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.