Bolero's Damage Report

I spent yesterday going over Bolero to try and evaluate the damage from our grounding on the Yellow Island Reef. The damage can loosely be categorized as follows:
  • Keel damage from the grounding
  • Damage to Bolero's topside from the interaction with the assist vessel
  • Financial damage to our checking account
  • Damage to my ego, pride and confidence.
Let's start off with the overall conclusion: We Got Off Easy

Now on to the gory details.

Keel Damage

I really didn't do a thorough bilge inspection on the day of the grounding, I just checked for leaks. It was late and hectic so just checked for leaks. And Tuesday I needed a day away from boating. So yesterday I went out and took a look.

Once back in the boat, which was a bit dirty but okay ,I pump out the nuisance water from the bilge and checked the keel bolts. Here are the two in the cockpit.

And the first one inside the cabin.

These all looked fine. Most of the brown discolor you see is a small bits of dirt and debris that has resisted my sponging attempt at removal. Interior modifications to Bolero resisted my attempt to inspect the forward bolts and in the end I decided it was unnecessary.

I had scheduled a haulout for Thursday but I wanted some info about the damage to the keel today. So I mounted my waterproof point and shoot camera to the end of a broomstick and shot a few photos that were barely useful. Here is one of the best.

There is obviously something going on at the deadwood hull interface but it is just darn hard to see it from this photos and the others that I took.

These photos just wet my appetite for more information so yesterday I donned a short spring wetsuit and went over the side. These pictures proved much more revealing.

The damage to the keel from running up on the reef at 4 kts was contained to three locations. The initial impact at the front of the keel, the damage to the joint between the hull and the deadwood and finally the abrasion along the bottom port side of the keel and rudder.

These first two photos show the damage to the lead keel. My overall overall appraisal was that there was remarkably little damage considering what the experience felt like on the topside. Obviously, we ground very hard. But there was very little heel when we were stopped and no perceptible lifting of the boat. My first thought was that we hit a rock. But I think the reality was that we ran up unto a gradually sloping reef and then came to rest next to quite a large rock to port. This seemed to allow the soft, ductile external lead ballast to take the brunt of the initial impact.

View from the port side looking aft.

View from underneath the keel, starboard side looking forward.

The second damage location on the keel was the deadwood joint. From my underwater photos a fair bit of filler material as fallen off as a result of the impact shock. In addition the port side seem has cracked the bottom paint for and aft.

The missing filler material at the keel leading edge will require some work over the winter. But the cracking of the bottom paint along the seam is an annual occurrence as can be seen from these photos from last fall of Bolero after only three weeks of sailing.

In addition to the above damage, Bolero came to a stop next to quite a large rock. We took this rock down the port side and it came to rest on the aft part of the keel adjacent to the rudder. At one point the rudder was force over quite hard and would not move. We were able to kedge off this rock and free the rudder, but I was quite worried about rudder damage. So I was anxious to have a look at the rudder.

This damage appears to me to be mostly cosmetic. No apparent tweaking of the rudder or shoe. And even the metal plates that fill the gap between the rudder and keel are intact without any paint cracks along their edges. Obviously some work here during the off season as well but all in all a great outcome. All things considered.

Topside Damage

I had hope that we might escape my stupidity with only damage below the waterline. No such luck. We had abrasions along our starboard rub rail and a collision with the assist vessel left a nice bite on the bow.

The official first ding of Tim's gorgeous paint job. Tim, in his above and beyond customer service, is sending us a paint repair kit. He claims that even I might not notice it very often.

Financial Damage

The financial damage was quick and steep. We are not members of any towing or assistance program and probably never will be. So the fee to pull us off the reef was $1125. That really adds insult to injury and makes for a very, very good learning experience. Which is why we won't be joining Vessel Assist. We don't want it to be cheap and easy to get assistance.

Ego, Pride and Confidence

One of the more tricky hits in our grounding of Bolero was to my sense of invincibility. I had really, really become successful in working her in and out of small narrow channels avoiding all manner of obstacles, current and non-ideal winds. That confidence is teetering a bit now. I will certainly get right back up on this horse, tomorrow I hope. But I have a lot more to think about.

Conclusions and More Lessons learned
Risk Management

For me I think my lesson is maybe the same as Vegas Blackjack. I need to learn to minimize my risk and place my bets when the odds are in my favor. Obviously, because we sail through every channel, I will always have to sail around rocks and reefs if I chose to go anywhere in the San Juan Island. But I don't need to intentionally add extra occurrences. As I mistakenly did on Monday when the "house" won.

I Love Externally Ballasted Keels

I can hardly imagine what the damage would have been with an encapsulated keel or a long narrow fin keel. Luckily I don't have to.

I Don't Ever What to Call for Assistance Again

Overall the experience was a success. But no one cares for our boat like we do. And we want to be self sufficient.

We Were Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Since here inception, Bolero has had a long list of planned equipment to have on board to provide us with the tools needed to sail in a manner we feel safe. We have added these features as budget has allowed but got bit during our grounding because our inflatable kayak and kedge anchor hadn't made it to the top of our budget list yet.
Current Plans

After inspecting the damage and consulting with Tim, I canceled our haulout appointment. We are going to sail the rest of the season and fix the keel over the off season. When we receive our paint kit we will touch up the bow on the mooring working from the dinghy.

In addition we are going to find the funds to finish of our outfitting list which will greatly enhance or abilities to be self sufficient and allow us to stop for the night.

Which is after all, why we modified the Tough Ole Gal.