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Old 10-21-2008, 03:40 AM   #1
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Another rescue, another boat lost, with bad reporting to boot. And I have lots to say about this one. The following quotes are excerpted from the news report HERE

"Trouble began for the trio while sailing their 10m ketch, Timella, through rough seas off the south-west coast of Viti Levu on Sunday, he said.

They had left Suva in the morning and were heading south to Kandavu Island in 5m swells and 75kmh winds when the yacht experienced engine problems and boiling water burst from the radiator, scalding Mr Slagle.

Mr Slagle headed for a nearby cove, steering between two islands but struck a reef shortly before midnight."

My first comment is regarding the reporter - "boiling water burst from the radiator" ?

Now to the meat of the story. Why would anybody set out in a small boat in 40 knot winds and 5 meter seas when waiting a day or three would be the sensible approach? What were they thinking? Fiji has fine weather information so there's no excuse for not knowing about the weather. But not enough information to say much more.

"Mr Slagle made a mayday call by VHF radio before the three decided to abandon ship.

The yacht's inflatable dinghy was big enough for only two people, so Ms Schoch and Ms Timms climbed in as Mr Slagle clung to the side.

The dinghy was still tied to the boat and the mast punctured the dinghy, which also sank.

Suffering cut feet from the coral reef beneath them, Ms Timms began showing signs of hypothermia, Mr McCulloch said."

I am very confused by the above statements. The boat's mast punctured the dinghy while it was tied to the boat? I assume that the sailboat had not sunk. It sounds like a lot of mistakes and perhaps some bad judgment.

"The Fijian navy was unable to launch a rescue ship because of the conditions and the mayday call was eventually relayed to the New Zealand Rescue Co-ordination Centre via its Fijian counterpart and the New Zealand High Commission to Fiji, where a cruising catamaran captained by an American on holiday with his wife and two children came to the rescue, he said.

Maurice Sonti sailed for two hours, from his position south of the Vatu Lele Islands to reach Beqa reef, and pulled the trio aboard around 6.30am on Monday."

We talk about self-sufficiency in another current thread, and here's a good reason. The Fijian navy wouldn't go out because of the conditions. How lucky that an American sailor WAS willing to go out. No AAA, no roadside service, and apparently a government with too many problems to rescue people in their own waters.

Here's a link to another story about the sinking, slamming Fiji's lack of response and a thanks to the American who came to their rescue: MORE
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:56 AM   #2
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Hi JeanneP,

I got the same feeling reading the article (not accessible anymore?) . That journalist must be a total nono.

First glance made me think it was a hoax.

It's hard to judge based on these information, but the skipper p*** me off.

It's everybodies fault, but not his. He makes himself a victim. And that's the last he is. He choose to be there, he choose to go cruising in remote places... Living like that makes you responsible, nobody else. And you cannot expect or demand from some third world country with limited resources to maintain a professional coastguard we're used to.

I understand his disappointment. Not his anger.

I agree with you that he shoudn't have been there in the first place. Short trip, execellent weatherdata, motoring? The first picture from the 2nd article showing mr Conti preparing doesn't exactly show 40 fts winds and 5m swell.

And they wonder why some countries don't welcome cruisers anymore????

Jan
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:03 AM   #3
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Here's a bit I found a week ago on this rescue LINK

Must be the time of year for this, here's another one last week LINK

This is scary to me as I see these guys as very experienced if I believe what I read.

Be safe.

Kevin

Sitting waiting to go. Lots to learn.
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:05 AM   #4
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The bottom line here, and Jan was hinting at it, is that the skipper screwed up big time and blames everyone but the one person ultimately responsible - himself. Yes, he is a victim; a victim of his own incompetence and stupidness. Put this together with an irresponsible, sensation-seeking journalist and the story goes out of control.

From another report,

Ms Timms began showing signs of hypothermia, Mr McCulloch said. "It was pretty touch and go. She said she couldn't have held on for much longer."

Sorry??? Which is it? Was she BEGINING to show signs of hypothermia or was she about dead?

