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Old 15-08-2013, 10:24   #1
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Break Downs at Sea

After reading lots of posts on missing boats and broken gear,

I find people are not really looking into the Background causes of most of these incidents,

You wont have any thing breaking untill you put it to the Rigours of sailing in bad weather,

Rigging being slammed backwards and forwards for days at a time, Some thing has to give, Sooner or later,
New sails Blow out,
Diesel in tanks that havent been used continously for years, And old motors that aren't up to scratch when TSHTF,
When were the sails put up last,
How old are the sails, How old are the ropes holding them up,
Do your Anchors hold, In heavy weather, or a turn in the tide, will it reset itself or drag,

How long has that leak been leaking behind the mouldings, Is that wood rotten inside the Bulkhead, Allowing your rigging to pull out of the deck,

Will your davits for your dinghy cross oceans, or just fall off,

How do you know your steering cables wont explode apart,

How good are your batterys, Will they stand up to heavy use,

What can you fix if any thing breaks, Do you carry spares to fix every thing,

Do you have the tools to fix any thing that breaks,

Your boat suddenly flicks beam on and rolls violently to one side, You get slammed into the other hull from six feet away, You are very battered and broken,

Do you throw in the towel or do you keep going, This sorts the individuals out,

A lot of things you just cant see, A very well and highly maintained boat can still have a lot of little things that can and do go wrong, Usually at the wrong time, In the wrong ocean, in the wrong weather, And possibly attacked by Mermaids and little green men,

Any of these things can put you in a lot of danger at sea, They can even kill you, if you let them,

Even the professional boats that have millions thrown at them, still sink, Hahahaha

And the one I do like,

Do you know if your boat will sink if you do get a hole in it, and how long before it has sunk,

Cheers,
Brian,

PS, Feel free to comment,
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Old 15-08-2013, 11:20   #2
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

If we took Rain Dog out, off shore right now, she may be fine, but not sure. Since she has sat for two years while I get over an illness, I don't completely trust all her systems. We plan on going from bow to stern, hopefully we will catch any weakness. A bit frustrating, to allow such a beautiful vessel to sit. But now we can start making it up to her :-). As far as system failures, we are going very simple ( hank on sails) but try to go big where we think she needs it, like new chain plates ( goodie!), thoughtful anchor tackle system, and backups galore. We are also taking classes. Next weekend will be Ham. With hopefully more to come. Electronics are my big weakness along with Diesel engines. Since my surgeries seemed to of messed with my long term memory a bit, I feel a good seamanship class with navigation wouldn't hurt. I can still tie a knot :-). A weather reading class is a must, just hard to find them.

As far as failures, the closest I came to abandoning ship was in the Atlantic with high winds heavy seas and gear breaking one by one. The big ones were -Bilge pumps all went out, stuffing box seemed to want to implode and was leaking alarmingly more and more each day. It was one of those packless stuffing boxes, was extremely hard to get to, especially in high seas. a helmet would of helped to protect my head when in that tight space around the gland, but I don't think I could of fit with a helmet on. So a small softsidded helmet could of helped that situation. More failure, I had no clue about this new to me stuffing box, and captain and other crew was sick in bunk, so I bailed and worried, bailed and worried. Learned a lot of lessons on that one. My first time in the Atlantic. Btb- we did not need to haul out to fix stuffing box, so I could of repaired it at sea had I had the knowledge.

Was that what you were looking for Mr B?
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Old 15-08-2013, 12:08   #3
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

Never hurts to carry some spare packing. There are a lot of systems on vessels, bigger usually means more. One of my engineers gave me the idea to have a three ring binder, or two, with all of the different systems in different sections with a note page of the last work done, and what was upcoming, and of course the different manuals. I have begun to employ that on my vessel, due to its complexity. Being a multi - discipline vessel. I have the sailing, fishing, freezing, etc... I too have a weak spot in my knowledge of electronics, but I am working to educate myself out of that. Anyway a systematic approach to the maintenance will help prevent overlooked things. I employ Ical on the company computer to alert me when some activity is eminent, I think I will try to do that with my vessel as well.
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Old 15-08-2013, 12:30   #4
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

