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Boats, Seamanship
Last Post 12/25/2022 10:22 PM by 79 pmooney. 2 Replies.
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12/24/2022 12:47 PM
Just read a chilling account of two sport fishermen that apparently encountered a ship offshore while returning from tuna fishing. Hudson;s Canyon, an underwater extension of NY's Hudson River running from NYC southwest to deep water away from Long Island. Skipper was asleep below, a common practice for him as he was diabetic. He usually went out with 3 mariner friends so there would always be an alert and knowledge-able person at the helm. Well, this time he was a little desperate, End of the tuna season, he was under a lot of pressure - serious legal, financial and divorce issues all coming to a head. Couldn't get his experienced usuals. So he went with a yacht club comrade he bar3ely knew who claimed a lot of experience (but others who'd sailed with him had their doubts).

NY Times so probably a paywall - https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/22/nyregion/marvin-moy-boat-missing.html?campaign_id=190&emc=edit_ufn_20221224&instance_id=81009&nl=from-the-times®i_id=119138258&segment_id=120763&te=1&user_id=8f11a8156c2244a55036c76cfd0222a9

The story goes, on the return home, skipper was sleeping. Mate has dozed off(!); apparently with the boat set on autopilot. They get hit by a ship, boat destroyed. Emergency signal goes off but they cannot get any other electronics to work. Mate is found clinging to (or now in) the life raft. Skipper last seen drifting away holding a life ring.

All this is a little mysterious. Courts and Coast Guard very interested. No wrong-doing issued as of the article but Coast Guard hasn't listed the skipper as dead with no hard evidence. I wonder if skipper has hightailed south (or north) to some secluded harbor but the very limited accounts from the mate might be the truth. If so - Rule #1 in crowded ocean waters and shipping lanes was broken. You always have an active watch on deck. Always. The core reason for a crew of four.

I say this as someone who has sailed the traditional route, Newfoundland to Ireland, the Caribbean to Boston (going outside Cape Cod) and Halifax to Boston. We did those first two voyages with crews of four. That was planned for the last (and I was not part of or even aware of that sail). Three days before leaving Halifax, my dad lost one of his crew to a tooth ache and hasty flight home from Nova Scotia. Dad called me in Seattle and I joined him in Halifax. Learned that number 3 had to opt out. Well, number 4 never showed. My dad had commitments that needed to be made so it was the two of us or park the boat and fly home. We decided to go. But, unlike the pair in this story, we both had extensive sailing experience. I'd already been a member of those two earlier voyages. We'd both stood many solo watches. And we were fully aware that evening we would be rounding one of the world's busier corners in the dark in a boat that would barely show on radar. Also that it would be windy and rough. (The "corner" of the south tip of Nova Scotia which is the opening to the very long and narrow Bay of Fundy, has big tides and is famous for waves like a washing machine in the agitate cycle.

We took off fully focused on that stretch. Sailing easily, almost inattentively down the coast for the afternoon and early evening - so we could be full on at our best for the two watches it would take to get us past that corner. We were, we did and we don't have any stories to tell. (Wind and waves at the corner were as advertised.) A day later, we got to sail into Massachusetts' Sandy Bay and Rockport Harbor in the late afternoon in perfect weather from the open Atlantic, a lifelong dream of mine. (Learned to sail there and knew every corner, from my 12 dinghy.)

The skipper in this story had the boat, had the experience, the knowledge. Sounds like he slipped on crew assessment or crew simply failed or skipper failed to stress that on watch all the time was critical. (And yes, all who singlehand big waters fail some of that last part regularly. And not all come home. It's a gamble I'm not willing to take though I know I have the makeup to be a good and happy long distance solo sailor.)


12/25/2022 08:35 PM
You might be interested in this story Ben:
In 2004, A fishing trawler and its entire crew swallowed by the seas in a couple of minutes. NATO submarines in the area for naval exercises, but not one nation has claimed responsibility. The families have been given the runaround and stonewalled for almost 20 years.

The disputed theory is that one of the submarines in the area (one British vessel in particular) caught a cable linking the boat to its nets and dragged the boat down.



12/25/2022 10:22 PM
Another "modern hazard": shipping containers. Those ships with the massive stacks of 40' containers? Well, smart skippers often see to it that the highest ones aren't tied down all that well so in the worst of storms, they may get washed off, shedding weight up very high and making that lighter ship now a lot more seaworthy. (As one who used to do the calculations of how many crab pots a fishing boat can carry safely in bad weather, I am very familiar with the effects of high weights. I cannot blame those container ship skippers but their losses sink yachts and probably occasional fishing boats. Hadn't thought about it until just now, but a container might have been the end of that tuna fisher. Now, had the mate been awake, he might well have never seen what they hit but he'd be aware of it.
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