Technical

Sailing aboard a multihull, yes, but avoid BREAKAGES!

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To begin with, let’s differentiate damage from perils of the sea. Unfortunately, you can’t do much about the latter. It can be a container floating just below the surface and therefore invisible, which rips off your rudder or a keel, creating a major leak. Or a new part which breaks due to a manufacturing defect, and causes dismasting. You will then have to use all your ingenuity and nautical common sense to cope with the situation. But be reassured right away, these perils of the sea are very rare. Statistically speaking, they are even negligible, even though certain writers have a field day with them. On the other hand, the former is much more frequent. As a multihull is a collection of mechanical parts, it is normal that sooner or later, just as in a car, you will have some damage here and there. But don’t panic; here again most of these incidents are mostly small problems. Two causes are most often at their origin: human failure, with our inappropriate actions, and the lack of anticipation, the consequence of neglected or incomplete maintenance.

Beginner’s mistakes

Above all, and even though multihulls are particularly safe nowadays, don’t forget that you are on the water. Watertightness is crucial, and there are too many deck hatches or toilet seacocks left open. There is no better way to fill up your bilges with water. Something to check each time you set off, especially as this stagnant water could very well damage the electrical circuit. When climbing on board, be mindful of the stanchions, which could eventually let water seep in. When starting the engine, giving it time to warm up, as well as checking that it is being cooled properly (seacocks open this time) will limit risks of unexpected overheating. Having a quick look at the watertightness of the stern gland is not a luxury either. Once under way, taking into account the frequent unidentified floating objects in the water, there is no excuse for not detecting those which can be identified, meaning those which are visible. In all circumstances, watchkeeping is essential, to avoid an impact at the waterline – in addition to the monitoring of other vessels, to avoid any collisions. This attention must be increased in coastal areas; by monitoring your instruments and constant observation, you can prevent running aground. Don’t smile, this is the most frequent cause of damage – and it doesn’t just happen to other people.

Well-organized stowage can also avoid a lot of problems. Lines lying around everywhere like spaghettis end up causing trouble, by getting stuck under a locker lid, under the helm or in the anchor locker. An anchor and chain that don’t run out quickly at the worst moment can have serious consequences as well. A tangled line may disturb a maneuver, such as a tack or a gybe; a missed tack and limited sea room don’t go well together. Nowaday, we have so much electrical or hydraulic assistance for the winches, the anchor, the platforms or the dinghy davits; the ...

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