Laura was my friend. It was her aspiration to learn all of the ropes of tallships and of sailing in general, and to create an organization that enabled disadvantaged and free spirited people to discover the true joy of being at sea through a charity training program for sailors to be.
She was remarkably fun and bright and ethical, and I mean really compassionate and just. (She wouldn't wear sweatshop clothes or eat blood chocolate! And although she never saw enough equal opportunity for the underpriveleged, she still believed in it.) She wanted to share her joy of life with others and empower people. She thought that she'd someday do just that through starting out as a deckhand on the Picton Castle. She had already fallen in love with the sea on previous sailing journeys. How she wanted to sail with such awesomely diverse people.
She never guessed that her life onboard would be short. And she knew that life had no guarantees, and so she chose to live it fully. She pursued her dream through the Picton Castle, obviously one of the more intriguing training options that she'd researched.
But after seeing "Overboard" I am truly saddened for numerous reasons. I'll skip all the ones relating to losing a most stellar friend. What I found to be lost through this experience so far was her Spirit of Endeavoring, of Engaging, of Jubilance, that Laura sought and that Laura taught through her daily doings. Shall we not forget that Spirit? Need it be lost forever? I didn't see it in the captain, nor the crew, nor her family, understandably. And I felt the irony as the captain absolved himself and ship of all responsibility for her being, distancing himself.
I saw an unwillingness to address the basic human needs that were lacking on that ship, and our most basic emotional needs as crewmembers, friends, and family of Laura's. I imagined Laura as Captain and what she'd have done if the captain's shoe were on her foot...and it wouldn't have come off like that.
Yet everyone can contribute positively in this experience; we just need to realize it. We all want to feel some resolve, and it comes easier when we are open, honest, and respectful with each other. And to all of you who know Laura, my heart goes out to you. Laura wanted more sailing opportunities around the world for everyone, so let's help her dream be realized in whatever way we can, and let's do it right, together. Fix what needs to be fixed, and begin a new chapter. This may only be the beginning of Laura's story and her dream. Through discovering some new peace and excitement and by wholeheartedly living our lives we may very well make Laura happy.
I am a ship captain and have commanded major and minor ships in the worst weather, arctic, wintertime north atlantic and hurricane. I have also investigated many marine accidents, conducted desparate search and rescues and overseen the safety of my personnel throughout many tough situations.
While square rigged tall ships and their poor cousins (converted motor trawlers) may stimulate in some a romantic notion of traditional seafaring, there is no sound reason, in mid-December, off the North American eastern seaboard, especially in heavy weather, to ignore the basic elements of marine occupational safety, the practices of good seamanship and command leadership.
The Picton Castle neglected its crew in failing to train them, equip them and prepare them for appropriate actions in a storm. Laura was a victim of command neglect. Any leader can see this. If the argument is that the sea is dangerous and everybody should go there with full realization of its inherent dangers, then the captain's role is to prepare his sailors adequately with the tools at his disposal.
If the argument is that survival-type gear is an incumberance, then fit personnel with uninflated style preservers to be activated in the water, clip on their jerseys chemlites and whistles, send them on deck with a buddy system, wear once-only suits, place the weather rail and focsle out of bounds and so on.
If the argument is that it was a rogue wave, well quite frankly, these are expected in heavy weather and at night. Large waves can't been seen coming, or from what angle and at what moment they will crest and cause the ship to pitch heavily into a trough. In such circumstances, exposed crew on deck do not stand a chance even on a 500 foot ship 30 feet above the waterline. What was Picton Castle's commander thinking, that his crew wouldn't be washed overboard because they didn't want to be. He must personally accept his resposbility in losing Laura and moreover, he endangered his ship by being forced to manoeuvre about at the height of a storm at night.
Aside from these observations, there was enough excellent reporting by the Fifth Estate to suggest that there was much more wrong on the Picton Castle than life preservers, footwear, harnasses and ill-prepared debutants.
Rest in peace Laura Gainey, well done CBC, the Fifth Estate and courage to the Gainey family. Canadian accident investigators are the best in the world.
In response to E. Eder comments :
Indeed, the ocean can be unpredictable and unforgiving, but in wearing a harness and attaching one's self to a boat in stormy, threatening weather, at least gives one more than a fighting chance at survival. The Captain himself almost went in with another crew member, only hours before and both were not wearing a harness or a PFD? They were lucky. Had this been taken for the warning it was, Laura Gainey might be here today too.
Coupled with the fact that there was a lack of enforcement in the wearing of harnesses on other occasions as we witnessed from video footage and crew testaments, suggests that indeed there is/was a serious problem with safety for which Dan Moreland and the Captain of the PC for this particular voyage, were directly responsible.
— Posted on March 31, 2008 01:06 PM
After watching a recent re-broadcast of the CBC Fifth Estate documentary Overboard, I found it to be very biased against the captain and crew of the Picton Castle. Gillian Findlay was obviously out of her depth orchestrating this critical report.
While the loss of crew member Laura Gainey was a tragedy for her family and crew mates, it was not one that can be so easily blamed on the ship or its captain. It was gratifying to read the many postings of support from experienced mariners of blue water square sail and former officers and crew members of sail training vessels like and including the Picton Castle.
With the benefit of the experienced comments of the foregoing, Overboard is obviously a flawed and misleading presentation doing no justice to anyone. The simplistic notions of land based persons and some recreational sailors, about the practicality and efficacy of life jackets, inflatable vests, strobe lights, safety harness and lifelines and the prospects of recovering person who has gone overboard, under all heavy weather circumstances aboard a large working square rigged ship are just as invalid as the suggestion that the ship should have headed for the nearest port in the face of bad weather. All blue water sailors know that a well found vessel is far safer, well out to sea in a storm. A more balanced re-visit of the topic would seem to be in order.
I would recommend to Gillian Findley and any others who want an accurate insight into the true nature of a square rigged vessel at sea and the life of the young seamen who worked them in all weathers, twenty-four seven, a book entitled, Sailing Tall Around the World on the Square-Rigged Passat (1946 1948), written by Max Wood, who started as a sail apprentice at age sixteen on one of the last Finnish square rigged cargo vessels. It is an unvarnished telling of the daily danger and hardship for crews on a working square rigged ship. Not that the book should set a standard for how the few such ships surviving today, should be run, but never-the-less, one which will put the events occurring on the Picton Castle into some perspective.
As much as I feel for the Gainey family there is no blame to be had here. This can best be described as a witch hunt by a reporter who knows nothing of the sea and tried every means she could to spin the story to an end she had already determined . This is not reporting this is sensationaism at it's best. Shame on the CBC for staining the reputation of the Captain and crew of the Picton Castle of which Ms. Gainey was a proud member.
The ocean is an unpredicable harsh and unforgiving environment . all of us who sail realize this. If the ocean wishes to take you it will.
It would be interesting to know how many former crew of the PC have died in car accidents or of so called preventable disease.
Consider the good and enrichment the PC has created in so many lives including Laura Gainey's until her tragic and all to young passing
I saw the Fifth Estate's show entitled "Overboard" about the tragic loss of Laura Gainey at sea during a severe storm. This show brought to light the lengths that some poeple i.e. owners, captains and the like, will go to, to cover their own asses so as to avoid blame.
It was tragic enough that Ms. Gainey was lost at sea, then the Cook Islands changed the report by retired navy Captain Sheer in such a way that the blame was put squarely on the shoulders of Ms. Gainey. That is a slap in the face to Mr. Gainey and his family. I know what it is like to lose a loved one. I lost both of my parents last year due to separate illnesses .If someone did an investigation into their deaths and concluded that it was their fault that they were sick, their fault that they died, that would be a huge insult to me. For the cook Islands to do something like that is just insane.
Another point I would like to make is that some of the comments above were written by people who have sailed on the Picton Castle in the past. Thay stated when they were on the ship they went through many safety drills with Captain Moreland. What they fail to mention is that Captain Moreland was not on the Picton Castle when Laure Gainey was swept overboard. Who knows if there were any safety drills during that trip, with Captain Moreland not present, anything could happen.
If you think about it, the Piction Castle was late, two weeks I believe, leaving Lunenburg. They didn't have as many passengers as they had hoped for, hense, they didn't make as much money as they wanted to. Their first stop was the Carribean island of Granada which was three weeks away and they needed to reach Granada by Christmas to pick up more passangers. Also, they wanted to make their final port in time to get the Picton Castle into a reality show as a pirate ship. When people are rushed and trying to meet deadlines so they can get payed they often cut corners.
The Picton Castle, upon leaving Lunenburg, was supposed to head wast alnog the coast beore crossing the Atlantic to avoid the storm. As they were late leaving Lunenburg, Captain Michael Vogelsgesang decided to head right into the storm saying it was not that bad of a storm. I don't know much about ships and sailing the Atlantic but I would assume that the Captain of a ship would be given information on any storms on the Atlantic, such as; how big the storm is, what way it is going, how fast it is moving, etc. It is my belief that Captain Vogelsgesang put his crew and trainees in greve danger by sailing them through the middle of the storm in order to make their destinations on time, and ultimately, for the almighty buck.
Finally, I will close by saying that Gillian Findlay of the Fifth Estate did a great job in showing, not only the deplorable conditions on board the Picton Castle when Laura Gainey was lost at sea, but also the great lengths that Dan Morland, Michael Vogelsgesang and the Cook Islands went to in order to cover their guilt.
First, the Cook Islands brought in a retired navy captain, Captain Sheer, to ivestigate the incident. Then when Captain Sheer wrote his report, the Cook Islands scrapped the report and wrote their own report, glorifying the Picton Castle and its saftey procedures. Secondly, Captain Vogelsgesang told his crew and trainees to write a report detailing the events of the evening that Laura Gainey was washed overbord. After reading these reports, Captain Vogelsgesang told everyone to redo their reports and to edit out things like, the night before Ms. Gainey was swept overboard, the Captain, himself, was almost swept overboard. If this is not a coverup, I don't know what is!
My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Gainey and his family. I hope that the upcoming investigation by the TSB, into the tragic loss of Laura Gainey will put the blame where it truely belongs. I hope that Captains Dan Moreland and Michael Vogelsgesang as well as the people on Cook Islands will be held accountable for their mistakes so that something like this will not happen again and so that Laura Gainey's death will not be in vein.
One thing that I had asked myself when I first herd about this where was the survival suit? Then when I saw this footage I saw no suit or life jacket I new that MS Gainey would be lost at sea. Lastly as some who has done 24 hours straight I was surprised to see that they would put some in a hazardous situation with little sleep. When you are that tried mistakes will happen. I am surprised that Canada allows this ship in to her waters.
May she rest in peace,
— Posted on March 28, 2008 02:49 AM
As someone who has sailed with the Picton Castle, I can say for sure that the ship provides harnesses for everyone onboard. I think what the website means is that if you have your own harness and you wish to bring it, you may.
Having just viewed the Fifth Estate's re-broadcast of this story last evening, I was re-introduced and moved once again to this tragedy that by all accounts could have been prevented! I think it is very appropriate for the Fifth Estate to keep this story current, with the new TSB report due to be made available in May. I also echo the sentiments of some posters here who believe that the Picton Castle should not be allowed to continue operations until such time as the report is made available, and the Picton Castle is re-inspected to ensure that it is in full compliance with all safety requirements as ordered by TSB and Coast Guard officials.
In reading a number of comments from those who have chosen to stand by the Picton Castle and Dan Moreland so fervently, there is one factor that cannot be
denied and that is, Laura Gainey lost her life. Had she been harnessed to the boat, she would most likely be here today to give her own account of the experiences of that night. But she's not. This goes to the lack of safety precaution that was not 'enforced' on that night. Given that Laura was badly sleep deprived as many were, she had no business being out there at all, let alone not tethered. This is just common sense!
The Captain and other senior officers had a duty to ensure that Laura and all crew members were safe at all times. It was their responsibility to monitor situations to ensure that crew members were wearing appropriate safety gear, (romantic notions aside -- we are not living in the 1700s as one poster put it), ensure that people were properly rested, nourished and that safety practices were well-defined, carried out without exception and that there was adequate safety gear aboard.
To compare this incident to other past and present voyages in an attempt to justify the actions and outcome, just does not apply and more importantly, trivializes Laura's death. It only takes one incident for tragedy to happen when security procedure is not followed. You don't have to be a seasoned master seaman or boat captain to recognize that if you are out at night on such a boat and dealing with the weather conditions that the crew of the Picton Castle were dealing with, that you get a harness on and latch yourself to the boat! Again, this is just common sense. There should be no dispute or argument on this subject.
As a last thought, perhaps had Dan Moreland not tried so hard to deny what was so obvious to many in his interview with Fifth Estate, perhaps he would have garnered more consideration and respect from the public. He should put his business aspirations aside and see this process through to it's conclusion and then maybe people will develop a different opinion of him. There's more to life than the almighty dollar!
— Posted on March 27, 2008 02:53 PM
That should have been the last voyage of this so called safe ship. My regards to the Gainey family.
— Posted on March 27, 2008 12:02 AM
I am very sorry to hear of such a tragic loss- especially when the voyage is supposed to be a learning opportunity. Typically this is the time when people make the most mistakes- so shouldn't the "rules" be very strictly adhered to.
One item I would like to note- the Picton Castle website- dispite the controversy still indicates a harness is optional- and you bring at your own expense- Yikes, has nothing been learned? Also it stated bare feet are the norm on deck- again, wouldn't you at least change the wording of your website- to at least look like you have taken the situation to heart and made a conscious effort to make things safer??
Not a sailor, but these are my thoughts.
— Posted on March 26, 2008 10:26 PM
To be made aware of such blatant lies coming from the mouth of the former captain is unblieveable to say the least. Even when confronted with video showing there were no safety measures followed when he commandeered the ship...he again denied the seriousness of the situation at that time. Is it again politics at work that we have so often been blind-sided with when the truth must be buried at all costs? Programs like Fifth Estate are definitely needed to keep the public informed. Good work!
I've been sailing squareriggers on and off for about five years including stints as volunteer crew (same position as Laura) on various European ships, in all kind of weather (and seasons).
This just to show that I have a fair idea on how a squarerigger and its crew works under heavy circumstances.
Well before Laura first set foot on the Picton Castle, I considered joining one of the voyages. I had been reading stories about the routes and the locations visited and it was very appealing to me to sail in the more exotic waters.
Then I saw footage of the show 'the Tallship Chronicles' and immediately dropped the idea. The lax safety standards I saw there, in particular the lack of harnesses, disturbed me and I decided to stick with the ships I knew.
Especially the idea of "false sense of security" (which is a phrase which over the past few years I've heard many times by different Picton people in defense of lack of harnesses, so I assume it is used by the captain) is bizarre to me. A proper harness and tether (well-stored, regularly checked and renewed!) used on a proper safety rig, offers no 'false' security but very real safety. To suggest that could be dangerous somehow is a strange leap to me.
To see my worries about the Picton confirmed by some of the footage in this report - and especially by the behaviour of the captain - is very sad to me.
On the whole I'd say that the report could have been better - it pulls up a couple of things I wouldn't consider relevant, like what the yacht sailor has to say. During an extended harbour period standards can be different and I wouldn't necessarily consider piles of dishes or a messy charthouse an indication of safety on board.
I would have liked to see a rundown of what other sail training ships do in heavy weather. The ships I've sailed on (this includes the Stavros) do not offer lifejackets when working on deck in heavy weather - all attention is given to making sure people do not go overboard in the first place, as in heavy weather the chances of recovering them (even if you *can* see them) is slim to none.
So no lifejacket, but lifelines rigged up, harnesses on and clipped on, safety netting rigged up over the side railing, a buddy system, and anybody not strictly required safely below deck. If the captain, and other crew, claim that this is in fact policy on the Picton, then I am afraid that those facts are not in evidence.
Arwen @ sea Netherlands
— Posted on January 3, 2008 01:22 PM
I didn't know the young Laura but I will never forget her.
But I do remember asking my young Son " Why are all those ropes and straps hooked on you to the deck ? His answer to me !!! They are there to protect me Mom , in case I get swept overboard , don't worry I will be just fine !!
God Bless Laura Gainey and God Bless the Troops.
It's unfortunate that the Fifth Estate would conflate this terrible accident into an indictment of ship, captain, owner and crew.
I don't really know what the yacht racer fellow was brought in for. He said he saw dirty dishes and a young crew. Well, tall ship sailing is a physically demanding pursuit. He's obviously going to see young people. By young, I'm talking about Laura's age. Not "kids".
That clip, as well as the shot of PC crew parading in Newport seemed intended to lead (mislead?) the audience into thinking the PC crew are nothing but a ragtag bunch of "starry eyed kids" with little or no maritime experience or safety training. Wrong. There's lots of experience to go around, lots of safety drills, lots of safety equipment, and, yes, there is a muster list on board and drill assignments (I still remember mine).
The only real issue Captain Moreland was challenged on was the use of harnesses. Now, I do think that extreme bad weather with limited hands on watch would call for harnesses, but water coming over the sides is not, in and of itself, such a situation, even at night. In fact, with the number of people moving about on deck at night, harnesses would be a real hazard.
When working above the rail, harnesses are mandatory. But it's also not practical is may cases, like moving up and around the rig in groups comprising a dozen or more, when freedom of movement is important.
So other ships are more strict about this. But do they function as well? Do the crew learn and develop as well? I don't know. Also, it would be interesting to know how the PC's safety record compares with that of other ships. I bet it stacks up well. It is a safe ship.
Nevertheless, that storm last year was a test and there was a safety failure. It is reasonable to look into it and take measures. But vilifying an immensely accomplished mariner like Dan Moreland in this fashion is not fair. (I doubt he had much say in the editing.) I'm not exactly fond of him, but I do admire him for making the PC happen. And I'd gladly sail with him again.
