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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Vessels Lost, Missing, or in Danger
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  #21  
Old 05-02-2009
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Once, while I was in the Navy, it was calm on a Sunday and we stopped to have a swim call. The ship took precautions with lookouts posted for either sharks or people in trouble and there were small boats in the water to assist if they were needed. Everything went smoothly except one thing. The local ocean current was a lot more than expected and in just a short time, people were strung out in the water over a quarter mile. No problem in our case, as all were picked up quickly and swim call was terminated. In my opinion, a swim call off a small boat at sea without a tether to the boat is not recommended. Not sure that this figured in the boat situation above, but a combination of current and a puff of wind can get you away from the boat in a hurry.
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  #22  
Old 05-03-2009
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Much less dramatic than these international stories: On my first solo cruise in 92, I was having a bit of a rough day. Sailing a 20' sloop from South Shore to North on Long Island. First night I anchored in the bay, next day to exit the inlet, sail west in the ocean. While still in the bay, everything went wrong. Strong breeze, lost my bearings, drove across a sandbar, lost a batten. Dropped the hook, regrouped, restarted. A cold front had come through, wind was north, strong. Actually surfed in the channel, scary but fun. Outside, off the beach, I noticed that the wnid was strong enough to blow the tops off the surf as it crashed on the beach. Far ahead I could see another sailboat, but, what? she seems to be heeling the other way. Can he be in a different wind? Is my perception off? As I closed him I realized the truth. It had sunk, was resting on the bottom, listing to windward. There was wreckage about, an inflatable, and two guys removing gear. It shocked and sobered me. Farther west, another mystery: a bouy I couldn't place on the chart. Proximity identified that too: a deadhead, piling floating upright, slowly bobbing. Could they have been related? I never knew. But it was a stark reminder to be careful.
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  #23  
Old 05-13-2009
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Oh man, this is seriously sad...

The Melinda Lee

Sounds like they did everything right. Some good info on AIS as well.

Last edited by smackdaddy; 05-13-2009 at 03:57 PM.
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  #24  
Old 05-13-2009
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Lake Michigan Tragedy

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
I haven't gone back and read those articles, but I vaguely remember speculation that they had all gone for a swim while becalmed, and the boat sailed away from them??

It can happen. I once read an account by folks whom this had nearly happened to, mid-ocean. Fortunately, one especially strong swimmer, and a brief lull, got them back aboard.
There was a sailboat - I think around 30 ft - that was found without anyone aboard on Lake Michigan a few years ago. A 30 something father and two daughters somewhere between 8 and 12 (if my memory serves me right) were missing. Life preservers were on board. Sails down. I believe the body of one of the daughters was found several weeks later. The best guess as to what happened was the daughters went swimming, got into a bit of trouble as the boat drifted away, the dad jumped in and none of them could get back to the boat. At least, that is what people who knew the dad well surmised. I don't think the bodies of the dad and other daughter were ever recovered. Really sad.
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  #25  
Old 05-14-2009
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Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Oh man, this is seriously sad...

The Melinda Lee

Sounds like they did everything right. Some good info on AIS as well.
There is absolutley no doubt that this is a very sad event and what happened to the folks on the boat should never have to be endured by anyone at sea.

As it happens, Judith Sleavin is a friend of the family and we have heard the story told and retold. Judith has co-written (along with her friend Hester Rumberg) a book recently published called Ten Degrees of Reckoning that tells her story.

I have read the story and as I said, debated it ad nauseam and my family will want my blood for saying this but . . . . . whilst not trying to defend the actions of the crew of the freighter, the COLREGS require that if a collision is imminent all vessels should take avoiding action. It seems that the Melinda Lee never did.

Sorry if this appeared to be a thread hijack - never intended that.
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  #26  
Old 05-14-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omatako View Post
There is absolutley no doubt that this is a very sad event and what happened to the folks on the boat should never have to be endured by anyone at sea.

As it happens, Judith Sleavin is a friend of the family and we have heard the story told and retold. Judith has co-written (along with her friend Hester Rumberg) a book recently published called Ten Degrees of Reckoning that tells her story.

