Saturday, June 11, 2016 – Race Day 7
WEATHER: The high pressure system, which has caused the strong winds experienced by the rowers over the past few days is thankfully forecast to shift west tonight. Our rowers should see the wind steadily drop between now and Monday, as the wind clocks from NNW to N. The 6-9ft seas will remain unfortunately. The trade winds are well established south of the Mexican border (32.5 degrees N), as Uniting Nations discovered yesterday. We look forward to seeing the rest of our teams enjoy a similar breakaway for Hawaii.
Today we will start with the definition of an EPIRB, which is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. In the event of an emergency, this is the device that aids in the detection and location of boats, and people in distress.
The reason we mention this is that over the last 24 hours, two EPIRB devices onboard boats in the Great Pacific Race have been activated. DON’T PANIC – EVERYONE IS FINE! But this has been a lesson in how these devices are activated and the emergency processes, which everyone at the Great Pacific Race Office takes very seriously. If an EPIRB goes off, families are notified and the United Stated Coast Guard is notified. This is a serious matter.
The first call we received was from Fight the Kraken. Their EPIRB had been activated due to water getting into the watertight device. When this happened, and since it was an accident, the EPIRB call was cancelled and deactivated. Unfortunately, there was still water surrounding the unit so the signal went off again after the 24 hour deactivation period had expired.
“I disconnected the battery and found that the EPIRB was full of water” Vicki of Fight the Kraken told the GPR Race Office. “We hadn’t seen any planes so far and we looked up to see a twin prop flying overhead. ‘Thats not a commercial jet’ I said to Megan.” They knew something was up. She immediately came inside the cabin to call the race office (who had been trying to call them) to find out why a plane was circling overhead. She then reported that the EPIRB was “flashing red, then white and green and beeping. It was doing everything!”
Indeed, this is exactly what it is suppose to do IN AN EMERGENCY. The Kraken girls, however, were NOT in an emergency and hadn’t activated their EPIRB. Crews are now being asked to keep their satellite phones on all the time rather than at selected hours during the day so the GPR race office can call them at anytime (for example if an EPIRB activates and the crew are unaware of it). Crews are also being advised to cover their EPIRB with a clear plastic bag to prevent high pressure water from the huge waves the crews have been experiencing from forcing its way into the watertight electronic casing of the EPIRB and causing us all another sleepless night. Our thanks to the USCG Sector San Francisco and Los Angeles for being always ready, even if it is a false alarm. Semper Paratus.
The protocol when an EPIRB goes off includes contacting the families. When we called Marilyn Mullins, also known as the “Kraken Mum” she said “I’ve been watching the YB Race tracker. I mean I check it several times a day – but now I’ve been watching it and I was pretty sure that they were OK and rowing since they were doing 2.9 knots.”
The second EPIRB to be activated was on board Endurance Limits USA. In this case the unit had been knocked out of its mounting bracket by an almighty wave and at first the crew thought it had been lost overboard but was later found near the scuppers. It must have been the shear force of the wave which activated the EPIRB. In this instance we were able to quickly confirm that the crew were fine.
EPIRB activation is a very serious matter. Countless calls between our Race Office and the crews, families and the United States Coast Guard occur whenever an EPIRB unit is activated because until we know the crew are okay every activation has to be treated as an emergency.
You may have also noticed that Endurance Limits have been on sea anchor for several days. The remaining team members on board, Darren, Arron and Raf have had to make the disappointing decision to retire from the race. Their boat ‘Ohana’ will go under tow tomorrow at first light. We will keep you posted as they continue their journey back to land.
Positive news was received from the crew on board Sons of the Pacific. “We are in better spirits now that clouds have cleared and the wind/sea changed to NNW. We were tired of beam on seas” stated Erden Eruc, skipper of Yves. “We slept last night, let the boat run with the seas. We had 2.5ft of water in the footwell and 14nm distance behind us by the morning. Rough transition” And all is good with our Sons of the Pacific.
GREAT PACIFIC RACE STANDINGS as of 4:00 pm PDT today
1 Uniting Nations: ROWING – 1813 NM to finish, Rowed 424 NM
2 Moana Uli: ROWING – 1846 NM to finish, Rowed 364 NM
3 Team Ocean Hearts: ROWING – 1945 NM to finish, Rowed 302 NM
4 Sons of the Pacific: ROWING – 1952 NM to finish, Rowed 252 NM
5 Endurance Limits: ROWING – 1969 NM to finish, Rowed 235 NM
6 Row Aloha: ROWING – 1969 NM to finish, Rowed 213 NM
7 Endurance Limits USA: ROWING – 1971 NM to finish, Rowed 189 NM
8 Fight the Kraken: ROWING – 1979 NM to finish, Rowed 242 NM