May 28, 2014

No Hope for Cheeki Rafiki Crew

All hope of finding Cheeki Rafiki‘s crew alive was lost Friday, when US Navy divers confirmed that the life raft of the overturned Beneteau 40.7 was still aboard. "Windows" were reportedly smashed out, and no signs of life were observed inside. At the time, the vessel was approximately 1,000 miles off Cape Cod.

After a massive search effort, the hull of Cheeki Rafiki was found with no sign of life aboard and her liferaft still attached.

© 2014 US Coast Guard

As reported earlier, the vessel was heading from Antigua to England after competing in Antigua Sailing Week when it got into trouble during stormy conditions. Four UK sailors were aboard: Captain Andrew Bridge 22, James Male 24, Steve Warren 52, and Paul Goslin 56. It is tragically ironic that Warren and Goslin had originally planned to crew aboard a different vessel.

After a personal EPIRB was activated May 15, a widespread, multi-agency search was begun, but was called off two days later after the hull was spotted by a cargo vessel, and US Coast Guard officials concluded that the sailors could not possibly survive any longer in the 60-degree water. However, a widespread international outcry led to the search being reopened. In all, 17,500 square miles of ocean were searched by US and UK assets prior to the discovery Friday that the liferaft was still aboard. 

A visual study of the missing keel bolt holes may lead to speculation as to why and how it broke free.

© 2014 US Coast Guard

The keel bolt holes shown in the accompanying photos may spur speculation as to the cause of the keel breaking away. The two forward holes are clean and regularly shaped, but the aft hole shows signs of rust or corrosion, as if it had been somehow compromised. It appears that the second hole from the stern may have been the last to let go. Needless to say, though, we will probably never know what exactly transpired during this tragic capsize.

Historic Sloop Freda to Launch Saturday

If you have a soft spot in your heart for vintage wooden sailing craft, you won’t want to miss the much-anticipated launch of the historic sloop Freda May 31 at Sausalito’s Spaulding Wooden Boat Center (located at the end of Gate Five Road). 

Why should you care? Because she is the last remaining example of America’s earliest style of recreational sailboats. Built in Belvedere, and first launched in 1885, she has been undergoing a meticulous piece-by-piece refit for eight years. 

There’ll be a barbecue and live music, and the crowd will undoubtedly contain a who’s who of Bay Area wooden boat aficionados.

Dock opens at 11 a.m.; splash at 12:30.

Amanda Whips In Hurricane Season

Amanda got off the 2014 Eastern Pacific hurricane season with a powerful start, as her winds to 135 knots made her one of the most powerful May hurricanes on record. Fortunately, she was like most Mexican hurricanes in that she started and matured far out to sea. Currently about 900 miles south of Cabo, Amanda is fizzling and not expected to be any threat to land.

Hurricane Amanda’s remarkable strength is fizzling as it heads south of Cabo San Lucas.

© 2014 UNISIS

Another hurricane-related fizzler was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hurricane forecast for the Atlantic/Caribbean last season. They had forecast an "active to extremely active" hurricane season, featuring 13 to 20 named storms, 11 of which would become hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes. While there were 13 systems in the 2013 season, only two became hurricanes, neither of them major hurricanes (meaning category 3 or higher). In a normal season, to say nothing of an "active to extremely active" season, the Atlantic gets three major hurricanes. So this was an Amanda-force whiff on the part of NOAA. What was the problem? The same problem as always with forecasting hurricanes — too many variables.

To the best of our knowledge, nobody complained about the lack of hurricanes.

When Seaquel’s owner, John Berg, explained to a state agency that he didn’t have the means to salvage her, they organized contractors to pull her off the reef and destroy her yesterday © 2014 John Dour After the Ventura-based Nordic 40 Seaquel was driven onto the Kona coast late Sunday night, there was initial hope — at least among some observers — that she might be salvageable.
The U.S. Coast Guard search for the four Brit crew — Andrew Bridge 22, James Male 24, Steve Warren 52, and Paul Goslin 56, — of the Beneteau 40.7 Cheeki Rafiki, which apparently sank on a trip from Antigua to England, will be called off for a second time if nothing is found by tonight.