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Old 12-13-2009, 09:31 PM   #1
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You can read the story here: http://blog.mailasail.com/nightsong

For me it was a rather interesting story. Three times up there, hats up!

The next question is: how one can gather such an enormous list of breakages?

I am sure that there is much to analyze here for the benefit of everyone.

It is noted that there has been many breakages on ARC. In this respect Nightsong's experience was not unusual, hust the extent of it was higher. (Also at least they did not experience rudder failure, which have led to the abandonment of one boat, and diversion to Cape Verde of at least one other.)

Mr. Beveridge, the skipper of Nightsong has kindly agreed to help with the analysis,

so here we are.

The list of breakages:

Nov. 26: managed to break the gennaker sheet last evening - fraying on

the preventer guy. While trying to raise the small 140sqm gennaker, we

failed to notice a small tear which quickly became a 10m tear in many

directions.

Nov. 27: we were just taking in a nightime mainsail reef when the jib

came down (my fault I shouldn't have said it was the one sail that we

hadn't torn!). What had happened was that the swivel snap shackle that

attaches the jib to the top furler mechanism had broken. First up the

mast.

Nov. 29: the snap shackle had snapped open - we guess caused by the

round split pin getting caught on something. 2nd up the mast.

Nov. 30: Another problem with the mainsail - while taking in the 3rd

reef in force 7 we managed to rip it on the luff.

Dec. 3: the Duogen failed - luckily only a drive pin - and its back

generating electricity.

Dec. 5: The jib halyard snap shackle at the upper end came undone for

a 2nd time despite being taped up. 3rd up the mast

Dec. 5: while rounding up to reef, we ripped the jib by flogging it

Dec. 6: some bolts loose in the anchor locker which came out of the

furling gear.

sometimes around dec 5-17: the wind instrument went awol in one of the squalls

Dec. 9: we broke the gennaker halyard and dumped the Code 0 in the sea

4 stanchion bases have broken from the deck - 1 in the first 3 days

and the other 3 in the last 3 days.

My thoughts:

Maybe the vessel was much more provisioned than it is usual for her, so its draft and hence the strain was higher.

Also maybe going downwind for such a long time was an unusual experience for her and the crew.

I also understand that some elements (bolts of stanchion bases) hasn't been up to specification.

My questions:

First of all, what kind of vessel we are talking about?

To what extent was the amount of cargo and downwind unusual to her?

It is suggested elsewhere, that the rigging might have been done "at home", and might be a bit undersized. So who has made it, and to what specification? (Oh, maybe it has been suggested in context of Pelican's rig failure which led to abandonment of that boat.)

Also UV damage to the sails has been suggested, but it has also been pointed out that 3 years should not be too much for (good) sails when properly cared for. What kind of sails are they, what kind of maintenance do they normally receive?
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:00 PM   #2
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Thanks for compiling the list of failures for us. Maybe I'm used to things breaking or just expect it...but it sounds like what happens on lots of trips and lots of boats. By the way, I HATE snap shackles! Don't trust them--can't wire them shut like you can a regular shackle. But that's just another issue...and you do have to use what you have to use...

Tearing sails--the best of sailors manage to tear up brand new sails. It happens. When a headsail gets away from you it can flog itself very quickly and do damage that may not be an immediate tear but can show up later as a tear when a similar incident occurs. Further, are these heavy cruising sails made for offshore work or regular general duty sails? There is a difference in reinforcements and that can really matter when taking in a reef. Besides reinforcements in the Dacron (were they Dacron or not btw?) there's the whole issue of how the cringle is fabricated and if it is properly sized for the sail. Did they have a Cunningham? Perhaps the reefing hook used missed the cringle and ripped the sail. That happens--even to the best of sailors.

Things break. It sounds like a frustrating list but...things break...

