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Master Mariner
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If you've got the money, there's not much you can't do in this life.
 

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Load Bearing Member
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Why is it the charter company's fault that the keel fell off?

Lack of maintenance/inspection?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Obviously you can pay someone $X and they will rent you a boat... the question I posed was this a charter business and do charter businesses charter for offshore crossings and races?
 

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Freedom isn't free
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There is a lot more detail about this event over at SA... Simply put there appeared to have been multiple groundings of the boat before it was cleared for charter off shore.

My own humble, and very limited experience, I can honestly say, I'm shocked anyone would WANT to take a charter boat off shore, much less trust their lives to it. The charter boats keep their bottom line by maintaining boats to be ready for service quickly... That is generally a serviceable condition. However, they aren't usually in the business of keeping them up to the latest offshore specs. Also what I call the "rental car" mentality kicks in for people where "its not my boat what do I care" comes in.

Many folks would cringe bringing their own boats into skinny waters... but think nothing of doing it to a charter boat. Watched a couple people run aground at Anegada with a 5ft draft, going places they had no business being (clearly marked on charts, guides, and invariably on their chartplotters)... Its a good thing most of the places they ran aground there were sand only.

Anyway... I suppose there is evidence that the charter company knew the boat was grounded several times (which would be required to prove any kind of manslaughter), but the bigger deal would be if they thought that repairs were not sufficient, and therefore knew the boat to be unseaworthy... that's gonna be tougher to prove.
 

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Old enough to know better
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Obviously you can pay someone $X and they will rent you a boat... the question I posed was this a charter business and do charter businesses charter for offshore crossings and races?
Not sure of any currently doing it, but there have been some races specifically designed for this. I think the Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Clipper race was set up like that, they built all boats to be the same, and you chartered the boats from them to participate.

But this situation will certainly make any charter companies think twice. I have also heard that people will charter boats to race locally especially in the Caribbean.
 

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Did the keel fall off due to a design/manufacturing flaw, inadequate inspection/maintenance, damage by others, or some combination of factors?

If the court found the owner of the company operating the boat responsible for gross negligence, that would suggest that the court found flaws in inspection/maintenance.

So what Merchant Shipping law did Stormforce violate?
 

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Daydreamer41,

Thank you for this link. I have been wondering how they were going to define safe, which of course is a requirement if you are going to prove unsafe.

This article explains how they were playing the two classification organisations to beat inspection requirements.

The case just got a lot more clear for me.
 

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Daydreamer41,

Thank you for this link. I have been wondering how they were going to define safe, which of course is a requirement if you are going to prove unsafe.

This article explains how they were playing the two classification organisations to beat inspection requirements.

The case just got a lot more clear for me.
Another interesting avenue followed from this article, is how many Beneteau's or similarly constructed keel matrix's have failed and how a light grounding can upset this matrix and then how difficult it is to diagnose the beginning of the failure.
 

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S2 7.9 Bear Lake, UT
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Can you charter a boat... cross the Atlantic to participate in a race, and then sail it back to UK?
I don't think that is the setup exactly. They run racing seminars or corporate racing retreats either in the Med or the Caribbean, depending on the season. The boat only goes makes the crossing twice a year depending on the season. The paying passengers on the trip home were probably different people from those that raced the boat in the Carib.

As Capta said if you got the money everything is for sale or every option is available.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I looked at one the pics of the keel bolt attachment... I saw 8 bolts... My boat has 16.. twice as many. I don't know the weight of the Bene keel but mine is about 6000# more or less so so that's under 400# . bolt.... the Bene ballast is similar so it's bolts were carrying 800# or more.

Contest 36s keel has a 16" x 10' flange integral with the keel which I am sure is very different from the Bene...

The keel bolts came loose or sheared I suspect

That seems weird.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Not sure of any currently doing it, but there have been some races specifically designed for this. I think the Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Clipper race was set up like that, they built all boats to be the same, and you chartered the boats from them to participate.

But this situation will certainly make any charter companies think twice. I have also heard that people will charter boats to race locally especially in the Caribbean.
Clipper race is still going strong. You don't charter a boat for this. You buy a berth for one or more legs of the race. The captain is a professional hired by the race organizers and I think there might be a couple of additional pros on board.
 

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I think the title to this might be misleading.

AFAIK this was really a delivery with the skipper being paid to make the trip to move the boat to where it could start earning again.

Is this a gray area if a crew member pays to make the trip?

Would it be beneficial to operating company to call it a charter for insurance purposes?
 

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I looked at one the pics of the keel bolt attachment... I saw 8 bolts... My boat has 16.. twice as many. I don't know the weight of the Bene keel but mine is about 6000# more or less so so that's under 400# . bolt.... the Bene ballast is similar so it's bolts were carrying 800# or more.

Contest 36s keel has a 16" x 10' flange integral with the keel which I am sure is very different from the Bene...

The keel bolts came loose or sheared I suspect

That seems weird.
If you read the report and look at the photos, you will see that the bolts pulled through the hull rather than breaking. That seems worse than weird to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
If you read the report and look at the photos, you will see that the bolts pulled through the hull rather than breaking. That seems worse than weird to me.
Maybe yes and maybe no... If the keel bolts sheared and the boat went turtle and the bolts were not glass in then the could have just dropped out and fallen to the bottom of the ocean. To pull thru the heads would have to shear off. Possible but unlikely... and the shafts with the keel drop.
 

