Herbert Woods GRP Sailing Yacht | How Did This Yacht Sink ? | # 01172

# 01172 Sunk Yacht


European Marine Services undertake insurance claims, disputes and investigations for most of the UK’s leading insurance companies and this Herbert Woods GRP yacht was subject to an accident damage inspection in early 2016 involving a damaged keel – We duly inspected, estimated costs, reported, approved repairs and both ourselves and the insurance co thought that was an end to the matter.

Many months later following some quite expensive repairs the yacht heads south to the southern rivers for winter storage. The owner leaves the boat tied to the quay heading overnight – In the morning the yacht is found as seen above – SUNK

All initial suspicions fall on the earlier repairs (which had also involved sinking)  and of course the repairers yard which needed to be eliminated

The first problem was how to get this yacht out of the water which duly involved large strops (plus a diver) and secured land ties to haul the yacht upright followed by a pumping operation – Expensive


The first question to be answered was had the earlier keel repair(s) contributed to the sinking – No

The second question was to establish if any of the many underwater skin fittings / seacock valves had failed, and though several of the installations were very much a DIY installation it would appear they all were ‘sound’

Engine propeller shaft, stern tube gland, rudder tube and all associated fittings when inspected appeared secure

Water was also seen to be ‘dripping’ from the aft end of the keel moulding (laminations) but not in enough volume / quantity to result in such a quick sinking

This presented a problem as this yacht did not sink without ‘due cause’ and there were no other through-the-hull-fittings and no damage

OR were there ??      Well   Yes …………………..

Sited below the aft portside gunwale was the exhaust outlet to a hot air heater – and all appeared secure, and other than a visual inspection there was no way of checking

There had to be a reason for the sinking and the resourceful boat yard owner suggested we pour water from a watering can through the exhaust hull outlet

GRP Broads Yacht

Pouring water into exhaust outlet / resourceful boat yard owner

Lo and behold the water poured through the exhaust piping entered the hot air heater and exited through the air manifold into the boat AND in addition the exhaust hose was split at the unit junction and again water was viewed entering the boat


The sinking was consequent of the following:

The yacht’s keel at low tide sat on the river bottom and the yacht leaned outward due to slack mooring ropes

As the tide turned the water came firstly up the hull’s port side before there was enough buoyancy for flotation

Water entered the hot air heater exhaust outlet and into the heater unit and out through the air inlet. In addition through the faulty / split exhaust hosing

With the yacht leaning well over to port – As the tide rose the cockpit slowly filled with water through the exhaust hosing with the inevitable conclusion that there was never enough buoyancy to float this yacht.  Eventually the tide was above the port cockpit coaming and that was the end.


For more information contact European Marine Services LtdMarine Surveyors & Consultants

EMS also undertake Boat Safety Inspections

Tel : 01603 327 123        www.europeanmarinesurveys.com