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Hatteras 58 hits jetty and sinks in upper Delaware Bay, same area where Nordhavn 47 hit jetty

by Peter Janssen 9 Jun 05:16 UTC
Hatteras 58 hits jetty and sinks in upper Delaware © Peter Janssen

Just after 6:30 on a recent early June evening, a Hatteras 58 sent out a distress call. It had hit a jetty in the area of the Reedy Island Bar on the upper Delaware Bay and was sinking with six people on board. Fortunately, a passing vessel rescued all six people, because the boat had already sunk by the time local and state rescue crews arrived; a Coast Guard helicopter hovered overhead. All six had been wearing life jackets, and were safe on board the good Samaritan vessel.

The Hatteras sank in the same area where Ghost Rider, a Nordhavn 47, hit a jetty and sank in August, 2016. It's just a few miles south of the entrance to the C&D Canal and not far from the domes of the Salem nuclear power plant on the New Jersey shore.

We don't have details about the Hatteras, but Ghost Rider was owned by Michelle and Rick Riordan, both experienced mariners and navigators. He's a former Air Force pilot and she worked in IT before they retired in Fort Myers, Florida, in October, 2015. They both had been boating most of their lives.

The Riordans bought Ghost Rider in August, 2015, and had cruised for more than 3,000 nm before the accident. They wrote on their blog that they had owned the boat for one year and one day before it sank.

On that day, they left Summit North Marina on the eastern end of the C&D Canal and headed south. They subsequently wrote: "As we approached our target anchorage in the Delaware Bay area around 1700 everything was looking good, but the situation went to hell in a hurry." They later added, "That was something of an understatement, because in the end the boat sank."

The problem was that they missed a rock jetty between the main channel and the entrance to an anchorage south of Reedy Island. It's submerged at high tide. They wrote that it was obvious on raster charters, but they were not using them at the time; it was not as prominent, they wrote, on vector charts.

They also wrote that "the C-Map chart on the Furuno unit we were actually using to navigate at the time we struck it was even less revealing. None of that in any way is an excuse. A prudent mariner should always study all the information available to him, especially when transiting into unfamiliar waters outside a marked channel. We had closely examined depths, tides, currents, Active Captain tips and comments – but overlooked the damned jetty markings."

Ghost Rider hit the jetty at about 5 knots. With 95,000 pounds displacement, it had a lot of momentum. The Riordans called the Coast Guard and SeaTow and initially hoped the boat would float off at high tide, at 0330 the next morning. But the damage was more extensive than they had thought and the boat sank in 30 feet of water.

The Riordans, however, haven't stopped cruising. They bought Ghost Rider 11, a Nordhavn 50, last July and they've already taken it over to the Bahamas. It's now in Palm Beach.

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This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Cruising Odyssey.
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