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So, did they get their boat back? The article reads like they found broken bits, after the fact. Seems unlikely, but if they did, that's quite a story.
 
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Captain Obvious
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I read this account over again. In everything the husband does and says, I see him guarding his wife, keeping her calm - and then getting her off quickly. He tells her that her lips are blue. Despite his grusome injury he steers, goes below to check for leaks, he calls the coast guard, he lies to his wife and says they are just going to get a pump. Then he tells her the decision is made, we are getting off.

It is heroic in the sense that he knew, I assume he knew early on.,.... even when she didn't know.

He knew the choice he had to make, he knew that he had to save his wife - and I commend him for his focus. I am sure their daughters appreciate having their mother back alive.

Its seems like there was no discussion of a sea anchor, which if nothing else would have stabilized the boat and bought them time to consider options.
 

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I read this account and it seems like the main elements of the story, as told by the couple, include:

-rough seas
-a large wave striking the boat, probably with the hatch into the cabin open? With ingress of a LOT of water from that wave.
-at the same time the wave caused a lot of other damage including loss of life raft and dinghy?
-inability to dewater the boat due to a paste of debris from wet paper clogging the bilge pump filters
-hypothermia/shock/fatigue affecting both of them
-no comms available except regular VHF and the EPIRB, they had SSB radio but it didn't appear to function after the wave event

It didn't sound like the boat was sinking or taking on additional water, but from what I could piece from the story the hypothermia and overall condition of the two and the loss of life raft and effective communications, along with the ongoing sea state, meant the situation was pretty dicey and no room whatsoever for bad luck or error. So the evacuation, while no doubt a gut wrenching decision, seemed warranted.

The main lesson learned seems to be that this could happen even to very experienced sailor/cruisers on a well found boat, and that if the hatch was indeed open when the wave struck just the detail of having it closed could have prevented the need to abandon the vessel.

Outstanding job by the USCG.
 

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I agree with the assessments by both Sal Paradise & Skyeterrier.

On reading the account, I, too, wondered whether the companionway had been left open--the volume of water that got into the cabin seemed large in a very short time. There were experienced sailors, though, so I'd be surprised if they'd done so.


Age makes a difference. The account mentioned that they were rotating on 1 hr watches. That's very little time for rest, but a 1 hr watch might have been the best that they could do. Younger folks might have tolerated longer watches, then recovered better between watches.


The wife appears to have been a bit disoriented and misfocused after the hit; in contrast, the husband, despite his injuries--and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he wasn't concussed given the impact force to his head--seems to have retained excellent situational awareness.


It didn't sound like the boat was sinking or taking on additional water, but from what I could piece from the story the hypothermia and overall condition of the two and the loss of life raft and effective communications, along with the ongoing sea state, meant the situation was pretty dicey and no room whatsoever for bad luck or error. So the evacuation, while no doubt a gut wrenching decision, seemed warranted.
But added to this--the steering pedestal was apparently broken by the impact of the hit from the husband. If this actually occurred, then they were at risk of losing their ability to steer, at any moment, without additional warning.

It's easy to look at a story like this and say the boat wasn't sinking, they could have solved this problem this way, that problem that way, etc. Maybe a crew of 3 or 4 young fit resilient adults would have had more capacity to do so. I think the husband correctly assessed the situation in its totality, not just its parts, and kept his priorities straight. The sea will always be there, and you can buy another boat.
 

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At the age of 30 in storm conditions our standard was no more than 20 to 30 minutes at the wheel with at least one other on deck to assist as necessary. This was with experienced, fit, committed racers.
Hand steering in a storm especially down wind while surfing is very dangerous and requires a extremely high level of attention. On a balanced spade rudder takes not much strength unless you oversteer.
Continue to believe either warps or drogues are mandatory for a mom and pop or small crew if you are going to employ this technique regardless of age. In fact continue to believe for a small crew of any age in true storm conditions one must have the ability to setup the boat to be safe passively. Totally without input from crew. Age isn鈥檛 the determinant. If you get exhausted in 15 minutes or 1/2 hour or 4 hours it makes no difference. You鈥檙e just as exhausted and non functional. The sea in a storm is stronger, and last longer than you. I don鈥檛 care how buff you are.
Cruisers tend to be fit. Maybe not when they start but soon thereafter. Seems these folks are likely to be fit and well experienced. Think it unkind to throw any stones at them.
 

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Per the link I posted--the USCG towed the boat in on July 22, so 3 weeks after Minnewaska's post. The photos show an apparently intact boat, and the USCG deemed it seaworthy enough to warrant bringing it in.
 

Catalina 400 MKII
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It's always helpful to learn from the experiences of others. Could have done, and should have dones, are one of the aspects worth examining. In the real world, real time, things are a lot more difficult to assess. At any rate, the Kelaeron crew - in my opinion - come across as competent and experienced. What happened to them could have happened to any of us.

I was dismayed that they lost everything, and so close to home. And now ... the boat has been found. I am so happy for them and wish them the best of luck. May they find their Kelaeron back in the "cruising" mode and all their dreams come true.
 
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