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  #371  
Old 11-18-2013
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

I am still terribly confused by all the discussion on this thread.
If one is contemplating a thousand mile ocean sail and neither the boat nor her crew can safely weather 40 to 50 knots of wind and seas to 20 feet or so, then neither the boat, nor the crew, has any business attempting the crossing.
Front or no front, Gulfstream or not, those are not conditions unimaginable on any thousand mile crossing.
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  #372  
Old 11-18-2013
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

Have we yet learned how / why the 2 masts were lost? How about the rudder failures?
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  #373  
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Jon, I really don't get your arguments here. I've been reading your posts for a long time. And you're not one to go easy on sailors who go out "underprepared", then run into problems. In fact, you're typically pretty harsh.

Yet, when it comes to this rally incident where 8 out of 116 boats had serious gear failures and/or became SAR cases, you're willing to give a pass to the organization that encouraged/facilitated this group of boats to be out there in the very conditions you cite above.
No, perhaps I've been unclear, but you certainly seem to have misunderstood much of my perspective on this...

My problem with this thread from the get-go, has been the assignment of responsibility on the part of some to the organizers of the SDR that either does not exist, or is no greater than that of the organizers of the 1500... The SDR most certainly did not "encourage or facilitate" these people to sail to the Caribbean, any more so than the 1500 does... Certainly, the long-standing profit motive of a commercial venture like the 1500 has a FAR greater reason to "encourage" people to undertake this passage, it clearly shows in their advertising and solicitation of participants for over 20 years...

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
So, on the one hand, you're saying that the organization's low-experience threshold for entry and low standard of safety preparedness for the rally is perfectly fine.
Again, I'm not saying that at all...

The "threshold for entry" in both rallies is very vague, to the point of being essentially meaningless... But the 1500 only requires one to have made a passage of at least 250 miles. I sure don't see that as being particularly stringent, either... From what I've observed prior to the start of a couple of 1500s in recent years, it's obvious to me some of the participants were unprepared for the sort of heavy weather one can easily experience on that passage, and I've always been astounded by the number of crew who had apparently never sailed at night, on the ocean, before... Boggles the mind than anyone would begin such a trip with such untested crew, and the number of boats each year that turn back or bail out due to extreme seasickness of one or more crew is testimony to how many underestimate the rigors of such a passage...

But again, I simply don't see how the 1500's reliance on ISAF safety standards had anything to do with the choice of departure times, or the failures that have resulted... On the other hand, I can't fault the SDR for placing the onus of proper preparation where it belongs, on the owner/skipper of each vessel... They make that VERY clear from the beginning...

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Yet, on the other hand, you're saying that no sailor should undertake a trip like this unless they have a high level of experience and a high level of safety preparedness.
Well, I might amend that to suggest that one should have a 'sufficient' level of experience... Very hard to define, of course, and will vary from one sailor to the next. But again, from what I've seen over the years, GPS has 'enabled' way too many people to be making this trip that they wouldn't even contemplate doing if they had to find Tortola on their own...

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Can't you see the conflict in this line of reasoning? You can't have it both ways. Would you, on a sailing forum, personally encourage a cruiser with a single bluewater passage to do this trip at this time of year - not knowing anything more about him or the condition of his boat? I seriously doubt it.
I don't know how I can make it any clearer than I have been attempting to do for years: I am NOT a fan of these Caribbean Cattle Drives, and I would NEVER enter the 1500 myself... Hell, the question I dread hearing most when I'm on a delivery, and someone learns I'm familiar with a particular route, inlet, whatever - is, "Do you mind if we follow you?" :-) If one is not prepared to attempt any passage on their own, they are not ready to attempt it, PERIOD... I'm mystified why anyone finds such a simple notion so difficult to understand...

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
And if things went bad for him on this trip and he had to call for rescue, would you then come back on the forum and say "Sometimes, the SHTF on this passage, there's not much anyone can do about it, it's really that simple :-)". Again, I seriously doubt it.
My comment in that regard was related to the weather routing/forecasting... Sometimes even the best - such as Chris Parker - can get it wrong. And, the best one can do is prepare your boat and crew as best you can for that eventuality...

