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Walking away from a crash landing

Published on March 3rd, 2021

After Sint Maarten Yacht Club was forced to cancel 2021 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta on March 4-7 due to COVID-19, the club suffered another blow when a mega yacht lost control and decimated their docks. Caught on video, it’s hard to watch. Here’s what happened:

Captain of the 77-metre-long mega-yacht GO, Simon Johnson has sought to dispel rumors, answer critics and set the record straight in an exclusive interview with The Daily Herald, the leading newspaper for the island and the northeast Caribbean.

Johnson describes the moments prior to the yacht’s sudden control malfunction in the crucial minutes of the line-up procedure to exit Simpson Bay Lagoon on Wednesday, February 24.

He says the incident has inevitably brought his competence into question.

The ultra-modern yacht built in Turkey in 2018 is entirely computer-driven, yet for all the latest electronics and a bridge brimming with computer screens and displays, the software apparently failed the British captain at the worst possible moment, leading to his choosing a deliberate impact with the St. Maarten Yacht Club wooden dock.

A second run-in to the dock was caused by, yet again, a computer miscommunication between the bridge and engine room in a bid to regain control.

Johnson confirmed that the yacht’s insurance assessors are progressing well in their survey of all the damage sustained to the boat, which is minimal, and the dock, and are engaged to set things right.

That said, the root causes of the malfunction have not yet been definitively identified and an intensive investigation is underway while the yacht remains at Ile de Sol Marina.

Johnson has defended his unblemished record as a captain and his split-second decisions that averted a far worse disaster. Like an airline pilot reacting to something unexpectedly going wrong mid-flight, Johnson was faced with a similar predicament, the difference being there are 400 souls at stake sitting in a plane at 30,000 feet.

In some ways, this extraordinary incident was Johnson’s “Miracle in the Lagoon” moment. There were no injuries, no lives lost, there was no oil spill, and the bridge was still intact.

“I’m proud that we walked away from a crash landing, and most importantly, there was no injury and the island’s arterial road bridge was not compromised,” he said. – Full report

Photos from Sint Maarten Yacht Club:

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