Less than one year old, the 60.2-meter (198ft) M/Y Yogi sank Friday, February 17, 19 miles off the coast of Skyros, Greece, in the Aegean Sea. The yacht was en route from Turkey where she had finished a warranty period, to her berth in the Med. All eight French crew aboard were rescued by the Hellenic Air Force. Capt. Jean Louis Carrel told Greek authorities that although the weather was rough, he believed the sinking was a result of a mechanical failure with the exhaust system.
Boat International has an exclusive interview with the yacht’s builder, Mehmet Karabeyoglu, of Turkish builder Proteksan Turquoise, who was obviously distraught over the accident.
“What I find surprising is that [from] the first mayday call to the boat sinking was nearly seven hours. They had power as you can see lights on [in the video shot by the Hellenic rescue team],” said Karabeyoglu.
“What we can see [from the images and the video footage] is that she survived seven hours without turning over. So this is enough reason for us to believe she could have been saved — although we are not blaming anyone. There was a Force 8 so the weather made things difficult, but she did not sink due to the weather,” he said.
Responding to question about an exhaust system accident and loss of engine power reported by the crew, he said, “They have said it was mechanical failure, that one engine overheated, and broke the exhaust bellows — but there’s a valve underneath it.”
The Hellenic rescue video shows the Yogi crew appropriately mustered on deck next to the wheelhouse wearing their bright red survival suits when the rescue helicopter approached. A large life raft was deployed and crew clambered down the port side of the heavily listing yacht to the raft where they were rescued by the military swimmers.
“At first we thought all these things happened fairly quickly. But the mayday was 0030am, and the rescue happened at 0730.
“My partner has spoken to the owner. He is obviously not happy, he loved the boat. She was just repainted, but we did no work in the engine room as it was perfect. No mechanical work other than routine service of the Cat engines. Perhaps they took bad fuel when they refueled in Istanbul.
“It’s the first time [a loss of vessel] has happened for us, so we not sure what happens next,” said Karabeyoglu. “We have [already] sent people to Athens who will meet with the crew and interview them; we’re doing everything we can to understand what happened. There will be the testimony of crew and the video. You can see water coming out of the side and power on the vessel [i.e. lights were on] so the generators were running — you can tell many things, so the engine room was not flooded. You can see [in the video] exhaust coming from the hull side so one of engine room generators was running.”
Karabeyoglu also told Boat International Media that in addition to being able to use the engines to pump water out, there were three bilge pumps, one more than class required. The yacht had three generators plus the emergency generator.
M/Y Yogi registered 1028 GT and was built to ABS A1, +AMS and was classed as Commercial Yachting Service (E). Her profile and interior was designed by Jean Guy Verges, who has designed six other builds by the yard. Yogi was the second of three large yachts delivered by Proteksan Turquoise in 2011.
John Wickham, who issued a statement on behalf of the builder, said that the yard is actively investigating the details and will release details as available.
"Proteksan Turquoise, the Turkish shipyard that constructed the 60 metre yacht, MY Yogi, that sank off Skyros, Greece on February 17, wishes to explain that none of their representatives, nor their lawyers, has been able to interview the Captain and crew or obtain their written statements to date and the indications are that it will be a further ten days or so before they will meet with them. The only contact that has been made was when the Captain made a phone call to the shipyard after he had been rescued and was safely ashore on Skyros.
It is for this reason that Proteksan Turquoise has not been in a position to release any further statements beyond the one sent out on Friday, February 17, as it feels that it is important to have all the facts relating to the incident before commenting further."
Photos below courtesy of www.hc.gr