2 years ago, I arrived in Hampton on the scheduled day of departure for the 1500... Many of the participants were in a panic, because Chris Parker and Herb Hilgenberg seemed to be the only routers really concerned about the system right on the rhumbline which would eventually develop into Tropical Storm Sean... The service that the 1500 was using, and the one being used by the NARC Rally out of Newport, seemed to be downplaying its significance... From what I heard after I arrived, It wasn't until many of the 1500 skippers staged what almost amounted to a mini-'revolt' that morning at the final skipper's meeting, that the organizers relented to the wishes of many, and decided to postpone... That year, Chris nailed it... This year, perhaps not so much, and it turned out the 1500 made the better call...

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
When you and others hold individual skippers to such a high standard and continually critique their perceived flaws (Snowbirds don't sail they motor, judging by this pic they're not prepared, they should have never been out there in the first place, they call this safe?, they rely on electronics too much, etc.) - then you should hold everyone, including rally organizations, to that same standard. If you don't, then you're allowing the rally organization to essentially say this "seamanship stuff" is not really that important as they undercut it. Do you really believe it is not that important?

The only way I can reconcile so much resistance to this notion of rally organizers having ISAF (or equivalent) as the safety standard, or at least upping the entry requirements to ensure adequate experience - is that you guys, as experienced skippers, just can't stand the thought of ANY form of outside regulation (though you personally hold the skipper to very high "regulations" yourself). I guess I understand that from a political perspective. But it sure does twist your logic.
Sorry, but I don't get how you think that is what I'm saying, at all...

Please, show me what the 1500 does to "ensure adequate experience" of the skippers whose $1500 or more they accept. Do you think they were successful in their vetting of the experience of the skipper of RULE 62, to name one?

Last edited by JonEisberg; 11-18-2013 at 06:08 PM.
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  #374  
Old 11-18-2013
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

Sarafina's blog is articulate and entertaining. What a writer, and so few typos in rather boisterous conditions. In his 3 Nov entry, before departure he made this observation

"The Salty Dawg Rally gathering has been huge fun and we are very much amongst friends old and new. There are various seminars and social events running and it has all been very entertaining, but probably not the perfect way to prepare for 10 or so days of ocean sailing."

This experienced, capable sailor recognized this peril and apparently did not fall victim to the risk. But what about other less experienced sailors? Is this not part of what Smackdaddy is arguing?
John
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  #375  
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post

For those of you who poo-poo the notion of "group think" influencing decisions in a rally - decisions that would likely play out otherwise in the case of an individual skipper on his own, this is a telling quote from this blog:

Quote:
Well at long last there has been a decisive gap in the weather and the fleet has largely chosen to head off south on Wednesday, but along with a few other ‘old heads’ we have opted for a Tuesday morning start as this gets us clear across the Gulf Stream ahead of a big cold front that will bring us 30 to 40 knot winds.
A rally creates a strong psychological influence on individual decisions. And that in itself can elevate risk. No way around it.
I don't necessarily disagree, and that is the primary basis for my objection to the inherent nature of these rallies... However, you're dreaming if you don't think this sort of 'herd mentality' never existed prior to the existence of an event like the 1500...

25 years ago, before Steve Black founded the Caribbean 1500, Morehead City/Beaufort was the most popular jumping off spot for the islands... But, the 1500 had their eyes on the prize of attracting the bigger boats, ones too large to run down the ICW behind Hatteras, and thus Hampton Roads became the 'New' starting point for the trip... As the years passed, and boats kept getting bigger and bigger, it's become accepted that starting from the Chesapeake Entrance is the way to go. But, as Don Street has been explaining for years, there remain some very compelling reasons why a departure S of Hatteras is still often a far better way to go... I would suggest that much of the carnage that occurred this year, might have been avoided, if boats had run down the Ditch behind Hatteras, and awaited a window to depart from Beaufort, instead...

Today, it's probably hard for many to imagine what the scene ws like in a place like Beaufort, where cruisers gathered and awaited their window for departure. Remember, this was a time before The Weather Channel existed, where it was almost impossible to obtain much in the way of 'Big Picture' information about systems moving across the continent, or up from the tropics. If I had a boat to bring back from Florida, for example, pretty much the only means I had to plan on a departure date would be to call a friend who lived down there, and ask him to listen to the marine forecast on a VHF... There were no weather routing services, pretty much the sole source of weather information for most was simply awaiting latest offshore/high seas forecast for the next 3 days... Even SSB was a luxury that many of the boats making the trip didn't possess...

Every day, the various crews gathered on the docks, the weather the neverending topic of conversation... The herd instinct at its most elemental, virtually every greeting was along the lines of "I don't know, what do You think?"