I have read the story and as I said, debated it ad nauseam and my family will want my blood for saying this but . . . . . whilst not trying to defend the actions of the crew of the freighter, the COLREGS require that if a collision is imminent all vessels should take avoiding action. It seems that the Melinda Lee never did.

Sorry if this appeared to be a thread hijack - never intended that.
Omatako,

I haven't read the new book, but I do recall distinctly the article that she participated in with I believe Sail Magazine back in the mid-late-90s. That article provided much more info (some of it contradictory) than the article to which Smackdaddy linked.

First, my heart goes out, and always has, to her. And there seems to be no question that the ship was egregious in its conduct.

But I also recall that Ms Sleavin was on watch and had gone below to prepare a drink or food, and spent some time at the nav table. I remember when reading the Sail article that I felt very uncomfortable with the amount of time it would take to do those belowdeck tasks.

Then again, I am just finishing reading Tania Abei's Maiden Voyage, and was stunned to learn that during her solo circumnavigation she would simply button up the boat and go to bed for the night without keeping watch!! Eventually her luck ran out too, and she collided with a ship, but fortunately survived to tell her tale.

The Sleavins fared much worse. And given Judith's at most very brief lapse in watchkeeping, it seems cruelly unfair that her family should have come to such a horrific fate, when another sailor made it 4/5 of the way around the world with barely keeping a night watch.
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  #27  
Old 05-14-2009
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Oma - that's not a hijack by any means. Thanks for the follow up - and I'm truly sorry for Judith's loss. Absolutely devastating.

I really also appreciate your honesty on this one. It's strange how, when one reads something like this, one doesn't want to pile on anymore misery through "blame". It's easier and somehow more "just" to put all of it on the tanker and be done with it.

But deep down when reading this I thought exactly as you did. They seemed to let down their guard for just a moment - and that's all it took. In a small, relatively vulnerable vessel you really can't ever do that can you?

What about the AIS technology mentioned in that article? What are your thoughts on that?
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  #28  
Old 05-15-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
What about the AIS technology mentioned in that article? What are your thoughts on that?
Sorry Smack - I never went on to read about ther AIS in the article. But suffice it to say that AIS was not around when this accident happened and the very fact that the vessel was approaching NZ (30 miles of IIRC) and a confluence of shipping lanes, the watch should have been pretty full-on.

Contributing factors were continuous poor weather (our NZ speciality)resulting in everybody aboard being whacked out and a very cold night. Judith went below to make a hot drink and check the charts and she dallied longer than necessary no doubt because it was warm.

The ship was in the wrong because the yacht was the stand-on vessel and they were also wrong because their search was cursory at best. They knew damn well they had run someone down and should have tried harder. Judith says that in the turn the ship did for their "search", they came so close to her that she could see the faces of the people on the bridge. Still, a decent watch would have prevented the whole episode.

My thoughts on AIS, for the record, I think it's too high tech for my boat, I have EIS (eyeball identification system) and it's worked for me for decades without any equipment failure (yet).
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  #29  
Old 08-30-2009
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Is it just me - or are the Gulfies just a tougher lot than most? Yes we keep falling over in our boats and getting wet - but even when the CG throws in the towel we're still out there laughing it up...

Missing boaters found alive off Texas coast

(CNN) -- A day after the U.S. Coast Guard said it was suspending its weeklong search for three missing boaters, the men were found alive Saturday night.

A boater found 28-year-old Curtis Hall, 30-year-old James Phillips and 43-year-old Tressel Hawkins sitting on top of their capsized fishing vessel drinking Lone Star and singing "The Eyes of Texas" at the tops of their lungs about 180 miles from Port Aransas, Texas, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

The men had been missing at sea since they failed to return from a fishing trip on August 22.

The Coast Guard called off its search Friday after it said it had searched more than 86,000 square miles for the men.

Following their rescue, the men were taken to Port Aransas to undergo medical evaluation.


A slight bit of embellishment added.
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Last edited by smackdaddy; 08-30-2009 at 11:09 AM.
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  #30  
Old 08-31-2009
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Fenders down? They were boarded. Sails were up because they were sailing. They were hailed, The engine was running to give them some maneuvering capability. The jib was damaged after the fact. Maybe they left the boat under duress. This is just speculation obviously.
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