Heart of Sailing fatal accident - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 60 Old 07-27-2011 Thread Starter
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Heart of Sailing fatal accident

Some time ago there was discussion of the fatal accident in San Diego involving the boat owned by the Heart of Sailing Foundation. I see in the newspaper that no criminal charges will be brought, but the article makes it clear how awfully unseaworthy the vessel (and presumably the captain) were.

No criminal charges in fatal sailing accident | SignOnSanDiego.com

At the time I gave the captain the benefit of the doubt as compared with some of our Sailnet colleagues. Not any more. The sails were held together with duct tape and staples, absence of PFDs and overloaded. Sounds criminal to me.
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post #2 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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I'll give the authorities the benefit of the doubt when it comes to criminal charges.

However, are there any bets on fast the first negligence lawsuit is filed? Duct tape and staples? Then the operator is quoted as saying he hopes to resume operations soon? OMG!

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post #3 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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I have used duct tape on a sail to finish a race works pretty good. also used it to repair a hole made from being t boned and then won the regatta with the duct tape still on the boat. but no PFD's isn't that against the law. and he was doing this with special needs people, that is just criminal.

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post #4 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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10 people on a 26-foot boat?

As soon as people with special needs come aboard it is clear that the risks of a "normal" sailing criuse will double. Therefore all efforts to minimize risks must be doubled as well. The captain might have had idealistic motivations to let disabled have a good time - but this is no excuse for incompetence.


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post #5 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overbored View Post
I have used duct tape on a sail to finish a race works pretty good. also used it to repair a hole made from being t boned and then won the regatta with the duct tape still on the boat. but no PFD's isn't that against the law. and he was doing this with special needs people, that is just criminal.
I've seen people using duct tape to finish races, but it's not like one takes out people (other than perhaps equally mad family) in something held together by tape and staples.

Don't know about the laws in the US, but PFD's are a legal requirement here ESPECIALLY for young children (no matter where they are on the boat). I wouldn't if consider taking kids out in fair weather without their PFD's on; regardless of what the law says. That said, the rest of my (adult) family hates the way I drive as I am a stickler for safety & rules -shrug-

I am surprised they are not pressing charges, at least in terms of negligence. Not that I want the man to suffer, but the law is the law and I've seen people charged for less.
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post #6 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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When a reporter posts
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Investigators found that the sail was being held together with duct tape and staples.
without additional information, that means (to me) that there is most likely a 1-foot long tear in the leech of one of the sails (perhaps not even one in use), that has sail repair tape and/or duct tape and a couple of staples put in as a temporary repair. Did the capsize have anything to do with the state of this sail? If not, then it is journalistic "fluff" and should be disregarded.
Also, the other article on the same site mentions the police as stating that "some" of the passengers might not have been wearing PFDs. Since PFDs are mandatory for children in California the reporters or police would certainly have stated so had any of the children not been wearing vests.


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Last edited by Zanshin; 07-28-2011 at 02:38 AM.
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post #7 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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Quite right, Zanshin, and I'll admit I got suckered into the implication that was not actually explicitly stated. It's a shame we have to read the news with such a critical eye (but that's a whole other discussion).

That said, a guy taking kids out without life-jackets here (resulting in a loss of life) would be charged as it is explicitly against the law to do that. And that is regardless of the boat's state of repair.
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post #8 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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Sometimes when something like this happens, the authorities use the "not enough evidence" one has to wonder. Then again, maybe there is NOT enough evidence etc to get the minimum guilty charge they want against the Captain. IE a slap in the wrist, time served vs negligent homicide, along with a few years in jail etc.

Duct tape on the sails.......not a real factor frankly as Zanshin mentioned in the overall scheme of things. I have a sail with some on it now, now that I think about.

lack of PFD's on the other hand, along with not wearing them.........must not have been again, not enough power in the law to go after the captain etc on this part. I do not want to quote the age, but isn't part of the law state, over age "12" one does not need a pfd on their person, just available!?!?! Please note, "12" is a discussion point/example age only!

I could see this person/party being put out of biz from a potential civil suit, as the "guilt" part has a lower bar for the charging party to get a "guilty" if one will put it that way, out of the potential guilty part, ALA OJ! Got away with murder in the criminal case, guilty in the civil! I will admit, I do not agree with this thought from the DA, but with the current economy, cuts in govmnt budgets etc.......The DA may have had to go with a more positive case to charge someone, vs this one or not enough $$$ to investigate properly too! Their may also not have been enough criminal intent on the captain either, hence why not enough evidence.

Not that I agree with the DA mind you. Some charge would have been better than nothing. then again...... "Guilty with time served" sure would not make me happy if I was a DA in this situation!

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post #9 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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Duct tape can not stick worse than rip stop & is cheaper.That many special needs persons on a boat?marc
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post #10 of 60 Old 07-28-2011
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Duct tape and staples to hold a sail together says a lot about the boat's general state of sea-worthiness. A temp fix is one thing. I wonder how long that tape had been on the sail.

Again, the PFD issue trumps the boat condition but maybe the Rube-Goldberg sail repair emphasizes how important having a PFD was on this particular boat.

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