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Sad Story Off Long Island
|Author||Topic: Sad Story Off Long Island|
posted 06-20-2002 09:11 PM ET (US)
Four fisherman missing when their 25-foot Wellcraft went down Saturday fishing in a shark contest. They say there were 12 to 15 ft seas out there. Most think it was the notched transom on the Wellcraft that did them in.
Coast Guard called off search for them today. My heart goes out to the families. How do you think a 25 Whaler whould handle that kind of seas?
posted 06-20-2002 09:13 PM ET (US)
If they were in a 25 whaler they would be home in bed right now.
posted 06-20-2002 09:47 PM ET (US)
I second the thought; a Whaler will bring you home everytime or protect you if you stay with it. If they can't find you or debris at 12 miles what about 100 mile canyon runs? I'm concerned about the long response to a mayday on the day of a known tournament?
posted 06-21-2002 12:00 AM ET (US)
My condolences also, but do not be lulled into thinking that just because you are in a Whaler you can ignore nature and return to the home hearth.
The Whaler (or other quality) craft can only endure so much. The notched transom thing may be the cue. Following seas, as we have discussed on this forum is a killer that most are not familiar with.
I would urge anyone that has the chance to do so,,,with another boat standying CLOSE by,,,a little excercise. Point your bow 180 to the wind and shut down the engine, even in 4 to 6 feet following seas this can be scary. When the waves are breaking over the transom things can get scary fast. You cannot manuever therefore you cannot turn the pointy end toward the waves. I did this a couple of years ago in a real fast 4 ft chop. We had 3 boats in this excercise, one a 19 CPD hull and two center console 17/19 fishermen. (I will not mention names). The key here is to keep the bow to to the wind, you cannot maintain steerage without power. For this reason I ALWAYS carry something that can be used as a sea anchor. If you need more info on the sea anchors and their use read your 'Chapmans'.
Sorry you got me on my soap box. When we were fishing/boating off the Okinawa coast in all manner of craft I realized that to survive in an emergency situation you had to train and know what you could and could not do. I had a friend that used a 16 Zodiac to fish 20/25 miles off shore in 2000ft depths. No, I did not join him but did fish a 30 foot Japanese style craft 40 to 60 miles offshore. Probably made a dozen trips and never felt 'uneasy'. Why? we had a plan for ditching and were aware of the dangers, had two emergency rafts and rations.
A 25 in 15 foot seas?
posted 06-21-2002 07:55 AM ET (US)
the boat was a 25 Mako center console. My brother was down in OC. He is a captain and heard the CC call out for the missing boat.
I ran a Mako 285 offshore for 5 years and let me tell you 15 foot waves look like mountains! The following sea and the size of the boat do not help.
posted 06-21-2002 08:45 AM ET (US)
Did the guys in the boat that sank have a 406mhz EPIRB?
posted 06-21-2002 09:05 AM ET (US)
An observation: most of the serious "offshore" boats these days have full transoms with engines on brackets. Apparently, it's not just for performance.
A sad story, but 12-15 foot waves would end any ideas I had about fishing.
posted 06-21-2002 09:38 AM ET (US)
I took a large wave over the open transom of my 18' Outrage a few years back. I was fishing the Race (the outlet of LI Sound) and the introduction of a hundred gallons of water in the cockpit it scared the devil out of me. I knew the boat wasn't going to go down like a rock, but I was definitely rattled.
While some claim the open transom is better, I don't agree. The water was almost to the lip of the battery case and almost reached the circuit board on the starboard gunwale. Had either of them shorted out, I would not have been able to get away from the standing waves and would have taken on additional water.
I question the design of that particular model year - in addition to the low mounted bussbar and sterm mounted battery, the transom was WIDE open and only 4-6" above the water's surface. While the water in the sternwell would run out on its own, the full width sternwell prevented the majority of the water from draining out of the cockpit. I had to depend on the bilge pump to get the water out.
