New England Trailer Sailors


I'm not sure how many folks in MOANE are aware of the MacGregor disaster which occurred on the 4th of July on Lake Champlain. I haven't seen any email or anything about it in our group, so if I'm the first to bring it up, good, if not, forgive me for letting you know about old news.

Two kids drowned in the hull of a capsized Mac26X on the 4th of July at 10 PM. An acquaintance of mine was powering up, at night, with 8 adults and 3 kids on board. The three kids were below when the boat flipped. Desperate attempts to rescue the kids from the over turned Mac, left two dead. (they were caught up in lines below). One child and a dog were rescued.

The grizzly event seemed to be the result of not following the WARNING that should be more boldly communicated to Mac 26 operators. I'm writing this as a follow up to all Mac 26 water-ballasted boat owners to try and make sure everyone understands how serious the conditions are.

The WARNING I have states, "The Ballast tank should be full when under sail in rough conditions. It is a good idea to have the tank full when there are more that 4 Adults on the boat.

When powering over 6 MPH, the rudders and centerboard must be fully up. Lower sails.

When operating at any speed without a full water ballast tank, no one should be on the cabin top or foredeck, and crew weight should be low and toward the rear of the boat."

I have a number of lengthy articles written on the disaster which unfortunately do not shed a great amount of light on the particular technical issues which may have actually caused the rolling moment which flipped the 26X in relatively calm conditions. The Burlington Free Press article suggests that the ballast was empty, the Captain was powering up after having been rafted up with another boat for the fireworks. There were 11 total people on the boat and at least one person on the forward deck of the boat. To sum up one description, the boat just started to roll and within 30 seconds after they left the other boat, before any one knew what happened, the boat had thrown all occupants into the water, or trapped them below and then capsized.

>From my perspective, the rolling seems to have been caused by the torque of the motor in combination with other forces (possibly the rudders or center board which may have been left down) in combination with the high center of gravity caused by not having water in the ballast tanks and the increased mass of the people on deck. The sails were down and the wind was relatively calm as I said before.

I'll stop here in case you have this info already. I believe we should make this warning available on the web site and that we should put it out to everyone in the group so that even those riding on other 26 water-ballasted boats will know what the WARNINGs are, for their own safety.

According to the Paper, the warning tag is apparently supposed to be on the steering pedestal but my tag was inside the 3 ring binder I received with the boat. I'm sure we will hear more about this later.

Thanks to you all for bearing with me.

Frank Gibney