Power cat disaster in Hout Bay, South Africa

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by taniwha, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. taniwha
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    taniwha Senior Member

    Last week end a 10 m power cat Miroshga (the small boat in this gallery), used for charter to a seal island was carrying 38 passenger when a following wave swamped the boat. The vessel capsized in seconds, luckily the National Sea Rescue Institute was very efficient and only two live were lost (see report). The vessel of 10 m was approved to carry 42 passengers. The wind was particularly strong (as mostly in Hout Bay) and the place where the accident happened the Dungeons is well known by surfers for the Red Bull big wave contest.
    Was it wise of the South African Maritime Safety Authorities to approve a 10 m, open catamaran for 42 passengers in one of the world's most dangerous spots?
    The engines were initially inboard and had been changed recently to outboards.
    Would the cat have passed ISO 12217-1 ?
     
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  2. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

    I have followed the tragedy as well.
    When you look at these pics I simply cannot understand how this boat had the 39 souls aboard
    Simple - it was overloaded for the sea conditions - a wave over the transom and it was over
    Very very sad day indeed

    full article here :-
    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Woman-crept-into-boat-cupboard-to-stay-alive-20121015
     

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  3. taniwha
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    taniwha Senior Member

    Yes Manie, overloaded but approved by SAMSA and their army of naval architects. They just reiterated that the boat was seaworthy. The problem is that they confuse lifejackets, flares and positive buoyancy with seaworthiness. They concentrate on what happen AFTER the accident instead of preventing it. How come all og us will agree that this vessel was not seaworthy for 42 people but SAMSA think it was. Lack of a quick draining cockpit and low freeboard was not part of their assessment. If I had to survey this vessel under ISO 12217 it would only have received a category C (the ISO category not the South African category C) thus considering the blowing South Easter on Saturday it would have sailed above it's design category
     
  4. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

    Taniwha please see if your local news will show pics of the boat when it comes out of the water.
    The problem with these "tourist traps" are that some of them are ancient.
    If you ever are in Durban go and have a look at "Sarie Marais" it is so old and dangerous that it is just another accident waiting to happen.

    This Houtbay skipper obviously knew he was in trouble because he did issue lifejackets - but to jump into water that is the home of the great white is another story. Thanks goodness for the crayfish poachers that came to the rescue or else this would have been a greater tragedy.

    This SAMSA thing is something else. I have read enough to think that it works to a measure for the big commercial operators but I have my doubts about the "small" operator and when it comes to the private individual you must understand that you take responsibilty for yourself - that "license" means very little.

    Any loss of life like this is just not on.
    Welcome to the third world environment.

    By the way I read that the Robin Island high speed ferry has also got some "budget" and maintenance "issues"

    How is your boat coming along, your new website does not really indicate any new pics.
    Next year I am planning on coming to the Republic of Houtbay with my micro ;)
     
  5. taniwha
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    taniwha Senior Member

    this boat was in good condition. The engines were only 6 months old. The problem is the design. South African powerboat build for local use are build around the buoyancy requirements and do not take enough the other requirements into account. Robben island ferry is the next disaster waiting to happen. They very often use the old ferry and overload it.
    My boat is going with the speed of my income thus very slowly at the moment. You definitely made the right choice with your micro cruiser concept
    Can't wait to see her in real.
     
  6. Wynand N
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    financial greed sunk it...

    When the engines died a few times, the skipper should have called it a day and turned back. I think the thought of refunding good money to passengers was the main mover not to turn back.
    However, when the seas suddenly turned ugly (press article) and the skipper's knowledge that he has a bad/temperamental engine(s), the only option open for him was to turn back to port...:(

    This skipper was criminally negligent in my view and should be charged with at least manslaughter, but murder would be more justifiable.
     
  7. WestVanHan
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    So 42 passengers is about 7500 pounds? Or in other words,fairly close to the weight of the actual cat?
     
  8. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Sad to read about this. All you can do is let the justice system take its course. The owner/operator was obviously negligent to operate the boat in such conditions. One thing leads to another with operators who ignore safety. They bend the rules on one item (engine), then bend another (rough seas), etc. etc. At some point they push the boat beyond its performance capabilities and the laws of physics prevail.

    I concur that greed over safety is the root of the issue.
     
  9. Alik
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    Alik Senior Member

    ISO12217-1 is not intended for safety assessment of boats involved in commercial transportation of passengers. Yes, to me it seems that 42pax on 10m cat is beyond reasonable limits.
     
  10. taniwha
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    taniwha Senior Member

    Yes Albert you are right 12217 is not for commercial vessel my point is rather that if a standard, adopted by South Africa, is safer than the one used by the maritime authorities to asses commercial vessels. Should not the most stringent standard be used when it comes to safety of passenger?

    Wynand, I understand your comment it is always the easiest way to blame one human, let's stone the guy and the problem is solved. Unfortunately outboards are deemed to give trouble. (I am an NSRI crew myself we have regularly outboard failures and several time before passing trough the channel at Duyker eiland in front of the Dungeon, Wynand I am sure you know that nasty spot. Mostly some air in the system or so, you bleed, restart the engine and go.)
    What we really need to address is how to avoid the problem in the future, taking into account negligence. Negligent people will always exist and we have all committed the sin one day or another. Being a boatdesign forum and not a seamanship forum my interest is on how could this design have been improved in order to avoid this.