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Originally Posted by captain58sailin View Post
Never hurts to carry some spare packing. There are a lot of systems on vessels, bigger usually means more. One of my engineers gave me the idea to have a three ring binder, or two, with all of the different systems in different sections with a note page of the last work done, and what was upcoming, and of course the different manuals. I have begun to employ that on my vessel, due to its complexity. Being a multi - discipline vessel. I have the sailing, fishing, freezing, etc... I too have a weak spot in my knowledge of electronics, but I am working to educate myself out of that. Anyway a systematic approach to the maintenance will help prevent overlooked things. I employ Ical on the company computer to alert me when some activity is eminent, I think I will try to do that with my vessel as well.
great idea, I know my husband has this started, I would earn it too.
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Old 15-08-2013, 12:59   #5
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

because everyone who suffers a breakdown at sea returns to port they left--- i repair at sea and make sure i dont return--backsliding is a no go....
fixed at sea, so far, in my boat---
packing gland stuffing..... isnt gonna make more than a specified amount of ingress as it is secondary to the cutlass bearing in my boat which is thru hull bolted...... no more water will come into my boat than what was originally coming, UNLESS my cutlass bearing fails, .... then...uh-oh
fridge--didnt work anyway-- so is another reason not to have to return for repairing--lol--we had budy boaters decide to quit a trip we were buddying because air conditioning failed or fridge failed.....ok......so they returned to the port they left to haul and repair it.
nav lights failed me--because the bulbs used too much amperage for my system--lol so we downsized the bulbs and have nav lights..lol....not have to return to port to fix.....
jib sacrificial was coming off the jib..lol....we awaited arrival in the WORST place in which to fix it, la cruz e huanacaxtle---now i get to pay for a re-repair, as mike, north sails, banderas bay cannot fix it correctly--hhmmmm..he made a gusset and removed 25 percent of my working jib in this process--will cost me at least as much to fix the foulup as it did to fix in first place...awesome........
fuel pick up was consistently problematic, to the extent that i burnt my starter out before arrival at cedros island--we stopped in the village for repair of that---drifted a lot until we got the god gust that carried us to the wharf at the village...replaced starter for cheap and made it to mazatlan without further incident--aside from breaking of fa tad of my teak taff in a chubasco as we prevented to it before learning it was chintzy..lol

breakdowns happen. even with new boats. spares are always nice to have, but you cannot carry a whole second boat inside your cruising sailboat.

learn to deal with that which you have and repair that which you have as you go unless you wish to always return to some place for repairs--and spending a lot of money on tows and fixes by personnel not necessarily up to your boats problems.
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Old 15-08-2013, 13:18   #6
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr B View Post
I find people are not really looking into the Background causes of most of these incidents,
I think the common theme is the Skipper either knowing not enough or "knowing what he is doing" - in both cases leads to the bad decisions that later bite on the backside being made before leaving port, from the former in ignorance and optimism ("go now?" ) and the latter from misplaced / over confidence ("I have always been able to cope before").

You make good points - even with good decisions in port ("hey, lets maintain 'that' bit" or "lets have / fit a plan B before we leave")........if something onboard will seriously ruin your day by breaking when at sea you either need to know how to fix for self at sea (and have the bits and tools onboard to do so).....or....have a plan B that allows you to work around the problem........or.........accept that you will be pressing the big red button sooner than you really need to (and that not a guaranteed magic solution)......and all that perhaps something not made clear to crew - especially family?, especially as not in the Glossy Mags or Brochure - and because some do go a long way on good fortune / many of the self inflicted problems don't get admitted to.
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Old 15-08-2013, 13:18   #7
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

That's the hard part.

How do you know if your equipment is up to the job?

Is old and tested better than new?
If not, can you replace everything?
If not, what are the basics and what the nice-to-haves? Etc.

We are still afloat, so I guess we got the answers right in the past. But having a successful past is no warranty for a happy future. Actually, successful past may lull one into believing they do know the answers.

