The loss ‘Cheeky Rafiki’s’ crew in mid-Atlantic is a sharp reminder that sailing small boats across wide oceans can still sometimes be risky.
Photos of the upturned hull from which the fin keel had clearly been torn http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/23/us-hull-missing-yacht-search-cheeki-rafiki have led many experts to wonder whether the boat was strongly enough built to withstand the stresses of a mid-Atlantic gale.
Radio reports from the crew about leaks suggest that the keel-bolts may have been working loose before the keel broke off. Losing your keel in these circumstances would undoubtedly result in a terrifyingly rapid capsize and, with no chance to launch the liferaft, the crew would then have had very little hope of survival.
But before we rush to judgement we need facts. If any useful lessons are to be learned from this disaster it is essential that experts be given the chance to examine the hull of ‘Cheeky Rafiki’. And that will only be possible if the wreck is recovered and brought ashore for proper inspection.
I hope very much that this is in hand. The easy option, of course, would be simply to sink the wreck, or worse still, abandon it. That would be a great shame and terrible lost opportunity.