Bay Area Vessel Disaster Could Have Been Avoided

According to the investigation report by the U.S. Sailing organization, the deadly crash off the Farallone Islands last April could have been avoided. Five of the eight crew members were killed during the Full Crew Farallones Race after a wave knocked the 38-foot sailboat onto an island.

The boat started the race from San Francisco on April 14, 2012 headed for Maintop Island. The U.S. Sailing investigation found that the crew of the destroyed "Low Speed Chase" failed to properly negotiate the shallow waters and did not consider the effects of 28-foot waves near the rocky island shoal. The report said the course steered directly caused the capsize of the boat.

However, another ship in the race navigated the same course without incident. In fact, the report noted that none of the other boats stopped to help the capsized crew.

The report also said if the crew members had been harnessed and tethered to the boat and/or worn higher buoyancy lifejackets, their chances of survival may have been higher.

One cannot help but wonder why this ship periled, but another on the same course on the same lee shore was successful. Was it simply because Mother Nature changed her mind? Could it have been because some of the navigational equipment on the Low Speed Chase was defective? Why were the crew's assumed radio distress calls not heard? Where was the captain or skipper when all this occurred? Who maintained the ship at the San Francisco Yacht Club home port?

Source: sfgate.com, "Farallones accident blamed on crew," Ellen Huet, Aug. 9, 2012

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