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  #1  
Old 08-12-2010
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Back in the USA!

Hi good friends,

Just wanted to let everyone know the Swan is back in the USA after a 49 day passage from Majuro in the Marshall Islands to Neah Bay, WA. We encountered two gales, five days of calms and 10 days hard on the wind in the Trades. The boat handled flawlessly the whole voyage. This was basically the story on the boat's performance for the 2 1/2 years we were cruising. What wonderful boats we have!

For pictures and details, please visit our website at swancruise.com.

Cheers!

Dave Mancini
s/v Swan
PSC 34 #305
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Old 08-12-2010
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tdw is a jewel in the rough tdw is a jewel in the rough tdw is a jewel in the rough
Well welcome back to the real world.....though whether you want to be here or not may be an open question ?

Why though, didn't you eat the squid ?
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Old 08-13-2010
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Welome back Dave! Been following you guys on your website postings. Awesome journey!

John & Beth Schwab
PSC 34 #201
Norstar
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Old 08-13-2010
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Thanks John & Beth,

Good to hear from you. Good to be back on the list.

Dave
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Old 08-14-2010
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Dave,

Welcome back!

And thanks for checking in. It's hard to believe you shoved off 2 1/2 yers ago already.

Many folks reading this may not realize, that Dave encountered a major setback in the later stages of planning this trip. But undaunted, he and his wife pressed on to find a replacement boat in very short order. It's heartening to hear how well it performed, too. That must have been an amazing final passage -- 49 days at sea in a 34 footer, with some serious weather thrown in too!!

When and if you have time, it would be interesting to hear more about how your boat performed, particularly observations comparing your boat to other varieties of cruising boats that you encountered.
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Pacific Seacraft Crealock 31 #62

NEVER CALLS CRUISINGDAD BACK....CAN"T TAKE THE ACCENT
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Old 08-17-2010
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Thanks John. Good to be back.

Glad you asked about the boat. In 2 1/2 years, we never broke a thing on the boat due to weather. What we did break was due to my own negligence, namely the skeg when I hit the reef in Fiji. We have hit a whale, a reef and a huge log and still this boat kept us safe.

We met about 100 other cruisers during our cruise. Many of these suffered damage in heavy weather: a bent mast, broken whisker poles, bent stanchions, loose bulkheads, leaks, etc. In many cases, we were in the same weather as these other boats, but the PSC just pushed through without a rub. We had uncountable seas break hard against the boat making a lot of noise and impact. In the beginning, we worried about each one, but came to realize the boat could take it and relaxed.

We also heard stories of other boats heaving to or lying ahull during heavy weather. We were able to keep Swan moving during any conditions we met. I lay ahull one night in 40 knots before I realized, the next morning, that the boat would beam reach very well under staysail alone. During the two gales we encountered this last passage, the Monitor steered the boat downwind under staysail alone in the first gale and on a broad reach during the other. The boat tracked steadily, taking each sea that loomed up like the boat was on rails, never a tendency to broach like I've experienced on other boats.

On this last trip we slogged hard to weather in the trades for the first two weeks, close reaching most of the time in six to 10 foot seas. The boat just pushed through, great sheets of spray flying aft. It was impressive. I worried at first about the strain on the rigging because I could see the slack come and go in the leeward shrouds, but the rig's wide stance kept the forces in check, all day, all night.

Other boats will make faster passages, but as a cruising friend of mine said about his fast racer-cruiser, you pay for every mile in discomfort. I should mention that most of the reason for Swan's slower passages is due to my unwillingness to start the engine, not the boat's lack of speed, because these boats perform well on that score. We were able to keep the boat moving in very light winds with the big drifter, but when the wind quit, we got out a good book and just waited. We only ran the engine two hours in the forty-nine days before landfall, just enough to keep it healthy mechanically.

These boats are tough, capable cruising boats that will keep going in the roughest conditions and keep you safe and comfortable. On top of all that, they are beautiful. We love our boat and would never consider another, except maybe another PSC. Crealock was truly a master.

Dave Mancini
PSC 34 #305 "Swan"
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Old 08-17-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveMancini View Post
Thanks John. Good to be back.

Glad you asked about the boat. In 2 1/2 years, we never broke a thing on the boat due to weather. What we did break was due to my own negligence, namely the skeg when I hit the reef in Fiji. We have hit a whale, a reef and a huge log and still this boat kept us safe.

