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The Loss of KELAERIN (JUNE 17, 2018)81913405449983652975.jpg

 

 

The following is information about the recent loss of the 46’ sailboat KELAERIN, and the rescue (by USCG helicopter) of her crew.

The text below is from the owner of the boat, and in her words. It is a very vivid description of what happened and how conditions were at the time. I have highlighted by bold some of the points to note.

This is one of the best descriptions I have read outside of a book. I am making no judgement of this incident or loss. I am glad the crew is safe. I also commend the USCG rescue of these sailors. The helicopter crew was at the limit of their fuel, and landed with just one minute of fuel left, after the rescue 180 miles offshore! Heroic.

I am sharing this account here with the sole intention of helping others see what can happen to even experienced sailors on a well found cruising boat. This boat is 46 feet long. Sailed by an experienced couple who had 17 years of experience. This happened to them as they neared the end of their circumnavigation.

Note the description of how the boat was inside after the wave strike. Note the loss of the dinghy and the life raft. Note the multiple inoperable electric bilge pumps and why. Note the inoperable SSB radio. Note the onset of hypothermia. Note the importance of the ditch bag. Please remember this post is NOT a criticism of them. Instead, note these things can happen to anyone.

They were experienced cruisers and have 17 years of cruising experience. This couple had previously sailed a very long distance around the world, almost a circumnavigation. They crossed the Atlantic, went through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, and had crossed the Pacific on their way home to Washington state in the USA.

I am also including a link to the video from the USCG helicopter. It shows the sea state about four hours after the EPIRB signal was sent. I am also including a still image, captured from the USCG video. Watch the video.

Coast Guard Helicopter Video

https://cdn.dvidshub.net/…/DOD_105750002/DOD_105750002-1024…

_________________________

Loss of Kelaerin, June 17, 2018

The owner of KELAERIN wrote:

“For months, I had been imagining the end of our circumnavigation. We would finally pass by the Fuca Pillar make our way into Neah Bay and have a good two days rest, or three, and get the boat all cleaned up. Our daughter wanted to meet us at the visitor’s dock in Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham so she asked that we not get in until Sunday, June 24, as she lived in Portland, Oregon and needed to have the time off from work to be there waiting for us. We would drive up to the dock with all our courtesy flags from over 50 countries flying on the staysail halyard, banners from various rallies and events we had participated in hanging on the lifelines and personal burgees from different organizations raised up the signal halyards. I hoped to make a banner showing a globe with our circumnavigation route over the 17 years. There would be our daughters on the dock and maybe a few interested friends waving us in and then a celebration with champagne and M&Ms, a tradition we started back in 1991 in Costa Rica. Then we would toast our life’s dream accomplished and rest on our laurels a bit before entering the next phase of our lives. Whatever that was, it would still certainly include boats.

A completely different scenario took over. We had left Oahu, Hawaii on May 26, 2018. After weeks of watching the “high” develop in the north Pacific, we felt we could safely leave now and have reasonable weather for the 21-27 day trip to Bellingham, Washington. We sailed just west of the high and had somewhat rough conditions for several days, but that was to be expected. Uncomfortable, not dangerous for us. When we got to latitude 38 degrees north we were able to make easting in the westerly winds blowing on the top of the high. So far so good, all as planned, although still kind of rough for the most part with confused seas much of the time.

Finally, at around 137 degrees longitude we were making a nice northeast course, and according to the chart plotter, heading straight for Cape Flattery. Kelaerin was making good an average of over 5 knots through the whole trip. The horse could smell the barn, so to speak, and we were becoming excited now that this trip would be over soon.

On the evening of June 15, Jim downloaded a grib file and came up to the cockpit, discouraged. For the previous week, we saw that about this time we should be seeing light to variable winds from the southwest. We could expect to have to raise the spinnaker for the light winds or motor part of the way.

But suddenly the reports were different. The wind was to be 21 to 26 knots from the north/northwest so it would still be a bumpy ride to the very end. The conditions, although uncomfortable, were nothing that should stop us from making progress.

On June 16, the winds slowly increased throughout the day. As we entered the night hours, we had winds well into the mid-30’s and seas were building. Still, Kelaerin was sailing fine, however, we were losing our direct line to Cape Flattery and making easting towards the Columbia River. The seas continued to build to over 4 meters, then 5 and now we were heading directly south with the waves on our stern, paralleling the coast, and sailing away from our destination.

Eventually we were sailing bare poles at almost 5 knots down steep waves, the largest waves I had ever seen while cruising. I estimated they were 30 feet. We decided to keep one hour watches. I went to bed around 2:30 for a quick nap and to warm up under the covers.

I awoke around 3:30 to first a hard hit by a wave, so hard it literally felt as though we had been hit by a train while sitting on the tracks. I was suddenly on the ceiling and tons of water came in through the companionway hatch. The noise inside the boat was deafening. I managed with some difficulty to swing out of the berth and when I put my feet on the floor I was standing in water up to my ankles. The water was sloshing violently back and forth and from bow to stern. I could barely comprehend what I saw. The aft cabin companionway ladder was across the cabin and bashed into the louvred door of the hanging locker. One of the two scuba tanks was out of their snap holders behind the ladder and sitting in the hanging locker. Jim called me from the cockpit and I answered him, telling him I couldn’t get out of the aft cabin. (If I had needed to escape, it would have to be through the deck hatch over the berth.) I was able to move the ladder and the scuba tank from the doorway into the pass through. Everything that was on the quarter berth was now on the floor. Stuff had been piled there and secured for years for passages, but now was a heap on the cabin sole. But the second scuba tank was now in that bunk. We had a bag of laundry sitting in the shop that was behind the engine and all the clothes were sloshing around the cables and chains of the steering. The heavy, sliding doors to the engine room were bashed into the pass through. I had some difficulty getting those out of the way and navigating myself through the mess and now into the main cabin. The sight was so horrifying and complex that I could barely take it in. Almost every locker door was open or broken and the lockers were bare, with the contents sloshing back and forth on the cabin sole. The bilge hatches were gone – they weren’t always the easiest to get up with their pull rings -- and the water tanks exposed to view. Locker lids either flat or on the cabin sides were askew and shelves were broken. It just couldn’t be possible that my beautiful boat, the one we had for 27 years and was so lovingly maintained, could look like this.

I got to the main cabin companionway and saw Jim at the wheel. He had blood covering half of his face. He looked shocked but was steering us down a huge wave. I had a hard time taking this view in as well. I was looking at clear sky where once there had been a full cockpit enclosure. I asked, “Where is the dodger?” and Jim just said, “It’s gone.” He asked me to get on the VHF and put out a MAYDAY call. I felt strange doing this, even hesitated for a few seconds, as I never pictured us asking for help. We never had since our first time together out in sailboats back in 1978. We got no answer. He then asked if I could take the wheel, which I did while he went down below to check the damage and make sure we weren’t taking on water.

