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Old 29-03-2010, 00:12   #1
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Catamarans Damaged by Cyclone Ului

Find attached some photos of Catamarans damaged by Cyclone Ului which hit the Whitsundays area of Australia on Sunday evening the 21st of March 2010. Ului was a catagory 3 storm with higest wind recorded of 210kph at Hamilton Island. Around 70 vessels were damaged or sunk.

Schute Harbour winds would have been at least 150 kph. Cyclone Ului did not strip tree leaves and was not as strong as Cyclone Ada some 30 years ago. A better warning system and improved building construction standards now certainly ensured no lives were lost as with Ada. Boats were another matter. The vessels damaged were ether moored or anchored off Airlie Beach or at Schute Harbour whilst vessels in Airlie marina were OK.

Follow this link to my album with other photos Cruisers & Sailing Forums - downunder's Album: Cyclone Ului Airlie beach March 2010

From my observations
  • Get out of the area - head north out of the danger zone as commercial shipping from coal ports did OR INTO MANGROVES.
  • Not sure why live aboards who lost vessels did not do this. There was plenty of warning.
  • Chains on moorings parted. Dive your moorings and add extra new chains.
  • Saw several heavy Poly ropes on moorings UV damaged that failed.
  • A lot of self furling sails destroyed themselves. Basic sail safety.
regards
John

Photo 3 attached shows a salvor pumping out a Seawind cat at Whitsunday Rent a Yacht's pontoons. there is another cat floating by bows only visable nearby. I have not found out what happened to cause this. The other cats beached were mooring/ anchor failures.
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Old 29-03-2010, 00:20   #2
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Interesting that Cats were particularly affected. Lack of good ownership?
Cats always feel safe and I suppose this can lead to over confidence.
Many of the Cats will lift off OK by floating crane and are supposed to float even if damaged. Sharing the cost will help. Look forward to more news on this as to what failed to keep these boats safe. Any live-aboards affected?
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Old 29-03-2010, 01:08   #3
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I don't know kow many live aboards but seems at least 4 from interviews I heard lost everything.

Just don't know why they they didn't sail North to get into mangrove shelter out of the dangerous quadrant. There was plenty of notice to move out of the area of influence as large shipping did.

Last time there was a blow at Arlie Beach (lesser wind strenght) dozens of vessels anchored or on moorings off rocks were lost. I guess vessels will continue to be sunk at anchor.
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Old 29-03-2010, 02:39   #4
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Interesting that Cats were particularly affected.
I am no expert, but I believe cats have a lot of windage and little weight so they are particularly vulnerable at anchor. I was just reading last night that Cats need to go 1-2 anchor sizes higher for length.

I also read that if weight of chain is an issue then it is better to go some heavier chain at the anchor with rope rather than 100% lighter chain rode.

What do you guys think?
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Old 29-03-2010, 05:00   #5
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I saw a lot of monohulls in the pictures, the OP said 70 boats total.

So did the cats represent a higher percentage of boats damaged? From first look it would appear they are less affected but then I don't know percentages of totals. If 4 out of 4 all went ashore, that's a potential issue.
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Old 29-03-2010, 14:05   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eleven View Post
Interesting that Cats were particularly affected. Lack of good ownership?
Cats always feel safe and I suppose this can lead to over confidence.
Many of the Cats will lift off OK by floating crane and are supposed to float even if damaged. Sharing the cost will help. Look forward to more news on this as to what failed to keep these boats safe. Any live-aboards affected?
I haven't seen any evidence that cats were "particularly affected". Around 70 boats were damaged, and we've seen photo's of 4 cats.

