Matt and Britney Weidert

Matt Weidert

Charter Catamaran Grounding at the Baths BVI Amidst Red Flag

On March 28th, 2024, amidst red flag conditions at The Baths—a beloved destination in the British Virgin Islands—a 40-foot catamaran experienced a mooring failure while secured to a National Park mooring. This led to the vessel making unintended contact with the surrounding rocks after the crew had left for the shore, underscoring vital lessons about maritime safety and preparedness for charter crews and private sailors alike.
The yacht against rocks with red flag warning
The incident served as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of the sea, especially under adverse weather conditions. For sailors in the Virgin Islands, it's essential to stay informed about local weather patterns, including north swells and Christmas winds, which can significantly impact safe anchorage and mooring choices. Our BVI Marine Weather Forecast Resources page offers in-depth information and forecasts to assist mariners in planning safer voyages.

Source: Husky Salvage and Towing

National Park's Plea: Heed the Warnings

red flag warning
Following this incident the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands urgently reminds sailors to heed red flag warnings. Despite this warning, boats continue to use the mooring balls under Red Flag conditions.

Learning from Experience

Having navigated these waters myself, I've learned valuable lessons from both personal experiences and observing others. Key takeaways include paying attention to north swells, the importance of scrutinizing mooring safety (whether public or private), and the comprehensive preparation required to mitigate risks at sea.

In the case of the Hillbilly, and now the recent catamaran incident at The Baths, we are reminded of the following:

Respect and Understand Local Weather Patterns: North swells and unusual weather conditions can transform protected bays into hazardous areas. Always consult updated weather resources and plan your anchorage or mooring accordingly.

Mooring Ball Safety: Not all mooring balls are maintained equally. Prioritize mooring balls known for regular maintenance, and always perform a visual and physical check before relying on them. Ensure they are suitable for your vessel's size and weight.

Preparedness and Prevention: Apply a cautious approach to mooring, similar to anchoring. Use anchor alarms and GPS tracking tools for additional safety layers when leaving your vessel unattended. Learning from the misfortune of others, such as the Hillbilly's grounding, provides us with a roadmap for safer sailing practices.

The Grave Risks of Ignorance

The Baths

The inherent beauty of destinations like The Baths can sometimes mask the dangers of the sea. It's crucial for sailors to stay well-informed about the local weather conditions and marine forecasts, understanding the risks involved with anchoring or mooring in potentially unsafe conditions.

This repetition of grounding incidents on Virgin Gorda's western shore serves as a practical reminder for all of us who sail these waters. Let's use these occurrences as an opportunity to reflect on our practices, ask questions, and continuously learn.

For comprehensive information on maritime safety and weather advisories, we encourage mariners to visit our Marine Weather Forecast Resources page. By sharing knowledge and experiences, we can collectively enhance our navigational safety and respect for the marine environment.

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