Cascading unluckiness

It’s one of the main sub-themes today, in the light of some events yesterday, it’s time for a reminder of how quickly things cascade.

I hesitate to call it failure or error but rather ‘unluckiness’ but unluckiness does seem to come hard on the heels of unluckiness. Pete at OoL mentioned Morning Cloud, Heath’s yacht and there may well have been untoward things happening, politically but this is the official version:

https://www.yachtingworld.com/blogs/elaine-bunting/memorial-made-to-the-crew-lost-when-sir-edward-heaths-morning-cloud-broke-up-and-sank-64589

If you scroll down, you get to:

The crew set off in light winds, but when they crossed the Thames Estuary the wind strengthened, then decreased to about Force 6, so they decided to continue.

‘Past Beachy Head the wind increased again, to a Force 9,’ Sir Edward wrote. ‘The boat, as expected, was handling well and the wind, blowing south-west, was helpful at that point.’

At around 11pm on Monday 2 September Morning Cloud was hit by a large wave, which knocked the boat over. There was damage, but the yacht righted herself. When she did so, it was clear that two of the crew had been knocked overboard.

One was retrieved, but the other, Nigel Cumming, could not be found, even when the yacht was turned around and a search made. There was a broken lifeline on the port side where Cumming had gone over.

The skipper fired off several flares. Two failed, and third was blown downwind.

The search for Nigel Cumming continued until Morning Cloud was hit by a second large wave and again overturned. Christopher Chadd had been wearing a lifejacket but was not clipped on. He was swept off the deck and washed overboard.

Morning Cloud had been badly damaged and several of the crew were injured. Thurs Blewett had broken his shoulder blade and ribs, had a punctured a lung, and was in a bad way. Gardner Sorum was also wounded, and Gerry Smith was in great pain and later diagnosed with three broken vertebrae.

The yacht’s six-man liferaft had been swept away, and the situation was desperate. The yacht was taking in large amounts of water, and fearing that she would soon sink, Don Blewett called to abandon to the yacht’s remaining four-man liferaft.

The crew crammed into the raft and drifted. After eight hours of suffering in the raft, the crew were washed ashore near Brighton.

The body of Nigel Cumming was later recovered, but Christopher Chadd was never found. His loss affected Heath greatly.

We’re talking here of a couple of minor errors. e.g. failing to wear harness in force 6-9, also design errors and then the infamous cascade effect of first one wave, then another, other things also going wrong.

This isn’t the Morning Cloud, it’s more recent but it illustrates the rogue nature of cascading:

Look at the rest of the sea, then look at that wave behind, and the one left foreground.

OK, let’s do a hypothetical.  Danica Patrick has retired and is visiting friends in a good car, a Merc [just making that up] which is probably going to do the trip easily and in good time.

Usually.  Do you feel a film script coming on?

She overstays because her company is highly desired and then realises she’d better go because she must be at a studio next mid-morning for an interview. The trip back is from a pretty bad city for crime, to a more tranquil resort in a better area.

The only two stops she need make are for personal fuel and for fuel for the car and she knows to go to well lit places on the main drag used my many people – that part is not the issue.  Not only that but she’s a canny lass, strong as an ox and can hurt you if you tangle with her.

She’s checked out her supplies before leaving, from tools to medical to a jerry can of fuel, she is prepared, she’s even checked the spare tyre and it’s pumped up.  All of this is just experience.

A major thing in her favour is that she doesn’t feel she needs to prove anything to anyone, so she’s calm, confident and will take her time, not rush.  She’s keeping to the main interstates, which are safer than the byways.

The downside is that she is alone, she’s been celebrating all day and she’s tired, plus she’s leaving at rush hour.  I’ll repeat that – she’s alone.

O-oh, thinks the reader.  Do not fear, reader, this is just a fictional hypothetical.

Along the way, she gets weather, traffic reports, what to avoid, what not, how things are going, she could check into a motel if necessary and phone everyone from there. She’s in touch with key people in the way ship’s captains check in with location and status reports.  She has GPS.

Her chances of a puncture are low but guess what – something had fallen off a truck earlier in the day and though this twisted metal was in the gravel to the side, she suddenly has to swerve to avoid an idiot barrelling through and yes – you guessed it. I repeat that this is just a hypothetical, an imagining.

She knows how to change a wheel, she’s even clever enough to have a jack handle extension for her smaller body, she’s going to refuse help because unfortunately, for all her ability, she’s still a baby doll cutey, she’s a honey and that attracts the wrong sort of attention, as well as the right.  Were it a big hairy beast of a man, it would not be quite the issue.  That’s just life.

She gets to work.

Half a mile back on the interstate, four ne’er-do-wells see this piece of meat, in their eyes, changing a wheel on an expensive car, they think all their birthdays have come at once. They’re boozed and drugged to the gills, they’re boys our for a bit of fun.

Have you spotted the error?  Yep, she’d never change the wheel in the first place, she’d swallow her pride and call the AA or the equivalent in America, lock the doors and then wait.  Just as I had no choice but to do on the M25 anticlockwise when my prop shaft fell out and cascaded back down the road.  I just happened to pull up at the then AA box near the A10, not all that far from South Mimms.

They came and got me.  With Danica, I’d say she was probably Ok, 97%, the chances were slim of something going wrong, more likely at the end of the interstate.  But still – cautionary tale – at least don’t travel alone at certain hours. Not these days.

Think I’ll throw in this from the crew this morning:

Vital front page questions of our time:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/48952463

Maybe not a bad idea, given that the RNLI [sea] rescued 479 idiots using inflatables last year …

11 comments for “Cascading unluckiness

  1. dearieme
    August 13, 2019 at 13:13

    How did he afford Morning Cloud in the first place?

  2. dearieme
    August 13, 2019 at 13:14
    • August 13, 2019 at 13:21

      The S&S is not super expensive, it’s the one used by Jessica Watson for her round the world, well known as a bluewater boat.

      • dearieme
        August 13, 2019 at 13:37

        I dare say. But how did he afford it? He never had a particularly well paid job nor any family money.

        Mind you I also used to wonder about the standard of living of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan. Though I suppose they might have married money.

        • August 13, 2019 at 13:40

          The largesse of his masters of course.

        • JohnM
          August 13, 2019 at 16:49

          Do you know of a poor MP? Every one of them ‘milks’ the taxpayer for all that they can take.

          Did the expense scandal teach them anything – NO! They are still up to their tricks. The case of fraud by the MP who was re-selected for the recent election in South Wales also shows that ‘they look after their own’. Lying, thieving and brazen with it.

          • August 14, 2019 at 02:46

            Can’t think of one.

  3. Mudplugger
    August 13, 2019 at 14:21

    There’s the key element of ‘choice’.

    If you get a puncture and your car has a spare wheel and all the tools, you have the power to make a choice whether to fix it yourself or summon assistance. Your decision will be influenced by a number of factors, but it’s your decision.

    If your prop-shaft drops off mid-motorway, the choice element is not available to you – the vehicle is immobile and cannot be fixed without external support.

    • August 13, 2019 at 14:51

      As became apparent.

      Recovering the said prop shaft was not so difficult, it had catapulted, end on end, past oncoming cars onto the verge. Handy. I celebrated by taking the offered Volvo Estate on a circumnavigation of the M25 and back to South Mimms, determining that just because I’d done similar in Antwerp, it would also be a piece of cake. Bad move.

  4. Mark Matis
    August 13, 2019 at 18:38

    Any bets on whether Ms. Patrick normally packs?

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