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Old 24-05-2014, 13:13   #1
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Cheeki Rafiki

It has just been announced that the upturned hull of the First 40.7 yacht Cheeki Rafiki has just been found by the USCG some 600 miles west of the Azores. The life raft was still stowed and the four crew members are nowhere to be found, presumed lost. The USCG photo showed that the keel had sheered off. The guys did not have a chance.
I don't know if Beneteau, the manufacturer, have something to answer for, but as a Beneteau owner myself, it is one of my biggest concerns, the keel bolts' attachment to the hull. I do not need a naval architect to tell me the obvious; the fact is Cheeki Rafiki's sheered. If this were General Motors they would issue a recall on all their Chevrolet First 40.7 models and follow up on similarly engineered designs.
At the very least I think we need an answer from Beneteau and what remedial steps need to be taken if any to First 40.7 keel design and others similar to it. As for my boat, I do everything I can to prevent my Beneteau stainless steel keel bolts from rusting, but it is a difficult battle. in addition I don't know what is going on 'inside', the parts I cannot see. FYI, my Dufour Gibsea 43 is a 2001 model (about as old as the Cheeki Rafiki) has cruised the Caribbean and the Med extensively. We carry full USCG (and arguably more strict European) safety equipment including an EPIRB for the boat and personal ones and the Vhf is DSC'ed. Liferaft is serviced every 3 years (current Euro regs). However it is unlikely I could survive a sheered keel.
If you share my thoughts, please respond. Enough responses and maybe Beneteau will respond. At the very least they should offer an inspection on older yachts or when significant rust is spotted by the owner.
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Old 24-05-2014, 13:20   #2
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Whats the major point of this thread? The title doesn't reflect it and there is already a significant thread running already.

UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic
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Old 24-05-2014, 13:29   #3
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

GM would not issue a recall until/unless it was determined that it was a manufacturing default, certainly not after one incident without any investigation. Perhaps this happened because they hit a whale and ripping off a different kind of keel would have sunk the boat within minutes. There have certainly been cases where a crew loses the keel and is able to wait for rescue on the overturned boat.

Furthermore, has there ever been a recall issued on a model that is over a decade old?
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Old 24-05-2014, 13:46   #4
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pirate Re: Cheeki Rafiki

OFFS....
One failure outa thousands...
Looking for a freebie on the backs of four guys...??
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Old 24-05-2014, 13:59   #5
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenhand View Post
GM would not issue a recall until/unless it was determined that it was a manufacturing default, certainly not after one incident without any investigation. Perhaps this happened because they hit a whale and ripping off a different kind of keel would have sunk the boat within minutes. There have certainly been cases where a crew loses the keel and is able to wait for rescue on the overturned boat.

Furthermore, has there ever been a recall issued on a model that is over a decade old?
Reply:
1. We are talking about a design fault.
2. I suspect there has been many more than one incident, but Beneteau will be tight lipped on this.
3. I have had whales around my boat. You don't hit them; they hit you but in the hull not the keel.
4. Yes there have been cases, I believe, involving the First 40.7, but rescue services have been nearby. Mid Atlantic during a storm is a different story.
5. With respect, you miss the recall point. In the old days keels never sheered off unless due to previous damage. Beneteau is absolutely the General Motors of boat manufacturing. We now have a sheered keel for no apparent reason. If Chevrolet can be held accountable on 10 year old cars, why cannot Beneteau? What makes them immune from the loss of four innocent (but highly experienced sailors) lives?
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Old 24-05-2014, 14:08   #6
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

A boarding ladder attached to underside of a hull,may increase chances of survival.
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Old 24-05-2014, 14:15   #7
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmthompson99 View Post
Reply:
1. We are talking about a design fault.
2. I suspect there has been many more than one incident, but Beneteau will be tight lipped on this.
3. I have had whales around my boat. You don't hit them; they hit you but in the hull not the keel.
4. Yes there have been cases, I believe, involving the First 40.7, but rescue services have been nearby. Mid Atlantic during a storm is a different story.
5. With respect, you miss the recall point. In the old days keels never sheered off unless due to previous damage. Beneteau is absolutely the General Motors of boat manufacturing. We now have a sheered keel for no apparent reason. If Chevrolet can be held accountable on 10 year old cars, why cannot Beneteau? What makes them immune from the loss of four innocent (but highly experienced sailors) lives?
Are you sure there wasn't previous damage? Same thing happened in a race in the Gulf of Mexico quite a few years back. Turned out there was previous damage and maybe a bad repair. Point is your blaming Beneteau without knowing all the facts.
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Old 24-05-2014, 14:25   #8
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

gmthompson99,

Perhaps the moderators would allow you to rename this thread, something like "Questions for the Beneteau Company."