Even the best laid safety plans and rules (shoes and all) will meet with failure at some point. Though there's ALWAYS room to improve safety, I think it's important to be careful not to lose the good essence of something truly special. Something so special that Laura had chosen to live by it.
Apparent journalistic bias is not the issue here. The reputations and safety records held by Dan Moreland, Michael Vogelgesang and the Picton Castle are even more irrelevant. The bottom line is that Laura Gainey was not wearing any safety gear whatsoever when she was swept overboard.
I am shocked that so many people with sailing experience have stated in this discussion that the use of harnesses aboard sail training vessels is impractical, hindering and creates a false sense of security. To say such things is foolish.
You would think that after logging so many miles aboard a ship like the Picton Castle, one would have developed a more realistic and appropriate respect for the sea. You can be as careful and cautious as you like, but there are times where it is absolutely necessary to wear a harness.
It is ultimately the responsibility of the Captain and Vessel Owner to have specific Standing Orders regarding the use of harnesses in foul weather. In a Gale in the North Atlantic in December, the captain should have required anyone venturing out on deck to don a harness. There should have been jack lines rigged, allowing crew members to be able to run the length of the deck while secured to the ship.
To not take these simple and standard precautions is to blatantly disregard the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. What is abundantly clear is that no one on board the Picton Castle that evening was ordered to don a harness before going out on deck... It doesn't matter that the Fifth Estate may not have treated both sides of this story equally, or that People who have sailed on the Picton Castle in the past had a great time and think that it has high enough safety standards. What matters is we recognize that Laura's death was preventable.
Those of us who are members of the Sail Training community have a responsibility to stop arguing about petty details, admit that things need to change, and try to do all that we can to ensure that others do not loose their lives so unnecessarily. After all, It would be a shame for Laura's death to have been in vain.
...And here is what the Transport Canada's "Standards Relating to the Design, Construction and Operational Safety of Sail Training Vessels" has to say about the matter. (Being Flagged in the Cook Islands, this is not of concern to the Picton Castle, but should be of interest nonetheless.)
Section 19.3 Safety Harnesses:
19.3.1 One safety harness, which may be rapidly attached to, and detached from the lifelines should be provided for each person on board.
19.3.2 Dedicated lines should be provided, stowed securely on the weather deck, for use as lifelines in heavy weather, of sufficient length to extend fore and aft along the deck on each side along the normal working area.
19.3.3 Provisions should be made on the weather deck to adequately secure the lifelines to provide maximum assistance to crew movement with minimum obstruction to hatches, survival craft or handling running rigging.
19.3.4 Fastening points for the attachment of safety harness should be provided in the following positions;
1. close to the companionway; and
2. on both sides of the control station.
19.3.5 Efficient means of securing the lifelines of safety harnesses should be provided on exposed decks.
19.3.6 Every ship should be fitted with grab rails on the sides and ends of deck houses.
— Posted on December 4, 2007 02:16 AM
I spent 12 years at sea in the European Sail Training Industry, mostly in command. I also sat on a UK Industry Working Party that drafted primary safety legislation under which part of the UK Sail Training industry operates.
On this discussion board - the ship and her operations are being defended by loyal crew or second guessed by other mariners with significant but not necessarily the specialist skills inherent in Tall Ship operation. All parties step back and take a broader view. The content of the televised documentary:
- includes judicious cutting of footage from different voyages and weather with no context as to when it had been shot to create an impression of mayhem that is possibly quite different than that actually experienced aboard.
- has interviews with more experience trainees to explain just how confusing first experience in heavy weather can be for first time trainees and so give context to their spoken fears.
- has no comment from the command team actually aboard the vessel that night.
- has no comment from the captain who wrote the first report for the Cook Islands
Defenders or detractors - we know something went wrong. However this TV report gets nowhere near the heart of the matter with ANY objectivity. As such it is sensationalist and deeply flawed
Sadly it does a grave disservice to all parties:
- the Gainey family,
- the ship
- the crew aboard
- the trainees aboard
Any chance of finding out what might have actually happened that night has just been made the harder by this terrible piece of journalism.
For whatever reason, nobody on deck that evening was interviewed for the Fifth Estate, nor the Captain, nor the professional crew. That should not be construed as an admission of guilt on their part and in fact it should be enough to halt a good reporting crew from pursuing disgruntled and inexperienced trainees in their place.
I sincerely believe that Capt. Moreland took the role and burden of explanation squarely on his shoulders in spite of not being present himself. Whether or not it was ill-advised to do so he did save those directly involved from yet another intensive interview forcing them to defend themselves and their actions during a traumatic event in front of an international audience.
I also think that the CBC rushed the production of the program to coincide with the one year anniversary of Laura's death despite the still resounding controversy over multiple documents disputed by both the Gainey family and the Windward Isles Sailing Ship Co.
In the end no facts were presented, only hearsay. There are still areas in question, such as the standing orders that evening and the preparedness/numbers of the crew and their relevancy on Laura's death. These are issues that will hopefully be resolved by a combination of the TSB and the previous reports.
I only wish the CBC hadn't been so quick to produce a program when all of the investigations were not complete nor all the information available. It has obviously caused a polarization amongst those who have in common a sincere hurt for the loss of Laura Gainey.
I think the decision to sail undermanned was a poor one with tragic results. The Owners and Captain will have to live the rest of their lives with this . Accidents at sea and loss of life is sadly a way of life in the Lunenburg area as can be seen at the Memorial on the waterfront. I was shipmates with too many of them.
But we learn from our past and hopefully improve. Too many times someone has to be hurt or lost before we wake up and reacess our responsiblities and then we get better. Time will heal most.
The sea will always be there and people will always be drawn to it. It comes with risk and we as officers have the responsibility to ensure the safest working enviroment possble for our crews (seasoned and green).There are many very good responses to this discussion and most have merit. We all need to learn from this and go on. It is too easy to be an armchair maritime laywer when these incidents occur. Better training and safety equipment will lessen these events, but the Sea takes her toll from time to time.
As I said before, There will be regrets and hopefully
lessons learned. New measures applied.
My condolenses to the Gainey family.
Those who continue to drink the kool aid of Gillian Findlay's scandalous libel fail to understand that they are basing their opinions on lies and inuendos. Here are some facts.
Two weeks of safety drills were conducted before the ship left Lunenburg. (Not reported)
The ship was well found, with more safety equipment than mandated, and had more professional crew than is required by law. (Not reported)
The US Coast Guard were mightily impressed with the behavior of both ship and crew during the search and rescue attempt. (Not reported)
The members of the crew (I'm not one) who've posted here speak from experience of the true nature of the ship and her officers. Who'd know better?
The most moving tributes to Laura Gainey in all of this are in posts in this stream by those who sailed with her.
Cook Islands is not a flag of convenience. It, among few nations in the world, has some of the strictest rules extant regarding sail training vessels, to which PIcton Castle adheres, and even exceeds.
Mere weeks before the incident, Picton Castle was boarded and tested by the coast guard in the great lakes. They passed with flying colours.
None of the above was aired in the program. Just because you saw it on television doesn't make it true. The above is true. It wasn't on television. You'd do well to wonder why.
— Posted on December 3, 2007 06:45 PM
re: Curious - comment about not finding Cook Islands listed as flag of convenience.
An American operating a vessel out of a Canadian port + a largely Canadian crew and trainee compliment + having the ship registered in Cook Islands in order to avoid stricter vessel construction and safety equipment requirements = Convenience.
There is no way that vessel would pass canadian standards for sail training vessels, and to argue that point would be foolish.
Kyle Boland Sudbury
— Posted on December 3, 2007 04:10 PM
Am I the only one tired of reading long winded compositions written by former and current crew of the Picton Castle? I look forward to the INDEPENDENT TSB report, which already appears somewhat damming of the boat and the Cook Island Registry.
Hopefully it will get you all to stop defending obvious problems and take a long hard took at the practises you defend. Wake up! This is not the 1700s.
Lastly, have the respect and courtesy not to drag the Gainey family into your opinion of the 5th Estate report. They have gone through enough and would clearly rather be anywhere then in front of camera. Shame!
Karl Desy Montreal
— Posted on December 3, 2007 03:26 PM
It is amazing that those who served on the Picton Castle defend the actions and policies of both the ship and her captains, while the living room sailors accuse them of negligence, incompetency and whatever else.
It may have been only 69 years ago that I sailed as a Cadet on what is now the USCG Eagle and 66 years that I served as a young training officer on the same ship. We did not only find out where our hammocks were stowed and where we rigged them to sleep, but first and formemost we we were instructed in the basic: One hand four you and one hand for the ship, safety and survival.
It goes without reason that when you were up on a yard working the sails you hooked your harness to the safety rail, while during the climb up to the yard you used the shrouds on the windside since your harness was of no use during the ascent but thee wind would push you into the shrouds and not overboard.
Lifejackets were the inflatable type with a small bottle of compressed air to inflate it when needed. The first instruction given to new cadets were on safety, safety and safety again. I cannot for the life of me believe that the operations on the Picton Castle were any different. Those who sailed on her expressed this in their comments.
However accidents happen inspite of all safety rules and precautions. And to describe the crew as inexperienced is wrong. Miss Gaines had been with the ship on previous voyages as were most of the other crewmembers. And most most new crew had prior experience on smaller sailing vessels and knew seamanship.
I was visiting the Picton Castle during the Tall Ship 2000 in Halifax and found her in good shape much better shape than the larger Kruzenstern. And by the way during my visit a young lady who happened to also visit the ship was extremely happy when she was accepted as a crewmember, she had sailing experience otherwise there would have been no acceptance. During my time as Cadet we had daily bouy over board exercises (weather permitting), lauched both port and starboard life cutters and had a race to the light or smoke rising from the bouy while the rest of the crew worked the ship about to pick up the cutters. I experienced this both from the boats and the ship.
I do not believe for one moment that there was neglect in the safety instructions and practices on board of the Picton Castle, no one with responsibilty and license to run the ship would have acted otherwise. As I said before accidents happen. One death, as sorrowful and tragic as it may be in four trips around the world is a good record. And one more thing, after crossing the equator and the pertaining equatorial baptism after "mal"treatment by Neptuns helpers we novices were treated to a swig of rum, an old tradition, evidently also pratised on the PC.
Shame on Dan Moreland !!! The fact that the ship even left the harbour that day is the problem. What was mentioned on the program but not zoned in on was the fact that the Picton Castle had signed a lucrative contract with Mark Burnett of "Survivor" fame to use the boat and the ship had to be in a port to film the show !!! He sent the ship off knowing there was a bad storm in the Atlantic.
Reading comments about Morelands previous voyages and safety issues on this past journeys has little to do with the fact that on this voyage it was unsafe for crew to be in these waters !!! Perhaps if Moreland came out right from the beginning and accepted responsibility for HIS ship the
Fifth Estate would not have had to do a story exposing them.
All the Gainey family want is for this type of tragedy never to happen to another family again and to ensure the ship has appropriate safety standards.
I hope Dan Moreland has many sleepless nights because he deserves it!
— Posted on December 3, 2007 02:43 PM
I just went to the International Transport Workers site and I did not see Cook Islands listed as a flag of convenience.
— Posted on December 3, 2007 01:25 PM
I've been sailing on and off for forty years, and have been offshore on various vessels, large and small, including the Picton Castle, as crew for the second world voyage, from November 2000 to June 2002. I served under Dan Moreland and under Michael Vogelsgesang, who joined the ship in Tonga as ship's carpenter and was named Chief Mate just prior to a force 10 storm, the footage of which is shown in your program.
I hold a US Coast Guard issued merchant marine 100 ton master mariner's licence, and I've read everything I could get my hands on about storms and safety at sea. I am also the father of three adult children, and was deeply sadened by Laura Gainey's tragic loss.
Much has been written about Dan Morelands solid credentials and reputation, but less about Michael, who was in command on December 8, 2006. Michael is a graduate of the German Merchant Marine Academy and has been a sea captain for a quarter of a century. I've never met a man more meticulous or conscientious than he. It was Michael who conducted fire drills and man overboard drills every time we left port with unseasoned crew aboard. During these drills all safty equipment, pumps, fire hoses, life vests, EPIRB, and life rafts were activated or inspected.
The Picton Castle is equipped with water tight compartments and redundant life rafts, capable of accomodating twice the ship's capacity. While under way a stem to stern safety check is conducted by a member of the crew every hour, day and night. A safety harness is of little value to a sailor doing a ship check because one must move through the vessel going in and out of doors and up and down ladders. You can't do that while clipped on to something. This is not a 40 foot yacht; she's a 179 foot ship with high bulwarks.
I was aloft during that storm off Fiji, stowing sails and working without a harness. It is impossible to be always hooked on while climbing up and constantly moving about on a square rigger, but an able seaman is reasonably safe aloft, even in fowl weather.
I've been aboard the US Coast Guard flag ship "Eagle," a square rigged three masted barque like the Picton Castle, only much larger. Saftey harnesses are "required" while aloft on this military ship, I was told, and yet the "Eagle" as sustained three fatalities from falls. On the other hand, saftey harnesses were worn on the Picton Castle any time a crew member was working in one place repairing rigging aloft.
In spite of all the training, drills, and precautions, going offshore on a relatively small square-rigger is inherently risky, a fact that is spelled out in the Picton Castle's liturature and is read by all crew or their parents.
The CBC program was a sensational indictment of the Picton Castle, her owner, and her master, but you have swift boated one of Canada's most highly respected sail training enterprises.
(Capt.) Jim Salmon
A YOUNG PERSON LOST THEIR LIFE BECAUSE THE OWNER AND THE MASTER FAILED TO ADRESS OR PUT IN PLACE A RISK ASSESSMENT OR SAFETY MANAGEMENT PROTOCOLS , AND UNFORTUNATELY THEIR INDISCRETIONS OVER TIME HAVE CAUGHT UP WITH THEM.
I AM SURE THE TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD WILL NOT BE GETTING THE WHITEWASH POT OUT.
THE COOK ISLANDS INCIDENTALY IS ON THE INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS FEDERATION LIST OF FLAGS OF CONVENIENCE.
— Posted on December 2, 2007 11:03 PM
First and foremost, all my sympathies to the Gainey family. I was quite moved by Laura's death as I also sailed onboard the Picton Castle in 2003-2004. On my time aboard the ship I witnessed a more than capable crew, and I sincerely never doubted any decisions taken by Captain Moreland or any of the professional crew aboard. I felt your documentary was biased from it's premice. It did not really try to shed lights on the events of that night in an honorable way. It was pure sensationnalism, nothing I'd expect from fifth estate. Sad music and all. It truely left me wondering who has more influence? Dan Moreland or Bob Gainey?
In an age when the idea of "adventure" is synonymous with a sport-utility vehicle, sailing on the Picton Castle sure sounds dangerous to most. We knew what we got into, all of us. Most people dread finding out when they come to die that they have never really lived. Laura lived.
Shame on the Windward Isles Sailing Ship Company, Ltd.
The ultimate motivation of this company is not deep-ocean sail training but the quest for profit.
While there seem to be many supporters of the Picton Castle and Mr Moreland, something obviously went wrong and a young woman lost her life.
It seems easy to point fingers at the CBC for unjust reporting or at the victim of this tragedy instead of getting to the truth of what happened.
Why did the Captain on board ask crew members on board to change their stories? That would appear to be a blatant cover up. Why did the captain not appear on camera and tell us why he asked people to change their stories and perhaps explain why he chose to continue in a fierce storm despite warnings? Why was the crew member with the video footage threatened when he did not agree to hand over his video camera? Obviously because they were afraid of that footage being seen.
Mr Moreland seemed more intent on blaming anyone but himself and he does not appear to take responsibility and showed little compassion to a family who lost a loved one. I agree whole heartedly with Mr Gainey in encouraging Mr Moreland to 'walk the walk'.
Mr Moreland seemed a tad uncomfortable when the reporter showed him footage of previous ventures on the Picton Castle which clearly showed crew members (himself included) without safety jackets or harnesses in place during what could have petentially been a disaster in the making.
The footage didnt lie and Mr Moreland still refused to take responsibility and insisted that safety practices are always in place. He clearly must think people are naive or cant see the facts with their own eyes. I have no respect for his conduct during the interview, and those who wish to blame the CBC for unfair reporting should have their eyes examined. Mr Moreland seemed more concerned with hushing this matter up and getting on with a reality show rather than giving this matter the respect it deserves.
Kudos to the crew members who spoke the truth and refused to be forced to change their stories and essentially lie to save face for Mr Moreland. Mr Moreland was not on the ship and does not have to live with the haunting sounds of Laura Gainey's cries in the water. The captain of that ship and Mr Moreland have alot of explaining to do and should be ashamed that instead of being honest, this tragedy has been reduced to a cover up.
I was very impressed with Mr Gainey during the interview. He is a classy man who is dealing with incredible tragedy and I hope he and his family get the answers they deserve. May this tragedy never happen to anyone else.
— Posted on December 2, 2007 08:36 PM
I noticed that there was a recouring set of themes in the comments made by former trainees, it seems too much of a coincidence that the CBC interviewers were "Biased" and Capt. Dan was being unfairly villified. As if all were briefed or coached in what to say. Too much for just mere coincidence.
While these comments came from a whole host of trainees, not one of them stated they had worn saftey harnesses or life jackets, nor had they done much safety training.
Everything was personalized, praising Capt. Dan and condeming the Fifth Estate reporters. Three cheers for the CBC's Fifth Estate staff and reporters.
— Posted on December 2, 2007 06:48 PM
I stepped aboard the Picton Castle in 1999 with very little experience in Tall Ship sailing. I, like some others before me, and like Laura Gainey, started as a deckhand. But Captain Dan Moreland had seen something special in me, some potential to make a good seaman and moreover, a work ethic that he liked, so I climbed the ladder.
