Posts Tagged ‘lost’
The Puget Sound racing community continues to drift along in shock at the loss of affable and experienced 46-year old Star sailor Jay Berglund (and the sinking of the Harmony 22 Gizmo, the boat he was on) during a race this weekend in the South Puget Sound. Three Sheets NW has a touching feature on Berglund, the thread has plenty of stories about him, and we encourage you to add your own memorial thoughts. For those looking to know what really happened, here’s a brave, honest, and detailed account from skipper and boat owner John Thompson. Props. Photo of Thompson and Berglund (crew) from Thera Black.
I was the skipper of Gizmo when she was lost this past Saturday. I was sailing with Jay Berglund and Peter Crossman. All of us have a full lifetime of experience sailing and racing. We are all in mourning right now for Jay. He was one of my dearest friends, and he loved little Gizmo easily as much as I did. Harmony 22s are phenomenal little boats, especially in light air. Jay was an experienced open ocean sailor and racer. He had his USCG Captains License, SOLAS credentials and all that. He has sailed all sorts of boats from Thistles and Stars up to his current ride on Artemis (a 50ish foot racing yacht out of Shilshole). He’s been my right hand man on Gizmo since I bought her in 2012.
This account of what happened is mostly my own obeservations, with a bit of second hand info to fill in the gaps.
Gizmo was participating in the South Sound Sailing Society Eagle Island Race when she was lost. We had completed about 25 miles of the 27 mile course. The weather forecast had called for high winds that day, but after 8:00pm and through Sunday. We were planning on being done long before then. As we passed Boston Harbor with the working jib up and full main in about 15 knots of wind, we could see the heavy white caps ahead in Budd Inlet. So we cleared the 150% off the foredeck and reefed the main before getting there. We quickly took in a second reef as the winds built to 30 knots steady with gusts probably to 35ish. In this configuration, I was just flogging the main, so we eventually decided to douse the main completely. With the dagger board so far forward on these boats, she actually sails OK this way.
We sailed two long boards back and forth across Budd Inlet keeping the boat at close to hull speed all the way despite the waves. We were still racing at this point and just looking forward to reaching the finish line so we could douse the sail. But on the third board, the waves built to 6-8′ making controlling the boat and holding her nose on the wind without the main very difficult. Halfway across the bay, the forehatch blew open creating an instant safety situation. At that point, both Peter and I reached the conclusion that we were in over our heads and decided to abandon the race. But before we could act, a gust measured at over 60 knots swatted her over. It happened so fast that there was no recovering from it. Harmony 22s have bilge ballast rather than a ballasted keel, so when they go beyond 90 degrees, they turtle immediately. And this is what happened.
I was actually under the boat in the cockpit when it came down on me. I had to swim down under her to get free. Jay and Peter rode the rail over and were free in the water when I emerged. We swam to the transom together so I could reach the VHF radio and call for help, but Jay said it was gone. I was still thinking that the boat would right itself, and she would have had she had bouyancy bags installed. Jay stayed with the boat. Thats what they always tell you to do in a situation like this. about 2-3 feet of the stern was sticking out of the water. Unfortunately, he wasn’t wearing his life jacket. Jay always wears a life jacket. I can’t for the life of me figure out why the one time he didn’t wear a life jacket, that when the shit hit the fan. I also wasn’t wearing a life jacket, which turned out maybe to be a blessing since I had to swim out from under the boat when it came down on top of me. I found the foam rudder floating free, so I used that to keep me up. Peter had his life jacket on and Jay was clinging to the boat.
Peter and I were quickly washed away from Gizmo and Jay. Four sailboats converged on the scene to assist within minutes. The first was a single-handed San Juan 24 with a roller furled jib that would not roll up all the way in the heavy wind so he was barely in control. He tried to pick up Peter, but didn’t have any way of getting him aboard so Peter finally gave up and waited for another boat. The next boat in was a S2 7.9 that was also barely under control with a full main up that couldn’t be reefed. The winds were still blowing over 40 knots with higher gusts. I swam over to her, grabbed the backstay and hoisted myself aboard over the transom. Somehow I ended up in control of the boat (maybe just because I was in the back of the boat and in the way I guess), so I steered over to try to pick up Peter and Jay. Gizmo was gone by this time. My intent was to park the boat to windward and drift down on them, but with the full main up and 40+ knots of wind thats no easy task. I drifted past twice out of reach. At that point, I noticed an Express 37 coming in under power already deploying their lifesling, so we were just in the way. The Express picked up Peter after a couple of passes.