Chafe and fatigue take a toll during any lengthy passage. The longer on one tack the more likely that fatigue is working its way through some important part of your boat

Speaking of things breaking--I recently spoke to a previous owner of our boat who took it to Hawaii on a TransPac. She did two of those races, btw. The TransPac is, most years, a downwind race. It was such in that year as well. I asked him how the trip went and what all broke. He said they blew out a big asymmetric spinnaker by not realizing that the winds were picking up and not getting it down soon enough. He had to climb the foremast due to the carnage of that blowout. He also climbed both the main and fore masts numerous times to retrieve halyards and unwind sails from around the freshwater stay and the triatic (stays between the main and fore masts) for the fisherman and gollywobbler (special 4-sided staysails used on schooners) because of too many "oops" moments from his crew. Those sails have two halyards--on on each mast. He finally forbid the crew to use such sails when he wasn't at the helm--rather they were to only use four working sails (jib, stay, fore, and main) without his supervision.

He said a few blocks blew up and numerous sail repairs were made but nothing happened that couldn't be fixed. Oh, well, the Loran stopped working and the ham radio fried at some point but he didn't consider them necessities.
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:34 PM   #3
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That is indeed quite an impressive list of failures... I'm definitely in agreement on snap shackles... I have a few on my boat but all at deck level where they will not be moving, just holding.

I'll try to be nice in this one but I'm really stumped by the loss of stanchions.... How did that happen?? where did they fail, at the bolts, did the deck itself tear away (moisture problem??) ? What was it that exerted so much force as to break them?

as for all the torn sails. Was there no sail repair kit on board?
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atavist View Post
That is indeed quite an impressive list of failures... I'm definitely in agreement on snap shackles... I have a few on my boat but all at deck level where they will not be moving, just holding.

I'll try to be nice in this one but I'm really stumped by the loss of stanchions.... How did that happen?? where did they fail, at the bolts, did the deck itself tear away (moisture problem??) ? What was it that exerted so much force as to break them?

as for all the torn sails. Was there no sail repair kit on board?
The blog says that the builder insisted the bolts of the stanchions was 10mm, however in reality they were only 8.

Also according to the blog ther length of sail repair kit wasn't enough for the rip on the first cracked sail.
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:20 PM   #5
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I see... ...

I wish his blog had incident titles with the dates. It's a bit difficult to find specific bits of information the way he just gives dates.... I'm poking through now in reverse chronological order... glad to hear they made it in... I didn't actually realize they had made it, I thought this was another boat abandonment story... they all run together after a while... So while I may be critical of the breakages kudos to the skipper and crew for overcoming the difficulties and sticking it out.

As I read back I don't think the problem was extra provisions weighing the boat down... Strikes me that these guys really "wanna go fast"... lots of talk of 7.5 knots, full sail in a F5, gennaker in a force 4.... ... just MHO but sounds like the problem is a racing mentallity at sea instead of a safest sailing mentallity... just me but I generally reef at F5 and would never run a gennaker/spinnaker/etc in anything over F3... reminds me of my last transat when my sister ship was flying her full genny downwind in a F8... I kept telling them to put in 2 reefs and put up a triple reefed main to bring some of the drive astern but they wouldn't listen because they liked the speed... I think they figured out why I wanted them to reef when they blew their headstay.

for sail repair kit. A backup I always keep onboard for sail repair is a 300m spool of paracord... the interior strands work great for sail thread, which having 7 strands gives you 2100m of sail repair thread on hand in case of emergencies.
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Old 12-14-2009, 06:14 PM   #6
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Sounds mainly like operator error to me. Don't quite understand the snap shackle problem though, my main halyard has a captive pin shackle, all other halyards are snap shackles and I have never had one open ( on load or otherwise) on me ( touch wood).

Regardless of the 8mm or 10mm bolts stanchions shouldn't just carry away unless a fair bit of load ( falling mast or falling body) is put on them or they are used as levers...don't you hate it when people in dinghies haul themselves over the rail using your stanchions as the lever... 100 kgs x 18 inches of stanchion working on two inches of bolt...grrrrrrr
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Old 12-14-2009, 07:57 PM   #7
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"for sail repair kit. A backup I always keep onboard for sail repair is a 300m spool of paracord... the interior strands work great for sail thread, which having 7 strands gives you 2100m of sail repair thread on hand in case of emergencies."

That's a great one! Now...I just need to go find the paracord...

Frank, I've never had a snap shackle fail--but by design, they load up in ways that regular D or bow shackles don't and thus I don't trust them. They are primed for failure if used in a non-static (as Atavist notes his more static use in "holding" not moving) manner, IMHO.

