SAIL

Rudder Roulette

While cruising the coast of Portugal last summer, I drove Nada, our Malo 46 sailboat, hard onto a sandspit in 3ft breaking seas. All Malos are exceptionally strongly built, so I was not immediately concerned about the hull. The rudder, however, was taking a beating as it hit the bottom in every wave trough. Nonetheless, we made it into deeper water with the rudder still working.

From there we had an easy three-hour motorsail to Baiona, Spain, which had the nearest boatyard with a Travelhoist. We then arranged a haulout to check for damage, which proved to be much worse than we expected.

The first task was to find someone to repair the boat. This was theoretically easy in as much as a service and repair company, RoNautica, also operated in the boatyard, and it was not safe to move Nada. However, almost nobody spoke English, and the outfit looked pretty rinky-dink, with no proper workshop on site and what appeared to be poor shop practices. Although I was assured that the fiberglass technician, Rubio, was highly experienced, I could not tell whether he or anyone else was familiar with our type of rudder.

The Spanish surveyor hired by Pantaenius, our insurance company, also spoke very little English. Nonetheless, he made a perfunctory visual inspection of the damage, after which he and RoNautica discussed the repair, so we found the first of several Airbnb’s and moved ashore.

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