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Thread: Sea Wisdom: What happened out there?

  1. #1
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    Default Sea Wisdom: What happened out there?

    Will Lee will be unable to attend the Debrief/Awards meeting on July 24, so I emailed him to ask if he would be interested in talking about his Long Pac experience aboard Sea Wisdom. He agreed and we met in the KKMI yard on July 10, one week after the start of the race on July3.

    Here's what he had to say:

    https://vimeo.com/347607793

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    Last edited by Philpott; 07-11-2019 at 06:48 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philpott View Post
    Will Lee will be unable to attend the Debrief/Awards meeting on July 24, so I emailed him to ask if he would be interested in talking about his Long Pac experience aboard Sea Wisdom. He agreed and we met in the KKMI yard on July 10, one week after the start of the race on July3. Here's what he had to say: https://vimeo.com/347607793
    Thanks Will and Jackie! The interview was highly informative and should be a part of any Safety at Sea lesson plan. Will's modesty, good humor, preparation, and redundancy is front and center throughout the interview.
    Some of Will's comments about failure of equipment are eye opening, i.e. his new handheld VHF radio on Channel 22A. His use of a SART active radar transponder was the only way the CG could locate SEA WISDOM despite the fact he was transmitting AIS, fired 2 SOLAS parachute flares, and gave the CG his precise position.

    Will has other observations worth hearing. For example his Iridium Go was not reliable for voice comms, but his Iridium sat phone was, and that was how he alerted CG SAR with his "Pan, Pan."

    Will's use of the Hydrovane self steering on the outbound leg, and the Hydrovane and Auto-Pilot combined on the beam reach home is notable. Interesting, both were damaged and rendered useless by whatever soft and heavy object he hit.

    SEA WISDOM has a large wheel steering system. The Hydrovane self steering hangs off the stern, and unlike the Monitor, has its own independent rudder. Van de Heede swore by Hydrovane to win the recent Golden Globe ATW Race. https://hydrovane.com/

    Jackie's video runs 51 minutes, and is a goldmine of information.
    Last edited by sleddog; 07-12-2019 at 08:32 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleddog View Post
    His use of a SART active radar transponder was the only way the CG could locate SEA WISDOM despite the fact he was transmitting AIS, fired 2 SOLAS parachute flares, and gave the CG his precise position.
    Hi folks, I'm just an occasional lurker here, but I made the crossing solo to Kaua'i on my own in 2016 a few weeks before the race departed that year (LA > Nawiliwili > SF on an Ericson 35-II). One of the takeaways from the SSS workshops I attended that year was the need for redundancy in key areas, especially with comms and finding ways of transmitting my position in the event of emergency.

    As I watch this video, I'm unsure how it's possible Will Lee could not be located through at least these three means of determining/communicating position. I don't know what post-incident reviews are carried out with the CG, but with the multiple failures in a high-traffic area, it seems this would prompt some fact-finding or post-incident review. Anyone know if that happens, and/or if the findings are published so as to inform safety practices?

  4. #4
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    Great video and I’m very impressed with Will’s preparation and thought process. And a great testament to have spelled out emergency procedures readily at hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by sleddog View Post
    Some of Will's comments about failure of equipment is eye opening, i.e. his new handheld VHF radio on Channel 22A...
    I suspect the problem with Will’s “new handheld VHF” may be the fact that it was new. I have an ICOM handheld, but bet the Standard VHF has the same option of choosing “frequency sets” (i.e. USA, International or Canada). On an ICOM the frequency set is indicated by a tiny icon on the rather small screen. In the International set of frequencies there is 22, but it is not the same frequency as 22a in the USA set.

    To verify which frequency set is in use, look in the upper left corner of the screen.

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    Tom P.
    Last edited by Dazzler; 07-13-2019 at 06:04 PM. Reason: Add picture.

  5. #5
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    Just as an aside....Sea Wisdom is one gorgeous boat.
    S-2 7.9: "Wildcat of Loch Awe"
    1968 Selmer Series 9 B-flat and A clarinets
    Piper One Design 24, Hull #35; "Alpha"

  6. #6
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    Thank you all for your constructive comments and feedback. Happy to help clarify some things from the interview which I might not be clear on.

