Originally Posted by Paul Elliott
From seeing the photo
sequence of the collision
, and from the remarks of the photographer, I believe that the SB was on starboard tack, with clearance appropriate for the conditions. They then turned onto a collision
course with MF, giving MF insufficient time to respond. If MF had turned to port, their stern would have swung into the approaching SB, possibly making the collision worse.
Just my opinion, of course, I wasn't there.<snip>
Paul Elliott's take conforms with my understanding of the incident from reading the various accounts.
had sailed south under the Bay Bridge at 14:24:20 (picture 296 of 479), came about, and headed back under the bridge, northbound, at 14:26:20 (319) on port tack. She has all three topgallant sails
furled, so her sail area is about 80% of what she could fly.
A rough idea of her speed can be ascertained by clicking through from photos 319 (at 14:26:20) through 325 (at 14:26:34). In the fourteen second time frame, the shadow of the bridge moves from the sails
on the foremast to a similar position on the mainmast - a distance of less than 100 feet.
The photographer from Lyons Imaging (Peter Lyons, himself) has repositioned the vessel he's shooting from to port of Maltese Falcon
and ahead at image 331 (14:31:18). It is from this time that the sequence begins which culminates in the collision. At 346 (14:32:00), the photographer has crossed Falcon's
course and is now shooting her starboard side, panning with the vessel as she sails north. At this point, the Bay Bridge is at the left side of the frame, and the city is in the background. The camera
is pointing approximately SW.
At image 354 (14:32:20), Falcon's
bow is abeam the photographer's vessel - that's the Golden Gate Bridge far in the background and visible under Falcon's
bow. Thirty-two seconds later, the photographer resumes shooting when he becomes aware that a collision is imminent. It's apparent from the crowd on the afterdeck of Falcon
that they are aware that something's up, as they rush to starboard to watch. An increase in heel as Falcon
turns to port, perhaps, or five blasts on her horn? Who knows.
The two crew on Stand By
seem unaware, though, that anything is amiss. The first shot in the collision sequence is 356 (14:32:54) with Stand By
at what looks like less than a boat length (40') from Falcon.
It's evident that Stand By
has been on her course for a bit, however, judging by the length and direction of her wake. On October 5th, Peter Lyons wrote, "I really wish I had a video of the whole thing and at a wider angle too. But I'd swear the smaller vessel had only just altered course. The pictures do not show this, but the reason I started shooting just then was because all of a sudden, this 40 foot sloop
started augering towards the Maltese Falcon. I figured they'd rounded up or otherwise lost
control, but from the photos, they'd simply tacked without looking, or figuring they'd tack away again, then couldn't."
In the next frame (357 at 14:32:58), Stand By
appears to be about twenty feet from Falcon,
and her crew seem to still be unaware of the situation. Two seconds later (358 at 14:33:00), Stand By
has closed to about fifteen feet. Her crew still seen unaware of the situation and her sails are still drawing, but a member
of the Falcon's
crew has emerged from her control room onto the bridge deck
to get a good view.
Four seconds later (359 at 14:33:04) the two crew aboard Stand By
seem to be reacting for the first time as the helmsman appears to be looking upward at Falcon,
and the crew in yellow starts to turn his head
to look over his left shoulder. Her jib
has begun to luff, so it's possible they are reacting to that. At 360 (14:33:06), Stand By
looks to be less than ten feet from Falcon.
At 361 (14:33:08), Stand By
appears to be less than five feet from Falcon
. At 362 (14:33:12), Stand By
's bow makes contact with Falcon
's cap rail, throwing the helmsman off his feet, and snapping the jib
forward, as well.
At 363 (14:33:14), Stand By
's bow has dropped off the initial contact point and she has begun to pivot to starboard under the force of Falcon
's momentum, and possible by the helmsman pulling the wheel
hard a-starboard. The yellow-jacketed crew appears to have been dislodged by the impact and the sudden pivot at this point, as well.
At 364 (14:33:16), Stand by
appears to be clear of Falcon
, continues to pivot to starboard and the crew in yellow seems to be well off-balance. Her jib begins to backwind. At 365 (14:33:20), Stand By
continues to pivot to starboard and the jib is backwinded more fully. At 366 (14:33:22), the vessels are no longer in contact, but Stand By
's masthead appears to be only inches from tearing through Falcon
's main topsail.
At 367 (14:33:24), Stand By
's masthead appears to be in contact with Falcon
's sail, though not yet to have torn it, and continues pivoting to starboard with her jib still backwinded, but less fully. The crew in yellow appears to be seated at this point. At 368 (14:33:26), the masthead has ripped through Falcon
's sail. At 369 (14:33:30) the masthead has come clear of Falcon
's sail, and the torn portion of the sail is evident.
At 370 (14:33:32), the vessels no longer appear to be in contact. At 371 (14:33:34), the accident
and Stand By
has pivoted to an almost parallel course to Falcon
. The torn portion of Falcon
's sail is very clearly visible.
At 395 (14:57:02), the USCG appears on the scene 23 1/2 minutes after the accident
, and then gets Stand By
to drop her sails about three minutes later.
To see an animated version of the accident, go to:
It isn't my work, but was done by a poster (MpYre) and put up on Sailing Anarchy.
40 is a Robert Perry design, and the funniest line to come out of this was Bob saying, "I'll probably be getting a call Monday morning blaming it all on me."