The average water temperature arround Fiji is above 80F, at which temperature there is NO RISK for hypothermia.

On of the symptoms of the onset of hypothermia is a gradual onset of confusion and reduced ability to perform simple mental tasks e.g. remember a list of words, simple calculations, work out best action for rescue. It appears to me, judging by the criteria mentioned here and his distinct signs of cerabrel weakness, that our good skipper is suffering from chronic hypothermia.

Aye // Stephen - a much vexed coast guard officer who has come across too many idiots of this sort!
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeanneP View Post
We talk about self-sufficiency in another current thread, and here's a good reason. The Fijian navy wouldn't go out because of the conditions. How lucky that an American sailor WAS willing to go out. No AAA, no roadside service, and apparently a government with too many problems to rescue people in their own waters.
This EXACTLY the point I was attempting to make in my self sufficiency thread. IMO that Boatowner (I am not going to call him a skipper as that is too good a term for him is a total idiot.

There are 4 levels of competence (The Benzinger Theory)

1 - Unconscious incompetence

Essentially these are people are those that do not know and do not know that they do not know. Extremely Dangerous and IMO where this Captain fits in.
  • the person is not aware of the existence or relevance of the skill area
  • the person is not aware that they have a particular deficiency in the area concerned
  • the person might deny the relevance or usefulness of the new skill
  • the person must become conscious of their incompetence before development of the new skill or learning can begin.
2 - Conscious incompetence

They that know that they don't know, these folks can are willing to be trained and educated
  • the person becomes aware of the existence and relevance of the skill
  • the person is therefore also aware of their deficiency in this area, ideally by attempting or trying to use the skill
  • the person realizes that by improving their skill or ability in this area their effectiveness will improve
3 - Conscious competence

This is where most of us fit in and these folks can be reliably depended on. The rescue skipper either fits into this catagory or the next one.
  • the person achieves 'conscious competence' in a skill when they can perform it reliably at will
  • the person will need to concentrate and think in order to perform the skill
  • the person can perform the skill without assistance
  • the person will not reliably perform the skill unless thinking about it - the skill is not yet 'second nature' or 'automatic'
  • the person should be able to demonstrate the skill to another, but is unlikely to be able to teach it well to another person
Practice is the single most effective way to move from stage 3 to 4

4 - Unconscious competence

The likes of JeanneP, Lighthouse, MMNETSEA and others on this site fit in. You know who you are. These are what I refer to as Master Sailors. It can take a lifetime to get to this point.
  • the skill becomes so practiced that it enters the unconscious parts of the brain - it becomes 'second nature'
  • common examples are driving, sports activities, typing, manual dexterity tasks, listening and communicating
  • it becomes possible for certain skills to be performed while doing something else, for example, knitting while reading a book
  • the person might now be able to teach others in the skill concerned, although after some time of being unconsciously competent the person might actually have difficulty in explaining exactly how they do it - the skill has become largely instinctual.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:52 AM   #6
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This EXACTLY the point I was attempting to make in my self sufficiency thread. IMO that Boatowner (I am not going to call him a skipper as that is too good a term for him is a total idiot.

There are 4 levels of competence (The Benzinger Theory)
Here is the matrix that I refer to ..

competency_matrix.png
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:45 PM   #7
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This theory puts so well into words and diagrams what we all really have known all along - except the guy who is the subject of this discussion.

Thanks for introducing it. It is a bit of an eyeopener!

Aye // Stephen
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:46 PM   #8
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Be careful who you go sailing with - many of those who claim to be "expert" and "experienced" seem to be relying on their own opinion!

There is a lesson in all these cases for novices desperate to "crew" and who answer advertisements - be very careful!
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:28 PM   #9
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I don't want to beat up somebody who has lost his home and possibly his life savings, but if we can't learn from others' mistakes we are bound to make them for ourselves, and that is my reason for posting this and perhaps beating it to death.

Since this fellow had been cruising for about seven (7) years, from Ireland to the South Pacific, I can't say he was inexperienced.

