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WHK

Thanks to USNS McLean & USCG Ocean City we can tell this story

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Noel Sterrett (J/130 Solarus owner) and I are safely back in Newport, RI after a potentially catastrophic sinking of J/130 Solarus in 4,000 feet of water approximately 90 miles from the closest point of land during a delivery from Charleston to Newport. Thanks to Eric Irwin who we contacted via satellite phone to arrange for an emergency haul at Ocean City Sunset Marina, and to my wife who on 1 hour notice drove 9 hours to Ocean City Maryland to pick us up after a harrowing ordeal that occurred while delivering J/130 Solarus from Charleston to Newport. We hit a submerged object approximately 4:30am Thursday 14 May resulting in a hole pictured in the stbd bow below the waterline that resulted in flooding in excess of the capacity of the bilge pumps. We had water in the bilge approximately 6 inches above the cabin sole. Emergency Mayday calls were made on VHF and Iridium phone to the USCG along with activating the EPIRB. The life raft was brought topside with the ditch bag and was ready to deploy if we needed to abandon ship.

Fortunately, within 30 minutes of our distress call we had excellent support from USNS William McLean (T-AKE12) approximately 3 miles west of our location. We were able to maneuver alongside USNS William McLean who launched a small boat with a crew with a high capacity pump to dewater the boat, Once the water was pumped it was determined where the flooding was coming from. There was a 15 inch crack in the bow on the stbd side of the v-berth. The crew from USNS McLean was able to prepare a temporary damage patch by wedging a 2x4 against a rubber mat across the crack that was held in place by nailing a strongback to the support in the v-berth. A USCG rescue helicopter air lifted an emergency pump to USNS McLean that was passed to us that we were able to have on board Solarus to dewater if needed. USNS McLean also provided additional diesel fuel so we could motor rather than sail to the nearest port in Ocean City, MD to be immediately hauled. USNS McLean provided a shield from wind and waves and escorted us 20 miles towards Ocean City where a USCG 47 foot boat from the USCG Station Ocean City met us. Two USCG Petty Officers were transferred to Solarus and remained onboard with Noel Sterrett and I as the 47 foot USCG boat escorted us back to Ocean City.

Immediately upon arrival in Ocean City we drove into the travel lift slings at Ocean City Sunset Marina and were hauled and met by a marine surveyor. It was there we were able to asses the true damage. A hole approximately 2 inches in diameter had been punctured in the outer skin on the stbd side about 6 inches below the waterline. Since we were sailing upwind in approximately 8 to 10 foot seas, there was significant "hull pounding". This resulted in a hydraulic jack hammer from the seawater against exposed balsa core and inner skin. The effect was it cracked the inner skin approximately 15 inches where it allowed sea water to flow in at a rate faster than the bilge pumps could dewater.

Noel and I can't thank the crews from USNS William McLean and the USCG enough for their rapid and complete response that resulted in the saving of Solarus and our lives. They were professionals who really helped us when needed. Once we decompress there will be some more pictures posted. Noel hopes to get the boat repaired in time for the Transatlantic race in June, followed by Fastnet race in August.

View of crack in v-berth
20150514_081315.jpg

View of hole punctured externally
20150514_205032.jpg

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Wow,

 

Great job by everyone involved. Glad you made it safely and saved the boat. My hat's off to the Navy and Coast Guard.

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Good report -- thanks for sharing. Sounds like you were well prepped with a good boat. Glad y'all made it back safely.

 

Win also for the CG and MSC (operator of the McLean) -- easier to support a prepared crew with a problem than to do SAR for survivors.

 

 

P

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"If anythings gonna' happen, its gonna happen out there". - Captain Ron.

 

That's the kind of thing you can't really practice for, but it sounds like the Skipper and Crew of Solarus had adequately thought it through, and was as prepared to save life as you can be when the invisible hand of fate punches a hole in your boat miles from land.

 

It is very fortunate in this case resources were close at hand that also allowed for the boat to be saved. Bravo Zulu to the crews of all 3 vessels and kudos to the marina for responding promptly to the situation.

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Ok - just woke up after going to sleep last night late due to the adrenalin rush wearing off. Thanks all for the positive comments. Here is a link that a friend of mine sent with the story and photos from USCG and USNS William McLean. The WTKR link has some great photos in a slide show. Noel is offloading pictures from his camera as we sit here at my house having coffee. Cindy is still sleeping.... a little too much excitement for her yesterday to get up this early.

http://wtkr.com/2015/05/15/navy-ship-coast-guard-crews-rescue-sailboat-off-ocean-city/

img_1416.jpg?w=770

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Nice report Bill! Very glad to hear that you and the crew are safe and that the boat will be back in action. Excellent work by the merchant Mariners on McLean and the Coasties!

