That’s how the Dufour 520 Grand Large lost her propeller at sea
Yachtsmen can meet many people at sea. This is one of the most beautiful aspects of sailing. People meet and, as always, they talk about boats. O
f course, I’m not an exception and, as a good yachting journalist as I am, in addition to the pleasure of chatting in the cockpit, I usually find in my encounters many starting points for my articles.
Of course, there are cases that, more than others, capture yout attention and lead you to investigate. That’s exactly what happened to me when, chatting with a captain in the cockpit, he told me that he had lost a propeller on a new boat and that, having heard of similar cases, the excellent charter company that had rented him the boat sent him a backup propeller.
Marco and Bruno offer us a white myrtle liqueur on board a Dufour 520 GL, the flagship of the Grand Large range that is also the subject of the problem. They start telling me that, at the end of a sailing navigation near Tavolara Island, when it came time to start the engine, the latter acted crazy.
After some checks, the crew had no choice but to dive and see what had happened below the water level. When they surfaced, the verdict was astonishing: ” the propeller is not here”.
It was night and the unlucky yet competent skipper had no alternative but to moor under sail in an anchorage. The crew called Malta Charter, the charter company that rented the Dufour 520 GL. Fortunately, the crew was informed that there was a backup propeller on board. Indeed, it seems that model is not unfamiliar with this kind of problem, with the result that the company has decided to equip it with an additional propeller.
Warriors Tale – that’s the name of the boat – was launched in Hyères just one month before and, from there, she was delivered to Malta where she started sailing. Even during the transfer, the boat had some troubles: the autopilot and some electronic devices, indeed, stopped working in the middle of the crossing.
Then, the Dufour 520 GL found shelter and assistance at Porto Ottiolu where Malta Charter, with the help of a diver who installed the backup propeller, solved the problem and allowed Warrior Tail to sail again.
In short, a row of problems for a new boat.
Moreover, Marco and Bruno tell us that they had some problems with fuel tanks, too, because, even though level indicators said half full, they caused the engine stop more times.
The crew had no choice but to keep tanks always full; this way, indeed, everything was ok, which suggests a possible problem in the engine air intake system or the absence of a compensation tank.
I like listening to Marco and Bruno; maybe they don’t realize that, but they are very good sailors. They travel with their children, whose safety was never compromised. Indeed, they did never panic and solved all problems with great competence.
A really good crew.
Before saying goodbye, I ask them if I can take some shots, even underwater, where I find a not original propeller that confirms the truthfulness of the fact.
Of course, we give the shipyard the right of reply, with the hope that more careful checks can be carried out during the launch of new boats.
This is not a Dufour problem. It is a sail drive problem. Couple with a previous Charters bad seamanship. Sail drive propellers require properly installed locking washers and thread sealants. If the thread sealant is not used the bolts will back off in reverse. The lacking washer can be damaged by a prop wrap by a line. Once one or both of these safeties are damaged the cone will spun off in reverse and the prop will fall off. Fixed blade props are worse than folding.