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Posts Tagged ‘death’

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The two fatalities in the 2015/16 Clipper Round the World Race were the first in the company’s history, and after a comprehensive report on those deaths from the UK’s MAIB giving stern recommendations for improved safety procedures at Clipper Ventures plc, the last thing anyone would expect is yet another fatality just a year later!  Yesterday, that’s exactly what happened; 60 year old former lawyer from Bristol UK Simon Spiers was washed off the foredeck of Clipper CV30, yet despite being clipped in, the Clipper says he was separated from the boat and likely drowned.  Spiers’ body was recovered by the crew and given a burial at sea.

No amount of the Clipper PR team’s “quiet reflections” addresses what has to be considered something of a crisis in this high-profile round-the-world ‘adventure race’; in just three years, three participants in the Clipper race have now died at sea; two washed overboard and drowned, and one crushed by the clew of a sail.  If you’re doing the math for the past two events, based on the Clipper’s own numbers (700 sailors per event), that means 1 in 466 Clipper participants has now died – and that’s assuming no one else loses their life on the 2/3 of the current race remaining.  Considering one entry just went hard aground on a well marked shoal off South Africa without any explanation, nothing would surprise us about the Clipper fleet – and that’s terrifying, especially with the lack of experience aboard.

We’re not sure whether the RYA should shut the Clipper down while they figure out just why people keep dying on their boats, but we do think that if 3 people in another sporting event died over three years, there’d be some serious investigations underway of the people who were supposed to keep them safe.

Get in on the thread here.

 

November 19th, 2017 by admin

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It’s been just over a month since two Eagle Scouts were electrocuted on a Texas lake along with the 11 year old boy they were teaching to sail catamarans.    It’s been just over a month since a boy was brutally killed by a prop strike while taking sailing lessons in Long Island.  And this morning, Channel 7 reports that an unresponsive 17-year old first-time sailing student was pulled from Lake Washington.

According to the 7 report, the student had ‘just waded into the water’ along with 6 or 7 others so instructors could observe their comfort level, and as instructors got ready to teach them how to put on PFDs, they noticed one student had disappeared.  “Four instructors” finally found him, estimating he was underwater for six minutes.  The boy had ‘a faint pulse’ after CPR from instructors and then EMT personnel, and he is in critical conditions as of late last night in a Washington hospital.

After pulling him from the water, they began CPR. When medics arrived, the boy had no pulse. After medics began giving the victim aid, he had a faint pulse by the time the ambulance left for Harborview hospital in Seattle.

Staff at Sail Sand Point said the incident was the first after training hundreds of kids each year how to be in and around the water, but that’s no excuse or justification for a problem that seems to have kicked into overdrive.  Is this a systemic failure for America’s system of teaching sailing, and if so, who will show leadership and try to come up with a way for kids to stop dying while learning to sail?

We say it’s time for US Sailing to step up and do something about it.  SSP is a US Sailing-accredited sailing school, and Centerport is an accredited US Yacht Club.  It’s our opinion that the governing body of sailing in the USA need to get off their asses and fix it.  If they don’t, their primary competition in the training game should use the opportunity to highlight US Sailing’s failure and introduce solutions themselves.

There is no reason for parents to worry that their kid might die from a beginning sailing lesson.  None.

Title shout.

 

August 29th, 2017 by admin

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Just weeks after seven sailors died in their bunks when the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Fitzgerald smashed into a stand-on cargo ship, another AB destroyer – the John McCain – collided with a tanker yesterday, and another 10 sailors are missing.

What in fuck’s name is going on with the US Navy?  Is the 20 million dollar AN/SPY radar set not good enough to spot a supertanker?  Or are America’s armed forces merely emulating the level of competence they see lately in their Commander-In-Chief? Either way, the loss of life for no reason at all is awful, and the damage to the US Navy’s reputation – just as regional conflicts begin to heat up and the Trump Train gets ready to get roll with live troops in wartime situations.

The Marines suspended all flying two weeks ago until they figured out why they keep dying in planes and helicopters; is it time for all the deck officers to head off to the local STCW instructor to learn how to keep a fucking watch?