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Great report and well deserved praise to the rescuers.

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Ok - just woke up after going to sleep last night late due to the adrenalin rush wearing off. Thanks all for the positive comments. Here is a link that a friend of mine sent with the story and photos from USCG and USNS William McLean. The WTKR link has some great photos in a slide show. Noel is offloading pictures from his camera as we sit here at my house having coffee. Cindy is still sleeping.... a little too much excitement for her yesterday to get up this early.

 

http://wtkr.com/2015/05/15/navy-ship-coast-guard-crews-rescue-sailboat-off-ocean-city/

 

img_1416.jpg?w=770

 

Cool roll bar! Congratulations on saving the boat and not dying out there.

 

imag0135.jpg?w=800

 

640px-USNS_William_McLean_%28T-AKE-12%29

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yachtingworld has a video in which they experiment by making holes of various sizes in the hull, and trying various techniques to stop the flooding.

 

it's amazing how small of a hole can endanger the vessel

 

WHK - if the CG had not been able to help with the 2X4's, do you think you would have saved the boat?

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Had you tried and methods of stemming the flow of water externally? I'm thinking draping storm sails around the hull and cinching then toght over the hole.

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Had you tried and methods of stemming the flow of water externally? I'm thinking draping storm sails around the hull and cinching then toght over the hole.

 

i think if you watch the video i mentioned you will see that they couldn't get that to work very well

 

i'll look for it, or maybe someone has a link?

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Noel and I are volunteering at the Leukemia Cup booth setup at the Volvo Ocean Race village at Ft. Adams from 3pm to 7pm today. If any Anarchists want to stop by and chat, feel free!

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Nice job by everyone involved! It's always nice to hear about a horrible moment handled perfectly, where everyone, even the boat, came home safe and sound.

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Any idea what you hit? There's a lot of disruptive technology floating around out there, as well as derelict technology.

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We are at the Exploration Zine tent by the knot board. Stop by and chat.

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Both -we cleared the sails stored from the V-berth storage, opened the access cover and saw the crack on the inner skin. The Navy guys saw the hole in the bow when we were dewatering. No idea on what we hit as the pounding made enough noise. Whatever we hit was surmised as a sharp object such as the corner of a 4 x 4 or larger object since it produced a 2" diameter hole. that was almost a perfect circle.

 

Did the crew find the hole or the navy?

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If you had a big blob of solid epoxy or toilet bowl sealer wax or something, do you think you could have stuffed it in from the outside?

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=63791

63791.jpg

 

Something like this?

I may just go buy some.

 

It also has re-inpsired me to look at my on and off again idea of making the under the v-berth area sealed off from the rest of the boat.

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I bet the USNS crew were absolutely thrilled to be able to use their training and help out in a situation like this. The training they get is first rate, and while I would hope to God it never has to be used aboard ship it is really cool to see they were able to adapt it to save a 'yacht' and resist the temptation to pull the plug and "rescue" you guys as seems to be the standard as of late. BZ to all involved.

 

Under my berth for the last 10 years:

2 1x4x6' pipe boards

1 2x4x1/4" Luan plywood

1 Sheet of neoprene rubber

 

Hope to never use it...

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Great story, and thanks for sharing. WTG USNS W McLean and USCG!

 

I am left with a few questions.

 

1. Did the story turn out this way because the first Government vessel on scene was crewed by merchies with a passion for fixing stuff? If the USCG was first on scene would they have directed crew to abandon ship?

 

2. In the pic above showing the launching of the lifeboat with a pump aboard, is that the P100 or the portable dewartering pump from the helo?

 

3. In that same pic, Solarus seems to be stern heavy/bow up. Good trim for a boat with a hole in the bow. Was this intentional, and how did you manage that? Or was it just happenstance of shutter timing?

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Wow!

*FINALLY* we get a story where competent seamen encounter a problem and resolve it. GOOD JOB EVERYONE!

+1000

 

Thanks for sharing the story WHK

Glad to see everyone doing it by the book and not deciding to shave.

Maybe we ought to post the link at Robert Redford's Twitter site... :<)

 

Question: How much additional fuel did you need to make it, or was this just for a safety margin or needed for the de-watering pump?

