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Fatality - Northland


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I've read the MNZ report. 1stly let me again express my condolences to the families concerned.

We all need to see this as a learning experience, to try to prevent another similar event at a later time. IMO most core construction vessels cannot simply screw "storm shutters" to a window surround without weakening the whole area. External shutters screwed on would have made little difference in this situation unless they where actually in contact with the window material or frame, and hence provided additional support to resist the internal pressure. A few screws in a composite structure are not very strong!

Also, why are YNZ and Maritime NZ referring to books about heavy weather techniques written 50 years ago, when composite construction was not even invented, and boats were very different?

Finally, IMO, to run downhill without a drogue in conditions where the breaking part of the wave is more than 30% of your waterline length, in a boat that cannot exceed wave speed is almost certain to end in a broach and knockdown or roll over.

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My overriding takeaway from this incident and report is a sense of unease that this continues a culture of “An accident happened and therefore something must be done to prevent a recurrence.”

For sure do an investigation but don’t automatically assume there must always be a conclusion that a new guideline / practise / rule / law must follow.

Sometimes that is the right outcome especially when a glaring omission is identified which can be readily implemented.

But in cases like this I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. The giveaway for me is how impractical the recommended solutions are.

Question: how many other countries have a similar requirement? How many international cruisers arrive in NZ with their windows boarded over in this way?

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To the best of my knowledge NZ is the only country.

And Fogg's post sums up my reaction to the report.

And IT's post alludes to another problem: an unwillingness to criticize. This is understandable as these are real people with friends and families. I don't know the answer to that one.

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15 minutes ago, Black Panther said:

And IT's post alludes to another problem: an unwillingness to criticize. This is understandable as these are real people with friends and families. I don't know the answer to that one.

Don't think of it as criticism.  There is a subtle but important difference between critiquing performance and criticising it.  In lay terms, the former is about saying what could have been done better, the latter about saying what was done wrong.

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One point the report skipped over is the likely cause of the forard hatch coming open. It can only be speculated how this happened, whether Essence twisted so much that it popped or the internal pressure caused the same. I was discussing Essence's loss with Peter Smith and he made the comment that he felt the standard plastic handles on your typical aluminium framed perspex hatches were woefully inadequate.

 

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36 minutes ago, marinheiro said:

One point the report skipped over is the likely cause of the forard hatch coming open. It can only be speculated how this happened, whether Essence twisted so much that it popped or the internal pressure caused the same. I was discussing Essence's loss with Peter Smith and he made the comment that he felt the standard plastic handles on your typical aluminium framed perspex hatches were woefully inadequate.

 

I agree 100%.  Many of the hatches on the market really are not up to it.  I can't see how this blanket approach of smacking shutters onto big windows will help.  Take a catamaran with proper engineered toughened glass for instance, versus a production boat where the hatches are purchased off a supplier and simply screwed into place with backing beads.  Or look at a Garcia, big windows, but properly engineered.  In other words, fit for purpose. 

This is a bullshit solution.  Why not simply look at each installation and make a call on it.  I think they are simply suggesting that the Cat 1 inspectors are not up to that or 'trained' and therefore a blanket 'solution'.  I really am sick of this approach in NZ, the place is driving me mad.  Who wrote this drivel?  

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What about instead of external storm shutters you had internal ones, a bit like deadlights, if designed properly for strength and ease of use they could serve a dual purpose, mind you no matter how well designed the boat and how good the crew are, there will be a point that the conditions will overcome them....

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1 hour ago, marinheiro said:

One point the report skipped over is the likely cause of the forard hatch coming open. It can only be speculated how this happened, whether Essence twisted so much that it popped or the internal pressure caused the same. I was discussing Essence's loss with Peter Smith and he made the comment that he felt the standard plastic handles on your typical aluminium framed perspex hatches were woefully inadequate.

 

It would be interesting to know what hatch it was, 2 dogs or 4? It can’t have been a frame install failure, as a crew member closed it again. If it was a 2 dog hatch, maybe the deck could flex sufficiently for it to open, but if a 4, then I think that unlikely. Be interesting to ask that crew member, and also if he recalls any damage.

to fit storm shutters as described in the mnz report, IMO is likely to cause more issues - sheets stuck around them for example ripping them off.
 

Although small, Island times hull windows have storm shutters - from the inside. The windows are installed from the outside, glued in. With the shutter on the inside, whatever the force, inside or outside, the hull takes the load…

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11 hours ago, Island Time said:

It would be interesting to know what hatch it was, 2 dogs or 4? It can’t have been a frame install failure, as a crew member closed it again. If it was a 2 dog hatch, maybe the deck could flex sufficiently for it to open, but if a 4, then I think that unlikely. Be interesting to ask that crew member, and also if he recalls any damage.

 

Looking at the old Boating NZ feature on Essence (I am a magazine hoarder) all the deck fittings are Lewmar so most likely a Lewmar hatch which I think would have 4 dogs

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The report describes the boat both as sandwich (cored) construction and as solid glass? Which leads me to believe that the author doesnt know, i believe that model to be solid glass therefore if the deck is already flexing you are in trouble , I still dont believe even with considerable distortion that the hatch would open itself though there is no strength in their frames so maybe, was the boom heard a crucial bulkhead letting go- in which case you have a spaghetti boat? These are all questions that we will never know the answers to. We do however know that many of that eras Bavarias had significant keel issues-well documented particularly in Europe .

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I read this report 3 days ago and haven’t read any of the comments above as I like to digest this type of thing in relation to what I’d have done in my boat or any other yacht I was sailing.

