Lunacy under sail

Given the bad luck I had when we sea-trialed Lunacy during her purchase survey (dead autopilot and massive shaft-seal leak) it’s not too surprising her putative buyers have not purchased her. The story of how the deal has gone since then has been nearly as big a psycho-drama as this year’s presidential election. I will spare you the tedious details. Suffice it to say the sales contract expired a month ago. The boat’s problems have been resolved (indeed she has been upgraded in some particulars) and she is still a simple, strong bluewater cruiser of a type that rarely comes on the market here in the United States. Even better, she did pass her audio-gauge hull survey with flying colors. For more particulars on Lunacy you can check my original “for sale” post. Her asking price is now reduced from my Optimistic Summer Season number to a More Realistic Fall Season number: $118,500. Negotiable, of course.

Lunacy from above

Lunacy in all her glory, viewed from above

About those problems we had. It turned out there was nothing wrong with the shaft seal itself. After some diagnostic confusion (which included replacement of two fuel injectors that were leaking) the guys at Maine Yacht Center finally figured out the damper plate between the transmission and engine had shattered. This allowed the prop shaft to shift forward when the engine was under load in forward gear, decompressing the shaft-seal bellows, thus causing the seal to leak. This also explained why the engine couldn’t rev past 2,200 RPM when in gear, another source of concern after the survey.

Damper plate 1

The part of the damper plate that was not broken

Damper plate 2

The parts that were

The plate was replaced week before last and the leak has stopped and max engine RPMs under load are back up to what they were before. As for the autopilot problem, a new Raymarine EV-100 Evolution tiller-pilot is being installed to drive the head of the Aries servo-pendulum gear. This is much more sophisticated than the old antique Autohelm unit, with full NMEA 2000 connectivity and a separate brain, compass, and control pad that are all inside the boat out of the weather. Best of all, you can control the new pilot with an optional wireless remote if you want.

There has been one other bad-luck mishap, I’m afraid, just last week during a full easterly gale that raked the docks at MYC.

Stern cleat

Busted stern cleat! I am amazed by this. But the boat was beam on to 40 knots-plus of wind, and the line to the cleat was way too short, only about three or four feet. That line and another at the bow (both 3/4-inch nylon) snapped in two

So no, aluminum is not immortal. I can at least console myself with the thought that if this were a fiberglass boat a chunk of the deck would have come off with the cleat.

I’m off to France in a few hours to catch the start of the Vendée Globe (of which more later!). By the time I get back a new stern cleat will have been welded on and the new autopilot will be in. If I don’t have any local buyers for the boat, I’ll be sailing her to Annapolis to list her with a broker down there. Interested parties will be welcome to come along for the ride to see how well she sails offshore.

UPDATE: Lunacy is now in Annapolis and is listed on Yachtworld. Contact Bernie Jakits at Rogue Wave Yacht Sales if you’d like to inspect her: 443-742-1792

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4 Responses
  1. Randall Reeves

    Busted cleat–wow. Amazed at so little damage from such a failure. Go Aluminum! Also love the tiller-pilot solution. Have used on my small boat many times. I hung out w/the folks at Monitor the other day. They’re working on a similar “plug and play” tiller-pilot package for their vane.

  2. Tanton

    Possibly available for the trip to Annapolis. I never sailed on the boat. But, this is the time when I get my 1/2 year fix of 1500 offshore miles with deliveries.

  3. Jordan

    Aluminum is certainly not forever. Unlike most steel alloys it has no fatigue limit: every cyclical load causes some amount of fatigue. I first learned about this when I saw a broken bicycle handlebar. The owner had been hanging a u-lock on the bar. After many miles the multitude of small jerks caused by the u-lock bouncing on the bar caused it to fail.

    This also occurs on sailboat rigs with slack rigging: the pumping will fatigue the aluminum occasionally to failure around the tangs.

    I think an aluminum pipe cleat would be a perfect structure to suffer the same type of fatigue, especially if the boat spends a large amount of time in a rolly harbor. Every jerk as the boat fetches up against the dock line puts a small amount of fatigue on the cleat until eventual failure. Since you have one failed cleat I would not trust the others. In repairing it I would probably also put a doubler plate on the deck around the cleat.

    PS: It’s interesting that one pipe failed at the base (where I’d expect since that’s where the force is highest) but the other failed at the top of the pipe. I assume the base failed first and then the other failed in torsion.

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