When I came down the coast last year from Newport, I made sure we had enough fuel to motor the longest segment the entire way plus some in rough seas.

The 5 gallon jerry cans strapped to the decks made the boat look like a Laotian refugee boat.

Never wanted to be in a position where I HAD to sail.

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"McLean also refueled Solarus and supplied a hot breakfast to the crew".

 

 

Well done. Above and beyond the call of duty I suggest!

 

Good to see that sort of attitude in play.

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Well done all - good report ( "Just the facts, Mam" ).

 

Excellent result of good decisions and some good fortune.

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Wait what does a safety (drug/endless war warrantless, yes they have the authority, understood) boarding at sea have to do with this rescue/assist off the largest US naval base? O right the CG was involved in both, therefore they get a pass?

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Just catching up to answer some questions as we've been driving around today with a visit J/Boats, a few yards, speaking to insurance co., etc to try and get the repair process going. Here are some answers to questions asked above.

 

@phillysailor

1. Did the story turn out this way because the first Government vessel on scene was crewed by merchies with a passion for fixing stuff? If the USCG was first on scene would they have directed crew to abandon ship?

** Correct - the USNS crew had the resources to effect the temporary repairs so we could stay afloat and get to a safe port. They indicated that the USCG policy was to protect life, not the vessel and basicall told us we had the choice.... which was a no brainer for us.

2. In the pic above showing the launching of the lifeboat with a pump aboard, is that the P100 or the portable dewatering pump from the helo?

*** No - the helo dropped pump was brought aboard after we had everything stabilized so it could be used as a backup if the temporary repair failed.

3. In that same pic, Solarus seems to be stern heavy/bow up. Good trim for a boat with a hole in the bow. Was this intentional, and how did you manage that? Or was it just happenstance of shutter timing?

*** I think it was just shutter timing - no overt effort to ballast the boat.

@Foreverslow

Question: How much additional fuel did you need to make it, or was this just for a safety margin or needed for the de-watering pump?

** They lowered two 5 gallon jerry cans. We only used 1 to top off the tank with an additional 15 gallons we had on our jerry cans that were strapped on the stern of Solarus. We left Charleston with a full 30 gal tank, plus the 15 gallons additional.

Just a clarification on the hot meal comment in the news story... We had plenty of food onboard and ate well. If there was a hot meal provided, it got intercepted on the way down :unsure:

The two USCG petty officers that boarded for the ride back came with MREs and had their 1st meal out of the plastic MRE bags. When we saw that we offered them real food. They were a little reluctant to accept it at first, but by the end of the trip back to Ocean City we feed them chips, peanuts, hard boiled eggs, cheese & crackers, apples, cookies, pasta with Chicken Marsala, fresh salad with bacon bits and blue cheese dressing and Coke.

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Just adding my Bravo Zulu to the chorus above, for all the reasons cited above. Excellent seamanship on everyone's part here.

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Its nice to see this story end the way its supposed to.

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Excellent story and a huge thanks for sharing. Interesting how little traffic this is generating compared to a disaster...

 

Thanks agaain, well done to you and the crew, and the help provided.

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Agreed, a story like this should generate more traffic.

That's why I'm chiming in.

 

Big ++ all around

 

FB- Doug

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Well done guys. A good rescue of a solid crew who knew what they were doing by professionals who could find solutions on the spot. I hope that if I ever need to be rescued that they'll offer me the same choice with the boat.

 

Hope you get the boat fixed and ready to go by race time!

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Well, Good seamanship. Nothing lost. No disruptive technology. No dumb decisions. No 26 year old captains or spoiled owners with puking sons. And most of all no halfwit moderator/editor/journalist chiming in with theories from outer space.

At the end of the day it's about entertainment and in that respect the thread falls short.

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Just back from dropping Noel off at PVD airport so he can fly back to Charleston. He is working with the surveyor, insurance appraiser and yard to get the repair process going. Multiple repair scenarios could occur but the most likely is a yard in RI will get a team to drive to Ocean City and do a temporary repair that will make Solarus seaworthy. The surveyor recommends a full infrared scan of the hull to make sure that all the damage can be detected and properly repaired.

 

They would have a licensed (and insured) Captain power the boat to the yard in RI where it would be hauled and the full repairs completed. The repair capability for a balsa cored hull in the Ocean City area is virtually non-existent. Here in RI there are multiple yards that do these kind of repairs and a wealth of expertise available in the area. It also helps that JBoats is here as they have the knowledge of qualified repair professionals they have used and have provided some recommendations to Noel.