    My opinion is as follow:
    1 Change the South African law that assign category by distance from shore (the vessel was 150 m for shore) to wave height and wind speed as per ISO (the wind was above category ISO C 6 bft and even above B, 8bft at some times but the wave heights where definitely above C 2m significant height).
    2 The South African law (and more countries) places all the attention on buoyancy, hence the bottles, foam, etc...they do not take (enough) into account the minimum downflooding height (which would have saved the water from entering at the transom) nor the freefloat effect of water in the non-quick draining cockpit.
    The law is thus reactive in terms of saving lives AFTER the accident happen. In those terms the vessel was fully compliant: ample buoyancy, sufficient lifejackets, flares everything worked in accordance with the regulations. SAMSA will give themselves a medal, blame the skipper end of story. They will never confess that they should not have approved this vessel because of it's design, or at least not with 42 people.
     
  11. Wynand N
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    Good skipper would have high tailed it back to port seeing the circumstances of the event...

    Samsa in my view has make many mistakes and the buoyancy issues comes to mind.
    Im a retro buoyancy fitter and as you are well aware category "R" (Inland waters, lakes, rivers etc) only calls for 30% positive flotation of loaded displacement (loaded) of boat excluding crew, whereas Cat "E, D, C, B, A" for offshore use calls for 60% positive flotation of loaded displacement inclusive of crew as per marine notice 13 by SAMSA.

    However, I made calculations on flotation needed for Category "R" boat and came to the conclusion that the average boat will need about 42% flotation to be able to stay afloat when swamped. SAMSA so it appeared had used the SG factor of GRP of 0.33 in submerged condition to get to their call for 30% buoyancy to be added. They seemed to forgot that other stuff on a boat are heavier such as the engine for instance and the SG of aluminum and steel which submerged factors are 0.63 and 0.88 respectively to name but two items, and engines can make out a big chunk of displacement...

    As an accredited member of BIASA I prepared some decent documentation stating this fact with different scenarios presented of boats and formulas explaining the sums and numbers. I presented this to our BIASA top man in Gauteng who also sits on SAMSA's technical committee, and he informed them and handed my presentation to them. You guessed it, not a single word from SAMSA. (about 18 months ago)

    If SAMSA make the fact known that they erred on the Cat R buoyancy ratio needed to float a boat, imagine yourself the impact it would have on the boating industry at large.
    For starters, it will mean that all the thousands of boats to which 30% minimum buoyancy was added at great cost to their owners, are obsolete and do not conform to the law anymore. Who will pick up the tab to get all these boats legal again?
    To prove my point, a couple of weeks ago it was reported in the press of two boats (think it was on the Vaal river if memory serves me right) that had collided and sank, leaving two dead. Apparently both boats had buoyancy certificates...:(
     
  12. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

    Taniwha is this the boat ?????
     

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  13. taniwha
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    taniwha Senior Member

    yes Wynand with transom even lower than on the picture here as they were 39 people and it now had outboard engines at the stern.
     
  14. Wynand N
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    Read in the papers that people moved freely about on the catamaran, apparently some went up on top deck...

    That amount of people on a relative small boat will seriously effect the trim and stability of the vessel. More so if they are curious to see what is going on at the engines and got to the stern of the boat - this will definitely cause some flooding and pooping of waves over the stern as reported - considering the conditions the boat went out in.
    Just my bit of wishful thinking but may have some merit;)
     

  15. taniwha
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    taniwha Senior Member

    Wynand I went to several of those meeting to represent MIASA (Marine Industry Association of South Africa) a very frustrating affair indeed. The big talkers were the various sailing school who have a high interest of having even more people to get a skippers ticket, they even want to bring it down to 5hp! Soon you will need to have a skippersticket to row on the Vaaldam. All this and the retrofitting of buoyancy is killing the industry while it only gives it a false sense of safety.
    Many boats that were retrofitted with buoyancy became dangerous due to bad relamination afterwards or poor quality of foam used.
    Almost all boats now have a "safety" certificate as a result people buying boat without much knowledge do not hire a surveyor anymore since the boat was already inspected, they of course do not realize that the safety inspection by an amateur safety officer appointed by the yacht club is mainly about the presence of flares, lifejacket, etc.. again all good things but only for AFTER the accident. The thing is: you should not need positive buoyancy nor lifejackets because the design should be such that you do not need them I know this is not realistic but we should first try to have safe designs and spend more attention on that part.

    To come back to the Hout Bay disaster I have just spoken to the skipper there is absolutely no way that he had engine problems before the accident, a wave overtook him from aft port corner and flooded the outboard engines only then did the engines cut-off for the first time. The fuses and all controls where in a double sealed box inside the old engine compartment but SAMSA approved the old engine vent as long as they would always run with their bilge pump on. Now tell me if that is proper advice ?!!! So obviously the old engine room was flooded with water that could not be handled by the bilge pump as bilge pumps are not designed for that. After the accident the skipper instructed everybody to wear their life jackets and anchored the vessel to avoid hitting the rocks. It is while at anchor that another wave flooded the entire boat. It is thanks to the decision of the skipper to anchor the boat that 3 people were able to survive in the airlock of the steering cabin. Is this the man we want to stone?
     
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