Sunday, November 30, 2014

Team Vestas grounded

Ok, explain me this: You start by taking a state of the art racing yacht. It might have had issues with assembly quality at first, but it is state of the art.
The VO65
Then you spend millions on sails and hire top notch sailors from all over the world. Back it all up with a global player in the wind industry and they follow a course like this:
Looking for an island to hit
It does not look like a GPS defect. It looks like I dunno what. Look at it! Why didn't the alarm bell ring? They aren't even close to missing it. They are hitting it head on ending up like this:
I mean really. Really really. It is not like the island is secret base or unknown land or anything...
A well known island
It's Cargados Carajos. Named in 1506. Sixteen islands and numerous rocks at surface level. It's been there for ages. This is so embarrassing. So WTF happened?

Update 1: I've hit a rock a couple of times. Holiday sailing going at slow speed while looking to drop the anchor. It is not a nice experience. However, these guys were doing 19 knots at night in the middle of nowhere. OMG it must have been discomforting to say the least.
Just where is it?
Looks like they hit something east of Coco Island. Wikipedia puts that at 16° 50′ 0″ S, 59° 30′ 0″ E. Google maps shows the excact spot. Some say that older texts indicate these islands are about three miles further south-west. It is hard to imagine a state of the art racing machine sailing with old charts, no?

Update 2: This is a more detailed viev of just what they hit:
Apparently there's a population there. Up north. Cruisers occasionally come to visit, and OMG there's even supposed to be a lighthouse on Ile du Sud; Very close to where they were grounded. I can't find a picture of Coco Island, but here's a shot of Ile Du Sud, where they are staying right now.
The barracks on Ile Du Sud
The lighthouse isn't very visible. Maybe it is not there anymore. BUT... Both the islands, the lighthouse and the reefs are on this screenshot from an electronic chart:
The lighthouse
Which means it has been charted accurately on modern navigation tools. Someone was there using electronic charts. So really... WTF happened here...


  1. Good question. Maybe they were using chart plotter zoomed out so much that this "detail" was not displayed. I've seen similar things elsewhere, e.g. there's a tiny, tiny island just north of Iceland that doesn't get displayed unless you zoom in which we did and so spotted it when sailing nearby but nearly didn't.

  2. Reading the comments of the other navigators, this is exactly how the islet/shoal appears on their navigation software. Combine that with crossing the area at night... Ian Walker said that they had the luck of crossing that area during the day, and could see (looking out from the boat) the shoals before hitting them and steer away. Apparently Team Vestas got there just after sunset, and had to rely on the navigation aides.

  3. So the electronic charts are supposedly incorrect? That would save the navigators behind. How about the lookout? I mean, it should be a visible island. There would be breakers. How about the track shown on the VO website? They are steering right at the island for an hour or more. Somewhere someone must have seen this coming. Why didn't they give the guys a call?


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