And I offer Doug’s original posting with his weather / wave report of years ago… As well as his original thoughts:
"Well, as the insurance check is “in the mail” I think I can let everyone know what happened, in greater detail, without concern for possible complications.
We left Boston on July 15th, and about a week out, the oil cooler malfunctioned allowing ocean water to mix with the engine oil. I changed the oil to remove as much of the water as possible, and did shut the thru hull for the ocean water to the engine.
The plan at that point was to continue to sail to our intended first target of the Azores, and attempt to replace the cooler there.
On July 26th, 2 Main (ketch rigged Gulfstar 50), starboard stays broke at the chainplate connections, just under the deck, then pulled through the deck leaving some holes on the deck.
Before I devised my own plan for dealing with this, I contacted both our insurance company and the coast guard to find out what our options might be, for towing, or assistance. I quickly learned it would cost $250K to be towed home.
So, I realized I could temporarily attach the stays using some line and make a connection from the end of the stays to the starboard jib sheet travelors; not deploy the main sail, and shorten the jib by furling it somewhat. If I turned back to Boston, with such greatly reduced sails, the SW wind would only stress the port stays, and we could slowly sail home.
The next morning, July 27th, we discovered a lot of water in the bilge.
Well, my First Mate / Mrs. Sabbag, basically threw in the towel at that development. And I couldn’t (though I should have in retrospect) overcome her insistence on abandoning the vessel.
Considering what happened next, I really should NOT have CALLED THE COAST GUARD for assistance.
Per the mutual assistance program AMVER, a 900 foot oil tanker arrived, in only a few hours(!) and as I was afraid of, the **** really hit the fan.
You do not bring a 50 foot sailboat alongside a 900 foot oil tanker in 10 to 15 foot seas, unless you do not care about what will happen.
The tanker, (after trying to grab our deployed sea anchor with a grappling hook, but missed it because they were too far forward of the 500 foot line), decided ON THEIR OWN to intersect the sea anchor rode / line, which brought the Triumph alongside the starboard side of the tanker and the sea anchor alongside their port side. With the tanker still underway, the sea anchor was moving aft thereby pulling the Triumph forward.
Well, what happened next was unbelievable. The Triumph was pulled into their anchor / anchor housing, which effectively crushed the Triumph, smashing her from the bow toward the stern, as the 10 - 15 foot waves smashed us up into the metal. We had been standing on deck, and had to run to the stern to avoid the falling main mast, and all the flying debris and the smashing anchor! It was a scene from a horror movie.
From there it only got worse.
I wrapped a line from the tanker around my wife and pushed her overboard. They pulled her up to their deck in fairly short order.
But, when I (erroneously) went over board with one of the lines in my hands, it ended up requiring over 3 hours for me to get on deck.
I learned to vomit underwater in order to get rid of the water I was takin into my stomach, in order to regain bouyancy, and I “went down” numerous times only to (I learned later), amaze the tanker crew by coming back up.
By the time I barely managed to make it to a life bouy, I was losing strength from hypothermia, the repeated sinking / vomiting, and all the screaming I had been doing.
It is quite a sick feeling to be almost 1000 miles out to sea and realize nobody is going to jump in to get you / there is no helicopter with a basket and a USCG trained savior, and the only vessel around is as frightening up close as she could run me over like any piece of flotsam.
I was quite sure I was dead, but amazingly I am not.
If you are ever in a pickle, FIX IT YOURSELF, DO NOT ASK FOR ASSISTANCE, and tell your “crew” to suck it up.
ONLY, when you are in your life pod, after your boat has sunk, should you call for assistance unless you are prepared for what happens when a 50 footer meets a 900 footer.
Now, we are shopping for a newer boat, and have our sights on an AMEL."