The safety at sea seminar, another step in preparation for the upcoming transatlantic race. one more thing checked off the list.

I managed to catch the presentation of the as built model of “Carina” by robert and Jonathan Nye to the New York Yacht Club. A memory of the legacy of “Carina” and the Nye family.



Anyone who has been watching the weather knows that February has been an “Epic” month in the Northeast. The loss of the “Bounty” comes to mind; where the skipper thought he could outrun a hurricane in a boat capable of 6 knots in the best of conditions.
The first question is perhaps: who would leave given the weather forecast? The same question for the “Bounty”.


The unshaven, exhausted, uninjured team were holed up, incommunicado, for three days in the remote archipelago after their boat ran into the reef on Saturday afternoon at 1510 UTC.

“I’m really disappointed of course,” said Chris Nicholson, their 45-year-old skipper from Australia, shortly after arriving at dockside in Mauritius.

“On the other hand, we have to realise how fortunate we are for everyone to be here in one piece, and to be healthy. It’s pretty amazing, so there’s a lot of emotions at the moment.”

Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race

“The past four days have been very challenging for all of us, and I am extremely proud of the whole crew’s professionalism, composure, and endurance.

“It’s clear that human error is responsible for the shipwreck, there’s no avoiding that. And as skipper, I take ultimate responsibility.” 

They had smashed into the coral rock at 19 knots – the equivalent of 35 kilometres an hour – in their 65-foot boat, spun 180 degrees and crashed to a halt, grounded on the reef.

They remained on the reef until the small hours of the following morning, before abandoning the boat in pitch darkness and wading in knee-deep water to a dry position on the reef, led by Nicholson – aka Nico.

Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race

A small boat from the local coastguard then took them early on Sunday to a small islet, Íle du Sud, which is known as a favourite with shark-watching holiday-makers.

Their blue vessel, caught underneath breaking waves, is badly damaged, but the crew decided to remain for an extra 24 hours to complete a clean-up operation around the area.

“The bad things had to come off,” said the skipper, having just stepped off the local fishing boat, ‘The Eliza’, that transported his crew back to the mainland.

“We had a clear list of removing that equipment, and once we had all those off the boat it came down to removing things that were expensive.

“We’ve done a really good job in clearing it all up.”

Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race

Experienced New Zealander sailor Rob Salthouse was also keen to focus on the positives.

“It’s just good to be back on dry land,” he said.

“I think the team has grown strong with what we’ve been through.”

Danish sailor Peter Wibroe, white shirt stained yellow by sand, sweat and sea salt, was full of admiration for his leader.

“I must say that the team worked really well together, especially Nico, the skipper, who led the whole situation in a very professional way.

He continues. “We all felt extremely safe despite the situation.

“We were conscious about what was going on and we all had our responsibilities.” 

“We worked really well as a team, and that’s why we’re all here today.”

Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race


It is always good to have hands on experience with safety gear. Like any “insurance” it usually is not used until you need it. The transatlantic race will start in Newport next summer finishing off the Lizard in England.

The day was split between class room, fire containment, and 4 hours in the pool in foul weather gear and boots; In and out of life rafts.



June 25, 2014

All Possible Assistance: A Classic Escorts a Competitor to Safety



Black Watch is hard to slow down, but she had to do it during her unusual assignment in the 2014 Bermuda Race. (Daniel Forster/PPL)

By John Rousmaniere and Chris Museler

Hamilton, Bermuda, June 25.  With their big fleets, Newport Bermuda Races usually have a few retirements. This year is no exception, with 10 teams dropping out mostly due to relatively small but nagging gear failures, constraints on the crew’s schedule, or (to quote one competitor) “lack of forward progress.”  But also this year, a threat of  serious damage led to an extraordinary response.

Halfway into the race, the bottom bearing of the rudder broke on the Taylor 41 Wandrian, a Class 3 entry hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and sailed by Bill Tucker and eight other Canadian sailors. Tucker put a secondary “dam” in place to hold out the water.  The crew cut out the bottom of a bailing bucket, split the remaining bucket in two, secured the two pieces around the rudder post with 4200 adhesive, finished off the dam with silicone to fill remaining the cracks and holes—and crossed their fingers. The fiberglass tube holding the post might well shake so badly that it would crack wide open.

