$10-million yacht capsize

May 2014 a brand new $10,000,000 yacht capsized while being launched.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released findings on the cause.

Details from Three Sheets Northwest


A report just after the capsize –


Video showing the boat going over –

Weight balance is an important consideration on any boat (obviously).  All boat owners need evaluate how the boat is loaded with stores and people.  An overloaded or incorrectly loaded boat will introduce significant dangers ranging to unsafe stability and handling.

A few months ago I was sailing on Lake Dillon as saw a sailboat dangerously overloaded with people … there must have been fifteen people, none wearing PFDs, on this ~25′ boat.  Back in 2011 a sailboat capsize tragically resulted in two deaths on San Diego Bay.  Here is a snippet from USA Today’s article –

‘… a boat that size should hold six people maximum, but with 10 aboard, there would be scant room for everyone to sit down.

“With that many people, if four people were told to sit over there and the other people got up, that would be enough instability right there,” he said. “I’m amazed they didn’t sink right where they all got on. That’s just overloading the boat.” ‘

(full article – http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-03-28-san-diego-sailboat_N.htm)

Here is a picture of the boat prior to the capsize –

The San Diego Harbor Police investigation concluded –

‘… several factors contributed to the capsizing of the vessel. They include having too many people aboard, as well as the condition of the vessel and its equipment.’

(Harbor Police’s press release – https://www.portofsandiego.org/harbor-police/2660-investigation-concludes-on-march-27-san-diego-bay-boating-accident.html)

Harbor Police also stated, “… every vessel operator needs to know the limitations of their vessel.” (Source: http://www.760kfmb.com/story/15160389/police-sailboat-too-crowded-in-fatal-calif-mishap?)

It was also reported that there was ‘an absence of life jackets’ (‘http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2011/jul/27/no-criminal-charges-fatal-sailing-accident/) … do I need to get on my ‘Wear your PFD’ soapbox again?!

Besides not overloading your boat with crew and guests think carefully about how you store anchors, food, water, spare parts, the first aid kit, etc.  You must make sure that after you place items aboard you didn’t put the boat off her lines, meaning she is not longer floating on the water as her designer intended.  Additionally you must assure that as the boat heels items, especially heavy things like anchors and batteries, don’t move from their stored location.  Weight shifting can cause a boat to capsize.

Here is a dramatic video showing how non-secured items fly about when a boat is capsized –

A couple years ago I had a disturbing discussion with a boat owner that accepted delivery of a new boat (not a Sage) where the keel ballast was not secured.  The ballast was contained in easily removable containers that were dropped into the empty keel.  I told the owner I felt this was very unsafe.  He responded that the builder said it was fine; and he liked the ability to remove some ballast and use the keel for storing items when cruising.  This is an unsafe boat that should never left the factory.

Boats have a maximum load capacity.  Don’t overload your boat with stores and make sure all stores are secured. Invite only a safe number of people aboard your craft and make sure you don’t overload the boat with to many stores.

– Dave

One thought on “$10-million yacht capsize

  1. Eugene says:

    Dave, You are so correct to continually point out SAFETY FACTORS with regards to sailing, especially with your audience of predominately small boat sailors. LIFE JACKETS are such an important part of any boat’s gear, that it would be nice to see sailors trying to ‘one up’ one another with their choice of life jacket vs their choice of other things to brag about boating wise.

    I’ve seen exactly the same thing time after time in marinas throughout the Summer sailing season with skippers taking overloaded boats out with complete disregard for boat stability. Just because EXTRA guests show up does not mean a skipper should disregard safe boating procedures to accommodate them. Make them wait for the second sailing of the day if they really want to go out. If I was asked to wait by a skipper I would be grateful that I WAS sailing with someone that put MY safety first! Non boaters should not be expected to understand the dangers so *we* as skippers are the responsible party for safe boating. Common sense is not found in a book, or from taking boating courses….it’s a HABIT!




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