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Old 20-07-2014, 15:50   #46
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

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Originally Posted by minaret View Post
A "hole" in the deck wouldn't help either, unless you had a piece of shaft to strike with the sledge as a punch. You'd have to saw off that whole step, making a massive hole in the boat, to strike the top of the rudder post with a sledge. That's why I suggested a Porta power or small jack. Wedge a scrap of 2x4 under the step/deck to spread load and crank away on the Porta power, even the smallest 4 ton model ought to do it. Less than $100 at any hardware store. Worst case scenario, you tear out the step, and then you can use your sledge!

Plus, a sledge will only get you to the top of the rudder post without a punch of some sort anyhow. The Porta power will drive it all the way out.
Replace "porta power or small jack" with "bottle jack" and "scrap of 2 x 4" with "small stack of floor tiles".

Apparently they are what every boat should carry
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Old 20-07-2014, 16:18   #47
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

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Replace "porta power or small jack" with "bottle jack" and "scrap of 2 x 4" with "small stack of floor tiles".

Apparently they are what every boat should carry


Just a bit of advice on removing a rudder from someone who actually removes rudders on a regular basis. I wouldn't suggest floor tiles, they will almost certainly break and don't spread the load much. Wood is much better, as the jack or power fitting will sink into it a bit instead of slipping, and it can be quickly cut to fit for maximum load spreading. A folding jap saw and some repurposed interior cabinetry could provide this in an emergency. A jack would also have to have exactly the right size head to go into the rudder post, and a lot of lift, something small bottle jacks don't usually provide. The Porta Power has lots of different sizes and lengths of power fittings, as well as various accessories to provide power in different ways. It blows a bottle jack out of the water for this. Even the cheap 4 ton I linked to earlier provides 3 feet of vertical lift, more than enough for a very small rudder like that. This job could probably have been done with a bottle jack, but it would sure be a whole lot faster and easier with the right tool.
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Old 21-07-2014, 08:48   #48
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

I conisder Hank's response to be not only well-written, but extremely measured in the circumstances. In spite of Gregor's hyperbolic 'response' attacking himself and the crew; and, in spite of the fact that the boat, as delivered, had serious leaks and and an improperly engineered/inadequate steering system that necessitated their rescue at sea, he continues to be supportive of the Alpha 42 and its build in general.

What we do know is this:

1. It is uncontroverted that the skipper insisted upon and followed the advice of a well-known weather-router prior to their departure.
2. The skipper had extensive experience in making that passage at that time of the year.
3. The skipper (who is also a rigger by trade) had re-riigged the headsail sheet blocks/leads so as to overcome the original failure in that regard. Fortunately we have photos to support Hank with this contention.
4. The skipper made serious efforts to attempt to repair the disabled steering. The photos corroborate the replacement of the broken pin which connects the rudder head to the rudder stock with an allen key. Indeed, there seems to be blood splatters in the area of that repair which no doubt speak to the difficulties of making that repair. Afterall, bear in mind that to at least some degree, the stock would continue to move so as to make drilling and insertion of a larger pin extremely difficult.
5. The description of all aboard was that, in spite of their efforts at a repair, the one rudder was seized at an angle and the other merely spun on the rudder stock (suggesting faliure of joint between the rudder stock and the plates within the rudder).
6. There can be no doubt that the angled rudder would make steering almost impossible. In spite of that, when conditions permitted, Hank was able to make some foward progress by adjusting sail trim to keep her clawing her way forward on a close-reach. Sadly, the prevailing winds meant that they could not make Bermuda or any other landfall safely in that way.
7. Their request of the Coast Guard was not for a helicoptor rescue, but rather to ask that a ship be diverted to their location.

What we also know (as evidence by the photos) was that the steering system was substantially under-engineered/built. Can anyone imagine any steering system on a boat designed for even near-shore sailing, that:

1. Used only a short pin to attach the rudder head to the rudder stock?
2. That had no dedicated rudder stops?
3. That on a new boat, had the internal stainless steel rudder plates able to be broken off the rudder stock? Keep in mind, this is a new boat and internal corrosion could not have been a factor.

Can anyone accept Gregor's assertion that the leaks had been repaired by applying caulking, as Hank points out, in sub-freezing temperatures? Particularly since Gregor himself acknowledged the need for changes in subsequent hulls in order to remedy the problem?

