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Old 05-27-2007, 06:14 PM   #1
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Interesting description of the sad loss of the Sean Seamore 2 in the Atlantic.

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/c...8359d1b&p=1
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Old 05-29-2007, 03:38 AM   #2
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Interesting description of the sad loss of the Sean Seamore 2 in the Atlantic.

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/c...8359d1b&p=1
for those interested in the chain of events without journalistic distortion I am posting the log:

Cape Cod, May 12th 2007

This is the log of actions and events driven by the only-subsequently named Sub-tropical Storm Andrea, leading to the sinking of s/v Sean Seamour II and the successful rescue of its entire crew on the early morning of May 7th 2007.

We departed from Green Cove Springs on the Saint Johns River in the early morning of May 2nd, 2007. Gibraltar was our prime destination with a planned stopover in the Azores for recommissioning and eventually fuel. The vessel, on its second crossing was fully prepared and some of the recent preparations done by Holland Marine and skipper with crew were as follows:

Full rig check, navigation lights, new wind sensor, sheet and line check / replacement

New autopilot, stuffing box and shaft seal, house battery bank, racor fuel filtering system

Bottom paint, new rudder bearing and check, new auxiliary tiller, full engine maintenance

Recertification of life raft and check of GPIRB (good to November 2007), update and replacement of all security equipment (PFDs, flares, medical, etc).

Although paper charts were available for all planned destinations, with increased dependence on electronic navigational aids, two computers were programmed to handle both the MaxSea navigation software (version 12.5) as well as the Iridium satphone for weather data (MaxSea Chopper and OCENS). A full electronic systems checkout and burn trial was done during the days prior to departure.

For heavy weather and collision contingencies cutter rigged Sean Seamour II was equipped with two drogues (heavy and light), collision mat, auxiliary electric pump, as well as extensive power tools to enable repairs at sea with the 2.4kva inverter. Operational process and use of this equipment was discussed at length with the crew in anticipation. Other physical process contingencies such as lashing, closing seacocks, companionway doors, etc. were equally treated.

The 7 day weather GRIBs downloaded almost daily from April 25th onwards showed no inconsistencies, with the two high and two low pressure systems fairly balanced over the western Atlantic. Only the proximity of the two low pressure systems seemed to warrant surveillance as the May 5th GRIB would indicate with a flow increase from the N,NO from 20 to 35 knots focused towards coastal waters.

Already on a northerly course some 200 nautical miles out, I maintained our navigational plan with a N,NE heading until increased winds warranted a more easterly tack planned approximately 300 nautical miles north of Bermuda towards the Azores.

Wind force increased about eight hours earlier than expected and later shifted to the NE reaching well into the 60 knots range by early afternoon, then well beyond as the winds shifted. Considering that we were confronted with a sustained weather system that was quite different from the gulf stream squall lines we had weathered previous days, by mid afternoon I decided to take appropriate protective measures.

From our last known position approximately 217 nautical miles east of Cape Hatteras I reversed course, laying my largest drogue off the starboard stern while maintaining a quarter of the storm jib on the inner roller furl. This was designed to balance the boat's natural windage due in large part to its hard dodger and center cockpit structure.

By late afternoon the winds were sustained at well over 70 knots and seas were building fast. I estimate seas were well into 25 feet by dusk but after adding approximately 150 feet of drogue line the vessel handled smoothly over the next eight hours advancing with the seas at about 6 knots (SOG). By late evening the winds were sustained above 74 kts and a crew member recorded a peak of 85.5 kts.

Growing and irregular seas were the primary concern as in the very early hours of the morning the boat was increasingly struck by intermittant waves to its port side. Crew had to be positioned against the starboard side as both were tossed violently across the boat. Water began to accumulate seemingly fed through the stern engine-room air cowls. I believe in retrospect the goosenecks were insufficient with the pitch of larger waves as they were breaking onto the stern.

At approximately 02.45 hours we were violently knocked all the way down to starboard. It appears that the resulting angle and tension may have caused the drogue line to rupture (clean cut), perhaps as it rubbed against the same engine-room air-intake cowl positioned just below the cleat. The line was attached to the port side main winch then fed through the cleat where it was covered with anti-chaffing tape and lubricant. Before abandoning ship I noticed the protected part of the line was intact and extended beyond the cleat some five inches. Its position in the cleat rather than retracted from it also supports this theory.

