|The ill-fated Concordia|
The tall ship was part of an elite private-school program called Class Afloat, based in Nova Scotia, Canada, and was carrying 48 students, eight teachers, and eight crewmembers. The steel-hulled ship was built in 1992. All 64 people aboard were rescued from liferafts after two days adrift.
The investigation report says: “Despite changes in the wind conditions in the 60 to 75 minutes preceding the occurrence, and the fact that several squalls were being tracked, both visually and on the radar, the second officer did not perceive any threat to the vessel.
“As the apparent wind speed increased with the onset of the squall, the vessel’s heel angle reached roughly 23 degrees for approximately two to three minutes without mitigating action being taken.
“The forward and aft deckhouses had not been fully secured weathertight and, therefore, the vessel’s righting ability at large angles was reduced and protection against the ingress of water was compromised. As a result, downflooding progressed until the vessel lost all stability and capsized.”
The report added that while the second officer had the proper Canadian certification, his training “didn’t include sufficient information about stability guidance.”
In a radio interview, the ship’s master, Captain Bill Curry, who was below in his cabin at the time, said she suffered a 100-degree knockdown within 15 seconds and her masts were in the water. She sank in minutes.
The board of enquiry is now recommending that officers who have been certified to sail are trained in “stability guidance information.” Presumably that means knowing that a sailing ship can capsize.
Talk about bolting the stable door . . . is it possible that an officer on a square-rigger did not know his ship could capsize in a squall? Is it really possible that he just stood there and watched squalls approaching? Didn’t he know enough to reduce sail, close the doors in those ungainly deckhouses, and maybe change course to run downwind? Was the Concordia properly ballasted? Was she designed to recover from a knockdown, like any decent yacht?
So many questions, but the mainstream Press doesn’t know enough to ask them. But no matter what conclusions the board of enquiry came to, I’d like to hear the second officer’s story for myself.
Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above it.
— Washington Irvine, Sketch Book: Philip of Pokanoket.
“Are you sure your wife knows you’ve invited me home for dinner?”
“Of course, yes — we were still arguing bitterly about it when I left the house this morning.”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)