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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.

Posts Tagged ‘death’

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Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 8.49.13 AMIn heartbreaking news from England’s South Coast, the body of one of Britain’s top young sailors was found late last week near a car park in the New Forest.  17 year-old Jess Eales uploaded the pic you see at left to Facebook just hours before her death, which neither police nor coroners have explained, though news reports say they are not treating it as suspicious.  There are only a few scenarios where a dead 17-year old in a car park in a forest isn’t suspicious, but it shouldn’t be long before we all know more so we’ll just keep our mouths shut until the government has a chance to explain.  Jess had celebrated her 17th birthday the day before she was found.

Jess had just returned from the Youth Worlds in Portugal, a rising star in skiffs and cats.  We’re told her sailing circles in the Lymington and Hayling Island communities are in shock; despite not knowing Jess, we’re pretty shocked too.  This shit isn’t supposed to happen to 17 year olds.

We will update you when there is more information available.  Until then, share your thoughts in the thread.  As for the title, it’s rare that Morrissey and sailing ever mix, but there’s a first time for everything.  NOTE: Don’t click if you don’t want to be even more depressed. It’s a Smiths song, after all.

 

August 5th, 2014 by admin

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Just two hours before some of the the Cal 25 Nationals fleet would sail through the same spot on the way back to Bayview Yacht Club from Port Huron, MI, our own Mr. Clean was on hand to witness a horrific accident in the St. Clair River.  While a picture may say a thousand words, this was a truly bizarre one, and we go to Clean for more on yet another big summer boating accident.  The lesson to sailors? Never stop scanning your horizon for the marine environment’s real killers: Go-fasts with drunken idiots behind the wheel.

In a lifetime on the water, I’ve never seen anything quite so nasty happen, and I just happened to have a front row seat.   Remember when that moron in the speedboat on the Lake of the Ozarks caught a wake at speed and nearly flipped, beating the hell out of the occupants?

We had a similar situation here last night but with much worse consequences, when a  25 or 30 foot Baja cigarette-style boat, running at least 50 mph, decided to go through the wake of a big Bayliner cabin cruiser without throttling back, and at a terrible angle.  I happened to be less than 200 feet from it all; having slowed down for the Bayliner’s wake, I saw the speedboat approaching at mach 2 and decided to watch the action, actually saying to myself, out loud, “This is gonna be good.”

It wasn’t.

The Baja caught the first wave and got heeled to the left in the air, then caught the second at a worse angle, which launched it back in the air, now with 20 or more degrees of heel to the right.  By this time, even if the driver were still hanging on to the wheel, he was just along for the ride.  The Baja hit the third wave at a terrible angle – the boat was bow-up and heeled hard to the right when it hit – and it literally launched itself completely clear of the water by 4-6 feet – aimed directly at the Bayliner’s flying bridge.  The heel on the Baja had rounded the boat up on the final wave, turning it to the left instead of straight through as intended by the driver.   The Baja didn’t so much hit the Bayliner (and the six people on the bridge) as landed on top of it, then continued over it, and landed in the river.  The entire upper deck of the Bayliner was torn off its supports, and barely remained connected to the main deck by a few hoses and wires.

After calling 911, I moved.  The Baja was between the cruiser and me, so I snapped a pic of the culprits to make sure no one made a run for it.  They were pretty shaken up, and responded that ‘everyone’s fine’ when asked.  I gunned it over to the stricken vessel, and they were shouting that there was someone in the water.  As I searched downriver and mentally tried to figure out how much water had moved in the 5 minutes since impact, (there is 2-3 knots of current in the river at this point), I kept yelling for every boat I saw to join in the search.  Shortly thereafter, with more than a dozen boats now on scene helping out (but still no official help) a woman’s body was pulled out by a pontoon boat, and 20 minutes of CPR didn’t help her.

As the body was pulled from the water, I noticed the Baja drifting downriver, nearly out of sight.  As I headed back to them, a crowd hollered at me on shore, and I ran over to a house to pick up the local Fire Chief, who I dropped off on the Bayliner to help with the rescue.  As I handed him off, I saw the second body in what used to be the cockpit of the boat – a man in his 50s – also unresponsive after a few minutes of CPR.  A third casualty – a woman in her 60s – looked to be going into shock, or cardiac arrest, or both.

I hung around for long enough to see the freighter traffic start to idle through the channel again, as it just didn’t seem right to buzz over to the lake and go fishing after the carnage I’d just witnessed.  After giving my number and info to the Marine Police and USCG as a witness, I overheard the Sheriff who had the Baja’s driver in custody talking to the neighboring police boat.  ”You take the statements from the passengers; I’m taking this one in.”  I couldn’t hear the next question from the deputy, but the Sheriff’s response made that clear.  ”Yep, he’s been drinking.”

