Monday, September 23, 2013

Mario Vittone speaks at MOHAI in Seattle about the Sinking of HMS Bounty

"The Illusion of Experience"

6PM, September 24th 2013
MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) 860 Terry Ave N Seattle WA

On the morning of Oct. 25, 2012, the captain and crew of the sailing vessel HMS Bounty knew that their ship’s frames were rotted, the radios were untested and the de-watering equipment was failing.
Eight hours later they sailed her — intentionally — into the path of a Category 3 hurricane.

Two days later the ship was flooding. Two days after that the captain and one of the deckhands were dead and Bounty lay at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Why did they leave? How could anyone make that decision? And why didn’t they call for help when they needed it? Join maritime safety expert Mario Vittone for a talk tomorrow, Sept. 24, as he walks through the last four days of a ship where the lack of failure was mistaken for success, where getting better was mistaken for good enough, and where one man’s experience fooled an entire crew into the worst decision of their lives.

Vittone will present his findings from the recent USCG hearings on HMS Bounty at 6 p.m. at the Museum of History & Industry, located on south Lake Union in Seattle, next door to The Center for Wooden Boats. A U.S. Navy and Coast Guard veteran, Vittone has written extensively about the Bounty sinking for the website gCaptain.

The Schooner Zodiac is hosting the talk. Admission is free, but donations for The Center for Wooden Boats will be accepted at the event.

If you’re planning to go, RSVP at info@schoonerzodiac or call 206.719.7622 so organizers know how many seats to put out.

 Mario Vittone

Mario Vittone has been heading offshore since 1985. His first experience with at-sea emergencies came that first year as ship’s company aboard the USS Coral Sea, a WWII era aircraft carrier. Joining the Coast Guard in 1991 he worked at Training Center Cape May before transferring to the Cutter Point Franklin as a helmsman and small boat coxswain. He graduated from Helicopter Rescue Swimmer School in 1994 and began his career as a rescue swimmer with two tours at Air Station Elizabeth City, one at Air Station New Orleans, then finally as an instructor and course developer at the Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City, NC. He recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard following  four years as a vessel inspector and accident investigator in Norfolk, Virginia.

Mario is a leading expert on immersion hypothermia, drowning, sea survival, and safety at sea. His writing has appeared in Yachting Magazine, SaltWater Sportsman, MotorBoating Magazine, Lifelines, On-Scene, and Reader’s Digest. He has developed courses for municipal rescue teams and the military on search and rescue tactics and open ocean survival. In 2007, he was named as the Coast Guard Active Duty Enlisted Person of the Year and was named as the 2009 recipient of the Alex Haley Award for Journalism.

He now directs the maritime safety division of VLinc Corporation where he overseas the development of maritime safety and security training products, helping mariners come home safely from their work at sea.

Mario lives with his wife and children in Coastal Virginia, and when he’s not writing about the water he can be found on his 32 foot St. Tropez, making sure she stays above it.

Of Fat Cats and People Watching

 It is fall now, and the marina is filling up as working boats and cruisers return to their moorings. The atmosphere is one of hustle and bustle while boaters scurry to put things right before the weather conditions begin to disintegrate. As an avid people watcher, I find this time of year to be both amusing and generally annoying... mostly due to the apparent need for marking one's territory once they are back to shore.
The communal dock carts begin to disappear as the hoarders do their usual thing and any decent hoses start to migrate from slip to slip.

...Human nature or just first-world-problems?

Last week I was typing away on my laptop when I noticed that a giant catamaran was approaching the slip opposite Kwaietek's. Since they seemed to be coming in a little hot, I popped my head out to see what might ensue. No real drama; once their boat-wake had abated, they managed to get lines ashore and cavalierly fend off the other vessel that shared the slip. I went back to my work, satisfied that all was well, but extremely grateful that Kwaietek  had a neighbor alongside her that was a tad more conservative in his close quarters modis operandi.

About an hour later, I noticed that the couple from the big cat were standing out in front of their new neighbor's boat, pointing and scratching their heads. Since the boat's owner was nowhere around, my curiosity was peaked. What could be going on with his boat and why were they so interested in the position of the vessel in the slip? (Their 26' wide catamaran was clearly sucking up more than its fair share of the slip and about 1/4 of the neighbor's side as well, but there was a good two to three foot space between the vessels, so what could be going on? The owners of the big cat started to untie their neighbor's dock lines and began to reposition his boat in it's slip, grabbing the bulwarks and pulling the boat tighter into the finger pier. I had a strong and somewhat negative reaction to this, for as at least in my circles, touching another vessel's mooring-lines is verboten. "If it ain't sinking- don't touch the lines".
I chose to walk out onto our boat deck and make them fully aware that I was watching what they were about....still, I hesitated to call them on it. (Perhaps they knew the boat's owner? Maybe they'd been given permission...) Still, I thought to myself,  I'm glad we don't have to share a slip with these guys!

A few days later, we return from a short cruise to find that the big catamaran has been shifted to share the very slip in which we have our sailboat docked... and they were hooked up to our dock water supply!

What transpired while we were away was that the owner of the boat who initially shared the slip with these fat cats had returned to find his mooring-lines shortened and repositioned and apparently he blew up.... as it turns out, he'd just had his boat hauled out and painted a week prior. The paint was still sort of soft and once the fat cats pushed it up closer to the dock, the fenders were crunched hard between dock and soft paint. Needless to say, he was not a happy camper. Solution?...put them somewhere else.... in this case, next to Sugaree.   Oh durn.

Since that episode, some basic dock etiquette P's & Q's have been gently conveyed to the fat cats in the socially-normalizing method we use on a working dock--a.k.a. shunning .
Hopefully, our little sailboat will not suffer the same treatment as their initial slip-mate. (Although currently, why a 26' wide/ 50' long catamaran is paying the same rate for moorage as our 12' wide/40' long sailboat is a real mystery to me).  I suppose that the moral of this story is: When living on a dock, if you see something that doesn't look quite  right, speak up. Others may very well thank you for it, and you may not end up with horse's arses as your slip-mates.

For me, it's back to my people watching pastime and attempting to successfully transition into marina existence after several months of sailing and pure freedom., If I could just track down a dock cart!

~ Chris