On the local news, on the phone with neighbors and in the various town chat rooms there’s been discussions about the rescue of three people off our shore.
The boat was an old ketch. From the pictures shown a full keel with attached rudder so a design not in production for around 30-40 years.
They were going MA to FL on the outside with 3 aboard. Two in their 60s and one in his 70s.
I’ve fished the area where they got into trouble. It’s very rocky and shoal. So extremely poor holding. Even in a center console you don’t attempt to anchor. Rather just leave the engine on to hold position.
From what I can gather from word of mouth and local sources they had an engine failure on a lee shore so drifted in. Went aground and the tide went out. Rescuers could literally walk out to the boat then put two in Gumbies (one crewman had a mustang exposure suit) and assist them in to the beach.
They couldn’t self rescue as their dinghy was frozen to the foredeck. I don’t get any clear reports if they called for a tow before entering the extreme shallows. I don’t get any clear reports if they started outside Mary Ann rock and it’s ATON. Typically when sailing from north to the cape cod canal everyone stays outside that marker. With local knowledge will scoot inside the marker to fish but you don’t save anything just running the coast on a transit.
Plymouth is a harbor of rescue. There’s always SAR boats in the water. At the Sandwich mouth of the canal there’s another harbor of rescue which is even slightly closer to this spot. The local fire department was involved in this case not the CG or either harbor master as the primary agency from what I’ve heard which is slightly unusual.
It’s always problematic to form judgments but one wonders. Why were they running that close in an area you likely can’t anchor without dragging?
Why didn’t they call for a tow early on?
Why didn’t have a raft that could be deployed and be functional in the cold weather of that day? Being dependent upon a dinghy frozen to the foredeck seems unwise.
The fire chief involved has his house right on that beach and was alert and processed the situation correctly. Our town has 365 ponds so the fire department is well supplied and trained in cold water rescues. They did a great timely rescue. His awareness was a matter of chance. This could have gone badly if the boat broke up or weather deteriorated. But it raises the question why are these elderly people taking an old ketch not set up for blue water on the outside in frigid conditions?
Hmmm. Massachusetts in December? My guess would be they just bought the boat and realized they needed to winterize in a yard somewhere or go somewhere warm for the winter. I’m going to use the magical word “just “. Just sail it to Florida. Easy peesy. Everyone does it.
1984 Monk 36 Hull #46
Currently in Stuart, FL
The "whys" of these actions started a long time ago for these folks. So many mistakes had been made by that time, such that even if they got through the canal, they would have been really screwed elsewhere this time of year. Just lucky it was not 100 miles offshore as would have been different, and inevitably tragic, results.
Glad they are all OK. I don’t know what conditions were like today, but I disagree that it’s a no-go zone this time of year. More challenging, and requiring more careful planning? Yes. But doable. If an engine fails it can mean big problems any time of year.
Know multiple people who have gone RTW in their 60s to 70s. One couple stated in their late 70s and just turned 81 on returning after doing the North Atlantic gyre. Age is no excuse.
For passage always tried to have buff 20 to 30 y,o. Good for sending up the mast, being railmeat or turning that stuck thing in an awkward spot. Did that since my 40s. Young and pain resistant.
Lack of maintenance? Lack of spare parts? Lack of ability and skills?
Age does play a part in being able to crawl into the engine room and fix on the fly when the boat is floating free and rocking and rolling. On a trip of that length with only one engine I would hope the owner had the engine serviced before departing. Or recently before.
Also lack of money? Deferred maintenance? If we spend less dough on the boat we'll have more dough for margaritas in Miami...
What occurred that was atributted to the age of the participants and which could not have occurred if they were half the age?
I think the ages helps paint a mental picture for the reader. If this was 30 years ago, the OP (and the news) would have described these guys as Portugese, or Vietnamese, or Italian-American, but we don't do that anymore. (BTW, this crew looked like wasps). 70 is the new 22.
The engine quitting goes right along with just buying the boat. A plausible scenario is a bunch of crap and growth in the fuel tanks and off we go into a rolling seaway without polishing or changing the filter before starting.
Age has little to do with it. On Google maps it looks easy. I am amazed at how different an area looks from the boat vs Google maps satellite view