Amid a furious thunderstorm on the morning Monday 21st January, the 94 foot yacht Keturah was reportedly struck by lightning at about 6 a.m. although, as the fire started in the engine room, opinions as to the cause differ. The yacht was completely burnt out and destroyed by the subsequent fire.
The yacht’s Captain Brent Daw and his wife Amanda, the only crew on board, had arrived the previous evening from St. Maarten and docked at the Catamaran Marina. They were asleep when the yacht was struck and were awakened by a loud noise. Seeing flames, Brent apparently attempted to tackle the fire and in the process received second degree burns over about 20% of his body. After the intervention of ABSAR (Antigua Barbuda Search and Rescue) he was rushed to the Adelin Clinic together with his wife who received minor injuries. Brent was subsequently flown to Miami for further treatment.
Quick action by yachtsmen from other boats moored at the Catamaran Marina prevented any damage to the dock and other nearby yachts. They released the Ketura’s mooring lines and towed her away until she went aground about 100 yards from the marina.
Despite the heavy rains, the efforts of fire-fighters with a fire engine from All Saints and the volunteers manning a variety of craft, nothing could quench the blaze. According to the Captain there were 3,000 litres of fuel on board which probably contributed to the severity of the fire. A floating boom lent by Antigua Yacht Club Marina was placed around the burning yacht to prevent oil spillage from spreading to the Catamaran Marina.
At about 8 a.m. the mast of the yacht fell down, followed soon after by two substantial explosions, believed to be caused by exploding gas cylinders. Despite the fire having subsided by the end of Monday, it re-ignited itself on Tuesday morning, the hulk burning for a total of 36 hours. Insurers have had the remains of the yacht lifted to examine it to endeavour to establish the cause of the fire.
Several other yachts were reported to have been struck by lightning but none seriously damaged.
Editor’s note: The All at Sea team thanks several readers on Antigua who sent reports and photos of this event