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Joe Anderson

Everglades Challenge 2020

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Oh my.  According to reports from Coast Guard, Sailorman is confirmed missing after they found the boat at sea but empty.  At 88, 73 years old doesn't seem so old but memory tells me different, especially in those conditions.  I join with all Watertribers in hoping for the best outcome.   It's difficult to express true feelings for a fellow sailor in these circumstances but the real limits to our control come forward.  

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Does the race organizers require participants to carry an EPIRB or a PLA? Having spent 23 years in the CG and been involved in 100s of Rescues, I know that having an EPIRB and wearing a PFD and a Drysuit drastically increases your chances of being rescued.  Personally I would never engage in coastal sailing without those items that I consider the bare minimum.  This is a tragic situation that could have been avoided.  My heart goes out to his family and friends. 

 

On a separate note I saw that the centerboard was not sticking out of the boat making re-righting next to impossible,  water ballast? mast float  installed?  All questions I have since I am building a CS 20MK3. I hope we as a community can come up with a workable solution to ensure the centerboard stays down during inclement weather.  

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An epirb is required to be attaced to your pfd and its number is checked at the start to verify registration and that it is current. It is very unfortunate that it has not activated for reasons we may never know. A drysuit is not mandatory but maybe it should be. The pfd was not with the boat but we dont know if it was on him or not. He was sending ok messages on his spot tracker regularly until about 10am Monday morning is my understanding but already very far off shore. Then the cg was called by his shore contact person when the ok messages stopped. It was not assumed that he had capsized since hitting the ok button on the spot requires a manual button press and it could be assumed he was maybe overly tired and just pulled the sails down to try and sleep and just kept hitting oks so as not to alarm anyone. Its happened before. Still cant believe it. 

 

Yes i  also think we need mast head floats and centerboard downhauls for these events. 

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The Coast Guard has suspended their search for SailorMan, Jim Slauson.  Even as the other participants celebrate their completion of the course it is impossible to forget this one that did not make it.  Congratulations to the finishers and God Bless Jim Slauson and his family.

 

Safety was one of the features of BandB boats that appealed to me.  I think it is one of their strong suites. The capsize camps and development of mast head floats have demonstrated a continued commitment to safety at sea. However no matter how safe your vessel there is going to be a certain amount of risk involved.  The skill and decisions of the crew have a huge impact on vessel safety, but the power of the sea can overwhelm even the wisest and most skilled mariner and founder the best boat.

 

I have for the last few years carried a PLB in the center pocket of my PFD.  To activate it I would have to remove it from the pocket,  deploy the antenna and depress the proper button. There is a power and a test button of similar size located close together. I can accomplish this pretty easily on dry land, when I am well rested, during daylight hours so I can review the instructions on the back.

However.....

 

There is beauty and a unique satisfaction in going to sea in a boat you have made.  Let us be as safe as we can and look after each other and cherish those wonderful hours on the water.

 

 

 

 

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We are on our way home from the EC and my trip report will be forthcoming. For me, this year has been completely overshadowed by the tragic loss of jim Slauson who was sailing his Core Sound 17 Mark 3 for the second attempt at completing the event. See the linked article for the facts. At some point he went overboard after apparently heaving to and drifting offshore. Although he continued to activate his OK message after he began drifting, he never got back on course. In years past others have done similar after perhaps they fell asleep or were riding out conditions or making repairs we will never know. But despite having a PLB and we presume a pfd on his person, he never activated the PLB. Medical issues have not been in any official report so are speculatory but its possible could have been a factor. The importance of wearimg a tether when solo sailing and practicing activating your PLB one handed in the dark are at the forefront of my mind as we struggle to make any sense of his tragedy. The boat was found by the CG floating upright.

 

https://www.tampabay.com/news/breaking-news/2020/03/13/search-suspended-for-st-pete-sailor-who-went-missing-during-long-distance-race/

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So terrible,  reading the story though and looking at the photo, and boat with it not completely upside down it did not look like it was too awash.  So given what we know about the previous capsize tests and learning curve  and attention to details thanks to  Alan and Graham in the past, in response to people talking about a mast head float, it does look like there would be some reserve capability and possibly righting the boat. I do wonder why the centerboard  is not showing down though, with the boat just  on its side. While it may not have been locked in the down position, I would have thought that the board would not go back in easily  unless it was completely upside down.  Does anyone know if the centerboard is in tack but inside the boat ? Could he have had a problem with it and he quit sailing and sailing?

 

 

Of course if he was overboard and with had foul weather gear and even boots on, he was probably not able to  swim, but was attempting to get back on the boat it if was right side up and then had a medical problem from physically overstressed. And of course as us men we don't always like to admit defeat. So maybe this is why he just continued to hit the okay button maybe while he was in the water until some medical issue developed.

