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DancingMaenid
04-15-2014, 10:50 AM
I'm writing a story where the MC suffers a moderately bad head injury during a boating accident. The boat in question is a good-size luxury yacht.

I'm not extremely knowledgeable about how boats work or what can go wrong with them. I was thinking of an engine explosion, but I'm not sure if that might be too catastrophic for what I'm going for. I wanted most or all of the passengers and crew to be able to escape the yacht, albeit possibly with some injuries.

I wanted to steer clear of an accident only involving the MC (like him falling overboard). I'm looking for things that could affect the entire boat.

What type of accidents would be most likely? An engine explosion? The yacht colliding with something? What would type of things would cause the yacht to lurch or fall apart in such a way that the MC could be thrown or get hit by something?

Thank you for your help!

cornflake
04-15-2014, 10:53 AM
I dunno much of anything about boats either, goodness knows, so salt liberally, but why not just a storm or even a rogue wave and your MC is either trying to walk somewhere and loses his footing and clonks his head or something falls off a shelf or whatever?

Helix
04-15-2014, 10:55 AM
How far from shore is the vessel? If a reasonable way out, it could hit a shipping container floating just below the surface (there are plenty around!) or a whale. A bit dramatic, maybe, but entirely plausible in the right location.

(ETA: I also know nothing about boats!)

Trebor1415
04-15-2014, 12:09 PM
I'd go with something weather related. A very bad storm, edge of a hurricane, that sort of thing.

A larger boat handles large waves and storms better than a smaller boat, but even boats as large as WWII Navy Destroyers can be sunk or take damage in a hurricane.

Make sure to do a little research on what modern sailors can do to forecast and/or avoid bad weather. Depending on exactly what is available you may need to create a chain of incidents that put them in the wrong place in the wrong time to suffer the effects of the storm.

For instance, if they would normally receive bad weather warnings by radio (which I'm sure they would) and RADAR (not sure if they actually would on a boat) you can have the appropriate systems be down due to a small fire that knocked out the electrical system. They miss the warnings while they were repairing it and when they find out they are too late to get out the storm path entirely.

You could do the same basic idea with an engine fire that knocks out the engine for awhile (or permamently). While they are making engine repairs they are out the mercy of the weather and can't escape the storm.

Just make sure to know enough about your boat to make something plausible. Would a yacht of this size have RADAR that could warn them of a storm? How many engines does the yacht have and is there any one system that if it goes down would knock out both/all the engines? (Possibly the electrical system again, maybe).

Many real life accidents are the result of a chain of incidents. You can use this to your advantage by having a series (or even one) mechanical or electrical breakdown, combined maybe with some bad decision making, place them in a situation where they can't escape a storm and may likely suffer even more damage if they can't make any headway at all.

TLDR - Broken boat + bad decisions + bad weather = Many possibilites for injury

waylander
04-15-2014, 01:13 PM
Seconding hit a whale

King Neptune
04-15-2014, 03:55 PM
You'd be safer with things that are common like running aground or colliding with another boat, but the whale collision could also work. It also depends on where the boat is. And remember that Conrad had a collision with sunken debris as the central cause of the action in Lord Jim; the debris was on the high seas, well away from land.

Maryn
04-15-2014, 05:48 PM
Same thing in the more recent "All Is Lost." While Redford slept, his boat hit a shipping container.

If what you need is a head injury and for others on board to also be affected, heavy seas or hitting something is plenty. Even seasoned crew being cautious can lose their footing when the wet deck suddenly tilts, and below deck, everything that isn't secured becomes a projectile. There can be injuries at any level which suits your story.

Maryn, whose father sailed

wandering
04-15-2014, 07:08 PM
Here is a recent news item of a boat explosion: http://www.ktvz.com/news/boat-erupts-in-flames-on-prineville-reservoir/25478274

A person can go over board to swim and then the boat can hit him or even another boat. If you are looking to have a wreck, consider tides. At low tide unseen structures can be hit.

ULTRAGOTHA
04-15-2014, 07:35 PM
Is this in the present day? So you're looking at a diesel powered luxury yacht as opposed to a sail- or steam-powered one?

Where do you want this to take place (near a port, middle of the ocean, on the St Lawrence, in the Chesapeake, in the North Atlantic, in the South Pacific, international or territorial waters, if near a port, which port)?

How badly do you want the boat to be damaged? You talk about the yacht falling apart, do you want it to sink?

What aftermath do you want your characters to have to deal with? Days of hunger and thirst clinging to a bit of floatsam? Helicopter resuce two hours later? Fix the thing and come into port under their own power?

