Safety & Seamanship

Small Boats Open Big Vistas

In 2003, Matt Rutherford made a sight unseen commitment to cruising from his home in Ohio. Over the phone, he bought a Coronado 25 located in Trappe, Md. The boat needed a lot of TLC. He fixed what he could and learned to do without what he couldn’t afford.

US Sailing Investigator’s Recommendations

Ron Trossbach, the lead investigator for US Sailing in the Rambler 100 incident, recommended the following changes to US Sailing’s Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) and US Sailing Prescriptions. He also recommended that these be forwarded to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to be included the ISAF Special Regulations Governing Offshore Racing for Monohulls. The items in parentheses reflect the OSR section that would be amended.

Lessons learned

Ron Trossbach, head of the US Sailing investigation into the Rambler 100 accident, offered the following lessons that sailors can take away from the capsize.

Rambler 100 Recommendations

The crew of Rambler 100 made the following recommendations/observations regarding safety equipment. The recommendations were taken from crew statements provided to US Sailing and do not represent US Sailing’s own recommendations.

US Sailing Investigator’s Recommendations

Ron Trossbach, the lead investigator for US Sailing in the Rambler 100 incident, recommended the following changes to US Sailing’s Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) and US Sailing Prescriptions. He also recommended that these be forwarded to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to be included the ISAF Special Regulations Governing Offshore Racing for Monohulls. The items in parentheses reflect the OSR section that would be amended.

Safety at Sea Part III: Rambler 100 capsize

In our final review of three 2011 sailboat tragedies investigated by US Sailing, we offer a clear look at how even the best-equipped, most highly trained sailors can run into trouble at sea. Rambler 100-touted as the fastest monohull super-maxi on the planet and representing millions of dollars in research and design-lost its can'ting keel and capsized while competing in the August 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race. Sixteen crew struggled to stay on the overturned hull, while another five floated adrift in the Celtic Sea, trying to fight off hypothermia. Practical Sailor looks closely at US Sailings report, directed by retired U.S. Navy Captain Ron Trossbach, the Rambler 100 crews post-accident recommendations, and the safety lessons we can all learn from the accident.

PS Analysis: The 2011 WingNuts Capsize

This is the second article in a Practical Sailor series that takes a close look at US Sailings recent reports on three tragic sailing accidents last summer. The first article covered US Sailings report on the Severn Sailing Association accident involving the drowning death of 14-year-old Olivia Constants in Annapolis, Md. This report focuses on US Sailings investigation of the tragedy involving the light-displacement sloop WingNuts, which capsized during the Chicago Yacht Clubs Chicago to Mackinac race. The US Sailing report focused on four key elements that might have been factors in the accident: crew experience, weather, boat design, and safety equipment. Practical Sailors own investigation and reporting fills in some gaps in the US Sailing report, particularly regarding safety gear-tethers, harnesses, and PFDS-and its role in the event.

Tether recall likely no factor

In 2010, West Marine voluntarily recalled two tether models (SKU #9553512 and #9553504), the same model tethers worn by Mark Morley and Suzanne Bickel the night they died. According to West Marine’s recall notice on its website: “West Marine has discovered that under heavy load, the shackle end may not release. “

US Sailing Recommendations

The US Sailing report makes several specific recommendations to prevent future accidents such as the one that involved WingNuts, among them:

Safety at Sea Seminar

If you don’t have any plans for the last weekend of March and beginning of April, you can still register and attend the Annapolis Safety at Sea seminar, presented by the Marine Trades Association of Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy. The seminar runs March 31-April 1 and will be held in Alumni Hall at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Sizing Up the Autumn List

Some of the best sailing I ever had was September on Narragansett Bay, pretty close to heaven in my mind. But before we let a long September reach carry us away-and hopefully carry us through winter-its a good time to take out a pen and pad, and start to build the winter work list.