Maltese Falcon in collision with an admirer

The owner of the 289ft superyacht Maltese Falcon, Tom Perkins has posted an account of a collision his yacht was involved in with a Nordic 40, Stand By, on San Francisco Bay.

Maltese Falcon suffered damage to a section of her starboard topside and rail.

The top of the Nordic 40’s mast also punched a hole in one of Falcon’s sails.

As for the smaller boat, a big chunk was taken out of her bow.

‘A few minutes before this photo sequence was taken, the Falcon had turned to port, to give the right of way to the smaller yacht, which was to leeward on the starboard tack.

‘The Stand By was originally on a roughly reciprocal course to that of the Falcon.

‘Prior to the photos shown here, Stand By was bearing away, and the two yachts were on safe courses to pass roughly with a distance of 200ft separation.

‘After Stand By had sailed past the Falcon’s bow, the smaller vessel suddenly rounded up, possibly to tack in order to follow the Falcon, when she lost control.

‘With her main sheeted hard in, the smaller boat was unable to bear away to avoid a collision.

‘A San Francisco Bay Pilot was on the Falcon’s bridge overseeing the Falcon’s course at all times.

‘The pilot is also an experienced sailor and sailboat owner.

‘Because of the Falcon’s tonnage, a licensed pilot is required whenever the yacht is underway, approaching, or inside the Bay.

The Stand By did not stop after the collision. The Falcon furled her sails and pursued the 40-footer under power, in order to determine her name
and registration number.

‘The pilot radioed the U.S. Coast Guard, which intercepted Stand By and boarded her.

‘The accident was caused by Stand By’s sudden change of course, which was much too quick to permit the Falcon to respond.

‘The Falcon sustained damage to hull, capping rail, superstructure and main lower topsail, but fortunately there were no injuries to persons aboard
either vessel.

‘We spoke to others who were aboard Falcon, such as Tad Lacey, who has been sailing and racing the Bay for more than 50 years, and they were dumbfounded at what happened.

‘Lacey and the others said the boats were passing with no problem until Stand By suddenly luffed up.

“We sailed aboard Falcon the next day, and can confirm that many small boat skippers seemed intent on getting as close as possible to Falcon – even if it meant crossing a short distance in front of her bow with a backwinded genoa or sailing on a reciprocal course.

‘Please folks, give a little room. Besides, the view is even better from several hundred feet away.’

— Excerpt from a story by Richard Spindler posted with pictures on the Latitude 38 website.

Picture by Peter Lyons

For all the latest from the sailing world, follow our social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have you thought about taking out a subscription to Yachting Monthly magazine?

Subscriptions are available in both print and digital editions through our official online shop Magazines Direct and all postage and delivery costs are included.

  • Yachting Monthly is packed with all the information you need to help you get the most from your time on the water.
  • Take your seamanship to the next level with tips, advice and skills from our expert skippers and sailors
  • Impartial in-depth reviews of the latest yachts and equipment will ensure you buy the best whatever your budget
  • If you are looking to cruise away with friends Yachting Monthly will give you plenty of ideas of where to sail and anchor