After the knockdown I knew there was already structural damage and that we had lost control of the vessel. I pulled the GPIRB (registered to USCG documented Sean Seamour II) but I suspect that the old EPIRB from 1996 (Registered to USCG documented Lou Pantai, but kept as the vessel was sold to an Italian national in 1998) might have been automatically launched first. I kept this unit as a redundancy latched in its housing on the port side of the hard dodger; it may have been ejected upon the first knockdown as Coast Guard Authorities questioned relatives with this vessel name versus Sean Seamour II. Herein lies a question that needs to be answered, hopefully it will be in light of the USCG report.

The GPIRB initially functioned but the strobe stopped and the intensity of the light diminished rapidly to the extent that I do not know if the Coast Guard received that signal. At the time were worried the unit was not emitting and I reinitiated the unit twice. The unit sent for recertification with the life raft a few weeks prior had been returned from River Services. They had responded to Holland Marine that the unit was good until this coming November, functioned appropriately, and that the battery had an extra five year life expectancy. I will await reception of the Coast Guard report to find out if one or both signals was processed as all POCs were questioned regarding Lou Pantai and not my current vessel Sean Seamour II (both vessels had been / in the case of Sean Seamour II is US Coast Guard documented).

Expecting worse to come I re-lashed and locked all openings and the companionway. At 02:53hours we were struck violently again and began a roll to 180 degrees. As the vessel appeared to stabilize in this position I unlocked the companionway roof to exit an see where the life raft was. It had disappeared from its poop deck cradle which I could directly access as the helm and pedestal had been torn away. When I emerged to the surface against the boat's starboard (in righted port position) it began its second 180 degree roll. As it emerged the rig was almost longitudinal to the boat barely missing the stern arch. Spreaders were arrayed over cockpit and port side, mast cleanly bent at deck level, forestays apparently torn away.

I ordered the crew to start all pumps. By their own volition they also cut out 2.5 gallon water bottles to enable physical bailing while I continued to locate the liferaft. It finally appeared upside down under the rig. As its sea anchors and canopy lines were entangled in the rig and partially torn by one of the spreaders I decided to cut them away in an effort to save time and effort. I needed the crew below and had to manage the rig entanglement alone. This done I managed to move the unit forward and use its windward position to blow it over the bow to starboard, attaching it still upside down.

Below, water was being stabilized above the knees. The new higher positioned house battery bank was not shorted by the water level but the engine bank was flooded not enabling us to start the engine and pump from the bilge instead of the seacock. In retrospect this was not a loss as having to keep one of the companionway doors off for bailing and to route the Rule pump pipe, the water pouring in from here and the through-deck mast hole were no match for the impeller' volume. Plugging the mast passage was also not a solution as it was moving and hitting violently against the starboard head wall and was dangerous to try to cope with.

I knew the situation was desperate but it was still safer to stay aboard than to abandon ship, let alone in the dark any earlier than necessary. Estimating daylight at about 05:30 hours, we needed to hold on for at least another two hours. As the boat shifted in the waves it became increasingly vulnerable to flooding from breaking waves. One such wave at about 05:20 added about 18 inches of water, as the bow was now barely emerged these two factors triggered my decision to abandon ship. I exited first knowing that the raft was still upside down. In addition, some of the canopy lines still needed to be cut from the rig entanglement. In the precipitation the grab bag containing Iridium phone, VHF, GPS and all our personal and ship documents was lost.

As we boarded the now upturned raft it immediately flooded with the breaking waves and once unprotected from the wind by the hull structure was prone to turn over (no sea anchors nor canopy to roll over on). Hypothermia was already gaining upon one of my crew and myself and our efforts to right and re-enter the raft drained strength. Periods spent lying on the overturned raft exposed to the wind seemed to further weaken us.

Sean Seamour II sank a few minutes after we abandoned ship fully disappearing from view after the second wave crest.

