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The Harbor Report: My take on the Aegean tragedy

May 04, 2012|By Len Bose

I have to assume you have read the Daily Pilot's reports regarding the sinking of the yacht Aegean, which claimed the lives of four crew members.

I first noticed the boat and crew on April 26, the night of the send-off party before the annual Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club. I had volunteered as a gangway attendant that allowed boat owners and crews access to their boats while keeping the general public off the docks.

The crew of the Aegean was easily spotted with its blue shirts that read, "I am on a boat," and their blue hats.

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The crew walked past me many times throughout the night. Because the boat was slipped next to the gangway, I was able to watch the crew step on and off its vessel many times throughout the night.

From 25 years of being a yacht broker, I can watch people approach a boat and see how they board one and tell whether they are very experienced or not.

My observations of this crew: This was not their first rodeo. They where having fun as a team and staying under control. In fact, I recall they all had returned to their boat by 9:30 the night of the send-off party.

I am not sure what happened to this crew but, if I were to guess, they probably had their dinner at 8 p.m. just west of the border. The wind had died down to under 5 knots at about 11 p.m., and the crew of the Aegean probably started its engine and reduced the watch to one person while the engine and autopilot did their work.

What happened next, we may never know, but if I were to continue with my conclusion, the one crew member left on deck probably grabbed his blanket and placed his back to the forward bulkhead of the cockpit and was facing aft.

He then would fall asleep, wake up, take a look around, and then fall asleep again. At least that's my speculation.

I know from experience if you allow yourself to fall into that routine you will fall into a deeper sleep each time. When I catch myself doing this, like on the delivery trip home the other day, I stand up and turn on my iPod.

For what's its worth, that's what I think happened. The crew member on watch fell asleep at the wheel, and the boat ran into North Coronado Island.

Tragic, yes, but this happens in cars every year. Nothing can be said to the family for their losses, other than, "From my family to yours, we wish you the best and are sorry for your loss."

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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