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Old 12-02-2013, 23:33   #1
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Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Hi, all. Some friends of ours, who own a 1993 Privilege 482-S Catamaran by Jeantot, recently went through a harrowing passage from Jamaica to the San Blas Islands -- wind NE 25 kts seas 8-12', on the port quarter. They were about halfway from Jamaica to the San Blas when this happened. They are using the boat as a family cruiser for The Big Voyage with the kids. The mom was at the helm, and one of her kids yelled that water was coming in -- she put it on autopilot and raced in to find a geyser coming into the salon with almost every wave (shooting up into the air), and the lexan gone from the frame of the escape hatch (which then would not stay latched as the lexan provided stability to the part of the frame surrounding it).

They fothered with an Ikea bag stuffed with two pillows and fixed in place by some dinghy seats screwed into the sole, and braced it (inside) with a boat hook and two blocks of wood (didn't damage the overhead, the wood block spread the load), and they made it to the San Blas with the pumps taking care of what still got in, but this should never have happened. Anyone else experience this, especially in this type of vessel?

Thanks. They are all OK and seem to be intent now on replacing the escape hatch with solid stuff that will not open or leak. They have only been on this voyage from fall of 2012, and were in the Bahamas and T&C until the late January jump to Jamaica and then toward the canal, so it's not like the hatch has been under protracted heavy strain prior to this failure.
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Old 13-02-2013, 00:50   #2
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Never heard of a properly closed hatch failing like this. That does raise the question though, was it properly closed? I have heard of people sailing off with these hatches left open and running into trouble.

Maybe this one was closed, but only on one latch? That would allow it to warp, which would possibly pop the perspex out.
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Old 13-02-2013, 01:49   #3
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Not unknown for leaks in tunnel just above waterline. Bad position.

Where they are positioned in a lot of French vessels they get a lot of water hitting them so need plenty of maintaince.
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Old 13-02-2013, 01:55   #4
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Put it in context, you're talking about a 20 year old piece of perspex! I'm not surprised it broke. Out of sight, out of mind springs to mind... probably never been touched, checked or replaced in 20 years.
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Old 14-02-2013, 09:18   #5
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Same thing happened to a friend of mine on a Privilege 42.

Here's the story he sent me via email

" Left the Chesapeake under 25 knots and saw no less until 2 days out. 30 knots sustained for over 24 hours with gusts to 40. The good news! 12 hours out I lost an escape hatch. The Lexan just disappeared!!!! 3 foot column of water in cabin whenever wave would roll under boat(frequently). Tore apart shelves and patched holes so water ingress at floor level was minimal. pumps going all the time. Unfortunately eventually the waves caused the floor in the area of the hatch to come unstuck. When I removed the stairs descending down to the hulls for an inspection I could see into the Atlantic. So I had to keep the boat about 6 knots the whole way to keep the flooring from lifting there by allowing huge amounts of water in.

Total materials. 1 tube of caulk(5200) 3 shelves and 100 screws....also one bilge pump completely worn out"

Later he sent this follow up
" I finally found an escape hatch to replace the lost one....$1400...OUCH! it should arrive next week then find a place to install. "
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Old 14-02-2013, 10:44   #6
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

IIRC one of the forum members here or elsewhere had posted something similar a couple or four years ago, about a hatch failing on a new-ish cat and the resulting arguments about who was responsible.

The type of glazing used in a 20 year old hatch, routine inspection of the hatch, the effect of submersion & petrochemicals, etc. on the hatch...this is why pilots still do a walk-around under the aircraft before every flight. Still, if it worked for 20 years, it would be hard to say it failed from a defect, as opposed to just being ignored as it aged.
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Old 14-02-2013, 11:00   #7
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

It's unclear to me if the lexan broke or just came unsealed from the frame...? never heard of one popping out on any hatch, but anything is possible I suppose... I've often wondered why they do those escape hatches so you can see through them... why not a solid aluminum hatch? I guess it's fun to watch the fish in the water when you charter a boat!
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Old 14-02-2013, 11:04   #8
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

20 years for a hatch is a good run - if on deck I would be thinking about replacement by then, and that inshore (albeit no doubt I would wait until actually leaking!).....heading further afield I would very likely upgrade before a failure became a problem. (but easy for me to say! - mine are all on deck, and made of solid fibreglass!).
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Old 14-02-2013, 11:43   #9
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Personally, I really dislike these "escape" hatches (on any cruising cat). They are mostly a sales and marketing gimmick since the odds of capsizing a modern cruising cat (not racing cat) are almost nil. Even then you won't need these hatches....there are plenty of other options for exiting the boat (what are the odds of you being conveniently perched next to this hatch when the boat goes over anyway?)

I especially dislike those on some boats where they are in the mid-ships head only inches above the water line. These are simply dangerous.

The only thing I have ever seen these hatch accomplish is what the OP's friend's experienced -- put water inside the boat. Several boats in the charter fleet in Belize have been flooded because a guest left a hatch open or the hatch had problems.

