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  #341  
Old 09-17-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legarots View Post
The description says

"Captain Raf and Duke are taking out a group of tourists on their 40' sailboat for an ash scattering ceremony" !
After the ashes of Aunt Mabel were scattered all over the inside of the cabin during the multiple sky launches, the tourists decided to beat Raf and Duke to a bloody pulp and go back to the bar.

Raf and Duke are now unemployed.
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  #342  
Old 11-17-2010
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Sinking of Rule 62

Quote:
Originally Posted by lynmidas@aol.com View Post
Ross's crew diverted from the course and turned westerly toward the the Bahamas because Zekoll and Debra Ross were seasick, according to Julie Palm, a spokeswoman from the Cruising Rally Association.
Authorities are still investigating what caused the ship to capsize, but Palm said the boat hit a reef . According to the Cruising Rally Association, all four on board managed to get on a raft with life jackets on and tried to row to safety, but the life raft overturned in heavy swells.
Okay, this is interesting...

We now know that the diversion was due to crew "discomfort" (in quotes because I know sea-sickness is extremely debilitating). Tragically, in this case, that diversion for this reason lead to a potential fatality.

I'm not going to fault the skipper at all. I wasn't there. However, in wanting to learn from every situation...I have a couple of questions...

1. In a situation where you have sick/exhausted crew due to heavy weather, and they want to get off as quickly as possible, and you feel an obligation to them...how do you balance that with the risks of approaching potentially hazardous inlets in rough conditions? As this seems to be another case where the "safer" option (getting out of those conditions) ended up being the deadlier option. it is often said that keeping away from land in heavy weather is typically the safest move. But as a skipper, you have to be able to convince your crew/wife/kids of this as they are pleading to get off the boat.

2. In this case, there was apparently a rage happening at the cut. For those of you who have entered treacherous inlets...at what point can you actually see enough to tell you to abort an attempt? How close do you have to be to make that call?
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  #343  
Old 11-17-2010
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"For those of you who have entered treacherous inlets...at what point can you actually see enough to tell you to abort an attempt?"
Come on, smack. How long is a piece of string?

You can see enough when you can see or hear the inlet or the action of other vessels in it. And if you can't see all the way through from the approach, you either hold off (somewhere further out and safer) or you make the run for it when you have to.

"No place to run, Babe, no place to hide" [Martha & The Vandellas]
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  #344  
Old 11-17-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"For those of you who have entered treacherous inlets...at what point can you actually see enough to tell you to abort an attempt?"
Come on, smack. How long is a piece of string?

You can see enough when you can see or hear the inlet or the action of other vessels in it. And if you can't see all the way through from the approach, you either hold off (somewhere further out and safer) or you make the run for it when you have to.

"No place to run, Babe, no place to hide" [Martha & The Vandellas]
That's the kicker here, though hello. It sounds like these guys were going in at night, during a rage. That's some kind of "have to"...which leads back to the other question above.

This just seems to be another incident underscoring everything we always talk about:

1. The boat almost always outlasts the crew.
2. In really rough weather...stay out...regardless of the desire to go in.
3. Crank up Martha & The Vandellas.
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  #345  
Old 11-17-2010
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1. Potential for wrecking the boat and loss of life vs tired and sea sick for another few hours or even few days? Obviously no comparison. Problem is tired and sea sick makes it more difficult to make a clear decision. But even if the situation is questionable at all better to wait.

2. Entering a cut in a rage sea it is difficult to see how bad it is from offshore ie behind the wave. Looking at the backside it appears much smaller and less threatening than from the breaking side so it is very easy to get into the cut before realizing how bad it is.

20/20 hindsight and armchair quarterbacking I would never have attempted that cut in those conditions. At night, that times ten. Maybe at night in a dead calm, feeling my way in slowly.

Don't know the exact wind direction but if from the E or NE about 30 miles further south they could have rounded the south tip of the island and anchored in the lee.
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  #346  
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Good explanation skip. BTW, here's the pic Vasco linked to that shows the rage in that general area at that time (at Guano). Seriously sick conditions:
Attached Thumbnails
Heavy Weather Sailing-rage13nov10.80kb.jpeg  
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Last edited by smackdaddy; 11-17-2010 at 11:39 AM.
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  #347  
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I am not allowed to post links on this forum, but I can type in two URL's that will help you understand the issue.
1. It appears that they missed the cut by a little over a mile. The exact Lat and Long of the point where the vessel struck the reef is avail here:
event.magnatrax.net/temp/Caribbean%201500%202010.kmz
(you need to download Google Earth to open the file)

2. They struck the reef just before 9PM EST, which at this time of year is pitch dark. myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/atlanta-woman-goes-missing-on-sailing-trip-111510

3. It appears from the KML file that they were following their GPS and heading directly for the center of the (very, very wide) cut. But, at 2 miles off of the reef, the course leaves the GPS tracked line they were on, and heads towards 26°22'34.77"N 77° 0'27.03"W

I've posted that I believe she is alive, and she is on the swamped but not sunk Jeanneau 45 DS which is still sitting on the reef, awash. She was reportedly wearing a life vest, and was the strongest swimmer in the group when they were separated trying to row the liferaft off the reef. If she had been killed or disabled, or even if she simply floated as the others did, she would have washed up on the shore as they did.
I believe that she swam back to the boat, and likely injured herself somewhat crossing the reef to reach the boat in the swell. I believe she is still there. Yes, it seems implausible....unless you are a very strong, smart swimmer who thinks for themselves, and is wearing flotation. It is what I would do if I was separated from my crew, in the dark, 1.3 miles from shore with no visible light visible from my spot floating in the water...but with a nearly full moon and cloudless night giving me clearly visible indication that my vessel was still afloat, and awash.

