Bad Times in Mobile

ZeroTheHero

Super Anarchist
this is a very sad tragedy for those involved. Condolences to all involved.

Rasputin, I have that app, used it for the 2 Everglades Challenges I did. Not fancy but it gives pretty good data if you are used to looking at storm maps and picturing what is going to happen in the next few minutes/hours

It's easy for all of us to say what people should have done, but after my initial reaction of, "Well they should have seen that coming!". I started trying to put myself in their shoes. I am sure a lot of people weren't that aware of the threat. They knew there was likely to be a storm that afternoon but that was probably it. As they saw it coming they probably rationalized it like many of us have done. Won't be that bad, might not hit, been there done that. At a certain point though, you know you are getting a beating, and soon.

I nearly got caught out in a storm like that once. Knew it was coming but figured I had time. I did, but just barely. I hopped in my little L.L.Bean kayak and headed out to an island 2 miles out at the river mouth. I got out there just fine and was playing in the waves about 15 minutes when I noticed the shadow in the haze to the West/ North West. It was hot, hazy and windy, a real weather breeder. I made it back in to the dock minutes before the first gusts hit. Lightning was intense, and very close. As I was headed in, many people were still headed out. I remember 3 guys in a 13 foot whaler passing me joking and drinking beer. When I got to the ramp there was a guy there hosing his boat off. The lightning was very close. I mentioned he might want to stop and he asked me if I thought the storm was going to hit. Within 5 minutes we were fully in the storms wrath. There were several fatalities that days as well. I was shocked at how disconnected people were to the situation building around them.

If the interviews I saw on several news sites were any indication it seemed there were people with very little experience out there on Saturday. Makes me sad. Sad for those that were lost, sad for those that lost someone, and sad for what effect it will have on the local and possibly national sailing community.

 

DryArmour

Super Anarchist
this is a very sad tragedy for those involved. Condolences to all involved.

Rasputin, I have that app, used it for the 2 Everglades Challenges I did. Not fancy but it gives pretty good data if you are used to looking at storm maps and picturing what is going to happen in the next few minutes/hours

It's easy for all of us to say what people should have done, but after my initial reaction of, "Well they should have seen that coming!". I started trying to put myself in their shoes. I am sure a lot of people weren't that aware of the threat. They knew there was likely to be a storm that afternoon but that was probably it. As they saw it coming they probably rationalized it like many of us have done. Won't be that bad, might not hit, been there done that. At a certain point though, you know you are getting a beating, and soon.

I nearly got caught out in a storm like that once. Knew it was coming but figured I had time. I did, but just barely. I hopped in my little L.L.Bean kayak and headed out to an island 2 miles out at the river mouth. I got out there just fine and was playing in the waves about 15 minutes when I noticed the shadow in the haze to the West/ North West. It was hot, hazy and windy, a real weather breeder. I made it back in to the dock minutes before the first gusts hit. Lightning was intense, and very close. As I was headed in, many people were still headed out. I remember 3 guys in a 13 foot whaler passing me joking and drinking beer. When I got to the ramp there was a guy there hosing his boat off. The lightning was very close. I mentioned he might want to stop and he asked me if I thought the storm was going to hit. Within 5 minutes we were fully in the storms wrath. There were several fatalities that days as well. I was shocked at how disconnected people were to the situation building around them.

If the interviews I saw on several news sites were any indication it seemed there were people with very little experience out there on Saturday. Makes me sad. Sad for those that were lost, sad for those that lost someone, and sad for what effect it will have on the local and possibly national sailing community.
Weather is a major piece of getting one's pilot's license here in the states. It should be an important part of any skipper's float plan as well.

 

Don'tCallMeJudge

Super Anarchist
This is the kind of tragic story that keeps me having nightmares all summer. I've only had two truly major weather "events" during my decades of race management. The good news is that while both had seriously dangerous potential, they both ended with all sailors safe on shore. Eventually.

The first event in July 2007 (massive, sudden T-storm, with winds over 70 knots, and the most incredible lightning storm I've ever seen) ended OK with everyone safe, despite two boats sinking. Nothing was visible in the almost clear sky, but fortunately I spotted it blowing up thanks to a very early mobile WAP radar site, just a week after the first iPhone came out.

The second (last June) was a massive, sudden wind front, labeled by a MN meteorologist as a suspected "gravity wave," with winds that went from the forecasted 15knots to 65knots in less that 3 minutes, and stayed there for 45 minutes. One boat was destroyed on the rocks on shore after being abandoned. Half a dozen masts were broken. Again... all sailors returned to shore safely.

