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Old 10-16-2008, 06:08 PM   #1
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The sea has stories of deserted ships, of the Flying Dutchman and the Marie Celeste to name but the most famous. Another, more recent but not so mysterious vessel is the ‘Sun Chaser’. Here is the account of a few young Swedes in a small boat sailing across the Atlantic and find themselves entangled in this, if not amazing certainly unusual, story.

Three Swedish young men and one woman are, off and on, the crew of an Albin Vega called Dory. An Albin Vega is a 8.25 (that’s 27 feet!) metre long, long keeled sailing boat designed and built in Sweden about 40 years ago

‘Dory’ is a Vega, owned by a young Swede called Marcus Krell who, together with a more or less permanent crew, is sailing towards New Zealand. The voyage has taken him and ‘Dory’ from Arkösund, near Norrköping on the Swedish east coast via the Kiel canal to Spain and Portugal.

Dory left Porto Santo bound for Madeira and for the first few days experienced changeable weather. Reef in, reef out. The sailors amongst us will recognise the routine. Four days rather wet sailing but, to some extent, compensated by temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius. When ‘Dory’ was 150 NM from Madeira they came across another yacht with sails hoisted but blown out. ‘Dory’ called the other boat a number of times on the VHF without any response. All that ‘Dory’ could now do was sail as close as possible to the mysterious boat and try and evoke some sign of life by signalling with their fog horn; but without success. There was too much sea running to attempt a boarding so all the crew of ‘Dory’ could do was to send a PAN message by VHF.

It turned out that one of the crew on ‘Dory’ had heard about a Swedish family who had been rescued from their boat ‘Sun Chaser’. As ‘Dory’ sailed past they could read the name ‘Sun Chaser’ on the stern and see a sun bleached Swedish flag hanging from the flag staff. The boat was obviously unmanned and so nobody’s life was at stake but once ‘Dory’ reached Madeira a search for the missing yacht, and the salvage money, was instigated. Another Swedish yacht, ‘The Arc’ put to sea to search as well as a small spotter plane but as yet, like the Flying Dutchman the ‘Sun Chaser’ sails the seas alone and no one has brought her to port and claimed the salvage money.

Whilst the reason for the crew abandoning the 'Sun Chaser' is not known to me it does appear that this could be another case of the crew giving up long before the vessel. It brings back images of the Fastnet disaster as well as the sound advice of not abandoning your craft until you have to climb up to the liferaft rather than step down into it.

Aye // Stephen

Photograph from 'Dory's' website
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:23 PM   #2
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Wow, looks like a great boat! Looks like all it needs is a new set of sails, and possibly a forestay? It's to bad they decided to abandon her. Kind of an erie looking photo too. She almost looks "lonely"...

Just goes to show how important sea trials are BEFORE making the leap. Take your boat out in ALL conditions possible, close to home first... When you feel comfortable being "weightless" as the boat crests the giant waves, your close to being ready.
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:43 PM   #3
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Looks exactly like my first boat...a CSY-44...same color even. If it is a CSY, they are virtually indestructible since they were design to take on coral heads with novice charter sailors at the helm.
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:45 PM   #4
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Agreed completely except for the issue of weight

I have been steadily attempting for years to achieve weightlessnes without success but when I do, through pulling negative G:s, I hate it and it certainly does not feel comfortable. After feeling the same way for 50 odd years, I don't think that will change.

So there is, hopefully still, a boat out there just waiting to be found.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 10-17-2008, 05:12 AM   #5
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A swift update:

The boat, 'Sun Chaser' has been found according to its owners Dan and Anne Roghe (link to their Swedish website).

It turns out that the rescue drama has started a bit of a debate in Sweden as this, in the opinion of many (who were not there at the time, of course), was just a case of the skiper, Dan Roghe, shouting after help when the weather turned bad. In my opinion, from what I have read up to now, the Roghes put themselves at greater risk in going alongside a Greek tanker and climbing up the ship's pilot ladder than they would have been had they stayed aboard "Sun Chaser". All went well however.

I do ask myself how, if the weather was that bad, a sailing boat could have been brought alongside the tanker and more than that, how it could have been done without damaging the mast? In my experience, this could never be done in, really hard weather - but there again, I have only 50 or so years experience of the sea with about 20 from the Atlantic.

