Sea-Fever blog


Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s Report of Crew Member Laura Gainey Lost Overboard Sail Training Vessel Picton Castle 376 nm SSE of Halifax, Nova Scotia 08 December 2006 by Peter A. Mello

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada finally issued their report this week concerning the loss overboad of Laura Gainey in December of 2006.  You can view the entire Safety Board report on line here.

Not surprisingly, the Board also leveled some substantial criticism at the sail training industry in general and has recommended increased safety and training standards and management systems be adopted by the industry.

Here is the Gainey family’s statement about the Safety Board report:

The Gainey family fully supports the findings of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s investigation in its report released today, and we urge Transport Canada to act on the safety concerns raised in this report.

The Board’s findings support that Laura was a hard working and dedicated member of the crew, who took her responsibilities very seriously. It was in the execution of her duties, extremely fatigued and under very difficult circumstances that she was swept off the ship. We are very proud of our Laura.

The report identifies several causes and factors that contributed to the accident, including the absence of effective onboard communication, the lack of safety nets and harnesses and fatigue. It suggests that the decision to sail was flawed.

This report should be compulsory reading for everyone associated with the sail training industry, and it would be valuable for anyone involved in the adventure tourism industry. It is a case study for ensuring that stringent safety and risk management systems be in place.

The Picton Castle has made some changes, there is still more that can be done. We would ask the owners and master of the ship to fully implement an audited safety management system, to set a standard of excellence for their industry and to rigorously maintain it.

We also ask, given the mystifying and disappointing action of the Cook Islands Registry over the last 20 months, that the Picton Castle terminate this relationship and register the ship under a Canadian flag.

Our goal was to find out what led to Laura’s death, and the TSB’s thorough and independent investigation has given us this information. We are grateful for this and for the closure it brings.

Finally, our thoughts are often with the crew and trainees who were on board this fateful voyage in December 2006, we are thankful for their exceptional efforts in trying to recover Laura in such challenging conditions. We know they did their best with the tools they had available to them.

Continue reading



New Bedford Port Society – Helping Mariners and Preserving Our History by Peter A. Mello

In this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman’s Chapel, and few are the moody fishermen, shortly bound for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a Sunday visit to the spot.” – Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville 1851

Phil-looking-presidentialYesterday my cousin Phil was elected president of the New Bedford Port Society at the Annual General Meeting. He’s a good guy who will bring some new energy to this 179 year old organization. I was also accepted as a member and look forward to helping any way I can.

The New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park website:

During the years 1828 – 1829 when the whaling industry of New Bedford was at its height, a number of the city’s leading citizens gave their deep consideration to the “character building” of nearly five thousand seamen employed out of this port. Accordingly, on June 2, 1830 they organized under the title of the New Bedford Port Society, for the moral improvement of seamen and later became incorporated under the following act: An Act To Incorporate The New Bedford Port Society For The Moral Improvement Of Seamen.

Across the street from the great New Bedford Whaling Museum, the New Bedford Port Society is responsible for 2 very important historic buildings located in the heart of the National Park: Seamen’s Bethel and The Mariner’s Home.

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Foto Friday – Happy Halloween! by Peter A. Mello
October 31, 2008, 12:01 am
Filed under: FotoFriday, life | Tags: , , ,

Update November 1, 2008 – This post has received quite a bit of referred traffic today. Pure and simple it was a funny photo calling out for captioning and Halloween created the opportunity.

On Weekly Leader I recently wrote a post titled Why Humor Is Important In Leadership which presents some entertaining video of the Presidential candidates poking fun at themselves and each other. What was so impressive to me was that in the middle of such negative campaigning on both sides, this event and it’s roast format, humanized both candidates. Please check it out. It’s so important to maintain humor and perspective in life yet it seems to be something that’s becoming rarer and rarer today. Thanks.

Original Post

Great to see both candidates “suspend” their campaigns today to go trick or treating together. Here’s a photo in their costumes: Obama as President and McCain as Creepy Old Guy. Happy Halloween!