Anyone know how two of the most advanced ships on the water crashed into two massive stand-on ships in less than two months?  Please let the community know!

UPDATE: The Navy has ordered a ‘pause.’  About time.

 

August 21st, 2017 by admin

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18058096_1689947454356623_5403446288417679487_nThe multiple-fatality wreck of the Dipiu we told you about last week was hauled off the Rimini jetty over the weekend as documented by Manual Migliorini from Il Resto Di Carlino here. The Italian Coast Guard is now focusing on engine issues as the primary cause of the wreck.  One source told us the on-deck crew was actually washed off the boat in a breaking wave that also flooded the boat and shut down the engine, and the only crew to make it out alive were those stuck inside the boat when she was thrown onto the rocks.  We’re also told one sailor tried to rescue his girlfriend, whose foot was stuck between two rocks on the jetty…they both drowned.  All in all, a horrible story that could have been entirely prevented by listening or reading one of dozens of forecasts and warnings available to everyone in the area for days.  One Anarchist says undue respect for a senseless tragedy doesn’t do anyone any favors.  “Skol” writes in the thread:

My condolences to the families that are affected.  Given the comments in the forum, I feel somebody should speak up.  Terrorism is a tragedy. Gun violence is a tragedy.  This particular accident was caused by a suicidal, murderous asshole. The skipper paid the price? And what about his son-in-law or his grandchildren, or his (ex) wife?  What are they paying – respects? Bullshit.

The conversation here should be about the living and keeping them that way if facing similar conditions.  If that’s done in acerbic and unpleasant terms, well tough shit. It’s not a disrespect for the dead. It’s a wakeup call to the people who potentially don’t take their safety and their crew’s safety seriously enough.  You know there was probably words of respect and moderation on board that boat before 4 people lost their lives, when what there should have been was a fucking mutiny.

So – how many of us have been out on a daysailing on a 30~40 foot pleasure yacht without adequate storm gear?  I’m guessing that’s most of us. Putting aside the boneheaded choices that got them (or you) out there in the first place, what would you have done? 

[  ] not enough sea room for a sea-anchor, even if they had one 

[  ] not enough sea room to run downwind.  NE gale was perpendicular to the coast 

[  ] attempt to heave to (… on a fin keel boat close to lee shore, not the wisest option)   

[A] motorsail to windward under reefed main, sliver of furled jib, or any combo thereof. 

[B] attempt a broad reach parallel to the coast under reefed main 

[C] combo of a & b to maintain searoom until reasonable window for port entry 

Running for port just isn’t on the damned list. Running for port under power without a scrap of sail up is doubly not on the goddamned list. If they left port with a damaged rig while under storm warning in the forecast, I’m sorry, but it was a suicide run from the beginning. It really makes my blood boil.  So again – for the sake of the living, please note!:

NO SAIL and NO MOTOR is NO CONTROL.  Add that recipe to a lee shore and you’re finished.  

A sailboat auxiliary engine is just that: auxiliary.  Trust it only at GRAVE and MORTAL fucking peril! 

And finally, if the skipper is on a suicide mission, speak the fuck up. I don’t care if it is your daddy, I don’t care if it’s your daddy’s best friends. For fuck’s sake say something. 

April 24th, 2017 by admin

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Some raw video of the aftermath of a particularly nasty wreck yesterday in Italy, where Bavaria 50 Dipiú got tossed on a rocky jetty after losing their engine on final approach to Rimini Harbour. 4 dead including the owner and his daughter, and a deeply sobering lesson that clearly must continue to be beaten into sailors’ stubborn skulls.  SA’er ‘dolphin60’ translates and paraphrases Italian news reports:

The yacht left Marina di Ravenna harbour in uncertain conditions.  The boat had completed some refitting  at a boatyard at the  marina  days before.  That same day the boatyard manager was supposed to ferry a sailboat somewhere along the coast, but he quickly changed his mind when the first gusts hit. He then called the skipper of the damaged boat, which had already set sail, to try and convince him to turn back.  He answered that he was experiencing rather rough conditions but he expected the wind to abate in the next three hours so he was comfortable to press on.

