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Old 26th October 2017, 09:48 PM   #1
Bob001
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Two women rescued after five months adrift...

Quote:
(FOX 13) - U.S. Navy sailors were greeted by barking dogs and blown kisses Wednesday as they pulled alongside two Americans who had been drifting aboard a foundering sailboat for several months.

According to the Navy, Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba set sail this spring from Honolulu, headed to Tahiti a 2,700-mile trip south across the Pacific Ocean. Even when their engine failed in late May, they vowed to press on under sail power alone, believing they could still reach Tahiti.
http://www.ktvu.com/news/navy-rescue...sea-for-months
http://www.syracuse.com/us-news/inde...tos_video.html

How could this happen? Don't sailboats generally go where you steer them with the sails up? Could they have planned to motor a sailboat across the Pacific? How much fuel would they have to carry? And why didn't their emergency beacons work? They send signals directly to satellites, then to authorities. And wouldn't somebody with the resources to do this also pack a satphone?

To experienced sailors, does this make any sense?
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Old 26th October 2017, 10:40 PM   #2
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Old 26th October 2017, 11:25 PM   #3
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Were they running sea water through some sort of device to be able to drink it?
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Old 26th October 2017, 11:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Tank View Post
Were they running sea water through some sort of device to be able to drink it?
some unspecified water purifier. It musta been a good one.
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Old 26th October 2017, 11:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Tank View Post
Were they running sea water through some sort of device to be able to drink it?
Solar still

Reverse osmosis
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Old 26th October 2017, 11:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I hadn't thought of a solar still.
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Old 27th October 2017, 12:17 AM   #7
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Solar stills were (maybe still are) the standard emergency solution, packed into every life-raft. They're also why every desert traveler should carry a sheet of plastic with them.
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Old 27th October 2017, 12:24 AM   #8
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Having seen the photographs the two of them and the dogs seem very well fed. They survived thanks to a water purifier and dry food, apparently.

Emergency signals not heard because no boat was near enough is the claim I've read!?

Last edited by bluesjnr; 27th October 2017 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 27th October 2017, 12:54 AM   #9
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I'm not a sailor but I know a few, including two who are very experienced blue water sailing skippers and who are regularly hired to, say, skipper a sailing yacht from Europe to the Caribbean or vice versa. One skippered a yacht from Cape Town to St Helena and back which IMO is a fair feat of of both sailing and navigation.

Bearing that in mind, to be so far off course and be unable to either make their intended landfall, or any landfall, IMO indicates that if the story is true, they were insufficiently skilled at either seamanship or navigation to take on a journey of that difficulty and magnitude. In so doing not only did they put their own lives at risk but possibly the lives of anyone who would be involved in the search and rescue operation.

Looks like nautical Dunning-Kruger in operation to me.


edited to add.....

Even if their GPS system(s) had packed in or run out of power they should still have been able to get a halfway accurate fix on their position so long as they had a somewhat accurate watch (hardly a problem in today's age of quartz watches).

As for motoring that distance, that would have taken a heck of a lot of fuel. A good friend recently ferried his fishing boat from Lagos in Portugal to Madeira - a fraction of the distance from Hawaii to Tahiti - and had to carry extra fuel om deck. That's a boat whose only propulsion is engine and has according fuel capacity. I'd be surprised if a sailing yacht has sufficient fuel capacity to motor thousands of miles.

edited a second time....

Re-reading the story, it seems that the engine power was to augment the sails, not to replace them entirely. When they lost their engine, presumably they also lost their electrics once the batteries were depleted (and assuming that they couldn't solar charge them). Once that happened they would have lost their GPS and communications too.

Last edited by The Don; 27th October 2017 at 01:08 AM.
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Old 27th October 2017, 01:16 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Don't sailboats generally go where you steer them with the sails up?
Not necessarily.

You cannot always go in the exact direction you want; you cannot sail "head-to-wind" (in the exact direction the wind is coming from). Most "trailer sailors" have to sail about 40-45 off the wind. You need to "tack" if you want to make progress into the wind. Hawaii to Tahiti is sailing a few degrees of due south in a part of the Pacific Ocean where westerlies and south-westerlies are predominant. This is not a job for an inexperienced sailor.

Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Could they have planned to motor a sailboat across the Pacific? How much fuel would they have to carry?
Perhaps but unlikely.

Heaps

Its a distance of about 4500 km.. a long way to motor.

Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
And why didn't their emergency beacons work? They send signals directly to satellites, then to authorities. And wouldn't somebody with the resources to do this also pack a satphone?
Most (but not all) EPIRBs and SARBEs run through the Cospas-Sarsat system

If you ask me, this whole thing seems highly suspicious.
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Old 27th October 2017, 04:42 AM   #11
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It's also possible the sails got damaged at some point and they either didn't know how to repair them or ran out of materials to do it.

I have a friend in Seattle who owns a 52' sailboat. He and his wife take long distance trips at sea, often inviting friends to join them. He's former Navy so a little anal retentive about the ocean. Nobody sails with them that cannot use a sextant or knows how to navigate by the stars alone. He is rightly concerned that something could go wrong and he would not be able to stay in control.

That boat looks pretty beat down. Good on those ladies for making sure their dogs had life jackets.
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Old 27th October 2017, 04:53 AM   #12
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I'm reserving judgement until more data is available.

Yes, my first thought was, "Why didn't they use their sails?" As has been mentioned here there are a number of possibilities which might explain that. Without more data it is impossible to draw any sort of conclusion.

There is definitely more to the story, though.
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Old 27th October 2017, 04:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by KatieG View Post
It's also possible the sails got damaged at some point and they either didn't know how to repair them or ran out of materials to do it.

I have a friend in Seattle who owns a 52' sailboat. He and his wife take long distance trips at sea, often inviting friends to join them. He's former Navy so a little anal retentive about the ocean. Nobody sails with them that cannot use a sextant or knows how to navigate by the stars alone. He is rightly concerned that something could go wrong and he would not be able to stay in control.

That boat looks pretty beat down. Good on those ladies for making sure their dogs had life jackets.

If it has been at sea as long as they say then this isn't very surprising. Under the best of circumstances it would tend to look somewhat beat down.
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Last edited by quadraginta; 27th October 2017 at 04:58 AM.
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Old 27th October 2017, 05:01 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
I'm reserving judgement until more data is available.

Yes, my first thought was, "Why didn't they use their sails?" As has been mentioned here there are a number of possibilities which might explain that. Without more data it is impossible to draw any sort of conclusion.

There is definitely more to the story, though.

Just read the linked articles. I had been going by the news reports.

Apparently they did try to proceed under sail power alone. And got lost.
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Old 27th October 2017, 05:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Just read the linked articles. I had been going by the news reports.

Apparently they did try to proceed under sail power alone. And got lost.
Hah! Weaklings! Captain Bligh wouldn't have gotten lost!
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Old 27th October 2017, 06:28 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by KatieG View Post
Good on those ladies for making sure their dogs emergency food supply had life jackets.
Fixed that for you.
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Old 27th October 2017, 06:40 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
Hah! Weaklings! Captain Bligh wouldn't have gotten lost!

Just listened to a BBC report on the incident that gave the impression that the fishing boat which finally located them was alerted by one of their radio distress calls, which, if true, meant that they still had at least some electrical power.

So why no GPS?
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Old 27th October 2017, 06:45 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
Hah! Weaklings! Captain Bligh wouldn't have gotten lost!

Few men of his era, even experienced naval officers, could have managed to do what he did.

That's why he was mostly hailed as a hero when he returned to England.

I expect even fewer of this era could pull it off.
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Old 27th October 2017, 06:47 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Just listened to a BBC report on the incident that gave the impression that the fishing boat which finally located them was alerted by one of their radio distress calls, which, if true, meant that they still had at least some electrical power.

So why no GPS?
I know nothing about yachts such as these, other than you'll never get me on one if it's leaving port, but wouldn't they have some form of renewable energy, like a small wind or water turbine?
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Old 27th October 2017, 06:49 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Few men of his era, even experienced naval officers, could have managed to do what he did.

That's why he was mostly hailed as a hero when he returned to England.

