Hale’s Revenge

November 20, 2014

Two experienced sailors and one newb set out October 6th to deliver Hale’s Revenge, an Islander 32–the older, McGlasson design–from Honolulu to Everett.  This boat is a heavy displacement, full keel cruiser.  It was well-equipped for the voyage.  The owner was unable to make the trip, but needed the boat moved ASAP.  We had studied the pilot chart, and knew it could possibly be a rough ride, but–well, I don’t know what “but.”  We weighed the risks and chose to do it.

It didn’t end well.  On October 26, after two other gales, numerous equipment failures, and almost three weeks at sea we were swamped by an irregular wave at about 42N 142W. We’d been weathering yet another storm when it hit us, with a force and from a direction that surprised us.  It knocked out our cabin doors, filled the boat with seawater, blew out the portside windows from the inside, and pretty much destroyed the cabin.

Our approximate position at the time of the accident.

The red “X” marks our approximate position at the time of the accident.

We removed the water, but subsequent breaking waves continued to fill the cabin.  With more than 800 miles to go, continued depressions on the menu, no way to secure the cabin, no communications, no lights, shredded storm sails, the onset of hypothermia, and chronic seasickness in one crew member and serious injuries in the other, my decision to activate our beacon was easy.  The first priority, after all, is to deliver the crew alive.

Hale’s Revenge was low in the water when the two crew were hoisted aboard the Hyundai Grace. Before I left I scuttled her by cutting the raw water intake hose.  I imagine it took a day or so to finish going down.

This was a calculated risk by experienced sailors delivering a well-equipped, seaworthy boat. My policy is to draw a line between personal discomfort and safety.  I can take a lot of personal discomfort, but I don’t negotiate when safety or seaworthiness are on the line.  Especially with other people’s lives.  This was just an unfortunate accident.

Attempting to raft to the Hyundai Grace

Attempting to raft to the Hyundai Grace

Experienced sailors will recognize there is more to this story. There always is.  I avoided details here because I don’t want a 10,000 word blog entry.  If you have questions, please ask them.  If you’re really, really curious, ask me for the whole report.


One Response to “Hale’s Revenge”

  1. Stephen Ludwig Says:

    I helped Peter Heiberg deliver Scaramouche V from BC to SF Bay this summer. He shared your experience of bringing down BackBeat from Washington to SF and now this. Unbelievable…and believable all the same. We on Scaramouche ran into a bit of bad weather and I got a small taste for how quickly things could snowball. I’m glad you and your crew are all safe. I’m sure you’re a better sailor for it.
    I would be interested in the full report or details of how things progressed and what your thoughts on what you may have done differently while prepping Hale’s Revenge knowing what you know now. Maybe you would have done nothing different and that’s okay too. The fact that you guys are all alive and well is testimony that you skippered the boat well.

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