>The Joker in the deck of cards…


You win the war with the many battles before you leave port & it’s been prolonged inner-city urban warfare waged literally all year. Relentless is understatement! The Open 50 “Strum” was all provisioned up, I’d brought in crew & all the associated prep only to have the customary bottom check and cleaning for the 24-hour departure count-down… when the Joker smiled in the form of a jagged crack around the keel fin.

My long-time friend Les Vasconcellos popped to the surface & said it apeared the boat’s keel bulb had run aground at some point. So we then proceeded to take under-water pictures for a closer look. I always say that the “mast/rudder/keel” interface is the most important- that you make sure those three items are happy before you launch above all else as most everything else is usually redundant crap, a power-draw, weight & clutter. Keep the powerplant, wings & flaps happy!

On that count we were two of the three crossed, as initially they had wanted me to deliver the boat with three of the four spreaders that were cracked and compressing their mounting pins into their base allowing the standing rigging to go slack. Too bad because had we known sooner from the owners the boat had run aground on the way to the start of the Vic-Maui Race (which it won) the keel could have been checked and repaired in the many weeks awaiting the spreaders return from New Zealand where they were re-engineered.

Low & behold after a haul-out check- we discovered that a third of the metal fin had stress cracked. Nothing to fool around with as many of the Open 60’s over the years that have dropped a keel or bulb resulting in the boat capsizing sometimes with tragic loss of life.

And so here we are. We’re going to let “Strum” have surgery so we’re delivering a Swan 47 to San Diego in two days then turning around and bringing a Hunter back to the barn… & from there, who knows.


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