I am sorry to say, but this cannot be a cheery post. At 9:30 on Friday night, a 25 year old woman was swept off a sailing ship in the Atlantic and has not yet been recovered.(See link here) I doubt she will be. For those of you who don't know, we are sailors. I have sailed all my life and I have sailed tall ships. We have spent the last three years, with breaks for hurricane season, living on a sailboat in the US and the Bahamas. This story hits too close to home. We know people who have lost their boats, I know people who have been rescued from boats by freighters,(we call them frighters) and getting swept overboard is the ultimate nightmare. Especially with children aboard.
We know a couple, he was on deck during a night watch, alone, and he fell over. This was a catamaran doing about 7 knots, which is really bloody fast for a sailboat. When his wife came on deck several hours later, she couldn't find him. That must have been an absolutely harrowing few moments. He was OK though, he had managed to get into the dingy and was towed in it for several hours until she came on deck. They were both very lucky.
We know another couple, he was reasonably experienced, but a bit of a cowboy, you know, took risks 'cause they were fun. One night, they were sailing near us at the time though we didn't know it, he went on deck for a task, and got knocked overboard unconscious by the boom. His girlfriend was a virtual non-sailor. He was lucky, and smart. He had a harness on, so he was attached to the boat and came to as he hit the water and was able to pull himself aboard. There is a dent in the boom, a large heavy metal job, and he was concussed, although managed to sail to a harbour.
The vast majority of cruisers are prudent and careful and nothing of this scale happens to them, it hasn't to us so far. It never swings out of the realm of possibility for anyone though, and care must always be taken. These things can and do happen. I hope for a rescue for this girl,and her family. She is someone's daughter fresh out of university probably, off on the first few days of a big adventure.
So for all our friends that are still out there doing it.....tie on and take care.
Don't want to read about you in the papers OK.