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bubb2 09-23-2003 07:56 AM

It can happen
The morning of July 10th 2003 (thurs.) we were at anchor at Watch Hill RI. listening to the weather band forcast calling for wind warnings by the comming Sat. I had promised my 6 year old son a merry-go-round ride and a day on the beach as it was his birthday. However, with the weather warning we decided to pull anchor at 11 am and head for home running ahead of the front.

The wind was comming up and we were broad reaching thru Long Island Sound at 6 to 7 kts. heading to New York City. We sailed all night with a north west wind just making miles. What a great way to end a week on the Sound that saw us at Mystic Sea Port and other spots of interest.

Dawn broke on friday morning and we are nearing the Throggs Neck bridge and the East river. We had put over 90 miles behind us on the same port tack, it was one of the best overnite sails we had done together.

Latter that morning we have gone through East river and are rounding the Battery at the tip of Manhattan. Lady Liberty comes into veiw and I give her my thanks, as she embodies the very freedom that we sailors hold so dear to take our vessels where we want to go. Shortly we pass the site where the Twin Towers stood and my thoughts go back to that day and the souls lost. We are heading up the Hudson River only 20 miles from home.

About a mile south of the George Washington bridge we were making 3 kts over the ground as we heading into an 3 1/2 kt ebb tide. My fault, made such good time through the sound the nite before, i was early and would have to wait for the incoming tide to give us the push home.

Behind us about 200 yards and 200 yards to port was a large motor yatcht (80 ft). Then out of no where we hear boat engines. I jumped up standing on the starboard cockpit seat and only had time to yell to my wife who was sitting on the port side to jump. Crash!!!!!!!!! We had just been run down by a 45 ft Sea Ray.

I was thrown into the water and when i got to the surface I could not see anyone the deck of my boat, but i could hear my son screaming. He was in the cabin prior to us being hit but I couldn''t see him. I was scaning the water not knowing where he was now. I tried to start swiming towards my boat which was still heading north with auto pilot on but i could not make any headway agaist the current. I could still hear him screaming.

A minute or 2 went by and my wife pops up on deck with her life vest on and next my son with his vest on. What a great sight!!!!!!!

I yell to my wife i am over here but she doesn''t hear. Our dog (a Lab) comes swiming over to me. Between the the dog barking and my yelling i get my wife''s attention. I can see my wife having a problem with the wheel and can hear her yell to the boat that hit us that i was in the water and go help him. They do not.

Minutes go by, but my wife brings the boat back around and picks up the dog and myself.

When i get back onboard; she tells me the Coast Guard is on their way and she made a radio call for help after she had gotten my son and herself in life vests. It was then i could see the damage to my boat.

The Sea Ray hit us port stern at an esimated 20 to 30 kts. My wife was thrown into the open compantion way. She saw the Sea Ray''s hull and props go over her head. She was saved by the binnacle and cabin top.

I could not have been more proud of my wife the way she handled the crisis. She got our son and herself in life vests. Made a S.O.S call to the Coast Guard and with a bent wheel and jamed auto pilot got the boat back to pick me and the dog up. A few days later she was x-rayed and has 4 crushed disks.

The point to all this gentlemen, it is our responsabliy to teach our sailing partners how to handle the boat. My wife never sailed before we met, now she docks the boat better than myself. However, if she couldn''t handle the boat i don''t think i would be here to write this post.

I thank you all who take taken the time to share on this forum as i have leaned and it is in that sprit i share this with you.

Stede 09-23-2003 08:18 AM

It can happen

Very interesting story, and the point is well taken. Thanks for sharing it! Glad to hear that everyone survived it.

DuaneIsing 09-23-2003 08:36 AM

It can happen

Glad you all survived more or less intact. Your point about cross-training with your sailing partner is a valuable one that I am trying to heed.

I hope you will post more about the aftermath of this tragedy. Like, what happened to the boat which ran you down?

