Atlantic Crossing – Issues and Gear Failure

As you would expect, every boat suffers issues on a 3000NM ocean crossing. The name of the game is redundancy and self sufficiency. You need to be able to repair and carry on. But, every year there are the doomsday scenarios. This year a German BM 39 called Noah,  with two kids on board started taking on water and eventually, unable to stem the flow, the boat had to be abandoned. The 5 crew were all picked up safely by the James Cook research vessel before being put on a tanker to the Canary Islands. A similar event took place in 2015:

A Bavaria 44 lost its rig about half way across and ended up motoring and using a jury rig to get the remaining 1500NM to St Lucia. Other yachts donated fuel to help them on their way.

There were multiple rudder and steering failures. In one case a rudder had been sheared in half and with another yacht standing by, the two crews managed to fabricate a wooden sock that fitted over the remaining rudder and allowed them to get all the way to St Lucia. A display of impressive inginuoty.

From my experience of the ARC the primary gear issues seemed to be:

  • Rudder/Steering Failures
  • Electrical/charging issues
  • Comms issues – often linked to Electrical issues
  • Big sail issues – complexity of flying large sails such as A1/A2 spinnakers and Code Zeros.
  • Running Rigging issues

Our issues were as follows:

Loose Steering Cables, which we tightened.

Intermittent Chart Plotters – the B&G system would occasionally, unannounced, shut down.

Wind instrument failure, but this came good once it was re-booted

Our port aft safety rail attachment to the push-pit gave way.  Not great, as these safety lines are your last line of defence before you end up in the sea. Upon closer inspection, Hanse have used a threaded connection into the stanchions at the pulpit and pushpit. As these are grabbed, they can bend, work hardening. Over time, they become brittle and shear off. It’s a really poor design detail.

Code Zero furling mechanism failed. Terry and Ian carried out an excellent repair, but then the next day the  Code Zero and Asymmetrical Spinnaker mast head block failed at the top of the mast.

Failure of 1st Reefing Line on the Main Sail. It chaffed through in the boom, we were only 2 days from St Lucia when this happened, but effecting a repair would not have been easy. Had it given way in tough conditions it would have been very challenging.

Port side head sail block distorted under load allowing the head sail sheet to severely chafe over night.

Grey Water Pump over heating. Unlike a simpler boat the Hanse 575 discharges all its sink, shower water etc into two grey water recycling tanks, the contents of which are pumped over board via a through hull fitting and stop cock labeled “shower drain”. When the tanks filled up, float valves triggered the pumps, but they couldn’t pump against a closed stop cock. The mistake here was that no one on board understood the boat systems well enough. We had shut off all non essential stop cocks as a precaution, including the shower drains….which actually served a lot more functions than that.

2 thoughts on “Atlantic Crossing – Issues and Gear Failure

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  1. I remember joining a catamaran to cross from Panama to Colombia, wondering if I was paying too much, then the very first time we pulled up the anchor the winch broke. The Italian captain looked at it and said “Well, there goes every penny of what you just paid me.”


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