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Every Sailor's Worst Nightmare

August 11, 2014 – Oahu, HI


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Despite surviving a hurricane, Walkabout may still be afloat and drifting according to one report today. By the time her crew was rescued this morning, they had reportedly bailed her out and she was no longer in danger of sinking. As you can see, when this image was shot on Sunday, the sloop's rig was still intact.  

Photo Courtesy US Coast Guard / NOAA
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It would not be much of a stretch to assume that the three male crewmen aboard the sailing vessel Walkabout have just gone through the worst night of their lives. According to Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie of the Coast Guard's Honolulu Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), the 42-ft sailboat was en route from Stockton to Oahu when Hurricane Julio overran her roughly 414 miles northeast of Oahu, with winds up to 100 knots (115 mph) and seas up to 30 feet high.

It is unknown whether Walkabout carries a conventional EPIRB, but she does have a DeLorme GPS locator device, which sent out emergency messages Sunday morning that were forwarded to Honolulu RCC. 

Amazingly, recon and radio contact were conducted via a specialized hurricane tracker aircraft called Teal 76, which was actually operating within the swirling funnel of winds when Walkabout's emergency message was relayed. Teal's crewmen, who operate for NOAA out of the Mississippi-based Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, established VHF communications and learned that the boat's liferaft and main cabin hatch had been ripped off, and Walkabout was taking on lots of water. Bilge pumps were not capable of keeping up with the inflow, so the crewmen, whose names have yet to be released, had to bail manually also. At some point, the boat was also dismasted, according to the Coast Guard.

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane was also dispatched to the scene yesterday from Oahu's Air Station Barbers Point to drop pumps and a liferaft, but Walkabout's crew was unable to retrieve them due to the rough conditions.


This aeronautical chart shows the hurricane-hunter aircraft's route into the storm, where she ultimately relayed mayday details to the Honolulu RCC.

Photo Courtesy US Coast Guard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The 661-ft container ship Manukai, which was en route from Long Beach to Sweden, was diverted to the scene yesterday and arrived on scene at about 10 p.m. last night. Her crew attempted a rescue by trailing a six-person liferaft on a tether, but sea conditions and failing light conspired to make that technique unsuccessful. Early this morning, however, Manukai's crew tried again and were ultimately successful. Wind and sea conditions had calmed substantially during the night, and the three battered sailors were brought aboard the US-flagged ship at roughly 8 a.m.

Manukai's lifesaving response came thanks to her participation in the worldwide AMVER system (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System). Needless to say, maneuvering a massive, 32,575-ton vessel to a small sailboat in rough conditions without further damaging the boat or injuring her crew is no small feat, so Manukai's captain and crew are to be commended.

- latitude / andy

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Five Challengers for the 35th America's Cup

August 11, 2014 – World of America's Cup

With the entry deadline having passed, the Kiwis got off to an early lead in the 35th America's Cup by being the first to formally announce they are in for another go at the Cup. The Finals are to be held in 2017 at an as-yet-undisclosed location.

Luna Rossa at the finish

Luna Rossa, seen here at the Pier 27 finish line of the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, is almost certainly one of the challengers for the 35th America's Cup.

© 2017 ACEA / Abner Kingman

While Sweden's Artemis team and Italy's Luna Rossa haven't announced anything yet, insiders believe they have already submitted entries. Ben Ainslie is believed to have submitted a challenge on behalf of the Brits, as has Franck Cammas for the French.

Five challengers would make two more than in San Francisco last year, but is seven shy of what would really be a kick-ass international America's Cup.

- latitude / richard

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August 11, 2014 – San Francisco to Benicia

Jazz Cup

© 2017 South Beach Yacht Club / www.southbeachyc.org

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Drift, Drift, Drift Your Boat

August 11, 2014 – San Francisco to Hawaii

Let's talk about rowing across oceans.

Not to take anything away from Sami Inkinen and Meredith Loring, whom the press recently reported as having "rowed" from San Francisco to Hawaii in 45 days, but it would have been more accurate if it had been reported that they had "rowed and drifted" to Hawaii.

Fat Chance Rowing arrives in Hawaii

Married couple Sami Inkinen and Meredith Loring row across the Honolulu finish line of the Great Pacific Race.

© 2017 Ellen Hoke / www.greatpacificrace.com

Back in the 1970s, George Siegler, who would later found the Singlehanded TransPac, and a couple of other guys drifted from San Francisco to within 50 miles of Hawaii on a raft in 56 days. This was after Siegler and crew had their rudimentary raft flip off Monterey the second night, losing nearly all their food and water. Since it didn't take Siegler and crew much longer than Sami and Meredith to drift to Hawaii, and since the couple had a boat with much more windage, which would have greatly improved their speed once they got away from the California coast, it would seem that drifting accounted for more of their speed than did rowing.

By the way, it's similarly easy to drift across the Atlantic. About 50 years ago both the founder of Bombard Inflatables, and later the founder of Klepper Inflatable Kayaks, drifted across the Atlantic in their products without any support boats, propelled entirely by the current and windage. A French guy later made it across hanging onto a mooring ball. Another guy 'swam' across the Atlantic, resting on a little boat each night.

We don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but we do think it's important for the average person to be able to put such highly-publicized accomplishments in the proper context.

- latitude / richard

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August 11, 2014 – Long Beach, CA

43-ft Mason

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© 2017 The Shoreline Yacht Group / www.TheShorelineYachtGroup.com

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