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Since I literally can't vent about this anywhere else and I am looking for outside confirmation of my frustration I thought the mud pit would be the place for this:

Annapolis to Bermuda 2018

Vessel: 1990 Hylas 44 (German Frers Design) Full Specifications (if you're into that)

753 NM (Annapolis to Bermuda via Norfolk tunnel)

Race started last Friday 6/8, boat had been provisioned with the bill split by the 6 crew members. We raced down the bay in fair conditions with solid wind. By Sunday our navigational instruments threw a low charge battery warning, after the mouth of the bay we experienced a significant wind hole for nearly 24 hours so I had time to investigate the cause of the voltage drop.

First of all the skipper did not realize the isolator switch was an isolator switch (falsely correcting me after I ascertained as much during a rather brief inspection). Second of all we had been running the house systems on the starting battery for the previous 2 days (in itself not the worst thing but not knowing which position is which on your isolator switch is a pretty big deal).

After running the engine for an hour (per race rules you are allowed to charge your batteries via your engine, in neutral, out of gear to keep your electronics and fridge running) it was discovered that the charge on both batteries was not increasing. Upon my further investigation (with a basic voltmeter nonetheless, didn't even have an amp meter built in) I discerned that BOTH alternators were either (1) shot or (2) having load issues. I then began looking into the ground cables and the like to discover that they were extremely corroded, wrong sized for the terminals (lugs being too large for the securing points on the banks) and were lacking basic protection/shrink wrap.

There were no lugs on the boat so I cleaned what terminals I could with a file but still presumed the grounds were weak. The playskool volt-meter on board only had a basic resistance function so there was no way to measure any real impedance in the circuit.

I advised the boat owner with the following: Your alternators are not charging the house system, we will inevitably lose all instrumentation in the next 24-48 hours. The fridge/freezer will need to be turned off, now, if we hope to have instruments through the gulf stream, we are 490 miles from Bermuda, 180 miles out of Norfolk.

The decision was made to carry on, with haste, to Bermuda after the skipper was able to source 2 replacement alternators and have his wife arrange to fly with them (I advised that this may or may not fix the issue as it could easily be a primary wire from the alternators/grounds).

We crossed the gulf stream the following day, 35Kts of breeze with gusts up to 45. Chart plotter had shut down at this point so we had only a magnetic compass and an Ipad with GPS navigation. Needless to say, at some point, the collective wisdom on the boat decided to head SW (instead of on the opposite tack which would have pointed the boat SE/E) searching for a wind shift that was on the weather model nearly a week before.

I got on shift 18 hours later, saw the navigation for the first time in nearly 36 hours, noted that we were still 390 miles from Bermuda, now 280 miles from Norfolk, and that the tactical error by the skipper had cost us nearly 100NM in the wrong direction. It was at this point that the decision was made to return the boat to Norfolk, crossing the gulf stream again (now with a headlamp illuminating the compass at night and using 2 flags for wind indicators since that gauge was long dead).

As we are pulling into Norfolk nearly 36 hours later, some genius notes that the engine is drawing more from the forward tank than the rear, decides in their wisdom to shut off the forward tank in the interest of drawing from the rear tank, doesn't note the condition of the rear shutoff (which is corroded solid) and stalls the engine with less than 45 minutes to go to the fuel dock. Now sailing, with the boat heeled, there is no way to prime the fuel filter and we are forced to call for a tow. This action eats up nearly 3 hours of daylight that the voluntary return crew loses for the return trip home.

3 hours later, towboat locates the vessel to the fuel dock, fuel tanks are filled, engine is primed (by myself, the only person who knows anything about a mechanical diesel it seems), engine is fired and the boat docks at Hampton YC.

Skipper offers the crew a $8 yacht club burger, does not provision the boat for the overnight return (food/beer/anything) and presumes we will be on our merry way.

