Some news items related to sailing tragedies in the United States:
A former San Francisco Giants executive whose daughter was among five people killed in an April boat crash says errors by the vessel’s captain caused the tragedy off the Farallon Islands, according to a lawsuit against the boat owner.
Captain Alan Cahill allegedly “cut corners” when he sailed the 38-foot Low Speed Chase into a dangerous area that other boats avoided during Full Crew Farallones Race. That decision led to waves flipping the boat and killing Alexis Busch and four others, her father Corey Busch wrote in a lawsuit filed in December in San Francisco Superior Court.
The suit targets boat owner James Bradford, who was one of three survivors.
The crash was one of the worst yacht racing accidents in the Bay Area in
decades and marked the only fatalities in the history of the annual race
that was first held in 1907.
The US Sailing investigation into the tragedy concluded the primary cause of the capsizing was due to the course sailed by Low Speed Chase, which took them across a shoal area where breaking waves could be expected; some of the other boats deliberately sailed around this area. Low Speed Chase was flipped and tossed onto the island by waves. Two crew and the owner survived; four crew and the skipper were lost.
Newport to Ensenada Tragedy
During the Newport (California) to Ensenada (Mexico) race on April 28, 2012, all four sailors aboard died due to an inadequate lookout. The boat motored past a waypoint set on the GPS, unaware that they were approaching an island and in the obscured zone of a light they were expecting to see.
Chicago Mac Tragedy
During the 2011 race from Chicago to Macinac, two of eight people aboard Wingnuts died when the boat capsized during a storm.
The investigation found the race to be well-run; the crew to be well-prepared; the equipment to be reasonable; and yet people died due to head injuries when the boat capsized. The report suggests that a boat with a Limit of Positive Stability of 108 degrees really has no business being in an overnight race with a reputation for brutal storms.
As a sidebar, this tragedy sparked a lot of debate in the pages of Practical Sailor about being able to unshackle a tether while it’s under load.
Details remain scant about what happened on the Bounty during Hurricane Sandy, but this news piece gives some insight into what happened in the engine room.