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Fatality - Northland

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Is there any understanding of what happened to the boat yet?

I fully understand if the survivors can't / don't want to talk about it.


It is curious though that there is no indication.

Generally through the process of issue a distress call and conducting a rescue the general nature of the issue becomes apparent, for example broken rig puncturing hull. 

Given the very little information to hand (i.e. that the boat sunk) and that the crew ended up in the water, would that indicate something catastrophic happened very quickly?

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Mate, it was a Bravaria Oceans 47, not a cat. Had serious water ingress issues, but as yet we dont know why. The initial mayday reported about an hour left before she sank, which she did, so seems accurate at this point.


Unfortunately, storms in October reasonably often claim a boat or two coming down from the islands. IMO this is one of the most dangerous passages many cruisers ever do.


Sad story. I wait to see if the rest of us can learn something from it.

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I also refuse to pay a cent to the Herald until they produce consistently good journalism. They've got a few good writers but it's mostly rubbish.

Did Stuart have a sailing knife on him, and one that could be opened with one hand? Every sailor should carry one at all times from the first day they step into a dinghy as a child. It should be automatic that you have it.


We should all have the small PLBs on our life jackets.

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Hi Addem, the article is behind a paywall. Any chance you could give us a summary of the facts?


The article suggests they were hit by a breaking wave which washed two overboard. Once they were back on board they checked on those down below and noticed "[t]he yacht's windows had been sucked out from their frames, and water from the waves was repeatedly rushing in at a rate beyond what the vessel's pump system could handle."

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The article suggests they were hit by a breaking wave which washed two overboard. Once they were back on board they checked on those down below and noticed "[t]he yacht's windows had been sucked out from their frames, and water from the waves was repeatedly rushing in at a rate beyond what the vessel's pump system could handle."


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Sorry for being unclear.

I was referring to a general question mark about large windows on ocean crossing boats and Those on cats in particular.


I don’t subscribe to herald either but that link works for me.


The story is first hand from one of the crew and says the windows were “ sucked out“ in a knock down from a breaking wave. With large openings and big sea state water was coming in Faster than they could keep up with with the pumps.


It seems the deck mounted liferaft was washed away so they had to abandon ship with Dan buoys only.


Exhaustion came quickly so they couldn’t retrieve the two in the water who were tangled in the ropes of the raft dropped by the Orion. It sounds harrowing.

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I don't subscribe to the Herald either, but there are ways to read an article if you really want to, here it is copied and pasted.. we should all learn from this tragic accident :|


Exhausted but overjoyed, Bruce Goodwin thought they had made it.

 It was Monday and there were grey skies. He went to take over watch from Pedersen above deck while Pedersen's wife, Pamela, and her brother-in-law Steve remained below.

 Sea conditions were reasonably calm. The wind was 20 knots. It was the sailing group's last day on board the 47-foot yacht travelling from Fiji to New Zealand. The four had a big breakfast planned before going through Customs.

 But as they crept closer to the Bay of Islands, the winds became stronger and the seas got "steeper and steeper". Soon, gusts grew to beyond 40 knots and massive waves had begun breaking on top.

 "It's a really hard thing to think of what size they were," Goodwin said. "The 6m thing was mentioned but it wasn't the size of the waves that was the problem. It was the size of the break.''

 At 1pm and about 30km from Cape Brett in Northland, a surge of water broke over the yacht. Goodwin, 66, and Pedersen were swept off their feet, and off the vessel.

 "I went under water. I'm sure Stu went under water as well. I was pulled along at a very painful rate. I was stuck in my harness for some time under water until I just felt Stu pulling me back on board," Goodwin said.

 "The deck was a mess at that stage but most things were still functioning. We checked down below to see how the other two were and saw they had their own dramas."

 Pamela and Steve were knee-deep in water. The yacht's windows had been sucked out from their frames, and water from the waves was repeatedly rushing in at a rate beyond what the vessel's pump system could handle.

 "That's when I said we need to put out a mayday," Goodwin said.

 Radio contact was made while Goodwin searched for the yacht's Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPRIB) and liferaft "but they must have gone out the windows, they were nowhere to be seen".

 Everyone went into survival mode, keeping cool heads the entire time. Goodwin who had his own personal locator beacon activated it.

 "We were encouraged. We were saying 'we can do this'," he said.

