Monday Minute - Another Sailor is Out

I wrote an opinion piece on this subject late October. http://bit.ly/2PpAcLq

Well, another sailor had to be rescued in the Southern Ocean, adding to the number of sailors who lost their boats and almost their lives during the 50th anniversary running of the Golden Globe Race won by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston back in 1968-69.

Goodall is hoisted aboard the  Tian Fu  by one of the ship’s cranes.

Goodall is hoisted aboard the Tian Fu by one of the ship’s cranes.

Susie Goodall, the sole female sailor in the race, was knocked unconscious when her Rustler 36 sailboat was pitchpoled, then rolled, in 9-meter seas and 75-knot winds in the Southern Ocean. She woke up to a head injury, found the boat was destroyed and everything on deck wiped clean off the boat. No mast, poles, rigging, or self steering gear…all ripped off as the boat went end over end. Even the chain plates were pulled out of the boat.

She set off her EPIRB, and the drama unfolded as one would expect. Chilean Coast Guard coordinated a rescue, the nearest ship was a Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier headed from China to Argentina. It was 400 miles away and took a couple of days to reach her position, some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn. On Friday, she was lifted off her boat by one of the ship’s cranes, and taken aboard the ship. I’m sure we’ll hear more in the coming days.

Fellow sailor, Mark Slats, spoke to Goodall the day before her rescue, and said she is “completely destroyed” by the terrifying experience and loss of her boat. Such conditions were beyond her imagination.

The Rustler 36 is a great bluewater boat, but even her heavily-modified boat was not up to the task of taking on the Southern Ocean at 45 degrees south latitude. Especially now with global warming and its resulting extremely violent storms.

The Rustler 36 is a great bluewater boat, but even her heavily-modified boat was not up to the task of taking on the Southern Ocean at 45 degrees south latitude. Especially now with global warming and its resulting extremely violent storms.

As I said in my October opinion piece, one has to question this kind of activity that seems more of a dangerous stunt than a worthy “adventure” given these storms, which are getting worse in the Southern Ocean. The promoter of this race is under increasing attack for creating such an inherently risky event in today’s climate. He continues to try to downplay the risks to the competitors, and does not ever mention the risks and costs to all who must respond when things go sour. As they repeatedly have in this race.

I’m glad Susie Goodall is safe, but the recorded comments during her exchange with authorities say something. She wondered just why in the world she was even out there. It is not safe.

An article from National Geographic published a few days ago highlights that the current El Niño, combined with global warming in general, will likely result in 2019 being the hottest year in recorded human history. No matter what the causes of this trend, these factors translate into increased flooding, violent storms, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires. The report said there were 70 tropical cyclones or hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere in 2018, much more than “normal.” And climate scientists in Australia have put their country on alert to the inevitable consequences of El Niño in that part of the world. A scorching heat wave is not good for mankind.

Whatever the cause, or combination of causes, these weather trends somewhat negate the “romance and glory” of sailing solo around the world so far south in what are frequently survival conditions, in my opinion. And for what? Have we become that starved for celebrity?

I just hope everyone gets around the Horn safely, although some of the remaining boats have really slowed down, as their hulls are encrusted by barnacles, and there is no way to clean the hulls without outside assistance, which disqualifies them. And some boats are running out of fresh water.

Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? There certainly is plenty of opportunity for “adventure sailing” in this world. Just look at what Mia and Andy Schell do with their S&S Swan 48 Isbjörn. And along with genuine adventure, it is fun. https://www.59-north.com/

On another note, I’m finishing up a book, and at this stage of the project, it is requires a lot of my attention. It has become quite a distraction from my normal FollowingSeas routine and frequency. So if I skip posting on the schedule you have come to expect, that is why.

And, of course, we are well into preparing for the holiday season. Jingle Bells, the Messiah at the Naval Academy, and gingerbread cookies. No "Bah! Humbug!" in this house!

Have a great week.

Christmas wreath on pole.jpg