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Old 22-10-2006, 19:39   #1
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Capsized/Pitchpoled Atlantic?

Although the actual manufacturer and model is not identified, from the pictures it sure looks to me like this is a Chris White Atlantic cat.

http://www.harborlightnews.com/news/..._News/024.html

Can anyone from the Michigan area provide more details?

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Old 22-10-2006, 22:46   #2
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Yeh, that's an Atlantic 46. You would need some serious wave action for a pitchpole so my guess is they were hotdogging and had a wind induced capsize. You may need 25+ knots of wind to do this, even then it requires a huge degree of operator error. I know my tri and she would be screaming warning signs at me if I ever took her to that point. I don't have any cruising cat experience but I do know that you should never sail them so hard as to lift the windward hull. Probably unlikely in many of the heavier production cats but the Atlantics are lighter and more performance orientated.
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Old 23-10-2006, 05:41   #3
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Conditions must have changed dramatically from the time of inversion to picture taking. Looks like a mile calm wind and wave day

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Old 23-10-2006, 09:12   #4
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Wow... that's a frightening picture. Can you even imagine how it would feel, even at the inside helm, to pitchpole in that thing??

I really like the cat... have always loved those Chris White designs.
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Old 23-10-2006, 12:24   #5
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I am surprised the rig remained intacked.
These things turning turtle are rather common down here, out in the bigger ocean that is. Not saying it doesn't happen to mono's either, it's just that Mono
s tend to self right.
Here's an interesting thought though, just about every mono that has rolled or pp'd has lost it's rig. I guess because the boats tend to self right quickly due to the enormouse weight of keel tipping it back up. Possibly not something as common with a multi and when it is righted again, you may still have a compleatly OK rig.
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Old 23-10-2006, 13:12   #6
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Just noticed something else... this is in Michigan in the GREAT LAKES!! Although they get some very choppy stuff, I have sailed through there and have to say, it's kind of tame compared to a storm on the ocean. (I'll probably take a lot of heat for that comment) I wonder how they managed to do it?

Other things I noticed sailing through there were incredible amounts of commercial traffic and shallower water than I'm accustomed to.

Hard to imaging an ocean-going catamaran meeting its match in the Great Lakes, although many a commercial vessel has. Now I'm more curious than ever.
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Old 23-10-2006, 17:12   #7
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I take it that no-one was in the cockpit when it went over?
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Old 23-10-2006, 17:40   #8
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Ok... who can look this one up? I'd love to find out more about this accident. It's a rare one indeed, given the Great Lakes, an ocean capable Chris White design, etc... Anyone have any more info?


PS: Anyone notice that they didn't even have the genoa out? This one is getting stranger by the minute.
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Old 23-10-2006, 17:41   #9
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I would really like to hear something from the sailors on the boat -- what were they doing? What were the wind/water conditions? The Atlantic series of cats are highly regarded, but they are definitely performance oriented. Were they having 35 knot winds and no reefs? I noted from the pictures that the port board was down -- too much sail, a good gust, tripped over the board?

I am amazed that the rig was still up.

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Old 23-10-2006, 18:19   #10
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Hi Sean
It is probably a common perception that the things can't get that bad on "The Lakes". The continental weather pattern means we can be subjected to volatile rapidly changing weather patterns. Superior having the more extreme conditions. Having been out in 25-30 knots and honest 10 foot waves in my 22 footer I can attest to that. I have a few times experienced 40-50 knots on Superior but luckily from the safety of the marina or snug achorage. It can change from calm to 40 knots in minutes or the other way around and waves can be very steep at times as the wind often changes direction. On one trip in Lake Huron from the Detour Passage to Mackinac we had 4-5 foot seas but they were so steep and close together that I thought it to be the worst time I had ever had in a boat.

It looks pretty calm while they were recovering the boat but that may not be an indication of what conditions were like when they capsized.