We met about 100 other cruisers during our cruise. Many of these suffered damage in heavy weather: a bent mast, broken whisker poles, bent stanchions, loose bulkheads, leaks, etc. In many cases, we were in the same weather as these other boats, but the PSC just pushed through without a rub. We had uncountable seas break hard against the boat making a lot of noise and impact. In the beginning, we worried about each one, but came to realize the boat could take it and relaxed.

We also heard stories of other boats heaving to or lying ahull during heavy weather. We were able to keep Swan moving during any conditions we met. I lay ahull one night in 40 knots before I realized, the next morning, that the boat would beam reach very well under staysail alone. During the two gales we encountered this last passage, the Monitor steered the boat downwind under staysail alone in the first gale and on a broad reach during the other. The boat tracked steadily, taking each sea that loomed up like the boat was on rails, never a tendency to broach like I've experienced on other boats.

On this last trip we slogged hard to weather in the trades for the first two weeks, close reaching most of the time in six to 10 foot seas. The boat just pushed through, great sheets of spray flying aft. It was impressive. I worried at first about the strain on the rigging because I could see the slack come and go in the leeward shrouds, but the rig's wide stance kept the forces in check, all day, all night.

Other boats will make faster passages, but as a cruising friend of mine said about his fast racer-cruiser, you pay for every mile in discomfort. I should mention that most of the reason for Swan's slower passages is due to my unwillingness to start the engine, not the boat's lack of speed, because these boats perform well on that score. We were able to keep the boat moving in very light winds with the big drifter, but when the wind quit, we got out a good book and just waited. We only ran the engine two hours in the forty-nine days before landfall, just enough to keep it healthy mechanically.

These boats are tough, capable cruising boats that will keep going in the roughest conditions and keep you safe and comfortable. On top of all that, they are beautiful. We love our boat and would never consider another, except maybe another PSC. Crealock was truly a master.

Dave Mancini
PSC 34 #305 "Swan"
Dave,

Thanks for that great summary of Swan's performance on the cruise. Very impressive -- it sounds like she not only took care of you but did you proud, too!

If you have time, we'd love to hear more about the skeg-on-reef incident. Such as, how bad was the damage, was the rudder affected, how'd you go about repairing it in a remote location? It would also be interesting to hear your thoughts on whether the skeg was an asset or liability under those circumstances, i.e. would a spade rudder have faired better?

But no hurry, either. I realize you're just back, and likely have more pressing things to do. So whenever you have a chance, even if it's a few weeks or months from now. Thanks and, again, welcome home.
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Pacific Seacraft Crealock 31 #62

NEVER CALLS CRUISINGDAD BACK....CAN"T TAKE THE ACCENT
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Old 08-21-2010
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Here you go, John:

We hit a reef near Malolo Lailai in Fiji. A mark was missing, putting us on the wrong course, and the sun was low and in our eyes such that we couldn't see the reef. We shouldn't have been sailing under these conditions. Very bad judgement on my part. Anyway, we were doing about six knots when we hit hard. I'll never forget the sound. In addition to two loud bangs, the boat slammed hard and the entire rig shook noisily. The first bang was the lead keel hitting a large bomie. The second was the skeg hitting after the keel bounced over the bomie.

Once we were sure we weren't taking water, we continued on to Musket Cove. The boat felt fine. When we were moored, we dove over the side and looked at the damage. There was just a little dent and some scratches in the lead keel. I've always been a fan of bolt on keels, but this proved the matter for me. With only fiberglass as a barrier, an encapsulated lead ballast keel would have been badly crunched, probably holing the boat.

The skeg, on the other hand, was badly damaged. It was pushed in at the point where it hit and the entire leading edge from the hull to the gudgeon was split open. The split was widest at the point of impact, about an inch, then tapered to nothing at the extreme edges top and bottom. The skeg is a fiberglass laminated shell filled with a fiberglass mish mash, like from a chopper gun, with a steel bar embedded in the mish mash from the top of the skeg to the bottom.

When the skeg hit, the impact shattered the mish mash, driving it aft. As it widened, it created a wedge that forced the skeg to split. Like the crumple zone at the front of a car, it crumbled and absorbed the impact. If it hadn't, the entire skeg would have been driven aft and bent the rudder stock. As it was, the rudder and stock were undamaged. I was amazed, really. Given how hard we hit, the rudder stock should have been toast. Crealock and PSC built a winner. The steel bar was far enough aft that it did not directly hit the reef, although the mish mash all around the lower part of it was broken.

