Here’s some news from the Ultimate 20 newsgroup:
A San Francisco Based 40 foot custom boat “Mureadritta’s XL” that did
the Pacific Cup SF to Hawaii race was on its way home yesterday when they were hit by a whale 500nm north of Hawaii.
The crew was in contact with the owner via Sat phone. They tried stuffing the hole with sails and wrapping the outside of the boat with a jib to stem the flow but were not having any luck.
They eventually decided to abandon the boat on Tuesday morning. They were picked up last night around 8pm by a ship then transfered to a fishing trawler and are expected back at Honolulu on Friday.
All sailors are safe and un injured. They had all the proper safety gear EPIRB etc. Very lucky crew.
Lucky? I think proper planning was probably more relevant in this story since hitting a whale and sinking 500 miles from shore seems like bad luck to me.
Interesting that innovation has made sailboats lighter and stronger, and personal rescue equipment more reliable and comfortable, but there really is no open water hull-patch kit available yet. Stuffing the hole with sails sound like a scene from a sci-fi movie where people patch the hole in a space station with their pillows. Didn’t Heinlein write about that too? I wonder if there could be a better way, like pushing an umbrella-like device through the hole that could expand and then seal against the hull to stop the leak at least to the point where a sump could keep up with the flow. Probably too expensive to make it worthwhile to develop and test since the threat (being hit by a whale) is low and the asset value (of a sailboat) is only marginally high. I had my share of dangerous experiences sailing across the Pacific, but fortunately the only whales I saw kept their distance.