Taylor succinctly described the danger after the boat pulled up to the RBYC pier on Wednesday morning: “Our challenge was this: if the rudder post broke, we’d have a 6-inch hole in the bottom of the boat.” All this 300 miles from the nearest shore.


Deciding to continue on to Bermuda and request assistance from another vessel, Tucker made calls over VHF radio at 12:30 p.m. EDT this past Sunday, June 22.  Due to a weak connection, the transmission was not ideal, but his message was heard by Rocket Science, a Class 4 entry owned and sailed by Rick Oricchio.  He then established a radio watch to check in regularly with Wandrian, and got in touch with the race’s Fleet Communications Office. Based in a room in the New York Yacht Club in Newport, and chaired by Newport Bermuda Race Communications Officer Chris McNally, the FCO maintains a continuous 24-hour watch on the race until after the last boat finishes, using radio and  the race tracker.


Her details epitomize integrity. (John Rousmaniere)

As the FCO learned of Wandrian’s problems on Sunday afternoon, so did the crews of two other boats less than 5 miles away. They happened to be two classic wooden yachts designed by Sparkman & Stephens:  the 68-foot 1938 yawl Black Watch, commanded by John Melvin; and the 52-foot 1930 yawl Dorade, whose owner and skipper is Matt Brooks.

Black Watch’s afterguard—Melvin, navigator Peter Rugg, and watch captains Lars Forsberg and Jamie Cummiskey—decided that their larger vessel was best qualified to stand by and escort Wandrian to Bermuda. “If the boat has to be evacuated and someone else needs to take eight or nine people aboard, we should be there,” Rugg later explained. “This is the stuff that’s important to the sport.” Added Melvin, “Dorade came over when we came over, and we decided we were the better platform to take people off.” The decision to render all possible assistance to another vessel in difficulty came easily for Melvin, who well understood Wandrian’s situation: “I sailed a little Concordia yawl for a long time and I know what it’s like to have everybody pass you and leave you alone.”

Dorade continued racing while her big cousin began the voyage in her new role as Wandrian’s shadow.  The two crews engaged in hourly radio communications, with regular reports to the race Fleet Communications Office. Meanwhile, Black Watch’s sailors wrestled with an unfamiliar seamanship problem: how to sail slowly enough to shepherd a smaller boat. “In a good breeze, we can easily do 9 knots, even in rough water,” Rugg said after they reached Bermuda. “We spent a lot of time figuring out how to sail near her. We kept putting sails up and taking them down.”


Back from the sea, Wandrian is also back to normal as she waits to be hauled in Bermuda. (Chris Museler)

Experimenting with sail combinations, they settled on a full or reefed mainsail, the mizzen, and a forestaysail that could be trimmed to windward to slow the boat by heaving-to.  The crew also employed the abrupt slowing maneuver called the “Crazy Ivan,” made famous by the film The Hunt for Red October.  In the frequent calms, the two boats doused headsails and turned on engines. The sight of two such different sailing yachts powering side by side so far out in the ocean befuddled their competitors.

This shepherd-and-sheep relationship continued until the two boats neared St. David’s Head in the early hours of Wednesday and Black Watch sailed across the finish line at 2:22 a.m. Wednesday morning, nearly two and a half days after her crew volunteered for this remarkable assignment.

Later on Wednesday, as Wandrian was being prepared to be hauled out for repairs, Tucker paused to point to Black Watch and declare, “They were our insurance policy.”


‘Small enough to fit in your pocket easily, with retractable antenna’    .

Have you been reluctant to invest in a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) because you think ‘it couldn’t happen to me’, or are they just too bulky and troublesome to worry about? The world’s smallest PLB has just been introduced to the market, so you might try thinking again…

It’s called the rescueME PLB 1.