The skipper later contacted Rimini harbour, asking for a berth. He was relaxed and even joked with the harbourmaster, whom he had met before.  The harbourmaster assigned the sailboat a berth, and a man tasked with assisting the yacht in berthing followed its approach to the harbour entrance.  He said that the vessel was proceeding without apparent problems and was about to enter when the engine stopped working. The crew then tried to raise a sail but a very steep 5 meter wave picked the boat and smashed it against the break water.

The day of the accident a low pressure system was rapidly transiting over northern Italy. Strong northerly winds had been forecast. The yacht was heading south  in would have been a swift reach along the eastern coast of Italy, by all means a lee shore.  The “bora” northeasterly wind is well known and respected by all those who sail the Adriatic sea. It can set suddenly with gusts reaching F11 that create a very short and steep sea.

Later that evening two ferry boats from Greece heaved to outside Ancona harbour for two hours waiting for the conditions to improve.

The skipper was a 68 year old retired professional. At least one of the crew, a 64 year old who also perished, was experienced, having just completed a RTW cruise on another boat.  Of the two survivors, one, a 39 year old man, was found unscathed inside the boat,  the other, a 68 year old man, was picked from the water one hour later, hypotermic but is  now rapidly recovering in hospital.

And Mauro Melandri, Publisher of Zerogradinord, summarizes more reports (edited) with photos here.

The boat is a Bavaria 50 Cruiser, registered under Monfalcone (ITA) Port Authority, usually moored in Marina di Ravenna, named Dipiù.

Italian Coast Guard, the morning after the event, reports four victims: E.M. (69), who completed a circumnavigation some years ago,  A.F. (67), co-owner of the boat, his daughter A.F. (38), the first who fell overboard according with survivor description of the facts, and E.S. Two men – L.N. and C.C. – were recovered few moments after the event and lifted to the hospital in serious condition. C.C. is in recovery room.

Official investigation is underway, but it seems that the boat, with six crew members, most of them coming from Verona (Veneto, ITA), was sailing from Marina di Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna, ITA) to Trapani (Sicily, ITA) when, just after 40 nm, the crew opted to repair in Rimini harbour to the severe worsening of the weather conditions. According with media info, the engine went out of service and the crew had no time to set sails so the boat grounded hard on the main harbour jetty,  close to the famous Rock Island bar, losing the keel and after few minutes was capsized and dismasted by the imposing waves. From the picture where the boat has still the mast, it seems that the crew deployed the staysail as ultimate attempt to avoid the impact.

At the sunset, Coast Guard, Fire Department and all the other law enforcements, whose intervention activated by some observers was timely, were still looking for the survivors, using also two helicopters. They found the bodies of the victims early the morning after the event close to the destroyed hull of the boat.

Having come to know about the loss of the four crew members, Michele Capra, friend of the owner and Bavaria dealer in the harbor of Marina di Ravenna released a few declarations. He said he met the crew yesterday, since Dipiú was moored next to a boat that Capra had to move to a close shipyard, transfer that eventually he didn’t do because of the extremely adverse weather conditions. He said he advised the crew not to leave, being answered that weather forecasts were advers just for few hours, and the six left Marinara Harbor. When gusts became even stronger, Capra called A.F., owner of the boat, who said: “There are big waves and we are already a few miles away from Ravenna. Weather should be improving so we are going to go on”. “I should have done more to convince them – Capra regrets.

Cino Ricci, skipper of Azzurra, first Italian challenger to the America’s Cup and very experienced seaman, told Italian media that “A double mistake was made yesterday: First, you don’t leave harbor under those conditions and forecast.  The passage to Sicily was a long one; waiting a day to depart doesn’t make much of an impact.  Second, once you are out in a boat of that size, get offshore a few miles where the waves usually aren’t breaking.  Nothing will happen there.  Here the mistake was to choose the coastal route rather than staying offshore.  Then, the decision to seek refuge in Rimini signed the end of the journey – the entrance to the harbour in downwind conditions gets complicated.”

Comments.