Check out a book by a local author Marlin Bree titled "In the Wake of the Green Storm"
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Old 23-10-2006, 22:43   #11
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Highest recorded significant wave height on Superior is 26 feet. Lake Ontario 14 feet. In a storm hurricane force winds are perfectly possible if rare. 50 Knots will happen at least once a year, more if you count gusts.
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Old 23-10-2006, 22:58   #12
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Short steep chop, good wind to push the boat, a great combination for an ambitious crew to stuff the bows. As I understand it, it is also possible to get substantial gusts from odd directions. 40kts on the beam while close hauled into some chop could create an interesting situation. All this is just conjecture of course.
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Old 24-10-2006, 02:26   #13
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Seas are waves made by local wind and are described in terms of height to the nearest foot, where height has a special definition as "significant wave height," the average height of the one-third highest of a record of waves. This is the value reported by NOAA data buoys and observers at sea.

Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes, by both volume and surface area. Lake Superior has the largest fetch distance (563 km, or 350 mi), and deepest average depth (147 m, or 485 Ft.) of the Great Lakes, allowing Lake Superior to be the most powerful of the Great Lakes with measured deep water significant wave heights up to 7 m (23 Feet) and periods up to 20 s (NOAA, 2004).

Significant wave heights of around 20 - 25 feet are about as high as waves can build on Lake Superior, no matter how long or strong the wind blows. This maximum significant wave height is constrained by the fetch or distance that the wind can blow across the waters of Lake Superior. Because of changing wind speeds, wind directions, wind duration and fetch, the actual state of the lake is comprised of a spectrum of wave heights.

While the significant wave height is generally what is observed and recorded, it is very important to note that the rare peak waves can be as much as twice the significant wave height.

See also:
WIND AND WAVE CLIMATE ATLAS ~ VOLUME III, THE GREAT LAKES
http://www.meds-sdmm.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/a...TDCAtlasGL.htm
Then, Go to the wind and wave products.
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Old 24-10-2006, 07:07   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rust
Hi Sean
It is probably a common perception that the things can't get that bad on "The Lakes". The continental weather pattern means we can be subjected to volatile rapidly changing weather patterns. Superior having the more extreme conditions. Having been out in 25-30 knots and honest 10 foot waves in my 22 footer I can attest to that. I have a few times experienced 40-50 knots on Superior but luckily from the safety of the marina or snug achorage. It can change from calm to 40 knots in minutes or the other way around and waves can be very steep at times as the wind often changes direction. On one trip in Lake Huron from the Detour Passage to Mackinac we had 4-5 foot seas but they were so steep and close together that I thought it to be the worst time I had ever had in a boat.

It looks pretty calm while they were recovering the boat but that may not be an indication of what conditions were like when they capsized.

Check out a book by a local author Marlin Bree titled "In the Wake of the Green Storm"
All very true... as is Gord's more mathematical analysis. However, I have sailed there in my current boat and although it tends to be more choppy, there just isn't typically enough fetch to make the kind of seas you get in the ocean. I experienced 50kt winds when near the straits of Macinaw (by that big bridge at the tip of Michigan). It sure came up quickly, as you mention. It also was steep and choppy. Don't recall the actual wave height, but they were on the order of what you had said... maybe 5-8 ft? It really wasn't like an open ocean storm though. Much more forgiving due to the decreased fetch. Given that the Chris White boat is designed for ocean cruising and is world-capable, I still find it odd that they flipped it without even having the genoa unfurled.

Not to say the Great Lakes are "easy" - they are littered with wrecks, can dish it out and toss you around, are quite shallow in some areas, etc... etc... They are plenty challenging. But... my point is that there is relatively little fetch. Also, note how close they are to shore as they are bringing the cat back upright. Another odd thing.