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Think this speaks to a more fundamental issue. The culpability of production builders marketing their boats as blue water vessels. Some have said they are fully capable but have a definite service life in that use. Others have said there as been an evolution of what's available in the current production marketplace that makes these boats less then ideal.
Looking at design features. Their are innumerable boats with external ballast where the the keel fits into a stump and is attached by a host of bolts. The keel itself is soft lead not iron. Design allows forces to spread and be well below that of failure point of canoe body or attachments. There are boats in production with this type of external ballast examples being pacific seacraft, rustler, HR passport etc.
However the big three do not make use of this design.
The other alternative of internal ballast has no issues with keel bolts but is at potential risk of damage to hull aft of collision bulkhead in a hard grounding such as hitting a rock ledge at hull speed but by design less likely to injury in typical groundings. Examples are the various aluminum keel/centerboards such as Boreal, Atlantic and a few solid glass boats such as Outbound.
There are extremely strong boats making use of the keel attaching directly to canoe body without a stump but this requires design engineering beyond a level the average boat buyer can appreciate. So we are dependent on the various rating bodies. This gets back to what the EU rating actually mean.
I'm not in a position to judge culpability in this specific case. I do not have sufficient knowledge of naval architecture, maritime law nor the rating rules. I think this case should inform our decisions about what we take offshore.
 

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This is a very complex case. Cheeki Rafiki was a stock Beneteau 40.7. (These are boats that I know well have raced one for quite a few years) These boats were conceived as full fledged racer-cruisers. Sistership 40.7's have won just about every major race in the world beating grand prix level boats in a very broad range oc conditions. And although they were clearly production boats, they were not the usual production boat in terms of production methods or quality controls. The appendix in the detailed Inquiry Report describes the engineering process that Farr Yacht Design employed, which not only specified the structure but also the quality control and testing that was required. It also detailed the testing that Beneteau performed as well.

The report concluded that the design met or actually exceeded the structural standards of the day, and that the level of testing was extraordinary. When you read the testing and documentation process on these boats it become pretty obvious that few if any custom, or semi-custom boats, let alone production boats receive this level of care, testing and documentation of results. In other words the report appeared to conclude that there was nothing inherently wrong with the design or construction for its intended purpose.

But, it needs to be understood that like any relatively lightly built race boat, the safely margins are smaller on a purpose built race boat, and so greater care must be extended to inspect for damage whenever a impact occurs and repair any discovered damage. No boat is indestructible, but a grand prix level competitive race boat tends to be more vulnerable. This boat had a tough life for any boat.

To preface my next comments, in my opinion, like most production boats, boats like these were engineered for a specific purpose. That purpose included coastal cruising, fleet racing including offshore courses, and occasional passages offshore. A really heavily used boat with that design brief might sail 1,000 miles, maybe 2,000 at the most. A heavily campaigned race boat might sail a dozen major races in a season and dozen or more minor ones as well. And most race boats (but obviously not all) are retired from heavy campaigning after 10 years or so.

And it needs to be understood in the context that racing can put huge loads on a boat. They are sailed in all conditions with crew weight on the rail resulting in several times the stability more than what comes from their keels. They tend to be raced with the absolute upper limits of the amount of sail area that they can withstand and remain marginally controllable. In heavy going, they are steered as much with the mainsail as the helm. This places enormous loads on sails, rigs, and rig attachment points. And to a lesser extent, those loads end up as very high side loads on their keels, and keel structures as well. .

In the case of Cheeki Raffiki, this was a boat which had roughly 20,000 miles in Ocean crossings alone. It had been through major storms while racing and while being delivered. It had a number of groundings, and range of repairs and inspections. It had over 15 years of the hardest kinds of racing. The ocean miles alone represent 10 to 20 years of what would be considered as normal use. This boat had a hard life.

The report indicated that the probable failure mode was a delamination of the bottom of the boat in the keel area and possible/probably separation of the internal framing system. The keel bolts, backing plates etc, were not thought to have been the failure mode. This is very similar to the failure mode from the Cape Fear 38 that sank in the Gulf of Mexico.

In talking with one of the investigators for the Cape Fear 38 sinking, they concluded that the failure was damage to the primary structure that then transferred keel loads to the hull. The hull was never designed to support those kinds of loads. The hull then delaminated from a mix of fatique and impact fractures until it could no longer support the weight of the keel. In the Cape Fear a piece of the bottom was ripped out when the hull failed. In the case of Cheeki Rafiki it appears that the backing plates pulled through the inner hull and pulled off the outer skin.

I personally do not have adequate information to assign blame at this point, but I do think its telling that neither Beneteau or Farr are being dragged into this. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Jeff
 

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Airplanes on ferry flights carrying only dead heading crew can't ignore the control tower.
This is correct in that all pilots have to obey the FAA regulations and follow the direction of Air Traffic Control. A commercial aircraft not carrying passengers for hire operate on an a vastly different set of rules than when carrying passengers for hire.

I read that the company was switching around from one set of rules to an other to take advantage of loopholes. It probably never would have been a problem if the keel did not fall off.
 

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Jeff,
Thank you for your detailed observation. I have never been aboard a B40.7 but race on B42.7 and 36.7s. Ever since the story of Cheeki Rafiki's loss I have been suspect of the Beneteau's overall construction or at least their suitability to ocean crossings. Your post gives me insight into the demands and stress caused by racing a sailboat. I knew the demands on the rig were tough but did not think about the keel. Off to read the report on the Cape Fear 38.
 
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