The crew of Joule have now returned to the UK and some further information is available so share that may throw some more light on this loss and assist constructive comment on the failure.
The yacht was 12Nm off Guadeloupe
in charted depths of 1000m (instruments not able to show that depth) when the steering gear
failed as described, and CROSS-AG / SNSM were alerted by Mayday. This is verified by tracking on personal GPS
devices and the yacht was fitted with AIS
so the tracking will be a matter of public record
Two yachts were chartered for a one way sail from St Martin
over 17 days. Both were Oceanis
48's built in 2012 and put into charter
in February 2013. No photographs on the steering / rudder arrangement were taken of Joule but the crew of other 48 did subsequently take photographs of that boat as they were built around the same time and owned by the same charter
company. These are added, of note the manual steering quadrant arm and the power steering quadrant arm are not connected in this arrangement unlike another posted earlier.
At the time of the initial failure when the wheels were spinning to starboard and port, it is reported that the yacht did not change course in line with the wheel
movement. It would appear that auto pilot may not have been getting a feedback signal of the position of the rudder.
Joule was under tow (from the bow) for a short time by the other charter yacht before CROSS-AG advised taking off the crew and leaving the skipper
and mate aboard to continue manual bailing. This was done and the other yacht stood off while the helicopter winched two marine
rescue personnel into the sea, they came aboard to join the skipper
and mate. They attempted to get the bilge
pumps working but failed and then re-assembled the emergency
tiller - this did not engage and it was thought that the rudder was no longer in place. An inspection
through the starboard hatch
showed the rudder mounting and the ply housing were pitching violently from side to side. The video shot by CROSS-AG does show that the rudder appears to have dropped and was still attached to the boat. This is the most likely source for water ingress, as the seal could well have been damaged and a reduced diameter section of the rudder shaft at the seal position. At this stage there was about three feet of water in the saloon
and CROSS-AG directed the other yacht to come alongside to take off the skipper and mate, leaving them (CROSS-AG) to salvage
/ get the yacht to safety
From this point CROSS -AG / SNSM personnel were alone on Joule and arranged the towing from the bow and from the stern, as seen in the video. It is reported that they did get a pump to the yacht and managed to make about 6 or 7 miles before losing Joule.
The charterers regret the loss of Joule and much of their personnel gear
but did as directed by CROSS-AG who were primarily interested the safety
of life and secondly interested in recovery of the yacht.