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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've started this thread (pulled from Jon's entry in the Rallies Gone Wrong thread) because this is going to be a very interesting story.

Here's the story told by Charlie Doane who is the Executive Editor of SAIL magazine (to which I subscribe) - and who was on board:

HELICOPTER EVACUATION: Abandoning Be Good Too

This incident is obviously going to raise a lot of questions regarding Aeroyacht's design and construction of the Alpha 42 - info for which can be found here:

AEROYACHT Alpha 42 catamaran - Aeroyacht

The "Be Good Too" was Hull No. 1. Ouch.

It appears that the most significant failure was the rudders, when the boat was apparently "pushed backward by a rogue wave". Interestingly, Charlie says this about the configuration of those rudders prior to this disaster:

We now set up the boat to motorsail itself in a fore-reaching configuration under just the double-reefed main (there was no third reef). We locked the helm off hard to port to keep her from rounding up and were making progress eastwards at 4-5 knots.
Hmm.

Lots of questions...
 

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This is only one side of the story, but if it's true (and I have no reason to doubt the narrator), These people made legitimate, serious attempts to save their vessel before dialing 911.

It does seem that they were a little light on "damage control equipment" and tools, with which they might have made more successful repairs, but really, what are you going to do about a bent rudder besides carry a spare rudder?

Mostly, I feel that they were screwed by crummy engineering, and crummy construction of their "new" boat.

Crummy rudder design.
Charging system failing on a new boat?
Engine fails to start on a new boat?
Starter shorts and fails on a new boat?
Self-tacking jib lead insufficient on a new boat?

I think a winter delivery was fraught with unnecessary risk, but they didn't seem to face apocalyptic conditions that would cause such a string of failures.
 

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I confess that I did not have understood that it was a brand new boat. I did not have recognized the model but even with the wave piercing hulls the boat looked not brand new to me. The design (Marc Anassis) is kind of odd with plenty angles and a big windage. I never heard about the designer too. He have worked for many years as head of lofting for C&C yachts.

I am a bit perplexed with the accident. I have the idea that the boat had been thrown violently backwards by a gigantic wave but that is not confirmed by their description:

"At about 1130 hrs we took a huge direct hit all across our front windows. The wave that hit us seemed much larger than the rest and was running at a different angle, such that it hit us from directly ahead instead of on the starboard quarter. ..The wave stopped us dead in our tracks and even seemed to back us up a bit.

Considering this the damage seems to be very extensive.

Aeroyacht is a yacht brokerage firm that sells catamarans (several brands) and decided to distribute exclusively this one giving it its name. If I understood correctly the company or the builders had no particular experience in building cruising cats and I don't find any previous cruising cat project coming from that NA.

Picking an unproven nº1 hull from a company with no previous building experience in this type of boats and making a delivery on rough seas seems not very prudent to me. It seems to me that it should not be the owners to test the prototype on rough conditions but of course, it was their decision to take the boat there.

Alpha Team

About Aeroyacht - Aeroyacht

http://www.aeroyacht.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Alpha-42-Brochure1.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Yeah, Paulo - it is very weird. Charlie was also perplexed by what happened in his article. My suspicion - based on the article (and his quote in my OP) - was that the helm was locked hard-over and thereby presented an immediate very large plane of resistance to the backward motion. And with the questionable construction/assembly it all just blew up.
 

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To me the error was in taking this brand new boat on a shakedown cruise, offshore, dead of winter.
Actually, according to the website, there had been at least some sea trialing/shaking down of the boat prior to departure...

Alpha 01 attacks the ice - Aeroyacht

But I agree, this loss was to a large extent the result of decisions made before the boat ever left Liberty Landing... Always easy to say in hindsight, of course :)

Not that I was ever asked, but this would have been a delivery I would have passed on, or at least tried hard to convince the owners to consider 'modifying'... With so late a departure in what has been a very volatile and changeable winter so far, I'd try to talk them into simply going down the coast, and spending the winter in the Bahamas, instead... That would certainly be an ideal boat for it...

Or, at the very least, jumping off from Norfolk, or Morehead City, instead... Chances are the charging issue they had (which again, in hindsight, the consequences of which I think is greatly understated in Charlie's write-up) would have been exposed and remedied prior to setting off from further down the coast... I've posted numerous times here the link to Don Street's thoughts on the risk of shooting directly for the islands from further north, and the preference from jumping off from the Chesapeake or Morehead instead, and doing so in mid-January makes even less sense, to me...

However, such routing considerations expose, to me, one of the fundamental liabilities of a multihull for offshore, or for this passage late in the season, in particular... Namely, their inherent lack of weatherliness, and ability to make a COG as close to the wind as a more weatherly monohull...

