Joel F. Potter <jfpottercys@...>
Dear Fellow Amel Owners,
First and foremost, this communiqué comes from Joel Potter the Super
Maramu owner, not from Joel F. Potter - Amel's Sole Associate for the
Americas. These thoughts and opinions are my own and may not reflect any
position Amel will assume regarding the self inflicted woes of Mr. Ian
Mr. Shepherd is the one and only person to sink his Amel by abusing his
bow thruster, using it in ways it was not designed for, and, most probably,
by modifying it in a manner which defeated the designed in fail-safes.
Nearly 600 Amels have a virtually identical bow thruster to the one aboard
Mr. Shepherd's CRUSADER. Not one of them have sunk from ANY bow thruster
related malady. Is the Amel bow thruster design absolutely certifiably
perfect? Of course not, very few thing conceived and created by men ever
are. Is it a piece of s_ _ _ as Mr. Shepherd has often claimed? You be the
judge after considering the following.
Many different individuals, Amel employees, Amel owners, and impartial
observers alike have witnessed Mr. Shepherd operate his bow thruster
improperly by quickly pushing the joy stick port to starboard and starboard
to port without pausing for several seconds as Olivier Beaute at Amel
instructs during the Amel new owner training program. Mr. Shepherd has
stated to me, and others, that he sometimes uses his bow thruster to push
the bow of his boat through the eye of the wind on a failed tack with the
jib back winded. One can only imagine the abuse the thruster would endure
being employed in such a manner. If wind and wave were pronounced, and with
the bow coming out of the water as it often can on a failed tack when "in
irons" the forces the bow thruster would endure are unimaginable.
Several years ago, Mr. Shepherd attempted to inform me about what a
scatological pile of garbage the bow thruster was. He then told me he was
going to ELIMINATE THE FAILURE PRONE PLASTIC BOLT FASTENERS TO THE BOW
THRUSTER PROPELLER AND REPLACE THEM WITH STAINLESS STEEL. When I told him
that these actions would certainly cause a failure in exactly the precise
spot where his thruster failed, he was dismissive and suggested that I
didn't know what I was talking about.
There is a lesson in this, beyond the obvious, for all of us Amel owners.
If you leave your Amel in the water unattended for any length of time over a
day or so, it is prudent to close the water tight doors and secure the
drains. Many a boat has been struck by lightning, hit by an errant drunk in
a speeding hard dinghy, smacked by another vessel and, well, maybe even one
having been tossed off it's own bow thruster while not on the hard. With the
doors closed, most of these situations would result in a correctable mess
and not the loss of the vessel. It takes me just a few minutes to secure the
water tight doors on my Super Maramu when I leave her for more than a day,
and I sleep the better for it.
Mr. Shepherd offers the following information regarding his dismasting and
I quote. "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." It is inconceivable
that the leeward lower spreader (the port lower) could catastrophically fail
when in an unloaded and all but unstressed circumstance. Think about it. Add
in Mr. Shepherds admitting that the genoa had insufficient pressure to hold
it steady in 14 knots of breeze in sloppy seas...must have been pretty
sloppy seas. Perhaps the genoa was rolled into a wave and the pole assembly
put undue pressure on the shrouds and spreader on the leeward/unloaded side?
I carefully examined Mr. Shepherds boat, rigging, and mast after it
arrived in La Rochelle last December following the dismasting. Mr. Shepherd
retained the spreader in question. It was not available to be inspected. It
appeared that the mast yielded and failed just next to the receiver socket
for the ballooner short pole that goes from the mast to the shroud supported
brace. This adds further credence to my assumption of how the mast failed.
We shall never know.
Why this long defensive epistle to my fellow Amel owners? Several reasons,
When Mr. Shepherd's boat sank, I spent at least 100 hours on the phone,
fax, and email holding hands with my customers who were unnerved by Mr.
Shepherds claims. Amel took positive actions to idiot proof their bow
thruster with a retrofit kit that eliminates the thruster shaft tubes from
receiving torque during abusive operation. Still many clients needed
reassurance that their boat was not in imminent danger of sinking. Since Mr.
Shepherd's dismasting I have had an incredible amount of clients come to me
for the other side of the story, most not being at all confident in Mr.
Shepherds side of it, some for assurance that their rigs are not in danger.
Most consider Mr. Shepherd a malcontent but, nonetheless, they are
My second reason is to set the record straight and defend my friends and
associates at Amel. True, I make my livelihood marketing Amel boats.
However, the main reason I chose this path is because the people at Amel are
the most honorable and decent people I know. Having been in the boat
business at all levels from rigging, outfitting, building, and selling
offshore cruising boats for all but a couple years of my adult life, I can
state with full conviction that there isn't another firm as responsive to
the needs of their customers as is Amel. They truly care about our
customers. They always try to do the right thing.
In closing (finally, yes!) I will not resort to name calling and character
assassination as has Mr. Shepherd against Amel. All I ask is, considering
that Mr. Shepherd is the first to sink his boat by the loss of his bow
thruster and the first to wipe his rig off, not due to collision, does
anyone else recognize a pattern here? Perhaps it's his sailing single
handed. One has got to sleep. Perhaps it's pushing/expanding the envelope of
proper operation of Amel specific equipment. Perhaps it's bad judgement.
Perhaps it's all of these things and more. He hurts us all by his
inappropriate actions as I witnessed at the recent Miami Boat Show.
Potential Amel owners questioned me about the quality of Amel boats in
general and their rigging specifically as a result of his postings on our
owners web site. Today, Amels enjoy a very fine retention of value upon
resale. This is, I believe, due to Amels consistent quality in both
construction and after sales service. Mr. Shepherd's unsubstantiated claims
to the contrary does none of us any good.
I am hopeful Mr. Shepherd will sell his Amel and proceed to build his own
cruising sailboat incorporating all his expertise.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am pleased to respond to
Joel F. Potter,
AMEL Super Maramu # 400, MARY BROWN
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