I work in an engineering environment
and one thing I've learned is that an initial design is just a guess, no matter how much theory and how many numbers were run to arrive at the design at hand. Any new design is just an educated guess, based on theoretical postulations, the actual reality is in the application and how that design performs in the real world. When it fails or succeeds it is now the new standard on which the theory is based.
In the older boats the designers didn't really have enough history
on materials applications to design part close to the theoretical application limit and therefore tended to over design assemblies. In newer designs cost and weight is a factor so parts
, including rudders get designed to the theoretical load bearing needs of the application, of course that's when the limits of those designs run up against reality and the designers have to go back and change the standards.
No amount of number crunching can ever predict all the different loads, corrosion
issues, life cycling and abuse these assemblies will see in the average life of a boat, it would be impossible to quantify, at least within constraints of the budget
most companies have, so we become the crash test dummies and limits will be found, hopefully without any loss of life. As much as I trust my boat I also check out all the important assemblies on it on a regular basis, especially before heading offshore
, even then it's impossible to see hidden damage or corrosion
, it's not always evident to an eyeball inspection
. Prudent maintenance
is just as important a safety
practice as all the safety equipment
In my line of work (not marine
related) I've seen some of the most well designed, robust assemblies fail spectacularly, usually from something no one could have predicted, that's when the learning
curve really takes off. As much as the designers know there is much more that they don't. Admitting that and learning
from it seems to be the hardest part.
Boats are a huge compilation of design compromises, otherwise, no one but the wealthiest could afford them, it's up to the end user to decide which compromises they can live with, so look at the boat you want to cruise
with and decide what's important to you.
If the boat manufacturer doesn't look into the causes of failures that are above the normal rate they will continue to make the same mistakes
. Some of the failures here seem to be related to damage from misuse but others don't seem to fit that scenario, those are the ones that seem to need further scrutiny.