AuthorTopic: Sailing Family Lost Off Sanibel Island  (Read 1240 times)

Offline Eddie

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Sailing Family Lost Off Sanibel Island
« on: June 23, 2016, 06:57:26 PM »
I'm sure some of you have been following the news of the family lost at sea this last week off the Gulf coast of Florida. It's a sad tale. I expect the boat was dismasted and sunk. Two bodies, part of a mast, and a lot of floating debris have been found. It was a man and his three kids, all teenagers, I believe.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/06/23/second-body-mast-recovered-by-coast-guard-in-search-for-missing-florida-family.html



It's a cautionary tale, I believe, because everything  I've read leads me to believe they were not equipped or experienced enough to be making an offshore passage, even though their itinerary was an easy hundred mile trip that should have been no big deal this time of year. They called someone by cell phone to say they were in heavy weather, but it sounded like the kind of heavy weather that four able bodied sailors is a 29 ft boat should have handled okay, even with some problems, like being dismasted, which sounds like what happened.

They probably waited too long to reef their main, maybe didn't have roller furling or a storm jib. No radio. No epirbs. One body was found wearing a PFD, but that won't necessarily save you from drowning in a squall, or dying from exposure after  a day or two in the water.

I am reminded of how incredibly lucky I have been. I remember a time 29 years ago when we were knocked down just at dusk, in November, with our two little kids, one five and one three (although they were already excellent swimmers). We were so lucky that a boat came along and took the kids onboard. We turtled, but got the boat upright and the sails down, and they towed us, (the boat full of water) for an hour to land. I stayed on board, as did my buddy. We were suffering from serious hypothermia by the time we got to land. I remember I couldn't stop shaking for half an hour.

It was a lesson for me. One I was fortunate to learn with no bad consequences. This Florida family was not so lucky. I am sorry for their loss.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: Sailing Family Lost Off Sanibel Island
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2016, 07:13:28 PM »
The Sea offers a measure of FREEDOM, but with it comes a lot of RISK.

It does sound like they were poorly prepped and inexperienced.  However, GETTING experienced isn't EZ without either RISK, or plenty of Money to pay an experienced captain on your first Blue Water voyages.

One thing here is that with the increasing violence of the weather possible even on short passages, it seems likely that statistically more Yachties will be lost at sea.

I never came close to any of this, even when we sailed to Tasmania.  My dad hired a captain and 2 crew for that trip, and as the Roaring 40s go, the weather and seas were pretty decent.

The only thing semi-close for me was as a child, and not in a Sailboat.  We were in a Rowboat with a boy around 12 or so, a friend of my sister also 12. I was 5. It was just before we left for Brazil. We got blown offshore at Coney Island, and the tide was running out.  The boy we were with was named Michael, and he rowed and rowed for 2 hours against the tide.  We sang Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.  I was scared I remember.  He managed to do it.  Covered in sweat as I recall, and he barely could lift himself from the boat when we made shore.

So it goes.  It is the Law of the Sea.

RE
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