Trimaran “Buddy” abandoned north of Bermuda

Zonker

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Good job keeping everybody safe Ryan. Very good call to make the call to abandon too. Clear case of "she's dead Jim". No need to delay. Cutting off the port beams would have been my thought too but without an angle grinder and a lot of cutting discs aboard it would have been near impossible.

In the lessons learned dept: what wasn't in the ditch bag that should have been, i.e. in case of a faster happening incident?
 

slug zitski

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From the Scuttlebutt article: "The conditions were 15-foot breakers with 53 knot gusts recorded".

I expect a J133 has the ability to monitor wind speed. Looking at all the photos, I see no reason to doubt their account.
Force 10 is normally quite dramatic …the sea turns white , under bare poles you are nearly rail down on a beam reach

AD9525E8-2485-4389-AFA1-334482B814D0.jpeg
 
Ryan ,
ls there possibly of a watch keepers report from when this occurred?

I send my heart felt sympathy for Buddy. All the love and energy that we lavish on our multis now awash and gone... a part of his loving owner must pass with this
I can only begin to imagine.
 

r.finn

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Force 10 is normally quite dramatic …the sea turns white , under bare poles you are nearly rail down on a beam reach

View attachment 558630

Yes slug, I didn't witness gusts that high, or waves of 15'. I'd say 10' at most with gusts in the mid to upper 30's. I believe the higher gusts on Vamoose were actually after we were picked up, but certainly not during. So that can be sort of put to bed. The crew of Vamoose did an incredible job under the circumstances, and I will always have high regard for them.
 

r.finn

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Ryan ,
ls there possibly of a watch keepers report from when this occurred?

I send my heart felt sympathy for Buddy. All the love and energy that we lavish on our multis now awash and gone... a part of his loving owner must pass with this
I can only begin to imagine.
Possibly, but I think she's just trying to enjoy her time in Bermuda and decompress with her boyfriend.
 

Lykke

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And as a side note.... This makes me wonder if Hypalon or Vinyl float bags inside our water tight compartments now might be worth a consideration??? R.Finn???
I really want these now. I have two watertight compartments upfront (one sacrificial at the bows) and one aft. But I really want these bags now. Any ideas? Not large fenders as they are too heavy. Something light, doesn't even have to be the right shape.


Looking at the pic, a capsize here is the question of balance between the mast weight and the other ama weight. Plus the windage of both.

The windage first: It seems that if there was a way to turn the flooded ama to windward it might be a stable situation, with the flooded ama acting as a sea anchor while the floating parts are blown back by the wind. 1kt under motor could possibly provide just enough steerage. In terms of crisis tactics for myself I will now try to memorize that the first response to hitting an object with an ama is to tack or gybe while still having sails up.

About the weight. I'll make an educated guess that the mast is 60' above deck and weighs 1000 lbs. That's 1000# x 30' x sin(of heel angle) of capsize moment in ft-pounds. The ama guess is less educated, but I'd say it's 2000 lbs with stuff in it. The righting moment is 2000# x 15' half beam x cos(of heel angle). So basically negative stability occurs at 45 degrees, which is pretty close to what the picture shows. This makes me want to be more diligent about placing weight to windward on long legs, and also less reluctant to leave heavy stuff (dinghy motor, fuel) in ama hatches in general. Also this now makes me much more willing to cant the mast to windward.

I also liked Buddy and almost made an offer (was too busy to get to Culebra in time back in 2019). Its dinghy lift system seemed clever (easy port or starboard choice with the main halyard), but reduced access to amas and reduced lounging space seemed to outweigh it somewhat. Now I see how critical it is -- no way anyone could get to a flooded ama in any kind of sea state.

Finally, I too had a recent "moment" when I had to wake up 20 min after coming off watch at 4am, just having rounded Cape Hatteras. I was called on deck, and in retrospect my brain function was not 100%. Maybe 40%. Human factor is more important than anything else.
 
