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Cruising Boat Sinks, Crew Rescued

July 6, 2011 – Pacific Ocean


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The crew of Ka-Em-Te was transferred from the Chinese freighter OOCL Guangzhou by the Coast Guard in Hawaii. © 2017 USCG Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto

After three years of cruising the Sea of Cortez out of San Carlos, Oregonians Doug Merrell, 52, and Trisha Kelsoe, 53, were sailing home from Cabo San Lucas via the clipper route when they lost steering and had to be rescued from their Bayliner Buccaneer 30 Ka-Em-Te. On June 27, the couple, along with Doug's sons Donald, 22, and Jonathon, 31, felt and heard the boat come into heavy contact with a submerged object. They checked for damage and leaks but everything seemed fine.

Over the next few days, they began having trouble with their steering. At first they believed their autopilot was malfunctioning, so they replaced it with a spare, but then that one also had trouble steering the boat. After discovering that three high-pressure systems had cut them off their planned NW course, the crew turned Ka-Em-Te, now becalmed, north and cranked on the iron genny. A 20-knot easterly piped up, but the little boat had trouble maintaining course.


Doug and Trisha aboard Ka-Em-Te before leaving Brookings, Oregon, for the Sea of Cortez. Photo Courtesy Ka-Em-Te
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"When the wind came up we noticed the steering problems were worse," noted Trisha. "Hand steering the boat and holding a steady course was very difficult. As we put up sail, we were shocked to find the only way we could somewhat balance the helm was to run a 130 jib and a double reef in the mainsail. Steering became progressively worse."

Around 3 a.m. on June 30, Ka-Em-Te's steering failed altogether. While setting up the emergency tiller, the crew found the rudder shaft tube was cracked and leaking. "Upon inspection of the quadrant, we noticed a 1/2-inch play in the 12 inches of exposed rudder shaft," recalls Trisha. "Steering got progressively worse and each time we checked the rudder shaft, it was getting worse in play and cracking around the area. Play in the rudder shaft was now one inch and water was leaking a bit faster — still slow but faster."

An hour later, the crew, realizing they would not be able to effect repairs mid-ocean — they were about 650 miles SW of Pt. Conception — made the decision to call a pan-pan over the VHF. Their call was answered almost immediately by the Chinese freighter OOCL Guangzhou, which was a mere 20 miles away. A short time later, Guangzhou's captain had maneuvered his ship to windward of Ka-Em-Te in relatively calm conditions and lowered two engineers who confirmed the damage could not be repaired while the boat was in the water.


While the little boat was rafted to the 853-ft container ship, she was dismasted and severely damaged. Photo Courtesy OOCL Guangzhou
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It didn't take long for Doug and Trisha to realize they'd have to abandon their home of 11 years, so they grabbed what they could — including boat cat Dinky Dink — and climbed the rope ladder to safety. Three days later, they were deposited in Hawaii and flew back to Portland, where they're staying with family. Trisha says that, though Ka-Em-Te was severely damaged during her short time rafted to a 853-ft container ship and she surely sunk, their one regret is that during the excitement, they forgot to cut a water line so she'd sink quickly. "I hate to think she may have been a hazard to navigation even for a short time," she said.


Trisha and Doug, along with Dinky Dink, are staying with family near Portland while they get back on their feet and Doug receives treatment for his illness. © 2017 The Oregonian

Sadly, Ka-Em-Te was not insured. During their stay in the Sea, doctors discovered that Doug had an 8-lb tumor so all their savings went to his cancer treatment. In fact, the couple were on their way back home to earn money for more treatment. Trisha says the cruising community in the Sea was very supportive, as are their friends and family back home, and she and Doug are forever grateful. We wish nothing but the best for the couple and hope for Doug's speedy recovery.

- latitude / ld

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Classy Deadline the 15th


Sea Plane's Spectacular Crash

July 6, 2011 – Richardson Bay

It's amazing how a relatively minor accident can gain quite a bit of attention when a video camera happens to catch it. That's what occurred on July 1 when Richard Parasol, 75, and James Whitbread, 60, were scooting around Richardson Bay in a Lake LA-4-200 float plane — some have surmised they were showing off a little for the crowd gathered for the Friday Night Jazz & Blues Concert Series in Sausalito's Gabrielson Park — and caught a boat's wake, resulting in a spectacular nose dive just off Horizons Restaurant. The men weren't injured and a Good Samaritan boater plucked them from the wings of the sinking plane. Within hours, news stations were showing footage caught by Mill Valley resident Leif Christiansen. In fact, we'd be surprised if you missed it, but just in case, we'll buy into the media hype on this amazing video, which you can see below. But the next time you think about doing something stupid, remember that nearly every cellphone out there is also a video camera and you might just become the nation's next unwilling media darling.

- latitude / ld

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Ad: Northstar Risk Management

July 6, 2011 – Walnut Creek



© 2017 NorthStar Insurance / www.northstar-marine-ins.com

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Race Notes

July 6, 2011 – The Bay and Beyond

Leiter Cup
The Leiter Cup fleet blasts off the line last week. © 2017 Erik Simonson / www.h2oshots.com

The Richmond YC hosted 56 sailors in the U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship — formerly known as the Leiter Cup — last week. Despite an "it's never like this here" day when the Bay received a rare late-June rain, event chair Mallory McCollum-Bozina and her team of volunteers were able to run eight races. Kelly McGlynn of Flourtown, Pennsylvania dominated the event, winning by a 15-point margin. The top local finisher was Saratgoa's Kaitlyn Baab in third, who finished just two points out of second in the open event.

TransPac
Division 6 and Aloha have struggled to get off the coast, but seem to have found new pace overnight. © 2017 / http://live.adventuretracking.com/transpac2011

After a reasonably quick exit, the two divisions in Monday's TransPac start — Division 6 and Aloha — came down with a case of the slows into Day 2, but have since begun picking up the pace. Alex Farrell and Vivienne Fagrell's Bay Area-based 1D35 Alpha Puppy are currently leading the 10-boat Division 6 after putting up a 110-mile day. The big boats get started on Friday, and their weather outlook is brighter.

Over on the pond, the big boats in the 2975-mile Transatlantic race are smoking! San Diego's Peter Isler is navigating George David's Juan K 100 Rambler 100, and has put up a 288.8-mile 12-hour run and is threatening to set a new monohull 24-hour record. The All America Offshore Team, which includes Bay Area products Matt Noble, Molly Robinson, and David Rasmussen currently have their R/P, STP 65 Vanquish in 5th overall.

LongPac
The LongPac fleet is in for a pasting if this surface chart is to be believed. © 2017 / weather.gov

The Singlehanded Sailing Society's LongPac — or Great Pacific Longitude Race — got started today. The "course" which requires the racers to touch 126° 40'W at any latitude, will play host to 27 boats. They will, in turn, likely get a pasting from a trough that should see the breeze reach into the 30-knot range with 8- to 15-ft seas.

If you're a college sailor, alumni or fan, you'll want to check out US Sailing President Gary Jobson's one hour program on the Gill National College Sailing Championships. The show will air tonight at 7 p.m. E.T. on ESPNU; consult your local cable tv guide to find out what channel that is in your area.

- latitude / rg

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