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Posts Tagged ‘cheeki rafiki’

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Farr Yacht Design President Patrick Shaughnessy took to the SA forums to respond to the MAIB report on the loss of the crew of the Farr-designed Beneteau 40.7 Cheeki Rafiki.  The discussion continues here.

I just wanted to say to the group here, that we assisted in the MAIB investigation, but were unable to review a draft of the document before it was published. I think there a few inconsistencies in the report, but on the whole it is a well written document.

The report does indicate that prior groundings were repaired in an unknown way. Just to be 100% clear, at FYD we have no knowledge of the Beneteau dealer recommended repair procedure. That by itself is a pretty worrying. Even if that was followed, we don’t necessarily know that it would be sufficient.

We take safety very seriously and will issue an announcement/addendum to the MAIB report with some other considerations. The biggest thing I want to emphasize is, please contact your yacht designer if you have any questions. If you have an incident that potentially caused structural damage, contact your yacht designer. If you have an impending repair contact your yacht designer.

In this particular instance the hull liner laminate (do not call it a matrix), is not a trivial simple laminate. Replacing it with some unknown laminate to similar thickness would not necessarily be adequate. Please ask first. It almost incomprehensible that a repair could be made in a critical area like this without guidance. Please let us help you.

We will be back with more, after we’ve had a chance to fully digest the report. Stand by.

 

April 30th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.13.03 AMJust a year ago,  the charter-racing Beneteau 40.7 Cheeki Rafiki was enroute the UK with four souls aboard after a long and fun 2014 Caribbean racing season.  It was a typical delivery until a personal EIPRB signal – and no further contact – was received.  After extensive searches the hull was found, but the crew was never seen again.

Today, the UK Marine Accident Investigation Bureau released their full report on the loss, and as usual, there’s plenty of good information in it for all of us, and in an age where keels are less and less reliable, it behooves us all to pay attention to things that make them fall off.  Read the report here, and below is a statement from Chief Inspector.

This has been a challenging investigation. Cheeki Rafiki capsized and inverted, almost certainly as a consequence of its keel becoming detached in adverse weather, in a remote part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Despite two extensive searches, its four crew remain missing and, as the yacht’s hull was not recovered, the causes of this tragic accident will inevitably remain a matter of some speculation.

Nevertheless, a thorough investigation has been conducted, that has identified a number of important safety issues, which if addressed, should reduce the likelihood of a similar accident in the future.

The investigation has identified that in GRP yachts that are constructed by bonding an internal matrix of stiffeners into the hull, it is possible for the bonding to fail, thereby weakening the structure. In some yachts, including the Beneteau First 40.7, the design makes it harder to detect when the bonding is starting to fail. The report therefore highlights the need for regular inspections of such yachts’ structures by a competent person, and for the marine industry to agree on the most appropriate means of repair when matrix detachment has occurred.

During the investigation it became clear that opinions were divided as to whether or not Cheeki Rafiki’s return passage across the Atlantic Ocean was a commercial activity. I have therefore made a recommendation to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to improve the guidance on when small vessels are, or are not required to have commercial certification. This should help resolve what has, for too long, been a grey area.

Finally, I hope that this report will serve as a reminder to all yacht operators, skippers and crews of the particular dangers associated with conducting ocean passages, and the need for comprehensive planning and preparation before undertaking such ventures. On long offshore passages, search and rescue support cannot be relied upon in the same way as it is when operating closer to the coast, and yachts’ crews need a much higher degree of self-sufficiency in the event of an emergency. Thus the selection and stowage of safety and survival equipment needs to be very carefully considered before embarking, together with options for contingency planning and self-help in anticipation of problems that could occur during the passage.

 

April 29th, 2015 by admin

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Speaking of keels, Chartered Surveyor E.S. Geary says the Cheeki Rafiki tragedy wasn’t an accident, and that someone needs to be held accountable for playing a big part in the deaths of four sailors.  We’ll hold off until we hear the report from the MAIB, but we’re not disagreeing…more from Captain Geary:

At the moment the loss of the vessel is viewed and has been reported as an unfortunate accident – it wasn’t an accident.

