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Trouble at Sea Survived

Graham Balch
Posted by Graham Balch on Oct 6, 2021 11:05:30 AM

Green Yachts is known for selling boats with electric propulsion. But what most sailors may not know is Green Yachts traveled the planet researching well-built performance sailboats that perform well to put Oceanvolt electric propulsion systems on because we believe sailboats should be electric, sail well and be safe.

The importance of our focus on safety got put to the test on September 21, 2021.

An experienced delivery captain and good sailor was delivering the Salona S46 from Newport to Annapolis for the Annapolis Sailboat Show. At 2318 hours, just over 50 miles into the trip, the rudder pulled out. At the end of this blog, we’ll explain why this happened, but first let’s get back to the rudderless Salona S46 17nm offshore from Long Island.

After the rudder stock came out of the upper bearing, the rudder sank down. Without two points of attachment, the rudder flopped around wildly pulling the rudder tube out of the hull. Water rushed in through the growing hole.

Most sailboats don’t have an aft watertight bulkhead separating the rudder compartment from the rest of the boat. Consequently, most sailboats you can buy today probably would have sunk.

An aft watertight bulkhead is required on inspected commercial vessels by the US Coast Guard. But sailboat builders don’t build sailboats with this important safety feature. Even the Global Solo Challenge with the most stringent safety requirements and grueling single-handed sailing in the world only recommend a watertight aft bulkhead, but don’t require it.

At Green Yachts, we know things can go wrong out on the water. We want our boats to be quiet and easy to use because of electric propulsion. We want our boats to perform well so that you can enjoy sailing. But we also want every sailor to know that we take safety seriously, and when things go wrong out on the water, a Salona sailboat has been designed to be safe.

On all Salonas, a watertight aft and forward bulkhead are standard. Is that true for your sailboat? Is that true for other sailboats you are looking at buying? Unfortunately, probably not.

On all Salonas, a strong steel rib cage integrates the mast, keel and standing rigging making it strong. Is that true for your sailboat? Is that true for other sailboats you are looking at buying? Unfortunately, probably not.

Because Salonas are some of the safest sailboats in the world, our Salona S46 was able to come back to shore safely. After a harrowing night and a tow back to land, the Salona S46 was taken to a boatyard where repairs were expertly made to the rudder and hull. Additionally, everything behind the aft lazarette is replaced with new equipment.

Now, let’s back up. Why did this happen to the rudder? Salona uses a world-class rudder system made by Jefa Rudder Systems, which you will find on most new sailboats including Bavaria, Beneteau, Grand Soleil, Hanse, J Boats and more. But with any rudder system, if all pieces of the upper bearing system are not installed and/or not tightened properly, the system won’t function as it should, which makes sense. This is what happened on the Salona S46.

The rudder on the hull #1 of the Salona S46 worked perfectly on dozens sails while being tested by Salona in Croatia. Then, the Salona S46 had the rudder, keel and mast removed and the S46 was shipped to the United States where the rudder, keel and mast were reinstalled by a third-party US boatyard. However, the upper bearing that holds the rudder in place was improperly installed.

As much as we at Green Yachts believe in electric propulsion, we are even stronger advocates of safety. This is why we sell and sail Salonas. Salonas are well-made, safe and high-performance sailboats that just happen to be electric.

Topics: Salona S46, Jefa, Rudder

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