Could an old boat fully dry for the first time in many years have been a contributing factor in either popping a plank on a wave, or a catastrophic situation bordering on what Harborless opines?
Anything is possible. We're looking at probabilities here and the objective isn't to decide or guess what happened but what we can learn can make us safer.
I've never heard of a plank "popping" and a boat going down so quickly that there wasn't time to trip a manual EPIRB or make a radio call. Of course, we probably didn't hear about cases like that even if they happened.
A lot of wooden ships and boats have put to sea in truly atrocious condition over the centuries. Their sinking is usually proceeded by terrifying hours of pumping during which there is plenty of time in the modern world to call for help. The Bounty
, which certainly was more prone to wracking and straining because of her size and nature of construction, is an excellent example.
A friend of mine hit something like a container and went down so fast that only he (singlehanded) and his dog made it into the dinghy. He still got off the radio call that prevented him from becoming one of those mysteries. No EPIRB because he was near coastal and it was before they were common.
One of the horrifying aspects of the Bounty
tragedy was the unforgivable delay in telling the Coast Guard about taking on water. When unexplained water starts coming in, or ingress due to normal working and infiltration below starts getting close to the capacity of the pumps, it’s time to make a call so they are at least standing by and starting to think about options if you have to declare an emergency. I suspect Wallbridge put off that call because it meant admitting to himself what he had done. I can’t imagine the Nina’s
master not making a Pan Pan call if there was leakage that the pumps could not keep up with.
A dry hull may be more prone to spitting some caulking or simply leak a bit more than normal when working hard but, absent some other severe structural issue, would not be at significantly greater danger of a catastrophic hull breach.