What Really Happened to Stormvogel!

What Really Happened to Stormvogel!

Welcome to Pendanablog.com and for those who have recently joined, this is, in the main, a blog about a family from Australia and their much loved Nordhavn 62, Hull #20, Pendana and this blog is Pendana’s main communication portal. That being said, however, Pendana also has her own Facebook page which is located at https://www.facebook.com/pendana.nordhavn as well as a YouTube page located at https://www.youtube.com/user/jamesgmail123/ with more videos of Pendana than I care to remember! 

The primary purpose of this blog is to share our successes, failures, interesting 3rd party stories and everyday experiences as we embark on adventures aboard our Nordhavn 62. As always, if you have any friends whom you think would like to join Pendanablog.com and receive future updates via email automatically then all they have to do is register their email address at Pendanablog.com in the space provided. 

During the last few weeks, I have been busy with a few other matters namely the reporting of an incredible incident 650nms off the coast of Australia where a yacht named Stormvogel came very close to sinking. The photos provided in the article give a real sense of what the crews of two other boats that Stormvogel were travelling with encountered. A link to the article can be found here: http://www.pendanablog.com/Pendana-Nordhavn-62-blog/2014/06/30/Rescue-on-The-High-Seas

The ingenious idea of using concrete/cement to fill the area that was leaking and, I might add, which ultimately saved Stormvogel from a watery grave was in a word, remarkable. I have received many emails from current and retired container ship captains alerting me to the fact that all container ships on the high seas carry concrete/cement for this very reason. I am still amazed that I never knew this before. Perhaps if the NZ Navy had some aboard then Django, which recently sank in the Tasman Sea would not have sunk! (link to Django story here: http://www.pendanablog.com/Pendana-Nordhavn-62-blog/2014/07/12/Yacht-Lost-at-Sea)

If you are at all like me, it is all well and good to read a story about a near disaster at sea but what I much prefer is to understand why it happened in the first place. What was the chain of events that led to the failure, why did the failure occur etc. With contact numbers for all crew in hand I set about making a nuisance of myself and many thanks to the owner of Stormvogel, Mr Peter Wiedekamm and his charming wife Heidi who provided me with all the information required for this blog. 

I spoke with Peter at length regarding his adventures on the high seas and wanted to know what actually happened to Stormvogel that caused the ingress of water which nearly ended in tragedy. There is no doubt that Peter and his wife Heidi realise that they were very lucky indeed not only to have a friend named Tony back in their homeland of Germany who once worked on large commercial ships and who realised that the solution to their problem was concrete/cement but that they also had two other vessels with them being Oda and Southern Star both with brave crew aboard. On top of that they had the services of Australian Search and Rescue and a container ship only a few hours away with that much needed concrete/cement. For those who have yet to read the story of the actual events it can be found here at: http://www.pendanablog.com/Pendana-Nordhavn-62-blog/2014/06/30/Rescue-on-The-High-Seas.

With Stormvogel safely back in port after their ordeal and now on hard stand, Peter was as keen as anyone to find out what actually happened and why it happened to his beloved yacht, as the folks from the Norship Marine in Cairns (http://www.norship.com.au/) set about removing the concrete from Stormvogel to make the necessary repairs and to finally, reveal the problem that nearly caused a beautiful yacht, to almost sink. 


That’s not water in the bilge, that’s concrete/cement!

Norship Marine, based in Cairns is a privately operated vessel maintenance and storage facility and prides itself as a One-Stop-Shop delivering comprehensive refit and repair services. However, after repeated attempts by me to speak with them to simply confirm a few minor details their somewhat short reply of “No Comment” all seemed a little odd. It’s not like I am with 60 Minutes or the ABC! When folks say “No Comment” it always makes me feel that there is more to the story or is it simply the word ‘NO’ I dislike? Regardless, I digress; It seems that Stormvogel was in the right place as apparently Norship have been around for decades and have a long history in the shipbuilding and repair and while they were not keen to speak with me about Stormvogel I guess that really is not relevant after all. What was relevant was that Stormvogel was safe, in a yard more than capable of helping and the answer to the question of ‘why’ was soon to become apparent.