Considering both Hank's reply and the weather information already referred to in this thread, can anyone accept Gregor's assertions about the tortuous weather he experienced in his test-sail? Or was that simply more hyperbole intended to cast aspersions on the capability of the skipper and crew? In this context, Hank's acknowlegement that the weather must have 'felt' that cold during the test-sail is more than fair.

My wife and I recently had the pleasure of crewing with Hank on a sail from NYC to Bermuda. I can say that at all times Hank was professional, knowlegeable and conservative in his approach to the passage. Although in an earlier thread he had been criticized about the fact that, after the decision to abandon ship, the owne's had opened up and they had all imbibed a good bottle of wine, can anyone truly blame them in the circumstances? Does anyone truly believe that a shared bottle of wine would have led to intoxication that could in any way interfere with their ultimate rescue? Indeed, I can say that while there was liquor on board during our passage, Hank insists upon a 'dry ship' while underway.

He also insists, prior to departure, that all crew are aware of the location of all thru-hulls/sea cocks (and their were plugs at the ready by all of them). He also:
- would bear-off during meal preparation to assist in crew comfort and safety;
- insist that any crew going forward be tethered to the jack-lines (admonishing one crew member who went forward in relatively benign conditions on the leeward, rather than the windward side, as it was a "bad practise").
- he also tended to reef down early on the first sign of increasing winds ( cloud formations, barometer readings, gusts), rather than wiating for the weather to actually worsen.

Over the course of the trip I had many converstaions with Hank and was duly impressed with his experience (including the prior steering failures/loss of the rig that he referred to), but also his ingenuity in being able to bring those boats home safely under jury rigs, etc.

My wife and I would gladly join Hank on any voyage and would highly recommend him to anyone who is need of an experienced, serious, intelligent (as evidenced by his respone), safety-conscious delivery skipper. It is unfortunate that while Hank has chosen to take the 'high road' with respect to this incident (incluiding for so long remaining silent in the face of unfair criticism from arm-chair critics), he has now had his well-deserved reputation sullied by the manufacturer of an inadequately engineered/built vessel.

Brad
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Old 21-07-2014, 15:43   #49
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

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Originally Posted by Southern Star View Post

(...)

It is unfortunate that while Hank has chosen to take the 'high road' with respect to this incident (incluiding for so long remaining silent in the face of unfair criticism from arm-chair critics), he has now had his well-deserved reputation sullied by the manufacturer of an inadequately engineered/built vessel.

Brad
Nay.

He was not forced to go. He elected. He was wrong in his judgement of what this boat was all about. He based his judgement on manufacturers words and advertising.

The boat seemed fine to go at the start. The boat was simply not build to demanding open water standards. The boat started to decompose into sub-components while underway.

We want boats to remain whole. This is pretty essential. And there are manufacturers who can deliver such boats all-right.

I think the skipper made a wrong decision and I think he, and the owners, were misled by the manufacturer.

If she were mine, I would sue.

b.
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Old 22-07-2014, 08:33   #50
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

Barnakiel, no one is suggesting that the owners, or the captain and crew were forced to go. Having said that, nor is anyone suggesting that they were aware of the inadequate steering system prior to their departure. They obviously made a mistake in relying upon the builder and, indeed, the surveyor of the boat. But then again, if we do not rely upon surveys, does that mean that a delivery skipper should himself, whether or not qualified, also survey all aspects of the construction and systems installation prior to agreeing to the delivery of a new boat?

While the pin that was used to attach the rudder head to the rudder stock may now seem obviously inadequate, I suggest that this is only because attention was drawn to it once it failed. It would be no different than an undersized clevis pin used to attach the shrouds or stays to the mast - we would know about it once it failed, but without a complete inspection of the boat replicating what was (or should have been) done by the surveyor, it would not be apparent until it failed.

Certainly the internal failure of the one rudder (which allowed it to spin on the rudder stock) was a latent defect that would not have been apparent unless the delivery skipper was there during that part of the construction process. Even then, can we really expect that he should be qualified to judge that quality of the materials and weld? Can we really expect any owners to pay a delivery captain to replicate a survey?

Brad
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Old 22-07-2014, 10:32   #51
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

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(...)

(...)

Brad
100% with you.