McCain Monster Halloween

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Richard Branson Answers My Questions About Adventure Sailing and Business by Peter A. Mello
October 29, 2008, 10:39 am
Filed under: Experience, life, sailing, social media | Tags: , , , , ,

Richard Branson

Several days ago I posted about Virgin Money’s failed attempt to set the transatlantic crossing record under sail. Interestingly Sir Richard Branson was taking questions about this adventure via his blog, Richard Branson: Business Stripped Bare, and Twitter. Along with 20 other people, I submitted 3 questions via both media channels and Sir Richard answered 2 of them directly and all 3 in 2 his responses. Here they are:

  • How do you and the crew feel being outward bound ahead of a storm that causes most other mariners to look for safe refuge?
  • How do you balance the exhilaration with the concern about undertaking this type of high risk adventure with your son and daughter knowing that if something catastrophic happened to the boat there would be slight chance of rescue in the weather in which you choose/have to sail?

  • How does Virgin get away with you undertaking these high risk adventures when Apple stock goes in the tank when Steve Jobs sneezes?

Take the time to listen to all of Sir Richard’s answers, he’s quite an unique leader. I plan on posting more on that later on Weekly Leader, but for now I hope you enjoy this social media exchange.

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Global Shipping Has That Sinking Feeling by Peter A. Mello
October 28, 2008, 9:13 pm
Filed under: maritime, work | Tags: , , ,

Something Old, Something New

The financial crisis is creating some rough waters in the shipping industry.

Here’s what By CHUIN-WEI YAP and MOHAMMED HADI had to say in the Heard on the Street column (Credit Crunch Meets Global Trade, Oct. 29, 2008)

Evidence is mounting that the credit crunch is obstructing global trade.

The drumbeats began in August when two Korean ship builders canceled orders because buyers weren’t able to produce initial payments.

The beat got louder as the Baltic Dry Index of shipping rates plunged. It’s now down more than 90% from its mid-May peak.

Then the Globus Maritime shipping company said on Friday it had to sell one of its ships for 29% below an earlier agreed-upon price. Globus, which is listed on London’s AIM exchange, blamed falling shipping activity and increasing difficulties in securing trade finance.

Broadly, shipping and commodities markets are rife with talk that banks are refusing to honor letters of credit from other banks and holding back guarantees commodity buyers and sellers need to ship all manner of metals and soft commodities.

Spurring some of the chatter early this month were the widely disseminated, gloomy remarks of a Thai shipping executive at an industry conference in Singapore. His view — that credit was frozen — was echoed by Moody’s Economy.com, which last week said stocks were piling up as cargo ships got stranded at ports pending the flow of financing. A Maersk Broker report made similar points.

The near-cessation of global credit is at the root of this particular rout.

Also in today’s Wall Street Journal, MARSHALL ECKBLAD wrote an article titled Shippers Hit by Credit Crunch where in he describes the trickle down effect of tightening credit on global shippers. Continue reading



Cod – The Upstart Party Fish? by Peter A. Mello
October 27, 2008, 11:00 am
Filed under: Environment, maritime, Oceans

fish party

“Salmon used to be the party fish. Now it’s become an everyday fish. We want to make cod the party fish.”

So says Harald Dahl, a millionaire dotcom entrepreneur, investment banker and founder of Norway’s Codfarmers ASA, in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal – High-Tech Fish Farms Angle to Make Hard-to-Rear Cod the Next Salmon (Free content – Article and Slideshow -October 27, 2008)

His dream comes as aquaculture, more craft than science until recently, appears ready to come into its own. This year, for the first time, humans will eat more farmed fish than wild fish, according to a report being prepared by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

While aquaculture is nothing new, Codfarmers’ focus on a previously challenging species is.

Continue reading



Virgin Money Bail Out by Peter A. Mello
October 26, 2008, 8:00 pm
Filed under: sailing

“I love adventure, I love to push myself and see what I’m capable of. You only live once, live life to its fullest.” – Richard Branson

Severe weather forced billionaire adventurer Sir Richard Branson to abandon his attempt to break the trans-Atlantic speed record on their 99′ sailboat, Virgin Money. He and his crew made it safely to Bermuda on Friday, October 24, 2008

Here’s a report from the Associated Press:

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy1lOGEXtZU]
YouTube – Billionaire Branson Abandons Trans-Atlantic Race

Here’ what Branson is trying to accomplish:

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcOrNfuLG_o]
YouTube – Billionaire Branson Chases Sailing Record

Here’s Branson onboard Virgin Money just after the NYC departure.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpoHs_jZpps]
YouTube – Richard Branson on board Virgin Money

Good boat speed sailing by the Hamptons:

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJgFaewWp8s]
YouTube – ‘Virgin Money’ racing past the Hamptons

There are several other video’s on Virgin Money UK’s YouTube channel.