For 3 years I worked under his command. I was trained by him and trained probably hundreds of others in his ways.
So I know my ship and my Captain very well. Didn't live anywhere else, but her belly for those 3 years. Never in all those years have we gone to sea without training our crew in safety procedures. And don't come and tell me that maybe it was that way but 'not this time' I don't buy it. This is basic knowledge that goes from one crew to the next and Captain Moreland would never have allowed his ship to go unready with an immature crew. That just doesn't make any sense.
I also think of Captain Moreland as my mentor. I know his professionalism and that he surrounds himself only with the best. It is not easy to gain his trust for he can see through you. Whenever I felt I wasn't competent enough for the job, he was right behind me, showing me procedures. He can gauge people.
I also had the honor to sail the Picton Castle with Michael Vogelsgesang on her second circumnavigation. He is an exemplary fine sailor with all the credentials requested for the job. He has a tremendous work ethic that is the reason why Captain Moreland entrusted him with the ship and her crew.
As bosun and sailmaker on the 2nd world voyage during which the 'Tall Ship Chronicles' was filmed and now being married to one of the cameraman of the series, I am fully aware of what television editing can do to portrait sensationalism. It is all in the edit. Don't be fooled.
Believe me, if I had not chosen to become a wife and a mother, which I am enjoying every minute of, I would be delighted to go back to sail on the Picton Castle. It is the only place where my work ethic doesn't scare anyone.
My heart goes to you Mr.Gainey, for your enormous loss. The minute we read about Laura's ordeal she was in everyone thoughts, in our prayers. Because we know too well that it could have be any of us. My heart goes also to the ship and her crew, because to loose a shipmate is to loose a family member.
As for the Fifth Estate, let's say I am not proudly Canadian today, rather happy to be abroad.
I sailed as a crew member on the picton castle for the fourth world voyage, and became a close friend of Laura's on the last leg of the voyage.
Though her death has affected me deeply I have tried to quell my emotions and look at this incident with an objective mind. And looking at the facts I think there can be no blame put on the ship, captain or crew of the Picton Castle for this for this loss.
Also I believe there can be no blame put on Laura and for those of you who have to have someone or something to blame for this, there is only the sea. Although it sounds horrible to say we do all know the risks of going to sea, and until Laura went overboard the risks seemed distant, but not due to complacency, but for the very reason that we did drill, review, and revise as needed these emergency procedures. This is a process that has been done on all the ships I have worked on; the Picton Castle was no exception.
I have read many of these comments that more safety gear would have saved her life, honestly I doubt this. A life jacket would have kept her afloat longer, but the fact that it had a light and whistle on it I don't believe would have helped, the crew deployed safety gear that had strobe lights more powerful than would be found on a life jacket, and from the report I read while the search was happening they lost sight of the gear.
As for the whistle the sound of wind in the rigging would cover that up in far lesser conditions. As for the idea of harnesses, I have been on vessels where this procedure is in place, but only for the trainee's or students. The reason for this is because the crew have to react quickly to any command of the mate or captain, unclipping and reclipping to make your way around these trainee's that would have to be on the same lines would take time and could cause greater problems and even injury than without.
These ships are not like container ships or cruise ships where the ship can make it through rough weather without crew needing to go on deck; these ships are only able to function when the crew is able to do what is needed. Any thing from bracing around to going aloft to take in sail, and if these things are not achieved quickly it can mean the loss of the ship and much life.
As for personal safety gear as a whole, the effect that I have seen it produce is complacency, and a false feeling of security, and in my mind there is no better safety on a ship than the awareness of your surroundings and a slight sense of fear that that can give you.
Not to offend any of the other mariners out there but when it comes to handling a ship like the Picton Castle there can be no comparing it to any power vessel. As for yachts, although they are still under sail, they have gone through a long process of making them much simpler and easy to handle, many of these are even set-up or at least can be set-up to be handled by one person and so they are two different worlds at sea.
I have also seen and heard comments about how this is just a dangerous pastime. Although I probably will not be able to convince many people with this belief, it is not just a pastime. Working these ships is something I have been learning and doing for the past seven years, it is not my summer job as many seem to think, but my only job. This is what we do, and how we make a living.
To move up we have to go through the same classes, certifications and licensing that all other mariners have to. So although our elders may see us as kids we have spent our time at sea, acquiring hands on training and knowledge that can not be taught in the class room, and been through the required classes and tests that the coast guard requires. This is the process that Laura was starting and dreamed of achieving when she was lost. She was not under qualified for her position, as none of the other crew where either.
One thing that does not surprise me about this is the differing stories of the people on board. If you look into any accident on ship or ashore where there were eye witnesses there are always differences in there stories. Many times eye witness reports will differ in order, timing, and even what actually happened in these events.
This doesn't imply that people are lying it is just how their perception of the events unfold in their head. Some of the details could be tricks of the mind and conditions around the person. Sadly I am fairly sure that the scream when she first went overboard was not mistaken, a fact that has given me much pain and loss of sleep at night, but the screams after I believe to be tricks of the weather or mind.
As anyone who has ever searched for a buoy or a bell in heavy fog can tell you, you will see and hear it many times before you find the actual one you were looking for. With the intensity that the crew had to be looking and listening for any sign of Laura I think it is very possible that the sound could have been something else. Sorting through all of this information and the crew's stories is the reason why I think you could end up with two very different reports on the same incident.
To end this I will ask people not to rush to speedy judgment, especially from such a biased report. Let's not let our griefs over the loss of Laura drive us into a frenzy of attack that could destroy the ship that she loved. She was a wonderful person, an able body aloft and alow, a quick learner with a thirst for knowledge and a passion to pursue her dream. My deepest sympathy for her father and her family.
— Posted on December 2, 2007 03:39 PM
At the time of this horrific accident I was on the other side of the world - in Bali Indonesia, where almost exactly to the day, one year earlier, the fine ship, Barque Picton Castle, had carried me safely into Benoa Harbour.
During my second visit I remember stopping by an internet cafe, one that I was very familiar with from my previous visit. I was overwhelmed that I was back in Bali, a place that I had visited one year ago, it had been one of my favourite ports of call, and many of my shipmates will say the same. Looking forward to chatting to who ever I could get in touch with that morning and telling them that I was back at Poppy's Lane 1, on my way over to Alley Cats for lunch abruptly came to an end. Instead of reminiscing and telling inside jokes, my insides became ill with the news that WE had had a man overboard. I was unsure of whom, but it hurt whoever it was, they were my family, all that WE on shore could do was pray and wait.
At that instant I didn't want to be in Bali anymore, there is only one place I wanted to be and needed to be - with my ship and my shipmates onboard the Picton Castle. I can not begin to explain to any of you who may be reading this what I would have given to be on board right then at that moment, I wished I could have done something, ANYTHING AT ALL. If I could be there to keep a lookout, relieve someone on helm, boil water for coffee, I would have done anything in this crazy world to search, grieve, and comfort my shipmates.
How can one blame another for what has happened here. The sea is such a powerful unforgiving beauty. She, the sea, and the places you can sail into on such ships are amazing to say the least. A ship like the Picton Castle, with her agenda, in most cases draws, even lures a certain type of person into her grip. It takes a lot out of a person and it takes A LOT of a person, a special kind of person to sail a traditional square rigger, especially for any amount of time. A person knows quickly after signing onto a ship of this type what to be expected and what will be expected out of them.
The Picton Castle is one of the only traditionally rigged ships to carry her crew onboard for such long periods of time. We, over time, become to know ourselves, and to know our ship even better. Laura Gainey was one of these special people. Call us adrenaline junkies if you will, call us thrill seekers, soul searchers, if you happen to be one of these people that sign on for such a voyage, you know that you have never felt as alive in your entire lifetime as what you do when onboard. And onboard the Picton Castle you were free to be YOU!
Laura loved this about her ship. If you are one of the crew that sail on her and give it your heart and soul, I can tell you all. When you leave a port whether it's Lunenburg in December or Fiji in August, YOU LEAVE THIS WORLD, THERE IS NO ONE BUT YOU.. YOUR SHIPMATES AND YOUR SHIP. The connection you can make with yourself and people who are committed to the same dream as you while sailing aboard the Picton Castle are immeasurable.
Today while lobster fishing in the Bay of Fundy with my father, in a gale, I didn't wear a lifejacket, and I didn't wear a harness to clip in with. I'll take my chances, and live my life to the absolute fullest, I'll continue doing things that sometimes scare me, I'll push my limits, I'll cross the street, bungee jump, sky dive, and I'll always return to sail aboard the Picton Castle, a ship that has always taken care of me and made me feel safe, mainly due to her Captain and Crew.
The world is changing and changing quickly. I made a choice in January 2005; I made the choice to sail under Captain Daniel Moreland on his Ship Barque Picton Castle as Staff Crew, and did so for 24 months. I wanted to do something incredible and I have - I have learned and helped to pass on the skills of my ancestors, and learned these skills in the ways of old, which is what I�wanted. I have climbed aloft under the Southern Cross at night and loosed a royal, I have stowed sail in a gale, and I did so beside a wonderful shipmate, Laura. And if given a chance to do it again, I know for a fact, that you would get a big HELL YEAH!!!! from the both of us.
It deeply saddens me that such a lopsided story was aired and viewed by so many... Instead of trying to place blame, move forward; make the needed improvements, KEEP ON SAILING! I know Laura would want things this way. for HER SHIP to continue sailing in the realm of Neptune, transforming you POLLYWOGS into SHELLBACKS!!!!
As a former trainee on the Picton Castle I feel a duty to defend this ship and Captain. From the first moment I stepped onboard to saying fairwell to the family I had made on Picton Castle safety was always a main concern.
Infact on several occassions I was told to wear a harness when I was doing work standing on the rail that was maybe 3-4 ft off the deck. There were plenty of harnesses for crew and trainees to wear. We had many fire, man over board, and abandon ship drills. NEVER once did I feel that my life was in danger onboard Picton Castle.
In regards to the ship being cluttered, that is no way to judge the sea worthiness of a ship. Dishes in the galley? I bet the man expecting "salty dogs" has dirty dishes sitting in his sink right now.
I sailed with professional crew of all ages. Just because a ship has younger professional crew does not mean those crew members of ill prepared for the job. Captain Moreland is one of the most revered and respected captains in the industry. He understands the importance of safety at sea and is brutally honest with his crew and trainees about the intensity and difficulty of life at sea.
Captain Moreland does not romanticize the sea nor the work that is to go along with sailing.
I will go to sea on any ship that Captain Moreland is the master of because I know that Captain Moreland accepts nothing but the most sea worthy ships as well as crew.
Finally, I am friends with people that experienced the loss of Laura Gainey personally. To this day each one thinks about Laura and still suffers her loss. It has not been easy on the Gainey family or Laura's Picton family. The loss of Laura's life is an unfortunate loss that has no person or thing to blame.
I have sailed on the Picton Castle twice , once in 2004 and then again after the loss of Laura Gainey in 2007. On both occassions we were well drilled in safety procedures.
On my second voyage I remember the US Coast Guard coming on board and having us run through the procedures in port. We pased with flying colours.
In my experience the crew of the Picton Castle were all thoroughly proffessional and concerned for our safety at all times. Having said this deep sea sailing is inherantly dangerous and things can go wrong.
I would certainly sail with Dan Moreland and his crew again.
In addition I am not a 'starry eyed youngster', I am in my late 50's
— Posted on December 1, 2007 03:47 PM
As a father of three, I can't even imagine the degree of frustration Mr Gainey is feeling. As a former buisness owner, I can certainly understand Mr Moreland's claim of losing sleep. I would too if I were in his shoes. One can never put enough emphasis on safety.We have a legal and more importantly, a moral responsability to ensure our staff / guests are properly prepared in case of dangerous situations and/or events.
Can high-rise construction workers start their shift without the required gear? No. Safety first.
It is unfortunate that such a regretful incident had to take place. It's time for ship operators to re-think safety regulations aboard so that we can avoid further tragedies.
Terry Dc Montreal
— Posted on December 1, 2007 02:45 PM
I would like to take this time to formally and properly outline my dis-satisfaction with your report on the Picton-Castle, Her safety record and practices as well as your unfounded allegations towards Captain Dan Mooreland.
I was a trainee on the Picton-Castle for 8 weeks during this past summer(april-june 2007) and i can personally attest that many of the facts that you have outlined in this story are obscured, incomplete or incorrect.
During my time on board we underwent extensive safety training in the possible event of: fire, abandon ship and man overboard. We were instructed how,when and under what circumstances we were to put on our life-jackets and were constantly implored to wear our safety harnesses both when going aloft and when working near or above the water line.
I would like to emphasize that we were obligated to conform to the these guidelines and any failure to do so would result in our immediately removal from the picton-castle's sail training program.
In addition i would like to add a few other mandatory guidelines we were required to follow:
Ship checks were always to be performed in pairs, during rough weather and that no one was allowed to move along the deck without someone more experienced accompanying them and during high seas we were situated on the quarter deck away from where water was coming over the rail-line.
These practices were followed promptly and religiously.
I stand by and fully support any comments made here by those who i had the wonderful privilege to sail with, those who have had an extensive experience with the picton-castle and understand how she and her captain operate while at sea and i have no doubt that they would support and confirm everything i've outlined here in it's entirety.
There is strong evidence of biased journalism attached to this story and it is poor professionalism and t your discredit fifth-estate, that you failed to interview or collect accounts from some of the most senior staff aboard. I've been sailed aboard many vessels throughout the entirely course of my young life and their are none safer than the picton-castle and these truth will come forward in the pending investigations.
But most importantly, i think this has taken away from what really was a tragic loss. I never had the good pleasure to meet Laura Gainey but those who had sailed with her and knew her and nothing but the most wonderful things to say about her and i know that she would be the first to outline the fallacies in this story.
Thank you for your time.
University of Ottawa
I came on the Picton Castle as Relief cook for the second world voyage and stayed 11 months. Capt Moreland and Michael Vogelsand are very highly respected in my book. I felt safer on the Picton Castle than on land. My prayers go out to Laura and her family. BUT - one can loose life crossing the street. It happens. I don't think the blame game is the way to go.
I was sincerely disappointed after watching your program about the Picton Castle's loss of Laura Gainey. You succeeded in portraying Capt. Moreland and the Picton Castle operation as careless unprofessional and money driven. Your interviews presented a one -sided biased and shallow misrepresentation of the man, the ship, the sea and their endeavors.
Where is the other side of the story? Why didn't you interview the Captain, or any of the professional crew? Why was the show based on the interviews of sea -sick passengers with a total of five days of sea going experience? Why were so many of your "facts" veiled or presented out of context?
Your view from ashore is just that. You conveniently neglected to mention the many world voyages and thousands of sea-miles completed without loss or injury, completed with accomplishment and pride adding to the lives of people like Laura Gainey who were willing to test their medel on big waters and tall ships
Captain Moreland thru the Picton Castle operation has done more then most people to challenge and show kids today a way in this confused and senseless world....Sailing on the Picton Castle turned her life around, indeed, gave her reason to live. That she died doing what she loved only leaves me to project that could she have a voice today she would be firm in her support for Capt. Moreland, the Picton Castle, the past and future crews and the genuine reality of sailing a ship to sea.
Your myopic and misleading report sets a new and lower standard in hyper-emotional journalism.
I'm sorry to say that I found your report to be very biased and unsupported. The lack of interviews with the professional crew aboard and the interview with an inexperienced trainee that decided not to sail seems to paint the picture that you were trying your damnedest to report conjecture instead of facts.
The issue of a "23 year old" being at the helm is irrelevant and unfounded. Who are you to debase the experience of some "kid" that happens to be a professional sailor. At 23 I was captaining tall ships of American registry with a license from the US Coast Guard sailing at all times of year and in all weather between Maine and Florida.
Licenses and rating are qualified for by days at sea, not hours. 360 4-8hour days at sea will make you eligible for the lowliest of licenses and ratings. These "kids" were experienced. Rough weather happens. I've seen several people injured due to things as simple as slipping on the deck, tripping over harness tethers and not getting out of the way fast enough when a sail comes across.
No one knows just what happened when Laura went overboard. It is a terrible tragedy. To say that if there were five more crew on board it wouldnt have happened is just plain stupid. People were seasick, tired (anyone who's tried to sleep in a gale knows how difficult that can be, regarless of watch schedual) probably disoriented.
You wouldn't be wearing a life vest because it would adversely affect your ability to work. An inflatable PFD, floatcoat, or mustang suit would have been practical but I've yet to find a sail training vessel of any registry to provide any of those. Pocket flares? another personal purchase. a good waterproof flashlight is a must have for anyone and would have been the most practical tool for the job. I can't comment on the Captain's orders, I wasn't there. But neither were you, and if you don't interview him then you're just making stuff up. Perhaps you should pursue a career in literature.
My deepest condolences go out to the Gainey Family.
From reading this write up that had been posted on the remembrance page for Laura. It is hard for me to believe that the ship and crew had not gone threw safety procedures and drills. Otherwise an honorable man as Captain David McBride would not write his thanks to the quick response that was taken forth. .....
Mr Michael Vogelsgesang,
Thank you very much for your email. I know the folks in the command center appreciated hearing from you. These are the toughest cases we have to prosecute. Everyone invested so much time and effort desperately
trying to find Laura and to not find her was heartbreaking to everyone. I know it was even more difficult for your crew having lost a fellow shipmate and then enduring the frustration of not being able locating her after days of searching.
I know there is nothing I can say to ease the pain of the loss your crew is going through. However, I want you to know and please pass on to your crew, that because of their quick response and efforts with executing your man-overboard procedures. Your crew provided the CG valuable information and afforded Laura a fighting chance for survival. In most of the cases where people have gone overboard that I have worked over the years there
usually is just the person in the water for us to search for and often we do not have a means to identify if we are searching in the right area.
