Category: When things go wrong…

AP News Oct 18, 2021 0

Drug smuggling, the sailing feats we rarely hear about?

When I got serious about sailing and seamanship fifty years ago, I read all sorts of offshore cruising and racing accounts, particularly interested in the problems that came up and the solutions found. It seemed valuable to learn that, say, a well-found 46-foot ketch could pitchpole stern-over-bow in certain situations and how the crew survived. But eventually I realized that there was a whole niche of especially extreme ocean voyaging that was almost never discussed, except maybe quietly in remote harbors or jail cells…

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Vendée Globe 2020, all hail Jean Le Cam!

Great to see an AIS MOB device helping with the amazing rescue of Vendée Globe solo racer Kevin Escoffier early this morning (Universal Time). At 14:00 UTC yesterday afternoon, he’d had to transition from surfing his foiling IMOCA 60 PRB at 25+ knots in 10-13 foot seas about 840 miles southwest of Cape Town — 3rd in what was then a 32-boat fleet — to grabbing a survival suit and jumping into his liferaft, all in about two minutes. Yike!…

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Lightning strikes, nicely refit 1978 Bristol 29.9 dies

We know how dangerous lightning can be to a boat and its crew, but to see it actually strike is something else. After a multi-year DIY refit, the 1978 Bristol 29.9 Perseverance lays at a Dorchester float completely ready for a challenging offshore race, but one second later she’s damaged beyond repair. Fortunately, the owner was not on board, and now he and the CCA have made the lightning damage details available to all of us who should be aware of how perverse and pervasive they can be…

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Snagging lobster pots & a DIY hookah solution, cordless compressor update

With winter setting in fast, it’s nice to remember summer, even a cruising hassle like snarling lobster trap gear around Gizmo’s running gear. During my 48 years in Maine waters, the catch has increased from 20 to 120 million pounds and the pot buoy systems have gotten significantly tougher; so snagging one has become much more of a hazard. But the grin above is not just because I’d finally cut away this particular mess; I think I’ve found a reliable snarl solution that will even work out in the remote Maine islands that lobsters, lobstermen, and cruisers all appreciate…

Touchscreen throttles on US Navy Destroyer John S McCain 11

U.S. Navy destroyers without physical throttles?

Touchscreens work well for many tasks at a boat helm (and elsewhere), I think, but a touchscreen throttle never even occurred to me until I read about the Navy “reverting to physical throttles” on warships like the USS John S McCain. Holy cow! Why the heck did we deprive destroyer drivers of the excellent (electronic) control interface known as a throttle lever, and why is Wired magazine mispresenting the “reversion”?

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GFCI and ELCI breakers can be confounding, but heed their warning

I recently met cruisers who have been having trouble connecting their mid-80s boat to shore power pedestals equipped with GFCI (ground fault current interrupters) or ELCI (electric leakage current interrupters). Many months of working with electricians allowed them to plug into GFCI breakers without tripping them but still not ELCIs. So, what’s the problem, why did it take months to get it fixed, and what serious safety issues were uncovered? Read on…

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Clogged air conditioning condenser coils make for a hot boat

A hot room and air conditioning fans on high blowing warm air isn’t a good way to start your day.  About two weeks ago I woke to just that.  I knew something had to be wrong with the air conditioning but figuring out what involved a few wrong turns before finding what turned out to be a pretty obvious problem…

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Doane safety advice regarding Transderm patches & psychotic breaks

When the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Virgin Islands charged Rick Smith with “seaman’s manslaughter” last fall, it kicked off months of press coverage and online sailor chatter… But I did not feel that I understood the incident — or could glean any particular safety lessons from it — until I read “THE TRAGEDY OF DAVID PONTIOUS: Did a Scopolamine Patch Drive Him to Suicide?” by Charles Doane…