We became aware of fixed wing overflight sometime between 06:00 and 07:00 hours and estimate that the Coast Guard helicopter arrived some time around 08:30 hours. As seemingly the most affected by hypothermia and almost unconscious the crew had me lifted out first. It was a perilous process during which Coast Guard AST2 Dazzo was himself injured (later to be hospitalized with us). The liferaft was destroyed and abandoned by AST2 Dazzo as the third crew member was extracted. He also recouped the GPIRB which remained in USCG custody.

The emotions and admiration felt by my crew and myself to the dedication of this Coast Guard team is immeasurable, all the more so when hearing them comment on the severity and risk of the extraction, perhaps the worst they had seen in ten years (dixit SAT2 Dazzo). They claim to have measured 50 plus foot waves which from our perspective were mountains. We measured after the first knockdown and before loosing our rig winds still in excess of 72 knots.

Also to be commended are the medical teams involved, from our ambulatory transfer of custody from the rescue team to the personnel awaiting us at Cherry Point Naval Hospital. There the personnel under Director for Administration CDR Robert S. Fry sought not only to address our physical and medical trauma, but preempted the humanitarian crisis we were facing after all this loss and anguish by bringing in the disaster relief assistance of the American Red Cross to whom we owe the clothes, shelter and food that helped us survive this ordeal.

JP de Lutz s/v Sean Seamour II

A note of caution regarding your EPIRB - have it check out by the manufacuturer to make sure it is registered to your boat, your life depends on it and it appears there are more cases than mine of faulty registration. When the Coast Guard received a distress signal they start by contacting poc's, if they find that the EPIRB's registered owner has not triggered the distress signal they disregard as an error emanating from the unit.

(Attached file is an .rtf version of the above report)
Attached Files
File Type: rtf Account_of_May_6th.rtf (11.7 KB, 139 views)
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:46 AM   #3
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@seanseamour

Thank you for posting your log - it is all so educating for us all. So good to get a first-hand report. Thank God you're all OK.
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Old 05-29-2007, 02:10 PM   #4
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SeanSeamore....

Thanks so much for posting your summary. I am in North Carolina and heard some of the CoastGuard conversation on the VHF about your boat and the 3 others that were lost in the same vicinity on the 6-8th of this month. Thank God you are all safe and sound and lived to tell the tale.

In reviewing your post, I found your preparations and seamanship in the face of deteriorating conditions exemplary and it is clear that some conditions are simply too great for any small boat to endure.

One thing strikes me as I read your post...and that is the seeming lack of weather warning/forcasting you had. I know that storm warnings were being posted on FRIDAY and were well established by Saturday by Herb and the NWS. From your post, it seems as if the intensity of the weather was a surprise and that you were just relying on gribs for your planning.

Can you comment on whether this is true or simply an oversight in your account? If you had known of the approach of a TS force system, would you have continued on?

Not meaning any criticism...just trying to understand how you found yourself in this situation better and any lessons I might take away. Thanks and good wishes!
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:01 AM   #5
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Hi, Camaraderie

Your questions are relevant for all cruisers, we noted the WX forecast models that were being used by Sean Seamour. These, when compared with hurricane force conditions encountered on the 6th May seemed contradictory. As I result we checked the archives for this Storm and found that the first warning by the NHC was given on the 9th May; see :-

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2007/index.shtml

In view of lack of data for the period 3rd May <<>> 8th May, we have contacted the National Hurricane Center asking for data re. the storm system before it was first named as Sub Tropical Storm Andrea on the 9th May.

Perhaps, then we will have a better fix on the conditions and the decisions taken.

Richard
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Old 05-30-2007, 03:21 AM   #6
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Thanks Richard! Yes...the sub-tropical warnings were only issued after all the damage was done and the storm moved south. We were hearing storm warnings here in North Carolina on the previous Friday/Saturday. That is my recollection anyway...so it will be interesting to see the data you get. Too bad there is no easy way to access past forecasts. Best...Cam
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Old 05-30-2007, 08:36 AM   #7
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@seanseamour

A question has been asked which I pass on to you.

"What type of sea-anchor/drogue had you deployed and do you have any idea of exactly how it finally failed?"

This would be very interesting info for many of us.

