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  #1  
Old 04-11-2010
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Dismasted!

I went to Svendsen's Boat Works of Alamada, California to have their riggers look at my standing rigging prior to my intended voyage to Panama just this last February. Their Rigging foreman, Chris Tibbe, took a quick look around and stated flatly that I should replace all of my standing rigging, add an additional stay that had been removed some time ago, and remove a pair of 1/4" shrouds that he claimed were extraneous.

$10,000 dollars later, I was ready to set sail for Panama. Well, not 10 hours of actual sailing later, while on a close hauled starboard tack, about 12 miles out from the Golden Gate, making betwen 6 and 8 knotts in then 15-20kt. winds and 9'-12' seas, a loud "pop" was heard immediately followed by my 9 year old carbon fiber mast breaking about 12'-14' off the deck and falling directly to port. Boat speed immediately dropped and we were foundering. Within minutes the mast broke again just above the gooseneck. The next 30 minutes were spent freeing the rig by pulling all of the pins at deck level before the mast and rigging managed to hole us and send us to the bottom. We tried to hold on to the rig by the backstay after everything else was in the water and we were relatively certain the rudder and prop were free of any obstruction. I started the motor and tried in vain to hault our drift, already over two miles towords the rocky coastline. The acrid stench of burning belts was smelled immediately. Rather then risk loosing the engine as well, the decision was made to let the whole rig go, mast, sails, furler, electronics, stays, and shrouds, all gone to the bottom of the Pacific.

San Francisco/Golden Gate Coast Guard came out, checked on us to be sure we weren't taking on water and maintained radio contact until we could limp back to Svendsen's rig shop. At the end of the day, Chris came out to look at what was left and in minutes time declared that whoever had installed the carbon mast 9 years ago, KKMI, had done so improperly and that this was the cause of the catastrophic failure we had experienced. He would however be happy to quote me on a new mast, rigging, furler, etc....

Coincidence? Never met one. In fact, every rigger, sailor, engineer, naval architect, swabbie, etc., says the same thing: Rigging failure. Now it's for a Judge( and Jury?) to decide. Meenwhile, my crew had to go, I'm paying dockage, no work, my job in Panama slipped away, and Svendsen tells me that they will sue me for defaming them! What? I'm merely stating the facts here. You be the judge.
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Old 04-11-2010
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Still don't know the facts. Was this rigger actually contracted to inspect and qualify your mast? Or, was the contract to install some beefed up rigging after your discussions. From what you've said, it sounds as if the mast failed. Did the guy say that the whole rig (mast, standing rigging, ect) would be ocean voyage ready? Or did he simply replace the worn out and undersized shrouds and stays? I hate to say that from your explaination, the boat sounds like a worn out race boat that is not suitable for the voyage. I'm hoping things work out for you. I don't know who you are or what you really know and can document about the failure. If you're gonna make a claim in the courts, it may be worth while to do find some info. I'd call a reputable sailboat surveyor in your area. Preferably one that knows about carbon rigs. Also, talking to the original designer may help
Here's another "I hate to say". If the boat/mast was built as a ULDB race boat, you are gonna have trouble pinning this on the guy that put on new shrouds
Good luck
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Old 04-11-2010
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Sorry to hear about your big setback. I'm sure it will work out in some way. Maybe you win the lottery tomorrow, I don't know.

IMHO, no way he's winning a defamation suit against you, as long as you are sticking to the facts.

From what you said, the whole thing sounds very fishy (againt him). He did all that work knowing your intended use was to sail to Panama (is this part true?), and then everything breaks on the first leg of the trip. His argument doesn't make sense either. How does the guy 9 years ago install a big pole improperly in such a way that it breaks in the middle for a cause other than the rigging. And wouldn't a good rigging shop notice an improper mast installation? That's like an car break mechanic claiming that your break pads were worn, after the break lines (that he replaced) burst, as you drove the car home.

All places are not like that. Last summer when my prop fell off, soon after Brewers Marina (Glen Cove) service it, the manager (Mark) said "no problem, send me the receipts". He paid for everything, including the brand new prop, prop nut, zinc and the diver to put it all on. That's a big difference and the reason they will be in business for a long time. Businesses (and their managers) are supposed to stand behind their work or they don't get more work.

Regards,
Brad
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Old 04-11-2010
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Old 04-11-2010
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I had my problems with Svends. They quoted me a job for a furler installed. I came back, and the price jumped nearly 15%. No phone call at all. I asked for an explanation, and got a song, and dance. I was hot, and made them pull up the quote right in front of me, and sure enough. Right there in front of me was the original price. They backed down to the original price, and lost a customer. BEST WISHES in everything turning out okay.

I agree they should've said something before the standing rigging was done. If they didn't recognize the problem if it existed. What does that say about their expertise?.......i2f
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what was the loud "pop" before you saw the mast break about 13' up?
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Old 04-11-2010
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Stick to the facts and the defamation action is groundless. It does seem awfully suspicious that your mast, which has been fine for years, would suddenly fail due to a mysterious installation problem NINE YEARS AGO, when the only thing that changed was the rigging.

