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NEWS FLASH: `YACHT CAPSIZE’ … `Wide Bay Bar’, near Tin Can Bay, Queensland, Australia


 NEWS FLASH:  Just received a ‘phone call from yachting friends to say tonight’s TV news revealed a yacht had turned upside down crossing the infamous `Wide Bay Bar’ … the very bar I wrote about a few pages back.  That would be a very, very, very, bad experience!  There is only one area about 150 metres wide which will allow a crossing … it is to be approached on co-ordinates (way points) which will assure correct navigation … that is providing one attempts it on close-to-a-full tide.



My friends Bill and Barbara Hastings had been sailing against this very yacht a week previously at a Regatta for `Lightwave Yachts’ on waters off the Gold Coast.  Apparently it was a near new yacht (value over $600,000) and at the time of the `prang’, was being skippered by its owner and girl friend on a trip to Thailand.  For my own education I was itching to learn the `truth’ behind the crash … and as often happens, my subconscious came up with the answer about 03:00am the next morning … contact my radio operator friends at Coast Guard Radio Tin Can Bay.  This is the closest rescue centre to the bar … and they will always be involved in any drama.  I made a point of meeting them after having such good advice from them for my crossing.  

The facts regarding the Lightwave prang are: 

(1)      The Skipper crossed the Bar at Low TideTHE RULE IS:  the only time to cross any sand bar is at high tide, or close to!  He had not checked the tide charts 

(2)     The Skipper chose to cross at night!  Visibility at night has to be nonsense!   To add to his terror he was catapulted from the yacht when the mast dug into the sandy bottom and broke off.

(3)       He chose to cross with both engines powering the yacht, which makes sense … however, his rescuers claim he was driving the yacht too fast. 

(4)     He chose not to make contact with coastal radio stations before his crossing, therefore, when he inverted (a nice way to say … went up-side-down) nobody in the area knew he was in trouble.  He did, however, have the latest digital EPIRP (what’s one of those?) on board … and this sent a message via satellite, to Canberra.  The first anyone in the region knew about the disaster was when Canberra telephoned our friends at Coast Guard Tin Can Bay to ask them to look into the problem.  What did go wrong with the EPIRP was, it sank … and therefore ceased transmitting!?


(5)     When the owner obtained a quote for insuring the yacht it came in at $20,000 … you guessed it … not insured!

(6)     The first boat/person on the scene was a professional fisherman and all he could do was nurse the remains of the yacht into the beach on Fraser Island.  Luckily, the TCB crew were able to get a crane onto a barge and tow this to the site and up-end the yacht… then tow it into TCB, where it is presently moored.  The owners, with friends who have come up from the south are cleaning the yacht up to make it habitable and then they will go-back-to-work to earn funds to try to resurrect the unit. 

What a nightmare … in fact the nightmare of all cruising yachties!



posted by admin in AUSTRALIA,Great Sandy Straits ... Queensland,QUEENSLAND ... AUSTRALIA,Tin Can Bay ... Queensland, Australia,YACHTING Disasters and have Comments (7)



* The Raymarine `Chart-Plotter' that came with SV Tsunami ... 2004 *

This is my most valuable piece of equipment aboard, just eclipsing the `Auto Pilot’. The system links to a Global Positioning System (GPS), which has the amazing capacity to pick up electronic signals from 8/10 satellites overhead … and the machine on board then calculates to within about 3-6 meters, the exact location of your craft anywhere it may be on the face of this planet!  How about that?  (Like a sat-nav in a car only better?)

The attributes of the system are many and I don’t mind admitting at this time I’ve only learnt about 15% of what the system is capable of.  For those who have no idea at all what an `Electronic Charting System’ is, I will attempt to explain. 

The system is an electronic version of paper charts which outline in great detail the contours of a coastline, the varying depths of water, locations of islands and reefs etc.  Very roughly it takes approximately 250-300 charts to plot the coastline of Australia … and each chart cost $30.00.  I’ll let you work it out but that comes to a lot of $$$ … and where does one store 300 charts of about 1000X750mm in size?

* The swallows seem to think they own everything on the yacht .. that's OK, until they turn in the other direction an `shit-on-the-screen!! *

The Electronic Charting System has the identical data on 4 discs (about 20X20mm each) and displays the data on a monochrome (green) screen …  (some rich people have colour screens) in my system about 80X60mm, with an image of the location of the yacht `blinking’ and superimposed over the electronic chart!  Therefore, the system will tell me `exactly’ where the yacht is in relation to the coastline and all obstacles around me!  Not bad eh?  It does a lot more besides and I am slowly trying to take it in.  The brain can only absorb so much before it stalls and says … `enough’ already!

