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Re: Offshore Rescues

None of those are my friends which is good.

One taking on water, one dismasted but continuing, one unknown but heading for Bermuda and one refused assistance(crew with broken arm returning). 10'-12' is no big deal for swells or unbreaking waves but if they were steep and breaking than they could be a problem for some boats/sailors.
 

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Master Mariner
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Re: Trouble on Route to the Caribbean

"winds above 25 mph, with ocean swells of 5 to 8 feet."
Pretty sad, IMO, that folks are heading out into the ocean and have trouble bad enough to require calling for help in these conditions.
Something is very, very wrong here.
If this continues we are going to get the kind of government interference that NZ has, that restricts offshore sailors and is very costly to comply with.
"winds above 25 mph, with ocean swells of 5 to 8 feet." is just about what we sail in daily in the Caribbean Christmas winds; certainly nothing beyond the capability of any well found cruising boat.
 

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So there are now reports of at least five boats that have signaled distress in the new "Salty Dawg Rally". And from what is being reported in the press stories - the conditions don't seem to be all that bad. For example, one quotes the CG as reporting seas of 10'-12'. This is knocking out 5 boats?

This is the link to a now-ironic press release about the "Salty Dawg Rally":

PRESS: New, Free ‘Salty Dawg Rally’ Going ‘Viral’ in the Cruising World

It now seems to be going viral for all the wrong reasons.

It seems all that is required from an experience angle to participate in this rally is at least one off-shore passage:

The Salty Dawg Rally is a grassroots, non-profit organization, comprised of blue water sailors who have completed at least one blue water passage. There is no formal inspection of each boat, since it is the responsibility of each skipper to have proper safety equipment and to ensure that the vessel is prepared for the passage. Information including weather, Gulf Stream analysis, location of eddies, and daily weather forecasts during the passage is provided to each skipper by well‐known weather router Chris Parker, courtesy of Blue Water Sailing magazine. Volunteer Dick Giddings manages float plans for all of the boats in the fleet and maintains a daily SSB radio schedule, as well as daily positions for everyone (via HF radio and SatPhone). It is each skipper’s responsibility to decide the course and whether or not to set out for the passage. The Rally, with an emphasis on safety, communication, camaraderie and fun, opens the door to new friends and experiences while cruising various areas in the Caribbean.
No boat/safety inspection, etc. This is pretty typical. But then we look back to distress/rescues in past rallies such as the NARC, etc. - and you have to wonder...

Is it merely the statistical concentration of this many boats in one rally - and we're simply seeing the standard ratio of distresses to the number of boats? Or is it something else?

Personally, as a dude that has researched off-shore rescues quite a bit, I'm wondering why these kinds of rallies don't require Safety At Sea training like off-shore racing does. Or why don't they at least enforce ISAF rules?

Seriously, what's the difference in the need for this kind of knowledge between racer and cruiser? Aren't dangerous conditions in a sailboat the same for both? Aren't safety procedures for those sailors roughly the same? Sure, the cruiser is inherently more conservative - but does that mean they can, therefore, be less prepared?

Something's wrong here.
 

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This has BFS written all over it.

Get out there and get some white knuckle time.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Re: Trouble on Route to the Caribbean

I hope the report about the conditions is incorrect (certainly a good possibility), but if it is correct this is ridiculous. Last year crossing the Indian Ocean we had 20 to 30 knots with waves in the 10 to 15 foot range for two weeks. Best sailing of my life and I am hardly the gung-ho, let-it-rip type. It only got windy as we neared South Africa.

I agree with Capta, the nanny state will get us if we don't demonstrate common sense. BTW, for a South African to leave harbour in command of a vessel you need to have local yacht master credentials, not even the British ones are accepted, but 50 knots is pretty common here and the cruising guide talks of waves to 20 m (66 feet) in the Agulhas Current with the wrong wind. Maybe the answer is to get rid of rallies that are any more than social arrangements. They may give false security to people.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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The conditions described are far from BFS-worthy.
 

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It's clearly the wrong crew on these boats. EVERYONE with any blue-water experience knows you need a sushi chef as captain and an 80+year old as part of the crew, or the boat just isn't going anywhere.

OK, more seriously, I think events like this will tend to draw two groups:
1) Inexperienced sailors hoping to learn by being around others, and,
2) sailors (both experienced and inexperienced) who have boats that MIGHT make the trip, and with others tagging along nearby they think they'll "just" be able to hitch a ride on one of the other boats if something goes wrong.

Kind of like the charter flotillas, except over a MUCH longer area, and with boats that aren't inspected.
 

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This has BFS written all over it.

Get out there and get some white knuckle time.
Just to be clear - if I do a rally it will be one like this one.

White knuckles and BFS 'worthy' are in the eye of the beholder.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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It's pretty obvious that these rallies create schedules. Although no set departure is required, people run with the herd. When they see others leaving they follow like lemmings. This weather system could be seen coming DAYS ahead of time. The idea of staying the hell out of the GS with a northerly wind is in sailing 101. You'd have to have your head examined to set off into the GS with this obvious upper level cold front approaching. No matter what any "router" might have said, common sense should have kept these boats at the dock. It seems that they were not prepared to heave to, set a sea anchor, a drogue, or deploy trysl's and storm jibs once it became obvious that they were in for a beating. The decisions to leave AND basic equipment seem to be in question.
 

