Guess I hang with the small percentage. Even 27 minutes with the sun going down while sitting on barnacles is a long time floating on an upside down hull.
I suppose priorities in order many would throw their bucks into a nicer marine stereo rather than locator devices... however kidding aside would have a float plan and check-ins with others so folks would miss them and know where and when to start looking plus would have taken heed of the advanced weather warnings and not waited until it was too late to start adjusting for it.
Lashing themselves to the centerboard probably helped with issues from the water however the barnacles on the hull and sun really tore them up. Sad that they did not clean the hull up when they bought the boat and it was out on the hard since the barnacles are the major reason one of them is still in the hospital. Even more sad since this was so preventable considering all the advanced warning and expectation of that storm.
A lot of the locals are laughing at these guys as more Northerners coming to Florida for a bargain boat, not giving the Gulf the respect it deserves, being too cheap to even give the hull a good scraping to get the barnacles off and then having to pay the consequences by sitting on those barnacles for 27 hours. To be fair they do deeply respect those that ask for advice about local conditions and actually head the advice and would not be laughing if lives had been lost but they survived and hopefully learned the hard lesson on when to reef or drop sail and motor and won't try to make excuses passing blame on unpredictable weather or being caught by a freak storm event.
Sometimes the School of Hard Knocks can be very costly. Thankfully they did not have their wives and family with them or perhaps if they did they would have taken appropriate action much earlier.
I’m also with the small percentage and also a Northerner who bought a boat in Clearwater Beach and sailed it home to Mystic in 1996.
But I made sure the boat was properly commissioned. There were no barnacles, but we had the bottom paint redone, the Loran and GPS plotters checked out by RM, new canvas, offshore PFDs, second anchor, and inflatable dinghy stored below. The admiral and I got the boat to Stuart. I went back down with an experienced offshore sailor to bring the boat up the East coast, with an EPIRB, proper MOB gear, backup 2 meter radio (the boat had an SSB), life raft, backup GPS, and celestial nav. We rigged an inner forestay and associated running back stays and carried storm sails.
For some reason, it seems that the more prepared you are, the less dramatic your cruise. The weather was virtually perfect, especially on our first offshore leg from Ft. Pierce to Beaufort, NC (600 mi in 72 hours—all but 3 hours under sail). We did seek a harbor of refuge (Pt. Lookout) in the Chesapeake, but it wasn’t an emergency—just uncomfortable conditions and too far to the next anchorage. It turned out to be a great trip: 1700 miles in 3 1/2 weeks, including 3 lay days, with a total diesel consumption of 50 gal. The highest winds encountered were in the upper 30’s (The Pt. Lookout day).
It also helped that we did not have a fixed schedule. I did have to get to Washington, DC, for a fixed date, annual program review, but was prepared to stop wherever we found ourselves and make the side trip to DC by whatever means necessary. It turned out that we got to Annapolis and it was a matter of a rental car and an overnight hotel stay, which accounted for 2 of our lay days. Unfortunately the weather was not conducive to sailing when we left Annapolis. It wasn’t bad, so there was no drama, but we did motor the whole way from there to Mystic, including an overnight from the Delaware River to Fishers Island Sound. The highlight of that last leg was being able to keep our course by reference to the stars, which was handy, as our wheelpilot crapped out an hour out of Annapolis (sure we had a compass, but it was easier to align our rigging with the stars and adjust as time went by.)