At this point Jay was face down in the water and non responsive. The rescue boats were converging on the scene at that point, so they directed them to where they last saw Jay. I think he had sunk by that point, because it was exactly 24 hours later before he was found a long way from the scene of the sinking. My thoughts and prayers go out to Jay’s wife Ruth. Jay was a great guy and a great sailor. He was very focused on his sailing. When he trimmed the sails, they rarely ever got cleated. He was constantly paying atttention to the boat trim and sail shape. I’ve never met someone so focused. He loved Gizmo as much as I do. If I can raise her, it will be in his honor.
John Thompson, Skipper, Gizmo
NOTE: There will be a celebration of life for Jay on Sunday at 1pm. Out of respect for the family, it will be a dry event. The event will be held at the Everett Yacht Club (404 14th Street Everett, WA 98201). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Olympia Yacht Club Foundation for the Junior Sailors program or to Save Our Wild Salmon. Cards can be mailed to: Ruth Elder c/o Hope Elder, 30105 2nd Place SW, Federal Way WA 98023. Email to email@example.com
October 30th, 2014 by admin
“The man bought the 14-foot dinghy on Saturday and then set off on his 3,500 mile voyage across the Atlantic…not wearing a life jacket, his boat had no lights and his only navigational aid was a street map of Southampton.”
Seems like a good kit bag for most major voyages, right? But wait – that’s not all. “He had a passport containing a US visa, hot dogs, beans and a bag of biscuits.” Hot dogs? Beans and biscuits? Sounds like a fine transatlantic menu, as long as he’s alone!
The Bulgarian man was not interesting in whatever the RNLI was selling. “When we reached the gentleman he didn’t want us there, he wanted to carry on his way,” refusing assistance for 45 minutes, after which “the crew dragged him on to their boat and took him to shore.”
We can’t be the only ones who really, really wanted to see how far he could get. If anyone runs into this guy, let him know that next time, Sailing Anarchy fund your YellowBrick tracker, an EPIRB, and some extra provisions…
Watch the video for the full ‘rescue’ and thanks to Brad T for the heads up.
August 18th, 2014 by admin
Speaking of keels, Chartered Surveyor E.S. Geary says the Cheeki Rafiki tragedy wasn’t an accident, and that someone needs to be held accountable for playing a big part in the deaths of four sailors. We’ll hold off until we hear the report from the MAIB, but we’re not disagreeing…more from Captain Geary:
At the moment the loss of the vessel is viewed and has been reported as an unfortunate accident – it wasn’t an accident.
The tragic death of the four crew and loss of the yacht was a result of third party incompetence and negligence and was preventable. Those who were responsible and negligent in the proper care and maintenance of the vessel should be indentified and held accountable to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. Having recently dealt with a number of claims on behalf London underwriters with similar deficiencies I believe the cause of this tragedy is obvious.
The skipper’s first message reported the yacht was taking on water and requested the owners permission to divert to the Azores; he didn’t report striking anything. It’s apparent that the ingress of water reported by the skipper was experienced and began as the keel bolts lost integrity. The keel bolts were loose and leaking water as evidenced by the rust stains on the apertures which could have resulted from corrosion or metal fatigue; their ultimate failure allowed the keel to separate from the hull. Tightened keel bolts don’t fail, loose ones do. When total failure occurred the keel fell free causing the superficial damage to the hull laminates amidships. The damage, limited to the hull/keel join (amidships), is displayed in the photo below.
With a locator beacon being placed on the hull it could be recovered, but the keel will never be found. Unless it loses its buoyancy, the hull will continue in the prevailing currents towards Ireland and could, if necessary in subsequent litigation, be salvaged, though there’s no evidence to support their theory some ‘experts’ have speculated that the keel may have struck a semi-submerged object such as a container. With no impact damage to the hull there is no basis to support this theory.
However, whether the keel struck anything is irrelevant considering the undamaged hull and the undamaged apertures of the forward and aft keel bolts; their clean separation indicates the keel bolts were structurally unsound.
During the 640 nm voyage north the approximately 3500 kg keel was only partially held against the flat hull surface by the defective keel bolts which initially allowed to keel to move with a limited ingress of water. Unknown to the crew because of the sea state and parametric rolling which would have aggravated and accelerated ultimate failure, the keel would have experienced a slow swinging motion before it eventually dropped from the hull.
