Capsized My 26X

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Compromise
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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by Compromise » Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:13 pm

John McDonough wrote:The Water-Ballast tanks were EMPTY..

I recall 6 deaths from 3 Capsized 26x`s.
What? O.K I've been "Mac-ing it" now for the last 4-5 years and this is the first I've heard of an incident of this seriousness. Did I miss something?

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Hamin' X
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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by Hamin' X » Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:30 pm


Boblee
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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by Boblee » Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:32 pm

Pretty well sums up the advice that if you are going to modify the boat, be careful, as an apprentice I was always looking for ways to do things better or easier than how they were traditionally done despite the boss's advice that "it's a good man who does as he's told".
After almost fifty years I am much more prudent about changing a tried and true system, the lessons learnt were that while you may improve one aspect the changes to another could be enexpected as well as catastrophic (electrical).
This applies to everything we do especially were you are dealing with something dangerous or expensive and this appears to be the case with this capsize, mods, maintenance and rules not followed, there is an old saying of don't lend your wife or gun but perhaps boats should be added to that too.
Bob

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J.Teixeira
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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by J.Teixeira » Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:41 am

A few considerations about ballast and bilge water...

Mi first and only water ballast sailboat is my Mac 26X which is the perfect boat for mi purpose (nice quiet days of tranquility with mi family in protected calm waters...)

Before that mi experience comes from (since very young) sailboat racing optimist, europe, laser, 470 and 49er.

Later I started to volunteer as crew member of F Class 8, J30 and TP40 ocean racers (some of witch where water ballasted) becoming an average sailor with a few ocean crossing experiences.

(I am only saying this to make you understand why mi opinion might sound a little bit radical... )

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

In "iron" keel boats bilge water is not a major problem until it gets to very large proportions...

In water ballast boats bilge water is a major problem...

There are 4 situations of danger (the first 2 of extreme danger):

1 - Half filed ballast tank + Bilge water
2 - Empty ballast tank + Bilge water
3 - Half filed ballast tank
4 - Lots of Bilge water + filled ballast tank

The reason for this is based on the same principles of the water ballast systems.

Water ballast to work properly must completely fill a tank with no air becoming just like any solid immobile ballast.

If that condition is not satisfied an half filed ballast tank can become a problem because when the boat heels the water will move to that side creating more heeling and more water moving sideways so on and so on creating a circular event...

Bilge water will create a similar phenomena with the disadvantage that it is not contained within the tank limits.

Those to situations can become catastrophic if combined because (believe it or not) a self righting system can turn into a self capsizing system.

Water will simply roll... moving the boat center of gravity that will make more water to move and so on... The force is multiplied because the oposit side will suffer an inverse force from flotation.

One thing that can help is a Bilge Water Alarm from West Marine, like the one I have in mi boat
http://www.westmarine.com/1/1/25936-bil ... alarm.html
Because pumps fail without warning

But nothing replaces attention and precaution...

These 2 situations (bilge water and half filled ballast tank) are not obvious to detect wen a boat is in a quiet slip.

Newcomers and former keel boat owners (like me) should be warned about that.

(A FAQ section could be a very useful tool on this great web site..)

Best Regards

JT

PS: That is not a Macgregor Sailboats problem but a general problem of water ballast system utilized bi many sailboat builders.
Last edited by J.Teixeira on Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

John McDonough
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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by John McDonough » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:29 am

What? O.K I've been "Mac-ing it" now for the last 4-5 years and this is the first I've heard of an incident of this seriousness. Did I miss something?[/quote]

The Lake Champlain incident was The brother of the owner not relizing the Ballast tanks were emtpy and overloading the X with adults and children. Motoring not Sailing.

The Lake Erie incident involved motoring only with Empty ballast tank, and 6 passengers. 2 died. The waves started to build and the owner headed for shore. A large wave flipped the boat over and it did not self-right.