After a week of Peter and the folks at Norship examining the issue and repairing the damage done to the centre board /swing keel housing, replacing the bolts and making good the damage done, the folks at Norship announced that she was ready to go back into the water. The question of why the bolts broke in the first place though was still a mystery and something that Peter felt required an explanation.

The bolts that failed!

Robbie Ashton encouraging Peter to get to the bottom of it!

With explanation as to what caused the incident in the first place still a mystery, Peter instructed Norship that it was critical that further investigation was done as to why the bolts broke in the first place, which to Norship’s credit, they agreed. The message to Norship was clear, find the cause of the problem or it will/could happen again. With new life and vigour the folks at Norship with Peter, Robbie and Per in tow set about getting stuck into the investigation stage.

Heidi with Stormvogel on hard stand.

The shaft from Stormvogel was removed and in removing it everyone quickly realised that the shaft was loose, not because of the packing gland or cutlass bearing but because two large bolts used to minimise it’s movement were loose. It was further realised that these two bolts then allowed the shaft to move more than it should along all horizontal and vertical planes.


For clarity above is a picture of the swing keel assembly on Stormvogel.

This movement, over time placed pressure on the housing and the four bolts (which it should be noted, should normally have no pressure placed on them) holding the yachts centreboard in place.


The movement caused by the shaft and the extreme pressure placed on the centreboard housing lead directly to three of the four bolts breaking, and as such, allowed the centreboard to hang feely under Stormvogel which in turn allowed water to enter the vessel at an alarming rate.

You will remember from the earlier story that Stormvogel had these very same four bolts replaced in New Zealand only two months earlier and while the fault does not lie with the New Zealand yard there is a moral question to answer as to why work requested by Peter regarding the shaft was not performed as instructed and if it were, why were the two bolts holding the shaft in place left loose and not tightened? I guess this is a question that will never be answered for all the obvious reasons but there is a lesson in this for all of us mere mortals somewhere, of that I am sure.

Often people say to me, why don’t you let anyone work on your boat (Pendana) when you are not around? Why do you spend two weeks on the boat on hard stand when in the Gold Coast? Well the reason is simple and somewhat underscores the point being made here and that is, people are people and more than capable of forgetting things and as the owner, I see it as my job and responsibility to make sure nothing is forgotten. Mistakes can have costly and disastrous knock on effects in the boating world as evident in the Stormvogel case. 

For me personally, the issue with Stormvogel underscores the importance for all owners to be present when work is being carried out on their boats and if something does go wrong to make sure one gets to the bottom of the issue and identifies exactly why. There are simply too many variables that can go wrong if given half a chance!

I am pleased to report that Peter and Heidi are now back in the water and are heading towards Lizard Island to catch up with Oda and her crew so that they can continue their circumnavigation around this beautiful planet of ours. I am sure that they feel a little apprehensive but after speaking with Peter on his arrival at Lizard Island his report was that all was good and that there was not even the slightest amount of water penetrating Stormvogel’s hull! I went onto ask Peter what the costs were to repair her and he simple said, yet another small car has been invested in our Stormvogel so glean from that what you will.


Stormvogel about to go back into the water.


Back in the water finally!


Peter and Heidi celebrating Stormvogel’s return to the water after what was a mammoth task.

(L-R) Per, Elizabeth, Peter and Heidi.

Peter wanted me to pass on his thanks to everyone regarding the interest shown in Stormvogel and the encouraging comments received. He also wanted to point out that the real heros in all of this were Per and Elizabeth Mandt aboard Oda and Robbie and Jo Ashton on Southern Star. Peter went onto say “The bravery shown by these four people, 650nms from land, will never be forgotten. What Jo and Elizabeth did in keeping their vessels safe while their husbands (Per and Robbie) took to the tender was incredible. Without all four of them, there would be no Stormvogel”.


Elizabeth handling Oda single handed for many hours.

Oda, stormvogel

The Crew from Oda, Elizabeth and Per.

