Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Man Overboard!

Ever since I took a tour of the Henri Lloyd over the Christmas holiday, I've been following the round the world yacht race online. Monday I was shocked to find out that one of the other boats, the Derry~Londonderry~Doire, had a man go overboard. He was in the water for over an hour, but luckily they were able to retrieve him, and his drysuit kept him alive.

The boats are currently in their trans-Pacific leg and they were literally in the middle of the North Pacific when this happened. As you might imagine, there are some pretty nasty storm systems out there this time of year, and they were in the midst of one. All the boats were waiting in the southerlies for the cold front to pass, at which time the wind would become more westerly or even northwesterly. The skipper accounts said the winds were 50 to 60 kts, gusting to 75, so this was quite a storm. I looked up the surface map from around the time of frontal passage and this is what it looked like:

18Z NCEP Surface Analysis courtesy of NOAA
For the uninitiated, the closer the lines (isobars) are together, the windier it is. So this was a very tightly wound system!

I also tried to look up the wave height at the time, but unfortunately there are no wave buoys very close, and most of the buoys in the North Pacific and Bering are broken anyway. So I looked up a hindcast of model output (the model gives you estimates of what the waves were in the past) and it looks like the waves were about 6.8 meters, or about 22 feet.

Which apparently looks like this (warning: some swearing, as you might imagine when your crewmate has gone overboard):

Holy crap! That's some scary stuff! All's well that ends well and the crew member is recovering nicely. But this just proves that those North Pacific Storms are no joke.

If this piques your interest, you can find more crew and skipper reports at

1 comment:

Carlw4514 said...

I think my old hand-held GPS had a "man overboard" button

Uncle C