That is my strong opinion.

Last edited by gclimbusa; 11-17-2010 at 03:21 PM.
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  #348  
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g - thanks for the info. I'd seen that course break on the tracks from the race website. Something definitely happened at that point. It might have been the wave strike, or capsize, or pooping, or just heading toward the light. Who knows? A lot of different statements are floating out there right now and none of them make total sense.

You may be right. She may be on the boat. And that would be a truly great thing.

But, honestly, looking at the above pic, I don't care how strong a swimmer you are, you're not going to power through breaking waves like that.
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  #349  
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Yes, but

Thanks, I hear you....it looks daunting. But that picture is of shore break, not reef break, and I have in the not distant past "powered through" offshore breaks like that to reach a place where I could stand. As a strong swimmer, you time your sprint to begin immediately after the last break and the backwash carries you towards the reef. You get your feet on the reef and brace for the next break. You get as low as you can and move forward between the breaks. I've done it. It is hard; it requires you to hold your breath as you are submerged by each break, but it can be done...especially if you are very comfortable being underwater, and are strong. You would need to ditch you lifejacket to do it once you reached the reef.

Yes, I understand it seems like a long shot, but you have to give people like Laura Zekoll: Strong, seasoned, fit, super smart, super self reliant; the benefit of the doubt. I guess that's all I'm saying.

Prayers for Laura and her family.
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Caught out in a rage

Happened to me a couple of years ago trying to get back into Eizabeth Harbour in Exuma. I was returning from a 3 day cruise to Conception Island via Long Island. The first (and only) warning came when a wave broke on me just north of Hog Cay in about 64' of water. Was able to get the boat (48' cat) turned into it although it fell pretty hard off the back side. Was back in deeper water shortly thereafter and proceeded to the Elizabeth Harbour entrance on the north end of Stocking Island (Conch Cay cut). Still plenty of daylight but the swells were enormous and although I was looking at the back side of them as I approached, one only had to turn around to see what was happening to them as the reached shallower water. Scared the hell out of me and after a couple of approaches without committing, I decided to spend the night off shore as we were were rapidly losing daylight. Wife and daughter were both very seasick and I spent a long night at the wheel tacking back and forth into a fairly light breeze not wanting to get too far off shore hoping that the morning would bring smaller seas. It didn't and in retrospect I shouldn't have hung around. (At some point the dinghy was partially ripped from one of the davits and was dragging upside down in the water. I don't know when or how it happened since my boat is a Chris White Atlantic series, and the pilot house was behind the helm and blocked a view of it. I was eventually able to recover it – in daylight – and get it on deck but stupid to try. Should have cut it away.)

The next morning tried a couple of approaches but could not see a clear passage as I got closer. Finally heard from a small sloop coming out that I shouldn't try it. As they were leaving the harbour, the ferry, a fairly large catamaran (100' +), was coming in and broached in a breaking wave and almost wiped out the sloop. (I can't imagine what it must have been like to have been a paying passenger on that thing.) The only option was to get away from the Exuma chain and head to Cat Island which offered a sheltered approach. By then I was pretty tired and was wanting to get my wife and daughter an terra firma.

Two days later there was an article in the NY Times about this particular Rage which affected much of the Caribbean. Breaking waves in many anchorages and beaches scoured.

Lessons learned: Even though the back side of waves don't look as big as the front side, all you have to do is look behind you as they begin to pile up in shallower water. If it looks like it could break, it probably will and could take you with it. After the first aborted approach, I should have given up and headed off shore. There is no way to assess the situation in the dark. In fairness to the skipper of Rule 62, unless you've seen what happens in daylight, at night you cannot properly appreciate the danger and might be tempted to set a gps course through one of these cuts thinking you can avoid danger. Sadly, it can't be done.

The second lesson, and the one that still spooks me, is stay in deep water. I probably shouldn't have attempted any approach. Although I remained fairly far away from the passage entrance and far away from obvious breakers, I think I may have been in shallow enough water that a wave could have broken. I know now, but didn't really then, that given the size of the waves off shore, it was stupid to get any closer. The weather was otherwise benign so it made if difficult to appreciate what was actually happening in the cuts. If there had been a strong onshore breeze, the obvious thing to do would be to get far off the lee shore.

The third lesson is that there is no one that you can call for help or advice. Elizabeth Harbour has an active and helpful cruisers' net and I was able to raise several boats on the radio but they were all safely tucked in on the other side of Stocking Island and didn't have a clue what conditions were like. (Actually the Abaco/Marsh Harbour net does a much better job reporting conditions in the cuts but the Abaco cuts are much easier to observe from a safe spot.) I was in contact via sat phone with one of the professional routing/weather services and they weren't able to give me any advice about local conditions and weren't really able to tell me how long the high seas would hang around. You really are on your own in this kind of situation.
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