Well at this point I was at my wits end, throughly frustrated with the lack of preparedness of the vessel (a basic marine diesel checkup wasn't on the list?), further frustrated with the skippers ability to make amends to the crew he put in danger, the loss of their vacation, the loss of several return tickets and the cost to the additional crew to now fly to Bermuda to take advantage of accommodations already incurred, I cooly tell the boat owner that 'It is my opinion that the boat is unsafe, and I will not be returning it up the bay or taking it anywhere else'

Well instead of turning to the other 2 gentleman and saying 'You're right, I will dock the boat here, have it repaired, and take care of it upon my return' he asks them if they are alright to return the boat up the bay.

I declined my lunch, went and got my things from the boat, called a lyft ($200) and rode back to Annapolis.

Question being: Am I right in my feeling that the skipper should (A) refund all grocery costs to the crew, seeing as his electrical issues caused our provisions to rot and (B) should make a reasonable contribution to lost airfare and other costs incurred?

Or is it an assumed risk and I basically should be expected to eat my costs for the unsafe boat and tactical error of the Skipper?
 

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Uh, I would consider myself lucky that the shitbag I went to sea with didn’t kill me and try to forget the whole sordid affair.

Should this guy do something for the people he’s tried to kill? Yes, but why would he stop being an asshole now and turn into a stand-up guy. You prolong your suffering by continuing to think about it.
 

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Uh, I would consider myself lucky that the shitbag I went to sea with didn’t kill me and try to forget the whole sordid affair.

Should this guy do something for the people he’s tried to kill? Yes, but why would he stop being an asshole now and turn into a stand-up guy. You prolong your suffering by continuing to think about it.
Failed to mention he was sea-sick for nearly the entirety of both gulf stream crossings...

Agree with you, I think a life lesson has been learned on my end for sure, and expecting someone to make this right is likely misplaced. Maybe more than anything I just needed to write that all down before my head exploded
 

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Failed to mention he was sea-sick for nearly the entirety of both gulf stream crossings...

Agree with you, I think a life lesson has been learned on my end for sure, and expecting someone to make this right is likely misplaced. Maybe more than anything I just needed to write that all down before my head exploded

I think he should have made right on the costs for you guys but if he doesn't know enough to prep the boat for the race no way he knows protocol for making a mistake like that and putting you guys in danger. Like you said, chalk it up as a life lesson - sounds like it could have been worse!



Maybe spread the word about the boat and the skipper at the least for a warning for others that might sail with him. I don't know the sailing world that much but some family members are in it and it seems like it's a small world and word can get around if someone is a jerk and doesn't know how to prepare and how to handle break downs.
 

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Concur with JimC's opinion.



You don't need a resistance function or an ammeter to check charge circuits. All you need to know is the voltage output @ the alternator terminal vs. the system voltage measured at the various connections in the system.



IOW, if there's a connection that is corroded or loose and causing resistance significant to drain batteries, it will cause a voltage drop. (Ohms law)


You can see the voltage drop if you set your meter for volts, and put one probe on each side of the connection. For example, a typical top-post battery clamp- one probe goes on the battery post, the other on the hunk-o-lead clamp. (with the terminal still connected) Any voltage that registers on the meter is not getting through the connection. It only takes a half volt here and there to add up to a discharge situation. You can do this to check all the connections in a system. You can even start with one @ the alt output and one on the battery post. Again, should be zero on the meter. If it registers anything, begin moving the probes closer together until you pinpoint the bad connection. I've seen this happen with bad battery post connections to the point where the whole car is "dead." No lights, buzzers, etc. You put the probes on and suddenly a spark jumps the "gap" and electrons start flowing, and the car comes to life. Until you hit the next bump...


I don't work on boats much but we did find the same issue on my friend's ski boat. Brand new starter and battery, but the hot cable bolted to the starter solenoid wasn't passing the juice.



Sorry your trip got exciting in not a fun way. Glad everyone is ok though. They're lucky you were there.
 

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JT I find it absolutely amazing that you would even consider taking a 753nm run across the open ocean to Bermuda on a vessel of unknown condition with a captain you obviously didn’t know the skill level of with a crew you obviously didn’t know either! Did you not even take a shake down run? What is the reputation of the boat owner? The crew? Did you even know these people (you obviously didn’t know the vessel) before you jumped on that boat for a 753nm cruise? WTF over!?! Or were these just some random people you met on Match.com and decided to put your life in their hands? Absolutely amazing you didn’t know these things before you would even CONSIDER a trip like this. The middle of the Gulf Stream IS NOT the time or place to figure this **** out.

