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The Sinking Of Beach Bum Gal: In The Skippers Words

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  • The Sinking Of Beach Bum Gal: In The Skippers Words

    Editors Note:

    The recent days have seen a flurry of post's and text's a various sailing websites raging on about the recent sinking of a cruising boat entered in the Baja Ha Ha, a cruising rally from San Diego to Mexico which occurs yearly at this time. The incident happened at the entrance to Turtle Bay on the Baja, and tons of armchair commentators have pointed fingers at the "Delivery Skipper" Ray McCormack, who, until now, has not had the opportunity to defend himself...

    Here, in Ray's words, are the events leading up to the incident:



    Sinking of BoatBumGal


    "On October 29 2023 I was contacted by the owner of BoatBumGal to help sail her boat from San Diego to La Paz while joining the Baja ha ha fleet. We mutually agreed that I would not be paid, but that she would pay for my expenses. We also discussed about the condition of the boat, and my position on the boat as being the most experienced individual on board out of the three of us."


    "Flew down to the boat on Monday morning October 30, after arriving to the boat I could see that this late 1970’s boat had marginal maintenance. Just as an example the tricolor light was wired into the running lights, the led deck lights where wired into the steaming light, and the AC charger on board had a 110 male plug that was plugged into a 110 plug box and was not on any breaker."

    "I figured that with traveling the Baja Ha Ha fleet there is safety in numbers. So we departed later that day around dusk, about 9 pm we saw the house bank run down to 10.5 volts, so turned the boat around and we went back into port. Next morning, we investigated batteries, regulator, and alternator. Found the charging post on the alternator was severely corroded and the main feed line terminal had basically fallen apart. After re-crimping the cable, cleaning all terminals and post on the alternator, we reassembled and finally got over 14 volt charging at the batteries while engine was running. We tried departing again around 5 pm on October 31."





    BoatBumGal in Avalon Harbor


    "As we headed down the coast we saw that the auto pilot would make 30 degree turns with out notification, this was a sign that the battery voltage was compromised. We proceeded to get out the portable generator and hook it up to shore power for charging batteries. Also, we found that when putting the auto pilot in standby mode the hydraulic pump would not release the helm for 20 seconds."


    "Around 10 pm on November 2nd I awoke to the boat healing over from wind. Got up and found that we had an offshore breeze blowing about 22 knots. Eased the sails and made the decision to turn inland a bit to mitigate the wind conditions the boat was seeing. The sails and rigging on this boat were quite aged. The boom vang had already broke off the mast. Our route had us going into the center of the entrance of turtle bay as noted by cruising guides, and this is what I have done over my last 4 times into turtle bay. The new plan was to run the 10 meter depth or 30 feet to get close to land allowing us to take the sails down. Usually when I deviate from my planned route I will drag my weigh points over to the new intended route, I did not do this which means I had no reference to the boat changing direction. Also, my coastal explorer stopped showing tracks for reference of the direction of the boat. I had a ticket out with rose point to try and address this, but this laptop is now in 40 feet of salt water."

    "At around 1 am we noted the battery voltage was dropping off again, so we started the generator but then the 110 breakers at the panel were tripping. We dragged out the extension cords to make it so the generator would be directly connected to the AC charger via that 110 male plug mentioned earlier. There was quite a bit of activity in the cockpit while this was going on and I suspect this is when the auto pilot made a turn, and I did not know about it."


    "Suddenly the crew up on the rail says he sees rocks, and just then I sea the breaking water on rocks. Immediately I tried putting auto pilot in standby, but it would not disengage. So I reached for the gear shifter to slam it in reverse, but just as I touched it we slammed into a rock. She popped over the rock and laid over on her port side. Each swell that came by flipped her over to the other side as she moved farther up onto the rocks."

    "Eventually we ended up on the port side again, and that is when I saw cabinetry moving down below and large amounts of water coming in. Bryan got on the radio and started making may day calls. It was high tide and the water was just starting to ebb, which dragged us off the rocks. We all put on our life jackets, Bryan went for the dinghy motor and gas, while I went to set the anchor. Eventually we all met at the back of the boat, the rail was just a few inches from the water. Got my Leatherman and cut all the lines holding the dinghy and we worked our way forward to the bow."

    "She slipped under and we fired up the dinghy motor and started heading toward the turtle bay pier. A fishing panga found us and gave us a ride to the pier, where were able to get a hotel for the night.
    Next few days the turtle bay folks, and in particular Maria’s helped us out so that we can make our way home. This was a terrible tragedy, with the owner losing everything she has. I am thankful that we are all safe."


    "Many questions can be asked:
    Should this boat have even made the trip?
    Should we not have been close to that shore?
    Should I have dragged my route over so that I had reference of direction?
    I hope others will learn from this mishap; I know that I learn something every time I go on the water."



    ********************************



    https://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/boat-bum-gal-sinks-on-baja-ha-ha/?


    Shortly after posting today’s ‘Lectronic Latitude we discovered the news that Sandra Barnes’ Nicholson 38 Boat Bum Gal from Long Beach had sunk on the Baja Ha-Ha. Her track and final resting place entering Turtle Bay are shown below.


    According to the Grand Poobah, they hit a rock last night and sank at the entrance to Turtle Bay. He reports that everyone on the crew is safe and found accommodations in a local hotel. He continued, “All that can be seen of the boat is the top few feet of the mast. The Poobah is short on details, but the vessel’s track shows an inexplicably dangerous path toward the safe harbor. The correct way to enter Turtle Bay is to stay well offshore until way past the point, then head northeast into the harbor. Day and night, over 3,000 boats have done it in the history of the Ha-Ha without a problem. Why Boat Bum Gal hugged the coast the last few miles, almost in the surf, is unknown at this time. We’ll have more details as they become available.”




    Suddenly the crew up on the rail says he sees rocks, and just then I sea the breaking water on rocks. Immediately I tried putting auto pilot in standby, but it would not disengage. So I reached for the gear shifter to slam it in reverse, but just as I touched it we slammed into a rock. She popped over the rock and laid over on her port side. Each swell that came by flipped her over to the other side as she moved farther up onto the rocks. Eventually we ended up on the port side again, and that is when I saw cabinetry moving down below and large amounts of water coming in.


    Bryan got on the radio and started making may day calls. It was high tide and the water was just starting to ebb, which dragged us off the rocks. We all put on our life jackets, Bryan went for the dinghy motor and gas, while I went to set the anchor. Eventually we all met at the back of the boat, the rail was just a few inches from the water. Got my leatherman and cut all the lines holding the dinghy and we worked our way forward to the bow. She slipped under and we fired up the dinghy motor and started heading toward the turtle bay pier. A fishing panga found us and gave us a ride to the pier, where were able to get a hotel for the night.
    Next few days the turtle bay folks, and in particular Maria’s helped us out so that we can make our way home. This was a terrible tragedy, with the owner losing everything she has. I am thankful that we are all safe.
    Many questions can be asked:
    Should this boat have even made the trip?
    Should we not have been close to that shore?
    Should I have dragged my route over so that I had reference of direction?
    I hope others will learn from this mishap; I know that I learn something every time I go on the water.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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