Cause of capsize revealed for 85-foot yacht

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It took more than a year after an 85-foot Northern Marine yacht capsized upon launch, generating a video that went viral and prompting the company to close up shop, for an investigation to reveal why the boat tipped. Now authorities have ruled that the yacht likely sank because of its low margin of stability.

In May 2014 Baadensank upon launch in Anacortes, Wash., exacerbating a spate of bad luck for CEO and general manager Andy McDonald, who had just returned to work after an extended illness.

A report the National Transportation Safety Board released about three weeks ago says the probable cause of the accident was the combined effects of a recording error during the final vessel weigh, which resulted in an incorrect assessment of the yacht’s center of gravity, and an overestimation of the weight of installed ballast.

That partly confirmed what an independent architect found after the boat was subjected to a stability review — that the boat was not properly ballasted, McDonald told Trade Only at the time. “It was a launching accident,” he said. “The accident occurred while the boat was still mostly out of the water, so it had no flotation when it started to tip over.”

McDonald, owner and general manager of New World Yacht Builders, was building boats under the name Northern Marine. He suddenly became ill in January of 2014, causing discontinuity during construction of the yacht, the report said.

McDonald referenced his unexpected medical malady and subsequent three-month recovery in an interview with Trade Only Today after the boat accident, saying it had happened shortly after he was finally able to return to work.

“One thing I feel pretty strongly about is the term capsize,” McDonald told Soundings following the accident. “The boat did not capsize. It was not floating. It tipped over. It was involved in an accident.”