I've also had this style of hatch fail on the ama of a trimaran in rough weather and flood the center compartment of the ama.

If someone insists on having these foolish things, then they should be proper sea worthy hatches (ie: all thick aluminum plate, heavy hardware, and no plastic) with a jam bar, and warning signs, across the latches so that opening them must be a very deliberate act....not just a thoughtless move by a guest.

Foolish too I think to put plastic lens hatches anywhere under the bridge deck of a cat where they can be exposed to powerful impacts. Would you put a big bay window in the bow of a mono?

There, now I feel better....
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Old 14-02-2013, 11:51   #10
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Personally, I really dislike these "escape" hatches (on any cruising cat). They are mostly a sales and marketing gimmick since the odds of capsizing a modern cruising cat (not racing cat) are almost nil.
I thought they were a European (RCD?) requirement, if not for private owners then for commerical (Charter) use (and that being such a market for the builders all the boats simply get them as standard?!)

Not to say that they are actually required. My gut says the trade off between probably useful if upside down vs the risk of failing during day to day use (age or operator error!) - plus the cost of care / simply being one more thing to go wrong! would lead me to favour none.........but no doubt others will disagree!
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Old 14-02-2013, 14:47   #11
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
I thought they were a European (RCD?) requirement, if not for private owners then for commerical (Charter) use (and that being such a market for the builders all the boats simply get them as standard?!)

Not to say that they are actually required. My gut says the trade off between probably useful if upside down vs the risk of failing during day to day use (age or operator error!) - plus the cost of care / simply being one more thing to go wrong! would lead me to favour none.........but no doubt others will disagree!

Dangerous, feelgood EU concept if it is installed low down in tunnel.

Now if placed higher under the tramps foward in hull to allow excellent airflow (protected from rain) through each hull can be a good thing.

It think Catana might be doing it thesedays. Freeflow46 certainly does. Can just see hatch in top lefthand side of photo.
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Old 14-02-2013, 15:00   #12
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AquatiCat View Post
Hi, all. Some friends of ours, who own a 1993 Privilege 482-S Catamaran by Jeantot, recently went through a harrowing passage from Jamaica to the San Blas Islands -- wind NE 25 kts seas 8-12', on the port quarter. They were about halfway from Jamaica to the San Blas when this happened. They are using the boat as a family cruiser for The Big Voyage with the kids. The mom was at the helm, and one of her kids yelled that water was coming in -- she put it on autopilot and raced in to find a geyser coming into the salon with almost every wave (shooting up into the air), and the lexan gone from the frame of the escape hatch (which then would not stay latched as the lexan provided stability to the part of the frame surrounding it).
.
They were lucky it was the one on the salon floor. I've been on a number of cats where the escape hatches spend a lot of time below the water line while underway:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: A vacation escape?
It looks like a hit from one big chunk of debris and it would be gone or smashed.
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Old 14-02-2013, 16:04   #13
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

These cabin sole hatches are also popular with thieves as they can get underneath and remain out-of-sight while the pry open the hatch and gain entry. It is possible the hatch was damaged by an attempted B and E, unknown to the owners until it failed.

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Old 14-02-2013, 17:35   #14
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
I thought they were a European (RCD?) requirement, if not for private owners then for commerical (Charter) use (and that being such a market for the builders all the boats simply get them as standard?!)

...
Not sure about the EU requirement, but would be interesting to know. If I can find it w/out too much trouble I will post.

Update:

Good proposal by James Wharram on this subject at link below. Starts off with quote of the relevant RCD regulations. Oddly, the RCD regs only apply to cat's over 12m. As usual, I like Mr. Wharram's ideas.

http://www.wharram.com/Escape%20Hatch%20proposal.pdf

Related thread on link below about a cat with delam issues due to poorly built escape hatches (an issue which Wharram points out).

http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/mul...ent-30053.html

ISAF Offshore regulations also require them on cats launched after 2003 (wonder why that date?) and over 12m.

http://www.rorc.org/downloads/images...tions/mu4.html

Regardless of regs I still don't like them. I'm with Mr. Wharram.
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Old 14-02-2013, 18:25   #15
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Re: Ever Heard of Catamaran losing its escape hatch in a seaway?

The hatches are not just for escape, they also allow good airflow through the hull which makes life a lot more pleasant in hot countries. You do need to be careful to close them when sailing, or in a rough anchorage, so I don't think they are suitable for charter boats.

I sailed from Panama to Galapagos and Rangiroa on a Lagoon 44 which has escape hatches between the hulls. The first time you see waves crashing against them you feel like you are in a washing machine and the ocean can flood in at any moment, but you get used to it. Personally I think it would be safer to use toughened laminated glass than plastic, but that would mean more weight.

When we were off the Galapagos we took a nice video of a whale swimming between the hulls, looking back at us.
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