Originally Posted by Harborless
Okay at regular computer now. What I was trying to say is that yes you are correct with wood being very malleable however a tree and a wooden boat are much different. A tree is all the same piece of wood- a boat made of wood is hundreds or thousands of pieces of wood from different trees. Add the fact it was above 50 feet AND 80+ years old and you have a recipe for disaster. The long boat is the worst feature because after a certain age the structural integrity will weaken. It only needs to start with one board. Then you have the constant bending and turning of the wood in those big seas for days on end AND wood and fastenings over 80 years old and it all really seems to be the most likely scenario. This also explains why no emergency beacons have been activated.
It most likely would have broken around the middle where the most strain was meaning thousands of gallons would have entered every few seconds leaving only perhaps 2 minutes or even less to activate EPRIB and take to life rafts. Add the hurricane winds and 26' seas and this becomes impossible. It would take you at least 20 seconds to realize what the hell just happened and by that time your probably already going down since the waves and wind do not just stop. Once one board splinters the rest fail in rapid succession from the strain and pulling. This means that the boats crew would be swarmed with water while being thrown around by wave action trying to figure what the hell was going on- I think they sank before anything could be done to activate or take to life rafts. Its a terrible situation but the age of the boat, material of construction, and weather at sea ALL point to this event being the culprit.
If the mast had come down or rigging failed the hull would still be intact at least a minute or two before a spar or something would hole the boat- this would only create a smaller hole and give them minutes not seconds to react and activate beacons. With so many people on board I do not see how someone would not have activated or made a may day call.
I think the boat broke apart and was flooded in seconds and went down in hardly any time at all leaving no one able to do anything except thank God for a life lived and pray for a quick death. Its incredibly sad but I do not see any other really plausible scenario that would not have left a 7 man crew able to hit an emergency activator button or make a mayday.
I still hope I am wrong- but science leads me to conclude I am not as well as going on four weeks with no word.
I hate to tell you this but you are quite wrong about wooden boats and the length of 54 feet being anything like a long length. The longest wooden sailing ships have been in excess of 350 feet and as long as the structure is designed to distribute loads properly the material is great for building boats.
The boat will flex some, but the flex will not be extreme, and when correctly joined and fastened the whole vessel becomes one piece in a structural sense of the word. The physics of it are fairly simple to comprehend once you understand that frame loads along the keel, which should run from stem to sterns are distributed evenly because of the longitudinal joining of the frames or ribs of the vessel. The only condition in which a vessel of wood or any other material starts to flex on its center axis is when weight is not distributed along the longitudinal axis evenly due to either overloading, or water intrusion into the forward and or aft sections without water intrusion into the midsection, or when the wave moment interval is able to lift the boat by the ends and middle which with a 54 foot vessel would be rare.
The fact is that age would not have been a huge issue as the vessel is known to be a very well maintained vessel, and the material would not be a big issue either. Her relatively small size may have had some bearing on the situation, and her low deck height may have played a roll as well, but I would be wrong to make a judgement on this without more evidence.