 The four gathered in the yacht's cockpit for about 20 minutes preparing to abandon ship. They collected a grab bag, life ring, Dan Buoy flotation device and had planned to click together their harness ropes once overboard to stay together.

 "It's just amazing how we all did bits and pieces when Pamela came on deck, she brought a big block of chocolate and a bottle of water. We knew we needed energy and we scoffed the chocolate as fast as we could."

 Goodwin said Pedersen and Steve, whose surname he did not know, took turns at manually pumping the bilge pump "to try to give us extra time". "But unfortunately it got so low in the water, the bow went under."

 With water rising around them, Goodwin was first to leave.

 He unclicked his harness from the yacht and dived through the water. He pulled Pamela along with him. The two other men followed moments behind and only just escaped.

 "The guys only just got clear ... When it [the yacht] went under. It went so, so quick."

 Alone, in the ocean, the four sailors clicked their harnesses together and waited.

And then the strangest thing happened. "An albatross came and sat beside us," Goodwin said. "I saw it as a sign from God. I do have trust in God and I have a personal relationship with God. [i thought] we can make it."

Goodwin did not see the seabird fly away. The sea conditions were still horrendous. "We struggled with waves coming at us. We took on water and spat it out. We tried to keep each other warm and encouraged." 

About 2.45pm, through the sea spray and waves, Goodwin spotted sight of the PC3 Orion above which dropped a liferaft. "Oh boy, when we first saw the Orion I thought 'you beauty!', 'We are going to do it guys, we are going to do it.'  "I saw this big, long, long rope with flags on it coming down. It landed quite a way from us, maybe 50m away. I swam for it as hard as I could."  Tears well as Goodwin recalled: "I really didn't think we were going to make it but the rope would get picked up and placed closer each time. Those guys in the [rescue] team knew just where to place it."

 Goodwin said their rescuers' skill at getting the raft closer to them when they did "absolutely" saved his life. With barely any strength left in his body, Goodwin eventually managed to pull himself on board. After another exhaustive effort, Steve was next. 

The two men pulled on their harness ropes to help get Pamela and Pedersen in but against the surging seas, high winds and a tangle of knots in the ropes, the mission became impossible. "There was nothing left in us to get them in."  Goodwin said he and Steve were reluctant to cut the ropes because of the risk of Pamela or Pedersen being swept away in the rough seas.

Instead, they each held them.  "I took Pamela and Steve held Stu along the liferaft. We had to wait for the helicopter to come and we knew it would come."  Goodwin doesn't know if it was seconds, minutes or hours later when he saw the rescue helicopter arrive. By this stage, all four were too exhausted to talk. But they were still conscious and alive. "I got a smile from Pam," Goodwin said.

A rescue helicopter swimmer came and took Pedersen and his wife away from the raft and got them winched up one by one. Steve was next up, then finally Goodwin. "It was just great to get up to that helicopter."  Wrapped in a thermal blanket and given some water, Goodwin reached out to his skipper.

 "I tried to get a smile from Stu." He didn't get one.

 Pedersen had died before making it onboard the helicopter.

 His wife was taken to hospital but has since been discharged. Steve was discharged with Goodwin this week.

 Back home in rural Waihī, Goodwin's voice cracks as he looks back on the fateful voyage.

 Both he and Pedersen shared a mutual love for sailing. As members of the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club, it's how they met about four years ago.

 "To do something like this, we do it for pleasure. And to have such an outcome, it's just devastating."

 But he remains incredibly grateful for the efforts of their rescuers.

 "To be living in a country that can throw so much resource without a moment's thought at four people who need them the most ... there must have been no hesitation when they got our mayday and they were so prompt.

 ''We feel so positive and honoured to live in such a country that cares for people.''

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Incredible story.


I struggle to see anything they could have done better to improve their chances - especially in the real world of chaos and drama that they faced.


Only thing might have helped - trying to erect some boarding across the windows to stem the ingress of water?

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The Herald reporting in this case seem to be accurate. A friend visited the survivors in hospital and the story told to them first hand matches the herald story.


I'm off to make a donation to Westpac Helicopters as those guys are absolute heros. The whole response looks perfect, from airforce, Wetpac and Coastguard who were half way out there when they were picked up.


