What happens in Nantucket Harbor when you combine 30- to 40- knot winds gusting over 50 with the staying power of a 4-day nor’easter and all the rain in the northwest quadrant of a hurricane? Turns out, you have a weather concoction that can sink International One-Design sloops at their moorings. Six in the Nantucket IOD fleet of 15 boats sank last week as Jose parked offshore from the island. Seven others had already been moved ashore for the winter in advance of the storm, and two others came close to sinking but were rescued by a timely pump-out on Friday.
According to Nantucket IOD fleet captain Geoff Verney, heavy winds from the east started on Tuesday and didn’t let up until Saturday morning. Facing three-foot waves and more than six inches of rain during the period, the boats shipped enough water to sink to the shallow muddy bottom of the anchorage. Although it was hard to see the open-cockpit boats from shore during the storm, apparently they not only began to settle from the accumulated rainwater in their bilges, but then they also took progressively more water across their decks as they pitched hard in three-foot waves. Verney believes much of the water came across the foredeck and then through the deck at the mast partners, where the mast passes through the deck.
The sunken boats were raised on Sunday and Monday by a crew utilizing flotation bags attached to the exterior of the boats. Due to the soft bottom, the boats were not damaged, and although some equipment floated away, the sails were not damaged either.
In 20 years of sailing, the Nantucket fleet has ridden out many serious storms before but never encountered conditions such as these. The Bermuda fleet has experience with hurricane sinking. IOD World Class Association VP Craig Davis says that the causes have varied from broken moorings, to heavy rains, and wave action, including backwash from a nearby shore sending waves over the transoms of the boats. Damage to Bermuda boats has also varied, depending on where the boats sank.
“IODs usually ride through heavy weather on the mooring very well,” Davis says. “Their relatively low windage and heavy displacement means they move around far less than other more modern boats.”
“The key, of course,” he adds, “is to keep them as dry as possible.”
Verney says the Nantucket fleet is reviewing its procedures and would be interested to learn of different approaches to sealing the partners that might work with the configuration of the low boom-bang attachment on their masts.