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Re: Offshore Rescues

Sounds like the Salty Dawg Rally is earning an unfortunate reputation:

CG responds to fifth distressed boat

Five freakin' boats pushing the button? With 10'-12' seas reported?

What's going on out there?
Sounds like it's back down to three. One was a false alarm, another managed to rig something up and continue on when they weren't rescued as fast as they expected to be.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Re: Trouble on Route to the Caribbean

Perhaps if boats do not have storm sails, a sea anchor and/or drogue, liferaft, and at least one sailor who knows how to heave-to, they should not be allowed to have an EPIRB!
 

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Personally, as a dude that has researched off-shore rescues quite a bit, I'm wondering why these kinds of rallies don't require Safety At Sea training like off-shore racing does. Or why don't they at least enforce ISAF rules?

Seriously, what's the difference in the need for this kind of knowledge between racer and cruiser? Aren't dangerous conditions in a sailboat the same for both? Aren't safety procedures for those sailors roughly the same? Sure, the cruiser is inherently more conservative - but does that mean they can, therefore, be less prepared?

Something's wrong here.
Because you don't need that kind of training to do this passage on your own. If you want to go, you go. Many do, some don't make it. Preparation+Luck, etc. If the rally organizers only purport to offer t-shirts, some weather routing and a party in the BVI's at the end, then the rest is up to the skipper.

I'm not a rally person myself, I'd rather pick my own weather windows and not have to worry about getting to a party by some time, but I do think that there is room for this level of event. Should folks be more prepared for what is a pretty serious offshore passage? No doubt. Is it the rally organizers' responsibility to make sure everyone is prepared? I don't really think so other than offering suggestions.

If the loss of boats in a given rally causes participants to realize that they are not actually much safer out there just because they are in a group, then that will probably mean fewer boats in the rally next year, with a greater emphasis on safety, which is a good thing. This will continue until the memory of the lost boats becomes shrouded in the mists of the distant past (typically ~ 5 years) and then once ill prepared sailors will start to fill the rally's numbers. Still, it's the skippers responsibility.

You can lead a horse to water and so forth.
 

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Because you don't need that kind of training to do this passage on your own. If you want to go, you go. Many do, some don't make it. Preparation+Luck, etc. If the rally organizers only purport to offer t-shirts, some weather routing and a party in the BVI's at the end, then the rest is up to the skipper.

I'm not a rally person myself, I'd rather pick my own weather windows and not have to worry about getting to a party by some time, but I do think that there is room for this level of event. Should folks be more prepared for what is a pretty serious offshore passage? No doubt. Is it the rally organizers' responsibility to make sure everyone is prepared? I don't really think so other than offering suggestions.

If the loss of boats in a given rally causes participants to realize that they are not actually much safer out there just because they are in a group, then that will probably mean fewer boats in the rally next year, with a greater emphasis on safety, which is a good thing. This will continue until the memory of the lost boats becomes shrouded in the mists of the distant past (typically ~ 5 years) and then once ill prepared sailors will start to fill the rally's numbers. Still, it's the skippers responsibility.

You can lead a horse to water and so forth.
You only have to do a single rally or race with hundreds of boats to understand how big the ocean is. For the first few hours, it's sails all over the horizon. The next morning, you might see couple. The next, probably none. The notion of "sailing in a group" is a very loose notion out there.

But I do think you guys have hit on an important issue. Though the rally organizer leaves the safety/seaworthiness responsibilities to the skipper (which is good) - they do, in fact, impose a schedule just like a race. And this inevitably means that the risks are higher. Yet, unlike a race, these risks are assigned across a fleet that is VERY uneven, and unverified, in terms of preparedness.

Where the race operates under ISAF regs, the rally doesn't. Is that good for sailing?

Sure, the argument is that such safety regs will reduce the number of sailors participating in a rally. Is that a bad thing? What are the motivations of the organizers of a rally vs. a race? Aren't there financial incentives for both? Yet the liabilities are different? How do corporates sponsors look on the issue of the organizers of one activity insisting on safety and another not..especially when things go wrong?

I just think there are some very questionable distinctions being drawn in the rally vs. race conversation.
 

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Re: Trouble on Route to the Caribbean

Here's more detail from the Coast Guard today:

Coast Guard rescues 4, assists others off Va., NC coasts

I fully concur with "don't go to sea if you can't handle 25+ and 5-8' seas", but this, describing a lost mast on one boat, and arm injury on another, suggests it may have been worse than 25 knots, etc??

Also note that several of the boats (including lost mast) reported they were able to continue on without further assistance. So the Maydays may have been sent just in case it got much worse (ie the mast could have pierced the hull during recovery or cut-away) before it got better.

I, at a nice warm desk on a sunny day, commenteth not further.. ;-)
 

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Mr. and Ms. Tom are in well above average condition and we can only stay wet and cold for X amount of time



In my experience the wet and cold part of this deal has been vastly under estimated as I have never been colder in my life than doing bow in 40 knots in July

It took about a month to dry Zzzoom out after the last trip in those conditions
 
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