More of this later - I must dash off to the day job - the one that pays the bills

Aye // Stephen
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Old 10-17-2008, 11:04 AM   #6
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I can't help but note that the main appears NOT to have been reefed. In fairness, the reefs could have blown out with the sail, but one must wonder.

David
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Old 10-17-2008, 01:22 PM   #7
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I have been able to get hold of a lot more information - I will write more later but I am just about to go to sea for the weekend so more on Sunday or at the start of next week.

Just one little point though, regarding the main, the mainsheet broke(!) leaving the sail uncontrolable, or so it is claimed. Of course, lowering the sail, re-rigging the sheets and hoisting a reefed sail might have worked - but what do I know of these things?

More later

Aye // Stephen
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Old 10-17-2008, 03:41 PM   #8
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My apologies in advance but this is going to be a long post.

Dan and Anne Roghe had a dream to sail their yacht "Sun Chaser" , a CSY 44, from her home port of Gävle, Sweden to the West Indies and back. They had decided to depart at 12:00 on Saturday, 31st May this year. Now the sea is a fickle shrew and one not easily tamed so I fail to see how a departure can be planned with such detail as to indicate on the minute when the last of the mooring ropes are let go and all connection with land severed indicates, at least to me, a lack of understanding of the realities of cruising.

The planned route was to take Dan and Anne through the Kiel Canal and along the European coast with a hop over Biscay before running down the Iberian coast and on to the Canary Islands. The Canaries were to be the departure point for the trans-Atlantic crossing on a voyage to the islands of the Caribbean with St. Lucia as the landfall in the New World.

The return voyage to Europe was planned to go via the Azores to Spain and thence returning to Sweden by the same route as the outward voyage with the arrival month set as August 2009.

The permanent crew of the "Sun Chaser" was Dan and Anne. Dan, a self-emplyed technician, is just half a year short of his 50th birthday whilst Anne is an 8 year older school teacher. I have been unable to unearth details of their sailing careers but Dan owned for many years a Chris-Craft motor boat.

By the beginning of September "Sun Chaser" was in Oporto: Two weeks later "Sun Chaser" had sailed further down the Portuguese coast to Sines. Departure from Sines was delayed a day due to something as nautical as wanting to look around town. Perfectly understandable as that is one of the reasons we sail from place to place. The vessel departed Sines at about 09:00 on Sunday, 28th September. "Sun Chaser" was still heading along the coast on a course which would take her to Lagos on the Portuguese south coast, not far from Cape Trafalgar and at the western end of the large bay which starts at Trafalgar and ends at Gibraltar.

By 13:00 sandwiches were eaten by some of the crew, which now consisted of Dan and Anne and another couple. Others were beginning to feel the effects of seasickness in the rising wind and sea. Genua, jib and main were reefed and later the genua was furled but, whilst doing this the sail fouled by the sheets and was torn apart (exactly how I do not know). The next blow to "Sun Chaser" was the parting of the main sheet. By midnight the boom had broken and Dan decided to put out a MAYDAY signal.

A helicopter arrived on the scene within 30 minutes and circled above the boat. Try as they may, a line could be put aboard the yacht in the high seas. Help again is close at hand though in the form of a tanker. Then, in the words of their log, (translated by me though)

"Everyone understands what awaits us. Manoeuvring so close to a large tanker in high seas is not something one looks forward to. Neither is climbing a ladder which extends 30 m directly upwards in a full storm with waves throwing the boats against each other It is no fun sitting in the little boat then…..

What happened then was either a miracle or skill. Dan, with big, concentrated eyes, manoeuvres the boat in unison with the great waves (which, on the tankers lee side are somewhat better)! We are then secured by enormous hawsers from the tanker. Dan is stemming the seas to maintain a safe distance but our boat scrapes against the tanker with each large wave. I was able to see that we were making great scratches on the enormous boat with something sharp standing proud from our boat!"

A later Internet log entry has Dan asking the two additional crew members called Marcus and Sari, "What did you think about that which I wrote on the Internet home page about the storm?"

"You were too mild in your writing", was Sari's opinion.

