Posts Tagged ‘shipwreck’
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.
The 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.
However, 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
Formerly ESP-65 Desafio Espanol and before that, USA-65 One World, this IACC boat has definitely seen better days. Unfortunate situation or an allegory for the sorry state of Spanish sailing these days? Pierre Orphanidis at Vsail has the story, and he took this excellent shot.
May 30th, 2014 by admin
With 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
It’s lightning season, folks – and sometimes, nature just doesn’t like you. This cruising cat took a direct strike at the masthead and immediately went up; there was no hope for the Puerto Del Rey (Puerto Rico) multihull. Thanks to Jaime Torres for the news; this is a screen grab from the Facebook video posted here.
May 13th, 2014 by admin
Ship salvor and underwater superstar Barry Clifford’s done it again; the most prolific man in the history of shipwreck seeking believes he’s got confirmation that he just found Christopher Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria.
Clifford’s search for the ship has lasted over ten years; the Cape Cod native first identified the shipwreck in 2004 as potentially Columbus’ – this from aerial and UAV photos of the ocean floor near Haiti – as part of the Discovery Channel’s “Quest for Columbus” program. Now he’s back with funding from the History Channel, and we expect the same methodical, careful salvage operation and historic preservation that Clifford has built his career on as he starts bringing America, Spain, and Italy’s history to the surface.
May 13th, 2014 by admin