I hit the dock last week!

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Alexis
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I hit the dock last week!

Post by Alexis » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:01 pm

Hello,

I recently had the stupidest accident I ever had (there is a first time for everything, right?). The gearbox cable broke just when I had to reverse the engine to stop the boat and I violently rammed the dock.

The whole event went very quickly, here is what happened step by step:
- I was approaching the dock. I slowed down and made my final turn to enter between the slips.
- I tried to put the engine in reverse. The engine roared but it took me 3 seconds to understand that the boat wasn’t slowing down. The bow just entered into the slips.
- I made another fail attempt to shift the engine in reverse in the following 3 seconds.
- At that moment I was facing the main pontoon, I had slips on my sides, there was nothing I could do and had just the time to warn the crew we were about to hit.

I checked my engine after the fact and realized that the outer tube of the gearbox cable became loose and had detached from the engine end. With this failure the cable could go back in (to put the gearbox in forward) but not outside the tube (to put the engine in neutral and reverse).

Of course I was following the adage “Never approach the dock faster than you are willing to hit it.” Though, I discovered the hard way that you always go too fast when it is time to hit...

No one was hurt, except on of my daughters who had a very minor scratch on her forearm.

The aluminum railing on the dock was slightly bent (square section about 1 inch and a half) and my boat has now a dent on the bow above the eye, of about 1 ½ high and a ¼ inch deep.

The boat stayed on its slips for a week and I checked several times that absolutely no water was entering the hull.

A first lesson learnt is obviously: CHECK REGULARLY YOUR ENGINE CABLES, AS THEY ARE SAFETY DEVICES AND WILL BREAK AT THE WORST MOMENT!

Maybe I am overthinking about the whole story but do you think that the mass off water in the ballast could have provoked a deformation of the hull and created cracks that could leak in the future? Or am I fantasizing a little bit?

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NiceAft
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by NiceAft » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:50 pm

Alexis wrote:Hello,

I recently had the stupidest accident I ever had (there is a first time for everything, right?). The gearbox cable broke just when I had to reverse the engine to stop the boat and I violently rammed the dock.

The whole event went very quickly, here is what happened step by step:
- I was approaching the dock. I slowed down and made my final turn to enter between the slips.
- I tried to put the engine in reverse. The engine roared but it took me 3 seconds to understand that the boat wasn’t slowing down. The bow just entered into the slips.
- I made another fail attempt to shift the engine in reverse in the following 3 seconds.
- At that moment I was facing the main pontoon, I had slips on my sides, there was nothing I could do and had just the time to warn the crew we were about to hit.

I checked my engine after the fact and realized that the outer tube of the gearbox cable became loose and had detached from the engine end. With this failure the cable could go back in (to put the gearbox in forward) but not outside the tube (to put the engine in neutral and reverse).

Of course I was following the adage “Never approach the dock faster than you are willing to hit it.” Though, I discovered the hard way that you always go too fast when it is time to hit...

No one was hurt, except on of my daughters who had a very minor scratch on her forearm.

The aluminum railing on the dock was slightly bent (square section about 1 inch and a half) and my boat has now a dent on the bow above the eye, of about 1 ½ high and a ¼ inch deep.

The boat stayed on its slips for a week and I checked several times that absolutely no water was entering the hull.

A first lesson learnt is obviously: CHECK REGULARLY YOUR ENGINE CABLES, AS THEY ARE SAFETY DEVICES AND WILL BREAK AT THE WORST MOMENT!

Maybe I am overthinking about the whole story but do you think that the mass off water in the ballast could have provoked a deformation of the hull and created cracks that could leak in the future? Or am I fantasizing a little bit?
First of all, OUCH :cry:

Second; I believe the ballast tank is significantly BELOW the eye.

Third; Thanks for brnging this to our attention. Such a reminder should a wake up call to all us to the potential failure. Not just that cable, but so many more complicated parts of a sailboat. I have to admit that I am not always that vigilant.

Ray

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Jimmyt
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by Jimmyt » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:32 pm

Stuff breaks. It would only be stupid if you knew it was failed or failing and tried to use it anyway. Sounds like you were lucky to have a pontoon to hit and didn't have to choose between two yachts... or worse, a swimming area. Consider killing the engine when you can't get the gear/throttle to react. Won't solve the problem, but will eliminate thrust and the hazard of a rotating prop.

Glad no one was seriously hurt. Sounds like boat damage was minimal.

If I understand your question, you're asking if the big blob of ballast water remaining in motion momentarily, while the ballast tank stopped abruptly around it, was likely to cause damage due to "water hammer". Unlikely. Planing in rough water probably results in bigger stresses and for longer periods. Check your bilge a few times to look for water. Next few trips make sure your ballast tank stays full. I think you are paranoid, but I'd be checking mine too if it had happened to me. I'm paranoid and proud of it.

Alexis
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by Alexis » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:38 pm

Hi Ray, Thanks for your sympathy!

Exactly as you said there are so many things to keep up with on a sailboat that this cable simply fell "under the radar". Of course you can imagine that I will now check it regularly...

Alexis
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by Alexis » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:54 pm

Hi Jimmyt,
Stuff breaks. It would only be stupid if you knew it was failed or failing and tried to use it anyway. Sounds like you were lucky to have a pontoon to hit and didn't have to choose between two yachts... or worse, a swimming area. Consider killing the engine when you can't get the gear/throttle to react. Won't solve the problem, but will eliminate thrust and the hazard of a rotating prop.
I have to admit that I may have been somewhat stupid: I knew this cable wasn't in its prime condition but I was very far from thinking it was so close from failure. What was truly stupid here was that I didn't predicted what the failure could be ( = not to be able to reverse the engine). If gave it a think and predicted that, I would certainly had find a remediation.