So, once the determination that the BVIs were to be the destination, the skipper is put into a bit of a box, due to the limitations of the boat's inability to sail a high course to weather... In January, chances are that further on down the rhumb line, you're gonna encounter the winter trades sooner rather than later, and will be on port tack hard on the breeze for perhaps the last 500-600 miles of the trip, and quite possibly more... So, a departure from the Chesapeake, or south of Hatteras - while being considerably safer and more prudent in terms of waiting for a decent window, and getting across the Stream quickly - could make it very problematic to lay the Virgin Islands on port tack... Hell, on a boat like that, leaving from Morehead/Beaufort, you might be lucky to fetch Luperon, much less San Juan... :)

Whatever, this was clearly not the right boat to be on in that particular place, at that particular time... Hell, I still can't get over the fact that the steering arms were fixed to the rudder posts with freakin' SET SCREWS... UFB...

In any event, I suppose Bill & Linda Knowles must be relieved this boat wasn't ready to go a few months ago... After all, if this had occurred during the Salty Dawg Rally, it would have only served as further evidence that there is a real problem with the way the SDR is being conducted...

Sorry, Smack - couldn't resist... :)
 

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No worries dude! The SDR would have let them in - no problem. Set screws and all. Who needs to check stuff anyway?
Yeah, the Caribbean 1500's ISAF-based Safety Inspection would have caught that one, no doubt... I'm sure they would have caught the sort of stuff a skipper like Hank Schmitt might have overlooked... :)

Hmmm, wish I was at liberty to share an anecdote from an email I received a few weeks ago from Hank, regarding how 'discriminating' the 1500 can be, when it comes to whose checks they will accept... :)
 

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This was mentioned on the local news last night because Charlie is considered a local being from Maine.

I wondered why anyone would even consider a bee line to the islands from the northeast this time of year. What's up with that?

Putting the make of the boat aside, I would think heavy weather would be more of a problem for cats compared to a mono hull, safe to say?
 

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When i saw they were building a Cat (Alpha 42) in NY as was so happy. I thought this was going to be a new beginning for a new builder.

I guess not......
The weather they experienced was not that tough for a boat that was engineered properly.

I think it's time for some of these american builders to reverse engineer some of the french and german/english boats to get an idea on how to build a boat.

I would venture to say that this will be the end of the Aeroyacht line. That story was way to accurate and truthful to set aside.
 

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I imagine this was probably a pricey boat.. pretty unacceptable level of failures in a new boat, 'shakedown' or not.

We once helped out a charter crew on a 'new' 40 foot cat in the Caribbean, they couldn't run one engine.. we investigated and found that a bulkhead mounted HW tank had broken away and fallen onto the engine, making all kinds of noises as the belts rubbed against it.

As we tried to address the situation it became clear that the tank had been held to the (plywood) bulkhead horizontally by a couple of SS bands and 4 #10 wood screws :eek: It had torn itself free in the swells motorsailing up the east coast of Antigua. Maiden trip for this charter boat out of Guadeloupe. We managed to reattach it and support the weight with some lashings up under the coaming (they wouldn't let us drill holes into the bulkhead and cabin liner to through-bolt it) Never did hear the final resolution, but it was pretty clearly an inadequate method.

In this case it seems that they did all they could to get themselves out of a situation that they arguably should never have gotten into in the first place. Despite the bad timing it sounds like they'd have made a safe passage (to some destination) had the boat not fallen apart on them.
 

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I imagine this was probably a pricey boat.. pretty unacceptable level of failures in a new boat, 'shakedown' or not.

We once helped out a charter crew on a 'new' 40 foot cat in the Caribbean, they couldn't run one engine.. we investigated and found that a bulkhead mounted HW tank had broken away and fallen onto the engine, making all kinds of noises as the belts rubbed against it.

As we tried to address the situation it became clear that the tank had been held to the (plywood) bulkhead horizontally by a couple of SS bands and 4 #10 wood screws :eek: It had torn itself free in the swells motorsailing up the east coast of Antigua. Maiden trip for this charter boat out of Guadeloupe. We managed to reattach it and support the weight with some lashings up under the coaming (they wouldn't let us drill holes into the bulkhead and cabin liner to through-bolt it) Never did hear the final resolution, but it was pretty clearly an inadequate method.

In this case it seems that they did all they could to get themselves out of a situation that they arguably should never have gotten into in the first place. Despite the bad timing it sounds like they'd have made a safe passage (to some destination) had the boat not fallen apart on them.
So, how will this play out as far as who pays for it? Is the builder going to say 'tough luck, too bad you lost your half-million dollar boat, better luck next time?'
 

