Only a few days ago, I was having lunch with some friends and the “Low speed chase” tragedy filtered into the conversation. He stated that t seemed almost inevitable that something bad would happen during the Bermuda Race. Great efforts are made to assure all participant’s safety.
He expressed the desire to see a panel convened to review and perhaps set new standards for safety at sea before another tragedy. It seems as though time has accelerated.
I suggested that there was no need to re-invent the wheel. The RYA yachtsman courses (in England) has a program set up in several levels and could provide a very good template.
Perhaps now is a good time to start before legislation that may be a knee jerk reaction and containing unintended consequences is proposed.
I have participated in a number of courses both here and in England. The courses are improving all the time. A little story about one of these courses may illustrate a problem that cannot be legislated. I was in a pool with my assigned group having just inflated our life raft. The goal of our exercise was to make sure our team was safe. One of our team was incapable of getting into the raft. I organized for the strongest of our group to help the team member into the raft while I acted as a counterbalanced the raft. We could not get the individual into the raft no matter what we did and remember we are in a swimming pool.
I have often been faced with decisions with rather or not to sail on certain boats and there are times when I have declined to sail on a boat for one reason or another; the condition of the boat, predicted weather, who comprised the crew.
Newport Ocean Sailing Association (NOSA) officials learned late Saturday that three sailors in their Newport to Ensenada offshore race had died in an apparent collision with a large vessel several miles off the coast near the border.
Theo Mavromatis is the owner and skipper of the sailboat Aegean, a Hunter 376 representing the Little Ships Fleet club, but it was not known if he was one of the victims. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter led Vessel Assist to two bodies and later retrieved another. None of the bodies had been identified. A crew list was not immediately available, nor was it known how many other crew may have been on the boat, which is usually sailed by five or more persons.
The first indication of the incident was at 1:30 a.m. Saturday when the boat’s image vanished from the online race tracking system in place for the race. A Coast Guard search was launched that led to discovery of the boat’s wreckage, including the rear transom with the boat’s name on it.
An investigation was continuing, but it appeared the damage was not inflicted by an explosion but by a collision with a ship much larger than the 37-foot vessel.
The race started off Newport Beach in mid-day Friday and many boats finished in Ensenada Saturday, with the last ones due in Sunday. Weather conditions were lighter than normal at the time and place of the incident, with boats reporting winds of only 1 or 2 knots.
These would be the first fatalities in the 65-year history of the race, in which as many as 675 boats have competed in 1983 and 213 were entered this year. Discussion here.