By volume this PLB is 30% smaller than most other PLB’s on the market, so that it very easily fits into your life jacket. AND it does the job that’s needed. It has a retractable antenna, a 66 channel GPS receiver, a specially designed mounting clip and a flotation lanyard. The strobe light is more than up-to-scratch with very high brightness equal to one candela. Not only that it comes with a seven year warranty and a seven year battery life.

When activated – and this can be done with a single hand, vital in a MOB situation – it transmits your position and your ID to a Rescue Coordination Centre via satellite. For safety, a spring-loaded flap covers the activation button to prevent accidental use.

It is connected to the Cospas Sarsat satellite network, and as this is funded by Government, there are no charges for the service.

For more information, go to the manufacturer‘s_website

by OCean Signal/Sail-World Cruising

There is no way that there can be enough publication about a product like this, each time progress is made to improve safety at sea.


The Bermuda race starts in 5 days. And we are all conscious of safety at sea. The following is copied from scuttlebutt.

Randy Smith is old enough. Old enough to know how to play the sailing game at a high level, and old enough to know that it is only a game. Here Randy reflects on how he stays out of trouble when heading offshore…
I have grown up sailing, cruising, racing and delivering boats up and down the California and Mexican coastlines, along with racing to Hawaii numerous times. Even on my early trips as a kid with my parents on the family Cal 29, we encountered ships on the way to Catalina Island. I was always taught by my dad to know where the shipping lanes were on the chart and what VHF Channel 16 was for.

Fast forward 40 years, experience has made me a huge proponent of safety procedures: talking about them, practicing for them, writing down notes and most importantly, asking the questions that nobody wants to hear. Having everyone on board know how to use the GPS in an MOB situation, how to start the engine, where the ditch bag is, where the flares are, how to light one off, etc. People who I have sailed with know that I have become a bit of a fanatic in this regard, sort of a safety nerd. But the good news is, it is starting to become cool to be a nerd. Just like the movie Revenge of the Nerds.

With regard to protocol on commercial traffic, it is simple. The watch captain on deck has the ultimate responsibility to keep track of the surroundings. Ships are quite easy to see in day or night, and if you don’t have people on board with the knowledge of what a ship looks like in all conditions, you probably shouldn’t be out there.

I have sailed on boats with and without AIS (Automatic Identification System). For offshore and coastal racing, my experience with AIS is the same as radar. AIS is a very nice convenience, but we usually use it to confirm what we are already seeing with our eyes.

I have had some interesting close calls, including a large aircraft carrier off San Clemente Island, oil tankers in the shipping lane between Anacapa Island and Santa Barbara, and even large unlit commercial fishing vessels in Mexico with very confusing lights. Even in last year’s Transpac Race, we encountered a very large container ship coming up from astern at a steady collision course bearing. We heated up our course by 15 degrees well in advance, and it was as if he was trying to get close to us just to see us. When they were within 1/2 mile or so, they hit us with a giant spotlight and then turned right by about 45 degrees. Our next step would have been to call on VHF 16 and ask “WTF?”

When in doubt, we immediately get on the radio and/or make a course alteration to make our intentions obvious to the ship. In the event of fog, we would immediately deploy our radar reflector if not already rigged. I really cannot imagine a scenario where you could not see a large ship coming in day or night.

As always, most races are won and most tragedies are avoided before the boat ever leaves the dock. Attention to detail and confirmation that EVERY crewmember on board has an understanding of the following items seems to be the most sure fire way to interact with commercial shipping traffic and problems:

– Keep a diligent watch at all times.
– Upon sighting a ship, confirm changes in range and bearing or if bearing is not changing and too close. Determine what action is necessary.
– If AIS equipped, confirm with navigator the data on the ship.
– Without AIS, call on VHF 16 sooner rather than later.
– If a gybe or sail change will be required to avoid, get the off-watch up early to be prepared.
– Empower EVERY crewmember on the boat to know how to use the tools you have and establish a clear line of communication.
– Most importantly, remember this is just a sailboat race. Getting too close to a ship or land to make a small gain is just not worth it.
– If you sail with new people or on a new boat, confirm the level of experience and knowledge. Ask questions… your life could depend on it.
– When joining a new team, BE A NERD. Bring a higher level of knowledge, safety and seamanship to the team. They will appreciate you.