Thank you.
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:26 AM   #8
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I used a Sea Brake GP24L with swivel to 40 feet of chain re-swivel then rode, deployed about 400 feet to set deep in second wave. I deployed it around 16:00 hours then as seas built and in anticipation added 150 feet of rode. We were riding the storm very comfortably until around 23:00 hours when wave form shifted more to from the NNE, compensated with helm. The rogue wave (pretty much onfirmed now) which hit us around 0245 knocking us to starboard put an agle on the line which rubbed it against the engine air intake cowl on the starboard stern side, the added pressure of the rogue wave in combination with the mechanical pressure caused the line to snap clean just after the chaffing tape. Had it not been for the rogue wave I feel confident we would have pulled through the system which began to subside a few hours later. ADDITIONALLY: Flying Colors, a 54ft Little Harbour was some 10 to 40 nauticals off my starboard, it has dissapeared after pulling its EPIRB about 40minutes after me -- I am in contact with some of the familly desperately seeking any info, I have posted to this effect, if you hear anyting please pass on to me.

Thanks, JP
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
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SeanSeamore....
I was tracking the two depressions some of you have mentioned, the major one had moved well north of my navigational plan to a NNE track, neither was a threat at the time and there were no warnings for my area that were a threat, the higher winds were for coastal areas both through GRIB files and OCENS weatherfax data not seen to exceed a sustained 35kt by which time I was planning to tack an easterly course. There was no sat data available, to my knowledge the first sat data NOAA made available was at 1747 on the 7th when the storm had passed over us, it took them yet another day to aknowledge the phenomena as a tropical depression.
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:44 AM   #10
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@seanseamour

Thank you for the prompt reply - that certainly answers the question. I appreciate your time and effort to supply all the details.

Your experience is what we all fear and the more we learn about it the better.

Thank you.
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:32 PM   #11
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Hi JP, That is plain frightening. I am so glad you all survived. I hope I possess the same presence of mind as you, if I ever find myself in a similar situation.

With great respect.

David.
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:58 PM   #12
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I hope I possess the same presence of mind as you, if I ever find myself in a similar situation.
Ditto that JP...and thanks for clarifying the weather reporting used. We often hear that the boat is stronger than the crew but in this case I do believe that the opposite was true...the ocean was stronger.

I don't know if you hae seen this but the 67' Illusion which was caught out in the same storm recently washed ashore. Here's a link to that captain's story.

http://www.starnewsonline.com/apps/pbcs.dl...00/1042/weather

All best...Cam
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Old 05-30-2007, 10:35 PM   #13
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Hi, Camaraderie

Your questions are relevant for all cruisers, we noted the WX forecast models that were being used by Sean Seamour. These, when compared with hurricane force conditions encountered on the 6th May seemed contradictory. As I result we checked the archives for this Storm and found that the first warning by the NHC was given on the 9th May; see :- .............

Richard
Following our request to the NHC for archived data relative to the period 3rd May<<>>8th May

The NHC has replied with the following information :-

NHC maintains advisory archives for official storm advisories here:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2007/ANDREA.shtml?

Prior to that date, you might find these links useful:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/text/TWDAT/

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/text/HSFAT2/

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/text/OFFNT3/

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/text/MIMATS/

I hope this helps.

Christopher Juckins

Meteorologist / Webmaster | http://hurricanes.gov

National Hurricane Center | http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

email: nhcwebmaster@noaa.gov

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note : - the Sean Seamour turned back on her course at approximately 35 degrees 15 min North 72 degrees West. At that time on the 6th May encountering Hurricane force winds and seas and finally sinking early morning of the 7th May.

We thank the NHC for providing us with data from their archives.
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Old 06-08-2007, 06:01 PM   #14
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I have been investigating the rogue wave theory that may have sunk both the s/v Sean Seamour and the s/v Flying Colours. To date we have determined that the sea states during Subtropical Storm Andrea around the Hatteras Trench Region were indeed abnormal.

This chart is the last known positions of both sail boats. We are having some problems finding out the last known position of the Hapag-Lloyd Paris Express when she lost some 21 TEU's or containers on 5 May 2007. It is believed that the Express may have been in the general area of both sail boats. Lloyds of London does not report the location of cargo losses, just ships.

If anyone runs across any information as to the reported location of the Paris Express at the time please let me know.

Best

Rob

svseamourchart.jpg
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