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ARC survey about gear failures at sea Messages in this topic - RSS

Dick
Posts: 219


9/12/2017
Dick
Posts: 219
Hi Simon,
I know what you mean, but I do not believe your intention is to "shame" a product so much as to report fully and help others not go down unproductive and expensive dead ends. Thanks for filling in the blanks. Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672


9/12/2017
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672
Dick,

Sorry to have been coy about naming and shaming. I have posted about LOPLIGHTS on this Forum before. So yes, indeed, it was the LOPOLIGHTS that failed annually until we got fed up of climbing the mast to replace them. The Whitlock (Lewmar) steerer failed suddenly and without warning. The Raymarine Pilot SG3 control box (now thankfully obsolete) we replaced in Reykjavik used to switch itself off suddenly without warning or reason - a fault that is discussed elsewhere on this Forum.

So yes let's draw attention to those shiny bits of kit that do not endure.

Simon

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672


9/12/2017
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672
(posted on behalf of Dick Stevenson)
Hi Daria,
Things break and your program is wise both for catching things on the way to becoming problems and for responding to breakage when it occurs.
As to the article you cite: I am not a big fan of rallys as they appeal to those who may not have chosen to be on the ocean without the ARC’s proffered support net, and probably should not be skippering a boat on a significant offshore passage and having his/her crews lives as their responsibility. I am also not a fan as they accept boats that should not be crossing oceans. Many, maybe most, of the boats discussed in your cited article were boats that I do not believe to be offshore passagemakers (and yes, I am aware that all likely meet certification parameters, but they are another story). An offshore capable boat is one that is much smarter and stronger than its skipper and capable of forgiving, without damage, a multitude of errors and some bad luck. So, given the above, an ARC boat, on average, should have more problems.
Why problems: I look to how poorly educated most sailors are as to what makes a good safe offshore passage boat. I believe the media has dropped the ball at educating the sailing public about the pros and cons of a good safe passage maker. And similarly dropped the ball at the kinds of experiences a skipper should have under his/her belt prior to undertaking a significant offshore passage.
I do have one piece of advice in response to your question. I have a couple of what I call “gurus” to help me trouble shoot problems that are beyond my expertise. Coming into Iceland earlier this season, we found our freezer not functioning. With help, we trouble shot the situation, got a diagnosis and a jury rig solution. In my 15+ years of mostly full time live-aboard cruising, I have used the 3-4 gurus who I rely on for diesel issues, rigging issues, and electrical issues among others. One I sometimes pay, but mostly it works out in other ways. Without them I would have been on my own either on passages or in remote locales and life would have been far more difficult.
Reliable communication is essential to contact these gurus. For most, I have used email through HAM radio Winlink connections. Skype can be great in ports and I know that there are many other methods.
But if you wish to do passages or wish to wander off the beaten track, I would urge you to cultivate some gurus in the areas where your own ability to diagnose and fix are limited.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy, Robert’s Arm, Newfoundland Canada

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672


9/12/2017
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672
Simon Currin wrote:
Hi Simon,Nice rant! I support your every comment and observation. A couple of thoughts:
Part of what I believe to be going on is that the marine industry caters most to amateurs, recreational sailors. If a car does not work, someone might not get to a job, a child does not get picked up at school: owners are irate. Cars are like body parts: we insist that they work, and, for the most part, they do.
If a recreational boat does not work correctly, one might loose a day on the water, but it is a recreational day, or need a tow in, or call RNLI. It is a pain, but boats are not seen as necessities to everyday life: they are not body parts and life goes on pretty smoothly without them. Cars are more critical to everyday life. (When possible, I like to look at what commercial people buy: for ex., commercial fishermen buy Furuno radar by a wide margin.)
That said, many OCC members transcend the above characterization. We may still be recreational sailors, but when critical items fail and we are in Greenland, it is a big deal. But we are few in numbers.
There is no excuse for products not working properly including salt water, and intermittent use. There is no excuse for introducing new products pre-maturely and allowing customers to execute the R&D.
The only remedy is shining the light of day on bad products, the brighter the light the better. Which is why forums such as the OCC’s can be valuable or interactive web sites like Attainable Adventure Cruising. Along those lines, I notice you chose not to share the name of the navlight manufacturer who so repeatedly disappointed you and whose advertising was so diametrically opposed to your experience.
This area could be a very valuable service that the marine magazines could administer: A Consumer Reports in both magazine and web format. Unfortunately, these marine entities appear to be catering only to the industry and seem loathe to make critical comments on products. To that end they completely fail to educate and inform the sailing public, who largely, it appears, accept merely being entertained.
To continue with how to make a difference, I largely try not to talk with customer service people. I quickly try to get bumped to a supervisor level. Same goes for technical services. If the company is small enough, I am likely to ask to speak with the president. Politely persistent usually pays off. Say the you have complaints which the president should hear about directly.
Enough for now,
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy




Thanks for posting about gear failures. I recently wrote a little rant on our Greenland Blog which might sit well in this part of the Forum. It's s call to arms for all boat owners!

"Top of my list for the day's activities was an Internet fix which saw me cruising the website of Andersen winches. The day before we had removed the electric motor and discovered that the drive train had broken. On the face of it the whole assembly looked in perfect condition and hewn out of solid bronze but it had definitely died after 11 years of very light use. We will take it home and send it back to Andersen to see if they can repair it. The website allowed me to post a support query but didn't enlighten me as to why such a premium marine product had died without warning.

