The Globe and Mail has a very useful graphic explaining how a microburst might have knocked Concordia down and caused her to sink. Good article too. How a Fist of Wind Pushed Concordia Down. (Feb. 22, 2010)
It’s tough to imagine what was going through the minds of the young students of the tall ship Concordia during the 40 hours spent in life rafts riding turbulent seas after their ship, school and home capsized and sank 500 miles off the coast of Brazil last Wednesday.
On May 14, 1986, the topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore also sailed into a microburst and sank. Tragically, she lost 4 souls. Next time you are in Baltimore you can visit the monument honoring the lives of Captain Armin Elsaesser 42; Engineer Vincent Lazarro, 27; Carpenter Barry Duckworth, 29 and Seaman Nina Schack, 23.
To get an idea of what might have been going through the minds of the Concordia sail trainees, watch this video of the Pride of Baltimore survivors telling their harrowing sea stories. The video quality is poor but it’s really the audio that’s more important.
Captain William Curry of the high school tall ship Concordia that sank on Wednesday reports that his ship was a victim of a weather phenomenon called a microburst. However, Concordia is not the first victim of this type of extreme weather.
On May 14, 1986, the topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore sailed into a microburst 250 nautical miles of Puerto Rico, capsized and tragically lost 4 of her crew.
On May 2, 1961, the brigantine Albatross also encountered a microburst 125 nautical miles of the Dry Tortugas and sank almost instantly taking 7 souls including 5 high school students. In 1996 Jeff Bridges starred in the Ridley Scott movie White Squall which is a fictionalized account of the Albatross story.
In order to get a better understanding of both of these incidents, pick up a copy of Captain Daniel Parrott’s book, Tall Ships Down : The Last Voyages of the Pamir, Albatross, Marques, Pride of Baltimore, and Maria Asumpta which does a great job analyzing these and several other tall ships catastrophes. You can also find it on Google Books.
Here’s a video of Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Dan Gudgel, National Weather Service, Hanford, CA describing a microburst and it’s cause and effect. Make sure you stick with the video to the very end in order to see the incredible power and speed of these types of weather events.
Last year the Dallas Cowboys training facility was the victim of a microburst and this weather report video does also does a great job in explaining how microbursts occur.
Here’s raw video of the incident as it unfolds.
It’s not hard to imagine how a sudden powerful weather event like this could have caused a stout sailing ship like Concordia to capsize. It’s really a miracle that this didn’t happen in the middle of the night when students would not have been in above deck classes with easier and quicker access to escape the sinking ship.