The inverted hull of the Cheeki Rafiki was found and the photo silently speaks volumes confirming the keel bolt failure that led to the loss of the keel and the rise of the VCG that resulted in the immediate capsizing of the vessel. The crew were experienced sailors so they would have been wearing life-vests, safety lines and in that area of the Atlantic probably were also wearing TPA’s (Thermal Suits). When the keel parted from the hull at night in the turbulent seas and fierce winds the four man crew would have had little time to avoid being dragged under by the sails and/or standing rigging when the immediate change of the VCG caused the hull to roll. It’s possible, but sadly I doubt the bodies will ever be recovered.
Having recently completed a survey with a similar problem, the life-raft didn’t inflate because the painter was improperly secured. If a life-raft painter line is loose or was improperly secured the life-raft won’t activate, can’t deploy and goes down with the vessel. Which is exactly what happened in this case.
This tragedy should not have happened. Through no fault of the crew the Cheeki Rafiki was sent to sea in an unseaworthy condition and those responsible should be held accountable. The families of the victim’s have a right to know of the unseaworthiness and that their loved ones paid a terrible price and died because of the gross negligence of others.
-Capt. E. S. Geary, P.Eng (UK),MRINA, SNAME
Chartered Surveyor (Admiralty & Maritime) – The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Registered Marine Surveyor – Federation of European Maritime Associations of Surveyors and Consultants
UK-Maritime & Coastguard Agency Code of Compliance Inspector (SCV)
MCA/US Coast Guard/US Maritime Administration Certified ISPS Code Port/Facility, Company & Vessel Security Officer
June 18th, 2014 by admin
For anyone who likes to sail fast, light boats in the Pacific Northwest, here’s a frightening look at one way logs are unloaded off specialized ships near Vancouver Island.
In more fear-inducing news, a Maersk ship yesterday revised estimates of how many empty containers it lost in one of the nasty storms in Biscay this winter, and the 520 boxes of boat-eating metal almost equals the total number of containers lost annually off of ships in the North Atlantic. How many will still be afloat when the singlehanded Route Du Rhum sets off in November? How many yachts, pleasure boats, and fishing boats need to be holed before these shippers are required to track and recover these ticking time bombs?
February 20th, 2014 by admin
After our massive disappointment in the Robert Redford stupid-fest ‘All Is Lost‘, our ears pricked up when the New York Times Sunday Mag printed a long and brilliantly written piece on a NY fisherman’s near-death experience last Sunday. Like Redford, the NYTMAG has millions of fans, and the story has been the most clicked-on thing over at NYT.com for 8 days now. So what’s the problem?
Author Paul Tough, recent author of a book touting how ‘Grit’ helps children succeed, romanticized moron fisherman John Aldridge so heavily in an effort to make a good story that he gave millions of fisherman – most of whom still haven’t heard of personal EPIRBs or sleep deprivation – hope that somehow, their ‘grit’ and a good pair of sea boots are enough to get them past working practices that make their job one of the most dangerous in the entire world of employment. We understand how an author might want to leave this out of his story; just like in the Redford moronopic (or any one of ten thousand hack-n-slash movies), if a tragedy is easily avoided but for ignorance or hubris, it’s hard to cheer for the protagonist.
The Anarchists are already on it, but so was outspoken safety consultant (and ex USCG SAR-dude) Mario Vittone, who published a snarky response to the piece on Thursday called ‘Trying Very Hard To Die”. It ain’t the first time Mario and SA have agreed on something, and we consider his piece on kids and drowning from 2010 to be required reading for every parent on the planet. Here are his ‘five responses’ to the ‘inescapable danger’ that, according to the Times, today’s commercial fishermen face. Hit GCaptain for the full article.
1. Never work alone on the deck of an open boat while 40 miles offshore when the boat is on autopilot.
2. If you are going to work alone on the open deck of a boat while 40 miles offshore in the dark, consider wearing a life jacket.
3. If you go offshore for a living, consider spending about $275 on a Personal EPIRB.
4. Try to sleep more than zero hours every 24.
5. If you work on a boat where one person is awake while the rest of the crew sleeps, then 1. Reconsider that arrangement, and 2. Spend five dollars on an alarm clock
January 6th, 2014 by admin