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Not the beach view anyone wants

These are just my own personal ramblings about an incident that has caused a sickening loss of life. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who perished, as well as the survivors who will doubtless relive those terrifying events in their minds eye for many years to come.

From every marine accident there is an investigation and from every investigation there are conclusions. Such investigations are not tasked with prosecuting the guilty, they are simply to find the facts of what happened and why it happened, so that where required, systems or procedures or equipment can be changed or modified to try to ensure the same thing will not happen again.

The relevant police authorities will make their own enquiries to deal with the facts of suspected liability and guilt. Thereafter the relevant legal jurisdiction will act accordingly on the matter.

But more than that, after an incident like this with such a tragic loss of life, surely in many maritime regions and territories, the relevant persons are asking: Could this happen here ?

That is a question to which I believe there is no “Yes or No” answer, but there are a lot of things to consider.

There is a simple and chilling fact; any accident at sea or elsewhere is analogous to a chemical reaction, if you allow the dangerous mix of ingredients into the same place at the same time then there may well be a violent reaction.

If you can keep them separate, then hopefully nothing happens. In many accidents at sea the ‘ingredients’ are speed, complacency, poor lookout, visibility and navigation, systems failure, and the unexpected.

As to the question; Could it happen in Singapore ? well it could, but in my opinion, it’s very unlikley, and here’s why.

Firstly the relevant Goverment Agency, the Maritime & Port Authority, MPA, has been very active for many years in “managing” the operation of ferry traffic in Singapore. One of the major features of this is that all ferries are required to follow demarcated routes into and out of, and through Singapore waters, and the routes are well defined and well known by near all users. In addition these ferries are required to adhere to set day & night speed limits for the routes in the direct approaches. Consequently if you are at sea in those corridoors at night, then you expect to meet ferry traffic, and at 12 knots you have a bit of time to spot them, and navigate out of their way.

Just One of the Designated Ferry Routes

It’s worthwhile to note that these routes and speed regulations have been in place for around ten years. Also be assured that they have added time and distance onto each and every journey. I can remember some journeys being around 15 minutes quicker. It was also strange to watch as a ferry gets further away from the destination to follow the route.

Secondly the Police Coastguard has a large presence on the water with a large number or active patrol craft throughout Singapore waters. Whilst they have a multitude of roles, they would seem to keep some form of watch of ferry and private and passenger traffic. This is part deterant, and part Big Brother to make sure that maritime rules and laws are followed.

At a location near you ?

Thirdly, major events such as fireworks, or yacht races or waterborne events, etc. likely dont draw the same volume of on-water spectators in Singapore as perhaps as in cities like Hong Kong, Auckland or wherever. Also Fireworks in Singapore are within sheltered or enclosed waterways, and can be easily, and best viewed from onshore. Just look at any National Day, F1, or New Years event video to see what I mean. Obviously Fireworks are at night, which immediately brings navigational and lookout issues.

Victoria Harbour Fireworks

Fourthly and importantly, the MPA many years ago implemented a scheme of ensuring each and every craft on the water has some form of AIS or HARTS, (Harbour Craft Transponder System) on board. This in effect enables the MPA Port Operations to monitor the location and speed and heading of every craft on the water, if in fact they have the time, the interest and manpower to do that. (Note they’ve just upgraded their system to handle 10,000 vessel tracks at any one time ! Click on photo to follow link to read the release.)

WOW just upgraded, they can handle 10,000 vessel tracks at any given time ! Click to follow link !

In addition there is any number of MPA Pilot boats, and MPA launches out and on the water. There is also the system of Cruising permit application process for Non Singapore registered pleasure craft vessels, which requires approval for their route and schedule for any given cruise.

Perhaps lastly there is the issue of geography and layout. Singapore has a defined and ‘regular’ coastline, and a small number of islands with ferry access, with defined routes of access to and from. Reclamation has played a big role and Islands have been dredged, linked, joined, connected and amalgamated for the use by Indutstry, Military and Leisure/Property Development. In some cases bridges and roads have been built for access, negating the use of ferries.

Other than that, and significantly, the regional ferry traffic has to be very much less than in Hong Kong.

A lot of sea room there. Easier to miss than have a collision

Indicative only. Believe accident site was close to NW tip of Lamma Island.

The investigation is underway in Hong Kong, and the families of the perished will be waiting for those conclusions, to answer the question of “How could this happen”, but the likelyhood is that is that this will all come down to those ingredients mentioned above.

If there is however one immediate lesson to be learned from this whole affair so far, it is the conclusion from the photos below.

It’s a bit unfair to make this comparision as I dont know the standards that each vessel was built to, but the immediate reaction is that one sank, and one made it to the dock, presumed to be under it’s own power.

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The conclusion ? Travel by Catamaran !

Two Hulls = Two Chances !

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Image Source : BBC, SCMP, ST, online news outlets, etc.

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As Powerboaters we all know Power gives way to Sail, but not a 130,000 Ton Cruiseliner to a 15 Ton Sailboat. Get Real !

There is a Video on You Tube of just such a circumstance, as a Sailboat holds his heading to pass just in front of the bow of a Cruiseliner, as captured in the pictures below.

Just in case you think there is a bit of Camera Zoom magic here…..

And again…

Is that close enough for you…..