Maybe he suffers from "been there, done that syndrome", or BTDT for short.

It's complacency, ennui, or ego. I think that most cruisers fall into the trap at some point in their voyage, and that's when mistakes are made, errors in judgment occur, bad things happen.

Sometimes ego gets in the way, and the "old salt" who has been in a miserably awful North Atlantic storm figures he can now handle anything that nature can throw at him, so he goes out in marginal weather with a novice crew in a new ocean. He doesn't think that anything can happen to HIM, so there's no need to be sure that his crew can read a chart, plot a course, plot one's position. He knows how accurate the charts are in Europe and the US, hasn't encountered the Pacific charts with their notes to adjust the datum against his GPS plots or chart plotter because the chart positions can be hundreds of feet askew from GPS plots, and he then runs up on a reef. The list goes on.

I think that was the biggest problem here. I assume that the two women were less experienced, and possibly weren't able to plot a course. We know that one woman was quite seasick and probably was useless as a result. So the skipper, in pain from having shrapnel and scalding water exploding in his face, might not have been able to plot a good course, or made a big navigational error, with nobody there to help him. The worse the weather, the worse the situation, the more important it is to check and check again and again.

IMO, the best way to avoid the worst of the BTDT mistakes is to admit to yourself when you've made a mistake, and then try to determine the reason for the mistake - for example not enough knowledge, or not enough information, or laziness, or just bad luck. Kicking yourself occasionally might keep you humble enough to avoid the worst mistakes. But I don't think anybody is perfect enough to never make a mistake, no matter how experienced they are. All that anyone can do is to pay attention, be prepared, and be cautious enough to keep mistakes to minor and infrequent ones.

I am sorry that the fellow's boat is gone, but he is so very lucky that he and his companions survived some mistakes and bad luck.
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
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I am sorry that the fellow's boat is gone, but he is so very lucky that he and his companions survived some mistakes and bad luck.
I have to concur, I don't believe there is anyone on on this site that would like to see a fellow sailor loose his boat, find themselves in peril and basically loose their life savings not to mention his life's dream. I certainly do not wish this on anyone.

I may have been over critical but what was done defies logic, well mine anyway, what is a seasoned sailor, which I was not aware of (read the whole article Gavin) doing leaving safe harbor in those conditions when he has a day or maybe a 2 day trip, simply wait for better conditions. As has been stated by JeanneP and others so eloquently, the weather reporting in the area is pretty damned good. Then being injured, in the dark of the night in what apparently were bad conditions and in all likelihood by someone other than the skipper, or the skipper with partial vision, attempting to navigate into a cove that may or may not be tight. I have not read that the boat itself was damaged after the radiator blew, though it may have been, there are too many other options for them to have selected one that ultimately nearly cost them their lives and cost them their boat.

The little I know about the press and human nature suggests that the truth lies somewhere between both stories and we will never know what truly happened and why some of the decisions that were made were made.

I in turn owe the skipper an apology for teeing off at him without considering all the facts, and I dont know all of them nor do I claim to know what they were feeling or what their emotional state was, however, he needs to take responsibility for his actions and not condemn the Fijian SAR. He put himself into peril, made a bad choice. It is not his right or any of our right to expect someone else to put their life at risk to save our butt, even though it is done every day by some very heroic folks. They too have families.

Seems I have being a fair amount of apologizing lately and need to ... "Place brain in gear prior to (in this case) placing fingers in motion".
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:40 AM   #11
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I would not get too self-critical about the opinions expressed here as, however one looks upon it, the skipper is, through bad judgement, the one who lost the boat. Sure his accident was a contributing factor but he was the one who put to see in an unseaworthy condition. The term "unseaworthy condition" covers a multityde of sins as it refers not only to the vessel itself but the crew, the charts, the weather forecasts and navigational warnings etc. He probably also committed a grave error regarding the engine cooling.

Dealing with the engine first, if a marine engine is overheating, the first thing one does is look over the side and check for cooling water flow. No cooling water? Stop the engine, check the inlet valve is open, check the impellor, with open impeller house cover, crack the inlet valve open and check for water flow.

