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Old 02-22-2009, 07:24 PM   #1
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I am sure that there is much for us all to learn from in this horrific story:

A British couple have been rescued from their stricken yacht by an Italian oil tanker after spending an incredible 40 days drifting across the storm-ravaged Atlantic Ocean.

Stuart Armstrong, 51, and his partner Andrea Davison, 48, were last night on board supertanker Indian Point in the middle of the Atlantic and heading back to Britain for an emotional reunion with their families.

Although both escaped unhurt, they were tired, exhausted and grateful to be returning home after their six-week ordeal in which they ‘stared death in the face’



Full story HERE
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:59 PM   #2
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This is just the sort of event that has many "what if" question marks all around it for me. Perhaps their rudder was bent, something making it totally impossible to fix or remove the rudder...They had the sugar scoop transom which appears a wonderful place to rig a highly leveraged emergency rudder. I dunno. I feel so bad that they had to abandon their boat. The entire situation brings a lot of angst to me because of a trend I see in that when a small yacht calls for assistance, the assistance given seems to always be the opportunity to abandon ship and nothing else. I mean, really, couldn't it have been possible for someone to talk them through a diagnosis and repair or install of an emergency rudder? There must be a better way.

It always seems that the yacht owner is either on their own to fix things or they really must just leave their yacht (often their home, as this one was) behind in what always seems to be a very risky rescue--big ship + small yacht. Regarding the rescue, I've always thought it would be easier to be in one's liferaft alongside such a big rescuing vessel than to try and board from a small yacht. Perhaps some more experienced merchant marines here can comment on this big+small thing???

Re-reading the post--with the rudder hard-over I wonder if they went about setting up the boat to be hove-to in all that heavy weather? I don't know if their hull shape was conducive to this but it would be interesting to know if they did so.

With all the communication they had (sat phone) I'm so sorry that there wasn't a smaller vessel that could meet them (in time) and assist them with repair. I just am greatly saddened when cruisers lose their vessel "to the rescue" rather than to the sea. I hope that some smart, resourceful person is able to salvage the Sara. I'm both glad they didn't scuttle her so that she might be salvaged and I'm wondering about the responsibility of leaving a vessel at sea where it could cause someone else harm.

There must be a better way--and yes there's much to learn here.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:40 PM   #3
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This sad story resonates with me as it was almost 4 years ago, in January like Sara, when I was sailing my Thetis from Cape Verde to the Caribbean. While we were lucky and had no serious mishap what happened to Sara could have happened to us. Reading the details of their ordeal makes me very sad as I feel the pain of after all this to end up loosing their boat at the rescue.

Redbopeep is absolutely right. There could have been a better way. A smaller rescue vessel, help for repairs, etc. I do not know. But, after 40 days at sea with supplies running low they did make the right, if painful, decision. Life is more precious that a boat, no mater how much we love her. Yet, like redbopeep, I wish this crossing had a happier ending. I too wonder if during these 40 days, with modern communications available, why, why no one was found to give them better help?

I wish Stuart Armstrong and Andrea Davison the best and may they soon be able to replace Sara.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:38 AM   #4
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A British couple have been rescued from their 13-meter yacht in the Atlantic Ocean after they drifted for weeks with a broken rudder.

The pair, Stuart Armstrong, 51, and his partner Andrea Davison, 48, was understood to be running out of food and water when they were winched to safety from their boat Sara by crew on board the 183-meter-long oil tanker Indian Point on February 18.

Having planned to cross the Atlantic from Cape Verde to Antigua, the couple's problems began on January 9, about half-way through their journey, when the rudder of their boat jammed on starboard and sent them drifting in circles.

Armstrong alerted the U.S. Coast Guard of their problems. However, the Coast Guard told the couple they were too far out to be rescued.

The couple was then battered by several storms, and as they began to run short of food and a power cut disabled their desalination unit (which provides drinking water), the Coast Guard alerted the Indian Point, which took a five-hour diversion to save them in heavy seas. They managed to secure both sailors by lowering harnesses down to the yacht.

The pair was now expected to arrive in Amsterdam on March 1 with the Indian Point.

Speaking after the rescue, Armstrong said, "At first we were not too bothered, as we had a good supply of dry provisions, the usual things you have on a boat -- pasta, kidney beans, biscuits, rice and soya," the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

"We kept getting hit by storms, but we managed to get out of them with no real problems.

"But I knew we were riding our luck and we wouldn't be able to go on for much longer," Davison added.

A spokesman for the oil tanker said the pair was "scared and wet and happy."
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:20 AM   #5
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How does a rudder get 'jammed' to starboard? Was the problem the steering or the rudder? What did they do to try to fix the problem? It almost seems it might have been better to break the rudder off trying to fix it than to leave it hard over. What was the rudder construction? Did they have a diagram aboard? Any hypothisis as to what was the 'stuck' bit?
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:25 AM   #6
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If they couldn't sort out their steering in 40 days then they shouldn't have been there in the first place.
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:03 AM   #7
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Coyote and Nightcap:

These stories always leave out all the "best" details that we sailors would love to know. I rather suspect there is much to the story and we can hope to learn from it. My husband immediately asked "didn't they have a spare alternator or the ability to rebuild it?" Well, they probably did--but the story doesn't give us the scoop on that either. There are many details that sailors would love to know the answers to.

