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Category: When things go wrong…

4

Accidental grounding, familiarity breeds complacency

My 2018 cruising started with a trip straight up Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin coast bound for Manistique, a small town on Michigan’s upper peninsula.  We had something very rare, three consecutive days of flat water on Lake Michigan.  So we made the most of the conditions and ran all three of those days for a total of 300 nm at 9 kts.  We made it the length of the lake to Manistique without incident.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make it into Manistique harbor without incident.

13

Concerned about the Carolinas, searching for data

This great aerial image from Marinas.com shows the peaceful, safe harbor I so enjoyed while keeping Gizmo at both marinas. But New Bern got pummeled by hurricane Florence last night, and it’s hard to tell the amount of damage or how worse it may get. I find myself unable to think about much else, and while the quality and density of available information is amazing, I want more…

11

Yacht campaigning along RI beaches hits rocks, politician blames NOAA

Yesterday was tough for Rhode Island independent gubernatorial candidate Joe Trillo. To me it already seemed like a poor idea to use his 65-foot yacht to campaign along the state’s summer beaches, especially with the huge banners and his “very, very big sound equipment” playing patriotic music. But then came the navigation issues…

37

Lessons learned by causing a false AIS MOB alert

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The grins tell the story: Mission accomplished! Due to an obscure but noteworthy electrical glitch, plus oodles of embarrassingly distracted seamanship on my part, a sizable U.S. Coast Guard team spent part of a beautiful Saturday looking for an AIS man overboard alert that seemed to be associated with my boat Gizmo. Fireman Joey Jansen-Hedrick and Petty Officer 1st Class T.J. Iaci (above) were the boarding party that had to deal with an owner/operator (me) who was pretty sure they didn’t know what they were talking about. But they were politely persistent, and they were right…

18

McMurdo SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB, first of many, PLBs too?

McMurdo_SmartFind_E8_G8_and_G8_AIS_EPIRBs_aPanbo.jpgLet’s first note that McMurdo’s trailblazing SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB still awaits FCC approval and probably won’t be for sale in the U.S. until spring (along with its more conventional E8 and G8 siblings). But McMurdo has definitely developed this useful combination of local and global rescue beacon, other manufacturers may have AIS EPIRBs in the works, and I’ve got some details about how they’ll work. I also have some safety tips from an acquaintance who just dramatically experienced the effectiveness of a current ACR EPIRB…

16

The Jose Fernandez boating tragedy, some safety thoughts

Jose_Fernandez_crashed_boat_courtesy_Patrick_Farrell_Miami_Herald.jpgYou probably already know the rudiments of the story. At about 3 am on Sunday, three young men died when their 32-foot center console fishing boat engaged at high speed with the long north jetty that guards the Port of Miami’s Government Cut channel. Just the violence of the crash — it was heard by a policeman on shore nearly a half mile away — was noteworthy, but the owner and probable driver was the beloved budding baseball star Jose Fernandez. It’s a deeply tragic story as is, but is there anything in it to learn about boating safety?

44

Lessons of Vestas Volvo wreck, but what about the C-Map Grounding Alarm & similar?

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The fixed camera on the stern of Vestas Wind captured the worst possible unintended jibe. That’s when you’re blast reaching along at 19 knots through a tropical offshore night but then your Volvo Ocean 65 suddenly smashes its way up onto a reef shearing off the rudders and spinning 180° as waves and wind take total control. That is a frightened and nearly naked man beyond the limp main sheet and when watching the video you too may utter involuntary curses. No one was hurt, though, and the crew has been frank about the mistakes made. This has led to some useful conversations about the dangers of electronic charting, but it also reminded me of an uncommon electronic charting feature that might have prevented this shipwreck…

33

MFD and AIS anomalies, be careful out there

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Consider this is a portrait of a deeply experienced boat guy who still remains skeptical about the wonders of modern marine electronics. Lord knows I tried, but gremlins sabotaged my efforts from the moment when my old friend Joe McCarty arrived in Rockland, Maine, for the trip to Baltimore. I was using the Garmin Helm app on my iPad mini to watch the tank gauge as I squatted on dock pumping diesel fuel and Joe just had time enough to say “Well, that is cool!” when the digitized tank reading plunged from 85% to 20% and stayed stuck there even as we topped off using the old fashion method of listening to the changing vent gurgles…

97

USS Guardian aground, DNC chart error?

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I’ve heard of hitting “the bricks” as in going hard aground — as well as “bricking” a computer (or other gadget), as in breaking it so badly that it’s only good for a door stop — but gCaptain surprised me with “USS Guardian is Fully Bricked Up and Getting Battered on Philippine Reef.” The situation is even worse since the minesweeper swung 90 degrees and is getting so hammered that it’s hard to imagine how it can be removed from the tiny Tubbahata Reefs National Park. Thankfully no one was hurt (to my knowledge) but I’m probably thinking about terminology because it’s horrible to contemplate what those pictures imply about the damage to ship, reputations, and — most important — precious wildlife. How could this happen?