So you have sea water cooling then the fault is pn the freshwater side. Before doing anything you let the engine cool down then check the cooland level, replace the thermostat and check the impellor on the f.w. side. What you do not do is approach an overheated engine.

Next question, why was there no overheat alarm on the engine so that the alarm would sound before the water came to boiling point? Another lack of seaworthiness issue.

Regarding the crew, you don't put to sea on a deep sea voygae with a crew unless one of them at least can handle the boat. In assessing a vessel's seaworthiness the ability and health of the crew must be taken into account as must their susceptibility to seasickness.

To be seaworthy a vessel in itself must fullfill seaworthiness criterea but she must also be manned, equipped and provisioned in a way compatable with the envisaged voyage and with a margin for safety.

Seamanship is an unusual commodity. Anything other than good seamanship is not good enough. Although this may sound demanding it is not. I refer to seamanship as MCS - Mostly Common Sense! This skipper gad a lapse in the common sense department and broke the basic rule of seamanship - he put to sea with a vessel in an unseaworthy condition and paid the price for it.

Of course we all feel sorry for anyone who loses their boat, their investment and, perhaps, their dream but there is no excuse for the attack on the Fiji navy and their rescue services. In my view only wealthier countries have anywhere near the rescue services we normally expect but do we have the right to expect this of a small and relatively poor nation? I don't think so. One of the reasons we sail to far off places is to re-discover the simple lifestyle and when we do we love it, as long as it is parties on the beach of a warm evening, meeting happy, simple, honest and good people, eating fresh pawpaw and breadfruit or a freshly caught dorado. When things go wrong though we shun the simpler lifestyle and want all the health and rescue facilities we could expect in the North America or Europe.

If we sail seeking the enchantment of the third world we must take the third world on its terms not ours.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:05 PM   #12
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Now that we've beaten the Aussie and ourselves up on that boat's call for help, here's an easier one to criticize.

Last week's other "rescue" mentioned by seasescape in this thread should be an embarrassment.

To refresh your memories, here's the US Coast Guard news release that was picked up by the news media CG "Rescues" sailor

This situation is somewhat similar to on of our BTDT experiences, so I want to vent.

The CG release says it rescued a sailor sailing to California from Hawaii when he ran out of fuel. Ran out of fuel?! Rescue?! OMG, no wonder peole are forever asking us if it's dangerous out there. RESCUE?

Okay, first thing. It's sailboat. He can sail. Even with torn sails, he can jury-rig something so he can sail.

I should have checked out the photos before posting this. It's got 3 sails, two masts, and the sail cover is still on the mizzen mast. And he has several jerry jugs on deck. This man should be ashamed of himself for asking for help. Now, had he paid for a towing company to come get him I wouldn't be so outraged. Unless there are more dire circumstances that everybody has failed to disclose in the CG news release, this man owes us all a bundle for taking the lazy man's easy way out. Bah!


Secondly, there are private companies that tow disabled craft to shore when there is no immediate danger to the passengers. They cost money, though.

The fellow was 100 miles offshore, the last day's trip from Hawaii, and he needs HELP because he ran out of fuel? I sure hope there is more to this story than was reported.

Here's our BTDT story. Granted, we had been cruising offshore for 15 years when this happened, but.......... Kota Kinabalu to Singapore, whoops
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:08 PM   #13
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Hey you know that round thingy on the front of the boat that has that piece of string attached to is the jib buddy. Just pull on it and and this big piece of cloth will start flapping and your boat will start moving, then you have that big round thingy at the back of the boat, its a steering wheel, turn it and you will start going in the direction you want. Also the key thingy you got right there it has an off position so you do not have to run the motor until the fuel runs out, just turn it to the left and the engine will stop.

Really, this guy should be sent the bill for his so called rescue.
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Old 10-22-2008, 03:36 PM   #14
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Personally I would like to know more about Mr. Santi, and how he managed to get so close, but stay out of harm's way?
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