Sea-Fever blog


Sad Day: Loss of the HMS Bounty and two of her professional mariners by Peter A. Mello

Early this morning news broke that the HMS Bounty was caught in Hurricane Sandy on her trip south and foundered in heavy weather. Fourteen of her 16 crew members were able to make it into life rafts and were ultimately rescued by the US Coast Guard. Here is an incredible video of this operation.

This is a sobering reminder of the incredible dangers of going to sea. There have been so many tragic losses of tall ships and sail training professionals over the past decade and it’s difficult to process a loss like this. Not enough is known about what transpired about the Bounty in her final moments but two experienced captains have weighed in wondering why the ship ever took to sea in advance of a storm like Sandy. Local captain baffled by HMS Bounty accident and Picton Castle captain questions Bounty being at sea during storm.

So our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Claudene Christian who died today and Captain Robin Walbridge who is still missing as I write this post.

Finally, the sad news is somewhat offset by the good news that we still have real life heroes today. US Coast rescue swimmers risk it all, accomplishing incomprehensible feats under mind-boggling conditions.  While everyone else is advised to stay out of harms way, they are willing to jump into it save lives. They are true heroes and we can’t thank them enough for what they do, all in a days work.

 



Tall Ships Sailors Never Do Anything Easy by Peter A. Mello

Think sailing a tall ship is challenging? That’s nothing compared to building one. Think building one is difficult, that’s nothing compared to finding the trees, cutting them down, dragging them out of the jungle, loading them on another tall ship and sailing them halfway around the world. Tall ships sailors never do anything easy.

Grab a beer and some popcorn because this will be the best reality TV that you’ll watch this week.

Flag dip to my friend Voytec on Facebook.



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.

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