I later sold the boat, in part because I decided that a low, open transom in a boat that was not self-bailing was unsuitable for the waters I fished.
posted 06-21-2002 09:59 AM ET (US)
I was fishing out of Manaquan this past Tuesday. Every 10 minutes either CC Station Moriches or Station Atlantic City would broadcast that " a 25' Wellcraft with Captain Bob Hammon on the Elani II (sounded like that name) was overdue in a shark fishing tournamant. All boats keep a lookout." CC planes were overhead and even called in a boat to check a debris area. My fishing = sand sharks (25/30) and black Sea Bass (12/15).
posted 06-21-2002 10:57 AM ET (US)
Sitting in rough water and running through rough water are two different things. I will run through alot of stuff that I dare not stop in. I would imagine that they must have been drifting rather than attempting to navigate those seas. I remember about 6 years ago, I launched out of Santa Cruz in my little aluminum. The swell was 8+ feet but there was no wind and the period was long. It was a little hairy out there but also a little fun. Oddly enough, I won't go out in that kind of stuff with my whaler simply because it isn't worth it. The wind started to pick up, but it did not seem to generate the wind waves that it would have on a flat day. It was blowing the same direction as the swell and I often wonder if in such a case, the swells somehow absorb the windwaves. In any case, always had the radio, GPS, and cell phone close at hand, just in case.
posted 06-21-2002 11:09 AM ET (US)
The boat was definately a Wellcraft. Here is a follow-up to the story. This article doesn't mention the type of boat, but all previous articles described it as a 25' Wellcraft.
This is in my backyard and I was out that day with 2-3 foot seas in the bay. I didn't stay out very long.
posted 06-21-2002 11:13 AM ET (US)
This has been a heated debate for a very long time. I think it comes down to being prepared and knowing your limitations.
Going offshore without proper gear (2 VHF, flares, EPIRB, sea anchor, and appropriate survival gear) is like playing Russian roulette. Drifting in 15 footers depending on the frequency of the waves may be ok, but things can change in minutes and rouge waves are always a risk.
I think the single most important item we carry is a waterproof VHF. Ours is always in one of our suits (Mustang - which are always worn buy all occupants, and increase survivability exponentially). The little VHFís range may be limited on the water, but its range increases dramatically while communicating with an airplane. It can also be used to triangulate your position. The suits increase survivability in 50 degree water from 15-20 minutes to 7 + hours!
I agree with the dangers associated with a battery a few inches from the transom barely above the water line. But most Whalers Iíve seen have had them relocated to the console. As Iíve stated many times, my boats have all taken on water at some point. It always drains out the transom, and I wouldnít have it any other way.
posted 06-21-2002 11:14 AM ET (US)
No offense and my condolences but......12-15' you better be prepared in that stuff. Epirb, Life jackets, etc. i would not risk my life for ANY tournament. You go down while chumming for sharks, you gonna get eaten before they rescue you. SAD SAD SAD!
posted 06-21-2002 11:49 AM ET (US)
This is very sad and certainly makes one think twice about their actions.
Here is some other info/discussion:
posted 06-21-2002 04:11 PM ET (US)
"Larry Elovich, a Long Beach attorney representing the Wright family, said the tournament should not have been held at all, given that the National Weather Service had issued a small-craft advisory, a forecast of 7-foot waves and 20-knot winds......."
Ah, enter the lawyers. Thses four adult guys didn't listen to the weather? These four adult guys didn't see more than 25% of the boats didn't go out? Thses four adult guys didn't see the large percentage turn back? These four adult guys couldn't make a decision on there own? I feel bad at their passing but please do not blame this on someone other than the men on the boat.
posted 06-21-2002 04:53 PM ET (US)
Hey, wasn't this a "shark" tournament? This is just professional courtesy and it will truly turn into a feeding frenzy!
posted 06-21-2002 09:56 PM ET (US)
It is always sad when someone dies because of someone elseís bad judgement. Even if the tournament was not canceled and perhaps it should have been. The real blame is on the captain and crew that choose to continue without knowing their true ability within the limit of the conditions. Why do people pass on a two-lane road only to get to the next light a few seconds earlier then if they didnít? Is life so expendable that this tournament could be worth more than the safety of all aboard? As a fellow boater and fisherman I extend my deepest sympathy to their family and may all four of them rest in peace. And may all of us learn to think twice and act once.
posted 06-21-2002 11:37 PM ET (US)
in addition to the standard stuff i carry a small rubber inflatable raft. i also have a wet suit on board. even so sometimes you do not have time to break out all of the gear you are going to need. sometimes things happen real fast. i agree that you need to keep the bow into the wind and even a couple of 5gal. buckets and a length of rope as a sea anchor can make a difference. it is hard not to panic but neccessary to keep a clear mind when the shite hits the fan. we lost two crab boats here off the sf coast awhile back. all hands lost. they did not heed the weather either. i keep trying to tell my customers, its not how big the boat is, more important to notice what the weather is doing!!! some folks are weekend warriors though and only have a limited window of opportunity to fish. this is a bad combo. no fish is worth your life, my condolences to the families, steve out.
posted 06-22-2002 04:12 PM ET (US)
This sinking points out many of the things most of us here already know, but many others don't. No matter how smooth or rough the ride is, how glossy the shine is, or how many fancy "fishing" features there are, it's the hull design and construction that makes the difference when things get to the edge.