While behind the wheel I had to keep the stern to the waves. I concentrated on steering and at some point as I looked forward I could see that the dinghy was gone. The handrails it had been tied to were broken, snapped like twigs.

Then I realized something else was missing….the liferaft. I leaned over to see if it had maybe been caught in between the cabin top and the lifelines or blanketed by the main sail but it was not there. It had been tied to a stainless steel luggage rack that we had constructed and bolted to the cabin top just forward of the dodger. The teak coaming that ran across the cabin top was broken off with a part of it in the cabin. It was probably that which had hit Jim and gashed him above his eye. The mainsail had been spilled out of the stack pack and was hanging down to the deck and possibly some of it over the lifelines and I could see that it was shredded in places. All these things had compiled in my mind and unbelievably I was ledgering the costs of the damage and what it would take to fix all of this. Never had I thought that at the end of our voyage we would have to rebuild our boat.

Jim appeared at the companionway and said that the SSB radio was dead. The two VHF radios were on but since no one answered our MAYDAYS we weren’t positive they were sending out our messages.

He was pretty sure, he said, that we weren’t taking on any more water. It had been almost two hours since the wave had tossed us now and we were both showing signs of hypothermia. Jim said my lips were turning blue and the blood caked on his face looked ghastly. I was doing o.k. with steering but every once in a while a bigger wave broke near me and we would begin to broach. I had to hold on to the wheel with everything I had to keep it stern to. I screamed now and then. I know this because my voice was getting hoarse.

We were in very dangerous shape now, with no communications and no way to get a weather report. No one was answering our MAYDAY calls. The boat was seriously damaged and we had tons of water going back and forth in the cabin. Things that had been in the aft cabin, including our spare Aries windvane which was tied down beneath the aft cabin berth, had been propelled incredibly through the walkthrough and into the main cabin and had managed somehow not to hit me when I was still in the bunk. I wondered why I saw the carton of milk on the cabin sole, the contents of our refrigerator and freezer scattered about the boat. The refrigerator lid was heavy with a pull ring and it took a little doing to get it up in normal conditions. Jim assessed that we had been turned upside down. When the wave hit, he was wearing his SoSpenders but not tethered. Jim has great reflexes, thankfully, and said he had to hold on to the steering pedestal with all his might or he would have gone over. In retrospect we don’t think the tether would have helped seeing as how so many other things had been ripped off the boat. He described the enclosure as shredding and blowing off like newspaper in the wind. Later inspection showed that the pedestal had broken at the base. It was lucky we had steering at all at this point. When he lifted the chart table lid there was nothing in it now, except a lone can of tuna fish. Nothing was dry, the stove was broken and the water tanks were probably fouled through the vents. The engine itself may have worked but the starter motor was surely dead as it was now underwater. The engine wouldn’t have helped anyway, not unless we could get closer to shore and now we were getting farther away every minute.

We had 4 electric bilge pumps, one was a large capacity pump. All 4 clogged with debris. The debris was from all the soft back books we had on board. The cheaper paper turned to mush with all the sloshing and went right through the screens into the pumps. There was no way we could operate the manual pump in these conditions and to get that much water out. While Jim was describing this to me, I kept looking over to where the liferaft had been. Then the reality of our situation seemed to be clear to both of us. I said, “I think we should activate the EPIRB” and he agreed. We had a 406 Mhz EPIRB and he went to get it out of its holder and brought it up to our binocular box on the cabin (the binoculars were gone) and set it in there and and pushed the button.

We couldn’t be sure that anyone would be able to get to us or hear us. We had the EPIRB properly registered and overhauled with new batteries every few years as required. Originally we had our daughters on the contact list, but we got frustrated with trying to get them at times. It could be days before we ever heard back and that could happen while we were in distress. Jim had asked old buddies of his if they would be contacts. Ed was a HAM radio operator and Richard was a tugboat captain. Both of these guys were in almost daily contact with Jim through winlink and Jim would report our position to them and the sea conditions. We had set off the EPIRB around 0538. The coast guard immediately contacted Ed and Richard to verify that we were indeed in trouble and they reported back our position the evening before, our course, our destination and that we had reported rough conditions. Then they went into action.

Almost 4 hours later, as I was at the wheel, I heard the Coast Guard call us on the old VHF radio in the aft cabin. I reached in to answer, “This is Kelaerin”, and immediately felt we just might survive this ordeal after all. They were coming from the Warrenton, Oregon base. They said they were 20 minutes away from us. I told them that incredibly the chart plotter was still functioning and I could give them our exact position, which I did. They informed me that when they arrived they would have only a few minutes with us and we needed to make the decision: they could give us a dewatering pump and we would be on our own or they could extract us from the vessel. I looked at Jim and asked, “which?” and he answered, “the dewatering pump”. Still at this point, I did not envision us leaving Kelaerin. The pilot radioed back that we had to think about that and have our possessions we wanted to take with us ready to go. Jim got back on the wheel for awhile while I changed clothes (a few things were still dry) and I went about the boat collecting hard drives, cameras, etc. This was much harder than I had anticipated. I could not get over all the stuff floating around inside the boat to get to the box where our passports and cash were. Jim’s wallet had been in the chart table and was just gone. My backpack which held my wallet was nowhere to be seen. Jim’s good Nikon camera was in a locker up forward with all kinds of stuff blocking the way. I got the hard drives, the go pro camera and the little Nikon Coolpix I used. Jim’s new LG phone was gone but mine had survived. I had a small dry bag and stuffed everything I could in there. Jim had gone up to get the cash but when he went into the cockpit he pulled it out of his pocket and the cash began flying in the wind out of his hands. I stuffed what was left into a small cooler. Then I went back to steering while Jim continued to try and get water out of the boat.

The Coast Guard continued to call me asking me to count down so their RDF could locate us. For a while I wondered if they would find us in time, but eventually I saw them coming. They informed me that they would drop a swimmer in so I told them we would lower the stern ladder and Jim would stream a heavy line so the swimmer could grab it. I informed them that I was going bare poles at 4.6 knots at that time and there would be no way whatsoever I could turn around. I’m sure they already knew that. I asked if they would drop the swimmer on the port side of the boat as the mainsail was blocking my view off the starboard side. The helicopter dropped low, on the starboard side, and the swimmer jumped in but I could not see any of this, only the blades as they whipped around near me. I was not aware when he came aboard. I kept looking for him not realizing he had already boarded and was discussing the situation with Jim at the stern. I was waiting for the pump and then looked over to see the Coast Guard swimmer coming towards the cockpit and informing me that we were getting off the boat. “No,” I said. “We are staying on the boat, we just need the pump.” Then Jim was behind him and said, “Joy, we are getting off.” I was incredulous. It was beyond comprehension that we would ever leave the boat. I still felt that, although, we were in serious trouble here, that we could save Kelaerin. How could we possibly leave her, after nearly 70,000 miles of cruising and 27 years together with only 150 miles to go? Jim had always said he wouldn’t abandon the boat unless he had to step up into a liferaft. So when he confirmed the Coast Guardsman’s declaration, with all his experience at sea, I knew finally that this battle was over. The sea had won.