Southern Star, stormvogel

Jo, handling Southern Star alone for equally as long!

The crew from Southern Star, Robbie and Jo

Finally, let it be known that Peter was very pleased that Germany won the World Cup and said, “See there is a god after-all!”

Thank you to Peter and Heidi for sharing with all of us this amazing story. Thank you also to Per and Elizabeth for taking my countless emails and helping put Peter and myself in touch and finally thank you to Robbie and Jo for their support in making this all happen.


Stormvogel stretching her sea legs!

Now onto more mundane matters, I am pleased to report that the interviews being posted to Pendanablog.com will continue as I have received some very positive feedback and appears most enjoy reading the insights from others. The interviews from this point forward will be released during the first week of every month making the next interview due out on 1st August and I might add, what I have in store is a cracker interview with, well let’s just say, someone most will know.

We have already posted some great interviews from the likes of Ken and Roberta Williams aboard San Souci N68, Jennifer and Mark Ullmann aboard Starlet N46, and even the man behind these great boats himself, Mr Jim Leishman from Nordhavn HQ. What I can tell you is that we have some even bigger names (if that is possible) being interviewed right now which will hopefully continue to provide insight and a laugh for all. Once again, interviews from this point forward will be posted to Pendanablog.com as close to the 1st of each month as possible. So don’t forget to check them out!

Between writing stories of near disasters and bothering poor Peter Wiedekamm the owner of Stormvogel for all the gossip and news to share I have also carried out a small job on Pendana. I decided a few months ago to upgrade one of my two GPS units to the new Furuno Can Bus technology the GP33 and while entirely not necessary, I felt that it was worth doing and would provide me with further redundancy by keeping the older Northstar 952X GPS as a spare while providing me with cutting edge latest Furuno CAN BUS technology.

Northstar 952X – The one on the right has been replaced with the G33 and will be kept as a spare.

The new wiz bang Furuno GP33 is compact in size, yet big on features and performance. This advanced unit provides accurate and reliable position fixing, thanks to a super sensitive, 12-channel GPS receiver combined with integrated WAAS technology.

Furuno GP33 above.

The GP33 displays navigation data in a wide variety of numerical and graphical formats. You may freely select which data you want displayed with easy to use controls. The combination of a high resolution screen and large data fields makes the screen easy to read in almost any condition.

Complete flexibility as to how and what data you see presented.

The GP33 has a waterproof display and is built to stand up to tough marine conditions. The durable casing houses an impressive memory, capable of storing up to 3,000 points of ship’s track, 10,000 points for marks and waypoints, and 100 routes of up to 30 waypoints each with vital navigation data is presented on a 4.3″ colour LCD.

Most importantly, the GP33 features FURUNO’s CAN bus interface system for feeding highly accurate navigation data to your NavNet 3D, radar, chart plotter, autopilot, fish finder, PC, MAC or other navigation equipment. CAN bus is a communication protocol that shares multiple data and signals through a single backbone cable. You can simply connect any CAN bus devices onto the backbone cable to expand your network on-board. With CAN bus, IDs are assigned to all the devices, and the status of each sensor in the network can be detected. CAN bus devices can be incorporated into the NMEA2000 network, offering easy plug-and-play installation and even NMEA0183 protocol versions are supported.

Furuno CAN bus devices comply with NMEA 2000 physical and protocol standards, but these devices can be installed in a slightly different way from the NMEA2000 standard to make a network creation easier. 

NMEA 2000 is a combined electrical and data specification for a marine data network for communication between marine electronic devices such as depth finders, chart plotters, navigation instruments, engines, tank level sensors and GPS receivers. NMEA 2000, a successor to the NMEA 0183 standard, connects devices using CAN (Controller Area Network) technology originally developed for the automotive industry. CAN based networks were developed to function in electrically noisy environments making them perfect for marine applications.


NMEA 2000 is a serial data “network” operating at 250k bps and NMEA 0183 is a serial data “interface” operating at 4.8k bps. NMEA 2000 networks allow multiple electric devices to be connected together on a common channel for the purpose of easily sharing information.

