Dear Bertram Dealers, Employees, and Friends,
As part of my ongoing commitment to provide you with fact-based information regarding the November 6 sinking of a Bertram 63, I offer this update.
Our main consideration in examining this complex matter – where all the facts are not known – has been to avoid jumping to conclusions. Clearly, once information is presented as “fact” and later shown to be wrong, it is nearly impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
That is why we at Bertram are being very careful to say only that which is verifiable and fact-based. And it is why we are concerned that on some internet sites others have published as “fact” statements that are not verifiable.
For example, some people are saying that Bertram alleges the yacht that sank hit the Bill Perry Jr. buoy. What we in fact believe is that the yacht sank because it collided with something, possibly the buoy. It has also been stated that this buoy “could not” have caused the damage. They are saying this without the benefit of having physically inspected the buoy closely following the incident or - it seems - knowing much about the physical properties of the buoy.
The buoy in question weighs 200 lbs and has a heavy-duty steel frame. It is 24 inches in diameter with an overall height of 13 feet 5 inches. A total of 6 feet of the buoy is out of the water. A preliminary analysis indicates that the impact between the Bertram traveling at cruising speed and striking the top of this specific buoy in the manner described by the boat captain would occur with between 7,000 and 12,000 lbs of force.
It has also been confirmed that the bow geometry and buoy height would result in the first point of impact occurring above the waterline in the cored section of the hull. Bertram, as most sportfish manufacturers, uses cored hull construction above the waterline for the weight and stiffness benefit while maintaining the impact resistant solid glass below the waterline. Although a hole puncture above the waterline itself does not alone cause a vessel to sink, ensuing extreme hydraulic pressures created by coming off a wave at speed and into another (as described by the captain) would almost certainly open the puncture further resulting in the breach of the hull.
Attached is a photograph of the buoy shortly after the incident occurred. The paint on the buoy has since washed away but we were able to gather samples of the paint from what was obviously a fresh strike on the buoy. Independent laboratory results confirmed that the paint type on the vessel hull was found to match the paint transfer from the buoy to a high degree of scientific certainty. Also attached is the buoy manufacturer’s sketch of the full buoy and a description of its construction.
In short, Bertram continues to believe that the description of the incident made by the captain – who it should be noted did not report to the Coast Guard that he had seen the buoy despite his proximity to it – is consistent with a collision. Examination of the buoy showed matching paint, some damage from impact, and an apparent propeller cut. Preliminary inspection of the boat seemed to verify a hit. Given the force of impact on the cored hull several feet above the bow’s waterline and the captain’s own description of events, collision with this buoy is clearly a possibility.
The assertions we have seen - that the buoy in question could not have caused the damage - do not consider the potential impact on the hull if it was punctured at cruising speed by a metal structure followed by (as described by the captain) burying the bow in a wave. We believe such assertions to be mere speculation and irresponsible.
We also would like to point out that the on-line suggestion that the owner’s attorney had to get a court order to keep us from salvaging the boat is entirely false. A copy of the Judge’s order, to which we consented, is also attached.
I intend to continue to provide verifiable fact based information as we learn more about this incident. As always, if you have any questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Michael W. Myers
Bertram Yacht Inc.
(305) 633 - 8011
Photos of the sunken vessel here