I was in Canada, about 60 miles from Erie Pa. The Weather Channel issued a storm alert in a few hours. I filled all gas tanks, and with MT Ballast tanks and only 1 foot waves I headed home at full throttle. About 10 miles from home, the storm and waves soon built to 4`-6` chop, directly into the wind and waves.. I had to slow down to avoid jumping and slamming over the waves. I stopped the boat and started to fill the ballast tank, worried that the most dangerous situation is a half full tank sloshing with the waves. In this situation how can you be sure the tank is full before you close the rear Valve. I was looking down into the V-berth vent hole and as the boat was rocking It appeared that it was not filling up all the way. I decided to put the boat in reverse and ride the waves. I told my son to put in the plug when the water started spurtting out after about 10 seconds. A little scary, but the X was much more stable. Another problem is motoring directly into the waves/chop is that you are using much more fuel. A little spookiy if you have to raise sails in 40mph winds and lightning and tack. Fortunally as I got closer to shore the waves got smaller.

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PatrickS
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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by PatrickS » Wed Dec 10, 2008 8:28 am

John McDonough wrote:The Water-Ballast tanks were EMPTY..

I recall 6 deaths from 3 Capsized 26x`s. In each case the Ballast was Empty.
Very glad the only loss was the boat. The post-mortem was very educational.

On my winter project list, of which I'm half way through, is adding a tank sender to my ballast tank with a digital link to my chartplotter, which provides an alarm if the capacity falls below a configurable level (and also allows one to watch visually in real time as the bilge fills/empties -- I already have a snorkel and electric ballast valve installed so filling/draining is already a fingerswitch operation). I had been wondering whether the tank sender and digital alarm was overkill, but no longer. Better to know the moment that the ballast tank starts to empty (unintentionally), and to be able to see at a glance that it's full.

I'm also planning to add a water-in-bilge alarm, similar to what folks put under water heaters, etc., situated a bit above the lowest point of the bilge, to give me a warning about water in the bilge long before it comes through that warning hole.

(I'm also nixing my plans to add ports to the exterior of the boat ;-)

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Compromise
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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by Compromise » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:40 pm

Hamin' X wrote:Prior Yrs. Capsize Articles

~Rich
Wow. God Bless them.
Thanks for the link Rich very educational.
Brian

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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by fran trapp » Sun Dec 14, 2008 10:36 am

Hi All,

Thanks for the posts (most of them) and for the best wishes. :D I offer the below not as an excuse but as an example of what can happen when you do not pay attention.

Ben and I are both experienced sailors. Ben is RYA trained (large boats 35'+) and singlehanded the Atlantic Nov. 2005-Jan 2006 in a 40' Ketch (Colvic Victor). I started sailing over 50 years ago in a beetle cat at WBYC, Waquoit, Ma. We have pulled his Ketch for a complete refit and we will be sailing my Cape Dory 25D for a while.

I bought the Mac because I thought my daughter was going to start sailing. The planned sailing venue was Charleston Harbor and Lake Murray. I thought the 50hp engine would allow her to handle the 5k Charleston currents and dodge cargo ships. I also thought that the Mac was more foregiving than a traditional sailboat, and I still do.

On the day of the accident, I arrived at the boat to find it in a complete disaray--from what I could see and in retrospect also from what I could not see. :o I was furious :x Add to that I had been off the water for more than 6 weeks and we had maybe an hour to fix the roller furler and step the mast in 100+ degrees. Through it all, I skipped steps.

I think that the Mac's lack of systems and its ease of operation can lead to a false feeling of security. My CD25D's diesel requires a bit more than a squeeze on the fuel hose and a turn of the key :!:

Someone wrote that I implied that the Mac was not safe with an empty balast under power. I never said that. The fact is I knew better than to raise my sails before that thunder storm. It was a heavy wind that knocked us down. We sometimes get 60+K in front of those cells. Had I not raised my sails, I would most probably have made it home.

No matter how experienced you are, frustration, lack of time, too much to do, hot weather can come together and lead you to short cuts--whether it is not buckeling your seat belt or not checking the bilge. Also, Ben is accustomed to sailing big boats in big weather. He did not know he should not raise the sails in front of the storm. I knew better and I should have said No. Had the boat been properly preped, it would most probably have been ok. I did not want to look like a sissy.

Fair winds all, Fran.

As an afterthought, I was suprised that the rigging held. Hold Fast!