If the yacht is abandoned, you may want to look into salvage laws.

On a modern day luxury yacht, any accident that can happen in a building can happen on the ship, plus all the stuff that can happen on a ship.

MagicWriter
04-16-2014, 07:37 AM
I'm writing a story where the MC suffers a moderately bad head injury during a boating accident. The boat in question is a good-size luxury yacht.

This type of boat likely has sonar and radar, and some sort of lifeboat like a zodiac. It will also have multiple engines, and being that its a luxury yacht, the owner may have a private marine mechanic that rides along when the vessel is in use.

Weather is a good bet, weather can creep up on you real fast when you're out on a boat. There is always the possibility of collision with something in the water, even if the boat has a sonar if they don't have enough time to turn about, they'll hit what they are heading towards, especially if the current is strong or there is a breeze. Even if the Captain throws it in reverse, the wind, will make the vessel drift sideways toward the object. If you want the boat to break in half, try researching the hull. If you want it to sink research the bilge pump - there will be multiple pumps for a boat this big. If you want it to break into a bunch of random pieces for no reason, try researching Jaws, lol.

DancingMaenid
04-16-2014, 09:10 AM
Thanks for all the info/suggestions! This has definitely given me some thoughts about what to look into.

I'd wanted to go with a large-scale accident primarily because I wanted the even to bring the MC and his new girlfriend closer together. An accident that affects both of them seemed like a better bet than something that only happened to him. However, having him just slip or fall overboard or something might be simpler, so I'll keep that in mind.

I don't have a location for the boat completely set in stone, but I was thinking off the shore of France, not too far out.


Is this in the present day? So you're looking at a diesel powered luxury yacht as opposed to a sail- or steam-powered one?

Yep, it's present day (actually takes place about ten years ago, but yeah, diesel-powered).


Where do you want this to take place (near a port, middle of the ocean, on the St Lawrence, in the Chesapeake, in the North Atlantic, in the South Pacific, international or territorial waters, if near a port, which port)?

Like I say above, I was thinking of France (though I may change the location to the U.S., possibly to the North Atlantic. It depends on some other plot stuff that I'm working out). Regardless, I think it would be in territorial waters.


How badly do you want the boat to be damaged? You talk about the yacht falling apart, do you want it to sink?

It doesn't matter too much if it sinks or not.


What aftermath do you want your characters to have to deal with? Days of hunger and thirst clinging to a bit of floatsam? Helicopter resuce two hours later? Fix the thing and come into port under their own power?

Good questions. The only really important factor is that the MC suffers a head injury that puts him in a brief coma and results in some lasting damage. Because of that, I think it'll work best for the plot if these people get medical attention pretty quickly (so, no days of clinging to flotsam, though that would be interesting to write about).

I was imagining something that would force everyone to take the lifeboat and flee, but again, that's somewhat flexible. I was thinking about having the MC's girlfriend suffer some injuries, as well (possibly burns), but that isn't essential.

Since my MC will be unconscious after a certain point, I may not show a whole lot of the escape/rescue portion of the ordeal.

ULTRAGOTHA
04-17-2014, 04:08 AM
It doesn't matter too much if it sinks or not.

All the boat people in this thread cried out in anguish and were suddenly silenced. :cry:




Good questions. The only really important factor is that the MC suffers a head injury that puts him in a brief coma and results in some lasting damage. Because of that, I think it'll work best for the plot if these people get medical attention pretty quickly (so, no days of clinging to flotsam, though that would be interesting to write about).

I was imagining something that would force everyone to take the lifeboat and flee, but again, that's somewhat flexible. I was thinking about having the MC's girlfriend suffer some injuries, as well (possibly burns), but that isn't essential.

Since my MC will be unconscious after a certain point, I may not show a whole lot of the escape/rescue portion of the ordeal.

Rouge wave was mentioned above.

Here (http://www.superyachtfan.com/super_yacht_insurance.html)is a listing of some accidents designed to make you buy insurance for your super yacht.

Thames luxury yacht crashes into Richmond Bridge and gets stuck (http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/thames-luxury-yacht-crashes-into-richmond-bridge-and-gets-stuck-9195744.html)

This guy has a Pinterest board (http://www.pinterest.com/simongb/yacht-maritime-accidents-incidents-human-factor-is/)on boating accidents.

Yacht accident stories. (http://www.yachtandcrew.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=1&Itemid=18)

That ought to give you plenty of fun-filled reading!