    I spoke to the captain of the USCG lifeboat after SEA WISDOM was docked at Pier 45, I asked him why he couldn't see me on AIS, he said there could be issues with his AIS system. My Garmin system was relayed to my iPad, so I video recorded the whole rescue. In review of the video, my AIS was also NOT able to detect the USCG lifeboat, however, I was able to see other boats on AIS. Perhaps there was indeed an issue with the CG AIS system at the time. This is another reason why I strive for redundancy on SEA WISDOM, just in case somebody cannot find me on AIS for whatever reason. The USCG lifeboat was doing its best to locate me visually, and there was a fishing boat who spotted me at the time, and tried to relay my position to the USCG lifeboat. USCG command center also had the race tracking URL. At the time, I increased the frequency of my tracking message to every 5 minutes. The GPS coordinates was also communicated to the USCG. Yes, somehow through all these information, the lifeboat had a difficult time locating me visually. Redundancy on safety equipment helped increase the chance of USCG locating me. And it was my responsibility to be located. I am very grateful for USCG to get to me under all these conditions.

    My Iridium Go was the only satellite voice communication, I did not have a spare satellite phone. I have both InReach and Iridium Go for satellite data and SOS. I thought that redundancy was sufficient in terms of satellite communication. I was right about the data, however I was wrong about the voice . The Iridium Go voice communication was not reliable, it was at best for casual communication with friends and family. For emergency, the Iridium Go failed to provide a clear voice channel to communicate. I had full bars for satellite signal as the Iridium Go uses an external antenna. The Iridium Go data transmission was excellent and reliable. My satellite voice communications with USCG were dropped a few times. USCG even requested me to text them instead. Iridium Go texting was almost instantaneous, just like a cell phone. I would not use InReach for texting, the latency with InReach would be too slow, but InReach is a good backup. In the future, I will have a dedicated satellite phone for just voice communication. I had that an Inmarsat C 20 years ago on my last boat, it was very reliable, the voice quality was crystal clear.

    I do have to think about what is my second backup steering system besides the Hyrdovane. The Hydrovane is an elegant, simple and effective steering system. I have also used Monitor Windvane extensively on a BCC (Bristol Channel Cutter), I absolutely love the Monitor Windvane. For the dislocated Hydrovane, if I was further offshore, I could have continued on slowly under sail. In fact, I sailed for 3 hours and made decent progress with the dislocated Hydrovane. It was the combination of continuous fiberglass getting crushed in the rudder box (even after I tried to stabilize the movement of the dislodged rudder), the potential of heavy current against me, the minimum steerage under engine power and the minimum maneuverability in the shipping lane, that I finally requested assistance from the USCG. I was lucky that the dislodged rudder did not cause more damage to the hull.

    Hopefully I provided more color here on those topics. Feel free to let me know if you have more questions. Always happy to help fellow sailors.

    -Will

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ignacio View Post
    I don't know what post-incident reviews are carried out with the CG, but with the multiple failures in a high-traffic area, it seems this would prompt some fact-finding or post-incident review. Anyone know if that happens, and/or if the findings are published so as to inform safety practices?
    Hi, Ignacio. I remember you from the pre race seminars. Then you kind of wandered off. It is nice to hear from you again. Earlier today I sent a thank you email to the SF Coasties and to Vessel Traffic, along with the video of Will Lee's experience in the LongPac. Robert Blomerth, Director of Vessel Traffic Service, Sector San Francisco, responded with a thank you email. Any additional response from either agency will be posted here.
    Last edited by Philpott; 07-12-2019 at 09:13 PM.

  8. #8
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    Was the boat's VHF base station DSC, and was that the one used for the first two Pan Pan calls, that went unanswered?

  9. #9
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    Hi Will,
    We had a similar incident on my return from Hawaii last year. In my case, a Sperm Whale rammed us from behind about midway through the passage. It nailed our stern quarter and bounced off the skeg bending the rudder post. Although the hull was not breached, we could steer only with difficulty and used a combination of the boat's rudder, emergency rudder and sail balance to sail the remaining 1200nm.

    After the first repair haulout and the boat was undergoing sea trials, we discovered that the rudder box (which contains the rudder post and rudder tube) was delaminated requiring a second haulout. This was hidden damage and, with a second hit, probably would have sunk us.

    Anyway, after 7 months, she was back in her slip as good as new.

    Glad you also had a good outcome.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazzler View Post
    I suspect the problem with Will’s “new handheld VHF” may be the fact that it was new. I have an ICOM handheld, but bet the Standard VHF has the same option of choosing “frequency sets” (i.e. USA, International or Canada). On an ICOM the frequency set is indicated by a tiny icon on the rather small screen. In the International set of frequencies there is 22, but it is not the same frequency as 22a in the USA set. Tom P.
    Hi Will,
    Is there anyway of telling if your VHF was set to 22A on US frequencies, or possibly to 22 on International frequencies as DAZZLER suggests is a possibility? If it were the latter, then is that a possible reason the CG and you couldn't communicate on VHF?

    Seems unlikely, but did you deploy the heavy drogue the CG passed you for towing?
    Last edited by sleddog; 07-13-2019 at 12:03 PM.

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