"Yes, perhaps you were", Marcus said. "You never wrote that the waves were up to 15m high"

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Ending the tale of the "Sun Chaser" there I am not going to express many opinions but the following I would like to be noted:
1. I am uncertain how much real experience Dan and Anne have of sailing and ocean passages. Not a lot I would think

2. I think that Dan got scared, squealed for help and is now trying to justify his actions but, in all fairness, I was not there

3. I have a lot of experience of being at sea in heavy weather and there is no way a sailing boat could be brought alongside a large ship in 15m waves, secured by hawsers and manoeuvred at the same time. The boat would be dashed to scrap against the ship's side. In fact, can someone explain the concept of being secured by hawsers and manoeuvering?

4. According to the UK Metoffice, the winds required to generate waves of 15 m in open sea conditions are in the order of force 11-12. That means a violent storm or hurricane.

5. Anyone wishing to see what those conditions look like from the bridge of a medium sized tanker, look at the picture below and then draw your own conclusions.
Now, I am off to sea for the weekend, although a gale is forecast here. Wish me luck!
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Old 10-17-2008, 04:19 PM   #9
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Yep.....just the weather I want to come alongeside, and tie up to a freighter......OUCH!!!!!!
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:43 PM   #10
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I have found it to be human nature to spin the tale a little bit after we have a set back. Your minds way of letting you get through it without a complete loss of self esteem.

When you break it down, you are here after a ride on a tanker and your boat is still afloat in the Atlantic. Probably enough said. You were probably not as prepared for what awaited you as some here would have liked you to be.

I am sure some of you and I am not saying who. Probably feel you worked harder when you were young than todays youth. The politicians were more honest when you were young. And your recollection of your past history is probable slightly revised to the better. The walk to school was uphill both ways.

The lesson I get out of reading these stories, is if you have a decent enough boat stick with it.

Still with a lot to learn, Duckwheat.
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Old 10-18-2008, 02:50 AM   #11
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With guests aboard one time we left Antigua for Guadeloupe. As night fell we tucked a reef into the main and settled into a lovely reach. Winds were about 15 knots, seas were comfortable, it seemed no more than 1 meter. Just before I could say to Peter that this was looking to be an incredibly nice crossing, one of our guests, who had never sailed before, turned to Peter and asked, "have you ever been out in seas this rough before?"

I think that we see what our experience and state of mind leads us to see. Fear has a tendency to magnify one's peril.
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Old 10-18-2008, 05:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
With guests aboard one time we left Antigua for Guadeloupe. ......
Oh my, that made me chuckle. Life is about perception.

Thanks for the laugh, insight, and well written note.

Thankful in Adak, DW
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:34 AM   #13
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Too true Duckwheat. One does tend to exagerate, especially if justifying one's actions. Also, absolutely right about staying with the boat as long is it is afloat.

Interesting tale Jeanne. Reminds me of the time the ferry from England to Sweden experienced a nasty storm just west of Denmark (arround Hirtshals). The ship's arrival in Gothenburg was delayed by quite a few hours and she had a bridge window stove in by the sea. All in all, a nasty experience for many passengers but one lady interviewed on the local tv channel told of 50m waves! Now 50m waves are pretty big waves - especialy in a part of the North Sea which is not more than 24m deep!

It is all a matter of perception and to her the waves were 50m high. To the crew of "Sun Chaser" they were certainly 15m high but that really proves my point. If the ferry-lady or the crew of "Sun Dancer" had had the experience needed, at least by the yacht's skipper, we might have read of waves of 3-5 metres and the boat would not have been abandoned. The essence here being trhat the ferry-lady did not need the experience; she was in the hands of a very experienced ship's master and his crew onboard a well found vessel. The yacht skipper had a good boat. The CSY 44 is, as Trim 50, pointed out, a very sturdy craft but he appears to have been wanting in terms of experiece.

Ironically, the only way to get experience is through, well, experience. The ideal way, of course, is to experience as much as possible with those who have the knowledge and experience or do bight off experience in chunks of digestable sizes. Go out sailing locally in a force 4. Then do it again in a force 5. etc. etc. As experience and knowledge gradually increase so does self-confidence and the ability to make the right decissions in a calm and collected fassion.

Aye // Stephen - just returned from a very"bouncy" force 8 - 9 Baltic trip
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