I don't know the design of their rudder but can surmise that if the rudder stock were bent it is possible they'd be hard-over and unable to do anything short of cutting away the rudder itself. We don't know what tools they had onboard, dive gear, ability to get in the water, ability to drop the rudder from under the cockpit, etc..if there ever were conditions that allowed them to even consider getting in the water. We wonder if they had enough stuff on board to make a sculling type rudder--if the conditions remained so rough as to make these ideas worthless. We don't know the strength or physical condition of this couple and their ability to work with the conditions they were faced with.

The story lacks "our kind of detail" and we can hope that these folks will be good enough and kind enough--and have the opportunity--to share their full story, when they're ready, with the world of cruisers so we can all learn from their experience.

Regardless of what they had on board to enable repair--or not--I am so very disappointed that no smaller vessel was able to come to their assistance--or offer sat-phone tech support so to speak--during that long 40 day period, to bring forth a repaired Sara rather than having them have to leave the Sara adrift.

We wish them the best and hope that the full story will make it to a cruising publication or online forum sooner rather than later.
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightcap View Post
If they couldn't sort out their steering in 40 days then they shouldn't have been there in the first place.
I am inclined to agree with you, but we don't have all the information we need to make such a judgment, and probably never will. *The boat looks lovely, does anyone know what make it is? *What kind of steering was it, I wonder? *Quadrant, hydraulic, what?

We would all benefit more, and probably learn something, if instead of making a flat statement, "they shouldn't have been there", we all contributed more to offering various scenarios of gear breaking and being jury-rigged or fixed at sea.

I usually talk more about the stupid mistakes that we make rather than what we've done right. *Hate to change that approach now.
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
Coyote and Nightcap:

I don't know the design of their rudder but can surmise that if the rudder stock were bent it is possible they'd be hard-over and unable to do anything short of cutting away the rudder itself. We don't know what tools they had onboard, dive gear, ability to get in the water, ability to drop the rudder from under the cockpit, etc..if there ever were conditions that allowed them to even consider getting in the water. We wonder if they had enough stuff on board to make a sculling type rudder--if the conditions remained so rough as to make these ideas worthless. We don't know the strength or physical condition of this couple and their ability to work with the conditions they were faced with.
A different way of looking at my POV. If they weren't physically capable of repairing it in 40 days, if they didn't have the equipment on board to be self reliant, if they didn't have the knowledge to engineer a solution or if they didn't have the will to keep trying then, yes, I believe they shouldn't have been out there. Only serious injury or illness should have held them back and it seems from the article that this wasn't the case.
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
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A different way of looking at my POV. If they weren't physically capable of repairing it in 40 days, if they didn't have the equipment on board to be self reliant, if they didn't have the knowledge to engineer a solution or if they didn't have the will to keep trying then, yes, I believe they shouldn't have been out there. Only serious injury or illness should have held them back and it seems from the article that this wasn't the case.
Gracious, feeling just a bit "superior" aren't we?

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I usually talk more about the stupid mistakes that we make rather than what we've done right. *Hate to change that approach now.
LOL

Its rather fun to talk about those silly things we've all done, isn't it? And, hopefully I can learn from your silly mistakes and someone else can learn from mine and so on...as long as we share them here.

Fair winds
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:23 PM   #11
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Gracious, feeling just a bit "superior" aren't we?
No, just get a bit sick & tired of spending my cruising time helping people who are ill prepared, don't know what they're doing and basically should have stayed home. Try the couple who sailed across the Pacific, lost their engine and send out a distress call because they didn't know how to sail to windward.
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Old 02-24-2009, 10:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
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No, just get a bit sick & tired of spending my cruising time helping people who are ill prepared, don't know what they're doing and basically should have stayed home. Try the couple who sailed across the Pacific, lost their engine and send out a distress call because they didn't know how to sail to windward.
I am not tired of helping people Nightcap when they are in trouble. No one is born with experience and the sea has a way of humbling everyone, even the most experienced. Helping our fellow sailors is in the best of nautical traditions. I just hope that when either you or me needs help somebody will provide it.

In the mean time it best not to second guess and pass judgment but learn from the mishaps of others.
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Old 02-25-2009, 12:39 AM   #13
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Here's a link that provides somewhat different information. http://www.bymnews.com/news/newsDetails.php?id=51246

Most all cruisers love their freedom but I do object to poorly prepared, inadequately trained people sailing bluewater passages in boats that are not up to standard. These people are responsible for my increased bluewater premiums, have been responsible for me diverting and jeopardising myself and boat to assist them and they give genuine cruisers a bad reputatiuon amongst the armchair critics.

BTW, it might save confusion if you show my last post rather than just quote it.
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Old 02-25-2009, 05:39 PM   #14
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Hi Nightcab

We are talking about a sailor who was on his 8th Atlantic crossing.

To think positively, we can assume, that there is alot of experience involved and I cannot believe, that this crew and boat were ill-prepared.

We read about a crew that tried for four weeks to manage the situation.

We do not yet know why they did not succeed.

If we know more, we can come to conclusions, but not for the sake of spreading negative judgements, but to learn for ourselves out of what happened.

Give them a chance.

Uwe

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