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Old 04-11-2010, 19:49   #1
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Tragic Accident in New Caledonia

This was just published on the Pacific Puddle Jump Yahoo Group by someone who didn't identify himself. My heart goes out to all who are affected.

I have been sailing in this area for years and as most other sailboats I used to spare electricity at night by keeping my anchoring light OFF and using only a small white light with solar panel, the same that you will find in your garden. I shall change my mind after an accident which happened two nights ago.
At 2:30 AM a small boat sailed off an islet in the North of this territory for a fishing party, three people aboard, two grown up and a teenager. They sailed at full speed between the hulls of a 13 meter long catamaran at anchor, the two adults were killed after having hurt the liason stucture between the two hulls, the small boat continued at full speed and was stopped by the surviving teenager. Aboard the catamaran were two people, among them a surgeon, they used their annex to rescue the young man and the two adults but found these two people already dead.
The catamaran had its anchoring light ON, which is very happy for them.
The local police (Gendarmerie) recommended to the catamaran to set sail without waiting any more as the local population began to feel very aggressive against them.
My conclusion is that I shall, from now on, always have my anchoring light ON and I shall add some strobing flashing light at deck level as it seems that the killed people had their eyes down on their GPS, at full speed, black night, cloudy, without moon, seeing nothing outside. I will also choose more carefully my anchoring place in order not to be on the track of a small fast boat motoring to or from a fishing party.

Fair winds and calm seas.

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Old 29-11-2010, 10:44   #2
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Not sure why this article would change anyone's mind about anchoring lights when the boat in question was using one and was hit anyway. This post would have made more sense if the cat had not had a light on and was hit.

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Old 29-11-2010, 11:18   #3
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I think the cautionary tale here should be:

1) Do not run at excessive speed through an established anchorage.

2) Speed should not exceed visibility or conditions.

It doesn't sound like they were running radar or they weren't paying attention to it. This also would have dictated lower running speeds since they are now relying purely on visual navigation.

It sounds like a boater who was operating recklessly. They were travelling through an anchorage at higher rate of speed than the conditions dictated. They were not paying attention to their surroundings. In this case it sounds like the powerboater is assuming all anchor lights are at eye level and never bothered to look up to see the anchor light on the top of a mast (higher than one would typically be on a powerboat).

As a result we have loss of life. I don't see how having an anchor light would have resolved this. Very sad and my sympathies to the families who lost loved ones. In particular, my sympathies to the family of the loved one who placed his trust in the skipper at the helm who caused this incident.
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Old 29-11-2010, 11:24   #4
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This is reminisent of the impatient car driver who wanted to overtake and only seeing a single headlight travelling in the opposite direction decided to pass... on the assumption the oncoming bike would move to the shoulder to let him pass...
To late he discovered it was a car with a faulty headlight...
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Old 29-11-2010, 11:38   #5
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While it is the fault of any boat hitting another boat at anchor it is true that an anchor light 60 feet up is not always that easy to see. When we are anchored in any place where there are small fishing boats or other boats running around the anchorage we have an anchor light at deck level too.
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Old 29-11-2010, 11:59   #6
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A local fisherman made a comment to me the other day that I hadn't considered. He said that he especially didn't like the new LED anchor lights on top of masts because they were the same color as stars and on a moonless night it was hard to tell them from the background stars, where the old incandescent lights really stood out because of their color. I wonder what kind of anchor light the cat was using?
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Old 29-11-2010, 12:54   #7
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I burn my foredeck light from the mid mast when anchored in a "busy" anchorage.
Any fool with a big enough checkbook can BUY a boat; it takes a SPECIAL type of fool to build his own! -Capngeo
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Old 29-11-2010, 13:49   #8
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Saw a guy with some blue led string lights down at the Annappolis GAM.

THAT was distinctive. I thought it useful.
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Old 30-11-2010, 07:02   #9
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This was a sail boat that hit the cat? Sounds confusing. How does the cat get hit enough to kil l2 , but no damage that they can sail away? Any rigging would've slowed it down. Sounds like a powered skiff "sailed" into them.
I have never liked masthead anchor lights cuz it makes it hard to gauge the distance when close. But they are better when viewed from afar.
People getting killed regularly in the St Maarten lagoon , and occasionally even in St Barts, from dingying at night. It is kept quiet, bad for business.
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Old 30-11-2010, 08:34   #10
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I believe it was a small powerboat. The kid would either have to be sitting or too short to smack his head as they ran between the hulls of the cat. He could have been standing behind one of the guys who buffered him from the impact.

If it were a sailboat I doubt anyone would have died. The mast would have taken the brunt of the hit and the slower speed would have stopped the boat. I suspect some speed was involved to kill 2/3 on the boat.

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accident, New Caledonia

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