The items your crew threw overboard proved invaluable throughout the search to keep us on the right course. Your assistance on scene with retrieving and identifying items was equally as valuable. I know the family appreciated the fact the Picton Castle crew remained out there searching even after we had suspended our search efforts.
Based on everything I have read and heard about Laura, I am sure she had become a beloved member of your ships family and will be sorely missed. As with the Gainey family our thoughts and prays are with you and your
crew as you continue on your voyage. Having been a fellow tall ship sailor, I can think of no greater thrill in my life than that of sailing the great Atlantic and looking out at that vast ocean from up in the rigging. Based on the performance of your crew, I would be honored to sail
with them any day.
Fair Winds & Following Seas,
Captain David McBride, USCG
— Posted on December 1, 2007 12:27 PM
Coming from Lunenburg and hearing some of the former crew call this man, Dan Moreland a "good captain" obviously does not know what a good captain is. A good captain is responsible for his crews safety and the vessel.
Safety come first and foremost. He has not to my knowledge posted any form of muster list or drill assignments, everyone on vessel has a duty to fulfill during any emergency. Such as MAN overboard,abandon ship,or fire.
This vessel is registered in Cook ISLANDS for a reason, it would have not passed Canadian Steamship Inspection and he knew this. Yes i do not doubt for one second that he is a smart man , he has steamed around the world, but I am not sorry to say this man is not a "GOOD CAPTAIN". Oh and yes I am in the wheelhouse of a vessel myself been fishing offshore for 22 yrs now.You could clearly see the facial expressions that this man was making he did not feel good about what he was saying.
Any way I hope something is done about it this for the sake and memory of Laura Gainey and her family P.S I hope that people do not think that Dan Moreland is a Lunenburger.
— Posted on December 1, 2007 09:08 AM
As a shipmate of Laura's and a crew member of the Picton Castle who has both circumnavigated on her 4th World Voyage and participated in coastal Tall Ship festivals I have experienced everything from the calmest of weather to a fiercely howling gale with seas of 20-30 ft. No situation is perfect and I will not try to argue that our ship is but what I will say is how truly saddening and frustrating it is to see the ship, her Captain (Captain Moreland, or Vogelsgesang) and crew so harshly bombarded with blame and accusations. Saddling someone with guilt and dragging out the anguish we all feel should not be the focus here.
Regardless of my involvement with the Picton Castle I was deeply dismayed to see such an unbalanced report presented by the Fifth Estate Wednesday night. There are, of course, many sides to every story and it is the journalists' responsibility to explore them.
Where was it stated that the Picton Castle has double the PFDs, with strobes and whistles, and double the life rafts which it needs to have when filled to max capacity? Not to mention all of the harnesses, life rings, spotlights and other (lighted) Man Over Board floatation gear within easy reach everywhere on deck. This gear is carefully maintained and knowing not only where it is, but how to use it in an emergency, is taken quite seriously by the ship's Master and crew. The same goes for MOB, Fire and Abandon Ship procedures and drills. And in heavy weather life lines are strung up along deck to aid the crew as they move about the vessel.
Watching this report I felt as though the Fifth Estate was not genuinely interested in finding out the truth about Laura's death and telling her story. Instead, an opinion had already been reached and cleverly edited footage was presented in support of that opinion. Interviews were clearly chosen or spliced together to make the audience see this tragedy in a very particular, sensationalized, light.
Throughout all the misinformation, accusations, uncertainty and heartbreak what I keep coming back to is this. I was, am and always will be proud to be a part of the Picton Castle family. She is not a cruise ship and her voyages are not vacations. Life onboard is full of hard work and complex experiences and should not be undertaken lightly.
However, we are wiser, stronger, more fulfilled people from our time spent walking her decks. This is why we go to sea. Why we leave the safety of our comfortable lives, our loved ones, and throw ourselves into a world filled with the unknown, with challenges, unspeakable wonder, and yes, danger. We accept all this and we go willingly; many of us, like Laura, fervently. Truly, this is a thing of beauty and I would do it all over again with joy in my heart.
Margot Bower Vancouver
— Posted on December 1, 2007 03:10 AM
(This is continuation of my previous email, it was sent off prematurely I think, please let me know if you didn't receive the first part).
Fortunately, we had no serious accidents while at sea, other than the one MOB incident. As a physician responsible for the wellbeing of the crew, I felt I had a better understanding of the potential seriousness of an injury that, while trivial on land, could be potentially devastating at sea, sometimes many days away from any type of medical facility.
That being said, I would still love to see the P-C continue with her voyages. The ship itself is very seaworthy and anyone who has ventured out to sea knows that there will always be an inherent risk involved. But I do believe that the risk should be managed and minimized to the greatest extent possible, and I hope these discussions will lead to efforts to do just that on the Picton-Castle.
Safety harnesses after sunset, in rough weather, in the headrig or aloft are irrefutably the standard in the world of sail training. No amount of admiration or respect for a ship or her program & no level of seamanship or experience will change this simple fact.
Last summer, a crew member on the schooner Alabama fell from aloft to their death on a sail training ship. No harness.
I have 14 years in the sail training world and an Ocean Master's license and I am not shooting from the hip.
— Posted on November 30, 2007 11:22 PM
Wow, some of the comments that have been made on this website are extraordinarily insensitive and misguided. I understand the instinct for many Picton Castle crew and alumni to defend their positive experience, but who is defending Laura?
Stop for a second and imagine what it would be like to lose your own sister or daughter overboard and to have no clear or objective explanation as to why. It's obvious that some people who were on the Picton Castle want to blame the reporter or the family for getting it wrong, but they might consider looking at what clearly WAS wrong.
This death was preventable. Whatever you think about the Picton castle, there is also the question of a terrible investigation and apparent cover up. Why not be outraged at this injustice. Don't speak for Laura or defend the boat in her name, fight to ensure that her life was not lost in vain and that your fellow sailors might now be protected from a similar fate. Some of you should really be ashamed of yourselves.
— Posted on November 30, 2007 10:39 PM
I must say, the story is slanted. From my own experience on board the Picton Castle, we did do plenty of drills, wore harnesses aloft or near the edge of the rail, we delayed the departure in May 05 for two weeks due to bad weather. If there was bad weather, the Captain made sure we knew the hazzard, and there are times the rescue boat simply cannot be launched as the risk to the rescuers is too great.
The show's accounts from the crew come from a small number of new trainees who were either new to the ship or sailing altogether and so it can be expected that their recounts of the events would be lacking a benchmark of comparisson. There were many others, with experience that I know were aboard (not interviewed) with plenty of sailing experience and safety knowledge.
My biggest take on the whole tragedy is that leadership makes all the difference when it comes to safety. This ship has circled the globe four times under Captain Moreland, and although he is a tough sob, there was never a serious mishap. This was the first time she sailed under a different captain and that point was never explored.
From watching the show and reading the comments, there are a lot of things said that do make truths. But in this day and age, it is hard to decipher the tale from the facts. There is nothing on television that doesn't breed on fear. It is a world of reality shows that are so well forged that really no one can see the real realty.
All we can do is quote what we think it may be.
My realty is that I watched something that was so one-sided, taken to an extreme, and didn't allow for other insights. Never once speaking with people that had the capable knowledge of what could have happened, but rather seeking the ones who could support their negative beliefs.
They interviewed someone they call a 'seasoned sailor' but yet who has never sailed blue water. And the reason for his leaving was due to how many dishes were on a counter? What does that have to do with the operation of a ship ? And they found it important to keep pointing out how the crew cleaned all the time, but that is usually what the crew of a ship does when leaving and coming to a port, no mater who is going to be at the other end. It is called proper seamanship.
As for the questions regarding the knowledge and age of the crew, it holds no ground as they are far beyond what is called for in a merchant mariner. If the this so-called reporter had done any investigating, she would have seen what they all have - something called an STCW-95 certification, which is made for just this reason. It is a common training program that is given to all mariners so that no mater what country they work in, or ship they work on, they all have similar safety knowledge.
Someone wrote that they think they smell a concerted effort by someone to engineer a campaign to refute these obvious discrepancies. A campaign is not needed, for the ones who write have hands-on knowledge of the safety of this vessel. I, being one of those trainees you see in the footage awash in high seas, never once felt I was put in an unsafe position and was always given the choice to wear a harness. Never, ever, would anyone deny someone the right to wear one, and if there was some incident of someone not allowed to, I strongly believe there was a reason for it.
I devoted four years of my life to the Picton Castle. Gaining the knowledge from such a Captain as Dan Moreland and Michael Vogesgesine has allowed me to have such a title as being a captain of a tall ship. No one goes to sea without knowing there is always the possibility of What ifs, and if I was ever put in such a position as the crew of the Picton Castle was, I would hope I would have the strength and awareness they all had.
The real reality is that we have to remember what this story is about. A girl who had tragedy in her life, looking for some solitude and closure of her own. Finding the comfort she sought in the vast beauty of the sea, as many have done before her.
That is the amazing thing that becomes revealed to someone like Laura, who makes the choice to call the sea home. I think we all really should take away our own differences and truly honor someone's life by remembering them. Going to the shores where she found her peace, giving time for silence. If anything, the Picton Castle should be seen as something Laura would like her to be looked as - safe and free of criticism and judgment. She took her gift and now still is teaching us all. Thank you Laura, may you rest peacefully in the Lord's fields
Firstly, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the Gainey family on the loss of their daughter to the perils of the sea.
I can't help wondering, with no disrespect to Laura's family, if this tragic accident had happened to one of my family, would you, the Fifth Estate, be interested in hearing my story?
I have followed the 'Picton Castle' since her arrival in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, in 1996 and had the privilege of sailing on her in 2002 and 2004. I take great exception to the negative tone of your program for the obvious purpose of sensationalism.
I have never seen this ship in a deplorable condition and safety was always a top priority. Having sailed with both Captains Dan Moreland and Michael Vogelsgesang, I highly respect them both as Master Mariners who are dedicated to the safety of the ship and her crew. I am confident that they would not hesitate to implement any of the recommendations that come out of the inquiry into this tragic incident.
In any follow-up stories, please be more truthful to your viewers and give them both sides of the story - the positive as well as the negative.
Having read all the comments so far, I find it interesting that those who are critical of Picton Castle, are those who believe that what they saw on the program was true. Those who are supportive of the Picton Castle are those who sailed on her, or didn't, but could see the obvious and blatant shortcomings of the broadcast.
This piece was yellow journalism at its very worst. I've sailed over sixty thousand deep water miles in a traditional schooner, and I can see that with one eye open. I'd love to see what Gilian Fildlay left on the cutting room floor. The CBC I admire would never have aired such a hatchet job. This is the kind of thing FOX does. Shame.
First and foremost, my deepest condolences are sent to the Gainey family.
However, I was appalled at the obvious intent of this program to discredit the Picton Castle, Captain Moreland and the PC crew. I was lucky enough to call the Picton Castle my home for the third world voyage and the summer trip along the east coast after the world voyage and I can honestly say that I never once felt that my safety was at risk on the vessel.
As for the Captain and his crew, it is inconceivable to me that you had the gall to call them inexperienced and incapable. Captain Moreland is one of the most respected captains in the tall ship world. He holds the rarest license issued today: Master of steam, motor, or auxiliary sail, vessels of any gross tons upon oceans.
The other members of the professional crew that I sailed with were incredibly experienced, much more than most people who call themselves sailors. The majority of the members of the young and inexperienced crew members had already sailed either half way around the world or completed one circumnavigation and were working on their second circumnavigation.
And that is just their experience on the Picton Castle, that's not even mentioning their sailing experience before employment on the ship. Each crew member was knowledgeable in every aspect of traditional seamanship, had significant experience sailing in all kinds of conditions and knew the Picton Castle inside and out.
The Picton Castle is a working ship that introduces people of all ages and all walks of life to the amazing world of traditional, blue water sailing. Yes, it is hard work, it can be tiring and it is not for everyone. But it was the most meaningful and influential experience I have had thus far.
I hope that you do a follow-up story that interviews those trainees and crew members that actually spent a significant amount of time on the Picton Castle so that we can share with your viewers what the majority of the hundreds of trainees that have had the privilege of sailing on the Picton Castle have experienced and what the ship is really about.
We have been introduced to people and cultures that most people only dream about or don't even know existed. We brought much needed supplies and school materials to remote places that do not have access to basic goods. We formed unbreakable bonds that comes with living with 40 other people on a 179 foot ship and being at sea for weeks at a time. And we learned how to become sailors aboard a safe ship with a Captain and crew who always tried to mitigate the risks of being at sea.
Captains are in charge of the ship at all times. Protection of crew and vessel are his responsibility. The crew follows the leader. The leader may be a 'seasoned' seaman, and knows of but overlooks the perils of the sea that rookies do not understand. His role is then to train them and help keep them safe.
I don't believe that was the case on this ship. 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead' seems to be his operating agenda. I spent years in the coast guard. I've seen enough preventable deaths. As difficult as it is to lose a child, it's made worse by someone as irreverent as this captain to claim it was her fault!
— Posted on November 30, 2007 03:17 PM
Did anyone else notice the statement that the the fifth estate blatently ignored? It was basically that the report(s) which the fifth estate were basing the program and their questions on was, even now, completely in question by official bodies and "deeply flawed"? riddled with mis-quotes and false statements? This I have seen echoed all over the internet by reading such conflicting and messy information.
The ill informed media have obviously not completed their homework and have rushed to get a program out half baked which has now resulted in a misinformed public and a very well recognised and world respected vessel being subject to Trial by Media.
I think Laura would be deeply saddened by the innacuracy of this program, the twisting of facts and the injustice done to something that she loved. This investigation should get back where it belongs - in official lines and with a view to improving safety on ships.
The CBC Fifth Estate has alot to answer for by reporting so innaccurately and whipping up the public into a frenzy by feeding them such one-sided information.
Surely to god, the fact that cook islands reports are conflicting is a reflection on the professionalism and abilty of those writing the reports?... and of THIER policies?.. NOT the ship?
I have sailed on some of the largest sailing vessels in the world under various flags, including the Picton Castle. I have also worked in the merchant fleets of the world. The Picton Castle is a very capable and well run ship and has very good safety systems and procedures in place - better than I have seen on some merchant vessels in fact. Yes, she can be improved, but that is true of all ships and all operations and I am sure she will be improved.
No wonder Bob Gainey is so angry, the information that he has been given was obviously flawed and a mess and with such conflicting reports of course he is suspicious. Shame on the cook islands for getting such an important investation so wrong, and shame on the fifth estate for not realising that they were going on such bad information.
— Posted on November 30, 2007 02:15 PM
I extend my deepest sympathies to Laura's Family. Its a terrible loss and not one any father should ever have to experience.
I sailed on the Picton Castle 7 years ago. I was on the ship for 3 weeks. I was 16 at the time. I had heard through the grapevine that Cpt. Dan Moreland was one of the best, and I still believe that he is, but i do belive there is a lack of regard to safety.
As I sailed for those 3 weeks and the only drill i remember doing was how to lower the boats to the water in case of evacuation. I never saw a harness worn by anyone trainee or professional crew. Shoes were NEVER worn by anyone aloft or on deck.
Captain Moreland has circimnavigated the world many many times and that alone speaks for his ability as a Captain but In my opinion there are some safety issues. They were allowing people like myself, a 16 year old at the time to go aloft with no safety harness or shoes on. At the time I didn't consider the dangers and thought it was normal as I don't recall ever seeing a harness.
When I was 20 I sailed on anouther Tall ship for a Trans Atlantic voyage. Right away we were made aware of where all the safty equipment was. we had several drills throughout the voyage. Harnesses were MANDATORY while aloft no matter how much expiriance you had, as were shoes. When we came across rough weather safty nets went put up around the ship, lines went up and harnesses went on and if you were to be on deck the harness was to be clipped on to the line at ALL times.
As someone stated in their comment it is not a cruise ship or a Navy vessle and there are ALWAYS risks with anything you do but i don't feel as though there was as much effort to minimize the risks as their should have been.
If no one is ever held responsible and i'm not sure if anyone really can be, I hope that at least this situation and the attention brought to it will at least bring about some set of guidelines for training ships such as the Picton Castle to follow. I know that no matter what happens Laura is gone, but maybe she will help prevent it from ever happening again.
— Posted on November 30, 2007 11:58 AM
I was totally SHOCKED and DISGUSTED with the total lack of respect and responsibility for the safety of young peoples lives! What really worries me if it had not been the daughter of some well known person we would never have heard the story!
This comment is in regard to the interview of the yacht racer who did not even go on the trip. He said he found the ship a mess. There probably was some clutter as she had just finished a successful voyage to the Great Lakes and back which she had commenced mere weeks after completing her fourth voyage around the globe.
I was the second mate for that voyage and when I joined the ship in late April of 2005, the ship did not appear ready to go at all. One month later we left for a world voyage in a ship that had every little detail from lashings on heavy gear to having enough soy sauce was taken care of.
It is the attention to even the most minute of those details which makes life at sea possible. Captain Moreland stresses the importance of attention to detail from day one, and when a crew joins a ship and has the opportunity to be involved with the preparation (including the miniscule details) for a voyage as well as the voyage itself then that crew is better suited than just a passenger on a cruise ship.
The yacht racer also mentions the fact that he expected to sea some old salts and what he saw where children (I think that's the word he used). This man has no clue as who these people are. These are young men and women who have poured more salt water out of there sea boots than he has ever seen. For him to dismiss them based on their age is irresponsible at best. Would you want an old plumber training a heart surgeon or a young heart surgeon training another heart surgeon. Age has nothing to do with anything in this instance because you will find no better crew than those "children" that I sailed with and would be proud to sail with again.
