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The decision to abandon a boat: a personal account

The Coast Guard rescued four people aboard a disabled sailing catamaran Jan. 14 in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 300 miles east of Cape Henry, Va.

A Jayhawk crew hoisted the four people aboard the sailboat and took them to the air station.

On board were the boat owners Gunther and Doris Rodatz, together with delivery skipper Hank Schmitt and sailing journalist Charles Doane.

Sail magazine, to which Doane is the executive editor, recently published Doane’s account of the ordeal on its SailFeed website.

“At about 1130 hours we took a huge direct hit all across our front windows. The wave that hit us seemed much larger than the rest and was running at a different angle, such that it hit us from directly ahead instead of on the starboard quarter,” Doane writes. “Hank and I were in the saloon right behind the windows at the time. A fair amount of water squirted in all around the edges of the window panes and one large piece of trim was blown right off one vertical frame. The windows themselves, thankfully, held up fine. The wave stopped us dead in our tracks and even seemed to back us up a bit. A large amount of water surged up our stern and blew a large teak step right off its mounts.”

Click here to read Doane’s firsthand account.