Maybe you could talk with a naval architect about your concerns. Another possibility would be to research how many of those boats were made, and how many are still in use?

Or perhaps there is a Beneteau owners forum? Or perhaps Beneteau could suggest some keel replacement schedules if they think that Cheeki Rafiki's keel had had too much stress due to its frequent use racing? or not, as in, if you don't race it in the ocean, you have little risk?

I can understand how any Beneteau owner might now be questioning his or her vessel's integrity, given the sinking of Blue Pearl, and the tragic loss of the crew of Cheeki Rafiki, so close together in time.

I hope somebody comes up with adequate information to reassure you.

Ann
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Old 24-05-2014, 14:33   #9
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Just wondering are you now pulling your boat out of the water to check your boat. If so let us know very interested

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Old 24-05-2014, 14:33   #10
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Read my thread. I am not blaming Beneteau. I am strongly suggesting that it would be in the interest of Beneteau and its dealer community and its boat owners to resolve what appears to be a significant design fault. It may not be and nothing is proven, but we should at least hope to hear a completely honest and full word or two from Beneteau so as to reassure us that their hulls are safe. Without hearing from them, I would say they are suspect.

You should be aware that the class is one of the largest at Cowes Week. I have raced on them there. They are a highly successful class and Cheeki was returning to Cowes. The manufacturer needs to talk to the sailing and racing community and be completely and honest even if to their perceived detriment as it will benefit all in the long run.
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Old 24-05-2014, 14:48   #11
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pirate Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Is it a design fault.. or could it just be a breakdown in the boats anti electrolysis protection..??
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Old 24-05-2014, 14:56   #12
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

To the thread asked had I taken my boat out of the water....the answer is yes, just a few weeks ago and I had a maritime surveyor give me an opinion.
To the thread posted by Ms Cate which I found very thoughtful and am thankful for it: good idea, there must be a Beneteau owners forum and would be grateful if someone could give me the link.
The First 40.7's are extensively raced. In the UK, often a syndicate will buy several and then charter them out for racing in the UK and Antigua (hence the crossing). You can expect a lot to happen in terms of repairs, but not the keel. At Cowes we are talking about 100's crossing the starting line. They are a fun boat. But empirically I have heard of keel bolt problems on them as they get older. I think it is ti,e the manufacturer addressed this question (which by extension, includes many similarly designed Beneteau's from 1999 through 2007.
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Old 24-05-2014, 15:00   #13
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Did your bolts need changing.

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Old 24-05-2014, 15:04   #14
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmthompson99 View Post
Read my thread. I am not blaming Beneteau. I am strongly suggesting that it would be in the interest of Beneteau and its dealer community and its boat owners to resolve what appears to be a significant design fault. It may not be and nothing is proven, but we should at least hope to hear a completely honest and full word or two from Beneteau so as to reassure us that their hulls are safe. Without hearing from them, I would say they are suspect.

You should be aware that the class is one of the largest at Cowes Week. I have raced on them there. They are a highly successful class and Cheeki was returning to Cowes. The manufacturer needs to talk to the sailing and racing community and be completely and honest even if to their perceived detriment as it will benefit all in the long run.
The manufacturers need to do NOTHING until the issue is isolated and identified.

You have strongly suggested a design fault. It may well be that a vessel that RACES triples the stress on components and needs more than the average attention. Im not seeing that as a design fault. Nearly all racing vehicles wear something out at each race. It may well be something that only affects vessels that overstress the keel.

It might just as well be poor maintenance or a previous accident not addressed or addressed poorly.

The Facts are not known yet. Im sure Beneteau are looking hard into it. Only an independent survey of a number of vessels will determine the issue.

For the record, I dont like Beneteau boats. However their safety record is better than most. I would be cautious about what you say regarding the "design fault" at this stage. It might well come back to bite you.

If you dont believe them in the first place, why will you believe them if they say it isnt a design fault?

You could always just sell your boat and get a different make. But perhaps your conscience will prevent that because you believe it has a design fault and dont want anyone else to suffer a loss of keel?
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Old 24-05-2014, 15:14   #15
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Re: Cheeki Rafiki

Can you explain what you mean by anti-electrolysis protection beyond what we know of as an anode on the propeller shaft? The movement through water generates both positive and negative ions, electricity, which attack exposed metal.
Keel bolts are not supposed to be exposed; they are supposed to be protected and dry as they are deep in the hull and keel. The only contact they have with the atmosphere is in the bilge where they are bolted on with heavy wrenches.
Are you suggesting and have evidence that there is a process of electrolysis or even rust inside?
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