It sounds like he did a hack job and didn't expect it to be a problem for him again since you'd be long gone by the time you had found problems with it. Unfortunately for him, it appears that the problems showed up early.

I would highly recommend you start a claim with your insurance company, so you can get the boat repaired as quickly as possible. I would also advise your insurance company of the situation and allow them to go after Svendsen's for all of the cost of replacing the mast, rigging, sails, spars furlers and electronics by a reputable boatyard. I would also recommend a separate civil suit for the costs of dockage, lost income, etc.

Mind you, IANAL, and YMMV...and I am not generally in favor of litigation if it can be avoided. However, it doesn't sound like Svendsen's is going to step up and do the right thing without a lawsuit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsquared View Post
I went to Svendsen's Boat Works of Alamada, California to have their riggers look at my standing rigging prior to my intended voyage to Panama just this last February. Their Rigging foreman, Chris Tibbe, took a quick look around and stated flatly that I should replace all of my standing rigging, add an additional stay that had been removed some time ago, and remove a pair of 1/4" shrouds that he claimed were extraneous.

$10,000 dollars later, I was ready to set sail for Panama. Well, not 10 hours of actual sailing later, while on a close hauled starboard tack, about 12 miles out from the Golden Gate, making betwen 6 and 8 knotts in then 15-20kt. winds and 9'-12' seas, a loud "pop" was heard immediately followed by my 9 year old carbon fiber mast breaking about 12'-14' off the deck and falling directly to port. Boat speed immediately dropped and we were foundering. Within minutes the mast broke again just above the gooseneck. The next 30 minutes were spent freeing the rig by pulling all of the pins at deck level before the mast and rigging managed to hole us and send us to the bottom. We tried to hold on to the rig by the backstay after everything else was in the water and we were relatively certain the rudder and prop were free of any obstruction. I started the motor and tried in vain to hault our drift, already over two miles towords the rocky coastline. The acrid stench of burning belts was smelled immediately. Rather then risk loosing the engine as well, the decision was made to let the whole rig go, mast, sails, furler, electronics, stays, and shrouds, all gone to the bottom of the Pacific.

San Francisco/Golden Gate Coast Guard came out, checked on us to be sure we weren't taking on water and maintained radio contact until we could limp back to Svendsen's rig shop. At the end of the day, Chris came out to look at what was left and in minutes time declared that whoever had installed the carbon mast 9 years ago, KKMI, had done so improperly and that this was the cause of the catastrophic failure we had experienced. He would however be happy to quote me on a new mast, rigging, furler, etc....

Coincidence? Never met one. In fact, every rigger, sailor, engineer, naval architect, swabbie, etc., says the same thing: Rigging failure. Now it's for a Judge( and Jury?) to decide. Meenwhile, my crew had to go, I'm paying dockage, no work, my job in Panama slipped away, and Svendsen tells me that they will sue me for defaming them! What? I'm merely stating the facts here. You be the judge.
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Old 04-11-2010
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Old 04-11-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bene505 View Post
...

IMHO, no way he's winning a defamation suit against you, as long as you are sticking to the facts.

From what you said, the whole thing sounds very fishy (againt him). He did all that work knowing your intended use was to sail to Panama (is this part true?), and then everything breaks on the first leg of the trip. His argument doesn't make sense either. How does the guy 9 years ago install a big pole improperly in such a way that it breaks in the middle for a cause other than the rigging. And wouldn't a good rigging shop notice an improper mast installation? That's like an car break mechanic claiming that your break pads were worn, after the break lines (that he replaced) burst, as you drove the car home.
...
Regards,
Brad
Yes, I agree, and on top of this, he modified the rig you had, at his own responsibility. Unless the problem had to do with the connection of the rig with the boat (coming lose out of the boat), I can not see how he is not to blame.
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Old 04-11-2010
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Svendsen's was contracted to inspect the rig and do any work deemed necessary to assure as safe passage, specifically. A full survey had indeed been completed just two months prior, finding no deficiencies in the mast or the existing rigging. It was my question of the missing babystay that had been removed previously that brought me to Svendsen's in the first place.

Then they sell me all new rigging and the mast falls down? Further, JStorm, the immutable laws of physics dictate a far different scenario should this alternate hypothesis bear any weight. Had the mast failed without a shroud having given way, it would have come straight down first, likely through the deck. I have confirmed this with several engineers/architects/etc. The laws of physics remain constant. The rigging was inspected, changed, tuned, then the mast came down.

I have opened up dialog with Ronstan, the manufacturer of the swage fittings used. The swages did not meet spec. Svendsen's does not have a swager for 1/2" cable. They use a hand held hydrolic unit that only compresses the fitting 1/2 way. I can document both the specs from Ronstan and my neighbor has, still intact, 1/2" swages done by Svendsen's that are compressed 4.75" when the spec is 5.5".
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