Anyway, I second the idea that it would be great to hear from the people who were at the helm that day. It's always a good exercise to dissect accidents so we may all learn from them.
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Old 24-10-2006, 20:20   #15
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Catamaran Capsizes on Little Traverse Bay
by Cliff Biddick

Tuesday, October 19th was much like a lot of others in the fall in Northern Michigan. The East wind blew up Lake Charlevoix creating a sea that gently, but relentlessly, rocked the tug “Heather B” when my cell phone rang.
Jeff Pulaski, the Service Manager of our Harbor Springs yard was on the other end. “Are you in the middle of anything?” he asked. After 35 years in the boatyard business, I have come to expect the unexpected on a regular basis. “We have a customer who has capsized his 42’ Atlantic catamaran in the middle of Little Traverse Bay,” he said. The Coast Guard has taken him and his two friends to shore and they are fine, but the boat is drifting, pushed by the East wind out of the bay. Can you help him?

That’s the way another adventure in the towing and salvage business started. Andy Hellstrom and I began the preparations for finding the boat and recovering it. Our instructions were fairly straightforward; the owner was attempting to locate divers. Andy and I, with the “Heather B”, were to proceed to Bay Harbor where we would take the owner and the divers aboard. The Coast Guard was monitoring the vessels drift by using the EPIRB that was still signaling its location from within the cabin of the inverted boat.

Our trip to Bay Harbor was uneventful as the heavy tug plowed through the head sea from the East. When we arrived at the dock, the owner and two divers, with their gear were awaiting us. We loaded quickly and immediately headed Northwest to the position the Coast Guard had provided to us. We found the “Starry Night” easily in the late afternoon light and went right to work. Our first concern was debris and lines trailing from the boat but this did not prove to be a problem. All lines just hung downward and the boat was 'aground' on its’ masthead in 68’ of water.

One diver went into the water and attempted to get the sails under control. After a couple of hours, the diver had not been able to get the mainsail 'up' and under control and had only one line on the headsail, the boom still hung straight down, and many cut lines added to his challenge. The dinghy, still in davits, was righted and tied alongside the tug. In diminishing light we made our first attempt at righting her. Unfortunately, the sails were still hampering the 'tow ability', causing the big cat to pull hard off our starboard side. With the daylight now totally gone, we elected to tow the inverted boat bow first, eight miles into Harbor Springs, while still upside down. This meant staying in about 100 feet of water. We did not wish to cause additional damage to the boat and although plenty of horsepower was available, we towed at 1.7 to 1.9 knots for 8 miles and arrived in the harbor about 1:00 am. We anchored it in 100’ of water with a strobe light marking it as a navigation hazard.

The next morning we returned to the boat. In a matter of a few hours, the diver had the sails 'up' and the mainsail furled, the two 200 foot anchor lines wrapped around the dagger boards and the towing bridle re-rigged. The boat was ready for the righting.

The process involved rigging a bridle from the forward cross arm brought to an apex aft of the boat on center where it was tied to our 1-1/2” x 600’ Dacron towline. The knot consisted of a bowline together with two half hitches to secure the bitter end. I mention this because we actually pulled it right out of the line, twice, in the righting process. Neither line broke but the knot was non-existent after letting go. On the third attempt the boat tracked straight aft, 'tripped' over its’ own sterns, the bows rose and over it came, slowly and gently until it floated once again, albeit low in the water.

We immediately put two 1” electric pumps and a 4” gas pump into her. While the owner, the diver and Andy started the re-organization process, the tug took her gently in tow into the dock at Irish Boat Shop. With the help of the boat shop crew, the “Starry Night” is being dried out and preserved awaiting a surveyor’s inspection and determination of her future.

Why the catamaran capsized remains a mystery. The owner and his two companions had been sailing several hours in 15 to 18 knots of wind. They were inside the cabin with the boat on autopilot. In what can only be considered a 'microburst', it went over in less time than it took the owner to shut off the autopilot. He and the crew simply 'walked' up the wall and onto the ceiling where they remained dry for an hour and a half until the rescue divers from the Emmet County dive team arrived. The owner actually called the Coast Guard using his cell phone as his masthead antenna was 70’ under water.
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