Anyway, it amazes me that people would leave boats moored or anchored at Airlie with a cyclone coming. The area is wide open to the N-NE, and with a cyclone you can have winds in any direction.
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Old 29-03-2010, 14:51   #7
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I can only presume that they must have a good insurance on their boats , not to have gone away..,
i do agree, they gave few days warning, so plenty of time to have gone to The Quays ,or Mackay or Townville, or Bowen marina.
everybody knows not to leave your boat anchor infront of Airlie , even in strong NE , so in a Cyclone warning, it is strange to leave them there , especialy when 2 years ago, it was a small cyclone there who destroyed few boats..
Now plenty of work now for the local crane and boat yard, and cleanup people.
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Old 29-03-2010, 21:09   #8
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As far as I know I photographed all the cats damaged that I could find. There may have been others. I saw 5 cats total, 3 cats washed ashore (one a R&C38) and two were just floating adjacant to the Whitsunday rent a yacht base. One I say from a distance being refloated was a Seawind and I was not sure the identity of another seen floating with only bows afloat.

The vessels washed ashore are easily explained. More interesting is what was the reason for the part sinking o fthe the Seawind and other cat at Whitsunday rebt-a-yacht base.

The majority of vessels lost were monohulls but there are many more monos moored in the area than cats. (not sure but cats would represent at most 25% of vessels although the number is increasing every year)

Cathyoz. It would not have been wise to travel south towards Mackay into the dangerous quadrant of the path of the storm. Run north to Townsville, Bowen, Hinchinbrook Channel mangroves were the areas to sail to shelter.

Kordie. For me personally it is important to have a vessel with correct all chain and adequate anchor size if crusing in coral and cyclone areas. Rope rode for primary is not for me . I can't compromise on anchors. if weight is a issue compromise on something else. Seen too many vessels lost or damaged.

Too many crusing vessels have inadequate anchor gear and fuel capacity (just read the crusing blogs).
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Old 29-03-2010, 23:03   #9
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Great thread Downunder.
How did the boats on Hamilton Island fare? You mentioned that the strongest wind gusts were recorded there, but I haven't heard of any reports of wrecked yachts from the islands. The boat harbour at Hamo seems a bit more protected than at Shute.
Perhaps the boats here were also better looked after and the moorings better maintained.
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Old 29-03-2010, 23:36   #10
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Tuskie.

I didn't get to Hamilton Island and havn't heard but I imagine vessels in the marina would have been Ok similar to other marinas.

The orininal Airlie Marina had some damage to some of its outer pontoons and some minor cosmetic damage to some vessels but essential nothing major. The new former Muddy Bay marina at Airlie itself has not been opened yet.

Mackay Marina suffered no vessel damage although the breakwater had rocks moved and damage to the road surface. Rock walls are apparently designed to move and adsorb energy and this was expected. However I would not want to be in mangroves rather than a marina in a Class 4 or 5 storm.

Schute Harbour as yet does not have a marina, just moorings. It is badly needed and the design proposed would be ideally situated for a blow but I believe they are having plenty of problems with conservationists. I have no doubt one at Schute Harbour would actually enhanse fish populations from my observation of fish in Marinas.

Apparently surveys have found a mass of fish in Hinchinbrook marina. Spent a couple of hours there recently and saw heaps of fish working pontoons, turtles and two lion fish working along the rocks beside the resort. All signs of a very healthy ecosystem.

I agree that a lot of moorings needed maintaince and many vessels were not properly prepared. Part of prepration for a blow would be to dive the mooring checking and boosting chain. Owner or managers who were not divers should have employed one as part of preparation if relying on mooring.
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Old 30-03-2010, 03:43   #11
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Are you asking why two cats sank? Rather then being blown ashore like the rest of the boats?
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Old 30-03-2010, 04:40   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post
Kordie. For me personally it is important to have a vessel with correct all chain and adequate anchor size if crusing in coral and cyclone areas. Rope rode for primary is not for me . I can't compromise on anchors. if weight is a issue compromise on something else. Seen too many vessels lost or damaged.
I hope you find this research as useful as I did.

