Ian Shepherd <g4ljf@...>

Thank you to you all for your replies regarding my request for information on spreader failures on Amel Super Maramu 2000's. It would seem that our manufacturer is not always generous with the truth. The real value of this site is that those of us who have parted with our hard earned cash can freely exchange information here and find out what is really going on with our boats. Let me tell you what has happened to mine.

Last October my 11 week old Super Maramu 2000 'Crusader' was dismasted off the coast of Newfoundland when the weld at the root of the mainmast portside lower spreader failed. Professional analysis of the failure by an independent company showed that the weld had not been prepared at all, had not penetrated the metal throughout the circumference of the spreader tube, was too thin, and was full of porosity due to insufficient argon being used during the process. The failure had started at the trailing edge and the crack had started some time before the spreader completely failed and the mast broke.

When I expressed concern to Amel's chairman about the fact that our spreaders consist of a simple aluminium butt weld of a 6 foot arm to a stamped bracket with no pinned insert like more conventional designs, his reply was "If you have no confidence in our design, then sell your boat!" Unbelievable words to someone who has had to buy two Super Maramu's in the past three years due to a design fault. There is no doubt in my mind now that the A in Amel stands for arrogance.

My first boat sank just 27 months old whilst moored to a dock in Granada whilst I visited my dying father. The retractable bow thruster fell out of the boat after the shaft tube broke in two following wear around the fixing bolts due to the back torque of the motor. The bow thruster was not in use at the time and no one was on board. The waves lapped up through the hole and filled the front cabin till she went down. More about that later.

Amel are refusing to honour their warranty and fix the new boat as they claim that I was misusing the boat at the time. I was sailing downwind with an apparent wind of 140 degrees to starboard at 14 knots. The genoa was poled out to port as there was insufficient wind to hold it steady in the sloppy seas. Amel claim that it is written in the users manual that the poles can only be used when the wind is exactly 180 degrees from the bow. I see no reference to that in my manual. Is it in yours?

The only reference that I can see is that when using both the genoa and ballooner, you can sail downwind in this configuration with the wind up to 20 degrees off the stern. The limitation is presumably due to the windward sail beginning to back, though I have found in practice that by easing the windward sheet, you can scratch a wind angle of 30 degrees off the stern in reasonably smooth sea conditions.

I see no reference at all to not using a single pole at any angle that will fill the genoa. Is anyone aware of any such limitation? If there is one, then I can only say 'what a terrible design', and I would certainly not have bought a yacht that does not allow you to pole out the headsail. I have sailed my two Amels over 29,000 nms in 30 months and have often poled out the genoa alone without mishap. I would appreciate your thoughts on Amel's interpretation.

Meanwhile, I would strongly urge you to inspect your spreaders for cracks, especially on recent boats as Amel have switched the fabrication of these critical components to a sub contractor in La Rochelle.

Regarding my bow thruster failure, many of you will have received an alert from Amel in late 2002 asking you to inspect your bow thruster where the 4 bolts went through the motor housing and into the tube. Although Amel never admitted that they got it wrong, they never the less radically altered the bow thruster design and the drainage out of the bow cabin into the bilge. They have done a good job in putting the problem right, though that is small compensation having lost my home and personal effects, as well as putting my cruising plans back to square one. Not now once, but twice.

Of course, like the situation of the spreaders, Amel will only say that I was the only one to have a problem. I know this now not to be true. What I would like to know is just what did you find when you inspected your bow thrusters? Were the holes through the tube elongated by the Alan bolts? Had the bronze ring inside the tube that is held by a single countersunk screw worked loose too? If you found that you were developing problems too, then please let me know at my private email address of g4ljf@compuserve.com . Your replies will of course be treated with the strictest confidence as were the replies concerning the spreaders.

Enjoy your sailing whilst I endure another frustrating winter back in Europe. I wish you better luck than I have had with my Amels.

Fair Winds

Ian Shepherd

SM # 414 'Crusader'

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