Atlantic Boat and Marine News and Information
Coast Guard Releases Findings on the Cynthia Woods
HOUSTON, TX (12/28/08) --

A Cape Fear 38

The US Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit, Galveston, released its findings on the June 6, 2008 sinking of the Texas A&M-owned Cynthia Woods, a Cape Fear 38. The sailboat lost its keel leaving a gaping hole in the hull about 10 hours into the Regatta de Amigos, a race from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico. She quickly filled with water, rolled, and sank claiming the life of Texas A&M employee Roger Stone, 53.

Stone was serving as safety officer during the race and is credited with saving the lives of two students on board before becoming entrapped in the cabin himself and drowning. The skipper and four remaining crew clung to four life jackets for 26 hours before being rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter in the early morning hours of June 8th. They were found 23 miles south of Freeport Texas. A Coast Guard video of the rescue can be seen here.

Although the skipper and remaining four-student crew are credited with keeping calm heads in the crisis, they were very lucky to be found at all. Individuals in the water at sea, even in a group, are very hard to see. The rescue crew expressed their good fortune to come across the survivors and credit their night vision equipment in part with the rescue.

Part of the Coast Guard's report stated that the reason they had trouble finding the crew was because the boat's EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) was never turned on. Both the EPIRB and the vessel's life raft were stowed below deck and went down with the boat.

The Coast Guard report attributed the loss of the Cynthia Woods' keel to as many as five previous groundings and "improper repairs prior to the capsizing of that vessel." One previous grounding was so severe it required the keel be removed and reattached in 2007. The repairs were reportedly made by students. "At no time did the sailboat manager who was overseeing the operation and repairs to the vessel did they consult with the vessel designer, manufacturer, or a third party surveyor regarding this (prior) damage" said USCG Commander Jim Elliot. Texas A&M University, which is doing their own report on the incident have not commented on the Coast Guard findings.

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