When a Ship Goes Missing : Remember El Faro

I wrote a version of this post two years ago during the Hurricane Joaquin, which, as it turns out in hindsight, was also the date of my own personal unnatural disaster.

It’s still one of the most tragic and AVOIDABLE disasters in maritime history.

We now know that everyone was lost at sea.

The El Faro was on a regular run from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, which usually take about a week or so.


From ABC News:

“A stricken cargo ship with 28 Americans on board that vanished during Hurricane Joaquin remained missing early Saturday.

Officials said there was still no sign of the El Faro, which was last heard from around 7:20 a.m. Thursday when a distress call indicated it had lost power and was taking on water.

The 735-foot vessel was bound for San Juan in Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida, at the time. It was carrying 28 Americans and five Polish nationals.

Image: Cargo ship El Faro missing in Hurricane Joaquin
The container ship El Faro. TOTE MARITIME via EPA

Around 850 square nautical miles were searched on Friday and the effort resumed at dawn Saturday.

When the El Faro left Jacksonville on Tuesday Joaquin was just a tropical storm. It quickly grew in intensity and was declared a Category 4 storm Thursday as it approached the Bahamas carrying winds of 130 mph.”


It could be 1815 or 1915, but in 2015, ships still go missing and are at the mercy of the elements.

Even with advanced communications technology and state-of-the-art equipment, Mother Nature reigns supreme and the terror of being lost at sea is all too real.

It seems as if the captain, for whatever reasons we’ll never know, made the deadly decision to sail directly into the eye of the hurricane, instead of either waiting it out or steering away from the extreme weather conditions.

Our hearts go out to the crew and their families. Their lives are forever and drastically changed.

 

 

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Being a Mariner’s Wife is a Constant State of Worry

Woke up to this terse email from my tugboat man:

emailtugboat

P.S. What he means by “go in” is sailing into a safe port, but now the weather is swirling all around him, and best practices dictate staying offshore. Oh, and “shitty” is a mariner term too haha.

I’m pretty sure I can speak for most mariner spouses when I say that we’re not completely calm unless our guys are on land — terra firma — and in our sightline.

There are just so many variables out there on the water; like that routine voyage from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, which my hub has done a zillion times—can be fraught with danger.

IF everything goes wrong. Not just one or two things, but as in the case of El Faro, EVERYthing went wrong. Loss of engine power, taking on water, steering directly into the eye of the hurricane. Like that.

I checked the National Weather Service offshore waters forecast for the area he’s in and it’s not great: high seas and strong to GALE FORCE winds with a late hurricane season disturbance.

In mariner terms, winds are categorized on the Beaufort Scale. Here’s a graphic:beaufortscale

Even though I know he’s the BEST captain in the world-

Even though I know he’s the SAFEST captain in the world-

Even though I know he’s been through dozens of bad storms all over the world-

Even though I know all of that, the El Faro tragedy is so fresh in our minds that it causes more worry.

I keep the boat phone handy—just in case.

I monitor the weather—just in case.

I put the company phone number on speed dial—just in case.

The worry is a constant thread that runs right along with all my other thoughts.

Like keeping a tab open on the computer and refreshing it every couple of seconds.

The worry is there at the gym during an (amazing) kickboxing class.

The worry is there grocery shopping.

Watching television can’t drown it out, nor does reading a book. (Poor choice of words.)

It’s very stressful, and when retail therapy doesn’t work its magic, you KNOW I’m super worried.

Tugs are very sturdy vessels; I’m sure he will be FINE.

After all, we have to decorate the nursery, right?

b4435b75e99e6e0b77e1eef60e97db78To all the mariners out on the high seas, be extra careful.

And a little merchant mariner humor…

e5c00b9eb0acba9500a514b7a2d80458

When a Ship Goes Missing : Remember El Faro

I wrote a version of this post two years ago during the Hurricane Joaquin, which, as it turns out in hindsight, was also the date of my own personal unnatural disaster.

It’s still one of the most tragic and AVOIDABLE disasters in maritime history.

We now know that everyone was lost at sea.

The El Faro was on a regular run from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico.


From ABC News:

“A stricken cargo ship with 28 Americans on board that vanished during Hurricane Joaquin remained missing early Saturday.

Officials said there was still no sign of the El Faro, which was last heard from around 7:20 a.m. Thursday when a distress call indicated it had lost power and was taking on water.

The 735-foot vessel was bound for San Juan in Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida, at the time. It was carrying 28 Americans and five Polish nationals.

Image: Cargo ship El Faro missing in Hurricane Joaquin
The container ship El Faro. TOTE MARITIME via EPA

Around 850 square nautical miles were searched on Friday and the effort resumed at dawn Saturday.

When the El Faro left Jacksonville on Tuesday Joaquin was just a tropical storm. It quickly grew in intensity and was declared a Category 4 storm Thursday as it approached the Bahamas carrying winds of 130 mph.”


It could be 1815 or 1915, but in 2015, ships still go missing and are at the mercy of the elements.

Even with advanced communications technology and state-of-the-art equipment, Mother Nature reigns supreme.

The terror of being lost at sea is all too real and always somewhere in the back of our minds.

Our hearts go out to the crew and their families.