How It Happened
The Story of the Falling Boat Photos
A 55-Foot, 62,000-Pound Carver Marquis Plummeted From its Sling With Two Men Aboard.
By Kari Pugh
Updated November 8, 2007
Heart-stopping photos of a million-dollar yacht falling from a sling and plunging bow-first into the water with two crewmen aboard shot across the Internet earlier this year. They continue to get passed from inbox to inbox, receive endless scrutiny on forums and even garnered a mention on Snopes.com, the online debunker of urban legends.
Curious about the story behind the photos – and what happened to that boat – Mad Mariner did a little digging. The search led us to Carver Yachts, where spokesman Dick Nocenti verified that the photos are real and provided details about the accident.
This picture sparked an Internet frenzy as readers speculated whether it was legitimate. It is shown here in its original state. The image on Mad Mariner's home page was color enhanced to improve visibility.
The brand-new 55-foot Carver Marquis – baseline price $1.2 million, and closer to $2 million out the door – was being off-loaded for delivery to its new owner in Dubai's Port Jbel Ali on March 7, Nocenti said. An insurance representative was on hand snapping pictures and two Carver representatives were aboard, ready to ferry the boat to its owner as soon as it hit the water.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA
But the boat, about four stories up over roughly 45 feet of water, began slipping from the rear strap due to "wind and water action," Nocenti said. The straps around the bow and stern of the boat were not tied together, which he said is a common practice when unloading yachts.
"The boat nosedived," he said. It hit bottom, crushing the front end, and then capsized and sank.
The men aboard had no choice but to ride it out, a fearful few seconds that were also captured on camera. In one of the pictures, a man can be seen clinging to the rear of the boat as it nose dives and the arm of the second man is visible forward of him.
Carver did not identify the two crewmen, but Nocenti said that one broke his collar bone and the other was uninjured. One of the photos shows both men swimming away from the accident, and Nocenti said the injured representative was treated and has since returned to work.
On June 18, the photos found their way to Cargolaw.com, a site run by the transportation law firm Countryman & McDaniel, which often features horrific cargo-related images. They identified the boat.
Then, Snopes got it and, after checking with Carver, declared that the photos were real. But there were few details, and not everyone saw their dispatch.
There was also some confusion. Snopes and Cargolaw reported it was being put onto a cargo vessel, but Nocenti said the boat was being offloaded.
When the photos made their way to YachtForums.com, the site’s traffic exploded, as readers debated whether they were real or a product of PhotoShop. On June 6, the site broke its previous record for the most users online at one time. More than 2,750 people were ogling the images when the site’s servers crashed.
The pictures were viewed more than 20,000 times on the site in the first 24 hours, and more than 75,000 times total. The site’s publisher, Carl Camper, called them “quite possibly the most amazing pictures ever captured in yachting.”
Mad Mariner obtained the photos from a reader, who received them via email from a friend, part of a long chain of boater-to-boater emails that passed the photos through several cities.
The photos continued to march across the Internet this week, after MadMariner.com on Monday published this very story. On Tuesday, it was viewed more than 100,000 times in 24 hours. As of Saturday evening, it had been viewed nearly 157,000 times, drawing more than 70,000 readers to the site.
LOSS AND GAIN
The Carver Marquis is a high-end boat, built with entertainment in mind. Owners can choose to order the boat with a lower helm station or a “sky lounge,” according to company marketing documents. The vessel features granite counters in the galley, Italian marble in the heads and optional quarters for crew. Standard power is a pair of 500 HP Volvo Penta diesels.
Fully loaded with 200 gallons of water and more than 800 gallons of fuel, the boat weighs roughly 62,000 pounds, according to the company.
The yacht that fell was a total loss. One of the photos shows the boat capsized, its running gear demolished, and on its way down. A few days after the accident, the boat was raised and the insurance company took possession.
The boat's owner, whom Carver did not identify, did not get to enjoy his new ride for even a second. However, Nocenti said the owner waited for the insurance company, also unidentified, to settle and immediately bought another Carver.
It hasn't been delivered yet.