Then everything went at hyperspeed. The Coast Guard swimmer said I had just a minute to go and gather my things. This is when good sense left and stupid crazy set in. Since we had not planned to leave the boat, I was not prepared well at all. I ran down below, threw out the computer, my “pink book” with all our personal and important info in it, my dry bag, and the red cooler into the cockpit. The CG had taken over the wheel and he kept telling me to be quick, “Go, go, go” he said. I ran back to the aft cabin (this was when nonsense set in for a bit) to retrieve some jewelry. Later I couldn’t believe I had done that as it had taken precious time when I could have better secured the more important items. I threw out my forearm crutch which I needed to walk and he was now telling me there was no more time and I had to get back to the stern of the boat. I asked, “what about my computer and the red cooler?” and he said he would get it and urged me back. Jim grabbed the red cooler and threw it towards the stern and it lodged out of my reach. I again said, “I need my computer and the red cooler” and the CG swimmer said, again it was OK. He told us to inflate our sospenders and jump. What!!!!! Of course this was the only thing to do, but I hesitated for a second and looked at the giant wave coming at us and said, “I’m not jumping in that” and he said GO NOW, Jim said JUMP and I was in the water. Jim later said he had never seen me swimming so fast. I just wanted to get to that basket being lowered before a wave tumbled me under and I might possibly never come back up. Getting into the basket was easy, I just rolled in and moments later I was in the helicopter. The basket lowered again for Jim and he was helped out into the helicopter. Then the swimmer came up and I was hoping that I would see the computer and the red cooler but, of course, it wasn’t there. I knew it wouldn’t be there. The doors were closed and we started to fly away. I had to restrain myself from shouting that I wanted to go back. The hardest moment of both Jim’s and my lives were when we could see Kelaerin through the window and we both realized she was probably lost forever, that somehow we had failed her when she had been so good to us for so many years.

The ride back was over an hour long. The pilots made conversation with us through miked up helmets they provided. We all introduced ourselves. I was just amazed at how professional and highly trained these guys were. The swimmer had to grab the line behind the boat and pull himself into the ladder as we were going nearly 5 knots, which he did in just seconds. His job was to get us off the boat in short order once Jim had made the decision to leave Kelaerin. He was not cruel or impersonal when ordering me to get going. All through that I realized he had a job to do and could not brook any nonsense from me. He was completely in charge and trained to handle this situation. They must come up against some serious stubbornness when trying to get people off boats and they know how to handle it.

When we were about to land Jim heard the pilot tell ground control that they were landing off base at an alternate site near Astoria as they were down to one minute of fuel. ONE MINUTE!!! They had been at the far extension of their range when they had reached us 180 miles out to sea and no time to spare. When we disembarked the copter, I hugged all four Coasties, Jim shook their hands. The pilots came around with smiles on their faces….a job well done, a successful rescue. Then they told me that I was pretty cool on the radio and it helped them a lot. Thank God, I did something right. The EMTs were waiting for us and now I realized we were without any ID whatsoever, we were soaking wet and shivering, no shoes for me and I didn’t have my forearm crutch so I had to be supported across the tarmac to the ambulance.

My small dry bag which held my phone and the camera filled with water as I swam to the basket. Incredibly the phone still worked and I was able to call our girls. Our daughter, Kelly, lived in Portland so she dropped everything and came to Astoria to pick us up. Our oldest daughter, Erin, was visiting friends in Missoula and immediately booked a flight to Portland. They took excellent care of us, even buying us some clothes and Erin helped us get back online by buying a computer for us until our credit cards came within a couple of days.

I share this story in the hopes it helps anyone else for preparation or even the realization that just anything can happen during a passage.

Our biggest mistake that we could have avoided was not putting all our important personal items in a ditch bag. The lifesaving ditch bag had been on a shelf with the handle facing outwards so that we could grab it, but it was of no use if we had to jump in the ocean from a sinking boat and no liferaft. In any case, it wasn’t there after we flipped over and I have no idea as to where it went. I’ll be kicking myself forever for not having the IDs, passports, cash, hard drives and even the little bits of jewelry in a bag ready to go. As for everything else, it is an unimaginable loss. My pictures that we’ve taken over the years were on a hard drive. I had thought about putting them up on the cloud, but didn’t. All our logs were on hard drives, print and computers, but they could not be retrieved in time. I had my collection of courtesy flags and small coins, that were of no value to anyone else but me, in a bag under a setee seat. My assortment of boat cards from the many friends we have made while cruising is gone. We will have to rely on memory now for most of the last 17 years of cruising and that, at 70, is going to be quite a challenge. I’ll have to get on it soon.”
___________________

Here is the text of the USCG Press Release:

Coast Guard rescues 2 off of sailing vessel 180 miles west of Grays Harbor, Wash.

WARRENTON, Ore. — The Coast Guard rescued a husband and wife off a sailing vessel 180 miles off the coast of Grays Harbor, Washington, Saturday morning.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew, from Sector Columbia River, tracked the sailing vessel’s electronic position indicating radio beacon and safely hoisted the couple before transporting them to the sector’s base in Warrenton.
The Coast Guard District 13 Command Center in Seattle received an EPIRB alert at 5:46 a.m. from the 46-foot sailing vessel Kelaerin. The sailors were reportedly transiting between Hawaii and Bellingham, Washington, when they ran into rough weather and seas. 
The helicopter aircrew and a crew aboard a C-27 Spartan aircraft from Air Station Sacramento were launched to assist. The helicopter crew arrived on scene at 9:33 a.m. and lowered a rescue swimmer to assess the situation. The sailing vessel wasn’t actively taking on water but seawater had washed aboard. The aircrew conducted the hoist at the request of the vessel owners because of health concerns.
________________

Here is a link to the USCG video from their helicopter
https://cdn.dvidshub.net/…/DOD_105750002/DOD_105750002-1024…
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To ALL Sailors:
I have asked Joy (the boat owner who wrote about her rescue) for a way for us to send her our good wishes. I am sure the comments and feelings of fellow sailors would be some comfort to her and her husband now, so if you feel like it, post something below, as she may later see it.

In the meantime, I just want Joy and Jim to know that our compassion for fellow sailors is here for them, and that their story is being shared to help others prepare and be aware of what can happen. I think Joy would be happy to know that others value reading her experience and can learn from it, so if you appreciate her writing and sharing it, post a comment to her below. 
________________

Want to share this post?
Here is a link to the same content (post) I posted to my own page so people could share it from there. Some FB sailing groups do not have a share button on their pages. Mine does and is public access.

