Lost keel,insurance and extent of damage

Anne & John Hollamby <annejohn@...>

Hi Dan,
A few more points. Years ago I was crewing on a Nicholson 55 which was a ketch similar in configuration to our SMs and we were hit midships in a port and starboard situation on the start line at Cowes. The damage was a triangular hole about a foot high starting just above the waterline. This was about half way along the centre cockpit on the port side and in a large sail locker. The boat was motored back to Campers yard where it was built and they cut back the fibreglass until they came to a point at which the material had not delaminated i.e. where the glass fibres were still part of the resin and not free. This enlarged the hole big enough to walk through without bending. They moulded a new section using the original mould and then made that part of the hull without any sign of the damage being visible. The port tack yacht belonged to the Royal Navy and the helmsman was the CinC Home Fleet and so the navy was very helpful in ferrying us (the crew) from Cowes to Gosport to collect the boat for the start of the Fastnet in 1971. The boat was not insured for that race as it takes about seven days for the repair to gain full strength!
I had a port and starboard incident years ago when I was the guilty party crossing in front of another car which hit the rear wing of my car which had a fibre glass body. The damage appeared to be fairly insignificant and so I ignored the advice to have the whole rear quarter of the body replaced. Within a year the rear quarter was a mass of fine cracks as the GRP had delaminated.
I have been thinking about the probable damage to your boat. It was built by moulding two halves of the hull and joining them together. I feel sure that the iron and the GRP keel are joined together before the complete keel unit is joined to the hull. The shock of the collision may well have caused delamination not only of the bottom of the watertank section but also of the hull at both ends of the keel/hull joint and this sort of thing must be thoroughly surveyed by a real expert who will be prepared to stand up to your insurers surveyors.
When I had my problems I blamed the insurers but eventually I became convinced that it was the surveyor acting for insurers and the one acting for me were the problem. The one in Newport was incompetent possibly because he was rushed to deal with about 35 of the boats damaged in Hurricane Bob and my British one was not only incompetent in failing to check the engine but also dishonest in agreeing to act for me when he was not going to see the job through.

Richard, thanks for your remarks which are much appreciated.

Regards from Anne and John at anchor sitting out a gale in a bay in the Aegean. SM319

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