Originally Posted by Palarran
If it isn't too much, can you tell us what happened to your boat after hitting the reef? Did the keels snap off? How about the rudders? How quickly did the boat flood and from where? What about the watertight bulkheads?
Once you hit the reef, to replay it, is there anything that could have been done to either save your boat or minimize the damage?
First of all a big thank you again to all then people that have put their life and boats in danger
to try to get us off the reef. These great people also gave us much needed emotional support. The first days after it were really hard.
When we hit the reef the waves were still quite small. I tried to get off with both engines, no luck. Issued a Pan Pan. Help was on the way. Opened all taps to empty the full water tanks
. Boat was completely intact at this point. She would have had a few scratches to the bottom paint
. As I later deducted, the boat had turned about 45 degrees during impact, which I believe trapped at least one of the keels between two coral heads. I tried deploying the spare Fortress
we have, by throwing it as far as I could, but it did not catch.
At this point several small boats and dinghies came to help, so I was busy with them. The waves had built quite a bit in these 15 or so minutes. Two guys in a dinghy
picked up a tow line from a small sport fishing
boat. They had to do several tries timing the waves several times to make it to us safely. I attached my 200' three stranded stern-tie line to it. A few minutes later they started pulling and she actually moved with every wave that lifted her up. Unfortunately, they had still used their own line at the end tied to my line. With a big Bang that line broke got immediately wrapped between the coral heads. It took a while for my to free it using initially a rolling hitch with a line and my winch
, later the tow line itself around the winch
. By the time we got it back to the fishing
boat, the waves had built even more. I was considering passing my Fortress
with chain and rope
to the guy in the dinghy
, but the waves may have meant that some body get injured when passing it down to the dinghy.
All this happened on a rising tide. Still not water
in the hulls, but we saw the odd piece of fibre glass and foam breaking off the keels. They tried to tie two tow bots to the line, but that did not work out. Here it became clear to me that chances became very slim now. Only a real big power boat
would have had enough pull to rip us out of there, ripping off what remained of the keels.
But nobody gave up. Now the waves were big enough to rock the boat so hard that we would loose balance, send water over the deck
, and make the rig shudder as if it would come down.
With darkness approaching, 2-3 hours into it, and the first trickle of water getting into the starboard hull
, I decided to abandon ship. I opened all battery
switches to avoid a short.
The start board hull
had been moved into just a few inches of water. I lowered the dinghy and and moved it to the down-wave side. The free board was enormous. I had to ferry
out from our boat to dinghies waiting nearby and pass our golden retriever, cat, and dry bags with passport, computers
and the like to them. The dinghy bottomed out on the reef in the troughs. On the third trip my wife came down into the dinghy and we drifted off with the dinghy up to our knees full of water.
The help and emotional support we received from everybody in the next few days was enormous. It helped us a lot dealing with the trauma. The first night we were worried that the fuel tanks
with 200+ gallons (900 litres) of diesel
would rupture. We could here the wind
pick up more and the wave size increasing overnight. Up till then I had hoped that with the falling tide the additional damage would not be too big, and the salvage
vessel was already underway. However, by the next morning she had been pounded over the reef into 10 feet of water. In the process the starboard hull had developed a hole the full length of the two bath rooms (4m or 12') and bout 1 m (3') wide. Looking down the stairs gave a pretty view of the sea bottom. The rudders had been ripped off, but the shafts were in place. The port sail drive was pushed in a little bit, so it leaked. The port fwd compartment was bone dry. The water was above the cockpit
table and the stern was exposed to the waves coming over the reef, with the water splashing up to the ceiling .
Things to do better after the hit:
Close the bilge
valves to the engine
rooms when you leave the ship. Even though it would have no helped in our case. The starboard side had the hose leading to the valve ripped off. The port side had the sail drive slightly pushed in with a leak around that seal. Only valves aft of the engine
room bulkhead would have helped here.
Same goes for the forward compartments. Only valves away from the bilge
area would have kept the starboard fwd compartment dry.
Deploying an anchor
and pull with a winch could have helped to get us off with the additional pull of the boats. However, it would have been dangerous in our situation.
I am surprised how long the L450 stayed dry. It took serious and prolonged pounding before flooding started. She held up really well.
I hope this helps someone in the future.