Good luck,

c172guy 09-24-2003 05:06 AM

It can happen
WOW what a story. My wife hadn''t sailed before we met. It was a hard push to get her to handle the boat at first. Now she can handle most things most of the time. Since she is usually the only other person on our boat my life may depend on her someday. Our biggest problem is that when things get exciting I have trouble communicating to her what to do. If things are happening fast I just don''t have the time to explain. We should probably discuss emergency procedures and plan our actions but it''s hard to anticipate situations.
The last situation was where the roller furling jammed in high winds and shallow water. The sail was flapping wildly and heading into the wind meant a danger of running aground. At first she wanted me to tell her how to steer the boat. But up on the foredeck fighting the genny I had my hands full. Finally she accepted responsibility to keep us off of the bottom and kept us safe while I handled the sail. It was all over in a few minutes and we had a great sail up the bay. A few years ago it might have ended differently.

TrishLambert 09-24-2003 11:19 AM

It can happen
What an experience! I am happy to know that you and your family came through, though I am very sorry to hear about your wife''s injury.

I am an enormous activists about wives/partners knowing how to handle their boat. I have been dismayed with the number of women I''ve met cruising who don''t seem to think it''s important!!!!!

FYI, I wrote an article on this topic and included a checklist of things a first mate should know for the Sail Miami site. It''s by no means definitive, but serves as a good basis for a couple to use to make sure she knows what she needs to in order to deal with emergencies.

It''s at


e-27 sailor 10-01-2003 07:37 AM

It can happen
Outstanding lesson-learned story, and even more relivent to smaller boaters. When I have quests aboard, I always offer a PFD, and my wife and I always wear ours, telling our guest that "if I end up in the water, it''s probably because we''ve been run over". That usually gets them thinking about their own survival.

bubb2 01-06-2007 09:05 PM


Originally Posted by DuaneIsing

Glad you all survived more or less intact. Your point about cross-training with your sailing partner is a valuable one that I am trying to heed.

I hope you will post more about the aftermath of this tragedy. Like, what happened to the boat which ran you down?

Good luck,

There was no injuries on the other vessel and the damage to his boat was about $15,000.

At first the Sea Ray owner claimed the cause of the collision was my fault. Something about my transom got in the way of his bow. That's when the Lawyers got involved.

I had to prove in an court of law that i was operating my vessel safely, and correctly. Let me tell you that a Court goes by the rules of road. 22 1/2 degrees abate the beam means just that in an court of law.

The owner of the Sea ray was cited by the Coast Guard for "negligent Operation."

He was also found liable by an New York court for the damages and injuries which at this time exceed $500,000. His insurance co. has appealed the jury verdict and we are awaiting the case to be heard by the Appellate Court.

It has been 3 1/2 years with no end in site but, we (my Wife, son and myself) are still sailing.

yotphix 01-06-2007 09:35 PM

glad to hear that you are all still sailing and I hope that your wife's injury has healed well, though I am aware that one never really fully recovers from such things. Amazing to me that there is any further discussion to be had regarding culpability. It ought to be perfectly obvious, even to an insurance company that the person who caused the incident (that was no accident, accidents don't stem from gross negligence and wanton disregard for life in my view) is liable for damage caused by it.

Anyhow, as you pointed out earlier, lots to learn from this. All the best in the new year,


HoffaLives 01-02-2008 12:13 AM

a terrible frightening story, and yet another condemnation of power boaters. i doubt very much that there's much talk on their forums about all the maniac sailors out there.
it is a miracle that there was no tragedy beyond personal injuries, which are utterly unacceptable in themselves. but all three of you could have been killed.
and when it moves from the personal to the lawyers and insurance companies, I see red. as far as that individual is concerned he didn't even have to apologise or feel remorse, and the worse that happens if he is found at fault is his insurance goes up.
some days a good shotgun is better than a whole room full of lawyers.

Rockter 01-02-2008 06:48 AM

I notice the original post was a fair while ago.
How did the court case go in the end?

You simply cannot run someone down like that surely, then claim that it is their fault?

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