JT consider yourself lucky that YOUR mistake didn’t kill you! Because if YOU left the dock on a ****-box boat with a captain and crew that obviously didn’t know what the **** they were doing, that is on YOU sir!!! You owe an apology to your family, friends and those that love you.

Growing up in South Florida we would make the run in across the Gulf Stream in 23’+ open center console boats to the Bahamas (about 40 to 60 mile run depending on where you are going) all the time. There is always a ton of vessels crossing and the Coast Guard, CPB, DEA and who knows what other military/Law Enforcement agencies extensively monitor that stretch of ocean and I STILL will only go over on a boat that I know is locked on with guys I know very very well who are excellent sea men who know what the **** they are doing and will keep a cool head when **** goes bad. I am usually the least capable guy on the boat. Heck I won’t even take my own boat over due to the age of the motor. If you weren’t aware the ocean will KILL you in a heartbeat - ask me how I know.

If I sound like I’m being harsh, well I am, because YOU should have had better sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
JT I find it absolutely amazing that you would even consider taking a 753nm run across the open ocean to Bermuda on a vessel of unknown condition with a captain you obviously didn’t know the skill level of with a crew you obviously didn’t know either! Did you not even take a shake down run? What is the reputation of the boat owner? The crew? Did you even know these people (you obviously didn’t know the vessel) before you jumped on that boat for a 753nm cruise? WTF over!?! Or were these just some random people you met on Match.com and decided to put your life in their hands? Absolutely amazing you didn’t know these things before you would even CONSIDER a trip like this. The middle of the Gulf Stream IS NOT the time or place to figure this **** out.

JT consider yourself lucky that YOUR mistake didn’t kill you! Because if YOU left the dock on a ****-box boat with a captain and crew that obviously didn’t know what the **** they were doing, that is on YOU sir!!! You owe an apology to your family, friends and those that love you.

Growing up in South Florida we would make the run in across the Gulf Stream in 23’+ open center console boats to the Bahamas (about 40 to 60 mile run depending on where you are going) all the time. There is always a ton of vessels crossing and the Coast Guard, CPB, DEA and who knows what other military/Law Enforcement agencies extensively monitor that stretch of ocean and I STILL will only go over on a boat that I know is locked on with guys I know very very well who are excellent sea men who know what the **** they are doing and will keep a cool head when **** goes bad. I am usually the least capable guy on the boat. Heck I won’t even take my own boat over due to the age of the motor. If you weren’t aware the ocean will KILL you in a heartbeat - ask me how I know.

If I sound like I’m being harsh, well I am, because YOU should have had better sense.
Well perhaps a little information goes a long way here. It's my 12th time across the stream, and previous I had done it, on this boat, 3 times. I know the owner pretty well and have put my hands on a variety of repairs over the last 12 months in preparation for this trip. Probably the only thing I wasn't party to was the electronics (though I did offer to inspect them a few months ago, an offer the owner declined).

The boat isn't a '**** box' anymore than your land rover is a **** box. It's the unseen problems and lack of preparedness that caused this situation. If everything appears to be in good order when you board then your propensity to inspect someone's electrical system, I would argue, isn't very high.

I am a calculated risk kind of guy, most disappointed in what was obvious, to me, a lack of professional attention to critical systems. The marginal (in my opinion) cost of a specialist inspection (all boats my complete a safety inspection) for said systems.

If I lived the way you reflected in your post than I would never have made it around the world twice and certainly wouldn't leave my house in the morning. You cannot be responsible for someone else's boat any more than you are accountable for their vehicle, their home, or, if you'd prefer, their roller blades. My due diligence on all of this is taking the owners word when I inquired about maintenance items. It's his word that is worth toilet paper now, that's the currency shift.

