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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter #1
Interesting video from a guy that stumbled across an abandoned sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico;


Now, before you get all excited, this is not MY video, and I believe that his comment on healthcare was meant to be tongue in cheek.
 
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Tartan 27' owner
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Why was the skipper of the "Carrie Anne" so reluctant to board the seemingly abandoned vessel "Escape Pod"?
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter #7
Why was the skipper of the "Carrie Anne" so reluctant to board the seemingly abandoned vessel "Escape Pod"?
  • Possible crime scene
  • Possible that he could fall overboard while trying to leave his vessel (he was single handing)
  • Possible zombie infestation

All of these would keep me off the boat too.
 

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First String
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How weired,
I would haved freeked out. I hate me some Zombies. I would have checked out the boat I dont think I would have left it there.
 

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Maybe I would think differently if I were there, but looking at the video, and how calm conditions were, and only 100 miles from shore, I think I would have seriously considered towing that thing back in.
 
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Nobody on board? Thank God nobody was laying on the cabin floor incapacitated. I don't know that i could leave a fellow boater a hundred miles out without taking a peek to make sure nobody was hurt.
I do understand that it would depend on the conditions. It looked pretty benign. Could have possibly boarded.

Great radio etiquette by the way.

Spare parts? That's some money left sitting there; oh wait, 35' Hunter. Never mind. ;)
 

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I would have checked out the boat I dont think I would have left it there.
If you're think of a salvage effort, those might be easier said than done... Even if you're Matt Rutherford, and could really use a $45K windfall :)

Remember the Swan 48 WOLFHOUND, abandoned near Bermuda last winter? Well, she's STILL out there...





July 22, 2013


Wolfhound (Day 55)


The day after we finished our research we were sitting on the back of the boat enjoying an early dinner. Nikki suddenly stopped eating and said ‘look there is a sail boat over there’. It looked strange to me as the sails were not up and it seemed to be drifting around. Our first thought was that someone might be in need of some assistance so we changed course and turned toward the drifting vessel. As we passed close by I yelled out ‘HELLO’ half expecting to see some unshaven desperate sailor pop his head out but nothing happened. Nikki warned me that if I went onboard the sailboat I might find a dead body. I had to see if someone was in danger so I jumped into our flimsy kayak and paddled over then climbed aboard the injured sailboat. After a full inspection of the boat I found that it was abandoned.

The boat was a 48 foot Swan named Wolfhound full of nice gear. I could have easily striped the boat but I wanted to do the right thing. I found the owners phone number and the number for his insurance company and called them both telling them I found Wolfhound the 48 foot Swan and asked them what they would like me to do. As expected the owner wanted his boat and asked if I could tow it to the Chesapeake Bay. I told him I would be lucky if I could tow it 715 miles to Bermuda. I thought the sailboat still had a lot of life left in her and we could use the salvage money. It was worth a try.

The next day I returned to Wolfhound and pumped all the water out of the bilge. I had to secure the mast because the forestay and backstay were broke. I secured the mast with a few halyards, the mast wouldn’t be able to support a sail but at least the mast wasn’t going to fall down. She was dragging an anchor which I pulled back on board and tied off. I also took down the ripped up main sail and stowed it away inside the cabin. I had done everything I could to secure the Swan.

Nikki and I discussed our game plan. We didn’t have enough fuel to tow Wolfhound all the way to Bermuda so the next day I was going to kayak back to the Swan and pump out its fuel tank hoping to get at least 30 gallons of diesel. The next day I disconnected one of my ships batteries placed in in the kayak and paddled back to the Swan. I used a waste pump that I found which was brand new still in its box and my big group 31 battery that I brought and started to pump Wolfhounds fuel tank dry. I was disappointed when I only got 12 gallons of diesel. I tried to bring back a jerry can with the Kayak but the Kayak flipped, I was being drug behind the Swan with one hand on the kayak and the other hand on the swim ladder. I dragged myself and the kayak back onboard and decided there was no way to get my battery and three jerry jugs back to my boat using the little kayak. After searching around I found a Zodiac inflatable on Wolfhound so I pumped it up and threw it overboard. At least now I have a good way to shuttle the 12 gallons of diesel and my big battery back to my boat. Then craziest thing happened. On the way back to my boat the bottom fell out of the dingy. One minute I’m just rowing along and the next minute I’m looking down at nothing but water. My 100 pound battery I brought with me had a line attached to it and the line nearly rapped around my leg. If it had it would have taken me to the bottom of the ocean with it. I struggled to get back to my boat and climbed aboard, but I did manage to save the 3 jerry cans that had the 12 gallons of fuel in them. Nikki and I set aside 20 gallons of fuel in reserve and decided if we can’t get Wolfhound to Bermuda with the remaining fuel then we cut her loose and use the 20 gallons of reserve fuel to get to Bermuda without her.

