This was a post on another forum
about the collision by Tom Perkins, who I believe owns the MF.
A few minutes before this photo sequence, the Falcon had turned to port, to give the right of way to the smaller yacht, which was to leeward on the starboard tack. The "stann By" was originally on a roughly reciprocal course to that of the Falcon.
Prior to the photos shown here, "Stann By" was bearing away, and the two yachts were on safe courses to pass roughly with a distance of 200 feet separation. After the "Stann By" had sailed past the Falcon's bow, the smaller vessel suddenly rounded up, possibly to tack in order to follow the Falcon, when she lost control, and with her main sheeted hard in, the smaller boat was unable to bear away to avoid a collision.
A San Francisco Bay Pilot, was on the Falcon's bridge overseeing the Falcon's course at all times. The pilot is also an experienced sailor and sail boat owner. Because of the Falcon's tonnage, a licenced pilot is required whenever the yacht is underway, approaching, or inside the Bay.
The "Stann By" did not stop after the collision. The Falcon furled her sails and pursued the 40 footer, under power, in order to determine her name and registration number. The pilot radioed the U.S. Coast Guard who intercepted the "Stann By" and boarded her.
The accident was caused by "Stan By"'s sudden change of course, which was much to quick to permit the Falcon to respond. The Falcon sustained damage to hull, capping rail, superstructure and main lower topsail, but fortunately there were no injuries to persons aboard either vessel.
It appears to be corroborated by several eyewitness accounts to the collision as well.
Look at the picture. The small sloop sails high up underneath the Falcon. The massive sails of the Falcon alter the local wind direction. Note in the first picture that the two boats are at about a 45 degree angle to each other and that the small sloop is just staring to notice that she passing head to wind. In other words, she was on Port tack and while sailing up to get a good look at the Falcon (who has to sail much much lower - because she's a square rigged ship and because she was going about 14 at the time) she got caught in the draft of the Falcon's sails. This backwinded the jib of the sloop and spun her around. Just to leeward of the Falcon, the wind is not going the same direction as it is to windward of her. So, with the headsail backwinded the sloop spun and even though the skipper of the sloop cast off the sails almost entirely (clear from the second picture), her momentum and the fact that he couldn't really get the sheets all the way out caused him to hit the Falcon.
Two reasons that the Falcon is not at fault.
1) A boat shall not tack so close as to prevent the newly disadvantaged yacht to keep clear. Obviously, the Falcon could not possibly tack in response to the sloop tacking so closely. Again - see the first picture where the sloop is tacking literally within 40' of the side of the Falcon.
2) Regardless of any port/starboard situation, in COLREGS (just like in the sailing rules) all skippers are required to avoid collisions if at all possible. This poor soul could have easily avoided the collision by simply heading down hard. But, he wanted to be close to the big boat to have a look.
I watched it - I was there. There was absolutely nothing the Falcon could have done to avoid, after the sloop tacked. And the Falcon was 100' (ONE HUNDRED FEET) past the sloop with it's bow when the sloop tacked and smacked her.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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