Linked here is a story about two fatalities aboard a cruising boat that was returning from the Caribbean this winter. We heard about this tragedy through personal channels in the cruising community, and now an article has been written about it. Escape was docked next to us in St. Martin this winter, and we had briefly met Karl and Annamarie.
We think it is super important that articles like this be published so that the entire sailing community can reflect on incidents and hopefully learn from them. Here are my personal reflections:
In shopping for our own ocean passage maker, we quickly decided to avoid designs with main sheets led to the cockpit because of precisely this risk – that they can injure crew or damage other equipment in a gybe or a situation like this. This rigging arrangement is best left to race boats. We see a number of design traits in contemporary “passage makers” that are motivated more by marketing and style than by seaworthiness.
As I read the story – and I could be wrong – it appears that Karl was really the only person on board who could lead the group through maneuvers like reefing. The CNB 66 is a huge boat, so for open ocean passages at least one other senior leader should be aboard who is thoroughly familiar with all of the systems and the choreography of maneuvers, and preferably more than just one additional senior leader. In this situation Karl had to both execute procedures and serve as crew chief choreographing. He was over extended.
I hate to point fingers reading a story like this, but we can only learn from them when we do. In this situation the helmsman had no need to go head-to-wind while the genoa was being reefed – indeed, it is preferable not to. A close hauled or even beam reach angle is fine for reefing or furling a headsail. Karl should have given more clear instructions to the helmsman about staging the reefing – first the headsail at a close-hauled angle, then head to wind for the main. Going head-to-wind too quickly is the root cause of this accident, and the responsibility for that decision is jointly shared between the helmsman for doing it and by Karl for failing to correct him.
Piecing together the incident, I am inclined to believe that the helmsman not only came head to wind before it was desirable, but did so too quickly – quickly enough that Annamarie was not able to get the mainsheet in quickly enough to prevent the boom from swinging wildly back and forth. The moment the boom began to swing uncontrollably, a more experienced helmsman would have recognized the danger and fallen back off to prevent the wild motion of the boom and give Annamarie more time to grind in the sheet.
Given the spirited weather conditions, the helmsman probably came head to wind too quickly due to the anxiety of the situation. As weather conditions deteriorate, it is vital to manage our anxiety, slow down, and be very thoughtful about maneuvers.
Yesterday we arrived back in Annapolis to close out our 2021 New England cruise, and when I updated my log book I realized I had just passed 15,000 passage making miles! Over a third of those have been aboard Rover and almost half have been aboard Hylas sailboats. Not bad!
Activity in the boat yards is starting to pick up, and 2021 looks like it’s going to be an exciting season for both Rover and various of her crew racing on other boats! Currently the plan is for Rover to be on the Chesapeake until the Annapolis Yacht Club summer cruise in New England, and very likely she will head south to Fort Lauderdale in the late fall and probably toward the Caribbean for the winter months. In the meantime, various members of the Rover crew plan to race:
Thursday nights on a J/22 (Rich [driving] and Lisa [foredeck], first half of the series)
Wednesday nights on a mystery boat (see below) (at least Rich, Lisa and Brian, first half of the series)
In addition I am flattered to have been invited to be the second half of a double-handed race team for a number of weekend races this season on the Chesapeake. I’ll wait to get the owner’s permission before making a reveal on these pages, but the reader is invited to use the comments below to pay “Guess That Boat!” using these snapshots of her keel. Hints: her draft is just under 6 feet and her designer is a marquee name in the industry.
Alright readers! If you’ve ever anchored out in Annapolis for Blue Angels, the 4th of July, or Bands in the Sands, or if you’ve ever anchored … ummm …. anytime in the BVI, then you’ve no doubt seen some pretty heroically hair-brained stupidity by fellow captains trying to set or retrieve an anchor. Use the comments selection below (or PM me and I can post) and let’s see if we can select the winning story!
Join us this Sunday for Part II of our three part webinar series. This week’s topics will be on our process for choosing the Hylas 54 as our passage making cruiser! We look forward to seeing you there.
We are at a bit of a loss for words today as our beloved Annapolis Yacht Club house is in ruins after being ravaged by fire yesterday. No staff or member injuries but one (reportedly minor) injury to a firefighter. Continue reading Annapolis Yacht Club Fire→
Welcome to svrover.com! We are four friends who enjoy sailing and thought it would be fun to start a blog to share our experiences. We’ve begun by gathering some stories we’ve written in the past, which we’re posting as ‘throwback’ articles. This summer we’re planning a charter out of Newport, so we plan to start posting content about new adventures soon.