The next day we spotted a freighter and asked the freighter if it could spare 50 gallons of diesel. At first they were hesitant but when the saw that we were towing a sailboat the freighter agreed to help. I had to pull up next to a slow moving freighter, stay 10 feet from its hull and maintain a prefect course in order to get the fuel. It took every bit of skill I had to hold my boat in that position for an hour as the guys on the freighter lowered one jerry jug at a time down to Nikki. It was absolutely nerve racking. You never want to be that close to a freighter in the open ocean, but if we could pull it off we would have enough fuel to easy tow the boat to Bermuda.

As we pulled away from the freighter we were all smiles. We now had enough fuel to motor to Bermuda. We were going to pull it off. A few hours later I noticed our RPM gauge was jumping around and the engine was starting to struggle. I backed down the throttle and the engine died immediately. I said to Nikki ‘we must have got dirty diesel, I’ll change the fuel filter’. I changed both fuel filters and bled the air out of the engine and she still wouldn’t start. It was getting dark so I thought it best to get some rest and deal with it tomorrow. The next day I took my oil extraction pump and jury rigged it to my primary fuel filter. This way I could pump all the dirty fuel out of the fuel tank through the fuel filter and into jerry jugs. By doing this I would clean all the fuel and then I could pour it back in the tank. I had to sacrifice two more fuel filters but it went remarkably well and now all the fuel was clean. I only had one fuel filter left but we should be okay. I reconnected the primary fuel filter to the engine, we bled out the air and — nothing. The engine still wouldn’t start. I spent the next 36 hours bleeding and re-bleeding my engine until I had to finally except that the fuel I got from the freighter was so bad that it ruined my fuel injection pump. There is no way to fix that out at sea, my engine was dead.

That changed everything. Now the only hope we had to get Wolfhound to Bermuda was to get her engine started. The first thing I had to do was remove the lines that had rapped themselves around Wolfhounds propeller. It took about an hour of hard swimming before I could get all the lines off of Wolfhounds prop. While I was doing that a line rapped around the propeller on my boat. I had to cut lines off of two different boats propellers back to back in the middle of the open ocean. By the end I was covered in scraps and cuts and completely exhausted. After that fiasco I took another one of my ships batteries over to the Swan 48 and got it connected to the ships electric system. I was able get the engine to turn over but I couldn’t get it to start. At this point the wind died and my boat stopped but the Swan didn’t. I watch helplessly as the Swan rammed my boat putting a dent in the side of my ship. Then it spun around and the tow line rapped around it rudder, so now we were pulling it backwards. It took three hours to finally get the Swan 48 spun back around the right way. As all of this was happening the seas were building. I was still on Wolfhound and Nikki was on Ault. There was no way I would be able to bring my battery back to my boat and from the looks of it I would be lucky to get back at all. I narrowly managed to row the little kayak back to my boat as each wave was trying to flip me.

Again Nikki and I sat down to discuss a new game plan. The owner of Wolfhound had offered us $45,000 if we could get it to Bermuda. Nikki, myself and the non-profit are completely broke. We were going to put $20,000 in the next year’s scientific expedition to the Arctic and split the rest. We would have a financial security blanket. We could afford health insurance, car insurance and pay our cell phone bills until we left for the Arctic next June. Back on land we spend well over 40 hours a week managing the various aspects of the non-profit but we haven’t been able to raise enough money to get paid a salary. It could have been a huge help. But between the two boats we had two broken engines and only my boat could sail. We got an accurate weather report from Predict Wind that told us for the next 7 days we had nothing but headwinds and light winds. We tried to tow her under sail into the wind but the combined leeway was pushing us east, further out to sea and away from Bermuda. We knew if we dragged the boat long enough we could get to Bermuda but how long, two weeks, a month? Every day that went by my boat was receiving more damage. That and it is hurricane season, we can’t just be out here like a sitting duck. Just as Nikki and I were having this conversation I heard a noise. The towline had rapped itself around my windvane again threatening to rip it off. We are out here to do research not salvage boats. You cannot let greed corrupt good judgment. There comes a point when the risks outweigh the reward. At 4:30pm after 5 long days of towing Wolfhound I cut the line.

