Retired Naval Architect
Join Date: May 2012
Location: ON S/V Strider
Thanked 8 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 5
Re: 6 Americans, 1 Brit vanish at sea
I'm glad four of you liked my last post enough to send thanks. Thanks. Why am I being so hard on him? Well, seamanship is as much about attitude as it is about knowledge and experience. Look at the Bounty, lots and lots of knowledge and experience undone by attitude and the decisions it led to.
I've enjoyed his posts and see in him the potential to be a good seaman if not undone by an attitude that is also evident.
Structural failure is always a prime suspect in the unexplained loss of a wooden sailing craft. All sorts of things can lurk undetected even in a carefully maintained boat. I even know of a wooden schooner, built to USCG approved plans, and with a USCG certificate, that sank in her first year when the garboards opened up due to a design defect.
Unlike metal vessels, in which a crack can propagate at the speed of sound, the failure of a wooden structure will usually be proceed by gradual loss of watertight integrity giving time for distress communication. The probable exceptions would be sudden heavy impact from knockdown or striking a floating object. If the boat were going to snap in two or fail catastrophically, it would have been working and leaking long enough that a seaman as competent as the master of the Nina was would probably have put out a Pan Pan call. I can't say snapping in two suddenly absolutely couldn't have happened but I can't say she wasn't struck by a meteor or carried off by a UFO either.
Look at the last pictures of the Bounty, know known to have had numerous structural issues. Even awash with the tremendous stress of the seaway on her rig, she held together in similar conditions.
Even striking a container in a vessel this size would usually leave time to activate an EPIRB or make a radio call. An experience master would be doing that a few seconds after impact knowing that it was the only hope of the liferaft(s) being found.
A knockdown and resultant probable rig loss would instantly disable most communication and create enough chaos that the EPIRB might not be found.
I would hate to think that a ship could strike a vessel of this size and now know it but it has happened. A tanker once arrived in port with a good portion of the rig of a 100 foot schooner tangled in its anchors. The schooner was never identified.