What I know, especially after reading, Bridge Resource Management For Small Ships by Daniel Parrott (“BRM”), is that the feed from the GPS is potentially the single most important feed one has. In this day and age of computerised charts and vessels moving along these charts it is easy to become over reliant on them as outlined in BRM with dire consequences. 

A real eye opener!

Your GPS goes off line or it has a glitch without you realising it and all of a sudden you are not where you think you are! While running during the day one has one’s eyes but on a moonless night, well, let’s just say that there are plenty of documented disasters from far more qualified folks than I. The GPS has to be accurate all of the time or else we will all be reaching for our paper charts once again!

GPS units are in my opinion an often overlooked piece of equipment and while I have now completed my Yacht master’s Skippers ticket, I for one would not want to have to pull out the slide rule again if the truth be told! Can never have too many redundant GPS feeds in my opinion!

I have recently added a few pages of ‘Boat Porn’ to Pendana’s blog site needless to say the photos have been shamelessly hijacked from other sites from around the world. Whether it be a kayak, canoe or super yacht everything and anything that floats is covered. So if you are yet to take a look, here is the link: http://www.pendanablog.com/Boat-Porn.

Finally, please feel free to share this article with whom you wish as the Stormvogel incident provides a number of valuable lessons for all and it is from sharing our successes and our failures wherein the benefits lie.

Safe travels




29 thoughts on “What Really Happened to Stormvogel!”

  1. SUBJECT: Re: What Really Happened to Stormvogel!

    Hi James,
    as a regular follower all of your blog, and I am loving the interviews you are doing. I just go off an ORCV (Ocean Racing club of Victoria) yacht race from Melbourne to Vanuatu (13 days), and whilst away (in transit) I read your post on the Stormvogel. 
    Being in a race in the Tasman/South Pacific on a 434 Elan, you are always curious and conscious of these types of incidents. we had two yachts retire due to broken booms, and a chest injury on one that was threatening to retire them, but they pushed on the finish with no complications.
    I have received some recent reports from you and was disappointed that I couldn’t see the images. 
    When I tried opening the images in another tab, this was the error.  The requested URL /proxy/op1ANHBWmV-sinjrFHKAqYkLxUIqDImAYG24VJynt8SRa9X_2x-LBFiT7-g5cPBsQ86PkGRxSPNdRLDnzLHBVFAy0tI9RljeXDce_VGjRvSXZehCwRnrRCek2gT8zS4s0-d-e1-ft was not found on this server.
    I am not sure if others are having the same issue, but thought I would highlight this, as I believe the images add to the whole picture.
    I am based in Melbourne, and I have a 36ft sports boat in the marina in Queenscliff. I used to pull into Sandringham and see “Celebrate” there regularly, but she appears to be travelling at present. Hope we see you in the southern states at some point with Pendana, maybe travel to hobart at Xmas and see the Sydney/Hobart and Melbourne/Hobart finish. This is a great party. I did Melbourne/Hobart this year and a passagemaker on my Arm at the marina, recently did a fantastic circumnavigate of Tassie in about 3 weeks.
    Anyway great posts, hoping its only me missing out on the photo’s
    all the best
    Duane RodgersN00-00
    (no series – no hull number) yet !!! +61 409 024 911

    On 17 July 2014 07:40, http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM wrote:

  2. James (PENDANA)


    Duane, thank you for your kind words, sorry to hear about the photos will do some checking and send you an email off line.

  3. Hi, I have an almost identical Koopmans 48 with the same centerboard construction. I experienced the same problem but was able to repaire in more calm conditions.

    What happened in our case was that bolt # 4 on your drawing unscrewed causing the conical shaft to slide out which lead to that the whole shaft became loose and the consequenses you described.

    I now inspect the nut regulary and have also made a mark on the shaft to always being able to inspect the position of the shaft without openning the cover which close bolt # 4 in a watertight box

  4. It’s always scary when a boat needs rescued, but I’m thankful everything turned out OK! It looks like there’s a lot that goes into your sport, and it’s great to invaluable friends to share it with. You are blessed!

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