Any boat that is advertised as ocean capable should be ocean capable, not "ocean capable".

Cruising is not racing, experiments in material and engineering choices best put aside.

b.
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Old 23-07-2014, 01:25   #52
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

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A "hole" in the deck wouldn't help either, unless you had a piece of shaft to strike with the sledge as a punch. You'd have to saw off that whole step, making a massive hole in the boat, to strike the top of the rudder post with a sledge. That's why I suggested a Porta power or small jack. Wedge a scrap of 2x4 under the step/deck to spread load and crank away on the Porta power, even the smallest 4 ton model ought to do it. Less than $100 at any hardware store. Worst case scenario, you tear out the step, and then you can use your sledge!

Plus, a sledge will only get you to the top of the rudder post without a punch of some sort anyhow. The Porta power will drive it all the way out.
Minaret,

Perhaps you can help me out here. There was recently a monohull whose people were taken off her, and it, too, was a rudder issue and it was sinking. The vessel, French aluminum construction. The rudder post was reported to be whirling around below in a vigorous seaway. It was a scary place to be, given how fragile we are relative to moving metal bits. I'm interested in your tall jack concept, but with a vigorous sea state, fail to see how it could be used effectively. Can you help me here? Obviously different here, between the Alpha 42 and the mono! Maybe a PM?

Thanks,

Ann
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Old 23-07-2014, 02:45   #53
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

The suggestions I have seen for using a jack with a rudder, was for the circumstances where you have a bent rudder shaft jammed in the steering tube, holding the rudder at an angle that makes steering with the other rudder (on a cat or twin rudder boat) or emergency steering (on a typical monohull) difficult or impossible. In that case you have a stable stuck rudder shaft that you want to force out of the rudder tube. In that case a jack is going to make that much easier.

I personally think if you have a failure of the steering tube or the structure supporting it, in anything but a calm sea you are going to have a very hard time working on it in any way, because of the uncontrolled moving parts in a tight space. Maybe if you can capture the rudder from below and lash it to stop it moving first, but at that point a jack is probably not your first tool of choice though it might help.
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Old 23-07-2014, 02:59   #54
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

A loose rudder situation, or a rudder immobilized due to a bent shaft in the tube, is where having a hole in the upper trailing edge of a rudder could be of use. Attaching lines through the hole would allow bringing the rudder to an amidships (neutral) position, cranking the lines with winches led through snatch blocks if necessary. Conceivably, you could even use the lines to steer the boat.

We had such a hole on our Island Packet 380's rudder.
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Old 23-07-2014, 07:57   #55
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

All good points. Failing a rudder hole, which I don't see very often anymore, I'd try to get the boat moving in a straight line in any direction at all while working on it. They already mentioned this was possible in this case. Working on it while it wallows in a seaway would indeed be quite dangerous. Even going in a circle under engine power might stabilize the rudder shaft enough to allow you to work on it with less risk.
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Old 23-07-2014, 12:32   #56
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

The rudder hole is a great idea.

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Old 23-07-2014, 13:28   #57
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

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A loose rudder situation, or a rudder immobilized due to a bent shaft in the tube, is where having a hole in the upper trailing edge of a rudder could be of use. Attaching lines through the hole would allow bringing the rudder to an amidships (neutral) position, cranking the lines with winches led through snatch blocks if necessary. Conceivably, you could even use the lines to steer the boat.

We had such a hole on our Island Packet 380's rudder.

I was under the impression that you could secure a line to the rudder through that hole and use your Genoa winches to steer with, admittedly I have not actually connected that line and tried it, but it looks pretty straight forward and easy to do.
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Old 23-07-2014, 13:50   #58
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

I think you'd need to rig some snatch blocks to control the lines up to the winches, but I'm sure it's doable.
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Old 23-07-2014, 14:52   #59
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

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I think you'd need to rig some snatch blocks to control the lines up to the winches, but I'm sure it's doable.


On many boats, I'd think the dock line chocks/fair leads might do it.
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Old 23-07-2014, 15:02   #60
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Re: Alpha 42 Designer's Rebuttal

Guys and Ladies, PLS do yourselves a favour and sail a Sunfish 100 yards off the beach, then drop the rudder and try to sail back to the beach.

Those of us say "it is easy" have clearly never ever tried to control a modern, ruder-less (now), design.

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