The fact of life is boats break and we cannot be 100% safe from such failures even if we have 100% new, 100% tested equipment.

So my way out is check everything you can check, replace and back up everything you can afford to replace and back up. Then say hiho (or pray, if religious) and go for it.

I think reading, visualising one's death, and asking plenty of whatifs helps loads towards avoiding and mitigating many otherwise potentially catastrophic outcomes.

Hiho.

Greets,
b.
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Old 15-08-2013, 13:33   #8
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

OK Mr B - You have talked me out of going to sea. In fact I am not sure I will get out of bed tomorrow. The only thing that worries me is 25% of all people die in their own bed, so maybe I would be 3 times safer getting up after all....

Oh dear.... now what?????
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Old 15-08-2013, 13:35   #9
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

You bring up a good point, Ocean girl,
How long does it take to learn thoroughly all the systems on a cruising boat, Some of them are quite complicated,

Integrated GPS, Autopilot, Wind, Speed, Course,

Any thing man made will fall to bits, sooner or later,

A stuffing box can be repacked, If you know how,

How long will an oil seal last, Do you carry the appropriate seals if they do crap out, Can you replace them,
Can you get water or air out of your diesel lines,

Did your bilge pumps, pump much water, Mine were useless, Including the manual one,

PO, Had a manual for every thing on my boat, Parts list, All kept in a water proof Brief type case,

I spent days and nights pouring through the manuals when things went wrong,
Reseting the GPS when I changed the map in it, From Fiji to Australia,

That was a very bad mistake, Australian maps didnt go as far east as I was sailing, The map I had in was the one I should have been sailing too,

Not fully understanding sideways drift, I was doing 7 knots forwards, 5 knots sideways, (Ocean Current) The GPS said I was doing 1.5 knots forwards, and then going round in circles,
It couldnt make its mind up whether I was going north or west, It threw the Autopilot out a couple of times,
Flicking Beam On is not fun When the autopilot drops out, Full sails and 3 or 4 metre following swell,

It confused me, I Could not find it in the manuals, So I changed the map, ****, I lost every thing then,

I had the General outline of the main islands of Vanuatu, But no detail, I had my paper charts, which were the same as the map on the GPS,

I was already going between Efate and the Islands to the north of Efate, 10 O Clock at night,

I got onto the VHF and asked for assistance, A Yachty camped on the west side of Efate answered, He checked his maps and told me to drop my latitude immediately as I was heading for an unlisted on my maps, Big rock right in front of me,

That was a frantic hanging out the side with a big spotlight for an hour or two,, I didnt see any rock,

Once I was past the danger zone, Possibly six oclock, I went to sleep, Bombed out, Then I had to turn around and come back to Efate, The Yachty sorted out my GPS and downloaded another Map into my Laptop, Very Gratefull fo that,

I had to backtrack back to Efate, As I had a couple of reefs still to cross, and I had no detail on them, Other than a general overall broad piccy,
Simple mistake on my part due to inexperience with the GPS, I was using the wrong map in the GPS,

I still had my position, and could find my way home, But I would have gone around the reefs and not thru them with out the GPS maps,

Manuals for your systems are a must, Unless your an electronics Geek,

Its more of a learning thread, Post up your mistakes, or things that have gone wrong that you didnt think off breaking down, It may help some one out there,

Things that have caught you off guard, ETC, Things that could have got very nasty, very quickly, on your boat,

Bits on your boat that you are forever stepping over and never ever thought that it might be ready to fall off,

Those nice shiny bits, Hahahaha
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Old 15-08-2013, 13:44   #10
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

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Originally Posted by beverley View Post
OK Mr B - You have talked me out of going to sea. In fact I am not sure I will get out of bed tomorrow. The only thing that worries me is 25% of all people die in their own bed, so maybe I would be 3 times safer getting up after all....

