Tuesday Nov 24 Missing solo sailor

Written by Jack van Ommen on November 24th, 2009

In case you had not heard the news yet, a 68 year old French Canadian solo sailor is presumed lost on his voyage from Halifax to Bermuda. Details are still sketchy. Did he have a liferaft, why did the EPIRB not go off, did he have one, was he able to send a distress signal from his SSB radio?  There should have been plenty warning of the possible track/influence of the remnants of Hurricane/Tropical Storm “IDA” which commenced November 5. “Mon Pays” departed Halifax November 9.

Update: I just received the following from a weather radio operator asked to help in the search, my question to him was if this could have been prevented:  

“ Skipper only had VHF and no life raft, no EPIRP.  I made an analysis and suggested that by the 12th he would have hit easterly storm force conditions near the Gulf stream which continued for 5 days, thus unable to make any way towards Bermuda, and suggested that they should start a search. They and USCG Norfolk did with 3 aircrafts, found nothing. For an “experienced” sailor, it is incredible that he had no HF or satphone, no means to obtain WX info, no EPIRB, no life raft. So could it have been prevented ? Yes, 1000% ”

Here are a few links:

http://www.sail-world.com/USA/Search-called-off-for-missing-Canadian-sailor/63626

http://www.stw.fr/DT/display_dt.cfm?dt=3523 

The above information gives a radio call sign for the skipper which would indicate that he did have a HF license but apparently had no radio or no way to broadcast. I grieve for a fellow solo sailor and his familybut I have a real difficult time understanding how someone can leave a safe harbor with plenty of warnings at his disposal from internet etc., and set off without the minimal investment of liferaft, EPIRB, SSH-HF radio on a $200,000 plus boat.

It is exactly a year ago, today that I said goodbye to Lynne, just before attempting to cross the Gulf Stream from Beaufort, N.C. on my way to the Caribbean winter vacation. After checking with Herb Hilgenberg of the South Bound II weather net, he urged me to turn back and wait for better conditions.

Last Sunday I saw several of my Gig Harbor friends at St.Nicholas. The choir for the Christmas eve mass conscripted me to tenor with them. Great program and good voices.

 

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Pete says:

    Hi Jack,
    Glad to hear you are back in the NW and enjoying the company of old friends. (Or, young friends, too.)
    The SSSSS gang would love to have you join us for one or more of our “Taco Tuesday” “Board Meetings”.
    Although we seldom have tacos anymore, we are still going strong. And, yes, i promise you there won’t be any Texans in attendance.
    Call or email me if you have my contact info, or let me know here how to get in touch with, to plan this.

  2. I don’t think I would have left Halifax in November period.

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