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..

I guess not......
The weather they experienced was not that tough for a boat that was engineered properly.

I think it's time for some of these american builders to reverse engineer some of the french and german/english boats to get an idea on how to build a boat.
It is not properly that. Americans have great cats, the Gunboat range and great cat designers, namely Morrelli & Melvin that I am sure would design and engineer the boat properly. I think that what we see here is kind of an American thing not related with having the knowledge to do well but not using it.

What you see here is not different than what you see in Catalina or Hunter: Instead of calling the best and more experienced NAs to design their boats (and they exist in America) they design the boat in the house with 2th or 3th rate expertise and if the result in this case was quite traumatic on another cases it is just a product that by design is not as good as it could have been if it was better designed.

Talking about Cats in Europe even the inexpensive and kind of condo kind of cat like the Lagoon are designed by the best European NA specialized in cats, Van Peteghem /Lauriot Prévost that have an huge experience, racing included. We are remembered of that when we see all those Lagoons finishing the ARC and when he see that the ones that are well sailed can make very good results and go surprisingly fast.

http://www.vplp.fr/

That's also true that an European buyer would want to know who had designed the boat he intends to buy and that has a market value while in America the sensation I have is that buyers don't care or ask about that.

Regards

Paulo
 

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Just curious why you would class Catalina with Hunter? not even remotely in the same class. I was a Catalina dealer and a Bavaria dealer and Catalina is hands down a better boat Than Bavaria. Each of these boats are designed for different reasons but if I was in the market I would choose a Catalina 5 series over Bavaria, Beneteau, or Jeanneau. They are better design, better sailing, better value and higher quality. :) I'm just saying...
 

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Just curious why you would class Catalina with Hunter? not even remotely in the same class. I was a Catalina dealer and a Bavaria dealer and Catalina is hands down a better boat Than Bavaria. Each of these boats are designed for different reasons but if I was in the market I would choose a Catalina 5 series over Bavaria, Beneteau, or Jeanneau. They are better design, better sailing, better value and higher quality. :) I'm just saying...
Not talking about building quality but about boat design quality. I don't agree the Catalina is better designed quite the opposite. The Bavaria are designed by Farr. Who designs Catalina?

I joined Catalina and Hunter because they have something in common and opposed to all the other boats you mentioned: They are designed by 2th rate designers while all the others are designed by the best NA.

what I am saying is not that Catalina is a bad boat but that could be a much better one if it was designed by a top Na, for instance, and talking only about top American NA Cabinets, by Farr or Reichel & Pugh.

Regards

Paulo
 

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Agreed Paulo. I would assume it is to keep costs reasonable. Unfortunately you can have the best designer in the world but it doesn't translate into having a equal regard to quality of construction. Bavaria for example has an absolutely brilliantly built hull but that's where it stops. They have horrible interiors. inferior decks and layouts and honestly wont out sail a comparably sized Catalina's not that either of these are racing machines. Catalina yachts has been in business since 1969 for a reason. They also have the hugest reoccurring customer base in the history of yachting. They also hold the distinction of being the easiest boat to resell the US market. Personally design is the number one reason I purchase a boat equally important is who built it. Having been around I refuse to own anything other than the best built designed boat in the world. On my budget that bought me a 22' boat. Maybe some day I will be ablr to move up to 24 26 or 28 but not at the expense of design or construction. Having said that I happily sail on all above mention yachts. If you want to know the real truth about boat construction ask any boatyard because they are the ones dealing with all the warranty failures :)
BTW I respect the hell out of your opinion and experience even if we often disagree.
 

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Here are some numbers, the Catalina weighs 3,000 lbs more with less sail area but only loses.05 knot in hull speed even though Bavaria has a full foot on the water line. Catalina has a better capsize ratio and kills Bavaria on motion comefort.
Performance Comparison
LOA Bavaria 36 2002 Model
37.4
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
36.33
LWL Bavaria 36 2002 Model
30.84
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
30.25
Beam Bavaria 36 2002 Model
11.81
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
11.92
Displacement Bavaria 36 2002 Model
10363
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
13500
Sail Area Bavaria 36 2002 Model
721.2
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
602
Capsize Ratio Bavaria 36 2002 Model
2.17
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
2
Hull Speed Bavaria 36 2002 Model
7.44
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
7.37
Sail Area to Displacement Bavaria 36 2002 Model
24.28
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
16.99
Displacement to LWL Bavaria 36 2002 Model
158
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
218
LWL to Beam Bavaria 36 2002 Model
2.61
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
2.54
Motion Comfort Bavaria 36 2002 Model
18.07
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
23.78
Pounds/Inch Bavaria 36 2002 Model
1301
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
1288
 

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We are remembered of that when we see all those Lagoons finishing the ARC and when he see that the ones that are well sailed can make very good results and go surprisingly fast.