It does seems that these folks do have the high-speed mentality. That's OK if you're prepared for lots of things to break--because they will.

Stanchions--I figured they had someone fall against the stanchions/lifelines or use them in a way that leverage/moment was placed on the base. Again--that kind of stuff does happen. It happens a lot when people lash water and gas cans and their surf board to the life line stanchions and then go offshore and face some green water...

Not to be too laid back about this--but really it seems that all the crappy stuff that happens to folks just happened to these folks. We can sit here and say "they should have been more careful" or "they should have done xyz" and that is certainly helpful for all of us to be aware of behavior or methods which will result in desired outcomes vs failure of equipment or unsafe conditions, but, truly I'm more interested in knowing what conditions the failures happened in so I can think in terms of prep. on my own boat and my own repair procedures and supplies.

Fair winds,
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Old 12-15-2009, 01:02 PM   #8
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A lot of Walmarts, and Sports Authorities carry paracord pretty cheap by the 300ft spool about $24. For the bigger 300m/1000ft spool you may have to go to the internet if there's not a good military surplus store in your area. http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/MHR305-1.html only $40 for three times the amount.
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Old 12-15-2009, 01:53 PM   #9
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Para cord is nylon, though, isn't it? That's what I see from my quick search, and it makes sense because you would want a little bit of stretch to reduce shock loads on a parachute, I'd think.

Nylon is not good for sewing sails except in an extreme emergency when you have nothing else. You want dacron thread. I've even used Dental Floss for lots of emergency stitching. Waxed dental floss is good, it slips easily through existing thread holes.

Also, go to your trusty friendly sailmaker and get basting tape, which is a light two-sided tape used to baste sails before machine sewing them. It is great stuff for many uses, and will lightly reinforce any emergency stitching you might do on a sail.
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:18 PM   #10
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Yeah I would only use the paracord thread for an emergency...

two sided carpet layers tape from your local hardware store is pretty darn sticky and may be more obtainable for some and do the same job as basting tape... that's what I always use when installing a patch, to hold it in place for hand sewing (no sewing machine onboard yet)
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:24 PM   #11
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I usually carry 2-sided carpet tape, it makes a good emergency repair for lots of things, but it is very thick and wide and a bit unwieldy for repairing sails. If the tape isn't completely covered by the sail material, the first time you stow or furl your sail, the tape will glue the whole sail together and make a terrible mess when you deploy it again.

Still, it's better than nothing.
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:03 AM   #12
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The basting tape is available in the USA from Sailrite. http://www.sailrite.com/

So far, my emergency sail repair kit includes the 120 yards of the basting tape (3/8") you're talking about as well as all the following:

UV resistant polyester thread of various weights,

a sailmaker's palm,

pliers and vicegrips (needlenose) for pulling needles through several layers of cloth (less risky than using the palm, IMHO),

beeswax,

a variety of sailmakers and leatherworking needles,

3 pairs of sharp scissors (one for leather, two for everything else),

a dozen #6 (7/8") and #9 (1-1/4") brass rings with liners for sewing in eyes for the sail slides to go on,

bronze rings (2" 2.5", 3") for cringles/tack/clew, thin brass for custom liners,

roundeye thimbles for the jacklines,

polyester 3 strand rope for jacklines,

30 yards of adhesive backed sail repair tape,

several weights of whipping twine,

sewing awl twine,

waxed flat and bobbin twine,

natural marlin and several sizes of synthetic marlin,

100 #4 (1/2") plain grommets,

approx 5 sq yards of 4 oz chrome-tanned leather for reinforcements and chafe guard,

similar quantity of 7 oz Latigo leather for heavier chafe guard on mast hoops, spars, etc,

several different widths of webbing,

grommet setting tools,

a portable industrial sewing machine w/zigzag stitch (Reliable brand, but identical to one of the Sailrite machines).

The things I don't have yet that I would like to get include extra sailcloth in 9 oz and 11 oz weights, leech line, extra boltrope and luffwire. There are surely other things, but I've yet to get them firmly onto my radar screen.
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Old 12-16-2009, 12:55 PM   #13
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I'm going to start a new thread in the Boson's locker for this discussion as we have effectively highjacked this thread.
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