They don’t seem too worried about it onboard…

The audio is all in Italian, as are the notes on You Tube, so I dont know what they said. I’ve seen a translation that seems to say the crossing was “agreed” between the Cruise ship and the Sail boat, but come on, that is awfully close !

The What If’s just jump straight up like, ‘What if the wind died’, or they just ‘Hit a wind hole’ or a ‘rope parted’. It certainly doesnt look like the sailboat engine is on to help.

In any case they made it, and by the look of it they are all Proud as Punch.

It so easily could have ended up differently.

Here is the link to watch it on You Tube. for yourself.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5wAn0ObKCY&feature=plcp

Remember there are no Traffic Lights at Sea !

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Back in January 2012 when Ferretti announced the sale to Shandong Heavy Industry Group Co I wondered how long it would take. Now here is the answer !

Below are extracts of various articles from Boat World and other Boating publications.

Quote

Ferretti Group, whose Riva unit made boats for Brigitte Bardot and Sean Connery, intends to open an assembly plant in China as its new Chinese parent seeks to drive up sales in the world’s most-populous country.

The Italian yacht maker is considering plans for the facility in Qingdao, Shandong province, Tan Xuguang, chairman of the company and of its majority-owner Shandong Heavy Industry Group-Weichai Group, told reporters in Beijing yesterday. The plant will customise vessels for the local market, he added.

Ferretti plans to boost sales in emerging markets led by China, Brazil and Russia, Mr Tan said, as the eurozone debt crisis saps demand in Europe. Shandong Heavy, China’s biggest maker of bulldozers, (Yes Bulldozers & Yachts the new Vertical Integration!) agreed to buy 75 per cent of the yacht maker from creditors in January for 178 million euros (S$280 million).

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/transport-hub/shipping/yacht-maker-ferretti-plans-open-china-plant-20120829

S-W Asia Editor’s note The Ferretti Group, in case you missed it, is a great deal more than Riva. The Group involves eight brands:

  • Ferretti – deluxe motoryachts, 15-27m
  • Pershing – high performance, high luxe, 15-35m
  • Itama – motoryachts 13-24m
  • Bertram – sport fisherman boats, 11-24m
  • Riva – open launches and flybridge cruisers, 8-35m
  • Mochi Craft – ‘lobster boats’ (its a styling thing), 12-23m
  • CRN – fully custom built aluminium megayachts, 44-90m
  • Custom Line – grp maxiyachts, 26-38m

A couple of years ago Ferretti got into a lot of hot financial water when the private equity company that owned a chunk of the business decided that it was worth nothing. Norberto Ferretti, founder of the original brand and of the Group, had to do a lot of monetary gymnastics to regain control and stop the whole thing being shut down.

Since then, business has not improved in Europe and North America, the traditional markets of the European luxury boat builders. Like everyone else, Asia (and in particular China) is being seen as The Big Market to get into. Many manufacturers have found out already that the Asian perception of boating is not quite the same as it is ‘back home’. ‘It’s a market, Jim, but not as we know it’.

European boat owners and charterers treasure their floating hotels for the peace and privacy they permit – the ‘exclusive getaway’ sort of programme. In Asia there is little point in having a big expensive boat if you don’t show it off – preferably tied up to the dock where everyone can see it – and there is no need to venture out onto that nasty, rolly, bumpy stuff, the sea. (Sooooo true)

It will be interesting to see what Ferretti China comes up with by way of ‘customising for the local market’. We know a boat builder who was quite flabbergasted when asked to build an 80′ luxury motor yacht – with one saloon/bar space (no dining facilities or galley required), a giant karaoke lounge complete with mirrored ceilings and disco-ball decor, and just one large stateroom (wonder what that was going to be used for?). And most importantly, a generator BUT NO ENGINES.

We will be watching Ferretti’s China output with great interest.

by BusinessTimes.com.sg

Unquote

That’s it I am buying a Princess Yacht now !

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Came upon this interesting take on “Boat Asia 2012”, with some nice photos. I did’nt make it along to the show so interesting to get this persons account on the show. Must say it looks like the 2012 edition was quite a bit smaller than previous years shows. All credits to http://ponderouspilgrim.wordpress.com for the article and photos. Suggest you head over there to read the article in full and see all the photos in full detail.

The Ponderous Pilgrim

Reflections condominium, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel BayBoat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay
Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel BayBeneteau First 40.7, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay

Reflections at Keppel Bay condominium overlooking Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay, Keppel Island. Was pleased to see the French Beneteau First 40.7 i spent 5 days on for my RYA competent crew cert.

Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel BayGolf Clubs, Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay
Bed Room, Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel BayBath room, Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay
Bath Tub, Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel BayPGA Championship Room, Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay
PGA Championship Room, Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel BayBathroom, Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay
Sea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel BaySea Bear, Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay

There was a long queue to see the Westport 130 christened “Sea Bear” which used to be owned by Jack Nicklaus (a visiting teen, unable to distinguish the two, thought it was Jack Nicholson’s). Decent enough interior, though “golf museum” it isn’t really, unless you count a bunch of clubs and rooms named after championships. We weren’t allowed to see the pilot house, which i was most curious about. For sale at S$60 million or rent.

The rest of the boats were rather entry-level crafts, probably pitched at the tentative new boat owner.

Boat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel BayBoat Asia 2012, Marina @ Keppel Bay

Sealine F42 and Sealine SC35, the latter being an entry-level ship. I thought the former quite practically-designed – decent…

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