​Garmin sustains damage in Pacific Storm

12 April 2016

Garmin has been hit by the same secondary depression that knocked down Da Nang – Viet Nam, creating “Some of the worst seas that I have ever experienced,” reports skipper Ash Skett, which has caused some extensive damage to the yacht, but no injuries, all crew are safe and well and the yacht is proceeding to Seattle. No assistance is needed.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston commented on this latest incident: “There comes a time with very bad weather that we are at the mercy of the waves. We can do our best, but the waves are so big and powerful that the boat is like a plaything.

“The sheer power of the sea is something that will reverberate. Sailing can be dangerous, but if it was easy, why bother to do it, if you are the sort of person that likes a challenge in life.”

Ash’s full report which has just been received by the race office follows:

“As the seas built, the helms started to struggle to keep the boat sailing in a straight line. We shortened sail but were still surfing down some very large waves. Before we could do any more about it, a particularly enormous wave picked us up and spun us downwind into a crash gybe. Everyone is fine on board and although a couple were shaken, no injuries were sustained.

“The preventers failed immediately and the boom crashed over into the runner. The runner was not damaged. Damage was sustained to a stanchion on the port side near the helm and the pushpit, which is bent. There were two reefs in at the time.

“Shortly after this, a huge breaking wave hit us and the boat slewed to windward. The wave submerged the aft deck and smashed into the framework on the port side, ripping the forward frame from the deck, pushing it back into the binnacle and bending it back (it is now half-separated from the deck). All the welds on the forward framework failed and the entire thing is separated from the boat. The bases are still intact.

“To give you an idea of the size of the breaker, one crewmember was standing near the mainsheet winch and was submerged so much that his lifejacket went off. At this point I decided to drop the main completely and carry on under yankee alone. Unfortunately, just after we had dropped the main another huge steep wave came rolling through. The helm turned the starboard wheel hard to bear away and the steering failed. We discovered afterwards that a chain linkage had failed. With the loss of steerage, we crashed gybed again. Less of an issue this time I thought, as we only had a yankee up.

“Sadly this gybe caused half of the yankee hanks to pop off the forestay and we had to initiate a drop. During the drop, all the rest of the hanks came off and the whole sail ended up in the water. It took about two hours and a lot of sweat to haul the sail back on board; it was a nightmare scenario. During this time the pulpit was severely bent as the tack was attached. We also took out the two port side guardwires, although we have now lashed them back in place.

“Currently we are flying our trysail and storm jib, steering the boat from the bent port binnacle which we have secured in place with several ties. We are trying to reattach the chain to get steering back on the starboard side.

“No one on board was hurt in the process, despite some dangerous conditions. A catalogue of catastrophes, all due to a diabolical sea state. Will keep you updated. Ash”

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