Lastly, I would like to point out that there is no easy way to keep safe while at sea. You could tie yourself up with ten lifejackets on and that would not garauntee anything except that you would have a miserable time due to the fact that you couldn't move. It is easy to say that if lifejackets were being used that no loss of life would occur. We live in a world where they have a pill for everything. These pills may not cure you but they will make you feel better. A pill is an easy fix but sometimes not the right one.
The only way to stay safe at sea is to be trained by someone like Dan Moreland in the traditional ways of the sea which force you to examine every situation with an eye for detail. That is why the navies of the world train their officers in big square riggers much like Picton Castle.
I think if Laura had seen this program she would have been the first to write "leave my ship alone".
The purpose of an accident/incident investigation is to determine the root cause and not to apportion blame. Sadly, the Cook Island's decision to not make public the investigation report, and the sensationalism engendered by 5th Estate's report, has moved the issue from unbiased detailed examination by experienced professionals to the court of public opinion where the rightous uninformed and the true believers battle for blood.
I look forward to the TSB's report and wish the investigators well, though to begin a year after the fact when positions have hardened and memories are more selective will add immeasurably to the task. Straight and honest professionalism however must outweigh soundbites, personality, appearance, bottom line and spin for if not a severe disservice is done to Ms. Gainey.
I must state that no parent should lose a child. As a parent, I grieve with him.
In reference to this show, I believe that this show could be the poster child for two tier justice in Canada..if it was 'joe blow' that was lost, this story would never have been played out like this.
I thought the interviewer was incredibly biased and probably has never sailed offshore. The positive accomplishments of this Captain where never cited..
Offshore sailing is dangerous at any time. Does someone really need an order to put on a life vest ???
This garbage reporting from CBC has been on the upsurge for awhile.
CBC used to be where you went for unbiased reporting, now it is like the National Enquirer. Sad.
PS - CBC states that "This discussion board is moderated and comments will not be posted until they have been approved by a CBC moderator".
All sense of security is false. All sense of superiority is wrong. We all die. The captain of a ship usually won't say this, but they show you. I would bet the last person to want to change a hair on the castles head would be Laura Gainey.
I think Dan And Bob both love Laura, but they have both insulted her inadvertently for their own ends. We all know what the picton castle is. Give me the same death please.
With all due respect to Mr. Gainy and family I would like to voice my opinion on this very tragic matter. For the past 30 years I have worked as a shipwright (ships carpenter), building and repairing sailing vessels. Most of my career has been spent working here on the Lunenburg waterfront.
Ten years ago I worked on the Picton Castle refit and have over the past decade been fortunate to work on her as Capt. Dan and crew prepare the ship for its voyages.
In my honest opinion Capt. Dan and his organization are very conscious and concerned about safety when it involves working or sailing the Picton Castle. I have been at sea on the Picton Castle in 20 foot waves and at no time did I think my safety was at risk.
As a regular viewer of the Fifth Estate for the past 20 years or more I am shocked and saddened how this story was reported by what I believed to be an honest and legit news progam.
As a father I can only imagine what Mr.Gainy is going through,my deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.
After posting once to this discussion, and reading all the other posts I feel I need to post again. The quality of journalism is not the issue here. If anyone has a problem with it call CTV and get them to do a piece on it.
The issue here is the lack of basic seamanship and safety practices. In rough weather situations, on the Great lakes or the ocean, any properly regulated and run sail training vessel has mandatory standing orders that all those on deck (for watch or otherwise) MUST be wearing a harness, both during the day and especially at night.
The fact that the crew and trainees were not wearing them on the night that Laura was lost is a complete disregard for safety of life at sea, and that responsibility falls on the captain, and those writing the standing orders for the vessel. For a brief rundown of my qualifications to comment on this knowledgeably press Ctrl F anf find my previous post.
Kyle Boland Sudbury
— Posted on November 30, 2007 05:32 AM
Inflatable pfds offer an ideal solution to the "a life jacket is to cumbersome to work in" problem that so many seafarers have cited in this discussion. These have a hydrostatic release and inflate automatically upon immersion in water, they can also be set to inflate using a pull cord if you are frequently finding yourself up to your armpits in water as the Crew of the Picton Castle were on the night of the incident. They are highly visible and typically feature a whistle, clip for a small strobe light, and SOLAS reflective taping.
Considering that crew members testify to hearing Laura screaming for help for hours, it is obvious that such a pfd could possibly have saved her life by making her far more visible and in turn making it possible for them to locate her.
Many of these pfds are approved to double as chest harness so that you can clip into a jack line or to the ship. This type of life vest is worn by professional seamen all over the globe; in coast guards, marine police forces, the fishing industry, and even on many Sail Training Vessels very much like the Picton Castle. I have worn these pfds on many occasions. I have never found them to be cumbersome in any way, nor have they ever hindered my ability to perform any task on deck or aloft.
The standard cost for one of these pfds is somewhere around two hundred dollars. No one can possibly argue that two hundred dollars would have been too high a price to pay for the life of Laura Gainey.
Captain Moreland and those affiliated with the Windward Isles Sailing Company are doing an enormous disservice to both themselves and to the Sail Training Industry in not accepting the responsibility for this tragic loss.
Moreland could have owned up to his responsibility as the owner of the ship and admitted to the public that safety was indeed an issue that needed to be addressed. He could have decided to step up and set a new precedent of safety for Sail Training Vessels, to ensure that the loss Laura would not be in vain. He could have promised to do everything within his power to ensure that similar and wholly unnecessary tragedies can be avoided in the future. That Captain Moreland instead chose to essentially lay the blame upon Laura herself speaks volumes about his character.
— Posted on November 30, 2007 04:04 AM
Dear Fifth Estate,
I am appalled by the biasism of your report on the tragic loss of Laura Gainey. For a well trusted and informed news programme that you are, how could you let one of your own report so poorly.
It is clear in my mind that Mrs. Findley wanted to blame not the circumstances that took the life of a fine sailor, but wanted to blame one person in particular. That is Captain Daniel Moreland. I have sailed under his command, and have high regards for him as a person, a businessman, and ultimately a sailor. He holds one of the rarest tickets in the world, and has sailed in every condition one can think of. Anyone who has sailed with him will in an instant do it again under any condition.
Sure, were there mistakes made, probably. Could this have been avoided, probably. Did the crew do everything to their best of knowledge right, that is for damn sure. I have sailed for a long time, and can tell you that tall ship sailing is no joke. People die, its a dangerous job. We learn from it.
The months that i put in on the Picton Castle were the best of my life. I was taught many things I'd otherwise would have never been taught in my day to day landlubber life. Sailing is a thrill, a natural high, you take the good with the bad, and believe me there will be more good than bad in a sailing career. As for the safety issue aboard the Picton, well on the whole there were never any issues. Never once did I feel that my life could be jeopardized in anyway. And looking back on it, that is not said with youthful glee that I was at sea.
The main concern of this report was that it was bias, and it felt that the reporter was out on a witch hunt to blame somebody for the sake of a 60 minute spotlight. She interviewed only a few people, and not key players in this event. Why would someone waste their time on interviewing a yachty businessman that wasn't even on the ship once in his so called career. Interviewing someone who "had a bad feeling" about the ship is pure sensationalism. Then asking Captain Moreland if they use safety gear then turning around and show video of them not using safety gear is pure hype. For one that was a totally different situation in a totally different climate and ocean. Two, that video was years ago, things have changed since then. Onboard any ship, safety is continually evolving.
How come the reporter didn't touch on how inherently dangerous tall ship sailing is. Did she even do her homework on the subject of incidents on tall ships in the past year, five years or decade? Probably not. Just look at this summer during the tall ship events. several ships were caught in similar storms and no one was lost.
The Pride of Baltimore 2 had a crewmember injured during a squall. The American Pride started sinking with children aboard and made it safely back to Long Beach without a loss of life. The Fair Jeanne caught fire with children onboard, no one injured. The Robertson 2 struck a reef and sank without one single life lost. The Lady Washington had a crew member fall out of the rigging and killed. The Irving Johnson struck a roving sandbar and sank with college students onboard, not a single life lost. Why do I bring this up, these are half a dozen incidents in the past decade, and only 2 lives lost. I think that is a pretty good track record for a dangerous industry.
I am not trying to lighten the situation at hand, but just want to say as a fellow sailor that these sensationalist claims that safety aboard the Picton Castle was lacking and that the crew were green when it came to being prepared for a real life man overboard are false. Was the crew overworked and deprived of sleep, sure. But that is how it is on modern day sail training vessels. I've been there.
I've done my share of 20 hour days, its not fun, and its grueling. But they need to be done. I do think that the ship was undermanned for being out in the conditions, but when you are in a storm, you could have 5 people or 500 and you will always have the sense that you are undermanned. Should they not have been in the North Atlantic in the Winter? Never stopped any other ship before. Just look at any city/town/village anywhere on the Atlantic and you would see that countless ships have braved those waters for generations and some have never returned. That is just the nature of the sea. In the Winter on the North Atlantic there WILL be storms. Its a fact.
I have been reading the posts on your website and it is clear that there is a very distinct division on views of this report. Many condone the ship, crew and owner. Many stand behind them, like I do. But one thing is clear, most are judging not one person on the loss of laura, but judging the onesidedness of the report as a whole.
Honestly, do you believe that just one person can be blamed for the loss of life? Look into what happened in the investigation after the loss of the Albatross in the '60s and the sensationalism of the inquiry and media hype. See a pattern that you are creating? If you are going to report onsomething, do it right with fair reporting. Do it for the life that was lost. Celebrate a fine young woman, and a fine sailor. That is what it ultimately comes down to. Celebrate one's life. So others can know how wonderful and passionate that Laura was. Ultimately, only she really knows what happened to her. And all we know is that the crew did everything in their power to save her. Just leave it at that.
In closing, there are inherent risks in any day to day activity that one chooses. When an accident does occur, we should learn from it so no one else has to suffer. The Picton Caslte is a wonderful life altering experience that broadens your horizons and teaches us to be extraordinary while doing the ordinary. Shows us that your life doesnt need to be complicated by technology as long as you can reach for the future while embracing the past. WE do it to get away from our problems only to find yourself. it's about being part of something greater. it's about interdependence. its about being a family. Let us mourn the loss of one of our family and not blame. WE are there for her family, because she is our family. Celebrate an amazing life.
I have just watched the Fifth Estate's video on this awful tragedy.
Reading the above comments by former trainees on the Picton Castle and just holding what they say against what, for instance, the captain of the British training vessel said in reviewing the video of trainess awash in high seas without any safety gear and also Captain Moorland's weak response when confronted with video evidence that his so called policy of mandatory safety harness was a hypocrisy, I smell a concerted effort by someone to engineer a campaign to refute these obvious discrepancies.
It is experienced professional naval people and not trainees that happened to have a fun trip (or were fortunately able to handle these stresses because they were not faced with a storm such as this so early in their voyage) to whom I would turn if I am seeking credibility.
Treating untested,enthusiastic neophytes as being capable of handling a sailing vessel and it's many responsibilities in very frightening weather at night is, in itself,asking for tragedy to occur.
Until, as I have, you face the North Atlantic and three days of 40-60 foot seas in a howling gale and have to experience uncontrollable seasickness and fear, you cannot possibly imagine how you will handle it. It is only the actual experience that will determine if you will rise to the occasion, as some are able to do, or if you will retreat inside youraself in fear and confusion as many also do. All the passion, excitinf sailing movies, great seafaring books and good health cannot prepare you for this.
The Picton Castle's captain and organization failed the trainees miserably from what I can see here. Even after several weeks of fair weather sailing where the trainees would have gained enough experience to know the rudimentary operating procedures , dealing with this highly predictable storm would not have been an easy task.
As to those who cry foul as if Captain Moorland was hijacked by the CBC interview I would add that here too is evidence of his lack of adequate preparation for he came across unnecessarily embattled and unable to confront this own inconsistencies.He was 'all at sea' in the worst sense of the phrase.
At the time of the event I tracked the PC online. AFter the event they stopped reporting their position and there were no crew logs at all. They reappeared two weeks later in the Caribbean.
I felt that the choice to fly 'under the radar' was a poor one but, after hearing of the pressure brought to bear on trainees to first of all write a personal report ('for the enquiry')but subsequently asked to change these accounts to suit the captain's view of the event as well as learning of threats being leveled at the trainee whose video was demanded "..or we'll throw the camera and laptop overboard" it is very clear that a concerted coverup was engineered and a serious effort to keep reports from 'leaking' to the press before trainees could be jogged to toe the story line.This is what I dreaded was occuring and it appears as if i was right.
More power to those who stood their ground and reported their own versions of the event. And no amount of engineered write-ins in this column can conceal the fact that notwithstanding the risks of taking on such an assignment, Laura Gainey, bless her soul, is not the guilty party here.
I work on the oil patch and I AM responsible for my crew to and from work. We have a safety meeting every morning, because of the nature of the danger. I have to repeat over and over about safety to the new comers and keep an eye on them at all time around the well, even if they claim 'Been There Done That'. Sometime they are worst then kid, because they have so much to prove to themselves at 22 years old. I can just imagine those kids felt the need to prove to the captain that they could be part of the crew - I live with that every day!
I also work for 20 years in a body shop, and most accident occur when you become too familiar with your environment, you are not scared anymore, you do thing almost mechanically and you have tendency to take more risk! New trainees are normally attentive and scared, so most accidents happen to the most experienced one of us or to the guy standing next to him.
"Anyone making a passage of say more than 48 hours better be prepared to rely on his or hers own devices and to live or die by their actions and decisions. Peter Kay"
"When comments were made about the barefoot crew, it was not mentioned that those images were shot in the hot tropics on earlier voyages. Bill Fleming"
So then, my question is... When exactly did the captain decided to crack that 40 pounder of rum on the deck??? During that nice barefooted day in the tropic or was it after the 48 hours passage???
Like I always say: " Experience is always something that comes after you needed it!" In this case Lara seem to have know what she was doing, but how much experience in this kind of weather did she really had?
Someone what the BOSS on that ship, and that Boss was the one giving order, and was in charge to make sure that these orders were respected.
Sorry to say but the captain is always the one who sink with his boat! And that boat should be a scuba diving excursion site!
Sympathy to the Gainey family,
And to all the young crew who stood on deck helplessly that fateful night.
— Posted on November 30, 2007 12:46 AM
I've read quite a few comments defending the safety of the Picton Castle. The thing I find strange is the lack of discussion on the specific safety practices on board during the voyage in question. Are there any training records? Distributed safety protocols? Read and Understand documents? Safety logs? These are the types of things that enable safety. Without them, people are left with their own interpretation of safety with little or no accountability.
Doug Smith Vancouver
— Posted on November 30, 2007 12:29 AM
I have been representing seafarers' on Flag of Convenience vessels for some fifteen years. During the course of these representations I have dealt with many different issues, ranging from crew simply being cheated or underpaid in terms of wages. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse, death, injury and sickness. Safety issues, safe manning levels, and structural deficiencies, repatriation, abandonment, the list goes on.
During the course of these cases and representations, we have had to overcome agencies, authorities, insurers, flag states, lawyers, both foriegn and domestic working in league with FoC shipowners.
To the defenders of the conduct of the Picton Castle's chain of command, right up to the ownership level I say that the loss of Ms. Gainey is not just some unfortunate turn of events.
The conduct of the flag state - Cook Islands - was to shield the owners and operators of that vessel from operational inconvenience. To have quashed the report of Capt Sheer and come back with another whitewashed investigation by the Cook Islands Ministry of Transport is not suprising to me. But what is suprising is that to me is that those responsible for the safe operation of that ship would allow the Cook Islands to whitewash this case. Are they just goofy?
Where is their care and commitment to the principles of safe vessel operation or more signifcantly the spirit of the International Safety Management code?
If this company operates as so many here attest, they they would have glady accepted intial finding and considered their good fortune and leave it at that.
I think preliminary investigations of the Transportation Safety Board should set off alarms. But why does the TSB even have to be called into this?
Oh yeah, because left alone the owners of the Picton Castle and Cook Islands want to apportion the bulk of blame to the victim and not deal with serious operational questions.
As for all the testimonials on this board.
I have often also been presented with statements signed by the whole crew at the behest of the company. With the flood of emails to this board of former crew, virtually all singing off the same hymm sheet ... well I won't say what I'm thinking.
Peter Lahay Vancouver
— Posted on November 29, 2007 10:35 PM
Gillian Findlay and all the staff of CBC Fifth Estate - You did a great job, last evening. It is so unfortunate that so many did not see or hear what I did, but have such a terrible different impression, - and I quote Heather, "grieving father starting a witch hunt"... oh! that hurts.
You are not alone Heather, many failed to see the whole point in the show. Yes Bob is a grieving Father (but to be told simply his daughter is an "unlucky victim", he is looking for just one TRUTHFUL answer or just an, I AM SORRY. He IS looking for the FUTURE of YOUR LOVE ONES, that it does not happen again. Put yourself in Bob Gainey's position, the majority cannot do that because they have not lost anyone they love, especially a child.
Yes, I truly believe this Tall Ship is/was one of the BEST and many experience this, I ask, was it one of the BEST ON THAT NIGHT and/or VOYAGE. Some of the crew that are still working on it or depend on similar work for a living, can they really come forth and express their truthful opinion of "BEORE" THAT night without losing their jobs.
Would it be to their best interest for the CBC to put a camera and a microphone infront of them? I am not saying when Laura went overboard, they did not do their utmost best to rescue her. I feel for all of them, it was a Nightmare for all the crew. It is what went on before that fateful moment, that is being questioned. Did this ship, for the FIRST time, have time to do all that was necessary BEFORE they left Port? Yes they had a lot of eager crew, was it enough? They were in a hurry, to get to another job, the ship was needed to make a movie. Yes, at times, we are all guilty of rushing to get somewhere or get it done and I am no exception.
