Fiji, Savusavu: Mooring Failure

SV Moon Dancer goes aground due to mooring failure at The Copra Shed Marina. This is a report of the incident and the marina’s response to the incident.

Published 5 years ago, updated 4 years ago

On the morning of August 8th 2017, the mooring on which SV Moon Dancer was assigned by Copra Shed Marina, Savusavu, Fiji, failed when the poorly maintained and heavily rusted mooring chain broke.

At approximately 14:15 Catamaran Sanuk was impacted by our boat SV Moon Dancer. Winds were approximately 15 knots out of the east.

After the initial shock, the Catmaran’s owners went outside and found our vessel, Moon Dancer, had broken its mooring and was pinned with its port side against the catamaran’s two bows. The Catamaran mooring held, and the two boats stayed together like this for a little while, before Moon Dancer was pushed by the wind to the starboard side of the Catamaran. The Copra Shed mooring had come completely loose under the waterline and was still attached to Moon Dancer at the time of impact.

Moon Dancer was aground and the local Namena Dive boat helped to pull her off Catamaran Sanuk.

The damage to Sanuk was as follows:

– bowsprit showed signs of impact but at this point, this looks superficial.

– both bows have an impact area where the gel coat is perforated, the fibreglass is visible through the gel coat slivers. The area damaged is about 30 cm high, 10 cm wide (pictures available upon request)

– the starboard boat lettering of Sanuk shows a scratch in the vinyl of the letter S.

– the starboard side shows black skid marks where the black mooring can was caught between the two boats.

The Damage to Moon Dancer was as follows:

– impact damage on the side as it was pushed aground where the damage cannot be determined until a full inspection of the rudder and keel can be performed by a qualified surveyor.

Both owners of Copra Shed refused to take any financial responsibility, although pictures prove that the under-water mooring chain had worn through due to neglect and maintenance failure (see photo).

Copra Shed moved Moon Dancer to another mooring which was too weak to hold her so we lowered our anchor to prevent any further safety violations.

Copra Shed Marina owners repeatedly stated that they will take no financial responsibility for this failure and would not provide their insurance details.

Nellie Kellett and Philip Kellett MD

SY Moon Dancer

Response from Copra Shed Marina

From Mr Philp

Like always there are two sides to every story. I examined the chain and it failed due to shearing of one link just above admittedly a fairly well-worn link. The mooring (Tau’s) is unusual in that it has a large cylindrical float over a meter in diameter with chain right up to the float. Unfortunately, many occupiers have a dangerous habit of attaching a secondary line to the chain a meter or two below the float. This twists the chain as the vessel rotates around the float at every tide change eventually putting a “snap” load on the chain where the secondary line is shackled on. I am trying to ascertain whether Moon Dancer had this secondary line attached – it certainly was attached to the chain precisely where the breakage occurred.

We are not in the habit of ignoring our responsibilities, however, a man from Moon Dancer (not the owner apparently) has been rude, abusive and threatening, thus not earning our pleasure. Our moorings are all checked and serviced regularly and this service had been carried out very recently by Adrian Dalton. Incidentally, there were three people aboard at the time and whilst they were able to start the vessel’s engine they apparently could not put it into gear to prevent the vessel from impacting the adjacent catamaran! Geoff is checking on some detail. I am personally assisting with the very minor gel coat impact repairs on the cat.

From Geoff Taylor

The Copra Shed moorings were inspected by Mr Adrian Dalton on the 13th June 2017 and reported in good condition. Some shackles and minor repairs were undertaken. The mooring Moon Dancer was on was repaired above the float. A previous yacht had attached an additional line beneath the float which was intact. Mr Kellett was absent when the mooring chain broke. The people he left in charge of the yacht where not from the marina and were employed by Mr Kellett off the street. They were not instructed on operating the engine or anchor. The Copra shed Marina staff took quick action and went to the assistance of the drifting vessel and operated the engine and anchor. The marina paid for the relocation of Moon Dancer and offered to carry out repairs to the very slightly damaged catamaran Sanuk.

On his return to Savusavu, Mr Kellett very rudely entered our office and abusively threatened the owners stating he would tell Noonsite and other media that the Copra Shed Marina did not inspect their moorings and were not helpful in any way. We found this very offensive considering we had gone out of our way (gone overboard!) to assist in every way during and after the mishap. The owner of Sanuk was very appreciative and understanding.

There have been mooring failures at all three marinas in Savusavu in the past and we have assisted vessels that have broken or dragged these other moorings.

Geoff Taylor.

Partner Copra Shed Marina.


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