Re: Bali Hai Abandoned

Danny and Yvonne SIMMS

Thanks Brent for remining us again of the truth that if you aren't there you have no idea what the crew are going through.

One thing I want to pick up on. If I had had things stored on deck, fuel and life raft for example or solar panels on an arch when I had seas breaking over my 42 footer they would possibly have been torn away and if so highly likely we would have been lost. I know a lot of amelians are stacking ever greater numbers of solar panels on huge arches.

Most of us will never experience the life threatening situations but if we plan on ocean crossings we need to ensure we have the boat in a state that does not compromise it's survival ability. Keep the decks clear and be careful what you hang high

As to calling for rescue. On another return voyage on the same 42 ft boat we were dismasted 600 miles from Fiji and New Zealand. We were a 5 man race crew and very skilled.

But as skipper I felt a huge responsibility and if needed for crew safety I would have abandoned the boat for rescue in the blink of an eye.

But we dropped the mast into the watery deep along with my nice new mainsail. We rigged the boom as a mast. Put the storm jib in front and the tri sail behind and sailed the 600 miles home in six days. We got into our home port an hour before a gale hit.


SM 299

Ocean Pearl

On 26 August 2021 at 02:32 "Brent Cameron via" <brentcameron61@...> wrote:

The details are a little foggy but I recall that the rear solar panels that were mounted to the mizzen backstays came loose and were acting a huge wind vane weather cocking the boat into the wind. I believe that they couldn’t get the engine running for some reason and that the Genoa furler had gotten jammed as well. The skipper (nice guy, met him in Bermuda a couple of years previous to this) had broken some ribs in the attempt to get the boat under control and was in no condition to go aft to cut away the solar panel as it was mounted high on the mizzen backstays.  From the video you can see a bit of this. I never did get on Bali Hai so don’t know exactly how the panels were mounted but I recall discussions here or elsewhere about this detail. 

Having had broken ribs and a collapsed lung, I’m very aware of how incapacitating that is. Throw in getting tossed around in huge swells by a boat that is not under control and it would be hell on earth.  As we all know, if you lose the back stay, you will likely soon lose the mizzen and then the triatic which is holding up the main mast. A bunch of masts in the water and held to the boat in those conditions would be not easy to deal with in full health with a big crew.   I’d never dream of judging a skipper in those conditions who decided the lives of his crew (and himself) were more important than salvaging the boat with rescue at hand. It’s sad that the boat isn’t been found yet (to my knowledge) but it could have been much worse. 

I think severe seasickness is somehow like childbirth for women. You think you are going to die and swear that you will never go through it again and then somehow you gloss all over it and head right back into the breach (no pun intended) again. :-) (Speaking only as someone who has watched a woman he put in that situation 5 times go through it) . Every time that I get badly seasick, I swear I’m done with it but as soon as my stomach gets under control (even before the voyage is over), I’m raring to go back out again!  The mind plays wonderful tricks on us to get us to do things we love to do! 

Brent Cameron
Future Amel owner & Amel Owner's Registry Moderator
On Aug 25, 2021, 5:40 AM -0700, Danny and Yvonne SIMMS <simms@...>, wrote:

Hi again JB. Just to.pick up on your promise to never go to sea again. A friend and I on a light displacement 6 tonne 42 ft racer cruiser got caught in a weather bomb 200 miles out from New Zealand on a return voyage from the Pacific. We sailed through it with a storm jib half rolled. 70 knot Wind. Breaking seas higher than our mast. One broke right over the boat at least two meters deep. Another hit the stern and drove the stern sideways 45 degrees with a huge whump.We survived and swore to never sail again. Memory is a funny thing and like you a year later we were off again. My mate was rock solid. Would sail anywhere with him


SM 299

Ocean Pearl

On 25 August 2021 at 19:01 JB Duler <jbduler@...> wrote:

It is very difficult to judge the crew based on third party reports. Anybody who has experienced extreme seasickness will tell you that they would have preferred to die.

We were caught in the same area in 1994, on a Swan 47, in the path of Huricane Gordon. We experienced 50 foot waves due to the combination of gulf stream current and wind in opposite directions. As we fell down a monstrous wave we broke the hydraulic of the back stay and the hydraulic boom vang. We rigged cable running backs we had ready to deploy. Then the furled genoa exploded and we had shredded pieces flying on the fore stay, the noise was unbelievable. It was pretty close to living hell.

We had a little storm sail on a second fore stay, just to surf the waves and to avoid being rolled over.

We were four of us, very experienced but very seasick. Vomit over over the galley and saloon, spilled pasta and tuna we had tried to cook. The smell was unbearable.

I tried to call the Coast Guard multiple times (a PanPan instead of Mayday, just to inform them of the situation and to talk to somebody). We could never connect with them, we were too far with only the VHF.

Since our SSB was down, and without news, my company triggered a search by the Coast Guards. We did not know that.

The Coasties saved the crew of a big Hinckley that was scared to death. The boat was lost.
The Coasties saved a couple off Hatteras. The sailboat was found the following year going in circles in the same area.

As for us they abandoned the search and informed my company that we had probably sunk with no chance to survive (we did! otherwise I would not here today to tell you the story).
I am told that when you die everybody says that you were the greatest and kindliest man on earth. So everybody mourned us.

After we finally landed in Fort Lauderdale we promised ourselves that we would never be again on a sailboat. EVER. But the following year we were together crossing the Pacific on a race to Hawaii.

Be kind to others if they get rescued, everybody has a different level of stamina, or just willingness to live.

John Bernard "JB" Duler
San Francisco
Meltem # 19, Western Med


Brent Cameron

Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator

Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada


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