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Monkey

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On December 1st I departed on a delivery from Woods Hole, MA to Puerto Rico, with the owner Laura Shulman and crew Tomasz Dvorak. We left in a NW wind, 25-35 knots with only a staysail up and sailed conservatively with wind aft of beam, towards the Gulf stream. As we approached the wind became lighter and we hosted the mainsail, until ultimately, we were motor sailing safely across the GS. We exited the GS in light upwind conditions which increased and swung aft through the evening. In the early AM hours of 4th we were close reaching at 8-10 knots with a staysail and double reefed mainsail, wind gusting to 30, but very manageable. I was awakened at around 4am by something, and came on deck to see what was happening. Boat speed had fallen to nearly zero, and a quick look to leeward showed the ama underwater with only the deck visible. It was obvious that it had a big hole from a collision, since Laura noted our abrupt stop, and it filling completely with water. Buddy began to slowly capsize over the next four hours. During that period, we doused all sails, put on life jackets and began untying the rigid inflatable we had lashed to the port trampoline. Our attempts to motor Buddy under her own power were useless as we could only make 1 knot at full throttle, and we had no steerage with the weight/drag of all that water on the port side. During this time we were also in communication with the J/133 Vamoose, who was roughly 10 miles upwind, to our west. They were on standby waiting for our decision. After it was clear that we couldn't rescue the boat under its own power we decided to abandon ship and told Vamoose that we would like a rescue. We also turned off all electronics except for navigation lights and 12V outlets to keep the Iridium Go tracking device on, updating its position on the Predict Wind app, in hopes of arranging a tow from shore. Roughly two hours into the event, the port ama started to fall apart, with about 8’ of it tearing away between the beams. She began listing even more to port. We packed our small dry bags with passports, boat papers, some personal gear and waited on deck with our ditch bag, handheld VHF and EPIRB, ready to board the dinghy. By daylight Vamoose appeared on the horizon. A little while later they were abeam of us, striking all of their sails. At this point Buddy began listing even more and it was clear that we had to get off the boat as soon as possible. Vamoose motored well to leeward and let us know by vhf that they were ready for us. Tomasz climbed in first and received all of our gear, then Laura, then myself with the knife ready to cut the painter. Once the painter was cut, it took longer than expected for us to drift away from Buddy, the two drifting back and forth as if attached by bungee cord, probably a minute or two, but that’s not how it felt at the time. Eventually we broke away and drifted to a safe enough distance to board Vamoose. Surprisingly, once drifting away, the 10' dinghy with three adults, 25-30 knots of wind and 10' waves, felt more secure than being on Buddy. Next thing we know the port bow of Vamoose was upon us and we boarded safely aft with all of our gear. The dinghy was left to drift away with Buddy. In communication with observers on land we were told that Buddy's tracker stopped transmission about an hour after we abandoned her, meaning she probably capsized. As far as near tragedies go, it couldn't have gone more smoothly. 29 hours later, borrowed clothes and new friends, we were safely in Bermuda having dinner at the White Horse Inn.
In discussions with the designer/builder, John Patterson, he confirmed that there was a foam filled compartment from the forward beam to the bow and another from the aft beam to the stern of each ama. This means that the forward compartment was breached into the central compartment of the ama, allowing a lot of water into it at once. We never saw anything floating nearby as it was still dark and too dangerous to investigate underwater and to leeward. We felt it was wise to stay put and be prepared to board the dinghy which was ready with a single painter to be released. A lot went through my head at the time for getting Buddy to port on her own bottom. I considered cutting the rigging away to reduce weight and windage aloft, but there’s a lot of danger in doing that with steel rigging on the windward ama. Getting out there for the operation would have been dangerous (Buddy’s trampoline only goes half way across to the ama for launching and retrieving the dinghy). The other idea was to partially flood the windward ama to counter the weight of the breached one, but that too would be very risky and something about adding more water at that time made me very uncomfortable. Another idea was to cut the port ama off and go proa, but there was no way to do that with what we had on board, as it would have required sawing away underwater if we wanted to keep the mast up. Still too dangerous. These were fleeting ideas though, and the #1 priority was getting off safely, which we achieved. Once we heard that the tracker stopped transmitting, I don’t think any of us had regrets about our decision to abandon Buddy, and live to sail another day. She was a beautiful trimaran though.
The technologies that made this rescue possible need to be noted here. Without them, we would have had to be rescued by the Coast Guard, in whatever capacity they chose, as opposed to sailing into Bermuda under spinnaker with some of our possessions and all of our bodies intact.
At the helm station we had a tablet in a waterproof case. Using Navionics on the tablet, it showed Vamoose’s position on AIS. The AIS transmission allowed them to sail directly to our position, not wasting a minute, and in light of the likely capsize, all those minutes counted. Without these technologies working so well, this could have been a much more complicated and potentially tragic story. If you ever wondered if they were worth getting for your next offshore passage, the answer is a resounding YES!
Many thanks to Laura and Tomasz for remaining calm and working together as a team during this crisis situation, and a thousand thank you’s to Geoff Manchester, William Dresser, Chris Lash and Tim McKenna for rescuing us on board their vessel Vamoose.
Below is a picture I look from the dinghy as we drifted away.
-Ryan Finn