I encourage sharing this story, so others can:
1. Learn from this tragic loss of a boat
2. Be prepared for ocean passages
3. Give some good will support comments for the writer of the account (Joy and Jim are the owners of the boat).

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Thanks for sharing such a gut-wrenching experience.

An excellent illustration of how even the most experienced can be overwhelmed.

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Read Chapter One, The Loss of the Jane Vosper by Freeman Wills Crofts.

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Wow. Thanks. Paperbacks rendering the bulge pumps inoperable - not something I would have thought of. 

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Very well written, certainly a big reminder of what can go wrong and how quickly - kudos to the USCG. 

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So many things to go wrong. So many...

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Wow, 1 minute of fuel left in the helicopter and that was to an alternate site.

Crazy Bravery on the Coast Guard people.

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Great story. Always surprised how personal belongings become the focus during a struggle just for survival. Bilge pumps have a tendency to fail when there most needed? Not sure how the Coast Guard can fly knowing their fuel calculations could be so close especially one minute? Courage personified..!

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Three things stood out for me, which I offer without judgment.  Simply observations that occurred to me after reading.

1) boat size: was the ability to handle the sailing gear on such a relatively large (46’) vessel, with only two crew, a factor in dealing with the situation?

2) related to the ability to handle the boat’s gear, was the age (70 was an age given) and physical abilities (writer mentions an arm crutch) of the crew a factor?

3) The vessel was abandoned but, as the CG press release states, “The sailing vessel wasn’t actively taking on water but seawater had washed aboard.”  

As Skip Allen’s harrowing and detailed account (published here on SA some years ago - well worth reading) of his abandonment of his beloved Wildflower so amply showed, the decision to abandon is complex and often driven by other factors than the obvious big ones (taking on water, losing the rig, etc.)

In short - a sobering account showing that anything can happen, and quickly.  My thoughts are with the owners.

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My thoughts go out to Joy and Jim and thanks for this account. Even though you lost all your worldly possessions your still here to enjoy the memories of what sounds like a great voyage. 

In addition to the above, one expression really stood out for me and I don't know if I'm making more of it than I should. "The horse could smell the barn"

If anyone here has not read it, here is a link to an indispensable resource for storm and capsize preparedness. When you've finished reading it, get a hard cover copy and put it in the ships library. Have a plan  for waterproofing and lashing the same library.

https://www.setsail.com/sts.pdf

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Given that it wasn’t taking on water and was being pushed out to sea, is there any chance of the vessel being recovered?

And yes, go USCG - amazing.

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Harrowing account Joy, well written, and thank you.  I'm so sorry for your and Jim's loss.  And cheers for the Coast Guard, nice work.

Being a student of this coast I can't help asking a few questions.  First is did the wave crush the companionway hatch or was it open / not secured?  Cabin houses have been demolished, but it isn't clear how all the water got below.  Also curious about the wave conditions and wondering whether anyone has them recorded.  Lots of buoys out there and I'll go search the data if nobody has it.  We do have some interesting weather here, but rolling a 46 in June isn't normal.  If you have the gps coordinates, it would be interesting to look at the bottom geography to see if it correlates with the wave train direction / sea mount locations.  

This coast sucks under those conditions because running with the storm just means more fetch and bigger breakers, as Skip experienced.  Slowing the boat down seems like a critical capability to let it blow by.  Did you have / use drogues etc.?

What do you thing about storm prep and maybe adding some extra wraps around a stackpak to secure it, or pre-rigged fittings to lash the boom down?  Do you know what failed to let the sail out?

A portable battery driven bilge pump sure sounds like a good idea.  If you could have dewatered, could y.ou have saved her?

Best wishes in your next adventure!!  And thanks so much for sharing to let us all learn.

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I think a big factor in the decision to abandon was the loss of both the dinghy and the liferaft.  There was no longer any plan B if things got worse.  They made the correct decision in the situation, there really was no other option.  It would be interesting to find out if the vessel was tracked afterward - they had their EPIRB on at the time.  Possible recovery later?

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2 hours ago, dash34 said:

I think a big factor in the decision to abandon was the loss of both the dinghy and the liferaft.  There was no longer any plan B if things got worse.  They made the correct decision in the situation, there really was no other option.  It would be interesting to find out if the vessel was tracked afterward - they had their EPIRB on at the time.  Possible recovery later?

+1

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was the Skipper asleep at his helm?

meanwhile in Compton

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1. It sounds like, as hard as it might have been to do, you made the smart choice. I hope you know that, hard as the loss of your boat is. The alternative would be worse.

2. Telling your story gives everybody else out on the water the chance to make a quick head-check: 'Am I prepared? Did I skip something (because that scenario is just not gonna happen)? I better go back and double check.' All the 'usual stuff' of being on the water that we sometimes get lax about, even when we should know better. So, thanks.

  

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From what i read, i am under the impression that the companionway hatch was not closed when the wave hit. İf this is true it might be the biggest factor for the loss.

I cannot imagine how that much water got inside so quickly  and created that much damage  otherwise.

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I read this and wonder how...been on replica ships like Nina, Pinta, and some "modern" war vessels, and wonder how or why...but good lessons here.

Prep always for the worst...and, hopefully, smile later.

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Thank you for sharing this. My sympathies for the loss and amazing guts shown on the part of the USCG.

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Brave (again) rescue by the Coasties...I cant help thinking that if all the locker tops (refrig) and bilge boards were secured perhaps the debris  would have been markedly less and pumps may not have clogged?

 

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nicely written piece. Glad everyone is OK, and thanks for sharing. Boats are just stuff, and you can get more stuff. I think the choice to call the coastguard was the right one. but some of the equipment listed below might have helped, and I think with the below equipment, I would have tried saving the boat in this situation. 

Ill start by saying this has happened to me before, its very scary, happened really fast and violently. There is a lot of luck involved in survival, in our case it came from now where, and I don't feel that there was anything sailing wise we could have done differently apart from hove - to, which if I was sailing away from my destination would have been my choice. but for us, downwind was where we needed to be, and the forecast was to stay the same for days, we were under control, and confident the boat was within her limits. 

I did a transatlantic with my fiancee last year, when we got the boat (a great lakes cruiser) no hatches had any latches, there was loose ingots of lead in the bilge, anyway to cut a long story short nothing would stay in place during a capsize. Luckily we changed that. we were knocked down off the coast of Portugal, in similar circumstances apart from we had 50kts of winds but certainly smaller seas maybe 15ft and we were only 50 miles away from a safe harbour. we were bare poles, surfing up to nine kts on the waves. We lost all mast head equipment crucially the VHF antenna. and broke our rudder, boat filled with water,  almost lost our liferaft, but it stayed on board, however I don't think I would have been too bothered if it had gone. 

the things that saved the boat / us

1/ we were tethered and both in the cockpit, my finacee was washed overboard, but got scooped up as the boat re-righted, I think shorter tethers for this kind of weather, and certainly not down stairs if you can avoid it. I think someone would have gotten badly injured. Be extra diligent tying things down, including your fiancee! 

