Hukilau Sails the Sound

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A Very Bad Weekend

22 August 2021
Mike Stern
Well, this is not good. At all. Yours truly screwed the pooch.

A mostly windless day on Sunday August 15, lead us to not sit with flapping sails, but to motor around. We decided to go to a nice anchorage, but since Patti hurt her knee (a bike accident the day before), my friend Dave was going to handle the anchor. So I check the chart to make sure we aren't going to hit anything anytime soon; we'll come a little close to some more shallow water, but no big deal because it's close to high tide. I turn the wheel over to Patti for her watch. In reality, she's in a deep conversation with Dave's wife. Dave and I are on the bow while I show him the anchor ropes. All of sudden, boom. We go from about 4.5 knots to a dead stop. I rush back to the cockpit, and steer us off of whatever is scraping the bottom of the keel.

First thing we do is check to make sure the bilge isn't flooding. It's not, but there's some water down there, so we keep an eye on it to make sure it isn't getting deeper. As chance would have it, we're not more than 15 minutes from the dock, so we hurry back.

I had checked the GPS chart, and it seemed the course was safe. How did we hit something? Because dopey me was looking at too coarse a scale; the course line looked fine, but if I had zoomed in, I would have seen that in greater detail, the course went right over a rock. The rock wasn't visible on the scale I had used. Stupid.

As soon as we get back to the dock, I empty the bilge with the pump and some sponges. I see there's water coming into the low part of the bilge, albeit, verrrrry slowly. I can't tell if it's new water, or if this water is just draining in from a higher and less accessible part of the bilge. I wasn't taking chances at that point, so I had the yard pull the boat.

I went over there the next day, and the damage to the front of the keel is obvious: there are some big gouges right at the bottom front edge, and some lead had been scraped away on the side edge. But the big issue is the keel hull joint at the top aft edge; it clearly pushed into the hull, causing some hairline cracks. There are also similar cracks along the port side keel/hull joint. The yard guy ground away some surface material to check to see if the cracks were into the hull itself or if it was just the paint and gelcoat. We found that this was not the first time this had happened to this boat as there was an old repair at this same location.

I called the insurance company, who responded very quickly. They got the appraiser out there on Thursday. The yard and the insurance company agreed there was no damage inside and that the outside damage could be fixed by grinding out the damaged material, reglassing it, fairing then painting. And while they're at it, they will also fix the leading edge of the keel. And boom, $6000 later, all should be well.

So we went off to Narragansett as planned, only to have Hurricane Henri interrupt our trip....
Vessel Name: Hukilau
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 28
Hailing Port: Branford, Conn.
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