We cut Wolfhound free and started making some headway when the halyard on the mainsail failed and for the last 36 hours we have been trying to beat into 15-20 knot headwinds with only a foresail, going nowhere. In a day or two when the wind dies I will climb my unstayed mast to the top and fix the problem. I can’t say I want to do it, but it has to be done. After that difficult climb up the mast we will be able to raise our main sail again but then we will be becalmed for 3-5 days. When the wind finally picks back up we will continue back to land.

On the bright side of things, every major sailing trip I’ve ever done I did with a broken engine so it’s nothing new to me. There are no big storms anywhere in the Atlantic (for now) and we have plenty of food and water. We won’t be going anywhere for the next 5 days because of the light winds but at least we will have a chance to clean the boat up, fix things and regroup.

By Endurance…

Matt Rutherford

Wolfhound (Day 55) | oceanresearchproject.org
More here:

SWAN 48 SALVAGE ATTEMPT: Matt Rutherford Almost Got Ripped Off! (IMHO) | Sailfeed

And here:

Matt Rutherford Wolfhound Salvage from on podbay: open podcasting
 

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What would he be entitled to if he had towed it in? The boat, some sort of recovery/towing fee?

I have to agree that towing 100 miles in those conditions (if they were expected to hold) does not seem that implausible.
 

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What would he be entitled to if he had towed it in? The boat, some sort of recovery/towing fee?

I have to agree that towing 100 miles in those conditions (if they were expected to hold) does not seem that implausible.
A rough guess would be the value of the boat. In many cases the insurance company would rather sign the title over to the salvor in this type of cases than deal with it themselves so you could also take the boat.

Courts have gotten away from assigning a percentage, but most lawyers still prefer to work that way. It might go as low as 50%, but I doubt it.
 

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A rough guess would be the value of the boat. In many cases the insurance company would rather sign the title over to the salvor in this type of cases than deal with it themselves so you could also take the boat.

Courts have gotten away from assigning a percentage, but most lawyers still prefer to work that way. It might go as low as 50%, but I doubt it.
Here's a pretty good explanation from Charlie Doane...

SALVAGE LAW: Do You Get to Keep an Abandoned Boat?
 

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Broad Reachin'
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What would he be entitled to if he had towed it in?
Apparently, he may have been entitled to a reward, but not the vessel itself. I'm no lawyer, but according to the IMO International Convention on Salvage (1989), the rights of salvors are as follows:

1. Salvage operations which have had a useful result give right to a reward.
2. Except as otherwise provided, no payment is due under this Convention if the salvage operations have had no useful result.
3. This chapter shall apply, notwithstanding that the salved vessel and the vessel undertaking the salvage operations belong to the same owner.

Article 13 - Criteria for fixing the reward

1. The reward shall be fixed with a view to encouraging salvage operations, taking into account the following criteria without regard to the order in which they are presented below:

(a) the salved value of the vessel and other property;

(b) the skill and efforts of the salvors in preventing or minimizing damage to the environment;

(c) the measure of success obtained by the salvor;

(d) the nature and degree of the danger;

(e) the skill and efforts of the salvors in salving the vessel, other property and life;

(f) the time used and expenses and losses incurred by the salvors;

(g) the risk of liability and other risks run by the salvors or their equipment;

(h) the promptness of the services rendered;

(i) the availability and use of vessels or other equipment intended for salvage operations;

(j) the state of readiness and efficiency of the salvor's equipment and the value thereof.

2. Payment of a reward fixed according to paragraph 1 shall be made by all of the vessel and other property interests in proportion to their respective salved values. However, a State Party may in its national law provide that the payment of a reward has to be made by one of these interests, subject to a right of recourse of this interest against the other interests for their respective shares. Nothing in this article shall prevent any right of defence.

3. The rewards, exclusive of any interest and recoverable legal costs that may be payable thereon, shall not exceed the salved value of the vessel and other property.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
The subject boat in this thread is worth between $20k and $30k, per Yachtworld.

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