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The Speed Controversy

Following Up on Megayacht Yogi Sinking - by Capt. Bill Pike

There are problems with the report of a more specific nature as well. For example, to validate the 14-knot speed Yogi was supposedly making on the evening of February 16 during the hours before her starboard engine overheated and had to be shut down, the French authorities did a calculation using a simple time-speed-distance formula, as well as a couple of charted positions, the distances run between them, and a departure time from the Strait of Dardanelles of 1830 hours. The approximate speed of 14 knots they arrived at via the calculation, was, according to the report, “consistent with the speed stated by the master during his interview.”

But here’s the rub. In an official statement obtained by Power & Motoryacht and sworn before the French Ambassador in Athens just a couple of days after the sinking, the captain states that he departed the Dardanelles at 1930 hours, an hour later than what’s stated in the French report. When factored into the French calculation, this new time puts the yacht’s calculated speed prior to her sinking at 16 knots (top speed, according to sea-trial figures from Proteksan-Turquoise), a figure that quite seriously calls into question the advisability of operating a vessel at full throttle (or close to it) in what the Turkish Meteorological Service at Bozcaada (an island not far from Yogi’s track south from the Dardanelles) was reporting as Force 8 conditions, characterized by winds between 30 and 40 knots and sea heights of 18 feet or more.

Certainly, the discrepancy here may be due to a confusion of time zones or some other glitch attributable to human error but, in any case, it is unfortunately not addressed in any shape or form in the report. And furthermore, while the report contends that the speed of 14 knots was “compatible with the weather conditions and Yogi’s seakeeping qualities,” there are more than a few experienced seafarers (including myself) who would contend otherwise. 

“They were traveling way too fast for the conditions,” says Mehmet Karabeyoglu, CEO of Proteksan-Turquoise, “and I think perhaps that was the start of their problems.”

Continued ➤