Tuesday Dec 23, the Providence Journal banner headline reads, "Storm leaves sails, voyage to Puerto Rico in tatters." It should have said, "Four sailors rescued off RI in winter storm are lucky to be alive."
Starting early in the week the forecast called for a major winter storm to hit Rhode Island, and extend over much of the east coast with a foot or more of snow, temperatures in the 20's to 30's, and NE winds at 25 mph. Most of the schools in the state were closed Friday morning on account of the snow, which eventually accumulated about 14 inches over most of Rhode Island. Here is an excerpt from the weather page of the Providence journal Friday morning. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it was not a good day for sailing in open water.
According to news accounts the 45 foot sailing vessel Moonshine departed East Greenwich, RI with four aboard on Friday morning, the 19th. By evening, their sails were shredded in an icy gale and the engine was disabled in 12 foot seas. According to the Providence Journal, with the wind blowing 30 to 40 knots and heavy snow falling, the Coast Guard launched a 47 foot rescue boat from Pt. Judith at 7:45 pm along with a search and rescue helicopter from Cape Cod. The search went on for hours until the vessel was located at 1:00 am about seven miles south of Block Island with the aid of flares, an EPRIB, and 911 mobile phone calls picked up on Long Island. The Coast Guard towed the Moonshine toward Montauk, N.Y. for nearly seven hours, where a Coast Guard lifeboat from Long Island took over the tow brought it to the harbor about 9:00 am Saturday morning.
The skipper's mother later told the Providence journal that her son said his father and their two sailing companions had gotten seasick. She said, “It was so rough, they didn’t have the strength to help him.”
BOSTON - (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony Figueroa) The sailing vessel Moonshine is pictured at the dock at Coast Guard Station Montauk, N.Y., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008. The Coast Guard rescued the four-person crew when they were caught in an off-shore storm that shredded their sails.
These guys were fortunate that a tragedy was averted. One comment that I saw on the sailnet forum said anyone of average intelligence would have known it was not a good day to go sailing. You can draw your own conclusions.
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