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Old 04-11-2010, 09:14 AM   #1
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I went to Svendsen's Boat Works of Alameda, California to have their riggers look at my standing rigging prior to my intended voyage to Panama just this last February. Their Rigging foreman, Chris Tibbe, took a quick look around and stated flatly that I should replace all of my standing rigging, add an additional stay that had been removed some time ago, and remove a pair of 1/4" shrouds that he claimed were extraneous.

$10,000 dollars later, I was ready to set sail for Panama. Well, not 10 hours of actual sailing later, while on a close hauled starboard tack, about 12 miles out from the Golden Gate, making between 6 and 8 knotts in then 15-20kt. winds and 9'-12' seas, a loud "pop" was heard immediately followed by my 9 year old carbon fiber mast breaking about 12'-14' off the deck and falling directly to port. Boat speed immediately dropped and we were foundering. Within minutes the mast broke again just above the gooseneck. The next 30 minutes were spent freeing the rig by pulling all of the pins at deck level before the mast and rigging managed to hole us and send us to the bottom. We tried to hold on to the rig by the backstay after everything else was in the water and we were relatively certain the rudder and prop were free of any obstruction. I started the motor and tried in vain to halt our drift, already over two miles towards the rocky coastline. The acrid stench of burning belts was smelled immediately. Rather then risk loosing the engine as well, the decision was made to let the whole rig go, mast, sails, furler, electronics, stays, and shrouds, all gone to the bottom of the Pacific.

San Francisco/Golden Gate Coast Guard came out, checked on us to be sure we weren't taking on water and maintained radio contact until we could limp back to Svendsen's rig shop. At the end of the day, Chris came out to look at what was left and in minutes time declared that whoever had installed the carbon mast 9 years ago, KKMI, had done so improperly and that this was the cause of the catastrophic failure we had experienced. He would however be happy to quote me on a new mast, rigging, furler, etc....

Coincidence? Never met one. In fact, every rigger, sailor, engineer, naval architect, swabbie, etc., says the same thing: Rigging failure. Now it's for a Judge( and Jury?) to decide. Meanwhile, my crew had to go, I'm paying dockage, no work, my job in Panama slipped away, and Svendsen tells me that they will sue me for defaming them! What? I'm merely stating the facts here. You be the judge.

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Old 04-11-2010, 11:05 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsquared' date='11 April 2010 - 04:14 PM View Post

Svendsen's Boat Works of Alameda, California . Their Rigging foreman, Chris Tibbe, took a quick look around and stated flatly that I should replace all of my standing rigging, add an additional stay that had been removed some time ago, and remove a pair of 1/4" shrouds that he claimed were extraneous.

$10,000 dollars later, while on a close hauled starboard tack, about 12 miles out from the Golden Gate, making between 6 and 8 knotts in then 15-20kt. winds and 9'-12' seas, a loud "pop" was heard immediately followed by my 9 year old carbon fiber mast breaking about 12'-14' off the deck and falling directly to port. Boat speed immediately dropped and we were foundering. Within minutes the mast broke again just above the gooseneck.

San Francisco/Golden Gate Coast Guard came out, checked on us to be sure we weren't taking on water and maintained radio contact until we could limp back to Svendsen's rig shop. At the end of the day, Chris came out to look at what was left and in minutes time declared that whoever had installed the carbon mast 9 years ago, KKMI, had done so improperly and that this was the cause of the catastrophic failure we had experienced. He would however be happy to quote me on a new mast, rigging, furler, etc....

You be the judge.
Two things stand out here :- A $10,000 re-rigging of the boat - If the mast had been improperly installed 9 years before, how come this was only noticed after the mast had fractured ? Surely the time to have seen latent faults if any should have been recorded during the re-rigging process.

The Mast and it's standing rigging are one entity - especially when a job of this type is being carried out.
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:59 AM   #3
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Absolutely agree with MMNetsea. Frankly, during the $10,000 re-rig, any faults should have been discovered and noted....fact is, to change the rigging they had to be up the mast....and if they were not inspecting the rig as well, they were negligent....completely and without doubt.

Don't what type of rig you have, but there are uppers, lowers, spreaders, etc, and they would have seen all of it.... Our riggers here in Annapolis always inspect the rig, replace any lights that may be out...whatever needs to be done, any time they are up the mast.... I would definitely hire a good attorney....at least speak to one soon....

Good Luck....
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:15 PM   #4
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This story is being posted in a number of forums - some of which have since deleted it, presumably because the apparent intention is to damage the reputation of the yard involved rather than to enter into a discussion of cause, effect etc.

There are always two sides to consider.
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:43 PM   #5
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In the posting of the topic in Cruiser Logs forums - there is no apparent intention to damage the reputation of the yard - The yard is free to respond.

Let the facts of the matter decide.
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Old 04-12-2010, 12:21 AM   #6
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Oh, my. I must say, not being from California, but living here for a little while, that Californians certainly are a litigious bunch. I also just really don't like it when someone comes here and makes their first post on Cruiser Log be such a negative, finger-pointing thing. I'm sorry for Scottsquared's loss of rig, but really don't like the tenor of this thread, guys.

I do understand that when one spends money on professionals doing a re-rig, one would hope that defects in the spars are noted so they can be dealt with.

However, having said that, it is very easy to miss defects that can lead to catastrophic failure. It is also very easy for a sailor to overload their rig (especially just after the rig has been changed or tuned) in the sorts of winds and seas that this rig failure occurred in. How much sail was up? How heeled was the boat? Was she hobby-horsing or slicing cleanly through those waves? Were there indications that the re-rig wasn't quite right (mast movement, etc?)