One of the most interesting things about this adventure was that you could follow the experience aboard via Richard Branson’s blog and on Twitter.

Billionaire’s world record effort ends in Bermuda (Bermuda Sun – Oct 25, 2008)

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Foto Friday – Night Shift / Coast Guardsmen (NY Times Lens Series) by Peter A. Mello
Lens CG by Michelle Agins for the NY Times

Boatswain's Mate Estrella, who was born in the Dominican Republic, works to protect the infrastructure and to assist in search and rescue operations. Photo: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

The above photograph is one of a series from a slideshow from the NY Times Lens Series.  From the City Room blog, Lens: Night Shift | Coast Guardsman:

Luis Estrella, 26, a boatswain’s mate third class, patrols the waters from the Staten Island Ferry to the Outerbridge Crossing to Newark Bay on a Marine Domain Awareness patrol, which involves a four-man crew that works two 12-hour shifts over 48 hours.

The patrols work in three areas — the upper Hudson River, Lower Manhattan and the Newark Bay area — to protect the infrastructure and to assist in search and rescue operations.

About the Lens Series:

For the past three months, Michelle V. Agins, a staff photographer for The Times, worked the night shift alongside them, patrolling New York Harbor for security breaches with the United States Coast Guard, presiding over the empty pews with the night watchman at the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue at 29th Street, feeding infant twin boys with a baby nurse in Park Slope, riding an ambulance all over with emergency medical technicians. Here Gary Louhisdon, a security guard at the American Museum of Natural History, walks among the exhibits, much as Ben Stiller did in “Night at the Museum.”

Each week for the next three months, photographs will appear of other members of the city’s secret club that meets after midnight. Please, they asked, do not call it the graveyard shift. They are not dead.

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Sea-Fever Style: Tugboat Lentil Soup by Peter A. Mello
October 22, 2008, 9:57 am
Filed under: Sea-Fever Style | Tags:

It’s a cold, damp, dark Wednesday here in Mattapoisett. It’s that sad time of year where boats are hauled every day and the harbor get’s handed back to the winter sticks.

It’s also the time of year to begin thinking of putting away the BBQ and lining up recipes for winter comfort food. Everett, WA based Herald food columnist Judyrae Kruse (Sea-Fever approved last name!) wrote about a great sounding recipe, Tugboat Lentil Soup by Carole Meagher, author of the cookbook Seasoned with love: Favorite heart-healthy recipes and reflections about food, family, friends, and faith. And to top that Kruse writes:

It then made an immediate debut in a Sept. 18, 2002, Forum column, wherein Carolyn told us, “Tugboat lentil soup was named when it was a mainstay during weekend outings on our old tugboat, Sea Fever.”

Now that’s a soup after my own heart!

Here it is:

Continue reading



Guy’s Excellent Naval Adventure by Peter A. Mello
October 21, 2008, 11:38 pm
Filed under: maritime | Tags: , , , ,

Some of you might be familiar with Guy Kawasaki. He’s a hockey player, author, former Apple employee and prolific Twitterer. I’m not sure but he might even be part of the famous Kawasaki motorcycle dynasty.

One thing I do know is that he’s a pretty famous blogger and he recently wrote the “longest post in the history of blogging” about 26 hours aboard the USS John C. Stennis, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier in the US Navy, named for Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi.

Stennis66-r_s

Guy had the great fortune to see America’s finest up close and personal and he took lots of pictures and posted them to his blog. There’s also some video there too like this scan from the ADMIRAL’s seat and a few landings.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4t3oJJaJuk]
YouTube – Admiral’s View

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4eiemipI_w]
YouTube – Landings

Stennis20-r_s

It’s a great post! Check out and subscribe to Guy’s blog, you won’t be disappointed.

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