Saturday, January 23, 2010

benneteau first 42 dismasted Captain Greg Gladdin fights heavy seas

Dismasting of
Benneteau First 42  Diablesse
Skipper Greg Gladden Fights Heavy Seas!

As an old time Texas sailor, my friend Greg Gladden has lots of great sailing tales. The dismasting of Diablesse while he was single handing her on his way to Isla de Mujeres must be one of his best!

Greg is also an accomplished criminal defense attorney.  He champions many causes to keep our country free.  Law offices of Greg Gladden

I crewed for Greg on Diablesse in the Regatta de Amigos race to Veracruz. I had a blast with Greg and learned some great lessons about managing a boat, managing a crew and having a great time! It was one of those 'never forget' experiences!
We returned through Tuxpam, MX.  If you want to see real Mexico, Tuxpam is a great place to do it!  A must see are pyramids of Tajin nearby.
If you stop in Tuxpam be sure to check in quickly with the naval guard when you get there, as they are not used to a lot of tourists!
Greg enjoys spending time at the haunts on the Boardwalk in Kemah, Texas.  If you bump into him be sure to say hello for me and ask him about the DiablesseThe boardwalk in Kemah, Texas, lots of great food!  

A note about the Benneteau First 42

The Benneteau First 42 is a fast boat with a functional layout.  Diablesse has some special features.  Her chart table is clear of the gangway and seas that might tumble in.  Greg's boat has pilot berths above the setees which made the trip much easier!

Here is the story of the dismasting of Diablesse that appeared on the net:

Attorney and sailboat captain Greg Gladden Dismasted

Emergency Beacon Aids in Rescue


FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – FEBRUARY 11, 2008 – Captains and pilots commonly say bad outcomes result from a series of problems adding up. Sailboat owner Greg Gladden understands this all too well. He was sailing alone 95 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas in the Gulf of Mexico on his way to the Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico when a sequence of equipment failures immobilized his 42’ sailboat, Diablesse.

A little before 5 a.m. on November 18, Gladden, 56, suffered a dismasting in 25-knot winds and 12-foot rolling seas. Afterwards while trying to engage the motor, he found that his propeller was wrapped with lines that had fallen in the water during the dismasting. He could not send out a mayday call because his radio antenna was attached to the mast now underwater.

Gladden was basically adrift.

Story continued below...
Here is a Benneteau First 42 you can charter!

 Try these guys at:  Yacht charter hollidays

Sailboat dismasted
He used his handheld radio to summon help but no one was in range. At 5 a.m., Gladden activated his ACR Electronics’ GlobalFix™ 406 EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) that was in a bracket on the boat. Shortly thereafter, he also set off a second emergency beacon, an ACR Electronics’ ResQFix™ 406 GPS Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). He purchased the ResQFix™ because as a solo sailor he wanted a personal beacon to wear on his person in case he ended up in the water.

At sunrise, he shot off a flare. About 8 a.m., a passing commercial vessel came to his aid and stayed on scene. They were able to relay Gladden’s handheld radio messages to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), who confirmed that they were aware of his distress signal and were working the case. Since the beacon was registered, the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans was attempting to confirm with Gladden’s emergency contacts that he actually was on an offshore sailing voyage.

About 10 a.m., a small USCG jet flew over and made radio contact with Gladden. He could hear the jet but could not see it because of heavy overcast. Several hours later a USCG cutter arrived and towed Gladden and his boat to homeport in Galveston Bay.

Story continued below... 

A typical First 42 Salon


First 42 dismasted
Although his Thanksgiving holiday was written off and he was aggravated by the equipment failure, Gladden was thankful that he had his ACR Electronics’ emergency locator beacons. “The EPIRBs were the only radio or electronic devices I had available for any kind of emergency once I was out of radio range. I had a sideband radio but the antenna went down with the mast. The EPIRBs gave me reassurance that the SOS signal was going out,” said Gladden. “I wouldn’t set off in a boat offshore without one (EPIRB). Other than EPIRBs, I don’t know of any other help available if your are 100 miles out and are dismasted.”

A PLB is a satellite-signaling device of last resort, for use when all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted and where the situation is deemed to be grave and imminent, and the loss of life, limb, eyesight or valuable property will occur without assistance. All beacons must be registered following purchase.

Why you should register your EPIRB!
If you buy a used EPIRB and you don't register it then how will then the Coast Guard might be looking for the wrong cat!  They need all the information they can get when communications fail!  Family and friends of a registered unit can at least tell them when and where you left and how long you have been gone!


I have a lot of respect for Greg Gladden's abilities as a captain.  I am not sure I would have managed as well.  

I am going to reconsider the personal rescue device decision.  I remember thinking it was kind of nice but a little over kill and expensive when we went on the Amigos trip.

What would Greg have done if he had not had his personal unit?  The ship's EPIRB was supposedly disabled. 

In the Regatta de Amigos 2 years later there was a yachting disaster and a fatality.  Safety officer Roger Stone from Texas A & M University at Galveston was unable to escape the yacht he was racing, the Cynthia Woods, as she sank. 

Stone had been sailing a Cape Fear 38 with 5 others from the University when the keel apparantly fell off.  Another Texas A & M safety officer and four students had no time to grab the ship's EPIRB as they scrambled from the quickly sinking yacht.  In fact, the boat went down so fast they ended up in the water with four life vests between the five survivors.  

What do you want to bet safety officer Steve Conway and the four students wished they had a portable epirb device as they contemplated their situation?  Fortunately, the Cynthia Woods was reported missing when it the sailors failed to check in on time.  The five were rescued.  They were lucky.   fatality in Regatta de Amigos

ACR Electronics, Inc. made Greg's EPIRB. They are compact units and well worth a look when you are getting ready to go 'out there'.  ACR Electronics, your best 'last chance'   Some of the best money I spent has been for equipment I hope I will never use. After 'Hurricane Gale', I know having the right equipment on board can be a life saver!

While no sailor wants trouble during a passage it is all part of the adventure.  Sooner or later we hit rough weather, equipment fails, crew members go nuts and other problems fall upon us.  

Life is kind of that way too, I think.  The question is, how do we handle problems, what lessons did we learn?  What can we do better and what did we do right?  All of these elements are usually at play in sailing. 

Greg Gladden was fortunate in the dismasting of his Benneteau First 42 Diablesse on his sailing adventure to Isla de Mujeres.  Single handed sailing and heavy weather sailing have their risks!  Having a portable EPIRB can save your life.  While an epirb would not have saved Roger Stone on the Regatta de Amigos, including one from ACR Electronics, it sure helped in Greg's case.  It would have helped Conway and the Texas A & M students when their Cape Fear, the Cynthia B, went down.  

Watch for details about my trip to Veracruz with Greg and crew in an upcoming blog!


Uncle Tim