My sincere condolences to the sailors and families in Saturday's tragedy in AL. It reminds me just how much Mother Nature is always the one in charge. All we can do is learn from the sad episodes, and put those lessons into practice. A bit more common sense would help a lot. The use of something as simple as wearing life jackets is a start, unlike the sailors in that otherwise stunning video from Saturday.

 

stick

Member
59
2
This one is FO* REAL. Video from yesterday on the water. Gets ugly at about 2:30.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJF7i5z9lQ4
It took these guys 6 min before deciding it might be a good idea to get PFDs on? WTF???
In fairness, they seem to do most else right, and risk of mob given sea state and wind doesn't seem to be that elevated as all are in the cockpit, although recoverability would be reduced. I'd wear a pfd if I were there, but ragging on them too hard seems unfair.

I'd guess that heaving line wouldn't be much use as casualty would immediately be to windward, and throwing it into 60kn of wind it won't go far.

What it does highlight though is that if you're going to use a pfd, it needs to be the right one. Those foam jackets I see on north american charter boats aren't acceptable, it needs to be inflatable, and very importantly have a sprayhood, they work amazingly well, and solve any issues relating to wind driven foam and spray.

Good work by those that recovered casualties from the water.

 

Ajax

Super Anarchist
14,999
3,285
Edgewater, MD
Stick-

You're referring to "offshore use" PFD's. Mobile Bay is a comparatively small, almost completely enclosed body of water, i.e.- "in-shore".

I doubt anyone who commonly sails there, carries offshore foulies and PFD's. It seems unfair to berate people who sail in a little bay, for not being "blue water" equipped.

I will agree that there are better, in-shore rated PFD's than those orange bricks, and I will also agree that their lack of familiarity with those PFD's, and the fact that they never were able to get one on the helmsperson was not good. They waited too long to don them, fumbled around with them for way too long, and someone should have relieved the helm long enough for her to put her own PFD on.

Clipping on would have also been wise but again, in an enclosed, in-shore area, I'm not surprised that they don't use them or have them. Most people on the Chesapeake don't use them or have them and we're a much larger bay.

 

Max Rockatansky

DILLIGAF?
4,030
1,105
The race began, after an hour postponement, in 18-20 with overcast. My wife, the skipper, asked my crew to put on their jackets, as is her MO, jackets at 15 or better winds. We began the race with reef in, and I was surprised to see how many people didn't reef.

The day progressed with continued overcast and the humidity was such that haze obscured visibility more than, I'd say, three miles. The gusts grew to 25, the ambient to closer to 20. As we approached the finish, however, the wind laid to 10-15. We finished at something like 1520h.

The VHF had been constantly beeping with weather warnings, but all for north of the area. The general trend for weather appeared to be more of the same we'd been getting all day along the southern range of the area, with the tornadoes and violence north/inland. After so much of that, we figured the trend would continue. I'm sure quite a few of the racers felt the same way.

Thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones. As far as I know, there yet are people unaccounted for. Thanks to the DI Race Committee for doing a fine job in the circumstances, and the Coast Guard and Alabama Marine Patrols for their hard work and dedication.

 

stick

Member
59
2
Ajax - I certainly didn't mean my post to be taken as critical of the crew in the video - in fact I was suggesting other posters were being a bit harsh - they made their boat a safe and fairly stable place to be, making pfds less of a priority.

On the pfd point, my thought was that conditions for a mob didn't look too different to if I went over the side in the western approaches - breaking crests (albeit smaller waves), wind driven spray and foam, potential forfor rescue times in the order of hour + (survival times not much more in spring where I sail, so longer wait not relevant). As such, it might make sense to carry pfds designed for those parameters, which prob means something more than a typical "inshore" design. But as you surmise I don't know the area...

 

Ajax

Super Anarchist
14,999
3,285
Edgewater, MD
No worries, it's still a good discussion.

On my boat, I actually carry inshore PFD's and a couple of orange, foam Type I offshore PFDs for really bad weather or for someone working in a critical area, such as the foredeck. I also have jacklines and tethers. I don't have any PFD's with spray hoods though, and you have prompted me to look into that. I'm currently working on upgrading all of my PFD's with crotch or thigh straps.

 

Veeger

Super Anarchist
On another note regarding that video. While I hate to bag on people about PFD's, I'll concede they weren't too terribly worried about having them on. However....I was impressed that the gal had both the confidence to continue driving and that no one felt the 'need' to take over for her. Additionally, they had their sails down and secured, unlike so many others apparently. Overall, I give them an A-.

