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Abandonment of cat Be Good Too- The personal account

by Lee Mylchreest on 28 Jan 2014
Rescue of four - from helicopter showing cat SW
We recently published a story about a rescue of the crew of sailing catamaran Be Good Too approximately 300 miles off the Virginia coast. Owners Gunther and Doris Rodatz, together with delivery skipper Hank Schmitt and sailing journalist Charles Doane, abandoned the 42-foot catamaran Be Good Too for a U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter.

Sadly abandonments are becoming more common across the world, sometimes because the crew is simply inexperienced or frightened, putting the lives of rescuers at risk unnecessarily, and angering many in the sailing community. There was a lot of speculation about this incident too and whether the vessel should have been abandoned (and whether it should have been scuttled). At Sail-World Cruising we also questioned whether the abandonment was necessary (See Sail-World Cruising article.)

Charles Doane articulately gives a blow-by-blow account of what actually happened in his blog, allowing you to make up your mind whether Be Good Too had to be abandoned. What do you think?


We departed Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, bound for St. John, USVI, at about 1430 hrs on Wednesday, January 8. It was bone cold outside, and the boat had been frozen into her berth by thin ice. The marina's pump-out boat came around to act as an ice-breaker and helped bust us loose, and after a brief stop at the marina's fuel dock, we headed down New York Harbor under power. We unrolled the solent jib after passing through the Verrazano Narrows, but Hank didn't want anyone on deck handling the mainsail in the bitter cold. We motorsailed south all through the first night under the jib alone, staying inside the heated interior as much as possible, as the decks outside were soon coated in a skin of ice from the light freezing spray.

By the following morning after breakfast it was warm enough that the deck was clear of ice and Gunther and I raised the mainsail, taking care to stay clear of the big chunks of ice that came toppling out of the sail as it was hoisted. We shut down the engines briefly and tried proceeding under sail alone, but the wind was getting weaker and soon we started up one engine and started motorsailing again so as to keep our speed up...

Read more and view pictures on Charles' blog, Wavetrain.

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