Its all a bit bloody close to home, as we arrived back 5 days before them. I wonder how my 44ft cat would have coped in those circumstances. My guess is it'd either be swamped with smashed in windows or would have been upside down from the initial wave, but being a lite-weight foam built boat, she'd at least be floating. We carry a ply board that can cover one window but only one window. 

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Aleana. I tend to agree, having read the article now, and big thanks to LadyHawk for that - it was very moving.


Short strops on tethers may have stopped being washed overboard. Spray hoods on life jackets and individual PLDs may have helped. There are also boats being built now that will float even when full of water.


I was rescued from drowning as a boy. I had given up the struggle and was floating peacefully underwater watching the play of light on the surface while I enjoyed CO2 poisoning. I have rescued 2 people myself from being drowned in the surf on unpatrolled beaches. Best advice is don't panic, don't swim against currents, relax and conserve as much energy as possible. I know it sounds silly and hypothermia will quickly sap strength but I've seen these techniques work. To be clear, I'm not saying they would have worked here.


Did the Orion life raft have a rope ladder? The coroner's report will be worth reading.

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I say this with the utmost respect for all involved and understanding of hindsight but this storm and those conditions were predicted many days in advance, Why didn't they back off and stay much further out where the seastate and winds were out of the storms path? We had atleast 24 hours notice, I think I saw the warnings on Saturday morning 

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That was a succinct description of events wasn't it. I'm grateful to have been able to read that and understand the sequence of events that affected these capable and experienced yachtsmen and woman.

I don't know what weather was being reported locally on Thursday because we were at sea.

We arrived in around Thursday 11 pm at the ninepin, about 1.30 am on the q dock and cleared first thing Friday. Our friends were still sailing down the coast on Friday in a front with about 30 knots in it.

The sinking happened on the Monday.

After being at sea for 6.5 days and with gribs and weather updates we were focused on our window of arrival and not overly interested in much after that.

But I checked windy on Friday once I had local internet and there was nothing alarming there. It wasn't until I scrolled through to about sat on that you could see this low probably forming up and then tracking on towards Northland. So that was fast. It formed up and in the context of their probable 7 day passage, tracked across the Tasman very fast to arrive on Monday.

I imagine they might have been about 300 miles out on Sat, but I'm not so sure it was even a definite system by then. A day later, they probably had little choice anyway, if they even knew of it.

The other recollection I have over the weekend and general dock talk, was that the high winds were forecast for Tues, not Monday, so if they were aware of it then a decision to make a run for it was reasonable.

I believe the system was much deeper than expected and arrived faster than most expected.

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This was the outlook on Friday arvo:




A low to the west of the South Island gradually weakens on Sunday and should fill on Monday; meanwhile a ridge is expected to build up over the country. Another low is expected to develop over the north Tasman Sea on Sunday, and approach the north of the North Island early Monday, then over the Island during late Monday and Tuesday before moving away the east late Wednesday. This system should bring rain and strong winds to much of the North Island.

There is moderate confidence of rainfall accumulations reaching warning amounts in Northland, Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula during Monday and Tuesday, and about the ranges of Gisborne and Hawkes Bay on Tuesday and early Wednesday. There is low confidence of warning amounts of heavy rain about the Tararua District during late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

In addition, there is low confidence of strong easterly winds rising to severe gale strength in exposed parts of Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Waikato during Monday and Tuesday. There is also low confidence of strong southwesterlies rising to severe gales in exposed parts of Northland on Wednesday.

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I too have been caught in similar wind strengths returning from the Islands, like them I was so close, the wind picking up all the time, (it peaked 12 hours ahead of the time it was forecast to arrive, and that we were trying to beat ) but the urge to get into the bay, hoping to catch the Customs before knock off meant we pushed on expecting to get relief as we closed with the shore. We were laid over for several minutes by a gust much stronger than we had anticipated, just had to let the sheets fly and even then the wind held her over, being a centreboarder we didn't have a lead mine 2 metres down to hold us up, a saving grace maybe? luckily, although there was white water we didn't take any across the cockpit, another reef (done in time) would have helped! Once around the nine pin we were headed and had to tack all the way in. Customs had given up on us, so it was have a rum time, a walk up and down our "enclosure" and a welcome nights sleep.

"Wisdom after the event" means I would probably act earlier (another reef etc.) but at the time we thought we had it sorted.

Plus we had no large windows, only glued and screwed 10mm acrylic, so no water down below.

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