The fact that for 9 years the carbon fiber mast was defective and not noted by the owner, prior owner, or any rigger doing routine rig inspection (which includes spars...and is typically done before and after any major passage and at least say...once a year other than those times...) says that a mast defect may not have been obvious at all. As the owner of the boat, planning a bluewater passage, Scottsquared has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the structural integrity of his vessel including the spars and rig.

Though the end result might have been the same--with loss of rig, it does not paint a picture of Scottsquared as a prudent skipper if he had less than a day's sailing time on the rig before heading off for a bluewater passage of thousands of miles. I have no empathy for a sailor who would do such a thing without urgent reasons which were not revealed in this topic thread. A prudent skipper would likely subject his new rig to many miles and many hours of LOCAL, coastal cruising BEFORE setting off on such a passage. Why do I think this? I'm no rigger but I do know that sometimes riggers pre-stretch a rig in the shop before installation (ridding the wire of some construction stretch), other times, the riggers put the rig on the boat w/o such serious pre-stretching, tell the owner to go for a sail in a stiff breeze and then re-tension the rig after the wind has done the job of stretching out the rig a bit. Even if the rigger did tension the rig in the shop, it is possible (likely?) for additional stretch to occur during the first several hours of sailing and the rig would have to be tensioned up to prevent excessive spar movement during sailing... which can lead to spars breaking. Brion Toss's Riggers' Apprentice does a great job of explaining how rigs are tensioned if anyone cares to read about it, btw.

So, the mast can fail for many reasons--flaw in the mast, rig too loose (as mentioned above), rig too tight (was the mast in-column?). As a cautious sailor with a recently re-rigged boat, I keep a tension gauge on the boat for use during rig inspection. Did Scottsquared have such a device and was Scottsquared aware of the level of tension which existed in the new rig?

Scottsquared is a new CL member and this is his/her first post. Scottsquared doesn't give us the information of whether the failure was at a fitting to the mast or if the spar simply broke and revealed a flaw on its way over the side. It's at the bottom of the ocean so Scottsquared and the boatyard can hash this out privately w/o the benefit of the spars and rigging as post-accident evidence to inspect and understand what happened.

We understand that the boat drifted 2 miles and the skipper felt there was some urgency to dump the rig to slow drift. Unfortunately, I don't read how quickly that 2 miles was covered--2 miles per hour, 2 miles per 15 minutes? It seems likely that, a mere 10 miles from shore, with a call to Vessel Assist, the USCG, etc, while still trying to keep the rig, that one could hope to save a rig--but we weren't there dealing with this calamity, so we can only surmise that it was highly difficult in those seas to do much of anything. It is awful that Scottsquared had to jettison the rig while 10 miles offshore and could find no mean to slow his way. Assume the sails in the water were NOT acting to impede way (as a drogue or anything dragging from the boat would be expected to do) but rather were working with the conditions to make matters worse. Assume that Scottsquared was unable to get the rig fully behind the boat to drag it either. I would love to hear about what was going on there from Scottsquared or anyone else who has experienced similar events with spars and sails in the water.

Many questions here. However, what comes to mind, for me, is that understanding my rig is very important and keeping on top of rig inspection including all spars is my responsibility as a boat owner.

Fair winds,

Brenda

PS, while it was likely included simply to elicit empathy, I don't find myself empathetic to this fellow's plight: "paying dockage, no work, my job in Panama slipped away," --to the first, the SF Bay area is a wonderful place to anchor for free. I know several folks who are doing it now (try up the Delta, for example) or have recently. To the second point, if you have no job, you can easily baby-sit the boat while it is at anchor and California has excellent unemployment benefits, food stamps, and healthcare assistance for the unemployed. Finally, there are many flights to Panama. Not expensive at all to simply fly there for your job. Counting on a boat to get from point A to point B (far distance) in a fixed time frame for a job or other important matter is foolhardy and places one at risk for just this sort of calamity as one finds oneself forced to push the schedule, IMHO.
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Old 04-12-2010, 04:32 PM   #7
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$10,000 to replace a standing rig ... ??? ... More money than sense
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:22 AM   #8
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Hi guys, newbie here - please be gentle.

I've just registered to let you know this poster has indeed been flooding many sailing forums with this story.

I'm a denizen of Sailing Anarchy and Mr scottsomething left there with his tail between his legs as a lot of people who know a lot more about boats and rigging tore his story apart. (it is worth noting the reservations your members were displaying also, congratulations on not being sucked in).

Don't waste your sympathy on him. But if you can handle the occassional coarse word, you might get some good laughs out of the thread if you visit there.

Have a good day.
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:15 AM   #9
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Oh, Sailing Anarchy - they rip you to pieces if there are any inconsistencies, and there seemed to be a lot for them to pick over! I recommend the thread (later pages) to be found at

http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/ind...=107090&st=200
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Old 04-13-2010, 11:28 AM   #10
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ED,

You are so right - I guess one poster summed it all up in the description "Wanker"

At times one could not help having sympathy, when various members took delight in kicking the man, who continually downed himself with so many shots in the foot.
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Old 04-13-2010, 11:39 AM   #11
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Personally, the bit I enjoyed most was the revelation of the foul abusive contents of the PM sent by the OP & who was claiming the moral high ground......
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