The tragic death of the four crew and loss of the yacht was a result of third party incompetence and negligence and was preventable. Those who were responsible and negligent in the proper care and maintenance of the vessel should be indentified and held accountable to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. Having recently dealt with a number of claims on behalf London underwriters with similar deficiencies I believe the cause of this tragedy is obvious.

FF6FThe skipper’s first message reported the yacht was taking on water and requested the owners permission to divert to the Azores; he didn’t report striking anything. It’s apparent that the ingress of water reported by the skipper was experienced and began as the keel bolts lost integrity. The keel bolts were loose and leaking water as evidenced by the rust stains on the apertures which could have resulted from corrosion or metal fatigue; their ultimate failure allowed the keel to separate from the hull. Tightened keel bolts don’t fail, loose ones do. When total failure occurred the keel fell free causing the superficial damage to the hull laminates amidships. The damage, limited to the hull/keel join (amidships), is displayed in the photo below.

With a locator beacon being placed on the hull it could be recovered, but the keel will never be found. Unless it loses its buoyancy, the hull will continue in the prevailing currents towards Ireland and could, if necessary in subsequent litigation, be salvaged, though there’s no evidence to support their theory some ‘experts’ have speculated that the keel may have struck a semi-submerged object such as a container. With no impact damage to the hull there is no basis to support this theory.

A544However, whether the keel struck anything is irrelevant considering the undamaged hull and the undamaged apertures of the forward and aft keel bolts; their clean separation indicates the keel bolts were structurally unsound.

During the 640 nm voyage north the approximately 3500 kg keel was only partially held against the flat hull surface by the defective keel bolts which initially allowed to keel to move with a limited ingress of water. Unknown to the crew because of the sea state and parametric rolling which would have aggravated and accelerated ultimate failure, the keel would have experienced a slow swinging motion before it eventually dropped from the hull.

The inverted hull of the Cheeki Rafiki was found and the photo silently speaks volumes confirming the keel bolt failure that led to the loss of the keel and the rise of the VCG that resulted in the immediate capsizing of the vessel. The crew were experienced sailors so they would have been wearing life-vests, safety lines and in that area of the Atlantic probably were also wearing TPA’s (Thermal Suits). When the keel parted from the hull at night in the turbulent seas and fierce winds the four man crew would have had little time to avoid being dragged under by the sails and/or standing rigging when the immediate change of the VCG caused the hull to roll. It’s possible, but sadly I doubt the bodies will ever be recovered.

Having recently completed a survey with a similar problem, the life-raft didn’t inflate because the painter was improperly secured. If a life-raft painter line is loose or was improperly secured the life-raft won’t activate, can’t deploy and goes down with the vessel. Which is exactly what happened in this case.

This tragedy should not have happened. Through no fault of the crew the Cheeki Rafiki was sent to sea in an unseaworthy condition and those responsible should be held accountable. The families of the victim’s have a right to know of the unseaworthiness and that their loved ones paid a terrible price and died because of the gross negligence of others.

-Capt. E. S. Geary, P.Eng (UK),MRINA, SNAME
Chartered Surveyor (Admiralty & Maritime) – The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Registered Marine Surveyor – Federation of European Maritime Associations of Surveyors and Consultants
UK-Maritime & Coastguard Agency Code of Compliance Inspector (SCV)
MCA/US Coast Guard/US Maritime Administration Certified ISPS Code Port/Facility, Company & Vessel Security Officer

 

June 18th, 2014 by admin

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450x300_q75With Cheeki Rafiki’s crew being well known to many Anarchists, the continuing tragedy of their loss and the resulting discussion has been a painful one, but with yesterday’s discovery by a USCG rescue swimmer that the life raft was still aboard the capsized Beneteau 40.7, the mourning can properly begin, and with it, the speculation.  It sounds very much like another Beneteau 40.7 incident from 2007, when the Great Lakes based Barracuda capsized after losing her keel with less sad results – read more about that one here.  With so many thousands of miles sailed by the 40.7 and so few incidents, it’s hard to say there is a real design flaw in the boat, though some would say that a keel bolted to nothing more than resin and glass is an accident waiting to happen.  What’s more likely in this case is human error compounded by an unforgiving keel attachment design – either a grounding or improperly torqued keelboats may have compromised the end bolts, and when they let go in big seas, the keel began tearing itself out of the boa by the middle ones.  This would explain Rafiki’s crew searching for a water leak that they never found, and may have still been searching for when the keel let go and the boat capsized, and the photos bear it out.  Combine that with an oversize life raft located in a spot that may have been unreachable for the crew, and you have a recipe for the loss of four souls.

Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of the lost, and we encourage you to look in on the Rafiki Capsized thread to start digging in to the important lessons we can all learn from this sad accident.  It’s early days and there will be plenty more to come, but we can start here:

1) At least one EPIRB should be attached to the deck of the boat with a hydrostatic release.

2) Always carry the proper life raft for your crew size.

3) A life raft stowed in an inaccessible spot might be worse than no life raft at all.

4) Immersion suits should be required equipment for high latitudes.

Photo courtesy of the US Navy.

 

May 24th, 2014 by admin

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Cheeki Rafiki  Antigua Sailing Week 2014

UPDATE 2: The petition to re-start the search for Cheeki Raffiki has pulled in 80,000 new signatures since we posted the link this morning, and we’ve got calls into the USCG to learn if they’re listening – until then, keep signing and sending it around to your sailing friends!!

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE:  This is some heartbreaking shit, and we just don’t understand why the USCG would end the search so abruptly, despite the upside-down hull being likely spotted (though not checked), two personal EPIRBs recorded and a crew and safety equipment that’s been through the Middle Sea, Fastnet, ARC, and Caribbean 600.  This is just 600 miles or so from Cape Cod, and if the USCG doesn’t fulfill its responsibilities so close, how can we ask other countries to SAR our sailors when we’re overseas?? Tim Wright photo of the boat from Antigua Sailing Week just a couple of weeks ago.

PLEASE ADD YOURSELF TO THE 19,000 PEOPLE WHO’VE ALREADY SIGNED A PETITION TO GET THE USCG BACK OUT THERE NOW.  There are comments from hundreds, including the children, parents, friends, and relatives of the four souls abandoned out there; if you want to have your heart torn out, have a read.

And here’s the official release from the owner of the boat, Stormforce Charters.

18th May 2014, 2234 BST

We remain devastated that the four missing crew from the yacht Cheeki Rafiki, Andrew, James, Paul and Steve have still not been found and that the US Coastguard has suspended the search.  We were informed on Sunday that a capsized yacht had been found in the search area by the merchant ship M/V MAERSK KURE. However, the sea state prevented them from closely examining it which is very disappointing but understandable. We remain hopeful that they are in the life raft although conditions have been poor in the Atlantic which would be very challenging for them.

We are working, with the crew’s families, to try and persuade the US Coastguard to resume the search.  We are very grateful to the M/V MAERSK KURE which volunteered to remain and continue the search on Sunday until such time as it was stood down in the evening. 

Our thoughts remain with our friends Andrew, James, Paul and Steve and their families.

-DOUG INNES, Principal & Director, Stormforce Coaching

The crew of the Beneateau 40.7 Cheeki Rafiki  ran into difficulties on Thursday while returning from Antigua Sailing Week. Contact was lost early on Friday as they diverted to the Azores and a coast guard search has been called off.

They are feared to have capsized and abandoned to a life raft, Southampton charter firm Stormforce Coaching said. US and Canadian aircraft and merchant vessels looked for them on Friday and Saturday but have now called off the search, Stormforce director Doug Innes said.

The Royal Yachting Association named the four crew members as Paul Goslin, 56, and Steve Warren, 52, who are both from Somerset, Andrew Bridge, 21, from Farnham, Surrey, and 23-year-old James Male, from Southampton. It described all four as “very experienced offshore yachtsmen”.

They are thought to have been delivering the vessel back after it participated in Antigua Week, regarded as one of the world’s top regattas. Mr Innes said Cheeki Rafiki started taking on water on Thursday. He said: “We were in contact with the skipper and at the time the yacht and crew were keeping the situation stable.

“They had not been able to ascertain where the water ingress was from and were diverting to the Azores. Read on at the BBC News.

 

May 19th, 2014 by admin

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