Paulo
You've got to remember the ARC is a down hill sail at the best time of the year, not a windward venture into the North Atlantic in the dead of winter; apples and oranges, again.
As to American cat designers, Rudy Choy designed some of the greatest SAILING cats; fast and comfortable, 50 years ago. His boats were doing Hawaii to California runs and circumnavigations before many of the designers of today were even a twinkle in their parents eyes. Why his designs are no longer in favor is a mystery to me. These were sailboats, and yet they had the room and comfort of the modern room-a-rans.
In opposition to the thread about the Salty Dog Rally, this boat had what I would assume was a professional skipper with plenty of experience. It wasn't the crew who failed, but the boat, so I don't think there's a lot of similarities. Again they set out at possibly the worst time of the year, unlike the SDR.
If it had been my delivery, I would have run both engines up to low cruising speed and headed for where I wanted to go in the most direct manner possible. I would have deck loaded fuel if necessary and motorsailed if possible, but get south and east ASAP. My last voyage south from Newport, RI was late in the hurricane season and let me tell you, it was not a sailing cruise. Keeping my speed at or above 6 knots was my prime concern, sailing be damned. That made the Bermuda run slightly over 4 days, a pretty safe bet, even at that time of the year. A friend, on an identical boat left within an hour of us, but insisted in using a weather service and playing around sailing as much as possible. He ran into very strong southerlies and arrived a day and a half after us, sustaining some damage and a whole lot of discomfort.
When you are at sea in a vessel, you must understand it's liabilities as well as strengths, especially at a time of the year when the weather can change drastically, leaving you fighting for your life. Relying on a weather service when crossing the gulfstream north of Bermuda is foolhardy. The gulfstream creates it's own weather up there, which no weather service or satellite can see or predict.
One last thing. I have 9 transPacific crossings from SF to Asia on ships, a circumnavigation, half a dozen transAts, probably 3 times that on Caribbean/US sails both ways, and uncountable other voyages on everything from tugs to fishing vessels (even to AK) and I have never seen a "rogue wave". Perhaps I have been extremely lucky, or perhaps they are much more prevalent these days, I don't know, but it seems to me that many of these "rogue waves" people are reporting these days may not in fact, actually be "rogue waves". The one British freighter I know, that in fact encountered a "rogue wave", had it's foc's'l crushed to the level of the main deck, lost all her lifeboats and all the bridge windows, not something I believe a 42' cat would have survived!
 
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Here are some numbers, the Catalina weighs 3,000 lbs more with less sail area but only loses.05 knot in hull speed even though Bavaria has a full foot on the water line. Catalina has a better capsize ratio and kills Bavaria on motion comefort.
Performance Comparison
LOA Bavaria 36 2002 Model
37.4
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
36.33
LWL Bavaria 36 2002 Model
30.84
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
30.25
Beam Bavaria 36 2002 Model
11.81
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
11.92
Displacement Bavaria 36 2002 Model
10363
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
13500
Sail Area Bavaria 36 2002 Model
721.2
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
602
Capsize Ratio Bavaria 36 2002 Model
2.17
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
2
Hull Speed Bavaria 36 2002 Model
7.44
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
7.37
Sail Area to Displacement Bavaria 36 2002 Model
24.28
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
16.99
Displacement to LWL Bavaria 36 2002 Model
158
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
218
LWL to Beam Bavaria 36 2002 Model
2.61
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
2.54
Motion Comfort Bavaria 36 2002 Model
18.07
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
23.78
Pounds/Inch Bavaria 36 2002 Model
1301
Catalina 36 MK II TR/Fin Keel
1288
That's part of the problem: Many Americans still look at things like capsize ratio and motion comfort ratio.

If you made a search on the site you will find information that will explain why that is meaningless. Jeff has some good posts about it.

Now in what regards hull design/shape, keel and ruder design you will find many differences regarding a boat designed by a top NA like Farr and the ones that design Catalina and Hunter.

But I don't want to discuss this. If you think that Catalina and Hunter are better designed then Bavaria or Jeanneau, fine with me but it is a bit strange that the ones that design Catalina and Hunter pretty much only design Catalina and Hunter and nobody looks for their services for designing other boats while Farr and Marc Lombard (just to mention two) have a huge number of commands each year that goes from mass production boats to big yachts and top race boats.
 
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