April 20th, 2017 by admin

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Besties

Nothing’s quite as sad as the loss of a child, and SA’er BJ Porter shares some words about the 18 year old sailor and yacht crew Bethany.  We’ll save the blame and conjecture for another time (or the thread, of course), but for now, our most deep condolences to all who knew or loved her.  Photo from Bethany’s blog (That’s her in the middle). Title shout.

She was a really neat kid. When we where in Trinidad we caught up with them – Bethany was about Will’s age, and her younger brother is about my daughter’s age. They’d met very briefly in St. Martin, but hadn’t really connected there. But our first night in Trinidad we went out for dinner, and Bethany came up to us while we were sitting at the restaurant and made arrangements to hook up with our kids the next day. She knew what boat we were from and who the kids were even though they’d only really met once, briefly. They it it off instantly. So the four kids were hanging together literally every day we were there.

Bethany had one of those personalities that brightened any room she was in. A nice, sweet, cheerful young woman that you instantly liked. I know she also did some things like spend weeks away from volunteering to help with cleanup on another island after a hurricane hit and other things like that. While we were there, Bethany spotted smoke from a neighboring boat in the marina. Her quick action saved that boat, and maybe others. The boat owner took her and all her teenaged friends out for a pizza party.

She will be missed; her loss hits home in a lot of ways. Not the least of which is as parent of two kids of a similar age, with the family scattered around. Nobody plans for a funeral for a kid that age. And someone like Bethany, who was just such a lovely person, you don’t even think about anything but her future.

 

March 17th, 2017 by admin

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A beautiful obituary for what sounds like a beautiful character in a sport that’s got quite a few of them.  With thanks to SA’er ‘dacapo’ for the notice and the photo.

post-11311-0-63725300-1476998590You may not have known know Sal, but I’m sure you knew someone like him.  Sal was a real competitor.  The twinkle in his eye as he herded you to the wrong side of the course to get stuck in a wind hole that only he knew was developing as he tacked back into pressure.  The loud crazy Italian whose arms flailed as he prodded his crew to work harder, faster as they win the start and never look back at the rest of the fleet.  The fountain of knowledge who would pull me aside and call me foolish for tacking too soon…as he sailed to the layline and made the perfect tack to the mark.

Sal won in whatever boat he owned at the time. In the 1960-70’s, he raced a lightning with his family.  Then, for a short time in the 70’s he regularly won in the  Ensign Fleet. As Sal got older, he bought a Catalina 25…and encouraged 6 other to do the same.  They raced in a O/D fleet until they all decided to go bigger…and they all traded up to Catalina 30’s.  Mother Goose has won more races on the Hudson than any other club-owned boat that I know…correcting over the big boys with race boats was his favorite challenge. His boat sailed above its handicap; he could nudge out that extra 1/10 of a knot , when everyone else couldn’t seem to find it.

Sal was the first person to call you a chooch if you fucked up, but he was also the first guy to lend you a hand if you needed anything.(except for extra crew 😉  Sal treated his crew like family. Making dinner for them every Wednesday evening before racing and bringing wine and cheese after every weekend race.

He knew the race results before the scorekeeper did.  He knew the standings and what it took to win a series or regatta.  his mind was always sharp.

Sal won his final race of the 2016 season 3 weeks ago, making him our 2016 overall club champion by percentage points and today he passed away from cancer.   I will miss Sal very much on and off the water.

8 Bells, my dear friend

 

October 21st, 2016 by admin

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When I was little, we found a man. He looked like – like, butchered. The old woman in the village crossed themselves… and whispered crazy things, strange things. “El Diablo cazador de hombres.” Only in the hottest years this happens. And this year, it grows hot. We begin finding our men. We found them sometimes without their skins… and sometimes much, much worse. “El cazador trofeo de los hombres” means the demon who makes trophies of men. 

This line from one of Hollywood’s true classics is as silly now as it was when we first heard it in 1987, but somehow, it seems to describe the decaying situation in all of Brazil, but especially Rio.  With thousands of athletes on the ground training in the hot, stinky city, reports are beginning to come in showing crime, corruption, construction, and political chaos pushing towards a furious crescendo.