Seriously, not all that much has changed... :-)
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Last edited by JonEisberg; 11-18-2013 at 06:10 PM.
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  #376  
Old 11-18-2013
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
I don't necessarily disagree, and that is the primary basis for my objection to the inherent nature of these rallies... However, you're dreaming if you don't think this sort of 'herd mentality' never existed prior to the existence of an event like the 1500...
I've never said it didn't exist before these rallies, Jon. I've simply said it exists - and creates a unique set of problems. Again, you keep jumping to these strange, extreme conclusions.

This quote of yours makes a bit more sense:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
My problem with this thread from the get-go, has been the assignment of responsibility on the part of some to the organizers of the SDR that either does not exist, or is no greater than that of the organizers of the 1500... The SDR most certainly did not "encourage or facilitate" these people to sail to the Caribbean, any more so than the 1500 does...
BOTH of these rallies "encourage or facilitate" these people to sail to the Caribbean...in groups. YES, THEY ARE THE SAME IN THIS REGARD. Now, I'm not trying to prove that the C1500 is somehow the perfect rally. I'm simply saying that, due to all the kinds of issues you've just chronicled above, having ISAF-based safety standards and safety inspections to ensure at least some level of preparedness IS BETTER THAN HAVING NO STANDARDS/INSPECTIONS. In fact the latter seems pretty irresponsible if you're organizing a rally. So - again, BOTH rallies should have the same high standards of safety. That's been my point all along.

ccriders nailed it above. It's really not that complicated.
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  #377  
Old 11-18-2013
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

As to " herd" mentality, I have seen that with very experienced airline crews who don't want to launch into a wall of thunderstorms on their radar, so one guy says, it doesn't look that bad and moves to the head of the line and takes off and suddenly they all start requesting clearance to depart. No one wants to appear wimpy.
The thing about experience at sea( previous passages of X miles)how do you verify this stuff, is it all pencil whipped like some GC licenses, or do you need to be "signed off" by some captain with credentials.
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  #378  
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

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Originally Posted by 34crealock View Post
The thing about experience at sea( previous passages of X miles)how do you verify this stuff, is it all pencil whipped like some GC licenses, or do you need to be "signed off" by some captain with credentials.
I think that's a great question. And I think it's yet another reason that the NARC safety standards approach is a sensible one. Much harder to fake that stuff.
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  #379  
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by 34crealock
The thing about experience at sea( previous passages of X miles)how do you verify this stuff, is it all pencil whipped like some GC licenses, or do you need to be "signed off" by some captain with credentials.
I think that's a great question. And I think it's yet another reason that the NARC safety standards approach is a sensible one. Much harder to fake that stuff.
Do you have a link to the NARC's "Safety Standards"?

Other than limiting participation to larger, "Professionally Crewed" boats that can make it to Bermuda in 4 days?

Whatever 'safety standards' they were going with 2 years ago sure didn't keep them from getting clobbered...
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Re: Rallies Gone Wrong

I think the following excerpts below from the 2011 Narc Rally sums it up nicely:

Namaste had a very quick three-and-a-half day passage that was “actually easier than I expected and faster than I had hoped for,” said skipper Bill Fraser-Harris.

“I learned from other boats’ experiences that it is vital to depart in a weather window that is appropriate to your boat speed. While a group/fleet departure has its benefits, they should never outweigh your individual decision process.”


This point was the reason why Bob and Sharon Heckman decided not to head directly to Bermuda aboard their Hylas 46, Shazza, with the rest of the NARC fleet, but instead sail down the coast to Virginia and plan a crossing from there.

“Each skipper must evaluate the weather data as it relates to his own capabilities, speed, and comfort level,” remarked Heckman. “These are very unlikely the same as the rally leader.

Think about what the decision would be if there were no commitments, not even the destination. Resist making any commitments to deadlines.”


Lessons Learned
Weather between New England and Bermuda is reliably unstable in October and November, as strong cold fronts drive cold air from the U.S. into warm sub-tropical Atlantic waters, explains weather router Chris Parker: “The combination of cold air and warm water can support explosive convection and severe squalls. Cold fronts often stall and fester, with warm waters supporting ample evaporation, which feeds convection, and can lead to tropical low-pressure system formation.”
Nine-time Newport-Bermuda Race veteran John Rousmaniere advises that you should “anticipate that the route to and from Bermuda will always be rough, if not stormy, and prepare your boat for that.”
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