2/ we didn't go past the point of vanishing stability, we kept our mast,  the engine had air in the lines after being tipped. But at least we could sail in. 

3/ we had a Edson manual pump on a board, took some setting up but 1 gallon per stroke when primed was great for clearing the bilge fast and confirming no further ingress 

4/ we lost our main rudder, but we were able to steer with our Hydrovane self steering rudder

5/ Hypothermia was a potential issue for us, but I have suffered from it twice and have learnt how to spot the various stages, it takes a long time. We were able to find one or 2 dry garments each which helped, and we had good foul weather gear. We certainly were both submerged in the knock down and getting dry was a top priority after sorting the boat out. Pumping the bilge dry was good way to get warm too. It was only a couple of hours until sun rise so it would be getting warmer soon. We carry a drybag with warm thermals in now.

we sailed in to an anchorage fixed the engine and arrived in port without any further problems. 

The thing that fascinated me was how much everything was re-arranged downstairs. things like coins wedged in the head lining, and chilli sauce in the bilge, no bottle just the sauce, no one knows where the bottle is. 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, See Level said:

Wow, 1 minute of fuel left in the helicopter and that was to an alternate site.

Crazy Bravery on the Coast Guard people.

The 1 min of fuel isn't accurate. Maybe that's what the rescued party heard but likely it was 1 min of regular fuel before they got into their reserve. They would never cut it that close as it would be against SOPs. The computer calculates the fuel burn and they know when the need to turn around before they put their multi-million dollar machine and it's crews lives at risk.

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21 minutes ago, stayoutofthemiddle said:

The 1 min of fuel isn't accurate. Maybe that's what the rescued party heard but likely it was 1 min of regular fuel before they got into their reserve. They would never cut it that close as it would be against SOPs. The computer calculates the fuel burn and they know when the need to turn around before they put their multi-million dollar machine and it's crews lives at risk.

 

Just how many minutes of reserve fuel do they carry?

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Very scary stuff. When thinking about prepping your boat for a voyage like that, the door hinges and latches are the last thing you think about, but its ultimately what did them in. Paper books clogging the bilge pumps would be the last thing I'd think of to bring a boat down. I had a friend who cruised offshore on a compass 47. They took a knockdown similar to the one in the story but they were able to make it home. The first thing they did was install heavy duty cargo netting on every shelf and in every locker and made sure every small item had a place in a box or bag. Glad to hear everyone was okay.

Its also important to realize when you are in life threatening danger and to immediately walk away from material things like your camera, log book, and a red cooler. Had she spent a few more minutes trying to gather up her material possessions, the helicopter may not have been able to make it back to land.

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9 hours ago, Kenny Dumas said:

Slowing the boat down seems like a critical capability to let it blow by.  Did you have / use drogues etc.?

I am also curious about this, would a drogue have helped? or would a storm sail have been better to keep boat speed consistent with the wave train?

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Lots of "stuff" happened...the point of the epistle...besides thinking twice, if one is thinking.

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32 minutes ago, swangtang said:

I am also curious about this, would a drogue have helped? or would a storm sail have been better to keep boat speed consistent with the wave train?

The drogue is mostly to be used when you are going too fast down the waves

it doesn't seem like this was the case - although it's not clear exactly what happened

It seems they were going bare-poles, more or less straight downwind and down the waves, when they got over-run by one from astern. If that happened because they were going so fast down a wave, that they stuffed the bow, and the boat stopped or got turned broadside, then a drogue might have helped. If it happened because they were mostly slower than the waves, and the waves were mostly passing underneath.., until a larger breaking wave just caught them, then probably a drogue would not have helped.

I would like to know more detail about exactly what happened.

Either way, it seems likely that the companionway was at least partially open, and if that is so, then the thing that might have helped the most would have been to close it completely. I guess the lesson is to do that before you think it's necessary - because all it takes is one wave that's a lot bigger, and breaking in just the right spot on the ocean.

it could be that heaving-to would have been a better option than bare poles.., but I think we have to assume that they know their boat. 

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Along that same coast about three years ago a 50 ft sailboat was in distress and was air-lifted off by the USCG. 

It was about 50 miles off shore at the time, and in that case it appeared that the crew gave out before the boat did. 

Because it was thought to have fuel on board, the CG towed it is (to Eureka, CA)  

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A few years ago we almost lost SV Volcano (Frer 64) off Cabo when a thru hull fitting broke.  Same thing,  the bilge pumps almost immediately clogged due to junk in the bilge.  If it wasn't for the manual Whaler pump a couple of us were on for several hours and manually bailing with buckets she would have sank.  Was able to limp into Turtle Bay for repairs

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2 hours ago, stayoutofthemiddle said:

The 1 min of fuel isn't accurate. Maybe that's what the rescued party heard but likely it was 1 min of regular fuel before they got into their reserve. They would never cut it that close as it would be against SOPs. The computer calculates the fuel burn and they know when the need to turn around before they put their multi-million dollar machine and it's crews lives at risk.

The fuel gauges aren't that accurate, either.

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Glad to hear in the end the crew are ok.  Great credit to them for sharing the story so openly and honestly so others can learn and benefit.  Given the loss of the liferaft, combined with the fact that entire crew (all 2 of them) were injured, getting off was a smart call in my opinion.  As for how much fuel was remaining, its hard to say exactly.  The Helo crew would not have launched without having planned reserves.  That said, once your over the rescue, you don't pull chocks necessarily the second you go below planned fuel.  With one crew left to rescue, you might well decide you can stay long enough to get him.  Time spent over the boat during the rescue, a change in the headwind component on the flight back, a slightly higher than normal fuel burn rate, etc, etc can certainly have used up a good chunk of the reserve fuel.  The fact that they landed at an alternate site, you can bet it was because fuel was below minimums, and they were into their reserves...

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So glad to hear everyone is ok.  The Coast Guard really doesn't get the credit it deserves. Those guys put their lives on the line for little thanks. 

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Glad they are both safe and kudos to USCG for the rescue.  Sorry for the loss of the boat and I hope they were insured. But a boat is just a thing. You can get another one and sail another day.

There are always lessons learned.

- that's a shitty part of the world for waves. So many people get in trouble there. 

- no securing of floor hatch boards, chart table lid or refrigerator lid and maybe lots of locker doors

- I'm amazed that so many locker doors opened. But in the chaos immediately afterward it would be a low priority to see how many really flew open

- "Snap Holders" for scuba tanks don't sound too secure. Maybe something like this?

diverrack.jpg

this is very basic stuff; sort of amazed at somebody who has cruised on their boat so long would not have this sorted out with pretty bulletproof latches

- companionway was probably open

- I believe this happened at night from the later time noted (0538). My guess is a larger breaking wave, coming from a direction that was not the same as the typical waves they were in, struck them on the beam or quartering enough to produce the knockdown.