And yes, you are right: luckily it was the "less worse" place to have this sort of failure!
If I understand your question, you're asking if the big blob of ballast water remaining in motion momentarily, while the ballast tank stopped abruptly around it, was likely to cause damage due to "water hammer". Unlikely. Planing in rough water probably results in bigger stresses and for longer periods. Check your bilge a few times to look for water. Next few trips make sure your ballast tank stays full. I think you are paranoid, but I'd be checking mine too if it had happened to me. I'm paranoid and proud of it.
Thanks for your reassuring opinion! I took the habit to check the bilge every time I bring the boat outside of the marina anyway (now I will check my engine cables too).

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Dragos Filimon
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by Dragos Filimon » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:35 pm

Because I had all the trust in the world in my skills I installed this...
https://www.amazon.com/KeelGuard-Megawa ... keel+guard :)

Alexis
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by Alexis » Wed Sep 05, 2018 1:12 pm

Dragos Filimon wrote:Because I had all the trust in the world in my skills I installed this...
I was thinking about that! My wife and daughters like when we beach the boat (I am always a bit nervous but wouldn't risk a mutiny) how easy is it to install?

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Neo
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by Neo » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:57 pm

Dragos Filimon wrote:Because I had all the trust in the world in my skills I installed this...
https://www.amazon.com/KeelGuard-Megawa ... keel+guard :)
Where would you install that? ... Wherever I can pretty much guarantee that it will never get marked .... but the rest of the hull will :D ... Everything varies (jetties, level levels) ... so hard to pick a point or line of impact. Practise and skill are your best protection.

Alexis
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by Alexis » Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:37 pm

Neo wrote:Where would you install that? ... Wherever I can pretty much guarantee that it will never get marked .... but the rest of the hull will :D ... Everything varies (jetties, level levels) ... so hard to pick a point or line of impact. Practise and skill are your best protection.
It would not have helped when hitting the dock, it is a kind of a related topic however. I like the idea of having a protection on the bow when beaching the boat.

Practice and skill are certainly keys but are not enough, in my case a closer inspection would have helped a lot! I would sort them in this order: inspect and fix, practice and get skilled. I doubt anyone more skilled than I am would have been able to avoid the accident from the instant when the gearbox cable broke... The solution would have been (in less than 3 or 4 seconds) to understand the origin of the problem, then to open the helm seat and manually push the gearbox selector on the engine, finally to give some gas on the helm pedestal.

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dlandersson
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by dlandersson » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:37 pm

Could you tie some big ol' truck tires near the bow? :P
Alexis wrote:
Neo wrote:Where would you install that? ... Wherever I can pretty much guarantee that it will never get marked .... but the rest of the hull will :D ... Everything varies (jetties, level levels) ... so hard to pick a point or line of impact. Practise and skill are your best protection.
It would not have helped when hitting the dock, it is a kind of a related topic however. I like the idea of having a protection on the bow when beaching the boat.

Practice and skill are certainly keys but are not enough, in my case a closer inspection would have helped a lot! I would sort them in this order: inspect and fix, practice and get skilled. I doubt anyone more skilled than I am would have been able to avoid the accident from the instant when the gearbox cable broke... The solution would have been (in less than 3 or 4 seconds) to understand the origin of the problem, then to open the helm seat and manually push the gearbox selector on the engine, finally to give some gas on the helm pedestal.

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Neo
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by Neo » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:31 pm

Alexis wrote:It would not have helped when hitting the dock
Ok lets make that Practise, skill and good maintenance are your best protection :D
Believe Alexis there always a way when you've learnt from experience .... As crazy as it sound but that's why you needed to hit the dock! Just like I needed to break my mast. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything now. 8)
dlandersson wrote:Could you tie some big ol' truck tires near the bow? :P
I've seen a Mac (Chinese copy) with that :D

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March
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by March » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:14 am

The only time I seriously nicked the hull was when I drifted into the metal sheets that covered part of the dock (stupid manoeuvering, I panicked, but let's not get into that, lol). The metal sheet sliced into the hull, above water level, and I was able to patch it at home with fiberglass and made it as good as new: following the shape of the profiling lip was kind of tricky and took some sanding and Marine-Tex reapplying, but you have to look really close to see where it happened.

Granted, I never hit the dock (or another boat) at high speed, going full forward. I have developed a healthy level of respect for the rub-rail. After a stormy night when we pumped into the dock for hours, the rail showed only one spot where it was worn out to the fiberglass, which I also managed to patch satisfactorily.

This boat is sturdier than it looks, I think. Or hope?

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NiceAft
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by NiceAft » Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:59 pm

March said:
After a stormy night when we pumped into the dock for hours, the rail showed only one spot where it was worn out to the fiberglass, which I also managed to patch satisfactorily.
The question begs to be asked; did you use any fenders? Why would the rub rails take a beating if there were sufficient fenders? I’m just asking.

Ray

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March
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by March » Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:02 pm

NiceAft wrote:March said:
After a stormy night when we pumped into the dock for hours, the rail showed only one spot where it was worn out to the fiberglass, which I also managed to patch satisfactorily.
The question begs to be asked; did you use any fenders? Why would the rub rails take a beating if there were sufficient fenders? I’m just asking.

Ray
Sure enough. We used fenders, life jackets, floating cushions, whatever was available: docked at Devil's Island, facing the wrong way, so the waves coming straight from behind would slap our flat poop and slam us against the dock. We used every available rope on board to secure the boat into a spiderweb, popped a life-time guaranteed fender that night;

And managed to pull out a jumbo-size clear bolted securely into the dock. It was still loose two years ago :D

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NiceAft
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Re: I hit the dock last week!

Post by NiceAft » Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:46 pm

So, again, how did a rub rail get damaged if there were adequate fenders?

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