I expect even fewer of this era could pull it off.
I wasn't being serious, of course. Bligh was an exceptional seaman in any era.
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Old 27th October 2017, 06:52 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
I know nothing about yachts such as these, other than you'll never get me on one if it's leaving port, but wouldn't they have some form of renewable energy, like a small wind or water turbine?

Yes. And probably some sort of solar panel accumulator as well.
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Last edited by quadraginta; 27th October 2017 at 07:35 AM.
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Old 27th October 2017, 07:23 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Yes. And probably some sort solar panel accumulator as well.
Of course! I forgot about that other option.

So, no flat batteries then, unless they were damaged which hasn't been claimed.

I've read the story on at least three different feeds and it seems that it's syndicated as none reveal any more than what we already know. Some thing is definitely missing here.
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Old 27th October 2017, 07:42 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Of course! I forgot about that other option.

So, no flat batteries then, unless they were damaged which hasn't been claimed.

I've read the story on at least three different feeds and it seems that it's syndicated as none reveal any more than what we already know. Some thing is definitely missing here.

If they were able to send out radio distress calls, and if, in fact, it was one such call that alerted the fishing boat to their presence, then they had some sort of power source.

Even their phones would have been able to give them a GPS position. (Remember, smartphones have their own radio for GPS, they don't rely on cell tower contact for that.)

So somehow it seems like they weren't merely lost.
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Old 27th October 2017, 08:08 AM   #24
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Another (Guardian) site says that their main mast broke. Can somebody explain to this landlubber WTF that big white thing is sticking up for about 5m in the middle of the boat with lines attached in the video?

Quote:
The women, who are both from Honolulu, lost their engine in bad weather in late May but believed they could still reach Tahiti using their sails. But they were left drifting in the ocean when their mast broke, Appel’s mother said after speaking to her on the phone.
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Old 27th October 2017, 08:28 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
Hah! Weaklings! Captain Bligh wouldn't have gotten lost!
What Bligh did is considered one of the greatest ever feats of seamanship / navigation.
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Old 27th October 2017, 08:29 AM   #26
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Rightly so. That bit of knowledge pops up in my head sometimes just to impress me again. 6700km in 47 days on a launch with a compass and quadrant, and no charts.

Sheer genius.
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Old 27th October 2017, 08:36 AM   #27
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I did a lot of blue water sailing once upon a time (pre dating GPS) and I enjoy survival at sea stories. I look forward to reading the particulars of this incident. I can say this much -- when things go south in the middle of an ocean, it feels spectacularly lonely out there.
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Old 27th October 2017, 08:44 AM   #28
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Yeah I don't think people get how big of an area we're talking.

I mean it is a huge undertaking to find a lost hiker who know is lost in a small National Park and the scale we're talking is many, many, many time that.

Tahiti is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Hawaii is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. This is a ship going from the middle of nowhere to another middle of nowhere traveling through a massive nothing.

And the were way out of the way of the major shipping lanes. They were in an area of very low traffic.

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Old 27th October 2017, 08:48 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Another (Guardian) site says that their main mast broke. Can somebody explain to this landlubber WTF that big white thing is sticking up for about 5m in the middle of the boat with lines attached in the video?
Various possibilities I guess. It's certainly possible for a mast to break, though remain upright, but not be capable of carrying the force of a sail, which is considerable. Would they not just take down the mast if it's broken? Again, possibly, though if it's carrying (for instance) a radio antenna it might be useful. I also have a feeling that removing the mast affects the balance of the boat - but people who actually sail would know more.
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Old 27th October 2017, 08:49 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
If they were able to send out radio distress calls, and if, in fact, it was one such call that alerted the fishing boat to their presence, then they had some sort of power source.

Even their phones would have been able to give them a GPS position. (Remember, smartphones have their own radio for GPS, they don't rely on cell tower contact for that.)

So somehow it seems like they weren't merely lost.
According to the Grauniad article linked by bluesjnr, they had a phone but dropped it week 1.

Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Another (Guardian) site says that their main mast broke. Can somebody explain to this landlubber WTF that big white thing is sticking up for about 5m in the middle of the boat with lines attached in the video?
It may not have been snapped but it may have been rendered inoperable. If they couldn't raise the sail (due to sailory internal gubbins being borked - to use highly technical terms ) then the mast was useless.
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Old 27th October 2017, 08:56 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Few men of his era, even experienced naval officers, could have managed to do what he did.

