Ever wondered what happens when very expensive boats collide?
Do you have a boat of your own?
Think of its polished 316 stainless tubing being bent and twisted by another boat as it gouges it’s cleats into the side yours.
What about all your caulking and die-straight teak decks popping and splintering; gen-set, water converter, back-up batteries and solar panels drowned in salt water; navigational aids, radars and onboard computers all being casually sliced and diced by a wayward ship’s screw desperately trying power away from your sleeping boat safely homed in a marina?
What about a heavily laden freighter ramming another smaller one in the open ocean?
During my time living aboard Last Laugh (27 foot Roberts Sloop), salty sailors shared with me tonnes of stories of boat incidents. On a few occasions, I was even a witness to some near-misses and serious collisions.
Through the magic of modern media, youtube now provides plenty of examples of ships, sailing yachts, motor cruisers, submarines, tankers, freighters, tugs and you-name-it-boats in disastrous situations. Some of them sink, some fracture into pieces, while large ships run aground at speed.
Take a look. There’s the brand-new motor-cruiser that’s being lifted from a cargo ship on two crane slings. The slings start slipping and the cruiser falls out of them only to topple and end upside down, stern-first into the water. There’s also the multi-trillion dollar superyacht that doesn’t quite make it through a narrow concrete and steel bridge opening – the sides of it rips open like a sardine can.
There’s also that police weird boat incident with the police. You’d think a police skipper would’ve known better. He must’ve forgotten that the boat’s prop is on the stern – it will swing outwards and upwards when making a hairpin turn next another boat.Yes, his stainless prop tapped the sides of an innocent pleasurecraft and then spent half a second chopping it’s way through fibreglass and core-foam before it gripped the water again. That’s enough to spoil your day and call every copper a dickhead twice!
It’s all cringeworthy stuff, especially if you’re an owner of a boat and know just how much it costs to get anything fixed. Nothing is done cheap or quickly for that matter and, the larger the boat, the more damage it will cause – to itself, to others, and the wallet’s pocket!
So here’s a little collection of videos that give you an idea of what weird disasters a boat can get itself into. We start with a large anchor and a small tugboat. I wonder what would happen if these two were to meet?
Now some of those videos are relatively benign. For instance: Enormous ships running aground aren’t all that unusual, they happen all the time. It’s just we just don’t get to see it up close or that often. Ships have graveyards and they eventually go away to die. If they don’t go to the bottom during their working days, they will end up in special wrecking yards. It all starts with an empty ship, a high-speed engine and a captain with a compass point set for land. Death is complete when grinders and oxy-acetylene torches work together to dismember it.
On a domestic level, collisions around navigational markers are extremely frequent. It’s all because technology allows us to use autopilots to drive our boats from point A to C. Someone programmes a B waypoint into their nav-computer that other sailors have also put into theirs. A navigational aid suddenly becomes that common rounding mark for everyone moving within the area. At some point, boats will unite at the B waypoint and BOOM! Sometimes the boats pass without incident, sometimes it’s the marker itself that takes part in the carnage. You’d think a boat’s driver would look at the water once in awhile and stop this from happening… BOOOM! They don’t always!
Marina’s encourage collision havoc too. Sailors with good amounts of salt in their veins know well of the troubles during a boaty’s short-game.
Yachts, both sail and powered, don’t move in straight lines. They never do. They’re not like cars and they certainly don’t have brakes. At low speed, wind, tide and inertia take over all types of watercraft. Drift the wrong way when manoeuvring around a marina and concrete fingers and berthed boats will be forced to play a silly little game of billiards until the actions of physics equalize. Sometimes a handrail is dented or ripped callously from a deck, on rare occasions, a boat is speared below the waterline and goes glug-glug.
My Last Laugh
almost got hammered when a trawler lost power entering into my marina home
. The wind caught the fishing vessel causing it to drift towards my pen. Two knots doesn’t seem like the kind of speed to make too much trouble but when 20 tonnes of it is moving it certainly is. It takes a while for twenty tonnes to stop. I felt my dinghy and davits were doomed for sure!
I jumped off L/Laugh, loosened her stern line, pulled her forward and then waited for the inevitable crunch to occur. It was all so surreal leading up to it. There was no noise and it happened very slowly. The skipper stood on his deck and prepared to fend off anything that came near him.
And then another slight gust of wind pushed his trawler again. My much larger and heavier neighbour took all of the impact. It lost a bowsprit and it’s stern was driven into the dock. It didn’t sink but the complications of its owner having to organise insurance companies, his boat being out of action for a month or two while it was being repaired, was more than aggravating and disappointing.
So I was lucky. Some aren’t so lucky. Odd things happen to boats on the water. Odd things happen to people sailing those boats and it’s not all about boats colliding either. If I could tell you some of the things that I’ve seen out there…
My new novel includes some of those nice, watery-type stories. It’s sexy, dangerous and very real to the eye. You don’t need to be a sailor to appreciate them but it certainly helps. There are plenty of sailing secrets to tell you, more than enough to keep you turning the pages to discover what happens next.
Follow my Link to site to read more. You won’t be disappointed!
-Michael Forman (Author)