Yes, the Gainey Family are angry, but just remember they are just looking for answers, that all precautions will be taken that, this will not happen again. They have broken the silence for YOU and your loved ones, not just for themselves.
All who saw the show, ask themselves are any of my employee's working short staff, doing work of 2 or 3 and short on sleep. There is a lot of it out there also,in other work places. Probably, they are doing OK, but there may be a time when OK is not be good enough.
To Bob and all your Family - We truly understand, your anger when the answer you were given, that little could have been done on that ship BEFOREHAND TO PREVENT the death of Laura.
May it give you great comfort and strength to just know there are many that CARE and truly UNDERSTAND your ever present grief. Our Love and Prayers are with you everyday.
— Posted on November 29, 2007 10:15 PM
I am saddened by the blatent disregard for professional unbiased journalism. It was not what I expected from Fifth Estate or CBC.
It was quite apparent that the interviewer had no frame of reference other then interviewing 3 trainees, no professional crew OR their Captain for the voyage. To imply that the age of the crew reflected the level of experience is an insulting disservice to those who have logged more sea time then I have in over 30 years. Their Marine Certified credentials are impressive and based on experience, not age.
I have sailed extensively on both large and small crafts including briefly on the Picton Castle in 2006 and 2007. Every time I have stepped aboard her, regardless of any previous experiences, safety was the number one issue and reitterated as such. It was not open to negotiation regardless of rank.
I would gladly put my trust and yes...my life...in the hands of Captain Mooreland and the crew of the Picton Castle.
Laura's death was a tragedy for her family, friends and fellow shipmates. Amongst many other important points Gillian Findley failed to mention was the devotion of the crew as they continued to search when the Coast Guard had given up. The crew, exhausted and distraught was given time to grieve and rest before facing the media storm that awaited them. This was NOT an attempt to cover anything up, but was a much needed time to mourn.
A tribute to her smiling face, infectious laugh and love of the sea would have been a far better use of your efforts and our time. Witch hunts are not becoming of a reputable news agency.
I've read the above comments. Many have spoken of Captain Moreland in high regard; however he wasn't on the ship. Maybe when you guys went, safety was high on the list; but not this time. Maybe when you went harneses and life vests were mandatory; but not this time. Maybe when you went everything was working correctly; but not this time. Maybe when you went there was adequate crew; but not this time. Maybe when you went you got the sleep and nourishment required; but not this time. And it only takes once...
— Posted on November 29, 2007 08:32 PM
I woke up this morning trill to see what some other experience sailors had to say about the show last night. And I'm not disappointed. But some still seem to agree that is was just an unfortunate accident!
CBC you did a good job!
I just wanted to add this for those who believe that it's standard procedure in deep sea...
A babysitter is hold accountable if a child is not wearing a seat belt and die in her vehicle, even if she is not the one who ran though the red light.
A bartender in Canada is hold accountable for serving alcoholic beverages over the limit to someone who gets involve in a accident leaving the establishment.
A pilot is hold accountable for the safety of his passengers...
You climb on a ride at the fair and you assume that it is safe, because of rules; does it mean that no one is accountable?
But no one is to blame on the Picton Castle?!?
Come on... Inexperience and under-number crew and a 23 years old in the wheel house, no life jacket in sight, no harness, etc...
I'm sure that the crew, all had a fantastic experience on the boat and would surly go out to sea again.
Ask any astronauts who saw the sun rising over the earth; does it mean that no one is accountable for Apollo 13?
One carpenter per apprentice on a work site; in Alberta once you have you student learner it takes about 3 years before you get fully licence. And you need to pass a test (one on one) before you can get on the road alone in your vehicle; and your vehicle has to pass a safety inspection by a licence mechanic!
Let just say that those kids were dip into a blood bath before taken to a tiger hunt! Even if Captain Morland took the safety of his crew at heart, he was not on the ship that day!
And for what concerns that reality show well, it is just another example of 'Money Talks',
Even if we all know that at the end it will get the best of us!
Let just say that for the rest of the young crew on board it sound to me that they liked the toy in their Happy meal, they just didn't know what they were being fed!
Bob is holding a BIG bull by the horn and I thank CBC for helping.
I agree, a law should be made in her honour, and for all the other ones lost at sea, because of men like who ever was in charge that night!
We have to break this old say: 'That what happen at sea stay at sea'
Melanie L Alberta
— Posted on November 29, 2007 05:04 PM
I have followed this story from the moment Laura was lost. I watched your very informatative report.
I'm not a sailor but consider myself to be logical and somewhat intelligent. What I saw in the videos of the ship that night were mind boggling. The title of Captain should certainly not apply to the likes of Moreland and Vogelsgesang. Clowns would be more appropriate.
I can't help but notice how in the other comments everyone who has ever sailed on the ship remarks on the safety drills and attention to detail that is strictly observed on the Picton Castle. All the comments about lack of training and how dangerous it is come from people who watched that absurd broadcast and listened to Gillian whats her face and her 'seasoned sailor' yachty friend.
During his life at sea, Capt. Moreland has had hundreds and hundreds of people put their lives in his hands and trusted his judgement on who he hires as crew aboard his vessels.
As one such person I can say never once in my 423 days onboard the Picton Castle with Capt. Moreland and his crew did I ever feel getting us from port to port safely was anything but his first and foremost concern.
It was to the point where if you didn't realize he was doing it for you own safety, you might believe he was yelling at you. But that was not the case. Everyone who steps foot onboard the Picton Castle or any other tall ship knows they are taking a risk. But the risk to reward ratio is more than worth it, thats why people do it. Laura knew that. I'm not saying it was Laura's 'fault'. Far from it. It wasn't anybodys 'fault'.
What happened to her has happened to many many before her and it will keep happening as long as people go to sea. While that doesn't make it any easier, its just the way it is.
Capt. Moreland is a seaman of the highest degree and a good man. He does not deserve to be persecuted by a person of the lowest degree, a reporter.
30+ years at sea, hundreds of thousands of sea miles, many different ships, 6 circumnavigations with 4 as captain, 1 lost sailor. The numbers speak for themselves. I would gladly sail with not only Capt. Moreland, but with anyone he saw fit to crew his ship.
The word 'kids' kept getting thrown around in the broadcast. I guess it may depend on your definition of 'kid'. You might consider someone 23, 24, or even 25 years old 'kids', but are they still kids when they have sailed around the world? Sailed thousands and thousands of miles and seen and experienced amazing things?
Things that people in their 90's while laying on their deathbeds hear about and say to themselves "I wish I had done that"? Those 'kids' call the Picton Castle home, they know it well.
I don't mean to sound incensitive. I sailed with Laura for a long time and a long way. Losing her has been hard on all of us who knew her. In sailing with someone you become connected to them in a way only sailors can know about. My heart goes out to the Gainey family.
Who is to blame?
This seems to be the source of most of the controversy, and quite frankly is just exhausting. WHO can we blame? WHY did this happen? WHY Laura?
Why not focus on celebrating the life Laura lived and the things she loved doing? Why not focus on the GOOD that this ship has done? Because, clearly (and sadly), the good is hardly sensational or news worthy.
Could there be some safety issues that need to be addressed with this ship? Sure. Could this have been a terrible and unavoidable tragedy? Sure. Could it be both? Absolutely.
I did sail with the Picton-Castle on it's second world voyage. I am not however blinded by youth or awed merely by the titles of the professionals who I sailed with.
Instead, I am terribly saddened by Laura's loss. And I know that it could have just as easily have been me, or one of my shipmates. Not because of a lack of safety, but because sailing is precarious. And it is awesome.
My own experience on board this vessel with both Michael Vogelgessang and Daniel Moreland was one where safety was extremely important. Michael Vogelgessang, in particular, is meticulous and thoughtful in his every action.
I think it important to indicate that I do not offer praise for these men lightly as I never was close to, or even liked them, but I trust them at sea. I share in the disgust some viewers have expressed for Capt. Moreland's comments or demeanor. However, despite his apparent machismo and lack of personal skills, he IS an excellent sailor who IS focused on safety.
And so we are still left with WHO is to blame. I do not have an answer, but feel that our energy can be better spent.
Let's not forget Laura, let's not forget her family, let's not forget her shipmates, and let's remember that when heading out to sea we are potentially risking it all to gain so much.
I can't beleave that this could happen in this day and age with all we have learned from years gone by,this is not the first time someone was sweept over board and why shouldn't we have learned from those loses.
I work as a health and safety officer and when the company I work for has an incident we look at all the causes and make changes to our program so it will not happen again.
The canadian OH&S manuel has been writen on the hard felt tears of love one's that have died at work and it is to bad that some one has to die before we make changes, it sure would be nice to find the hazards of the job before we start them.
I do a hazard assessment of all the jobs my crew is going to do each day and plain out controls of those hazards before they start the job and if something changes like the weather we stop work and make changes before some one gets hurt.
Was there a hazard assessment done on this voyage were all the hazards identified to the crew and did they have a plain in place to protect the safe of the crew there is lots of quistion that need answers and alot of corrected action that need to be put in place before this happens agains.
I for one would put safe guards in place so this type of incident does not happen again to some one else.
The longer we wait to put safe guards in place the higher the risk is for this to repeat itself.
Having worked for over 11 years on various vessels and offshore oilfield facilities, I can testify as to why the Captain was stressing the righting capabilities of the ship- in times of crisis it is standard for responsible officers to update, inform and reassure the crew. On offshore oil facilities this is effected via PA announcements and speeches at muster points.
As far as the flag of convenience- there would not be a boat in Halifax harbour except Navy and Coast Guard vessels if you banned ships flying foreign flags. Of the 10 vessels I have worked on, all were either temporarily or permanently based in Canada, and only two were home-flagged - and this by necessity (they were fishing vessels always working within the 200 mile limit)
I myself was once washed across the deck of a ship, but luckily she had high sides and I just wound up bruised in the scuppers. At the time, I had just finished emptying a compost bucket over the side and had stopped to light a cigarette. The company had numerous safety policies including the wearing of lifevests by deckhands handling gear, and no smoking inside quarters, even though three quarters of the crew were smokers. However, there was no weather policy about cooks' emptying of compost buckets...
I guess the moral of the story is, if variables were colors- there would be a lot more of them than the blacks and whites your doccumentary offered. Had I been swept overboard, do I clinically think that the captain would have been responsible- no, I do not- and bear in mind- I had litle respect for my employers at the time.
Also- this is the North Atlantic, people. Visit the Seaman's Monument in Lunenburg, read the hundreds of names and you will sense some of the awe that this ocean can lend you.
On the other side of the coin- safety is an evolving process and accidents have lessons that should not be ignored.
I have never lost a daughter or a sister, and even though I can offer some insight into a dangerous profession, I can't tell you about what the Gainey family must be going through.
I understand that the US and Canadian Coast Guards, along with the Picton Castle and several merchant vessels searched the area for Laura Gainey. If CBC plans to report on the developments of the case, I would be very interested to see the parts of these interviews that ended up on the cutting room floor.
— Posted on November 29, 2007 02:13 PM
While the loss of any life at sea is tragic and even if we didn't know Laura Gainey personally, the loss of such a young, spirited woman with her whole life ahead of her rang home to me as a parent who's young adult children have similarly selected unique life experiences and challenges (including tall ship sailing) for their own personal reasons and journeys... My sincere condolences go out to Mr. Gainey in the loss of his daughter and to all the family members and close friends of Ms. Gainey.
I must say though that I was disappointed in the Fifth Estate's lack of balance and seemingly selective presentation of information which reflected an apparent foregone conclusion.
Where were the interviews with the most experienced crew? What was the record and history of the Captain and ship? What were the criteria for judging when life jackets and harnesses would be donned? What was the decision-making process of the acting-Captain (Chief Mate) around the time of the incident?
The program seemed largely intent on villifying Captain Moreland. While the program raised some important observations and questions, they weren't probed to any depth. I was not left with a sense of "the real story" but dismayed and upset with what seemed a very one-sided take on the whole matter. In my opinion, all affected would have been best served had the reporting been much more objective, balanced and in-depth.
Seeking a sheltered harbor is more often than not NOT one of them.
Peter Kay Canada
— Posted on November 29, 2007 01:29 PM
I graduated from a University that boasts one of the finest Journalism schools in the country and I watched with interest last night as the celebrated CBC aired an episode of the Fifth Estate that was wrought with incredible bias and utter lack of journalistic integrity.
The reporter was unprofessional and indolent, having deliberately neglected to do her homework regarding the basics of a ship and the specific qualities that set apart tall ship sailing in particular. In ignorance her report was laced with fancy sailing vocabulary and malapropisms, and it was clear from beginning to end that Gillian Findlay had no idea what she was talking about. The weight that she gave to the opinions of those interviewed was naive and laughable at best. Their inexperienced point of view conveniently fit her agenda, but these people were in no position to offer any level of authority on the subject.
I joined the Picton Castle in April of 2005 and sailed in her for 20 months. I started at the bottom as an Apprentice Deckhand, Education Officer, and full-fledged member of the World Voyage IV crew. We circumnavigated the world in 13 months and 28,000 nautical miles of deep sea sailing, and delivered the final instalment of nearly 100 tones of educational materials to isolated and impoverished regions.
When I completed the voyage at the age of 24, I was an experienced, professionally-minded Mariner, fully qualified and equipped to obtain master's certification. I was exceptionally well-trained and I had a hand in orienting Laura in the ways of the ship, developing seamanship skills, and above all: the unbending rules and regulations of safety aboard our ship. I have served in our ship on numerous passages as a volunteer Deckhand and later as a paid Deckhand and Lead Seaman.
The Picton Castle's professional crew are required to have their Marine Emergency Duties certification and it is their responsibility to obtain that training before they are considered for employment. Above all, as seafarers we are responsible to and for ourselves and for the safety of our shipmates. Laura was following the path of professional mariners before her. She had enough experience aboard the ship to be a tremendous resource for new trainees, but she too was earning her sea time and was there to continue her training under sail. She had responsibility based on her level of ability.
There was a lot of emphasis placed upon the youthful presence among the chain of command aboard the Picton Castle. Knowledge of a ship and the development of seamanship skills come from experience working at sea aboard ships and not educated guesses.
The ship's Officers, Lead Seamen and Deckhands individually have tens of thousands of nautical miles under their belts and internationally recognized and necessary safety training. Of the professional crew aboard the ship at the time of the incident, 3 (including the Captain) had sailed around the world aboard the Picton Castle, 2 apprentices (including Laura) had sailed thousands of miles in her, and the others had Master's certificates for various tonnages. The system of rank in the marine industry is based upon sea time and training, not age in years, and this is standard for all vessels, not just the Picton Castle.
We are a qualified, able crew, lead by outstanding, Master Mariners with more than 60 years and hundreds of thousands of miles of seafaring experience. These men are highly-regarded and respected by all levels in their profession. I am proud and privileged to have trained under Captain Moreland and would be privileged to sail with Captain Vogelgesang given the opportunity.
Speaking for the shipmates and personal friends of Laura, the CBC did a great deal of injustice by stating that any one of us took the responsibility of safety lightly and that we knowingly endangered our lives and hers.
The Picton Castle is not a cruise ship nor a Naval vessel, and neither is a 40 ft yacht comparable to her stature, stability, and inherent provisions for safety in any and all sorts of weather.
All who train in her know that safety harnesses are mandatory, not optional, when completing tasks above the rail, not just aloft in the rigging. Failure to comply with these standards will result in aloft-going privileges being lost indefinitely.
The performance of safety drills of all sorts is standard and routine aboard our ship. We have not begun a single passage without completing all of our drills before leaving port, and we routinely and consistently perform these same drills during passages at sea. The crew know what to expect and what is expected of them should an emergency arise. Laura's ship and her shipmates were there for her day in and day out and in her greatest time of need, and she would stand by us today.
I stand by my ship and my Captain and I wish that the Gillian Findlay had the depth to celebrate all the tremendous humanitarian efforts and unparalleled respect and reputation for quality and safety that drew Laura to join our crew in the first place.
It is interesting to hear the comments about the Picton Castle and its safety. It does not matter if the ship was safe before or after this tragedy. What matters is: was the ship's equipment and crew meeting minimum safe standards and practices at the time of Laura Gainey's loss?
Regardless of the issues of the fairness of the report by the CBC what speak volumes are the actual video footage taken before the accident and after. It is apparent what the sea state was and how it was affecting the ship. In addition, the comments made by the people during that video makes it evident that they were under abnormal stress that even would have affected the judgement and capabilities of a seasoned crew.
I do think that the primary blame, if affixed by the TSB report, should be assigned to the captian. But the owner was responsible for hiring him in the first place. The owner also has some bearing and infuence on the attitude and practice of safety.
One of the issues that was illuminated for me was a type of "old dog of the sea" machismo that was counter-intuitive to the cirmcumstances at hand. Just because the captain is confident in his and the ships ability to handle the weather does not take into account, and even dismisses, the lack of experience of the passengers. They do not have the years of experience to judge adequately what is not and what is dangerous and the captain seemed to be trying to dispell their fears with technical bravado.
The comment by he captian about the ship being able to heel over, I believe it was 110 degrees, and recover was emblematic of this attitude. What about the people on the deck when this happens? If they are not wearing safety harnesses they certainly would be washed overboard. Whether the ship rights itself is immaterial.
I am not a deep water sailor. I am a recreational boater and I have required my passengers to don life vests when the waves and winds were such that I felt that conditions warranted extra precautions. I require non-swimmers to wear life vests at all times. Given the visual representation of the sea state at the time of Gainey's accident I cannot believe a prudent ship's master would not HAVE INSISTED that harnesses and life vest be worn. The conditions in the breezeway, in particular, were dangerous and safety is about preparing for the worse even when it may or does not happen.
Eric Edwards Kitchener
— Posted on November 29, 2007 12:22 PM
This reporter goes on about lack of training and lack of equipment etc. while herself totally unequipped and clueless.