 

kent_island_sailor

Super Anarchist
28,581
6,327
Kent Island!
Pilots still die in widely reported adverse weather, so the training we get is no cure-all. The human factor of wanting to be somewhere or not wanting to get stuck somewhere is very strong :(

That said, here in the Annapolis area a storm front like that would have had the NOAA weather radio channels sending alarm tones and the CG on 16 warning of severe weather.

this is a very sad tragedy for those involved. Condolences to all involved.

Rasputin, I have that app, used it for the 2 Everglades Challenges I did. Not fancy but it gives pretty good data if you are used to looking at storm maps and picturing what is going to happen in the next few minutes/hours

It's easy for all of us to say what people should have done, but after my initial reaction of, "Well they should have seen that coming!". I started trying to put myself in their shoes. I am sure a lot of people weren't that aware of the threat. They knew there was likely to be a storm that afternoon but that was probably it. As they saw it coming they probably rationalized it like many of us have done. Won't be that bad, might not hit, been there done that. At a certain point though, you know you are getting a beating, and soon.

I nearly got caught out in a storm like that once. Knew it was coming but figured I had time. I did, but just barely. I hopped in my little L.L.Bean kayak and headed out to an island 2 miles out at the river mouth. I got out there just fine and was playing in the waves about 15 minutes when I noticed the shadow in the haze to the West/ North West. It was hot, hazy and windy, a real weather breeder. I made it back in to the dock minutes before the first gusts hit. Lightning was intense, and very close. As I was headed in, many people were still headed out. I remember 3 guys in a 13 foot whaler passing me joking and drinking beer. When I got to the ramp there was a guy there hosing his boat off. The lightning was very close. I mentioned he might want to stop and he asked me if I thought the storm was going to hit. Within 5 minutes we were fully in the storms wrath. There were several fatalities that days as well. I was shocked at how disconnected people were to the situation building around them.

If the interviews I saw on several news sites were any indication it seemed there were people with very little experience out there on Saturday. Makes me sad. Sad for those that were lost, sad for those that lost someone, and sad for what effect it will have on the local and possibly national sailing community.
Weather is a major piece of getting one's pilot's license here in the states. It should be an important part of any skipper's float plan as well.
 

MisterMoon

Super Anarchist
2,700
454
I got caught out in a similar storm once. It wasn't quite as severe however with winds topping out at 55 mph (report courtesy of a nearby weather station at a marina). Once we realized we were going to get plastered, we only had maybe two minutes to get the sails down and lashed. We were late reading the signs and had to struggle a bit in the building winds to get everything down. Once the sails were down, it was rough but no real drama other than worrying about lightning. Probably helped that we were in a Cape Dory Typhoon. Scared the shit out of me at the time. Had we not been able to get the sails off, it would have been bad.

 

us7070

Super Anarchist
10,316
325
so, is it the case that a severe weather warning was never broadcast over VHF for the location of the regatta?

 

vibroman

Super Anarchist
Here is an email from another good friend who was on an E33 in the same area as the 37 footer in the video.

They managed to turn around and get 3 people who were in the water off a Catalina 22

>>

[SIZE=12pt]Please watch at least the first half of this video to see how the visibility [/SIZE]decreased[SIZE=12pt] and the wind/waves [/SIZE]increased[SIZE=12pt]. A two dimensional presentation does not really show the total reality of the situation, but is pretty revealing.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=medium]I and my skipper, Rick Skinner, were on his 33 foot sloop. The boat in the video is, I believe, 37 feet. Both of us had our sails secured and running with the waves with our inboard engines running. We were very lucky. Just imagine being in a much smaller boat, possibly with sails totally or partially up, and having to rely on a small outboard motor, or worse, no motor at all![/SIZE]

[SIZE=medium]It was very “exciting”, to say the least. We passed through the shipping channel at the height of the storm and heard a ship give us 5-blasts, finally vaguely seeing his bow as we crossed. As the storm subsided (steady 20-25 knot winds), but the seas did not, we spotted three men in the water clinging to boat cushions, waving and yelling. Their boat (22 ft. Catalina) had sunk and they had been in the water more than an hour. We were able, with some difficulty, to get them aboard and take them back to FYC.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=medium]Many of you receiving this email were in the same conditions.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=medium]Respectfully,[/SIZE]

[SIZE=medium]Chappie[/SIZE]

 
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