For years, the Company word on the Classic Whalers was the "boat won't sink" and if submerged will "keep the engine dry and powerhead above water". As mentioned, you need BOTH of these things for survival, and Fisher/Dougherty knew it, even if the power will only keep the bow into the waves. Chances are about 9 out of 10 that if they were on a 25 Outrage instead of a 25 Wellcraft, they'd be alive.
Dual engines show their value in a situation like this, whether it's a twin pair, or a big single with a kicker. This is also why you don't skimp and use some bargain short shaft engine on a feeble drop down bracket for a kicker. The kicker also has has to have it's powerhead high and dry in a water filled Whaler to be of any life saving value whatsoever.
But what this incident, and other like it, really show, is how "sinkable" most other boats really are, including all the big names like Regulator, Grady, Mako, etc., with an outer glass hull, and interior liner forming the gunwales and "self bailing" floor. Blocks of foam may or may not save the day. The problem is what I like to call "the black hole of Calcutta", called a "bilge" on most boats, the dark rough interior space between the two skins, drained by either a bilge pump or garwood drain plug. Get water down in there, and you're going down if your pump fails or battery is out. That is no doubt what happened. The Classic Whaler Outrages, have no such interior spaces, no "black hole". There is no traditional "bilge" to fill up with hidden water and sink you. No Garwood drain plug where you need a wrench on the outside, below the water line! For years now, with the new Whalers, with their additional liner skin forming the interiors, I have wondered whether they, too, have the ability to trap water in these hidden spaces. I don't like what I see in some of those newer models.
In 1990, a friend bought a twin 200 powered brand new 26' OMC Stratos "Offshore" fishing boat w/Euro transom design. The first time I looked at it, below decks, I was appalled at what he got (or didn't get). Everything between the hull and the liner was sprayed black, with exposed plywood and NO floatation. It had this HUGE interior, black, inaccessible space, housing a gas tank, bow to stern. The boat cost $20,000 less than my 25 Outrage, and I could see why. Pure junk, no wonder they went out of business on this boat. After trolling all day 10 miles off Key West, he headed back in. The twin 200 Evinrudes would not plane off the boat! So he looks under the deck, and finds the "black hole of Calcutta" completely filled up with water, just beginning to show above the "self bailing" floor. The boat was sinking! A hose fitting on the bilge pump had come off, somehwere hidden, and the water was coming in. By the time he got in, one of the engines had died, and he had to beach the boat to keep it from going under.
Somebody here was recently complaining about a drain plug in the forward bow of the Revenge. Since the Revenges were built on the Outrage hulls, there is large bow locker in the center floor of the 20-25's, which becomes the floor of the Revenge cabin. This plug is meant to be a life saver, to drain water out of the boat's bow if swamped.
posted 06-22-2002 11:15 PM ET (US)
A 25' Wellcraft is not a fair match to a 25' Whaler no way, no how. Low transom on a whaler self bailing hull is easily fixed with a large piece of starboard hinged to fall down for large fish or to empty water to keep your feet dry in a following sea, also my boat rises to meet the waves in the stern. Batteries in the console high and dry in boxes. PS even with wet batteries the engine will run long enough to self bail the boat easily. The four drain plugs in my boat are never in unless I want a well dry for storage. Water should run in and out freely. Plus full of water the hull supports 4900 lbs.
posted 06-23-2002 12:16 AM ET (US)
I live on Long Island near the Great South Bay where I use my 13' whaler. I heard of the bad news and my heart goes out to the victims families. The 15' seas is no joke I have been in and around most parts of the bay and some of the ocean. Usually on the bay the ocean breezes are enough to stir to waves to 5 feet. It gets scarey. I am only 15 years old but I know my limit and I have encountered enough bad situations to know what it is like. I believe in whalers and the men probably would have made it home in one, but we have no idea what happened to them. Not even debris was found. I believe in whalers. Safe boating and lots of fun.
posted 06-23-2002 07:28 AM ET (US)
Timbo, you are wise beyond your years! Happy Whalin'... Clark... The Old Man and the Sea
posted 06-23-2002 08:15 AM ET (US)
Just a quick note for Timbo. "Props to ya" It's always refreshing to see a young person "get it". The sea (and inland waters too) is rather unforgiving.
Enjoy the boat and your summer.
Fellow (former...ahem) lax player. Pre-composite sticks.
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