Friday, May 31, 2013

Internet, Social Media, Could Save Sailor's Lives, Please Repost


Lady Domina

Editor's Note:  On April 24th the EPIRB from the Grain de Soleil was triggered.  Because the signal reportedly went off four times, some speculate the crew may have left the yacht in favor of a liferaft.  The Lady Domina was reported missing in the very same area at the very same time, though she may not have been within 500 miles of the location.  No one really knows where she she went.

You can help by re-posting this article.  The objective is to keep both of these yachts fresh in the mariner's mind for as long as possible.  Fellow mariners are an important part of any search effort.  Wouldn't it be tragic to sail by a life raft or miss a hijacked yacht because we were not looking? 

As baby-boomers retire, many will spend their golden years living on a trawler or a sailboat. This new crop of adventurers uses their knowledge of the internet, social media and high tech communications devices to keep themselves safe and informed. It is the use or non-use of these systems which will make a life or death difference for some.

E.P.I.R.B. Early Innovation

 The first major innovation in sea rescue descended from the aviation Electronic Location Transmitter (ELT). The most recent marine adaptation is called an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (E.P.I.R.B.). TheEPIRB is monitored by an international satellite system called Cospas-Sarsat. It spits out a code with the name of the boat, phone numbers to call, and in some cases the exact G.P.S. location of a missing yacht. EPIRB's are activated by hand or automatically via sea switch when they get wet.  

EPIRB Fires South Of Azores For Grain de Soleil

The EPIRB on a French yacht, the Grain de Soleil, went off April 24th, 2013, about 500 miles Southwest of the Azores. The unit was manually activated 4 times. The activation of an EPIRB guarantees a search will be launched, unlike the mere reporting of an overdue yacht. Rescue crews found part of a splintered boat with colors similar to the Grain de Soleil, though people who know the yacht don't believe the wreckage matches. There is no sign of the three missing crew members, including skipper Guillaume Mousette, and crew Eseulle Etienne and Frank Cousin. 

Grain de Soleil
Still Missing Lady Domina
A second yacht, the Lady Domina, was scheduled to pass within a few miles of the route of theGrain de Soleil at the same time. Unfortunately, the yacht's owner elected not to carry an EPIRB or a short wave radio. Some people go sailing precisely to get away from government intrusion.
Bill Dietrich Photo, Now Famous In Norway
Meanwhile, with the government search for the Grain de Soleil called off on April 28th, 2013,worried relatives are using social media to alert ships and boats across the globe to watch for both the Grain de Soleil and the Lady Domina. Relatives have set up a face book page for the Grain de Soleil.   Though the page is in French, modern translation tools like Google Translate impart the basics of conversations.  
The family of the missing French Sailors want you to have this message:
What You Can Do In The Search Effort
What you can do to support us:

1) Look for them if you are out there sailing (contact us for 
latest position information)
2) Like this page
3) Share this page
4) Talk to as many people as possible to increase awareness and
 link them to this page
5) Donate money even if it is a small amount through the 
Nautical Centre in Lorient via (only in French): 
6) Continue reading to find out more about the details

Lady Domina

The disappearance of Lady Domina is making it's way onto web pages and into sailing forums.  The family has been good about getting the message into the Norwegian press since the boat's owner and builder, Ovyn Slettvold, is from Norway.   Still missing are captain Ovyin Slettvold, Anders Mosteid, Stian Abrahamsen, Brian Fritzner and Katy Audrey Lee.
From Katey Audrey Lee's Face Book Page

Brian Fritzner is a Danish Citizen
Now "Wanted-Missing" by Interpol

Brian Fritzner is a Danish Citizen
Now "Wanted-Missing" by Interpol



Respond in confidence to:

