Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, February 07, 2005

How To Sail Across The Atlantic

National Geographic's Adventure Magazine has a great article about a couple that bought a 38-foot yacht mostly on credit card debt and sailed from New York to Toulon, France where they sold the boat and flew back to the States. In 8,000 miles of sailing they only had 2 nights where they didn't see any lights from ships on the horizon. Getting smashed by a tanker is very real and the article shares this chilling story about being hit by one:

From Adventure:


Late one night in 1995, Judith and Mike Sleavin and their two young children were on their way from Tonga to New Zealand aboard their Compass 47, the Melinda Lee. Judith was on watch. Down below, the two kids and their father slept. Judith had just made an entry in the logbook and was climbing out of the cabin into the cockpit when a thousand-ton freighter sliced through the Melinda Lee, sending the boat to the bottom in a matter of seconds. Their son, Ben, who was sleeping in the forward berth, died instantly. Somehow Mike and daughter Annie crawled out of the cabin as the boat sank and were able to join Judith on a half-inflated dinghy that bobbed to the surface. But within a day, both father and daughter succumbed to hypothermia and died. Judith alone survived, floating for more than 60 hours and eventually landing on a beach in New Zealand's Bay of Islands.

Forget about the idea that the crews of freight ships are looking out for you and that they will nudge their behemoth one way or the other to sidestep a 38-foot sailboat. The crew is most likely watching videos or sleeping. And even if alert to your plight, don't assume they'll launch a rescue. Judith Sleavin recounts that after her boat was sunk, the freighter circled back and watched them for a few minutes before inexplicably sailing off.
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