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10 minutes ago, Chick Ludwig said:

The boat was upright when the CG found it. Rotor  wash from the helicopter capsized it.

Yes, But I was just wondering why he would continue to hit the okay button with the boat right side up and then suddenly quit, if he was in the boat and the boat was just drifting.  He should have been in the boat when they found it right side up,  if he just had a medical issue and sitting in the boat resting. I refined my earlier comments to reflect my thoughts. Its always terrible for people to loose their life doing fun things that they enjoy.

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According to the article the boat was upright when the CG arrived. It didn't capsize until hit with downwash from the helicopter.

 

Like everyone else, I send my condolences to the family.

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When I was on Skeena on the Chesapeake last fall, there was a couple of times I locked the tiller and adjusted the sails so it just sailed itself. I became conscious of the reality that if I tripped or slid overboard I would be in trouble. I thought of all the things I could do to make myself safer. Any option I thought of was a compromise and made me feel uneasy.  My first thought when seeing the track was that man overboard was a possibility.  Like all of us I think of another builder as family, and while I didn't know Sailorman, when I saw his boat on the beach I was proud for him. My condolences to his family and friends.

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Steve I have also thought about using a tether, but I have never tried to rig one up. I have to move around so much and already have so many lines to deal with.

 

Ideally Jim's Spot Tracker should have continued to broadcast his location. Why did it go silent?

 

I have noticed several comments from Watertribers reporting Spot Trackers not functioning.

 

An adventurer would become very familiar with using a Spot Tracker because you may be sending OK messages daily or every few hours.

 

In an emergency an adventurer might continue to use or attempt to use the less reliable but familiar piece of rescue equipment instead of switching to the more reliable, but less familiar PLB.

 

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I have been bothered ever since my earlier post on his strange behavior and wracking my brain over various scenarios. Unfortunately we will never know what actually happened. I would like to see some photos from the Coast Guard before they capsized the boat to see what sail combination he had up, was she in a hove-to position or was there any discernible damage or issues?

 

I too looked hard for the centerboard in the capsized picture. It cannot fall through the cap as it is 3/4" solid wood sandwiched between the trunk sides with a fillet and glass coming from one side across the cap. There should be a rubber shock absorber near the aft end of the cap that keeps the leading edge of the board flush with the bottom, perhaps it was not installed allowing the board to retract out of sight. We have discussed drilling a small hole in the lead tip and attaching about 3 feet of 1/8" line for this situation, It would cause very little drag. I believe that I could push a loop of 3/16" line down the trunk behind the board and lift it out. The tip is tapered and there is room to get a line around the board, although not as convenient as the 1/8" line, you have got to do what you have to.

 

I can understand him pressing the OK button, I would have done the same thing if the boat was upright and dry to let everyone know that even though I was not making good progress I was fine. Why would I want to be taken off my perfectly whole boat? As Joe pointed out, why did the Spot quit transmitting after the last OK? I do not wear mine as it works more reliably when sitting flat but I do have the PLB attached to my life jacket as well as the VHF which I do wear when I am offshore. Perhaps he was wearing his Spot when he went overboard and the waterproofing failed.

 

 

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I would think  that the coast guard  has video footage of the boat sitting upright upon finding it before they attempted to go down and enter the boat with any swimmer.  They may not release it right now. But they normally have video of the swimmers exiting the helos. And if a C-130 was on scene they too should have some documentary on the working rescue and the surroundings.

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On our CS20.3 we have a mizzenmast tabernacle arrangement, we use 2 of the “loop” nuts, one for the mizzen mast pivot bolt and one to tighten the mizzenmast to the “holder up bolt”.  At night or when we feel it is appropriate, a harness on the PFD with a lanyard to attached to the boat gives some security.   Hard to imagine the frustration seeing the departing transom of your boat.   A very tragic event. 
 

If the rotor wash caused capsize, could that be attributed to the sheets being cleated,  and unattended. 

AF20035F-B5E8-497F-B4FC-F0D84509FAA1.jpeg

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In the Joe Richards book Princess, Joe discusses using a tether in case of falling overboard. This was when self sailing with the tiller tied off. He comments that he would not have the strength to pull himself along the line against water pressure with the boat moving forward with much speed. His solution was to use the tether line to tie his tiller off. It would be tied with a slip knot so if he fell overboard, the pull on the tether would release the slip knot and Princess would turn up into the wind.

This was before the days of tiller tamers or other devices to hold a boat on course, but maybe a solution could be found that would achieve the same thing.

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