Tuning an Anchor Rode

and

Catenary & Scope In Anchor Rode: Anchor Systems For Small Boats

Simon
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Old 30-03-2010, 09:43   #13
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Downunder, many thanks for your info. It does seem to be a bit of casual attitude by boat owners but, as we know, many owners live well inland and only visit occasionally. They paid the price this time.
My own input:- Hang a weight, spare anchor whatever on a loop and slide it part way down the anchor rode. This will help to take a lot of the snatch loads off the bows and rode, and off the anchor, as the boat pitches.
If you get any more info on repairs I'd also be interested. The Cats are SUPPOSED to be less likely to suffer terminal damage due to lack of keel etc. They might not be as good as new but they will sail again. Mono's can suffer from a rocky grounding much more if the keel is pulled away.
I don't want to start a mono-cat discussion but there is a 'safe cruising' issue here that's worth a careful look see.
Not sure I'd be able to carry enough Glass Fibre kits to patch some of those holes though.
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Old 30-03-2010, 11:28   #14
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Oh I can assure you that cats or tri's moored or anchored in a hurricane or cyclone do much worse than most mono hulls. The reason is simply that they are built so much lighter and most have much more windage. The best thing to do with a multi hull and a cyclone on the way is to haul out because on the hard they do much better than mono hulls. 2nd choice would be the mangroves, which is 1st choice for mono hulls (much much better than a marina).

I don't think a cat will do better when put ashore. I've seen them gutted bow to stern with mono hulls next to it with much less damage. A heavy steel mono hull will do best and when you tie that in a spiderweb in the mangroves, not much can go wrong.

It's time we all start to understand that mono hulls and multi hulls are different concepts and it's just not possible to say one is overall better or worse. The strengths of each design are also weaknesses in different circumstances. They are all a compromise.

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Old 30-03-2010, 12:11   #15
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Hang a weight, spare anchor whatever on a loop and slide it part way down the anchor rode. This will help to take a lot of the snatch loads off the bows and rode, and off the anchor, as the boat pitches.
This works well but once the winds are high enough to tension the rode like a piano string (like hurricane force winds) it doesn't help anymore.

If you spend time in hurricane or cyclone areas during "the season", you should get some extra gear, like:
  • A ridiculously big Fortress anchor. Like 3 sizes up the recommended size for your boat. You can keep it in the bilge disassembled.
  • Always a good strong and long anchor chain. If you have BBB, get a G4 chain instead.
  • A strong chain stopper (Maxwell).
  • A second anchor rode for the Fortress with at least 20' of chain as a leader.
  • At least 4 10' pieces of really big chain, like 5/8" with two matching shackles for each.
  • At least 4 strong thimbles that fit your biggest and longest mooring lines. Select the welded ones.
  • Chafing gear, I like the expensive ones from the catalogs with the Velcro along it's length.
When we anchor somewhere during hurricane season, we scout the mangroves with the dinghy and portable depth sounder. We try to find a channel between or into the mangroves that we can get into, even if we have to push the keel and rudder through the mud.

At first sign of trouble (when they give the depression a name), we anchor near that spot using the primary anchor. We do that in such a way that we can back into the mangrove channel without lifting the anchor. With some scuba/snorkel gear for protection and the dinghy with the 4 pieces of chain, shackles and thimbles, we go into the mangroves and wrap the chains around the strongest looking roots. We put a shackle on each end of the chains and attach both to the same thimble.
Before other boats start to move to the mangroves we bring a stern line (2nd anchor rode) to the furthest chain in the mangroves and winch the boat very near or already a bit in the channel and attach regular mooring lines to all the thimbles. When they change the hurricane watch to a hurricane warning we go all the way in, using engine and winches. We also assemble the Fortress and use the dinghy to bring it out at maximum scope and at least 50' apart from the primary anchor. Use the windlass to set it.
The rest of the time is spent tying every line we can find between the boat and the mangroves (using every strong point including around the masts), taking sails off, setting runners tight etc. Partially deflate dinghy and fill with water to give it a chance. Help other boats. Go inside or find shelter ashore.
We did something like that 5 or 6 times and were hit twice but only once bad. The only real danger when tucked in like this is other boats or debris hitting you.

When not hit by another boat, the worst I've seen with boats doing this is that they needed to be pulled out of the mangroves and had stains from the mangroves on the hull. It works.

cheers,
Nick.
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