Curious Double Fatality at Sea

ProaSailor

dreaming my life away...
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The two American passengers "(1 USCG licensed captain; 1 with over fifteen years of sailing experience) had met Annemarie and Karl the year before at a boat show and responded as interested in being crew. [...] The crew flew to Bermuda arriving midday Wednesday, the 8th of June."

This was only three days before separate incidents related to extreme weather caused injuries to the owners. By this report, the "passengers" (crew) acted competently and heroically to care for the injured owners, get the boat under control and rendezvous with the Coast Guard.

Five people in this thread suggested foul play, with no evidence whatsoever. Highly inappropriate, you all ought to be ashamed.
 

accnick

Super Anarchist
3,549
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The two American passengers "(1 USCG licensed captain; 1 with over fifteen years of sailing experience) had met Annemarie and Karl the year before at a boat show and responded as interested in being crew. [...] The crew flew to Bermuda arriving midday Wednesday, the 8th of June."

This was only three days before separate incidents related to extreme weather caused injuries to the owners. By this report, the "passengers" (crew) acted competently and heroically to care for the injured owners, get the boat under control and rendezvous with the Coast Guard.

Five people in this thread suggested foul play, with no evidence whatsoever. Highly inappropriate, you all ought to be ashamed.
Hindsight is 20-20, isn’t it?
 

patrese

Member
131
29
Pretty interesting as they are talking about "genoa" ...sheets, genoa riped.... we had to switch over to the staysail on Escape in over 18 to 20 with a full race crew in St Bath. but yes sometimes the power of the boat and sails was underestimated by Anne and Karl .
It's a tragedy that it ended in this kind of disaster
 

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
I looked up thread to see who posted it, but the comment was something like:

"This is why many of these boats have the mainsheet attached to the middle of the boom, instead of the end."

Wise advice!!!
.
 

floater

Super Duper Anarchist
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this being a German boat - why not a German main sheet? unless I misunderstand - a distinct possibility - this should be a safer system.
 

floater

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why I asked. I'm not an expert on this and know next to nothing about the rigging on huge rigs like this one. But I have been impressed with 'alternative' main sheet systems - which sheet to a winch both port and starboard - because they control the boom so well.

and isn't this what killed the crew on this boat. the boom flying around? (even though they were struck by the mainsheet).
 

requiem

New member
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2
why I asked. I'm not an expert on this and know next to nothing about the rigging on huge rigs like this one. But I have been impressed with 'alternative' main sheet systems - which sheet to a winch both port and starboard - because they control the boom so well.

My experience with German sheeting is pretty minimal, but the versions I've seen didn't seem to bring much benefit. Since the same winches were used for both main and headsail, tacking required a careful dance to cleat off the main beforehand, and then switching it to the other winch after. It also required keeping an eye on how much line was still available, to avoid the problem of running out of mainsheet on the side with the free winch. (I believe some setups avoid this by using an endless loop for the sheet.) About the only benefit was that it was easier to manage both sails from the helm stations.

I don't see the benefit in boom control. Topologically the only difference versus a more traditional sheeting system is that you can trim from either end of the sheet. If the line parted at any point, the boom would still be flying uncontrolled. The only way around that would be to have two separate mainsheets, just as for the headsail.
 
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SV Tom Crean

Member
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why I asked. I'm not an expert on this and know next to nothing about the rigging on huge rigs like this one. But I have been impressed with 'alternative' main sheet systems - which sheet to a winch both port and starboard - because they control the boom so well.

and isn't this what killed the crew on this boat. the boom flying around? (even though they were struck by the mainsheet).
German sheeting systems have zero additional control over the main. All they add is the ability to adjust the sheet from two locations but the attachment points (and therefore control) remain the same.
 

floater

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for sure there is a sheeting system - don't know what it is called - that runs from the boom down to either side of the coach roof. this provides for lots more control, because the boom is captured between two purchases. I used to sail on a little 23' footer and it had this system (unlike my boat with a traveler in the cockpit) and the control through jibes was phenomenal. the set of blocks to either side of the boom pretty much acted as a brake, and it completely eliminated the boom during jibes. and although I stared at it plenty, and used it lots, I cannot recall exactly how it was set up! but pretty sure it was an endless sheet that had dedicated winches either side of the companionway on top of the coach house roof.

aha. found it. double blocked mainsheet system. Again, I'm not expert. but it seems to me that it may be worth looking into for a variety of reasons.