Maritime premium product failures are a recurring theme of Shimshal's voyages. Last year it was the throttle system and now thruster. The throttle cost a fortune to replace. The year before it was an alternator, the autohelm and the Whitlock steerer. All quality products, lightly used and well maintained that had failed suddenly, completely and without warning.

Our last car died after 210,000 miles with little more than an annual service. My current car is 17 years old and goes like a bomb. So why is it that anything designed for a boat, even safety critical items such as throttle and steering, seem to have a license to fail suddenly and catastrophically in away that no car owner would tolerate?

I suppose the production volumes aren't huge so things don't get snagged by millions of users but there does seem to be an element of industry denial at work. When we reported the autohelm failure to the manufacturer their help desk said they had never heard of any such issue. Yet the internet is alive with similar reports. Are they just deaf to trouble or is it they don't train their staff? Maybe they just don't care? One high end navigation light manufacturer faithfully replaced our lights under warranty five times when, year after year, they failed during the season. Despite their obvious, and widely reported, failure the manufacturer still advertises these lights as being, "indestructible, maintenance free and so waterproof they could be used on a submarine"!

Then there's the marine environment. I concede that salt water presents lots of challenges but none of our recent failures have been subjected to salt or showed any sign of corrosion, overuse or abuse.

Some say that intermittent use and, in particular long periods of no use, presents real challenges for engineers. But why should a drive train on an expensive electric motor be more vulnerable because it is used 2 months of the year rather than when in continuous use?

Sailing would be so much more fun and less expensive if the guys that make this things refined their designs and manufacturing processes when their products fail. "Built in obsolescence" was killed off in the motor trade 30 years ago so why do we tolerate it on boats and keep shedding out the dollars?

One of these days things will go legal when a boat's throttle fails off a lea shore and folk die because of it. In my trade we would be prosecuted for man slaughter if we could be shown to have negligently turned a deaf ear to previous reported failures. So why is it different in the marine trade?

Let all us Boaties unite and demand better from those who seek to fleece us."

edited by simoncurrin on 9/12/2017

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
0 link
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672


9/7/2017
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 672
Daria,

Thanks for posting about gear failures. I recently wrote a little rant on our Greenland Blog which might sit well in this part of the Forum. It's s call to arms for all boat owners!

"Top of my list for the day's activities was an Internet fix which saw me cruising the website of Andersen winches. The day before we had removed the electric motor and discovered that the drive train had broken. On the face of it the whole assembly looked in perfect condition and hewn out of solid bronze but it had definitely died after 11 years of very light use. We will take it home and send it back to Andersen to see if they can repair it. The website allowed me to post a support query but didn't enlighten me as to why such a premium marine product had died without warning.

Maritime premium product failures are a recurring theme of Shimshal's voyages. Last year it was the throttle system and now thruster. The throttle cost a fortune to replace. The year before it was an alternator, the autohelm and the Whitlock steerer. All quality products, lightly used and well maintained that had failed suddenly, completely and without warning.

Our last car died after 210,000 miles with little more than an annual service. My current car is 17 years old and goes like a bomb. So why is it that anything designed for a boat, even safety critical items such as throttle and steering, seem to have a license to fail suddenly and catastrophically in away that no car owner would tolerate?

I suppose the production volumes aren't huge so things don't get snagged by millions of users but there does seem to be an element of industry denial at work. When we reported the autohelm failure to the manufacturer their help desk said they had never heard of any such issue. Yet the internet is alive with similar reports. Are they just deaf to trouble or is it they don't train their staff? Maybe they just don't care? One high end navigation light manufacturer faithfully replaced our lights under warranty five times when, year after year, they failed during the season. Despite their obvious, and widely reported, failure the manufacturer still advertises these lights as being, "indestructible, maintenance free and so waterproof they could be used on a submarine"!

Then there's the marine environment. I concede that salt water presents lots of challenges but none of our recent failures have been subjected to salt or showed any sign of corrosion, overuse or abuse.

Some say that intermittent use and, in particular long periods of no use, presents real challenges for engineers. But why should a drive train on an expensive electric motor be more vulnerable because it is used 2 months of the year rather than when in continuous use?

Sailing would be so much more fun and less expensive if the guys that make this things refined their designs and manufacturing processes when their products fail. "Built in obsolescence" was killed off in the motor trade 30 years ago so why do we tolerate it on boats and keep shedding out the dollars?

One of these days things will go legal when a boat's throttle fails off a lea shore and folk die because of it. In my trade we would be prosecuted for man slaughter if we could be shown to have negligently turned a deaf ear to previous reported failures. So why is it different in the marine trade?

Let all us Boaties unite and demand better from those who seek to fleece us."

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
+1 link
Daria Blackwell
Posts: 706


9/7/2017
Daria Blackwell
Posts: 706
There's some very useful information in this article for people setting off to cross oceans. I know we on Aleria have experienced a torn sail, damaged dodger from flogging sheet that suddenly broke, loss of steering, broken boom vang, and other problems on our Atlantic crossings. We now have a philosophy. When something breaks at sea, you can fix it, replace it, or do without it. We bring spares for anything we don't want to do without, and tools to fix just about everything else. And we protect against chafe, inspect rig with binoculars every day, and reduce sail as soon as we think of it. Do you have any insights into living with things breaking at sea?

http://www.yachtingworld.com/sailing-across-atlantic/what-are-the-most-common-repairs-at-sea-for-yachts-sailing-across-the-atlantic-arc-survey-results-tell-all-109688

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Daria Blackwell - Rear Commodore, PR Officer, Editor OCC Digital Comms & Port Officer, West of Ireland s/v Aleria http://www.coastalboating.net
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