The following is conjecture. However, it is in part based on my personal experience and two demastings. (One due to over compression
of mast and too tight rigging
, and one from failure of fitting rated at 22,000 lbs)
#1 As much as we may think a 60 foot vessel is big and capable, the fact remains it is a small craft. Anything 65 foot and below is classed small craft.
#2 I would not expect the 90 foot tall mast to have survived the winds they would have seen. This was a production monohull
with a tall slender mast held in column under high tension. The cross section is not like a big rotating mast. Therefore demasting likely was first.
#3 It is likely at this point they set the EPIRB and they then tried to cast the mast into the sea.
#4 One of three events
a. A broken mast section hulled the vessel.
b. A chain plate
, when pulled the wrong way, pulled out a section of hull
c. The mast damaged the prop and/or rudder
#5 If the 90 foot mast dropped onto the deck
there is a good chance it damaged any life raft.
#6 Without a mast, and with possible water
coming in, the vessel was a sitting duck for high waves. (In my case, waves were not an issue since my vessel is 40ft wide and not just 16ft. Further I was caught only in a tiny 50 knot
squal that was gone within minutes and not a typhoon.)
If a sailboat is going to be out in Pacific size storms during typhoon season it should survive even if demasted. That is how we must classify a vessel as seaworthy
. No sailor I known considers a single
masted Beneteau to be seaworthy
Now lets define seaworthy:
In the event of a demasting, and all hell up top, is it safe to sit below while the mast thrashes against the hull and deck
A. Will the hull withstand being bashed by spreader bars, broken boom etc. ? or
B. If hulled, can she remain afloat? or
C. Will she turn turtle and remain afloat.
Many wooden, steel hull
, and ferro
cement boats pass test A.
Some composite and some wooden boats pass test B.
Many cats and tri pass test C and the mast didnt break or simple hangs from below.
In all these cases, it is usually safe for the crew to remain below after demasting and wait for the storm to blow over.
(My vessel passes all three tests. I never was in any danger
with a huge mast bashing the hull of my boat. Why? It is a trimaran
and would remain afloat even if hulled in a single
ama. In fact it still floats if hulled in every single compartment. I havent tried test C. )
The design problem for the Beneteau begins with a fiberglass
hull that must remain water
tight to remain afloat. It can easly be hulled by the mast. That is why we call it a coastal cruising yacht. It should never venture into seas where it can get hit by a major storm. After demasting the crew have only a short time to drop that mast into the deep.
#1 Know your vessel limitations.
#2 Assume worst case storms can hit.
#3 Follow weather
and heed warnings.
#4 Sailing crew may add risk if they pressure the captain
to sail in hazardous conditions to meet their deadlines. (Ahem...)
monohulls need to be able to cut a mast free in seconds. Strongly advise Dyneema
rigging that any kitchen bread knife can cut in seconds.
#6 Sail with large pieces of plywood
. (I have given away plywood
twice to boats needing emergency
#7 Protect life raft.