Lesson: you might not be able to actively steer the boat with bare poles on a dark night to avoid this. A drogue might have helped to keep the stern oriented to the prevailing wave pattern and might have mitigated the affects of the breaking wave

- low morale is often a cause of rescue. They were in some distress but the boat was afloat, they still had a rig and steering (maybe - the pedestal was loose). But I agree with their decision too. They were hypothermic; the boat was damaged, main "shredded", they were 70 so not at peak physical ability.

An EPIRB does offer an easy way out. If you look at the pitchpole of Tzu Hang you would see worse damage and they saved the boat and sailed to shore. They had to - no EPIRBs in those days.

"In December 1956 Miles and Beryl departed Melbourne on Tzu Hang to visit Clio at school in England, intending to follow the old clipper route. The journey would take them eastbound around Cape Horn, a voyage that at that time had very rarely been accomplished in small boats. They were accompanied on the boat by a young friend, the Englishman John Guzzwell, who had been circumnavigating the world in his self-made boat on a voyage later recounted in his book Trekka, as well as by their Siamese cat, Pwe.

Approaching Cape Horn, the yacht was pitchpoled by a rogue wave. Beryl, who had been on the helm, was tossed from the boat and injured. Tzu Hang was dismasted, partially submerged, and the topsides were severely damaged, but the three sailors managed to sail the damaged vessel to Chile, where extensive repairs were undertaken."

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11 hours ago, Kenny Dumas said:

A portable battery driven bilge pump sure sounds like a good idea.  If you could have dewatered, could you have saved her?

I assume you mean a portable pump that can be connected to the ship's battery banks.  All the portable pumps with internal batteries I've seen wouldn't make a dent  given the amount of water in their boat.  And wouldn't a portable  pump have the same clogging issue their bilge pumps ran into?

Clearly, a high capacity  diaphragm type manual bilge pump a.k.a. Whale Gusher 10 is the best backup  for clogged electric bilge pumps,  or a sturdy bucket.

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48 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Glad they are both safe and kudos to USCG for the rescue.  Sorry for the loss of the boat and I hope they were insured. But a boat is just a thing. You can get another one and sail another day.

There are always lessons learned.

- that's a shitty part of the world for waves. So many people get in trouble there. 

- no securing of floor hatch boards, chart table lid or refrigerator lid and maybe lots of locker doors

- I'm amazed that so many locker doors opened. But in the chaos immediately afterward it would be a low priority to see how many really flew open

- "Snap Holders" for scuba tanks don't sound too secure. Maybe something like this?

diverrack.jpg

this is very basic stuff; sort of amazed at somebody who has cruised on their boat so long would not have this sorted out with pretty bulletproof latches

- companionway was probably open

- I believe this happened at night from the later time noted (0538). My guess is a larger breaking wave, coming from a direction that was not the same as the typical waves they were in, struck them on the beam or quartering enough to produce the knockdown.

Lesson: you might not be able to actively steer the boat with bare poles on a dark night to avoid this. A drogue might have helped to keep the stern oriented to the prevailing wave pattern and might have mitigated the affects of the breaking wave

- low morale is often a cause of rescue. They were in some distress but the boat was afloat, they still had a rig and steering (maybe - the pedestal was loose). But I agree with their decision too. They were hypothermic; the boat was damaged, main "shredded", they were 70 so not at peak physical ability.

An EPIRB does offer an easy way out. If you look at the pitchpole of Tzu Hang you would see worse damage and they saved the boat and sailed to shore. They had to - no EPIRBs in those days.

"In December 1956 Miles and Beryl departed Melbourne on Tzu Hang to visit Clio at school in England, intending to follow the old clipper route. The journey would take them eastbound around Cape Horn, a voyage that at that time had very rarely been accomplished in small boats. They were accompanied on the boat by a young friend, the Englishman John Guzzwell, who had been circumnavigating the world in his self-made boat on a voyage later recounted in his book Trekka, as well as by their Siamese cat, Pwe.

Approaching Cape Horn, the yacht was pitchpoled by a rogue wave. Beryl, who had been on the helm, was tossed from the boat and injured. Tzu Hang was dismasted, partially submerged, and the topsides were severely damaged, but the three sailors managed to sail the damaged vessel to Chile, where extensive repairs were undertaken."

Note the third person. I suspect Joy and Jim feel the same, a third to drive while they sorted out pumps would make a huge difference. They made the right call to get off in the conditions and boat state, and I really do feel for there loss at that was their home for 17+ years.

We took tons of water, nearly similar to what they experienced through the rear companionway in a bad wave going Transat. If we had been knocked down at the same time it would have been bad. We learned to keep the companionway hatch installed in any sort of sea. Cruising sailors, accomplished as they are, often avoid those kinds of situations and it takes very serious experience to know when to put the hatchboards in. It's also complicated on a doublehanded boat with no one to help while you are steering and the off watch is resting.

The best offshore boat I have been on was custom built for the purpose and doesn't have an electric bilge pump; manual only, a Whale Gusher that chews through anything. Reading this that's mandatory.

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What is truly mandatory is some sort of strum box/strainer - and a way to easily clear it. Tie a string to the end of the hose so you can raise it from the bilge. Never seen brass or copper ones like these but nice colour when new :)

If I had an offshore monohull I'd fit a Rule 3700 pump or similar. It can throw water like you wouldn't believe. Just have to turn on a switch. One person shoving a bilge pump handle is better suited to cleaning up the mess down below and securing the boat than pumping. 

Copper-Suction-Strainer.jpg

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Manual power is almost irrelevant compared to modern batteries.  The attached shows 4000 gph at 15 amps.  That's 32,000 lbs of water for 15 amp-hours.  A $200 LiFePo battery, independent of the house batteries, maybe integrated into a 5 gal bucket all ready to go seems like a good tool to me.  Most of these stories include "house electronics dead" for one reason or another.  

http://jabscotech.com/files/2014/03/Rule-Fuse-Size-Charts.pdf

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7 hours ago, stayoutofthemiddle said:

The 1 min of fuel isn't accurate. Maybe that's what the rescued party heard but likely it was 1 min of regular fuel before they got into their reserve. They would never cut it that close as it would be against SOPs. The computer calculates the fuel burn and they know when the need to turn around before they put their multi-million dollar machine and it's crews lives at risk.

Stay, read up on the '98 S2H rescue, one of the rescue choppers landed on a headland and ran out of fuel 30 sec after touchdown. SAR teams? I hope they never have to buy a drink in any bar frequented by sailors, so many times their actions are incredible feats of endurance and courage that go unnoticed in the drama around a rescue.