 

ProaSailor

dreaming my life away...
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I cannot recall exactly how it was set up! but pretty sure it was an endless sheet that had dedicated winches either side of the companionway on top of the coach house roof.

An "endless (double-ended) mainsheet" arrangement will act like a traveler as it will not stop the boom from moving side to side. To do that, two separate mainsheets are needed, as shown in post #84 in the same thread:
44476269664_af6edd6d5b_b.jpg


This is rock solid, the boom doesn't move at all in a jibe. A variation of this (used on a big trimaran) includes a mainsheet and traveler so these "sheets" act like vangs (or traveler car controls). Great system!
mcw_stern.jpg
 
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267
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Canada
An "endless mainsheet" arrangement will act like a traveler as it will not stop the boom from moving side to side. To do that, two separate mainsheets are needed, as shown in post #84 in the same thread:
44476269664_af6edd6d5b_b.jpg


This is rock solid, the boom doesn't move at all in a jibe. A variation of this (used on a big trimaran) includes a mainsheet and traveler so these "sheets" act like vangs (or traveler car controls). Great system!
was on a boat recently with this set up. interesting solution to see in action and no traveler in the way.
 

CapDave

Member
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467
Antigua
I wasn’t there, I only know what I read in the crews’ report. I’m sure most people reading this are familiar with the “chain of events” approach to understanding accidents - that there is a series of events, choices, and decisions that end in an accident. If you can “recognize and break the chain” you can avoid an accident. Easier said than done for sure as I can personally attest. More than once. Looking at this one, with partial information, I tried to identify the chain, this is what I came up with:

1. Boat operations and familiarity and language - called out already. Endemic to the situation, very hard to break the chain here while rushing to hit a weather window. Maybe “having a schedule” should be #1??
2. Weather forecasting - All those pretty moving pictures on PredictWind etc. are very seductive, and it’s easy to forget that much of what you’re looking at is algorithmic interpolation from much smaller scale models. Especially offshore. And those familiar with the Gulfstream know that it makes its own weather. Often the weather is more exaggerated in the Stream - higher highs, lower lows. And faster transitions. So I guess this would be called lack of local knowledge.
3. On the accident night, the wind is described at about 2200 as increasing to 25 steady with gusts to 30 - and the response was to put in a single reef. The account is not specific on point of sail, but it sounds like the wind was behind the beam. My best practice on my boat is to look at the TWS and canvas the boat the same upwind or down, though I’ve certainly bent my own rules. It’s seductive to carry more sail off the wind - the boat isn’t heeling as much (none in my case - cat), the apparent wind is lower, the noise is lower, all the signals say the boat’s OK with the extra sail. Going to first reef and apparently still flying the genoa in that reported TWS I would consider overcanvassed in my boat. I think this is a critical point in the chain. This was an opportunity to go direct to second reef and downshift to staysail. Connection here to the local knowledge issue too….
4. Next change in conditions - described as 30-35 knots steady, seas 6 meters, gust to 40. Decision to go to 2nd reef. The account states that the boat is headed up in seas reaching 8 meters, pitching heavily, and then genoa furling commences. This is very surprising to me. This means both sails are luffing, the sheets are flying around, and the engine is being relied on to control heading. I often see people completely loosing a headsail with wild luffing and flying sheets before rolling it up, and I don’t understand it, especially with the wind behind the beam. Again I wasn’t there, but my own best practice with wind behind the beam would have been to bear off to a broad reach and furl the genoa while it’s under control, gradually easing the sheet and operating the furler. This has the added advantage of dealing with one sail at a time. For me, this is a critical point in the accident chain because it sounds to me like the crew got behind the pace of events on the boat trying to deal with both sails at once, heading up into severe conditions.
5. The account then describes abandoning the genoa furling attempt to assist with controlling the main sheet and boom, with the boom out of control. Here is where language, familiarity, etc. could have made a difference, and the crew work load too. The helmsman could have been instructed to fall off, or could have acted unilaterally to do so, and keep the sheet firm. Easy to say from my couch of course, but I’m trying to identify the inflection points, not blaming anyone.
6. Next, the account says the woman is struck by the sheet, and the boom is on port side. Same observation, the helmsman could have fallen off to port and prevented the boom sweeping back across the cockpit. Highly theoretical, probably happened way too fast….

The crew and the Coast Guard did an amazing job after the injuries, and it’s sad and sobering that both people died.

I’m really not trying to judge, I’m just looking at the events and trying to pick apart where different decisions could have been made. And trying to learn from it. Perhaps others will see different places to break the chain?
 




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