------ Follow up post added June 19th, 2018 07:38 AM ------

e motor. If you weren’t aware the ocean will KILL you in a heartbeat - ask me how I know.

If I sound like I’m being harsh, well I am, because YOU should have had better sense.
I'd say 5000 offshore miles in the last 3 years suggests I might have a better idea than even you.
 

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Well I quess JT from the description you gave in your original post (which I have reread several times) it sounds like a **** show on the Ship of Fools. Even in your reply to me you decry “a lack of professional attention to critical systems” your words not mine. So with 5,000 miles offshore and two trips around the world you still got on a boat that was not prepared to make the crossing with a captain/owner that didn’t know his vessel. There seems to be a disconnect here JT because I can step on a boat know right away if it has been maintained properly or not. A quick look in the bilge and engine room will tell a lot about how a boat has been maintained. Perhaps it’s time you sit down a re-evaluate you critical thinking skills and decision making process because you were the one who ended up on a sketchy boat in the middle of the ocean not me.

And for reference I got my first boat when I was around 10 years old, it was a 10’ John boat with a 3 horse Johnson and have owned some type of inshore/offshore boat ever since. I am now 54.

When we make a simple run to the Bahamas we bring spares for anything in some instances triple (at lest a half dozen fuel filters) enough tools to fix anything. Redundant nav systems to include half the people on board haveing handheld GPS/VHF radios in their bags. It’s called being prepared.

I am am friends with many professional captains who run their boats all over the world to fish and if an owner doesn’t want to spend the money on the boat to make it right, safe and seaworthy then they will fire their owner. Period. Way too much bad **** can happen on the water. But then again I’m not a blowboater, never have been so perhaps it just a different mindset than the sportfishing guys I have grown up with.

Oh and btw my truck is a shitbox the difference is, I know it. And if I ask you to come with me on a trip to Africa so we can go to Uganda through Nairobi and Tanzania you should say not “no” but “**** NO!” trust me.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
hey I am with you, think my rose colored glasses might've been out a bit
 

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JT the entire situation sucks and I'm glad you indeed made it out ok.. Seems like when **** goes down hill on a boat it has a domino effect.. I had a similar situation happen on my boat enroute from Mallorca to the bahamas even though the boat had just received a complete survey and all systems were functioning properly.... low voltage alarm started it all the rest is almost like you described. ..Most importantly you lived to tell the miserable tale...


Unlike my friends son that went out on a boat that wasn't even outfitted with a VHF even though the parents of the kid that owned the boat owned a marine supply store!!! those boys have never been found.

https://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/crime--law/father-missing-tequesta-teen-must-turn-over-phone-judge-rules/JNNYMsuQoidFij6I6DPHbN/
 

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We also bring PLENTY of beer. So your first tip off to a bad trip is to look in the fridge an ensure there is plenty of cold beer. If the captain has some leftover warm Natty Lite immediately get off the boat and RUN don’t walk up the dock. It’s a mistake I made once that I will never repeat again.
 

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I don't think that I have ever gone to sea and not had anything break on me. That said, it sounds like you had a hard go at it, and I am glad you made it back.

It is inexcusable to me that the man that would call himself a skipper would not know every piece of equipment onboard and know how to operate it.
 

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We also bring PLENTY of beer. So your first tip off to a bad trip is to look in the fridge an ensure there is plenty of cold beer. If the captain has some leftover warm Natty Lite immediately get off the boat and RUN don’t walk up the dock. It’s a mistake I made once that I will never repeat again.
HAHAHA even worse, sun-bleached cans of Natural light...
 

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From a buddy who is prepping for a circumnavigation in his IP380. Harsh, but he is as thorough and conservative as they come.

You should never set sail for such a long blue water crossing without checking out the boat and it’s systems yourself. Alter all it’s your life you’re putting on the line. A simple visual inspection would have given some clues that the boat was not ready for such a long crossing.

Also the skipper has no responsibly to the crew to make right whatever may happen on such a trip. There are a million things that can go wrong and cause the boat to have to turn around (including not prepared boat). This should have been stated to all crew before leaving the dock.
This is not a cruse ship..
.
 
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