Oh dear.... now what?????
Beverly, The day you stay in bed because of that gut feeling some thing bad is going to happen today,
Thats the day the aircraft engine falls through your roof, Hahhahaha

This is more a wake up call,

Your car will never wear out if you dont drive it,
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Old 15-08-2013, 13:59   #11
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

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Beverly, The day you stay in bed because of that gut feeling some thing bad is going to happen today,
Thats the day the aircraft engine falls through your roof, Hahhahaha
Oh I understand that. The point I was making is that there are no safe choices anywhere, even staying in bed is not safe.

I agree it is foolhardy to set off ill-prepared, but you also cannot hope to anticipate every emergency. There has to be a balance, everything in life has trade-offs.
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Old 15-08-2013, 14:08   #12
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

repairing at sea beats the alternative WHEN something breaks--and yes it WILL beak--and not what you are thinking will break, but some other thing....just know how to troubleshoot. works for me.
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Old 15-08-2013, 14:10   #13
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

A large part of sailing for me is looking at things, imagining them breaking, and then imagining what I would do to fix it.

A really nice part of boat maintenance and repair is that you become quite handy. You don't have to be a professional rigger to use some cable clamps on a loose stay and tie it down to a chain plate with a trucker's hitch. You really just need to know how to turn a wrench, how to use cable clamps, and how to tie a hitch (and have a wrench that fits and some low stretch line).

And if gear is going to fail, have it be the non-essentials. Put your back, your money, and your redundancy into the rig and steerage. Everything else short of the hull torn open you can deal with. If a wave comes along and rips your entire panels/bimini/dodger/bbq/outboard off, it's expensive but hardly fatal.

If your rudder falls off, well, that can be a different story.

But people buy boats with fancy **** and focus on the varnish, very few people are inspecting their rudder shaft and related steering.
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Old 15-08-2013, 14:14   #14
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

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Originally Posted by beverley View Post
Oh I understand that. The point I was making is that there are no safe choices anywhere, even staying in bed is not safe.

I agree it is foolhardy to set off ill-prepared, but you also cannot hope to anticipate every emergency. There has to be a balance, everything in life has trade-offs.
For sure no 100% safe choices anywhere , but whilst will likely never be able to cover every possible cause of a problem - nonetheless can anticipate the results and plan around them.

Some fairly simple (thru hull failure) others more complex (steering failure), both in cause and fix........the answer for both could be the big red button, but it doesn't have to be. Even well prepared might not be able to save a major problem from becoming a disaster - but at least can give self a fighting chance .

A starter would be knowing where the thru hulls are! and how to access the steering gubbins..........and in both cases whether it is actually possible!.......where you go from there is full of choices. But IMO better to make those choices in the warm and dry and at leisure rather than when in the doodah ...........and in both cases some preventative maintenance would go a long way, both in reducing the risk of breakage but also by getting hands on familiar with the bits.

Mmmm........this not meant to sound lecturary (sp? is that actually a word?!)
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Old 15-08-2013, 14:21   #15
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Re: Break Downs at Sea

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
That's the hard part.

How do you know if your equipment is up to the job?

Is old and tested better than new?
If not, can you replace everything?
If not, what are the basics and what the nice-to-haves? Etc.

We are still afloat, so I guess we got the answers right in the past. But having a successful past is no warranty for a happy future. Actually, successful past may lull one into believing they do know the answers.

The fact of life is boats break and we cannot be 100% safe from such failures even if we have 100% new, 100% tested equipment.

So my way out is check everything you can check, replace and back up everything you can afford to replace and back up. Then say hiho (or pray, if religious) and go for it.

I think reading, visualising one's death, and asking plenty of whatifs helps loads towards avoiding and mitigating many otherwise potentially catastrophic outcomes.

Hiho.

Greets,
b.
It is hard. I've come to rest assured that Murphy is alive and well. make absolutely no assumptions when considering taking a boat to sea. Everything on an old boat will have to be replaced eventually other than the basic Hull/deck/furniture structure. all rudders, shafts, engines, chainplates, tanks, electrical, steering .. all of it. (will you be the replacee or the replacor?) You have to know the condition or assume it's bad. I've assumed it's good many times, and almost unanimously been disappointed.
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