It’s unlikely that a sober Baja driver would have done any better in that situation, but that’s not the issue.  A sober person – at least one with an IQ over 50 – would never have taken that wake at that speed.  Once again, the equation holds: Horsepower + (Alcohol OR Youth) + Inexperience = Death.

Title comes from one of the 80′s best cult films, also about a river, death, and stupid people.

 

August 4th, 2014 by admin

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andrew_bart_simpson_050913It’s the one-year anniversary of Andrew “Bart” Simpson’s death aboard the JuanK AC72 known as Big Red, and also Bart’s wife Leah’s birthday, and no one can say that Bart’s friends – guys like Iain Percy, Nathan Outerridge, Paul Goodison, and Ben Ainslie – have let the memory of the man fade away, even for a few moments.  They’ve spread his name all over the UK in countless ways, with major time and money going into the creation of the record-attempting Bart’s Bash and todays ‘s dedication of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre in Weymouth.

It all seems so uplifting until you realize that there still hasn’t been a single word of the investigation into Bart’s death released by anyone, anywhere, at any time – if one was ever completed at all. We asked the San Francisco PD whether their investigation was ever completed, and they said, “what investigation?”  We asked last year for the results of Artemis’ investigation, and never heard a word.  Not a single federal or state agency has said a word about culpability for Bart’s death, and we don’t expect them to.

Is every one of Bart’s friends willing to just say ‘shit happens’ instead of finding a shred of responsibility or accountability for the fuckups in design, construction, and/or sailing that killed their teammate?  We  expected it from disgraced team CEO Paul Cayard, who said next to nothing and basically became invisible after Bart’s death until being booted from the team after Artemis’ ignominious exit from the LV Cup.  But to get the same silence from real leaders; guys like Ainslie and Percy and Goodi who’ve never been bashful about speaking their mind, we expect better.

If this was Formula One, someone would be in court or jail right now, or at the very minimum, hauled before a governmental investigation panel.  But this is sailing, something no one in public office cares about for more than 12 seconds, and if Bart’s friends inside the sport don’t make noise, no one will.  While we think it’s awesome they are raising all this money – much of it going to Bart’s widow – we also wonder if maybe, the best way to remember Bart would be to find out exactly why his boat killed him after folding itself into little pieces on a typical day in San Francisco. You don’t hold people accountable out of vengeance, or anger – you do it so history doesn’t repeat itself.

CLARIFICATION: There’s been a lot of discussion about our editorial above, and we’d like to clarify a bit:  We are not questioning the integrity of any of Bart’s friends or family.  We are questioning why a death on an AC72 is any different than a motor sports, air racing, or traffic accident, or for that matter, any of the numerous life-ending sailing tragedies we’ve seen over the past couple of years, and we are questioning why people close to Bart haven’t demanded more.  Low Speed Chase went up on the rocks just a few miles from San Francisco last year in a crewed race, killing 5 crew of the 8 aboard.  An extensive, expensive, nearly year-long investigation took place thanks to US Sailing, with a lot of important lessons learned by the hundreds of thousands around the world following the tragedy, and some closure for the families and friends of the deceased sailors.

Meanwhile, there’s been no such response by US Sailing, ISAF, the USCG, the State, or anyone else for Simpson; rather, there have been a few open-and-shut inquiries by police departments with no apparent interest in delving into an area that’s totally unfamiliar to them, with every move watched over by legal counsel to billionaire businessmen.  There has been an internal investigation by Artemis without a single page released to anyone outside a tiny circle of Artemisians.  What about the tens of thousands of fans Bart had?  What about an English public that cheered he and Percy on so strongly during the Games?  Do they not deserve more than silence?

CORRECTION: Richard Butcher is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, the charity formed in memory of Bart, and he wanted to correct our piece.  Over to him.

The purpose of the charity is principally educational, via the sport of sailing. This will partly be met by encouraging into the sport those youngsters who would not otherwise have that opportunity. One of our aims is to help find marine related apprenticeships for some of these youngsters.  Yesterday, we achieved a historic milestone in the charity’s short period of existence by opening the sailing centre in Weymouth. This enables us to have a focus at a world class facility.  Every bit of the amount raised is destined to help fulfil our objectives, and we have every ambition of this becoming a world-wide charity once funding permits.

There was a serious inaccuracy in the item you published yesterday. None of the monies raised for the charity will go to Leah, Bart’s widow. It will only go towards the fulfilment of our objectives. Leah is one of our Trustees and it would not, in any event, be permissible for her to benefit from the charity.   It is most important that those making donations to the charity, whether it be by Bart’s Bash or otherwise, are not in any way misled as to what will become of their donations.

Yours sincerely,
Richard Butcher

 

May 9th, 2014 by admin

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