Being lost at sea is an ever-present danger for those going to sea. Sailing vessels, as opposed to Navy or commercial ships, require their crews to perform on deck and sometimes above in all weather when the other crews may seek relative safety and comfort below.
Comparing sailing life to life on a Navy ship or a freighter is a little like comparing life on a farm to life in a factory. The routing options for sailing vessels are far fewer and quite different than those for motor vessels. Seeking a sheltered harbor is more often than not one of them.
Weather forecasts are still rather less than reliable and running for cover, even if possible, stops being practical after a number of false alarms. A good ship is safer at sea then near land. Departing in early December is one of well-considered compromises a skipper makes routinely, in this case a choice between a chance of a late hurricane and an early winter storm.
Anyone making a passage of say more than 48 hours better be prepared to rely on his or hers own devices and to live or die by their actions and decisions. People do not, of course, go ocean sailing to die but rather to live something very real and unique.
Laura died doing something she apparently loved very much to do - many of us should be so lucky.
If this report is an attempt to jump-start a court case then it may be a good one, depending on your angle. Otherwise CBC should publicly apologize for allowing such poorly conceived and heavily biased reporting by such woefully uneducated and under trained crew of their own out on the (luckily just) airwaves.
Peter Kay Canada
— Posted on November 29, 2007 12:10 PM
Your investigative reporting is something I assumed the CBC took seriously, apparently not! Your one-sided story was obviously oriented towards hanging Captain Dan Moreland and the Picton Castle.
You used footage of seas coming over the railing that was out of place and used to shock the layman viewers. It is commonplace to have water on deck and coming over the sides of a vessel while at sea; you used this over and over to sensationalize your story.
You neglected to interview professional crew from that night and chose instead to interview a person who did not even sail on the ship.
Captain Dan Moreland and the Picton Castle are proud representatives of this part of the Maritimes and should continue to do so. My sympathies go out to the Gainey family but you preyed on a grieving father and showed disregard for a grieving crew.
Shame on the CBC for viewing such unprofessional journalism, the fifth estate should have a sodium warning during the credits as it should be taken with a grain of salt...a large grain of salt.
As I watched last night's program I actually felt fortunate that I live in a society that promotes freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
Having said that, it's not surprising that there are a lot of conflicting opinions regarding what actually happened and whose accountable.
What stood out for me last night was how crew members were asked to provide statements on what they felt had actually happened that night, but were later made to revise their opinions to reflect what others wanted to see. My question is, if no one was at fault for this incident then why the need for altering the statements?
But, later in the show we also heard how the Picton Castle would be used in a reality TV show. I now ask, could a scandal revolving around safety issues and neglect prove detrimental to any future potential TV contract?
I stopped believing in coincidences a long time ago. People are not only asking more questions nowadays, they're asking the right questions.
I sincerely hope the Gainey family finds these answers. They are, after all, asking the right questions.
Rick L Kingston
— Posted on November 29, 2007 11:45 AM
After watching your "investigation" on the Picton Castle and the loss of Laura Gainey, I was moved to make a comment. I started one a few times, but decided that since it impacted me so emotionally, I had better take the night to sleep on it.
This afternoon, I'm sorry to say I feel no better about it. The entire program was more like a cross-examination than an investigation and was completely biased and unprofessional. I would be very interested to see the parts of the interviews that ended up on the cutting room floor.
My sister sailed aboard the Picton Castle circumnavigating the globe for 14 months, and rejoined the ship a number of times, for shorter periods, since. Had she not had the opportunity, perhaps I would feel differently about your program. As it stands, I have heard nothing but good things about the ship. Not just about the exotic places my sister got to see or the people she met, but the competence of Captain Moreland and his crew. I am well aware that he demanded professionalism and perfection from his crew at all times.
My sincere condolences to the Gainey family. To CBC, you had the chance to produce an amazing program showing both sides of the story - your standards of professionalism and upholding journalistic integrity were lost on this one.
During the summer of 2006 I was aboard the Picton Castle as a trainee. On one occasion I was helping to tie a fender to the outboard side of the vessel. I couldn't reach what I needed to reach by standing on the deck so I hopped up on the rail, grabbed a shroud and leaned far out to finish the job.
Within seconds I heard Captain Moreland's voice behind me, "You there, are you wearing a harness?". "Yes" I replied, and lifted the tieoff rope into sight so he could see that I was safe. This was on the Great Lakes, not the ocean. The weather was calm, the lake tranquil, the ship motoring along at 4-5 knots. Even in those conditions the Captain and crew were looking out for us and I would not hesitate to place my safety in their hands yet again.
The sea is inherently dangerous, like a forest, mountainside or desert. Anyone that's been to these places will have stories to tell about close calls and near misses. Wild places are unforgiving, they will punish any mistake. But sometimes, they will punish you even when you don't make a mistake.
Karl Wiebe Winnipeg
— Posted on November 29, 2007 10:54 AM
Reading comments on this board, I am both amazed and insulted, by some 'sailors' out there, who claim that 'landlubbers' have no reasonable grounds to comment, as they know nothing of sailing. Please shake the water out of your heads!
To those wide eyed, wonder struck youngsters, who appear to be rallying around the Picton Castle, her crew and owners - beyond your naivete, there is always a duty of care and due diligence that comes when anyone entrusts their well being to those who should know better.
My fervent trust is that the Candian authorities will see that such shoddy operators are brought to heel.
D. Anderson Pickering
— Posted on November 29, 2007 10:36 AM
I saw the TV show and read all the above posts. Obviously opinions are divided as to where blame should be assigned for this tragic event. One thing is clear, however, vessels sailing under flags of convenience escape the scrutiny of Canadian authorities. Lets hope that this can be remedied to reduce the possibility of a similar event occurring in the future.
Brian Mendes Kitchener
— Posted on November 29, 2007 10:35 AM
Superb reporting. Makes you wonder how experienced crew management members of the Picton Castle choose to display such arrogance and to overlook deadly risks. This 'accident' could also have also involved other trainees and the on-board captain himself, although he did not ackowledge the mere possibility of himself going overboard.
Thanks to all witnesses who have voluntereed their comments and shared their experience. My admiration goes to Bob Gainey for handling himself with such poise and wisdom. It is not hard to discern on which side lies the bona fide in this story.
Also to Gillian Findlay who does a amazing job in diligently uncovering every aspect of this journey.
Hope the Transp. Canada report will reveal more about this horrific event.
— Posted on November 29, 2007 10:12 AM
I was on Picton Castle for the third world voyage. The experience that I had was one of the most positive and meaningful thus far in my life. The opportunities for learning the tallships ways were endless. The Captain, and his crew were knowledgeable and supportive throughout my experience.
I could not have asked for a better year than that I had experienced sailing aboard the Picton Castle.
The account of Laura Gainey's loss from the Picton Castle has a strong impact on me because I was 200 miles north of Bermuda on a 45 foot sailboat during this storm.This places us in the same general area on the same timeline as the Picton Castle.
There were a number of decisions made in relation to this passage which I strongly question. Via single sideband radio I was aware of the track,wind progression and intensity of this storm system at leat four days before its arrival. Due to engine problems compounded by our position at that time , getting tucked under cover wasn't an option. This notwithstanding, at least there was ample time to prepare the boat,it's various systems and crew for the storm's arrival.
I am assuming the the Master and/or owner of the Picton
Castle was similarly briefed. There was more than enough time to alter course for a safe harbour to ride the storm in. Therefore the decision to stay on a rhumbline course to St.Kitts was driven by Picton Castle's earning potential rather than the safety of the people aboard her.
I was not aboard the Picton Castle but the accounts that I've had access to describe an inexperienced crew working under a questionable chain of command. The Watch schedule , the backbone of any working vessel underway, seems to have been essentially Ignored. If there was functional leadership in play,I 've seen very little evidence of it.
The issue of onboard safety doesn't seem to have been addressed with any enthusiasm. As a professional sailor there is absolutely no way that I'd go on deck in the midst of a storm without a secure harness on. Furthermore, I would consider myself grossly incompetent by not making sure that other crewmembers were also harnessed.
I think that Laura Gainey's loss could ( and Should ) have been avoided. To me the responsibility for this loss lies directly on the shoulders of the Picton Castle's owner and her Master during last December's passage.
Boyd Allen Charlottetown,P.E.I.
— Posted on November 29, 2007 08:48 AM
I toured the Picton Castle before her first circumnavigation of the world. A good friend of ours was a paying crew member on that first voyage.
My impression of the ship was that she was old, even though she had just had a refit to transform her into a tall ship. That said, she also looked capable, but not comfortable, for the voyage ahead of her.
I spent 16 years working at sea in the North Atlantic, the Indian and Pacific oceans. The weather can surprise and foil the most prepared vessel and crew - there's no trumping Mother Nature. No amount of modern equipment and safety plans will guarantee life at sea. Good seamanship will give the best chance.
When a ship is at sea, her Master (captain) is ultimately responsible for the vessel and her crew. Not the the owner, the agent or the government - just the Master. I don't know what orders were given or carried out the night Laura died, but the Master would have used all his experience and wisdom to get the ship and her crew through the gale. If harnesses were not donned, that was because the master deemed them un-necessary. Maybe he made a mistake - he will have to live by it...that is the Master's lot and the job of formal inquests to determine.
To pillory Capt. Dan Moreland and the Picton Castle is media sensationalism at its worst. He has run many ships and commanded many cadets with a good record. He was not commanding the ship when Laura was lost.
The Picton Castle offers a 'traditional tall ship' working experience that brings the ways of centuries of seamanship under sail to the crew - that is the appeal of the program. Doing it the 'old way' without all the modern aids and comforts doesn't necessarily mean inherently more risk, any more than eating unpasturized cheese or organic chicken is more risky. We all make choices...and Laura Gainey made one.
I sail for pleasure with my wife and two children. Sometimes we wear life harnesses, sometimes we don't. The decision is ours to make and no landlubber will ever fully appreciate the weight of the sea, the weather, and the command of the ship. Its why we go to sea and pity those who stay on land. Laura is on Fiddlers Green in the company of some of the finest sailors. God rest her and give comfort to her family.
Jim Legere Halifax
— Posted on November 29, 2007 08:33 AM
This evening my husband and I sat with our twenty- five year old daughter to watch the airing of Overboard by the Fifth Estate. Our daughter Erin sailed aboard the Tall Ship Picton Castle on her last World Voyage. Erin rejoined the ship several times, grateful to be back at sea and once again within the Picton Castle family. She loved every inch of her, every moment she could steal to be aboard her.
Well we all remembered too the tragic circumstance surrounding the loss of Laura Gainey's life, waking and having to tell Erin who at this time was home, that the Picton Castle had a man overboard.
Within moments of this news release all of the previous crew who had sailed with Laura were on telephones, on computers, reconnecting any way they could, tracking each other down, those on shore felt duty bound, loyal to ship and crew to assist in any way they could, and there is not one of them who would not have given up the comfort of home to be there, for Laura, for ship and crew. They needed to be together remained strong, and the devastation and sense of helplessness on shore was only too stark a reality.
We had been in Lunenburg with our daughter for a week prior to the ship embarking on her last world voyage. It had been Erin's dream to make this voyage come hell or high water. Somehow or other she had impressed Captain Dan Mooreland of her genuine desire to join sufficiently enough to have been among those who would sail.
We watched young men and women as they pulled together, made ready the ship, brought on tons and tons of stores, and yes worked hard. We listened when Captain Dan called muster in the Salon and addressed his crew and trainee's, and their families about the upcoming trip.
Captain Dan addressed safety issues and the importance of learning well your trade. He stressed the importance of treating the ship well, taking care of her, so that she would in turn take care of you. He stressed cooperation, told of the special bond that would develop between ship and crew, how all would become as one, a part of the whole.
Captain Dan is a knowledgeable, highly qualified man, he is a no- nonsense man, and any praise coming from him, is well deserved and much appreciated. My husband and I realized that tragedy can befall you on land or on sea, nonetheless Captain Dan inspired confidence in us, he would do all he could to hold ship and crew together. Erin too knew the potential risk.
We said goodbye to a college student on the docks of Lunenburg with the departure of the Picton Castle, and we were returned not a trainee, but a sailor, who loved her ship, belonged to a very special and elite family. The humanitarian effort brought forth as a part of the ships agenda, taught so much to our daughter. Clothing, educational materials, tools, all earmarked for impoverished areas and destinations whose appreciation of the same was heartwarming.
The crew and trainees were given experience after experience from which their own personal growth and newly found priorities were ever changing. This Picton Castle family was learning first hand, how to give, make a difference, accept responsibility, and feel compassion. They were learning about culture and cultural differences. They were learning what it truly meant to have and to give to those who did not.
In the same vain they were learning to be a working functioning part of something more important than themselves, they were learning what it meant to take care of their ship, and to have the back of their crewmates. As a teaching and training ship, they learned to sail. To stow sails, to replace them, hand sew them. They learned to navigate, to read the stars, to smell land two days away from shore. They learned things that are taught in navigational institutes and they learned them well. They learned to respect their Captain, to respect their ship, to be watchful and respectful of each other.
We lived vicariously though our daughter's wonder struck eyes as she was offered the world. The many, many positive things that the Picton Castle as a training ship has to offer her crew, trainees and, the humanitarian efforts she is involved in are more than worthy of being mentioned too. It is sad to lose sight of this, and the adventure is what attracts trainees to her dock.
No one can or will forget the tragedy that befell Laura Gainey, no one takes lightly the pain and suffering of her family and friends. Likewise perhaps we ought never forget the good that existed prior to this terrible event.
While extremely tragic and sad the death of Laura should not direct blame toward the Picton Castle, her captain or crew.
Safety was always top priority on the ship. Bad weather is part of square rig sailing and it is a risk that all crew and trainees are willing to make...after all the risk and adventure is what forms part of the great experience of the Picton Castle.
I got to know Laura very well as a trainee in the summer of 06. We shared tears over the deaths of our mothers and spent 2 days cooking in the galley together. It's unfortunate that a program like this has to be so sensational and focus entirely on laying blame.
Your hour long program would have been better served celebrating Laura's life instead of trying to tarnish a highly decorated captain and his ship!
I happened to catch the show last night regarding Laura Gainey. I must say being a ex navy sailor, I could not understand how a captian of a vessel would permitt his crew to work in such dangerous, unsafe conditions.
Like I mentioned before, I was in the Canadian Navy, and we didn't go out in the middle of a storm, and if we went, we made sure we had all the saftey geer, and we always went with another ship mate, and some times it was more than one.
Most of the time the captain would not allow anyone on the upper decks if the storm was bad, and in this case it looked as if it was a bad storm.
Also we had people who would track the weather, and if there was a storm approaching, we would prepare ourselves, or in alot of cases, the captain would change course to advoid the storm, some times we could not avoid storms, but we didn't do anything that would jeopardize anyones saftey, and by the looks of it, this might have been the case in the death of Laura Gainey.
One more point I would like to address is you mentioned about not having a cook on board. In the navy I was the cook, and food/cook are a vital part in the ships company survival, you need proper meals to do hard work, esp. on a ship.
The other thing you need is proper sleep, which in this case might have also been a factor.There is one thing I was taught in the navy, and that is you must respect the sea, because as it can be a pretty sight, it also can be a fatal sight.
I would like to start by saying that at this moment all my heart & thoughts goes to the Gainey family. I'm not a sailor, but I did own a pleasant boat and did a short trip of nine days on a fishing boat in Nova-Scotia. The reglementations are there, with many 'loop holes'. I could not believe my eyes (and so was the captain who took me out at sea), when we saw the footage from the young men aboard the Picton Castle. I don't think that we need to be a professional to realize that the management on that vessel was 'DANGEROUS' and 'INADEQUATE'.
As busy as the Government and the Canadian Coast Guard are, I think we should look closer into what is going on, and how safe we are in our Canadian water. It is very sad, but I personally witnessed many incidents on Canadian water that could have been EASILY prevented, with a little more help! You would think that since the Titanic, Things would have changed.
Two years ago I had the amazing experience to sail on a two-masted 90'long gaff-rigged schooner from Charleston, SC to the Virgin Islands. This trip took place in Jan-Feb and we were at sea (and out of site of land) for 11days.
We sailed around the clock with three watches regardless of the weather and we did encounter rough water with 15-20ft waves 3 days out of Charleston. For those of us who were inexperienced, during this storm at night, inexperience peopled like myself were not allowed on deck. Later in the trip, I joined one of the watches and spent several watches sailing at night.
At night and especially if there were strong winds, a life line ran the length of the ship and if you moved around, you were told to walk on the high side of the ship and be connected to the life line. If Laura had had these orders, she would still be alive.
It was intimidating to look out over the sea at night and contemplate ones fate if you fell overboard. On our ship, near the stern were devices that, if someone went overboard and it was seen or heard, these markers could be thrown over the side and would transmit a location to mark the position. But at night in a storm, the ship, moving at 8 to 11 knots would in one minute be quite a distance from an overboard person.
When this story broke, I thought that it would be a miracle to find her and hoped for one, because I knew from my limited experience how hard it would be to find her, even with a locator floating in the vicinity. My heart goes out to the Gainy family on their incredible loss. I wonder what the orders were for those on the watch during a storm on this ship?
I believe it was Dec. 12th when i got a call from Canadian Press to offer comments on how I would see the investigation played out.
I'm sorry to say, but I was right, and right from the start.
I said that the Cook Islands would not undertake their responsibility as the country of registration, and I said that even though there was no legal obligation, the Transportation Safety Board should intervene as the vessel was owned in Canada and had other strong connections to this country.
The Cook Islands had no interest in getting it right.
Their job as the flag state on the was to serve their client, the owners of this ship. Thats the way it is in the would of flags of convenience. How convenient for the owners to get a maritime administration to blame the victim.
