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Author: Tom Jenkins ( contact the author
Subject: Witchy Woman Keel Bolt Failure PLEASE READ
Info: (8927 views) Posted: Friday 9-28-12 06:21:17 AM
The day before the 2012 Nationals was to start I was working on my boat prepping for the weekend. I proceeded to lift the boat up off the trailer (light air conditions) where once I got the boat high enough to clear the trailer approximately 4 feet from the keel bottom to the ground. One of the two keel bolts (SS thread) sheared off from within the keel. Once the bolt sheared, the boat obviously fell to the ground sustaining massive damage. I am writing this not to tell you about 'our issues' but to plead with each owner to take extra steps and care when lifting the boats. Most Bay Area owners know how Witchy Woman was maintained, I left no stone unturned. Witchy Woman is also the last production built 1988 Express #116. The keel bolts looked excellent in the bilge sump. The damage came from within the keel where inspection could not occur. What I would ask each owner to do, is to develop a back up safety system, so that if the keel lifting point fails, the boat would not fall to the ground. How can this be accomplished? adding additional bolts to the lifting system would decrease the likely hood of of one failing bolt ruining your day. Also, a spectra webbing system could be built to take the load as well, but be carful of the primary system failing then shock loading as the secondary system takes the load... We have very good insurance, and I have started the process and begun getting estimates for the repair work to be completed. It is my intent that the boat will sail again, and this will be a 'bad day' in a distant memory...

I also ask, that if anyone in the Bay Area goes to see the boat, that they stay off the boat, and limit contact, as a marine surveyor will be surveying the boat at some time.

Good luck to all of you sailing the Nationals.

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