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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by NiceAft » Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:34 am

The Lake Champlain incident was The brother of the owner not relizing the Ballast tanks were emtpy and overloading the X with adults and children. Motoring not Sailing.
John,

You left out one important item; there was a lot of drinking involved. :(

Since I first read about that unfortunate mess years ago, it has been permanently marked in my brain. I think about it every time I am about to empty the ballast while under power. It's kind of a double check on my actions.

Ray

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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by Zoran » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:39 pm

Thank you Fran, you said it well. It was not the boat, it was not you, it was combination of all bed circumstances that happened at the same time, almost all connected with a third party that was out of your control; brother, stuck furler, desire to be on the water again (i know this is out out of control as I cannot stop this urge either).
We can all read this many times and three things might happen. The worst one is if we end up thinking "this will never happen to me", because it can. The best one is to remember it and do our best to complete all necessary checks before we start. The third is to make a decision "no leaving the launch ramp/dock without ballast full" and I disagree with this one.
I almost allways was and will power without ballast, if the seas are too big for doing it this way, I will think well before heading out, it might be dangerous with the ballast too. I was and I will often sail without ballast but: 1. Conditions have to be right for it, and this is the key part; 2. I know, and I am aware at all times that I do not have ballast; 3. I hold the sheets in my hand all the time for quick release and 4. I tripple my attention to winds and sea.
Some of you might ask why I am doing this and I will tell you. When powering I use less gas without ballast and my engine works easier. In light wind situation instead of suffering and saling slowly and being bored I have blast and tons of fun. I believe the best is not to be scared, but please do not be foolish either. There are limitations of how far you can go without ballast but also a limitations how far you can take it with the ballast. So know your and your Mac's limits and you will have fun and be safe.

With 4 or more adults on board I never leave the dock without ballast. I can never be sure that all of them will not run at the same to the same side side to see whale, fish ,duck, log or whatever. Non sailors are never aware of what the boat and sea can do.

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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by cmeperform » Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:11 pm

Thank you Fran,
So happy knowbody was hurt.Also I appreciate you sharing the horrifying experience.I have had many embarrassing moments trying to learn this boat.The first thing I do when launching is fill the ballast & plug it.Samething happend to me while sailing one day.The wind changed directions & the boat heeled over & then a wave turned the boat & the wind caught the sail in another direction.It was all I could do to hang on.This all happend in 7 seconds. :o
The wind will blow this boat out of control without the ballast full.While powering around the marinas I also learned to use the rudders.Bumped into a boat or two not using them.Your Experience helps me understand the importance of keeping the ballast full.Thanks again.Hope you get back up & get back on the water.
Craig

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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by AKCoastie » Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:44 am

I can't view the pictures anymore. Fran, are they still availible to view somewhere else?

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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by Starscream » Sat May 23, 2020 3:59 pm

Just to bump this thread. It's worth a read.

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Russ
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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by Russ » Sat May 23, 2020 6:58 pm

I remember reading this thread.

Short summary: Captain installed opening ports in the side of the hull (as many others have). They were left open by accident and when the boat healed, they filled the cabin in seconds.

The lesson of the story: If you install OPENING portholes in the side of your Mac, you MUST MUST MUST remember to close them before heading out to sea. These things are extremely dangerous of left open.

This illustrates how FAST your boat will fill with water with a relatively small opening in the hull. No bilge pump can help you here.
It also demonstrated how the floatation kept his boat from totally sinking. And the importance of PFDs at the ready.
--Russ

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Re: Capsized My 26X

Post by DaveC426913 » Sun May 24, 2020 9:26 am

Russ wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 6:58 pm
I remember reading this thread.

Short summary: Captain installed opening ports in the side of the hull (as many others have). They were left open by accident and when the boat healed, they filled the cabin in seconds.

The lesson of the story: If you install OPENING portholes in the side of your Mac, you MUST MUST MUST remember to close them before heading out to sea. These things are extremely dangerous of left open.
Pics aren't available. Where exactly were these portholes? Below the rub rail?

Seems to me the lesson of the story is: don't compromise the seaworthiness of a vessel by putting giant holes in its hull below the rub rail.
MacX 2000 Honda BF50A 'SeaSaw'

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