Rob comes from a legacy of prudent seamanship; the “Carina” family. I liken the sentiments to the idea that there was an assumption that when we left the dock, we were on our own.

His remarks have prompted responses on scuttlebutt, where his initial posting appeared.
By Rob Nye, nearly 50 years old
I believe that to understand the recent tragedies in California, we need to
look at the entire sport of sailing and how the competitive side is managed
and promoted.

As harsh as it may sound, both events are the result of a lack of good
seamanship. Webster’s defines Seamanship as: the art or skill of handling,
working, and navigating a ship. In modern times it appears that it is
possible to be a professional sailor and not be a good seaman; it used to be
that seamanship was a requirement to get invited in the first place. Now
it’s what do you weigh, or how hard you can you hike. To navigate, it is to
have superior computer skills.

Following these accidents, Gary Jobson, president of the U.S. Sailing, has
said “we need to take a step back and take a deep breath with what we’re
doing. Something is going wrong here.”

On one hand, I take offense at Gary’s use of “we” as if all sailors bear
some responsibility for a boat being caught inside the breaking surf or
another apparently running into an island while motoring at night. Yet on
the other, speaking as President of the governing body of our sport, perhaps
US Sailing does share some blame for the lack of basic seamanship exhibited
today. I hope the “what we’re doing” he refers to isn’t simply holding
races; as if the event itself is to blame. It isn’t.

When I was growing up, the summer calendar was full of short, medium and
long distance races that included sailing to fixed marks. Even day races
used fixed marks, and once in a while, we’d put the kite up to get to the
windward mark after drifting off the starting line. Once in a while, we even
anchored. Navigation was more than “putting the pin in the box” and entering
a range and bearing to the windward mark. On any given leg we might drift,
beat to windward, reach, change sails and if we were lucky, even broach or
at least enjoy a good knockdown.

It was during this era we learned to use harnesses, sail in the fog, keep an
eye on each other and stay sharp when drifting around at 3am on Long Island
Sound. Day races were sometimes another opportunity to practice seamanship
as the decision to race was left with the skipper, not some government

I remember leaving the dock for a fall series race with two reefs, the #4
jib and harnesses on for a “casual” race. Now race committees postpone if
the line isn’t perfectly square, or the inflatable mark isn’t directly to
windward, or they cancel the race if it’s blowing over 25 at the dock or
worse, forecast to blow later in the day. Why get a crew that’s seen heavy
weather when we don’t sail when it blows, and if we do all we’re going to do
is sausages? — Read on:


May 9, 2012 – Coronado Islands

Theo Mavromatis’s body was discovered this weekend by fishermen.
Photo Courtesy Aegean
© 2012 Latitude 38 Publishing, LLC


The San Diego County coroner has identified a body found by Southern California fishermen on Sunday as that of Theo Mavromatis, the skipper of the doomed Hunter 376 Aegean. Mavromatis (49) and crew Kevin Rudolph (53), William Johnson (57), and Joseph Stewart (64) were racing in the cruising division of the Lexus Newport to Ensenada Race on April 28 when their SPOT tracker suddenly stopped transmitting in the early morning hours. Wreckage from the boat was discovered the next afternoon, along with the bodies of three of her crewmembers. According to the medical examiner, everyone aboard sustained blunt force trauma to their heads, with Mavromatis, Rudolph and Johnson dying from their injuries and Stewart drowning after receiving the injuries.

From the boat’s track, it looks as if Aegean was moving at a steady pace in light winds — indicating it was motoring – when it appears to have run into the northernmost Coronado Island, but many still hold to the theory that Aegean was run down by a freighter in the night. The Coast Guard has yet to announce the findings of their investigation, but Lt. Bill Fitzgerald of USCG Sector San Diego indicated that the evidence is definitely leading them in a particular direction.

– latitude / ladonna