Now, a Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report is recommending that racing yacht owners should ensure their auxiliary engines provide the necessary power for their craft to make a safe passage. In addition, the MCIB says risks associated with refuelling outboards at sea need to be highlighted.
The Beneteau First Class 8 (FC8) yacht, Black Magic, was motor sailing using a 3hp outboard and mainsail, on route from Crosshaven, Co Cork to Kinsale Harbour for winter lay-up in December 2021. The owner and skipper of the yacht the sole person onboard for the approximately 19-mile passage.
The report states that around 15 minutes after refuelling the outboard, the skipper saw flames coming from the outboard.
The fire rapidly spread to spare drums of petrol that were in the cockpit. The skipper, who was afraid he would be trapped if he went into the cabin if the petrol tanks exploded, went up to the bow area and made a MAYDAY distress call. He was picked up by a fishing vessel, and the yacht, which was destroyed by the fire, sank.
The MCIB report states that the yacht had been bought by her new owner six months previously and had been raced in Cork Harbour.
The report concludes that the engine had not been serviced recently and was likely to have suffered a significant mechanical failure.
In addition, while achieving the speed necessary to deliver the yacht to its appointed destination on time, the engine was operating at the upper limits of its mechanical and power operating envelope and its sub-optimal capacity was a contributory factor to the loss of the yacht, together with spilled fuel from the refuelling operation.
The report states that 10hp is the recommended minimum horsepower for a yacht of Black Magic’s size.