Nationally, President Dilma Roussef came out of hiding the other day giving her first big international interview to Glenn Greenwald, and she shows no sign of ending the political civil war that’s led to millions of protestors in the street every few weeks, and a completely uncertain political future for the nation.

Closer to the Olympics, training for got a lot more hazardous recently.  One Spanish gold medal team was allegedly held up at gunpoint last week and robbed clean of gear, money, and papers last week by a band of banditos close to Olympic Sailing HQ at Marina De Gloria.  Their coach spent most of a day driving around with local police trying to find the thieves.

Also last week, a gunfight broke out in the Favela just above the grounds of the Rio Yacht Club in Niteroi; the training base for several national teams and Torben Grael’s home club. The members and athletes seemed to think it was fireworks at first – until they saw the boat workers running for cover.  According to the article in Veja, authorities would have covered it up (as usual) were it not for the athletes witnessing the gunfight – including a bullet grazing the wall of the club.  Until this event, the Danish and other teams’ request for more police security near the team bases were ignored.  Now, many of these teams just don’t walk anywhere – a taxi takes them even when they need to go a half a mile.

Yet while the crime and political/economic uncertainty are ever-present, they’re still something of a lottery; if you use your head and follow some basic rules, visitors to Brazil can minimize most risks  (and if inflation continues to skyrocket, you might actually get some incredible deals down there).  But there’s one risk that no sailor can really get away from – the water.  And as the rain starts to fall, it’s getting as bad as it ever has been.

On Tuesday, a new hue graced the bay – iridescent green, the color of anti-freeze, with a smell of ‘burning chemicals and decomposition.” (see pic below). One crew saw a huge sea turtle upside-down on the foamy green surface of the bay.  She was unsure whether it was the plastic entangling its face or the poisoned waters that killed it.

And then there is the pic that headlined this piece, shot on Friday smack in the middle of the Medal Race Course.  Well, we don’t know where the dog was shot – or even if it was a gun that did him in – but the photo was definitely shot there.  If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry, and aside from the poor bastards who have to compete there, our condolences go out to the proud Brazilians, their humiliation and shame on display to the entire planet – for three more months.

rioBrazil’s current crises – and yes, that’s plural – are likely to continue to worsen just as the world’s eyes are all turned Southward, with the once-burgeoning economy getting pulled back into the morass that’s defined so much of Central and South American politics and government for the better part of the past century.  Even if economic chaos is fairly common to much of Latin America, the confluence of factors hitting Brazil right now is something far worse.  The worst James Bond villain could never pull it all off; pollution, corruption, impeachment, Zika, a crime wave, and oil prices all crushing the country at the same time?  No way.

Were this the Winter Olympics, we’d end up shrugging our shoulders and saying, “oh, well, another fucked country,” and maybe sparing a few thoughts for its inhabitants, but this time, it’s different:  These are OUR friends and our families and OUR crews and our skippers in harm’s way, and the more they know you’re behind them, the more likely they are to stay safe.  We don’t know how it is that the IOC and ISAF are immune to worldwide pressure to actually behave responsibly, but if you care about your athletes, please continue to push via social media on those organizations, the media, and the Olympic sponsors.

 

May 22nd, 2016 by admin

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Thick fog apparently led to the death of two sailors not far from Cape Town on Monday, when skipper George Mills ran his 47′ yacht Tara onto rocks near Table Bay.  Mills and Rachel Daly from Ireland died as the yacht was broken up, her injured husband reached shore and eventual rescue.  Another reminder of how unforgiving some coasts can be, and how slim the margin for error is at the intersection of rock and open sea. Our condolences to Mills and Dalys’ families.  Thread.

February 3rd, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 8.05.07 AMOur most sincere condolences to Valerie, Sandy, Ian and Ros and the extended family of Bob Oatley, who died on Sunday morning.  Of course we all know Bob is the man behind the Wild Oats line of racing yachts as well as wines, islands, and much more, but we loved him for his no-bullshit attitude and a commitment to the sport that’s legendary.

Get into the thread and share your own Oatley story here.

 

January 10th, 2016 by admin

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