 

 

 

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1. I came across this story in a few placed on the web, it looked too long to read it. I just read it, wow.

2. These rescue swimmers are beyond normal people. I can't imagine catching a boat moving at 5 knots and did it on the first try.  What amazing heroes these Coasties are.

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Happy you are safe. You can always buy another boat. You buy back life after death...the whole thing coulda domino'd outa control afterwards.. another roll over MOB lost at sea..anything...glad your alive to tell your tale...Thanx for sharing

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The biggest factor in this might have been that the helicopter hadnt any time - only one safe option - to abandon no time to try to pump or do something. 

 

At the vid - the boat is sitting duck with no sails up - or bow against the waves. 

 

As some said over - you get faster out of a storm by putting out a drogue and lay bow to - and go to sleep. When you sail with the wind - you will stay with the storm for more time - and also in this case go away from your destination and also let the waves attack from behind....

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Would be stern to with a drogue.

Inventor Don Jordan said the drogue he invented would not protect the boat and crew if used off the bow in a severe storm. 

 

 

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This post should go in the curriculum of the Safety at Sea courses, along with lessons from Fastnet '79 and Chicago Mac 2011.  The lesson, to me, is that s*** can happen even when you do almost everything right. These were super experienced sailors, and I appreciate their candor in reporting the ordeal.

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8 hours ago, jordanseriesdrogue said:

Would be stern to with a drogue.

Inventor Don Jordan said the drogue he invented would not protect the boat and crew if used off the bow in a severe storm. 

 

 

In this case, it would seem that "heading left" would be best to get them closer to shore and avoid running down the coast with the storm.  If they trailed a drogue off the port quarter, would that help?  Or maybe just lash helm slightly to port?  Any evidence or studies of such techniques? 

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Drogues are dangerous. Don't go there. Heave to if the wind is blowing you the "wrong way", bare poles if the wind is blowing more or less the way you want to go.

Ensuring everything stays in its proper, safe place, on deck and below, even if the boat is knocked down, possibly inverted, and tons of water comes through broken deck and hatches, is not an easy thing to achieve: on an IMOCA perhaps, but on a boat that is really a moving retirement home... not likely to be practical. Obviously the right goal to seek, but unlikely in a home.

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On 6/29/2018 at 1:58 PM, axolotl said:

I assume you mean a portable pump that can be connected to the ship's battery banks.  All the portable pumps with internal batteries I've seen wouldn't make a dent  given the amount of water in their boat.  And wouldn't a portable  pump have the same clogging issue their bilge pumps ran into?

Clearly, a high capacity  diaphragm type manual bilge pump a.k.a. Whale Gusher 10 is the best backup  for clogged electric bilge pumps,  or a sturdy bucket.

I would not consider the Whale Gusher 10 to be high capacity. I would think of it as a nice little (if overpriced) pump. If you want a good manual pump go with Edson. Damned expensive ~$!000 +/- depending on the model but move a lot of water. Ask me how I know - we used it after one knock down and a few other times.

Quote

 

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7 hours ago, carcrash said:

Drogues are dangerous. Don't go there. Heave to if the wind is blowing you the "wrong way", bare poles if the wind is blowing more or less the way you want to go.

This advice is dangerous.

While heaving to, might be appropriate , running bare poles downwind in a heavy sea is just asking to be rolled. Without any means of keeping stern, or bow to the waves it is almost guaranteed that you will be left broadside to the waves and be rolled.  This is precisely the situation that drogues were designed to help with.

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On 6/29/2018 at 10:08 PM, stayoutofthemiddle said:

The 1 min of fuel isn't accurate. Maybe that's what the rescued party heard but likely it was 1 min of regular fuel before they got into their reserve. They would never cut it that close as it would be against SOPs. The computer calculates the fuel burn and they know when the need to turn around before they put their multi-million dollar machine and it's crews lives at risk.

A couple of my mates got rescued in the Perfect Storm when the 75' was taking water all night, into liferaft in the morning, picked up by a bulker then helicopter off Cape Hatteras.

Chopper auto gyrated onto the beach infront of the navel base.
My mate said he was suspicious when the crew all changed into survival suits and then said we might have to ditch but we think we will make it.

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Both examples are very old. 

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I had tears of sadness and relief, reading this. Thanks for sharing and helping us to be aware of the risks and mitigations.

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On ‎6‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 9:30 AM, billy backstay said:

 

Just how many minutes of reserve fuel do they carry?

I'm not sure. Probably 20, but don't forget you can make some miles in that time...

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On ‎6‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 11:40 AM, mookiesurfs said:

The fuel gauges aren't that accurate, either.

Exactly. Further more with aircraft there are some many other factors at play so as "usable fuel".  Flying a fix wing for example, sipping a cross wind landing you should put your fuel selector to the downwind wing tank as your upwind wing will be dipped and fuel starvation could occur on a low tank with the fuel rushing outboard... 

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18 hours ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

I would not consider the Whale Gusher 10 to be high capacity. I would think of it as a nice little (if overpriced) pump. If you want a good manual pump go with Edson. Damned expensive ~$!000 +/- depending on the model but move a lot of water. Ask me how I know - we used it after one knock down and a few other times.

 

Agreed.  The Whale Gusher Titan is comparable to the Edson, 28gpm vs. 30gpm.  

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27 minutes ago, axolotl said:

Agreed.  The Whale Gusher Titan is comparable to the Edson, 28gpm vs. 30gpm.  

Granted those are the specs but I have to wonder about these numbers.  I have both on my boat.  The Edson pump is ginormous, makes the Whale Gusher Titan look like a toy.  I haven't yet tested them side by side but I'd be shocked if the Edson doesn't move a LOT more water in practice.

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I have read this post with sorry and do not mean to criticize cruelly after such a loss, but many things clearly were not done properly.

1. The companionway hatch should have been secured in those conditions

2. Floor boards and other internal cabinet hatches must be positively secured including ice box lids

3. All heavy items must be secured to prevent damage in a roll over

4. Amazing that the helmsman was not lost without being tethered

5. As to the decision to abandon the ship, a tough call.  If they did not have the ability to remove water, thats a problem.  Small crews have to make decisions differently than large crews. Age, physical condition and fatigue can have a huge impact. Personally, I don't like the idea of jumping into the water when my boat is not actively taking on water, but being injured, fatigued and hypothermic changes things.

6. Storm tactics are very boat specific but, no boat that heaved to in the famous Fastnet Race foundered.  In large following seas, a small crew that get fatigued may not be able to effective run. Contrary to prior posts, there are published success stories with drogues.  I have personally been in similar  conditions in the Atlantic during a gale. My heavy displacement boat likes to fore-reach in those conditions.

Even though all do not race, look at the ISAF Category I requirements for boat preparation.  