 

Noel is really pushing to get the boat properly repaired in time to do the Transatlantic race at the end of June, but that may be a leap to make it happen with all the other stuff happening in the yards around here.

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Great story! Bravo Zulu to all involved!

 

That Stay Afloat stuff looks great. Video makes it look like it works really well (obviously) but does anybody have some real world experience with it? Going to buy a tub or two of it. Looks very similar in consistency to a toilet wax ring.

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It is amazing what you can do with some hatch covers or semi-flexible ~1 inch think squares of rubber, cut up wetsuit material, and some bracing, like oars for example. The challenge is often finding the leak or damage and gaining access to it, then stemming the initial flooding even with a seat cushion. From there focus on dewatering to a reasonable level while formulating a plan for a better repair. Finally don't forget to think about ballest or tacking to raise the level of the damage or hole which can slow the flooding or even get the damage about the waterline.

 

Navy and merchies are well trained in damage repair and most enjoy that kind of challenge.

 

Well done by the skipper and crew.

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Just back from dropping Noel off at PVD airport so he can fly back to Charleston. He is working with the surveyor, insurance appraiser and yard to get the repair process going. Multiple repair scenarios could occur but the most likely is a yard in RI will get a team to drive to Ocean City and do a temporary repair that will make Solarus seaworthy. The surveyor recommends a full infrared scan of the hull to make sure that all the damage can be detected and properly repaired.

 

They would have a licensed (and insured) Captain power the boat to the yard in RI where it would be hauled and the full repairs completed. The repair capability for a balsa cored hull in the Ocean City area is virtually non-existent. Here in RI there are multiple yards that do these kind of repairs and a wealth of expertise available in the area. It also helps that JBoats is here as they have the knowledge of qualified repair professionals they have used and have provided some recommendations to Noel.

 

Noel is really pushing to get the boat properly repaired in time to do the Transatlantic race at the end of June, but that may be a leap to make it happen with all the other stuff happening in the yards around here.

Hope you make it

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BZ's to the Navy and MSC.......as well as the crew of the Solarus.

 

Interesting to see that the damage control methods I was taught as a medical officer in Officer Indoctrination School on the USS Buttercup still serve to save the day. I've got a big tub of the stay afloat which I hope would work as advertised should the need arise. It also demonstrates that I shouldn't put too much faith in my watertight bow compartment........

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Just caught up with this story, excellent job all round!

 

Just want to add: that is why we pay taxes... Hats off to the USN and USCG!

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What type of fuel do the portable pumps that were brought to the boat use? Gas or diesel?

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Thanks all. To answer some more questions:

 

 

What type of fuel do the portable pumps that were brought to the boat use? Gas or diesel?

The Navy and USCG pumps were gasoline with self enclosed tanks. The pumps were different types and capacities. The big USN pump emptied the boat in about 2 minutes. The first minute not so much because it sucked a rag that was blocking the strainer. Once we cleared the rag, it emptied the boat very quickly. Funny story on the USCG pump. It was air lifted and brought by the Helo to USNS McClean. The pump was lowered to us after we had the boat shored with the DC gear. It was brand new, never been used with a plastic instruction card on how to start & use it. When the 47 Ft USCG boat arrived, they transferred two petty officers to ride to Ocean City with us. There first comment was "we don't know how to use that pump, it's a different model than the one we were trained on".

 

The other funny story was we heard the USCG Helo communicating with USNS McLean on VHF 16 in a conversation about refueling the Helo that went something like this:

  • Helo - We're going to need to refuel before heading back. Request permission to land and hot pump
  • McLean - Roger USCG Helo. Do you have DoD form 45678 with you?
  • Helo - Negative sir, we don't have that form onboard.
  • McLean - Roger USCG Helo, we can fuel you but this is going to be a lot of paperwork

 

I spoke with Noel yesterday and it looks like Solarus won't be ready in time for the Transatlantic race :( . Latest possible repair scenario is to remove the keel and have it trucked to a repair yard in RI. Trucking a J/130 with the keel on is a major problem due to the height. The good news about this approach is the keel structure and bolts can be looked at real well and if there are any issues like hidden crevice corrosion of the bolts can be taken care of before a major ocean race.

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Great story, with a great outcome.

 

Hope you guys can make the Fastnet.

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A J130 is solid enough and valuable enough to sort out - stay with and bring home

 

GumbOat ????

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