Dennis Howard - should he have been forced to abandon his boat to the sea? .
The biggest issue of the week's news is the story of a cruising sailor, just set off on a around-the-world solo sail when the Coast Guard forcibly removed him from his yacht, which was then abandoned to the sea. Why? Because he had a broken boom and is legally blind.
The very experienced sailor had deployed a sea anchor and was preparing for an arriving storm. He still had his jib in good working order and was intending to wait out some bad weather and then sail to the next port under headsail. He had NOT activated his EPIRB.
Would the Coast Guard have forced him off the boat had he been fully sighted? When DOES any rescuing authority have the power to remove you from your own yacht? What qualifies them to determine whether it is necessary or not? These are issues that emerge time and time again in jurisdictions right around the world without resolution.
Several years ago the New Zealand government introduced necessary qualifications for both boat and crew before leaving New Zealand waters. Foreign cruising sailors visiting New Zealand were understandably miffed that they had successfully crossed the Pacific only to be held hostage in New Zealand. Led by a visiting English cruising sailor/lawyer, a group challenged the governments authority in the matter and the ruling was overturned.
On the other hand volunteering rescuers sometimes put their lives at risk to save the lives of sailors who have left port clearly incompetent. These are conflicted issues that it would serve the cruising community well to take a lead in resolving.
In other news satphones have finally reached a new peak of usefulness for the cruising sailor with Iridium's introduction of two-way SOS communication on the Iridium Extreme phone. The Product of the Week allows you to check the anchor without getting wet; two rallies are in the news – Darwin to Bali and the World Rally for Oysters; a small lesson on how to get your yacht off the beach with the help of a lot of friends; and a spectacular little sailing craft which has been in orbit for over a year has successfully, but sadly, returned to earth and burned up.
Much more too, so browse down the headlines to find your interest.
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