Re: Amel Mango Hull #14 - the engine room was not built to be watertight?!!?

JB Duler

Daniel Alexander,

Our Meltem does not have a watertight engine room. It just wasn't designed that way and I am OK with that.

Same with the watertight bulkheads. We just have two bulkheads at the bow and that's it, enough if we hit a floating object or a dock.

Several years ago on a different rock solid boat, while motoring in a canal, our skipper was not paying attention and hit a concrete wall at 6 knots. Complete stop. Bump/cracks at the bow but nothing serious enough to crack open the hull.

We surfed giant waves at 20-25 knots on sleds racing to Hawaii. Hitting a container at that kind of speed and with ultra light sleds would have been a different story. But our Amels are not sleds and they are slow and heavy beasts.

Once on a 1880 schooner we got in a storm off the coast of Brittany. Those schooners are slow, like 2-5 knots. We were going to miss the tide around a critical spot and decided to start the engine and of course that engine would not start. The engine was at the center with doors opening in the cockpit. Similar to our center cockpit in an Amel but with butterfly wood doors. We of course could not surf the big waves, we were too heavy and of course the old lady did not have a planing hull. One massive wave broke on the top of us, flooding the cockpit. And the engine. That was the end, we managed to sail to safety up a river, and without an engine.

If the engine or the generator does not start, you may have to open that cockpit floor and be at the mercy of a giant wave breaking on the top. And flooding it anyway.

Several points I am trying to make.

1. Even with a super tight engine room I am not sure your Amel will be viable for very long. If you hit a container at 10-12 knots while plunging down a wave I am not sure you will be able to sail at all or you may not be able to keep the mast up (if you rip off the attachment point of your genoa furler).

2. Being rear ended or with water entering through the hole of a rudder ripped off by an orca or something else? If it is big enough and without rudder (big seas + wind) I doubt you will go very far, watertight engine room or not.

3. Even before the water enters the engine room you may have a short circuit somewhere else.

4. Keep the engine room water tight for what? Running the generator to crank 220v to charge batteries? With water in the boat your 220v outlets may also be shorted.

Again I apologize to the group if I don't see the need for a super watertight engine room. If things are that bad, chances are you want to prepare the liferaft ASAP as the mast or the masts may be down, banging on the side of the hull. Are you aware of such a scenario where a watertight engine room solved your problems? Anybody you personally know who experienced that?

If you do decide to make your engine room watertight it may seem an impossible task AFTER the boat is built.  You would want to degrease the holes and 2 inches around them, and grind back to fiberglass. Maybe by hand since your 220v grinder would not be able to get there without making a mess or cutting wires and other pipes you don't want to cut. Then fit sleeves, valves and epoxy with mat.

I can foresee a very expensive and frustrating mess, and for what?

I am just being practical and I just don't get it. Make every cabin and the engine room watertight? If things are that bad, you won't last very long in what is left of your boat, and I doubt you will be able to dive outside to place a patch.

Please help me, what am I missing?

John Bernard "JB" Duler
San Francisco
Meltem # 19, Western Med

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