My latest assault on the set up is to learn how to use the Routeing System which allows me to construct an electronic trail on the chart, which when engaged … and linked to the Auto Pilot will automatically steer the yacht along the trail I have made.  Sounds fantastic doesn’t it … and it is!  Must admit it has taken many hours of reading complicated manuals, plus trial and error, to get it all together.   Erica, Cousin Elaine and Geoff experienced some of the wild rides, during this process. 

Just yesterday I plotted a route across Lake Macquarie and the system worked to perfection, taking the yacht along the planned route, exactly.  Hooray!   A note of caution … you must always be on lookout of course, as your planned route may take the yacht through a moored fishing boat or similar solid object, with unimaginable consequences!!  

But apart from that, it’s very smart and an enormous time saver.  At every way-point an alarm sounds and the skipper must give permission to the system to continue, by pressing a button.  This is a safe-guard to force the skipper to look around to ensure the path is safe and clear before giving the system the go ahead to continue! 


This system comes in a very, very, close 2nd to the `Chart Plotter’ system as the most valuable system on board.  Though I sail alone (one-up) very frequently, I have to admit I couldn’t do it without the assistance of the auto-pilot … it’s the equivalent of having another person on board willing to work 24 hours a day, without complaint and capable of sailing a straighter course than any human being.  And they don’t have to be fed and watered! 

* The `Auto-Pilot (the grey ring bolted to the steering wheel) takes orders from the Chart-Plotter and automatically steers to a point I nominate!! Just GREAT! *

The wonderful relationship the Auto Pilot has with the Chart Plotter makes it ever more valuable with every new trick I learn about the two systems.  Coming into Cape Hawke Harbour, I was able to tell them both to `Go-to’ a point just off the Cape, from 15 miles away … and the boat was automatically steered straight to that point!!  Magnificent!  

Sailing can be really tough! 


Anchored in Cape Hawke Harbour, Forster-Tuncurry (two towns which had their names linked) in a narrow channel with fast flowing tidal waters, an annoying vibration started up that was new to me.  I got out of bed twice, say, 11:30, 01:00 … and finally 03:00 to finalise this matter once and for all.  It proved to be the tidal waters creating a vibrating effect on the `bridle’ attached to the anchor.  I can hear your mind buzzing … asking yourself … what the hell is a bridle?  Catamaran yachts, because of their wide beam (width of yacht) as opposed to a narrow beam on a mono (single hull yacht) swing at anchor much more than a mono.  This can cause some discomfort if the yacht swings side-on to the breeze.  A bridle is a type of yoke, or `V’ shaped rope leading from the bows (pointy ends) of each hull and attaching to the anchor chain 3-4 metres out from the bows … and reduces the swinging effect dramatically. 

* The anchorage at Forster-Tuncurry is a narrow fast-moving channels, with sandbar, with Pelicans! *

Now where was I with the Black Night drama?  All right … when leaning over the front crossbeam, (the large 300mm diameter aluminium beam which connects the two hulls) through the lifesaver lines, in pitch darkness (apart from my Dolphin torch) to inspect the bridle … my big head caught on a line and my `Timberland’ spectacles, with titanium rims, multifocal lenses, with auto tinting and scratch free glass, were ripped from my face and dropped into the 4 knot tidal waters … never to be seen again by human eyes, maybe the occasional fish will scratch it’s head at this strange inedible item on the seafloor.   $500.00 into the briny!  A very `Black’ night which left me with a very `Black’ feeling for the rest of the day … and onwards.  Plus, how does one see clearly now?

* This Boy had a MUCH WORSE day than me! The Skipper badly mis-judged the strong current … which swept the yacht under the bridge! *


Replacing the glasses in Brisbane proved to be a $560.00 exercise … too much for a moment’s inattention!!  These glasses will have a cord from each ear piece from which will be hanging a small float.  Really, these are on the market and this customer has been `given’ one by OPSM!



posted by admin in AUSTRALIA,DEJA VU'S Boat Bits,QUEENSLAND ... AUSTRALIA,YACHTING Disasters and have No Comments