PorterStarrByrd
04-17-2014, 04:42 AM
Most at sea problems arise from weather or fire. In a yacht that size somebody could sabotage the engine room causing an explosion that could hurt as many people as you wanted to. Those don't have to blow the whole boat out of the water usually don't. There would probably be fire as a result but, as the author, you can control the size and how well it is controlled
Generally the boat would be well kept otherwise. Weather is the most likely thing other than that .. possible a tsunami wave could catch them close to shore in somewhat shallow water as it became to rise.
small chance of a fuel explosion from a leak is another possibilty.

They'd have to hit something pretty unusual to be damaged by anything floating and be going at an unusually high speed. People use that type a craft more as a floating resort than as a speed boat. and is it highly unlikely they'd hit a whale unless they were trying to.

King Neptune
04-17-2014, 04:54 AM
and is it highly unlikely they'd hit a whale unless they were trying to.

It is very unlikely they would hit a whale even if they tried really hard.

Helix
04-17-2014, 05:06 AM
It is very unlikely they would hit a whale even if they tried really hard.

Except for all the times it's happened when people haven't been trying hard.

A Review of Strikes of Whales by Sailing Yachts: A serious problem for whales, sailors and yachts (http://iwc.int/private/downloads/5qggdz52mocoo0cs88ko4gkg0/11%20Lonsdale.pdf) (PDF)

The number of collisions between some whale species and large vessels, in particular, is so high in some areas that there are speed and routing restrictions in place to reduce the impact (literally and figuratively) on whale populations (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/).

DancingMaenid
04-17-2014, 06:13 AM
Thank you for the links and information, everyone. It's given me some good ideas and resources to look at. I think I'm leaning toward a fire- or explosion-related issue.

Another question: would it be possible for an accident to occur (say, with the engine) that would cause a lot of damage or mayhem below deck, but allow the people above deck to remain relatively unharmed? My MC and his girlfriend sneak off below deck for a bit of alone time, and I was thinking that they might get trapped or imperiled down there, which could allow for injuries without necessarily having the entire boat fall apart or sink.

kaitie
04-17-2014, 07:19 AM
What kind of story is this? Are you super concerned with realism? Or just something readers will believe?

My first thought is that if you want something to put him in a coma, you're talking about a very serious head injury with probable long-term consequences, which also means he's probably going to need pretty much immediate medical care. It might be best to make sure they're close enough to land that he'll be able to get help quickly.

Most people have more of a Hollywood understanding of head injuries, so I think most people wouldn't have a problem suspending disbelief, but I personally would be surprised he was able to survive an injury serious enough to put him in a coma without prompt medical attention.

DancingMaenid
04-17-2014, 07:33 AM
What kind of story is this? Are you super concerned with realism? Or just something readers will believe?

My first thought is that if you want something to put him in a coma, you're talking about a very serious head injury with probable long-term consequences, which also means he's probably going to need pretty much immediate medical care. It might be best to make sure they're close enough to land that he'll be able to get help quickly.

Most people have more of a Hollywood understanding of head injuries, so I think most people wouldn't have a problem suspending disbelief, but I personally would be surprised he was able to survive an injury serious enough to put him in a coma without prompt medical attention.

Yeah, that's why I would prefer to go with something where they can get him to shore very quickly (and not have the boat be too far out).

I would like it to be realistic, but I don't need to go into a ton detail, either. I'd like to show the accident briefly, but it's only a small part of the overall story. I mostly need to 1) decide on the type of accident and 2) read up enough on that type of accident to be able to present a plausible scenario (partly shown, partly told to the MC later).

mccardey
04-17-2014, 12:06 PM
I would like it to be realistic, He could get hit by a passing fridge (http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/shipping-container-carrying-fridges-washes-up-on-shelly-beach-20140414-36mfe.html#ixzz2ypy1gopk).

Without even trying hard.

triceretops
04-17-2014, 12:41 PM
The shipping container collision is totally sound and possible. If the boat was moving at flank speed, a terrible hull breach could result, plus an impact concussion. She'd sink pretty quickly with a large gaping hole, or slowly with a seam crack or something more minor.

tri

King Neptune
04-17-2014, 04:03 PM
Except for all the times it's happened when people haven't been trying hard.

A Review of Strikes of Whales by Sailing Yachts: A serious problem for whales, sailors and yachts (http://iwc.int/private/downloads/5qggdz52mocoo0cs88ko4gkg0/11%20Lonsdale.pdf) (PDF)

The number of collisions between some whale species and large vessels, in particular, is so high in some areas that there are speed and routing restrictions in place to reduce the impact (literally and figuratively) on whale populations (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/).

I believe you, but the link is bad.