I'm sure a spade rudder would have been destroyed. This contention was proved when another boat with a spade rudder was towed into the marina after hitting a reef (Fiji is littered with them). The rudder was bent aft in the middle about 70 degrees and cracked completely through. Worse yet, the bearing and rudder shaft/apeture in the hull were also damaged. After our hit, we were able to sail, even with the damaged skeg.

As luck would have it, we were only 14 miles from one of the best yards in the tropical South Pacific, at Vuda Marina near Nadi. We sailed there the next day. When we hauled out, I cut away the cracked and broken parts of the fiberglass laminate. Then I picked out every bit of loose mish mash I could, leaving the skeg about 1/2 hollow. I rinsed the area with fresh water, then let it dry in the tropical sun. Then, I slowly filled the cavity with fiberglass mat that I picked apart to create mish mash and West System epoxy resin. I got the resin, hardener and fillers from Fiji Coffee in Suva (go figure) and the fiberglass cloths from a frIend on another cruising boat. I was able to get everything else I needed to get the job done right in Fiji (grinder, sand paper, paint primer, paint, etc.). I had to go slowly and use slow acting hardener to avoid overheating the material and laminate. I could only mix resin in the early morning and late afternoon. I used very long needle nose pliers and long screwdrivers to push the fiberglass into every part of the skeg's interior.

Once the interior of the skeg was done, I ground down the exterior to solid fiberglass. I then laid up 12 layers of bi-axial fiberglass cloth on the skeg, tapering and blending the layers well above and well forward of the orginally damaged area, into the surrounding hull area. Of course, I used West system epoxy resin. I then used West System fillers to fair up the skeg before applying three final coats of resin, priming and painting. Due to the extra layers of fiberglass, the skeg is now a little wider and the leading edge is a little thicker than originally. I wanted to satisfy myself that the skeg was at least as strong as it was in the beginning. Otherwise, it is impossible to detect a difference. I spent a lot of time fairing carefully. The job went very well, although it took a month to pull it off.

I am much more careful sailing around reefs nowadays.

Dave Mancini
s/v Swan, PSC 34 #305

PS: I'll try to post a picture of the skeg showing the split.
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Old 08-22-2010
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Thanks for the detailed accounting of the reef hit and your skeg damage and repairs Dave. 14,000+ lbs of boat hitting a rough and immovable object at 6 knots is quite a strike, and it's good to hear the skeg did its job in protecting the rudder even so. Your ability to sail extensively after that, and with no water coming into the boat shows once again the boat is designed/built to take care of the crew.

It's interesting that the embedded steel bar didn't save the skeg (although maybe it provided structural stiffness that helped save the rudder) and a pretty serious split occurred around it. From reading I've done on the topic, I take it that skeg design is a always a challenge, but I wonder if bolting on a stronger structure, similar to how the lead keel is bolted on, might not be a further improvement. The strength of the mount point might also then have to be increased even further, although I understand the glass layup is quite thick there already (1.5"?).
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Old 08-22-2010
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From what I can tell, the steel bar is there primarily for lateral stiffness. The skeg has a pretty narrow section just below the propeller. Without the steel bar, there would be quite a bit of waggle induced by the rudder in hard turns, going astern and from beam seas, etc., maybe even enough to bind the rudder stock.

The bar is several inches aft of the leading edge of the skeg, so it could not protect the leading edge from damage. But it's placement is correct, I think, because if the bar had been struck, I might have had to deal with a lot more damage in the upper regions of the skeg where I would not have been able to reach without cutting away a lot of the skeg.

Finally, I think the fact the skeg crumpled where it did actually saved the skeg. If the skeg had been a very solid, stiff structure, it might have damaged the hull where it connects or cracked away completely at its narrowest section, forcing a very serious repair job in an area that is very difficult to work on, involving the propeller shaft log, etc.. Also, I think the rudder and stock might have been compromised. At the speed I hit the reef, something had to give. As it was, the skeg itself absorbed the impact and I had to repair it only. The damage that often occurs to hulls with short lead ballast keels at the aft end (not the forward end) of the hull/keel attachment is a good example of what I'm talking about. Fortunately the PSC keels are long enough and strong enough to prevent this kind of damage.

These observations come from long hours staring at the skeg while trying to figure out how best to repair it. I always came to the same conclusion: I was very lucky I was only having to rebuild the skeg and not everything it was attached to.

Dave
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