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Voyagers explain reason for writing sinking story

Jan 1, 2003

To the editor:

We sympathize with Brad Kaufman's recent indignant letter ("Voyagers' actions raise sailor's ire," Issue No. 102, November/December 1999) regarding our article about our "near sinking experience" ("Almost sunk," Issue No. 100, September/October 1999). We were frustrated too, and wrote the article to show how some of our more stupid mistakes contributed to our difficulties. Our hope was that other novice voyagers might benefit. We did not fantasize, even for a moment, that we could help an old salt of Kaufman's obvious acumen.

We will not attempt to dispute his views on the laws of physics; we may have been dead wrong in thinking that as Namaste sank lower and lower in the ocean, the flow of water into her increased. Maybe it was just an illusion that had something to do with being there. We do, however, wonder how long Mr. Kaufman's bucket brigade could keep up with a full bilge and a 1,000-gallon-per-hour leak. All it would take, he notes, is just one three-gallon bucket: fill it to the tippy top down in the bilge, slog up the companionway ladder (roughly 25 pounds each time) without spilling any as the boat rocks and rolls through 50° to 60°, and empty it overboard. Then repeat the cycle every 10 seconds.

Of course, that's just to keep up with the leak, not to get far enough ahead to find out what's actually causing it and try to fix it. To have followed Kaufman's sage advice for the 60 hours to took us to tack upwind and up-current back to Aruba would have meant only 21,600 bucket cycles. That's just 64,800 gallons, or half a million pounds of water. No big deal, we suppose, if you are reasonably fit.

We hope that when Kaufman finishes his live-aboard boat and leaves the marina that he never has to put his theories to the test. If he does, we hope the Navy and Coast Guard are there for him as they were for us.