

On my boat, now that I no longer race, I am usually pretty careful to delineate the chain of command when cruising long distances. My wife doesn't sail offshore so when we are out it is usually with friends and I try to make sure at least one competent sailor is aboard to take over in case I am incapacitated (or temporarily unattached to the boat - should the harness somehow fail, I want them to have the skills to come back and get me!)

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post #429 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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I can understand what Ikena is saying.

I believe most cruising crews are just the Captain and the wife, sometimes with kids of different ages.

I know many guys that have wifes that can give a help but that could not skip a boat alone if needed (mine certainly can't). I have also sailed alone with my kids, one at a time, when they where just young teenagers and had not the ability to skip the boat alone.

One time, on a passage I become seriously sick. My 14 year's old daughter had no problem to brig the boat to its destination, but I was still the Captain and she was relying on me to know what she should do in any critical situation.

Regarding seasick, if someone can be affected by seasickness to the point of total incapacity, then he should not be a boat captain, at least in all situations when the sailing can create the conditions that lead to that situation, and that includes all extensive passages.

Regards

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post #430 of 636 Old 12-16-2010
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First off, I think some of the speculation about Laura’s suitability as a crewmember is a bit unfair. No reason why a person with an infirmity such as hers should have disqualified her, even without knowledge of her previous sailing experience, it’s obvious she was a remarkable, mentally tough woman who had overcome some serious challenges in her life…

Having said that, however, her physical limitations should certainly have given pause to the skipper, and IMHO is simply one more example that he did not know what he did not know, and lacked a complete understanding of the sort of demands sailing such a boat on such a passage were likely to place on an apparently inexperienced, and thus shorthanded crew… Crew selection is perhaps the most critical aspect of passage planning, and obviously having half the crew at least somewhat incapacitated by seasickness right from the start of the trip, well… that doesn’t speak very well to the skipper’s planning of such a voyage, especially on a boat of such a size that might have easily accommodated additional crew, who could have taken up some of the slack created by more inexperienced crew…

Again, just one more example, in my opinion, of the roots of this tragedy lying in questionable decisions or choices made well before the boat ever left the dock…
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