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Starlite 07-17-2002 01:21 PM

MacGregor 26
I''ve seen several postings about the MacGregor 26 power/sail boat here on SailNet, and thought I''d post about what happened here (in VT) on July 4th.

After watching the fireworks on a borrowed MacGregor 26, an overloaded boat (8 adults, 3 children) without any water ballast in the tank capsized while starting to power back home. It was a calm, windless night, so weather wasn''t a factor.

The boat turned 90 degrees on it''s side. The cabin filled with water, trapping the three small children (all wearing PFD) inside. Several of the adults dove in, but were only able to rescue one of the kids, as the others were trapped by debris inside the cabin. The other two are now with their Maker.

The boat was towed in the following morning, still on it''s side.

The courts will spend a lot of time deciding what was at fault -- alchohol, over loading, design, etc. I don''t profess to be an expert. My gut feeling is all have a contributing factor. But it''s a story I though should be shared...

c172guy 08-08-2002 07:11 AM

MacGregor 26
It was incredibly stupid to go out in a Mac 26 with the water ballast tank empty!!!! The handbook warns not to operate with the tank empty... I''m very sorry for the loss but it wasn''t the boat''s fault. It is so easy to fill and empty the tank I don''t understand.

sailorman_10 08-08-2002 11:08 AM

MacGregor 26
I would imagine that in this circumstance, several adults were sitting on the cabintop making the vessel extremely top-heavy, especially since the ballast tanks were empty. Since it was a borrowed boat, the person in charge (I hesitate to say captain) probably didn''t know the handling characteristics of the vessel. I am amazed that many people think that because they can drive a car, they can handle a boat. It is likely that a wake from a larger boat upset the Mac and contributed to the accident. Of course, this is all conjecture. As stated before, its not the design of the Mac that caused the tragedy, it the ineptitude of the captain and crew that caused the tragedy and the captain should be held accountable.

Denr 08-08-2002 12:50 PM

MacGregor 26
I would prefer that he or she be referred to as a skipper. One must earn the title of Captain.

aasault 08-10-2002 07:38 AM

MacGregor 26
I''ll play the devils'' advocate. This sounds like an easily won civil and/or criminal case.

The skipper must have been somewhat competent as the children were in PFDs.

The design of the boat ABSOLUTELY caused the accident, otherwise we would not be having this discussion!

Most of us can handle just about any simple power boat (MAC 26 included) without any special knowledge. If the owner didn''t brief the skipper about the extreme dangers of improper ballasting, and the boat didn''t have some kind of clear warning at the helm regarding special knowledge to safely operate the vessel, off we go to court!

The boats owner and Macgregor are going to pay through the nose!

aasault 08-10-2002 08:03 AM

MacGregor 26
As a footnote to my comments, the skipper was well over the legal limit for drunk. Unfortunately, that''s not going to help the boat manufacturer, as the boat design caused the accident, not a drunk skipper (sorry, that''s the way it is).

Also, the Mac 26 does have a warning label at the helm regarding the ballast, however on this particular boat the wrong label was placed there, only warning to drain the water ballast before putting the boat back on the trailer.

What a sad story!!!

73mensailed 08-11-2002 08:36 PM

MacGregor 26
Have to disagree aasault. Manufacturer had nothing to do with it. If an unqualified person gets into an 18 wheeler and kills anyone on the road, drunk or not, it''s the inexperience. You don''t have unqualified pilots flying planes. And you don''t loan your boat to someone that is unqualified. What about the boat owner? How can one loan out their boat to someone unqualified. There seems to be a lot of blame to go around, but the manufacturer, no.

soverel28 08-12-2002 03:42 AM

MacGregor 26
This is the Mac. web site. It is very interesting to read. This is not a boat I would consider. Here is some stuff in there.
"If you are operating where the chance of outside rescue is slim, where conditions are rough, or where the water is cold and uninviting, fill the ballast tank. You will go slower, but you will be a lot safer. A full ballast tank gives greater safety."
Are they saying it is not too safe with
tanks empty? Here is another blurb in there.
"If you have to sail the boat without ballast, do not cleat down any sail control line. You must hand hold them and release them quickly if the boat tips excessively. Always make sure that the line is untangled and free to run out to its end without jamming."


sailorman_10 08-12-2002 05:16 AM

MacGregor 26
I agree with 73mensailed that the manufacturer should not be held accountable in any way in this case, regardless of whether or not warning labels were in place. This is an experience issue and if anyone is accountable, it should be the Skipper first, then the adult passengers, and then owner. The fact that alcohol was involved just solidifies that fact. Do not try to shift the blame to the manufacturer. Personal responsibility is the issue here.

aasault 08-12-2002 07:19 PM

MacGregor 26
You''re certainly right Sailorman and 73mensailed, the skipper and boat owner are by far the primarly responsible (devil''s advocacy aside), but unfortunately its the manufacturer who will pay....deepest pockets.

Although one thing disturbs me about the Mac 26. Given a calm windless night, why didn''t the Mac right itself immediately after the adults on deck went in? Instead she stayed over and immediately filled with water, drowning the children. You would think that when the weight of the adults well above the CG was removed, it would pop right up, even without the tanks full. Maybe someone with some design skills can enlighten me.


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