View attachment 558605
I won’t say anymore than thanks for the recap and I’m glad everyone came out alive. Well done to everyone involved.

Edit: I forgot to mention, that I’ve got bonus respect for Buddy’s owner. Making the right choice to let the boat go at that time had to be awful, but was absolutely the right call.
 
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SPatton

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If this happened in a folding Farrier/Corsair, could the situation be helped by folding in the affected Ama?

Seems like that would bring the weight in to a better spot and hopefully allow a limp home. It may even be able to sail on one tack.
 

boardhead

Anarchist
Anyone else want a guess?
Ted Van Dusen made the mast, engineered it to sit atop a much lighter, lower righting moment, platform based on the designers lower than reality numbers. The mast would have weighed around 400 pounds plus the new (to my knowledge) Colligo oversized shrouds, steel 70% and 100% headstays and furled headsails, halyards, masthead cabling - it gets up there but probably closer to 600 than 1,000. the boom and mainsail probably go 200 with winches but they are close to the deck and add little if any capsize moment - normally all this mass offers righting moment assuming 100% plus ama buoyancy.
I am wondering if that foam the designer mentioned fore and aft of bulkheads was saturated before the collision, The catastrophic loss of flotation is pretty terrifying and subsequent break up suggests the inside of those ?impossible? to inspect twenty plus year old wooden amas may have been pretty bad. I would suspect there will be no floating wreckage to inspect.
 
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How very sad to see and read about this.
About 12yrs ago I dinghied around 'Buddy' off Caneel Bay USVI. Can't remember the owner's name but we had a good Multihull chat, and I was impressed with the boat. Kind of chunky but very cool.

So, one nasty late February night many moons ago, we were headed off to the Heineken Regatta. As usual there was no favored tack with the wind blowing directly from Simpson Bay to Road Town at 15-20kts. It was a snotty, cold, moonless night. One reef in the main with half of the baggy delivery genoa furled, we were wishing we had rigged the staysail.
I was on the dog watch and something felt wrong. Triple Jack was becoming increasingly 'leaden' and the leeward sponson was more awash than normal. I also felt a strange inertia thing going on as we pitched into those nasty square seas that frequent this dreaded stretch of water. It was just getting light, we were hardly laying Saba so I called for a tack. She was slow to come around but once powered up on starboard I could see what the problem was. Green water was jetting out of the new 'pop up' aft sponson cleat that was fitted shortly before leaving the BVI. Opening up the hatch revealed about a foot of water sloshing around inside. With only a bow crash box the water was free to travel fore and aft like a 40' test tank!

We had a rule 50 bilge pump in there but that had failed. We bailed about half of the water out and paused. The water ballast was quite nice on stbd! Of course the same thing happened to the now loaded port sponson so a bailing regime was set up. Once in St Martin those cleats were removed and tossed!

I guess the moral of this and poor Buddy's loss is that sponsons need watertight buoyancy compartments (or bladders or foam) and bilge pumps.
 

Wess

Super Anarchist
Very impressed by the actions of the skipper and crew and sad for the loss of their boat.

What I am confused by is how the heck a well designed and built tri had this happen. Would not have expected the float to fully fill unless a deck hatch was lost. And even then would not expect it to capsize as a result. How do you go from sailing and fine to the float submerged (when Ryan came on deck) and actually sinking and pulling the boat over so fast or even at all??? Would be interesting to hear from whomever was standing watch.

Again great respect to the crew (of both boats) but baffled by what could be unique (or not) about this design and build that could allow this to even happen.
 
