A scary problem

Preparations are moving along. But, not without some new hurdles popping up out of nowhere. We had a scary one on the weekend.

This weekend we discovered a problem that initially caused us grave concern. It appeared at first we had a major structural problem with the boat, but it turned out it was “just” a mistake made during manufacturing that made it look that way. The problem involves a long metal track slide that goes along one of the bows to hold up one of the two trampolines between the bows (mostly used by sun bathers, but also used for setting up sails during passages). The slides hold plastic “slugs” which are little square shaped “holes” that hold the lines which are connected to the trampoline mats. The slugs are designed to break if a large wave hits the mats (just one or two might break if the force is strong enough).

We had a little wave action on the trip when we came back from Beaufort weekend before last. But, not much. Until Saturday when we were doing some waxing of the bows and noticed the slide on one of the hulls had been pulled out about an inch! This should never happen because the slugs should give long before the hull should give way. I immediately jumped in the v-berth in the bow (this is on the port side), and saw that the washers on the bolts for the slide – which serve as a “backing plate” on the inside of the hull – were pulled through into the “wall” on the inside!

I had all sorts of visions of our having to do major fiberglass work, but I took some pictures and sent notes to the builder. He responded on Monday with a calming, but apologetic, voice. The issue isn’t structural. It turns out they put about an inch of insulation on the inside walls of the living spaces (to prevent condensation). Where these bolt washers went in place, someone was supposed to put a hard “spacer” against the inside of the hull, and THEN place the washer on top of that. But, instead they just stuck the washer on this thin shell of inner wall covering the “soft” insulation. Well, they held for the last 8000 miles, but gradually weakened. Then during our last trip, we finally broke through.

Needless to say, the builder has said we can get it fixed and he’ll pay for it. He even gave detailed instructions on the best way to make the repair. Now we have to find someone available on short notice to get the work done.

The good news is that this happened before we left. Once fixed, we’ll have great confidence the problem won’t happen again. We also have had no other issues of significance with the manufacturing of the boat, so our confidence isn’t greatly shaken.

I just wish it didn’t happen this close to the end of our preparations.

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4 Responses to A scary problem

  1. luv2boat says:

    You’re fortunate you found the problem when you did, even if it is close to your departure date. Better to deal with people you know. – Ed

  2. DJK says:

    breakdowns, are a reality at sea, always be prepared for breakdowns at the worst time.
    Your trip will only be as good as you can solve theses breakdowns.
    I wish you both the best on your trip and will be following your travels.

    DJK

  3. Frank Taylor says:

    @Ed: It is good, because it certainly could have caused more damage on a longer passage or under worse conditions.
    @DJK: I agree that being prepared to handle breakdowns under the conditions at hand is an essential part to good seamanship. Sometimes innovation is essential to dealing with a breakdown if you don’t have the exact spare, or conditions, to make the correct repair.

  4. Theodore (Tad) Prince says:

    Frank,
    Carol and my mom (Cathy) were telling me about your blog and your big adventure. All I can say is that I am soooooo extremely jealous.
    I grew up sailing and did a stint sailing with the U.S. Navy during a summer when I was in ROTC. It is in my blood and you are living the dream!
    I now live in Ireland with my wife and kids, but have every intention of doing just what you are doing now. My plan is a five year one; in which I join Sailtime (or some other sailboat timeshare), make a fortune (as I know that it requires a fortune to do what you are doing), convince my wife that selling all of our assets and uprooting the family to follow this wander-lust is a worthwhile proposal, quit my job with NetJets (or better yet get made redundant with a nice package), touch up my sailing skills, teach the family love, respect, and appreciation for sailing, and get started on the dream.
    Until then, I will be following your every adventure religiously on-line. If and when you pass by Ireland, please stop on in. I will have a hot meal, a bed, and a bit of Irish hospitality lined up.
    I am also on facebook and skype.
    Cheers!
    Tad

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