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Mon Dec 3, 2012, 04:04 PM

 

New details of HMS Bounty's last hours battling Hurricane Sandy



By Marc Hujer and Samiha Shafy
Spiegel
Dec. 2, 2012

As Hurricane Sandy approached the East Coast in late October, Captain Robin Walbridge wanted to save his ship, the legendary Bounty. He set out to sea to ride out the storm -- a decision which ended in disaster. He lost the ship, a crewmember and his own life.

It was still a mild fall day in New London, Connecticut, when Captain Robin Walbridge stepped on deck to prepare his crew for the possibility of dying. It was 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25.

About 1,200 nautical miles to the south, Hurricane Sandy, billed as the storm of the century, was making its way northward from Cuba. With wind speeds of more than 100 miles per hour (165 kilometers per hour), the storm was rushing across the ocean, headed for the east coast of the United States. At least 70 people had already died in the Caribbean, after being drowned, buried alive or struck with debris.

Captain Walbridge had a decision to make. He could leave the ship, the Bounty, in the harbor at New London, where it would be tossed back and forth by the storm and would presumably sustain serious damage. Or he could try to save the ship by taking it out into the Atlantic, thereby putting his life and the lives of his 15 crewmembers on the line.

More: http://abcnews.go.com/International/legendary-ships-final-hours-battling-sandy/story?id=17849018&singlePage=true#.UL0TJOXCvmY

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Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply New details of HMS Bounty's last hours battling Hurricane Sandy (Original post)
UnrepentantLiberal Dec 2012 OP
FARAFIELD Dec 2012 #1
Old and In the Way Dec 2012 #2
UnrepentantLiberal Dec 2012 #4
Vinnie From Indy Dec 2012 #3
HooptieWagon Dec 2012 #7
FreedomRain Dec 2012 #5
HooptieWagon Dec 2012 #6
FreedomRain Dec 2012 #8
HooptieWagon Dec 2012 #9
FreedomRain Dec 2012 #10
HooptieWagon Dec 2012 #11
FreedomRain Dec 2012 #12
HooptieWagon Dec 2012 #13
HonEur12 Dec 2012 #14

Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 04:25 PM

1. What a dumbass

I live and NC (the ship foundered off our coast)....so his brains and sailing skills were obviously lacking. Lemme see, I can maybe sustain some damage to a ship, or maybe die. You gotta be rich to think like that.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 04:40 PM

2. He should have beat feet back up the coast to Maine/NH

It was bad, but not nearly as bad as it was on the mid-Coast region. I got some great pics this summer of the Bounty sailing up the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, NH while we were headed down river for an early evening sail.

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Response to Old and In the Way (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 04:58 PM

4. That's the first thing I thought.

 

Why didn't he head northeast?

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 04:55 PM

3. This captain was arrogant, reckless and stupid.

The ship should have stayed put or found some other shelter while the storm was still far off.

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Response to Vinnie From Indy (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:50 PM

7. Your statement is harsh, but accurate.

I would say the Captain exercised very poor judgement, but yes the boat (and most important, the crew) would have been safer where it was or any of several nearby ports.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:15 PM

5. common practice

to put out to sea for hurricanes -- staying in risks sinking (and presenting a hazard to future navigation) as well as "some damage."

At sea, you just keep it pointed in the right direction and your risk go way down.

HOWEVER, last time I had opportunity to look over a chart, North Carolina lay South of Connecticut. Heading toward the storm makes no sense at all.

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Response to FreedomRain (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:47 PM

6. Common for high-powered Navy ships and freighters.

Not common for sailing vessels, especially a square-rigger. The Bounty could barely exceed 6 knots under power, in calm weather. In a storm, it could only go downwind, thus limiting the course available to avoid the storm. Very foolish move by the captain. The Bounty probably would have been safe where it was, or at a nearby port like Essex. Regardless, the ship can be repaired or replaced if damaged at the dock, human lives lost at sea can't be.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 06:11 PM

8. can't argue that

if you recognize the rigging you know more than me. I do read a lot of history including dozens of books by the old explorers and even they mentioned leaving port for hurricanes. It probably depends on the specific circumstances, and our current improved warning times no doubt play a part.

And now after RTFA, I can see why they went south - Florida was on their schedule! This was a monetary decision.

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Response to FreedomRain (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 06:33 PM

9. The meme is a bunch of romantic rot.

The old sailing ships had little warning when a hurricane approached. They left port and were simply too slow to get out of the way. The Florida coast is littered with Spanish Galleon wrecks caused by hurricanes. Doubloons and pieces of eight still wash up on beaches after storms.
Modern Navy ships can do 40 knots, they can be over 1000 miles away with 48 hours warning. Ships like the Bounty are not only slow, but the weight and windage of the old-fashioned spars and rigging combined with internal ballast (meaning the ballast is in the hull, not in a keel below the hull) means they have marginal stability characteristics. Quite an alarming number, considering how few there are, have capsized and sunk in storms over the past several decades...usually with loss of life.
The whole reason Lloyds of London was formed was because so many sailing ships sunk that no ship-owner would send a ship on a voyage without insurance covering ship and cargo.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:46 PM

10. not sure what meme

you refer to there. The rest of your statement is a welcome expansion on the points we both have made, good stuff.

This being DU, maybe you don't recognize when someone doesn't want to argue and in fact has capitulated iimmediately?

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Response to FreedomRain (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:25 PM

11. Not arguing...

The meme I was referring to is the one about "saving the ship by taking it to sea". It's commonly spread, recently on DU after the Bounty sinking, but it's a bunch of romantic hogwash. It is true that large ships can be damaged in port, or cause a lot of damage, in a storm. But, as I pointed out they are fast enough to avoid a storm once they take to sea. That is not the case for relatively small pleasure and commercial boats. The seamanlike method of dealing with a hurricane is to find a "hurricane hole"...a relatively landlocked small bay or river that offers protection from waves...and secure the boat as best as possible, and get the crew ashore.

Another common meme is that a boat will ride out a storm with a sea-anchor...a conical or parachute shaped device streamed from the bow. Except they simply don't work. The bow will not point into the waves, instead the boat will wallow beam-on to the waves, and be repeatedly rolled over. They only work on life-rafts and life-boats, which do not have masts or keels.

My apologies for coming across like I'm jumping on your case. It aggravates me when misinformation gets spread around, because eventually it is accepted as gospel. Then some idiot takes a replica of an 18th century ship out in the path of a hurricane thinking he's "saving" the ship.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #11)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:49 PM

12. cool then!

(cuz I always liked yr posts)

If I had a muti million $ boat I'd rather you sail her then that guy

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Response to FreedomRain (Reply #12)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 10:09 AM

13. Hey,thanks!

Did a lot of captaining, I ocean-raced sailboats for 30 years...mostly boats 40' and under, so nothing worth a million, let alone multi-million. I don't know all that much about tall-ships like the Bounty...but most sailing vessels have common vulnerabilities in bad weather.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #11)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 05:34 PM

14. +1

 

This is very informative.

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