That's why he was mostly hailed as a hero when he returned to England.

I expect even fewer of this era could pull it off.
Men Against the Sea was a terrific tale; imho much better than Mutiny on the Bounty.
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Old 27th October 2017, 08:56 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by varwoche View Post
I did a lot of blue water sailing once upon a time (pre dating GPS) and I enjoy survival at sea stories. I look forward to reading the particulars of this incident. I can say this much -- when things go south in the middle of an ocean, it feels spectacularly lonely out there.
What happens when things go north?
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Old 27th October 2017, 09:01 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
What happens when things go north?
Generally speaking cannibalism.
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Old 27th October 2017, 09:23 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Another (Guardian) site says that their main mast broke. Can somebody explain to this landlubber WTF that big white thing is sticking up for about 5m in the middle of the boat with lines attached in the video?
I reckon it's about 16m tall, and it is definitely a mast. Indeed, it's the only mast (it isn't a sloop). However, I guess it is possible for it (the mast) to become inoperative without actually snapping off. There are various tracks, pulleys, sheets, wire ropes etc running up and down the mast, and I guess that at a stretch the language used could mean the mast was indeed broken (jammed such that the sail couldn't be raised), but still physically intact.
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Old 27th October 2017, 09:27 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Emergency signals not heard because no boat was near enough is the claim I've read!?
These days I can't imagine why someone would attempt a trip like that without a satphone and a solar charger.
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Old 27th October 2017, 09:29 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by phunk View Post
These days I can't imagine why someone would attempt a trip like that without a satphone and a solar charger.
Maybe they want the challenge of sailing like in the old days.
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Old 27th October 2017, 09:44 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Having seen the photographs the two of them and the dogs seem very well fed. They survived thanks to a water purifier and dry food, apparently.

Emergency signals not heard because no boat was near enough is the claim I've read!?

EPIRBs and PLBs -- battery-powered emergency locator beacons -- send a signal directly to satellites, which relay the signal to emergency services. Some are cheap enough that even hikers carry them. They work almost all over the world (maybe not at the poles).
https://www.westmarine.com/epirbs?Ns...oHighPrice%2C0
https://www.westmarine.com/personal-...oHighPrice%2C0

There are also satellite-based messaging gadgets that can be cheaper.
https://www.rei.com/c/satellite-mess...sort=min-price

If these two embarked on a trans-Pacific voyage without this basic equipment, there's something radically wrong with them.

Last edited by Bob001; 27th October 2017 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 27th October 2017, 10:08 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I reckon it's about 16m tall, and it is definitely a mast. Indeed, it's the only mast (it isn't a sloop). However, I guess it is possible for it (the mast) to become inoperative without actually snapping off. There are various tracks, pulleys, sheets, wire ropes etc running up and down the mast, and I guess that at a stretch the language used could mean the mast was indeed broken (jammed such that the sail couldn't be raised), but still physically intact.

The video provided by the Navy definitely shows the mast standing, and the jib neatly furled around the forestay. The mainsail boom seems to be intact and still in place, with the mainsail (not so neatly) furled to it. Both fore and aft mainmast stays appear to be intact.

They may not have been able to move under sail in bad conditions due to some sort of structural problems, but what appears to be there would certainly be enough to get under way in cooperative weather by someone able to jury rig even the simplest of alternatives.

I'm hoping to learn more (and different), but so far it looks like they had no business trying to take a boat like that on a trip like that. They shouldn't have been on blue water out of sight of land by themselves.
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Old 27th October 2017, 11:33 AM   #39
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Not exactly members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, it sounds like.
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Old 27th October 2017, 11:44 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
Various possibilities I guess. It's certainly possible for a mast to break, though remain upright, but not be capable of carrying the force of a sail, which is considerable. Would they not just take down the mast if it's broken? Again, possibly, though if it's carrying (for instance) a radio antenna it might be useful. I also have a feeling that removing the mast affects the balance of the boat - but people who actually sail would know more.
You can't take a mast down without a crane, except on the small, trailerable sailboats.
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