Please place "Lady Domina" in subject line

Internet Range Extenders Help Pass The Word
Everyone hopes the exhausted crews of both yachts return to port, perhaps unaware a search has been launched.  If so, their fellow "yachties" may be the first to advise the skippers about the millions spent in search efforts, the fund raising parties for private searches, and the frantic families.
Crews were not always as informed about missing yachts through the internet just a few years ago.  It was difficult to log onto the net while at anchor. Wireless internet signals are line of sight signals, traveling in most cases only a few hundred yards. However, with the improvement of high tech range extenders, crew are able to stay connected, sometimes three miles away from hot spots.  The Ubiquity Bullet is one of the most popular units on the market.  The initial set-up can be difficult, but you can find companies to do that part for you.
Ubiquiti Titanium Bullet
The Ubiquiti is a device people love or they hate.  The biggest complaint is about the company which does not offer tech support to non-professional installers.  Some of the older units failed when they got to hot or by water intrusion.  When this unit works, it has a reputation of being very effective.  New installation techniques may extend life by keeping the unit dry, out of the sun and off of the mast.

Bill Dietrich has used various methods to connect to the internet.  By chance, Dietrich says he was using a regular wi-fi adapter with a hot spot at close range when he uploaded the only known photo of the Lady Domina.  Dietrich is the author of Retire Onto A Sailboat,

Dietrich takes a lot of photos of yachts he finds interesting.  With the yacht overdue, Norwegian newspapers contacted Dietrich.  They had run a sophisticated internet search to find the photo. Dietrich's photo became famous, even though better photographs have been located since then. 
Bill Dietrich from the yacht Magnolia

Satellite Phones One Key To Fast Rescue
Neither the Grain de Soleil nor the Lady Domina used the most useful and high tech tool available to a sailor. A few years ago, a satellite telephone was prohibitive in price. Today, a satellite phone can be purchased for under $1,000. 
While satellite phones are not cheap, they are lifesavers. When used in conjunction with a G.P.S., the sailor adrift can provide rescuers an exact description of location and nature of his emergency. Unlike cell phones, which use towers, sat phones connect directly to low-flying satellites. You don't need to duck. They are not that low! Since there are not many cell towers in remote regions of the ocean, cell phones are useless.  
Although the price of satellite telephones are within the reach of nearly every sailor, the data and voice plans for these phones remain prohibitive. You can spend $7.00 per gigabyte and well over a buck a minute for voice calls. They have cell plans in the $3,200 per month range if you want them.  With few competitors, internet access through satellite modems may only be for the rich, and the odd sailor willing to pay any price to get out of a life raft floating around the ocean.

The Globalstar Spot Messenger can be had for quite a bargain.  It is not designed as a satellite phone.  Instead, it is designed as an emergency rescue and tracking device.  It sells for less than $120 U.S.  The messenger is especially helpful for emergency and S.O.S. calls.  The units are waterproof and they float!

Yacht Tracking Provides Early Alert, Location
There is one other high tech option which sailors use to summon help or alert family about delays. By using a satellite phone or satellite connection, a tracking device can be placed on a boat so family and fans can watch the adventurer bob slowly across the ocean. These devices are automatic, updating every hour.  However, unless the crew remembers to grab the unit from it's mounting place during an abandon ship, at best the unit will alert for no contact, providing search crews a place to start looking. 
Some yachts are including a Yellowbrick tracking device in their budget.  A tracking device helps in the event of an emergency.   It is also a great tool to keep family advised of a yacht's progress.
Tracking devices are popular in races. For example, thePacific Cup Race from San Francisco to Oahu, Hawaii, the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race from Sydney, Australia to Hobart, Tasmania and the Transpac Race from Las Angeles, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. The latter two races resulted in the tragic loss of yachts and lives that might have been saved using modern technology not available to racers years ago.  The Yellowbrick Tracker has been used on several of these races.
If you see either the Grain de Soleil or the Lady Domina, or any of the crew, please report it immediately.  Awareness may be the best friend the missing sailors have at this point.  Please repost, tweet and otherwise help publicise this article.  You can copy the url for this web page or copy the technorati article link immediately below.  Both will get us to the same place, which is to keep this story alive until the missing yachts are found and the sailors returned to their families safely.


Do You Have A Tip For Us?  Please Write  Place Lady Domina in the subject bar.

Article first published as Ahoy! Internet, Social Help in Search for Lost Ships at Sea on Technorati.  Alterations completed with additional information 6-1-13.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell us what you think! Everyone has a point of view and yours counts!