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r.finn

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Very impressed by the actions of the skipper and crew and sad for the loss of their boat.

What I am confused by is how the heck a well designed and built tri had this happen. Would not have expected the float to fully fill unless a deck hatch was lost. And even then would not expect it to capsize as a result. How do you go from sailing and fine to the float submerged (when Ryan came on deck) and actually sinking and pulling the boat over so fast or even at all??? Would be interesting to hear from whomever was standing watch.

Again great respect to the crew (of both boats) but baffled by what could be unique (or not) about this design and build that could allow this to even happen.
We may find out one day. I suspect it's still floating. When he owned her, John Patterson breached the center chamber of Buddy while sailing in the Caribbean. Something hard floating low enough to only effect that chamber. The boat floated with the fore and aft chambers in tact, and he was able to sail to port safely, the ama about half sunken. So clearly we had a different type of impact. The tracker was not waterproof. We were using a Predict Wind tracker app, broadcast through an iridium Go mounted quite high at the nav station. I had it plugged into the 12V system so it would continue broadcasting, but if the boat capsized, it would be under water with an open USB port. We brought the epirb with us for obvios reasons.
 

AClass USA 230

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Great detailed write up and thanks Ryan for providing. Very glad you and your crew are safe.

I know nothing about Buddy’s construction so I can only surmise the damage to the port float was more than just a hole that let water in which should have been manageable. It sure seems that the collision with whatever in a very short time period completely compromised the float’s structural integrity with the platform that led to its “disintegration” as Ryan described it and that then led to the wise decision to abandon.

Breaks your heart to see such bad luck happen to a great boat that had sailed a lot of happy miles for its owners.
 

Wess

Super Anarchist
We may find out one day. I suspect it's still floating. When he owned her, John Patterson breached the center chamber of Buddy while sailing in the Caribbean. Something hard floating low enough to only effect that chamber. The boat floated with the fore and aft chambers in tact, and he was able to sail to port safely, the ama about half sunken. So clearly we had a different type of impact. The tracker was not waterproof. We were using a Predict Wind tracker app, broadcast through an iridium Go mounted quite high at the nav station. I had it plugged into the 12V system so it would continue broadcasting, but if the boat capsized, it would be under water with an open USB port. We brought the epirb with us for obvios reasons.
Hey Ryan thanks for sharing whatever you can and are comfortable with. Given my wife and I sail a larger tri I have an obvious personal interest in trying to understand how and why it could happen (the end result of a capsize) and to think how I could mitigate. My situation is in theory worse than yours. You had foam filled bow and stern of floats. I have watertight compartments forward and aft in the floats but not foam filled. And as others have noted sister-ships or similar to mine have encountered significant flooding of the floats without the resulting capsize.

Certainly no fault of yours or the crew but I just can’t get my head around why it capsized (with the sails down!) even after center section of the port float broke away. The starboard beams provides righting moment equal to the port ones. And Buddy maybe (?) still had some buoyancy to port from the foam filled bow and stern float sections?? But here it seems the righting moment of the starboard float was overcome solely by the rig and the windage on it even with all sails down and furled. Wow.

Really glad you guys got off OK and thanks for sharing what you could. Certainly have me thinking about how this could be mitigated in future. Certainly a failure mode I never ever consider as possible. Eyes wide open now!!

Edit to add - Ryan does she have a dagger board and was it up or down?
 
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tane

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was there no almighty crash before the stop? One would expect a tremendous crash, if the leak is that big. Any chance of a spontaneous structural failure without collision?
 

r.finn

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was there no almighty crash before the stop? One would expect a tremendous crash, if the leak is that big. Any chance of a spontaneous structural failure without collision?
No idea guys. If you read my account you will know that I was woken by something, but im not sure what. It was pretty bouncy out there and quite loud in the main hull, which wasn't impacted. When John experienced a collision on the same boat, he said he didn't hear an impact. I know this is SA and there will be a lot of conjecture from the comfort of our homes, mine included, but we'll just have to wait and see if the boat is recovered to have facts. Beyond that, I think I've provided a lot of information already and it should be taken at face value. I am leaving for another delivery tomorrow, so won't be available to respond to everyone, but I also won't miss having to talk about this for a minute ;)
 

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