 

 

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Yep, underprepared, taking to much shit with you, overwhelmed, no plan for a flooding.

On 6/29/2018 at 1:09 AM, Canal Bottom said:

Stuff had been piled there and secured for years for passages, but now was a heap on the cabin sole. But the second scuba tank was now in that bunk. We had a bag of laundry sitting in the shop that was behind the engine and all the clothes were sloshing around the cables and chains of the steering.

But been under cruisers, and many do not think ahead.
Feel sorry for the boat, not the sailors.

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9 hours ago, stayoutofthemiddle said:

I'm not sure. Probably 20, but don't forget you can make some miles in that time...

Yeah, but don't forget the last person comming back aboard is their own rescue swimmer.

I figure those guys know very well how much time they have left on station.

Maybe the reason he didn't grab her bag of belongings is because he didn't have time.

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On 7/1/2018 at 6:03 PM, southernacc said:

This advice is dangerous.

While heaving to, might be appropriate , running bare poles downwind in a heavy sea is just asking to be rolled. Without any means of keeping stern, or bow to the waves it is almost guaranteed that you will be left broadside to the waves and be rolled.  This is precisely the situation that drogues were designed to help with.

Read Moitessier, who contradicts all of your points.

And as far as avoiding capsize, here is a quote:

Andrew Claughton (who co-authored the University of Southampton, Department of Ship Science’s report) writes in Adlard Coles’ Heavy Weather Sailing by Peter Bruce, “During the model tests that were carried out to investigate the problem, when the breaking wave was 30 percent of the hull length high, from trough to crest, it could capsize some yachts, while waves to a height of 60 percent of the hull length comfortably overwhelm all of the boats we tested.”

If the waves are big enough, you are simply a target.

So while I agree with your statement "This is precisely the situation that drogues were designed to help with," actual experiments at sea and in wave tanks show them to be dangerous (ensuring you get hit by the breaking wave and rolled, instead of scooting ahead) or not helpful (the wave size dominates everything).

When its truly gnarly, stuff won't save you. Length will, keeping your head in the game will, avoiding things that put fantastic strains on the boat (like drogues) is an essential strategy.

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This is great news!!  Happy for the couple.  It's amazing how many times boats are abandoned  but still stay afloat for months/years.  Are people abandoning too soon these days?

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Maui, that’s an interesting question...and a hard one to answer.  As technology has allowed us to voyage as we age, and allowed vogaging with small crews on bigger bigger boats, in some cases, it not a question of boats capabilities but rather of crews capabilities to continue.  In this case it was older 2 person crew, both of whom were injured...

 

Technology also allows us to summon help faster...and in some cases, prudence would dictate summoning help first as it hours away, then assessing the damage.  Which means your pro-active refusing aid in uncertain conditions.  (In this case it was get off now, or no chance of another bird/rescue for awhile) vs back in the day, when rescue was less immediate, was a boat not helo, etc...

In this case, I think they made the right decision...with a different crew that was un-injured/more physically capable?  That crew should have stayed aboard...

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Good points.  We are pushing the envelope these days in boat size and crew capability.

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On July 1, 2018 at 3:56 AM, SeaGul said:

The biggest factor in this might have been that the helicopter hadnt any time - only one safe option - to abandon no time to try to pump or do something. 

 

At the vid - the boat is sitting duck with no sails up - or bow against the waves. 

 

As some said over - you get faster out of a storm by putting out a drogue and lay bow to - and go to sleep. When you sail with the wind - you will stay with the storm for more time - and also in this case go away from your destination and also let the waves attack from behind....

Most modern boats won't lie bow to the wind, even with a sea anchor/drogue . Tendency is to lie beam to the wind and slowly tow drogue along, aft of beam. 

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Kudos to the rescuers. The couple made the right decision under the circumstances. It seems health was going to be an issue if they'd tried to stay aboard and make repairs enough to reach port. Note that when the Smeeton's were pitch-poled,  they were much younger than the couple in OP, plus had John Guzzwell aboard, who was still in his 20s and a capable woodright. Also, they didn't have the option of activating an EPIRB and being airlifted off a few hours later. Glad to hear the OP boat was recovered, some of the couple's belongings possibly saved, and possibly the boat rebuilt.

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Many good lessons to be learned, particularly about ocean readiness of the boat. Not a criticism but on observation. Many cruisers pass through 'experienced' into complacency. 

Particularly when 17 years and a circumnavigation of experience doesn't seem to have included any real heavy weather experience. 

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It wasn’t just big seas, but big breaking seas. Big enough to roll the boat once, so big enough to roll the boat more times.

Once breaking seas exceed 60% of boat length, no boat design will prevent capsize. No crew experience or boat preparation will prevent capsize. 

Play with the wave feature on windy.tv, and you can see the large areas of the ocean where it is simply unsafe to go: anywhere with seas over 10 meters.

In the long duration full gale off the North American west coast where the OP was sailing, the region of 8m seas was hundreds of miles in all directions from their location.

This was simply a case of too small a boat (by a lot) for that area in that weather.

LB, you would have rolled too. You also would likely have been injured. You also would have realized the ocean had plenty more of the same to deliver.

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13 hours ago, carcrash said:

It wasn’t just big seas, but big breaking seas. Big enough to roll the boat once, so big enough to roll the boat more times.

Once breaking seas exceed 60% of boat length, no boat design will prevent capsize. No crew experience or boat preparation will prevent capsize. 

Play with the wave feature on windy.tv, and you can see the large areas of the ocean where it is simply unsafe to go: anywhere with seas over 10 meters.

In the long duration full gale off the North American west coast where the OP was sailing, the region of 8m seas was hundreds of miles in all directions from their location.

This was simply a case of too small a boat (by a lot) for that area in that weather.

LB, you would have rolled too. You also would likely have been injured. You also would have realized the ocean had plenty more of the same to deliver.

I think LB is a lot closer to the truth than this.  I think they did indeed get complacent so close to home and the woman's account essentially confirms this.  For one, it seems like the companionway was not closed and latched, leading to all the water below, leading to most of the subsequent problems. I am also pretty sure that they could have kept the boat from being rolled if they'd been forereaching or taken other actions to not let the boat get beam on to the waves.   After all, while conditions were bad, the boat came through pretty well.  I am not in any way 'blaming' the crew.  It is all too easy to let vigilance slip a bit after so many miles without a problem.  And that's just when you get bitten.

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17 hours ago, RKoch said:

Most modern boats won't lie bow to the wind, even with a sea anchor/drogue . Tendency is to lie beam to the wind and slowly tow drogue along, aft of beam. 

Interesting comment. Hadn't thought  that would be the case.  How come?  Hull shape (underwater)? Transom width? Keel types / design?

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They're going to get it back....

http://www.oceannavigator.com/Web-Exclusives-2018/Abandoned-sailboat-found-still-afloat/

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