As mariners we owe a debt of thanks to the TSB, Mr. Gainey and Canadian Press for keeping this issue alive to the point where the Fifth Estate could show such an excellent program.
Peter Lahay Vancouver
— Posted on November 29, 2007 01:11 AM
I am absolutely shocked at the lack of safety instruction and overall chaotic management of this ship. I feel there could have and should have been more done to ensure the safety of crew members at all times.
My thoughts go out to the Gainey family, as this is just an unfortunate situtaion that could have been avoided.
I am pleased that Canada has stepped up to the plate and now will launch their own investigation.
I , along with everyone else here was terribly shocked and saddened by the loss of Laura Gainey. Seeing the show tonite only reinforced my reaction last year when she was lost , it was bound to happen.
I am a 30 year veteran of Canadian Great Lakes and East Coast sailing. I was working in Halifax on the Tugboats during 2 Tall Ship Celebrations , met alot of sailors from those ships ,and was aboard the Picton Castle a couple of times.
The Picton Castle was in disarray , stuff all over the place , life jackets on the floor or thrown in the corner and the smell , well. The young crew were in good spirits but very , very tired , burnt , as Mr. Gainey remarked , and all they wanted to do was go ashore and forget about the ship for awhile. So that alone shows how difficult keeping that vessel ship shape was becoming.
I have been the Safety Officer onboard various ships many times , and am well aware of Canadian codes of Maritme Safety requirements and I was also a Chief Engineer in the Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue. The Picton Castle was lax in many areas , short of crew , no cook , no 2nd officer , and no proper Emergency Drills training. They erred and this time it caught up with them .
In no way , shape or form , should Laura Gainey have to shoulder any of the blame for what certainly was a monetarily derived voyage , the owners putting themselves ahead of their inexperienced crew.
I believe that because of this terrible tragedy that the TSB should thoroughly investigate the ship , the owners , and the wrong decisions that were made . I also believe until such a time as the Picton Castle is properly outfitted with safety equipment and trained people , it should be detained in Lunenburg and not allowed to put anyone else at risk.
I watched your broadcast this evening with interest. No one can help but feel empathy for all involved with this story, the family of Laura Gainey and her friends the crew of Picton Castle. However, this seems to be a very unbalance report, far below the standards that I would hope that the Fifth Estate strives for.
Television is a very powerful medium; through selective editing and choice of images it is easy to influence the viewer Watching this report I am left with more questions about the journalism than I am about the tragic incident that was the subject of the report.
Why, for example, were there not any interviews with the professional crew who were aboard at the time? The Picton Castle has also circumnavigated the world many times, a point the documentary failed to mention. There are many many ex crew, both professional and trainee who could have added some seasoned perspective to the discussion. Yet this documentary not only interviewed inexperienced trainees but gave weight to the opinions of an inexperienced person who did not even make the voyage!
At sea, everything that you take for granted is challenged, your world is in motion, above and below deck, rolling, pounding, noise. Eating, sleeping, everything is challenged. It is common for people to be frightened when they first go off-shore, not to mention when they first encounter heavy weather. Waves and wind seem larger and more powerful.
TV images of water rushing down the deck seem dramatic but we must remember that this is not uncommon and is part and parcel of the offshore world, familiar only to sailors and those who make it their daily work environment, the offshore workers, merchant marine and fisherman.
The Picton Castle's Cook Island registry was questioned, but there was no mention of the fact that foreign registry is common to many vessels that operate out of Canadian waters, (including some of those owned by the family of a former Prime Minister) The report used clips from episodes of a cable TV show, "Tall Ship Chronicles" shot aboard the Picton Castle which deliberately played up the drama and adventure of being at sea, as shown in the heavy weather footage and narration. When comments were made about the barefoot crew, it was not mentioned that those images were shot in the hot tropics on earlier voyages.
These are but a few of the examples of where in my opinion, the Fifth Estate's slanted its reporting. It is always important to examine accidents such as these so that we may learn better on how to avoid them in the future. But to approach this story in such an unbalanced and sensational manner calls into question the programs journalistic integrity and makes a witch hunt out of what should be a sober and balanced investigation.
The Picton Castle has been a part of my life and family since my older sister was privilidged to sail on her 5 yrs ago.
Laura was my friend and I think of her everyday.
The Captain and crew have always encouraged me, and taught me the correct way to do things and to do them safely. I have much respect for them. They inspire me to be the best I can be.
I would be extremely comfortable and honoured to sail with them tomorrow.
— Posted on November 29, 2007 12:44 AM
Grateful, I'm sure Andrew, that you're still alive to reminisce. I don't doubt you had a spectacular voyage or that the experience was worthwhile, but clearly you lucked out...Laura did not.
This would not have happened if the boat had been safe and if you think it's the safest of its stature, then it only points to how serious a problem the safety standards on tall ships really are. After two Atlantic crossings, I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in the romance of the sea, but I was fortunate to get top notch training and equipment. This was like rock climbing without a rope or skiing back country during avalanche season.
It's not romantic, just stupid. Seriously, no life jacket, lifelines or strobes in a storm???
It's unfortunate that this show seemed so intent on damning the Picton Castle, its crew, and trainees to speak nothing of its obvious goal of totally vilifying Dan Moreland. As always there is more than one side to every story, and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.
However, having sailed with Michael Vogelsgesang for the better part of a year, I can unequivocally say that not only is he the most competent sailor, but one of the most thoughtful and competent men I have even met.
The Picton Castle bills itself as a throwback to the age of sail. It tries to adhere to the lifestyles and work habits of yesteryear with enough modernity and safety make this possible in the 21st century.
What so many don't realize is that while many safety precautions like wearing harnesses and life preservers seem so easy and logical at sea, quite often they are not. Life preservers are cumbersome, could easily cause more issues by hindering crewmembers during ship handling and would be totally impossible to use while aloft. The same arguments hold true in regards to harnesses. If you are stationary while working, harnesses are a beneficial safety and comfort tool. They are also routinely used on the Picton Castle.
However potentially having dozens of people clipped into harnesses while running around the decks doing ship handling would be impractical and could easily cause more dangerous situations where, when time is of the essence, crew are more occupied in clipping in and unclipping/re-clipping every time they run across the deck than getting essential ship handling done.
Was the Picton Castle as safe as it could be? Obviously not, and I'm sure changes have been made and will continue to be made to increase the safety of the vessel however as an ex-crew member that has sailed over 16,000 nautical miles on her, I can only say that despite what this program tried to make lay people think, this is not and never has been an unsafe ship run by a bunch of uneducated adolescents. This is a professional ship with well trained (abet often quite young) crew members.
I was very disturbed this evening by your report about the loss of Laura Gainey onboard the Picton Castle. I recall clearly the first reports of the incident when it occurred and followed them carefully at that time.
I remember wondering first off how she was not on a line in such conditions. I have not sailed on these types of vessels but have sailed Canada's east and west coasts and in the Caribbean aboard either my own or friends sailing yachts.
If what your report implies about the 'laissez faire' approach to safety is accurate then the owners and responsible officers must be held fully to account. Safety training and its strict practice is first and foremost when at sea. The most basic understanding of which is wearing appropriate safety equipment.
I was struck by the fact that nobody in your documentary was wearing the cheapest and most basic of equipment - a lifejacket and harness at any time in the footage shown. To this should have been added not flares as was suggested but a small, reliable and inexpensive strobe that can set itself off upon immersion or be turned on by the person in the water. Its strobes that are most visible from sea and air and can continue blinking steadily for many hours long after a person in a lifejacket is incapacitated. There are also other types of small compact lights and signals that can be used with singularly great effect for making the person overboard findable.
I would appreciate knowing where a copy of Captain Scheer's report might be available to read and look forward to learning of the findings in the upcoming Transport Safety Commission report.
Those who venture on the sea know there are always risks so it behooves all who are responsible to ensure that the best tools are available to protect those under their watch. In the case of the Picton Castle this appears not to have been so.
Just from seeing tonight's broadcast it's clear to me that Laura was a beautiful, bright human being and it is absolutely sickening to learn the circumstances surrounding her death. Four young women in my family sail on tall ships, and the absence of proper safety protocol on the Picton Castle frightens me. I can't imagine the loss for Laura's family, or for those who were on board and witnessed that horrifying sequence of events at sea.
I honestly wish that you'd done your job as journalists and told the full story. You never contacted some of the most experienced sailors and senior officers on that vessel. They could have told you what really happened on that fateful night. Shame on the fifth estate and the cbc for failing to do their job and tell the world the full story. Instead you told the story of a grieving father starting a witch hunt. How very puritan of you.
— Posted on November 28, 2007 10:39 PM
Your programme on the Gainey/"Picton Castle" tragedy was superb.
I commenced my sea career on a sail training ship in 1946 until 1948 when I commenced my sea career as an apprentice officer in the British merchant service.
I came to Canada as a Master Mariner in 1958 and have spent the best part of 50 years involved in various aspects of Marine Survey on behalf of Marine Insurance companies, particularly in recent years investigating marine casualties.
I am happy that I was never in competition with you as your investigation and report was most professional.
I would have some minor comments on standard practice and crew safety on vessels at sea under storm or heavy weather conditions.
I do not have sufficient experience to specifically comment on practice on modern day tall ships, however I do hold that the command and practice of any deep sea sailing vessel is probably the most complex and expert field in modern employment, and such expertise has long since been lost.
Sailing vessels at the turn of the 19th/20th century were manned and commanded by sailors who were trained by preceding generations each of whom passed down centuries of accumulated experience.
I regret to give the opinion that the operating tall ships today are generally dangerous. Under very stringent safety standards and with well trained and expert crew it may be that they can still be operated within levels that while not within modern safety standards may still be acceptable as a risky but accceptable pastime.The safety standards as reported on the " Picton Castle" fell well below acceptable levels.
My sympathies go out to the Gainey family who were misled by profit oriented and inexpert operators.
Capt. Clifford Parfett
I was a Picton Castle trainee for 6 weeks during the summer of 2004 and we were thoroughly trained in emergency procedures including man overboard drills before we left port and at least twice after while at sea.
Safety was always a priority for the regular crew and Captain Morland took every opportunity to repeat the importance of following orders and the instructions of the regular crew.
The crew were young and might seem inexperienced to a casual observer but my time working beside them taught me different, they had extensive tall ship experience and knowledge and I never felt at risk. Tall ship sailing has its risks, it isn't a cruise ship, but I would sail with Captain Morland and the Picton Castle anytime.
I saw the documentary, It appears the story is fishy,I hope transport canada canada does the honourable thing, & bring justice to the Gainey Family. I have sailed on fishing vessels in a unsafe manners & lack of training ,where I felt un easy, in a few situations were the captain was below,in gales & close quarther situations.
I know first hand of unfit un trained crew & safety of the vessel.so this sailing vessel should have been dry docked ,until she was fit to sail.
I,m happy to see Mr Gainey is standing up for his rights ,It would be nice to see a president set for this situation @ sea ,& a law set in the named after Laura Gainey ,for the sake & safety of other young people around the world on training vessels in international waters.
Having worked in the Canadian sail training industry from the age of 14,moving up the ranks from trainee to Captain, going to college for marine navigation technology and working in the great lakes cargo and harbour tour industries, I got to know a little about the safety regulations governing Canadian flagged ships.
I have also gotten to know the reputation the Picton Castle had, from lax safety procedures to unusual on-board practices. It is a shame that this tragedy had to happen in order for these issues to come to light. After watching your report I was shocked to hear of some of the blatant disregards for the basic practices of safety of life at sea. A flag of convenience should never be used as a safety net as it was in this situation.
I would like to wish the family of Laura Gainey and all those who knew her fair winds and following seas. I can't say the same for Captain Moreland. Shame on you.
Tall ships by nature are certainly one of the more dangerous pastimes one could persue. However, the technology to reduce the risk, and certainly alot of the more predictable "accidents", has existed for quite some time.
It is law that you must have lifejackets for everyone onboard, but in the middle of the Atlantic the problem is'nt usually finding the person overboard afloat, it's bloody finding them at all. Having easily identified this problem, why is it then not mandatory to have a strobe light attched to all life jackets.
And to those traditionalists who object to the increasing amount of 21 century technology aboard traditional vessels, two things;
-It's inevitable, so get over it!
-and if a couple extra eye-sores are'nt worth the lifes they save, then we need to seriously rethink the foundation of this industry!
I think in this case the Picton Castle is taking alot of undue blame. If you get on almost any tall ship, save the one featured in this episode (British Bark something rather..), you will find the exact same stuff. The awnser will not come from a series of documentaries, it will come through tougher regulation. Not just of the big stuff (ie: the recent stability, and downflooding regulation changes) but also the little stuff like lights on the life jackets of all seafearing vessels.
Dan Moreland's actions, on the other hand, deserve infinite amounts of scrutiny. If someone's to blame, it almost always ties back to the top of the totem pole!!
— Posted on November 28, 2007 10:24 PM
I regret to say that I found your report on the tragic death at sea of Laura Gainey profoundly unjust to the captain and crew of the Picton Castle.
Your "report" consisted of innuendos and an interview with a fellow from the Transportation Safety Board whose only criticisms were that Laura ought to have been given a chance for more sleep in the storm, that the ship lacked a cook, and that the ship's bells might not have been heard down below decks in a storm. If this is what passes for investigative reporting, the CBC is in trouble.
Of course Ms. Gainey was fatigued. Anyone would be, including the sail trainees who spend most of that storm locked below deck. That the ship lacked an electronic alarm system for below decks has nothing to do with a crew member being washed overboard in a howling gale.
That every member of the crew may not have been fully trained for marine emergencies is potentially relevant, but I watched them run through a man overboard drill three weeks later and they all knew what they were doing.
I joined the ship in early January with 13 women students for two weeks of sail training and had the opportunity to observe the crew closely. Being vividly aware of the tragedy, I watched them very closely, and would have taken my students off the ship at the first sign of incompetence. I saw none.
On the contrary, I witnessed a very capable crew, devastated by Laura's loss, but able to function well regardless. I was also impressed with how well founded the ship was, and how well she had held together through many days of brutal weather.
We replaced the equipment that had been thrown overboard in an effort to save Laura, and I listened to stories of that awful night and the days of searching that followed. I don't believe that they could have done more than they did. Indeed, I believe they acted above and beyond the call of duty in their effort to find her, or recover her body. And that was understandable, because they deeply loved her. They did not try to put the "blame" on her; if anything, they sought, as all survivors do, to blame themselves, but as a reasonably objective bystander, I found those efforts unpersuasive.
Sailing tall ships can be dangerous, and once a person is washed overboard in pitch darkness in 30-foot seas it is all but impossible to find them. We did a man overboard drill in calm seas and bright sunlight, and lost sight of our "person" -- a coconut -- within five minutes, and we were ordered to keep it in sight at all times. When Laura went overboard the crew desperately tried to launch a boat to rescue her, but the boat was swept away by the seas. It is fortunate that they did not succeed in launching it, because they could never have brought it back on board. Even unmanned the boat was so severely battered by the seas that it took us two weeks to rebuild her.
The fact that she was not told to wear an immersion suit or a life vest is not persuasive, either. Such equipment is useful when crews have to abandon ship, but it gets in the way when trying to man the ship. Harnesses are also of limited utility on deck, and can even be an incumbrance aloft. Seasoned sailors, like Laura, often prefer freedom of movement and a strong grip to such gear. That is a judgment call that landsmen are in no position to second guess.
So, again, I believe that it is profoundly unjust to imply negligence without facts, and to suggest that a ship that has circumnavigated to globe four times without a loss might have been poorly equipped or manned this time. -- Prof. Christopher H. Pyle, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA
Having just watched the episode on the death of Bob Gainey's daughter, I'm sad the ship hails from Nova Scotia. The ships crew is clearly not prepared for the conditions they can face.
I've worked on the ocean and have a deep respect for the power it has over any ship. To put someone on deck with little or no safety training, no proper safety equipment , borders on criminal. There is no reason to put a crew at risk other than the ships officers were negligent or lazy.
Rouge waves do happen but are very rare. Had that really happened, the ship would have had significant damage and anyone else on deck would most likely have been washed overboard without safety harnesses.
Any professional sailor knows that you do not go on deck in rough weather without the harness on and a lifejacket or in extreme seas a proper survival suit.
The Canadian government needs to hold the ships owners and senior crew accountable for their lax attitude in the operations of this ship.
My sympathy goes to the Gainey family for this senseless and totally avoidable loss of their daughter.
— Posted on November 28, 2007 09:26 PM
This was a shocking revelation of criminal disregard for human life. No one can blame the young woman with dreams of adventure for what has happened here. There appears to have been a calamity of horrific errors beginning long before the Picton Castle set sail and continuing even after poor Laura flew off the deck. The apparent cover-up of multiple sins is the final nail in the coffin. Making a movie about the "pirate ship" after Laura's drowning was obscene.
I regret to say that I found your report on the tragic death at sea of Laura Gainey profoundly unjust to the captain and crew of the Picton Castle.
Just read your article on the Picton Castle. I was a member of the trainee crew. Sorry but I can not provide much information since I was in the furthest bunk and the last out of the hatch. By that time the deck was crowded and no one seemed to know what was going on.
I remember grabbing my life jacket and "Gumbie" suit but we all ditched them when we got on deck. I also remember holding a battery powered search light which ran out of power in about 1/2 hour. The rest of the night we just stood look-out. One good thing - on Fri the trainees were not allowed out of the salon because of the storm.
Of course, I did not know Laura well but she was always willing to help us and instruct us on what to do. Why does bad things happen to good people?
I was on the Picton Castle for the second world voyage, and I just half to say that it is the safest ship of it stature going. It also is the only ship that I know of that offers an unforgetable experiance, I personally am still reminissing about the trip and the things that I did and saw on that trip are still a part of my everyday life.