Firstly these are people that have owned and sailed this yacht many miles plus they were well crewed so my interpretation is they had no major concerns about the ability of this yacht in theses conditions 

My first question is how long had this front hatch been open ? Is it possible that it’s been left not dogged down for some time by mistake (easy to do if you need ventilation in forward cabin in the tropics) then as they sailed into this system the forward cabin became uncomfortable to sleep in so the door was closed ? I usually move to the saloon sole to sleep bashing up wind as I can’t sleep on the island berth in these conditions 

Secondly was there a bilge alarm ? A yacht of this size can easily hold a ton or two of water in its bilges before it’s noticeable above the floor boards and this is fluid ballast so always were you need it most.

Ive done hundreds of miles in these conditions, yes mostly deep water but still 50+ kts and 5+m waves, my boat is flatter in the hull slightly longer and wider aft. But with a deep reefed main well eased and a pocket of genoa out over sheeted my autopilot can easily steer, we usually hand steer however as it’s more comfortable both mentally and physically 

 

To me as purely a fly on the wall I believe this boat has tripped over three times this fluid ballast it’s ending up carrying, this has stressed the hull in a way that it’s never been designed to carry and popped out the window which has then let in a whole lot more weight.

This talk of hull flex is not the concern that people think, wooded boats are designed to be ridged and if they flex they rake and loose all strength / integrity. GRP boats are designed to flex to dissipate the loads ( think a wooded box verse a tiptop ice cream container, the box is stiff and strong until it flexes then it’s not, the ice cream container needs to be jumped on then it will still probably pop out and be in one piece. We have been building GRP boats for close on 50 years now and off the top of my head I can’t think of one that’s broken up and sunk, but I can think of numerous wooded boats that have (race boats excluded as they are built to minimise weight) Yes some have lost keels, rudders and rigs but this is usually a mechanical fixing issue. The vast majority of cruising boats out there are production boats by a huge margin and ocean sailing has never been safer for nm sailed.

However I did by a GRP production boat with small windows, however I personally think this was a chain of events that lead to an unfortunate accident, yes if I’m departing I’m looking at arriving in NZ under a high pressure system, but this system degraded on route and it’s always a balancing act between getting the perfect weather window or have the perfect extra crew.

 

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I wonder if the windows were glass or perspex. 
if glass, something hard may have hit them from the inside during the knockdown causing them to smash,  or perhaps the window flexed more than the safety glass could tolerate casing them to shatter, and when they shatter they completely disappear. 
Perspex, in good condition, say 10mm thick, typically would crack rather than shatter.  Having replaced a few boat windows in my time, well prepared and stuck ms35 or similar sealant on windows, glass or perspex, holds extremely well and is very difficult to remove.. 
Such a sad outcome. 

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Any water inside a boat makes it extremely hard to control downwind as it rushes forward when the boat surges down a wave. It becomes a compounding problem as the anchor locker typically stays full as the bow is getting more water over it. 

 

 

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On 23/07/2021 at 9:31 PM, southernman said:

I agree 100%.  Many of the hatches on the market really are not up to it.  I can't see how this blanket approach of smacking shutters onto big windows will help.  Take a catamaran with proper engineered toughened glass for instance, versus a production boat where the hatches are purchased off a supplier and simply screwed into place with backing beads.  Or look at a Garcia, big windows, but properly engineered.  In other words, fit for purpose. 

This is a bullshit solution.  Why not simply look at each installation and make a call on it.  I think they are simply suggesting that the Cat 1 inspectors are not up to that or 'trained' and therefore a blanket 'solution'.  I really am sick of this approach in NZ, the place is driving me mad.  Who wrote this drivel?  

The point is: it seems that it was positive inside pressure that blew the windows out and hatch open. A tiny pressure increase inside delivers a very big outwards force because it applies across every square inch of the window or hatch.  Adding stiffening/bracing/duplication will help to resist forces acting both Outwards and Inwards. Conventional thinking will say "we must resist the green water on the outside" but this was the opposite - " we must resist the internal pressure pushing the windows outwards".  To your point, I doubt if many inspectors have the engineering training to make such a call, so a blanket solution is the only way to do it....        It has got me thinking about the windows on my boat though.... :) 

 

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24 minutes ago, BB7 said:

I doubt if many inspectors have the engineering training to make such a call

So who's judging the engineering adequacy of these shutter things?

Comments above point quite rightly to the possibility of some efforts making a boat less sturdy, let alone completely ignoring the engineering of a particular boats construction.

26 minutes ago, BB7 said:

so a blanket solution is the only way to do it.... 

Probably exactly what isn't appropriate in this case, too many variables.

Do you really think some bits of ply screwed to the outside of this boat would have saved it? Far bigger issues at play this time I suspect, however we will never know.

Boat didn't seem capable of handling conditions it was supposedly good for. I don't think it was a crew or experience problem.

How many disaster stories have we read where the liferaft was missing when they went to get it?

Lots of stuff gets swept off decks in a good storm, why take the risk? Been working on that problem for a while but on deck still seems to be a pretty risky spot, regs. still keep insisting thats where they want it. Don't recall too many stories where the crew couldn't get the liferaft out the hatch when they wanted it.

 

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I would say the hull and cabin structure flexed. A well known surveyor told me a story about a Beneteau sailing to Fiji some years ago. It spent around 4 days on the wind in around 20 knts of breeze. The deck slowly bent upward under the head sail sheeting loads and all of a sudden a couple of windows just popped out of their holes. Clearly the deck and cabin structure crept under load. Apparently it was a bit of a major repair. 

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13 minutes ago, Panache said:

The deck slowly bent upward under the head sail sheeting loads and all of a sudden a couple of windows just popped out of their holes.

YNZ reckon a couple of ply shutters and a few screws would have fixed that. Actually windows probably small enough to get away with none, still giving Cat 1 to this model are they?

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