Catalac 12M Hurricane Damage

I was going through my photo archive and came across these boat damage photos caused by hurricane Wilma in 2005. This boat in this photo is a Catalac 12M and was owned by Stephen and Janet Metcalf. 

As to what happened … the Down Easter monohull pictured below lost it’s mooring during Hurricane Wilma due to poor anchoring techniques. As she lost her mooring at the height of the storm, hurricane winds drove her into a very heavy Ferro cement boat. The rigging of the two boats became tangled and eventually the Ferro cement boat lost her mooring as well. The DownEaster and the Ferro Cement boats were then driven into the Catalac pictured in the upper photo. The collision damaged her port side and knocked her from her double helical screw mooring.

Unfortunately, the wind speed was greater than 80 mph and the Catalac 12M was driven onto the rocky causeway you see in the foreground of this photo where she pounded on the rocks hour after hour, eventually breeching her port hull. The Ferro cement boat sunk and the Down Easter, instead of being driven onto the rocks like the Catalac, was forced under the bridge portion of the same causeway bow first. The problem? Well, the bridge height at that point was 20 feet, and the mast height of the boat was 45 feet. As the wind caused the mast to be slammed into the deck of the bridge, her forestays pulled out of her foredeck. Repeated slamming eventually forced the mast backwards.

Inch by inch the mast was driven towards the stern of the boat, pivoting on her keel step, causing her cabin top to shatter until it eventually peeled back like a convertible top and then gave way altogether. When the mast finally was forced out of the boat completely, it carried the cabin top away with it.

Even after hours of pounding on the rocks the damage to the Catalac 12M isn’t readily apparent. Although the Metcalfs’ lost their boat as a result of the damage, they promptly located and purchased a Catalac 10M to replace her. Talk about brand loyalty!! 

Hurricane Wilma would have easily been survived by all of these boats. Instead, they were lost as a result of poor anchoring by a negligent boat owner. This beautiful Down Easter wasn’t properly moored and destroyed two other boats while becoming a total write off herself. This just goes to show you what can happen in a hurricane. That even when you do everything right, you can still lose your boat. I would also like to point out that this is a terrific case being made for a deck stepped mast.Although the Catalac 12M made it to a boatyard, with serious damage to her port hull, she was an insurance write off, was then salvaged and there was an attempt at repair and refit. Unfortunately, the refit was botched. The inexperience of those responsible for the refit left this boat an abandoned wreck and eventually she was crushed by the boatyard. Now there’s one less of these magnificent boats left in the world today.


By Rick

Owner of a Catalac 8M and Catamaransite webmaster.

1 reply on “Catalac 12M Hurricane Damage”

Unfortunately this account is not quite accurate. The vessel was salvaged and repaired. There was damage and stress damage to the port side. However she was successfully repaired and the hull reinforced to compensate for any hidden stress “fractures” on the port side where it turns to the separating platform. The interior showed the stress with port side cabinets showing 3/8 separation above the saloon floor deck and stairway comared to the roof.The entire interior kitchen structures and bathroom wall were rebuilt and strengthened with glass mat and epoxy. The rest of the boat was overvalued and refinished. New rigging all around, new engines and sails. Refurbished electrics and electronics. She sails successfully in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Bahamas giving pleasure to many. She may never sail across the Atlantic again but is happy in the sometimes quite challenging waters of this area. Renamed Twistex Sheets she proudly survives as a testament to the resilience of these vessels. Today we have been sailing at 70 deg off the wind at 6 knots in 10 knots true. By no means a slouch for an 18,000 lbs vessel built 38 years ago.

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