When we bought the Allures 44 JoliFou it was in a damaged state resulting from a collision with a ship by the previous owners. The rig came down and was cut free, losing mast, boom and all working sails. The dismasting destroyed aerials on the targa arch and damaged the metal frame of the biminy. There was a largish dent in the starboard gunnel, with the side deck buckled (still watertight tho). The collsision had also compromised the coach-roof to deck join in this area, resulting in some water ingress when it rained. The deck to bulkhead join at the mast had broken (just a bog filler so not particularly structural). The centreboard control lines pole joint to the centreboard case had lost it’s seal.
When we looked at the boat before purchase our analysis of the dent in the gunnel was that it was largely cosmetic. The aluminium welds to the frames either side of it were sound and strong. The gunnel is a half-round solid aluminium section that had bent and had caused some buckling of the aluminium side deck. The structure was still good and also watertight and there was some thought to possibly leave it as-is for a while before we took on the repair.
On the recommendation of our friend Joe from the boatyard, we asked Tom Woods Engineering to have a look at it. He thought that it may well be possible to push the dent out using hydraulic rams. We decided to have Tom’s guys make the repair whilst the boat was still in Newcastle. The initial pushing out idea didn’t work and Tom ended up cutting out the gunnel and plate and welding a new section in. After fairing and painting by Joes yard there is now little evidence of the initial damage.
Stanchions, Pushpit, Biminy
A couple of the stanchions down the starboard side were badly bent, as was the pushpit. The biminy was bent and some of the tubes were broken. We took all the broken bits and the biminy off and had them repaired by a local shop in Newcastle. They did a great job and this saved us a lot of money compared with replacement.
The point of the collision dent was opposite the chart table, so much of the control panel had to be disconnected for access for the assessment and repair. This all had to be re-connected by a local marine electrician. In the process, somehow the Balmar regulator on the alternator got fried and we needed to get a new one.
Although the boat had reasonably recent Simrad radar and GPS with multi-function display chartplotter (CX44), the accident had resulted in loss of all the aerials, radome and obviously the masthead wind sensor. Simrad has declared the CX44 obsolete so it is pretty much impossible to get a compatible GPS aerial or radome for it, and anyway it would be bad money spent on an obsolete technology. We decided to move away from Simrad (I wonder why?) and start afresh with Raymarine gear after consulting with our friend from the Pittwater, Marty Andersen (Andersen Marine Electronics). Raymarine seems to be a company much more invested in the leisure boat industry than Simrad, with good after sales support. After much thought and angst, we eventually decided to forget the cost and go big, with the Raymarine e-series 15.4 inch multi-function display, Raymarine radar radome, AIS transponder and replaced the VHF radio with a new ICom which would work better with the AIS not requiring a separate aerial. The navpod at the helming station was up-sized to one that fitted the MFD and existing Simrad speed, depth and autopilot consoles as well as the existing bow thruster control. This was a very tight fit, painstakingly executed by Bruce.
Rig (mast and boom)
After doing a lot of research and analysis (as he does), Bruce was really keen on the idea of the new mast and boom being made from carbon, rather than the production aluminium. Most cruising boats have aluminium masts, mostly due to the fact that the weight-saving benefits of carbon are not a major concern where speed is not so important and the cost of carbon is usually significantly higher. Carbon does still have a lot of advantages. One can have a lighter weight rig which will still be bullet-proof strong, it makes the boat pitch less in a seaway and improves the righting moment of the boat and has no corrosion maintenance issues.
Initial enquiries and quotes from the Australian mast makers was very discouraging. Essentially their take on carbon price is aluminium x 2. This was not acceptable so Bruce started to look further afield to carbon spar makers in New Zealand and Europe who had far more reasonable pricing. Finally Bruce decided to talk with his old sailing friends at Southern Spars in Cape Town South Africa (Bruce had been prominent in racing sailing in SA and knew most of the management there). The conversation with Richard Stubbs went something like: “I want a carbon mast but cannot afford it and was hoping you may have something lying around that we could use?” As fate would have it they in fact did have something lying around, a GP42 race boat section that had turned out a little too heavy for the specification. The engineers did the numbers and it would be an excellent fit for the Allures, over-strong but lighter than the original mast. It was exactly the concept that Bruce had envisaged, and they would do it at a very good price, comparable to the Australian aluminium prices. Southern designed the rig to the boat and we decided to go about a meter longer than the production spar, with the same fore-triangle and basically a larger mainsail, more fractional design (the original was 9/10th). The order was completed by a reasonably priced XP44 carbon boom section, standing and running rigging, Harken batten cars etc. The mast would come with a shipping join (full length section would be prohibitively expensive to ship) and all would be shipped to Australia in a box inside a groupage container at a surprisingly low cost.
The arrival of the box at Quays Marina in the Pittwater was the best package Bruce has ever received! With some hard work by Bruce and Lyn and some assistance from friends (most notably Dal who is a shipwright) the rig was assembled at Quays Marina and installed by Mark Ede the rigger. One of the things Bruce has preferred for the rig is the use of Norseman compression fittings for most of the stay connections. These are more reliable and less prone to corrosion than the roller-swaged attachments and also more DIY friendly. Another big difference to the production rig is the use of Dynex Dux (rope) for the twin back-stay arrangement. This has been done with effectively a huge bridal and a large block hanging off the back of the mast crane.
Bruce’s mate Clynton whom he had sailed with in the Olympics for South Africa was working at Quantum Sails, Sydney and initial quotations and discussions were to get the sails from him. After making the decision to get the mast from Cape Town Bruce decided to talk with his friend Rick Nankin at North Sails Cape Town to compare prices etc. The South African prices were better and Bruce also liked the idea of using the North Radian Dacron sailcloth, believing that this would give the best combination of price and longevity. We ordered a fully battened mainsail, 125% genoa and a staysail with soft hanks which would go on a soft inner forestay. North collaborated with Southerns to make sure that all the dimensions were compatible and the sails all went in the same box as the rig, so no additional shipping cost.
The original rig had roller-furling genoa and roller-furling staysail, as do most production Allures 44s. Bruce did not like the idea of a permanent inner forestay and the extra cost and weight of the additional furling gear. The preference was to have a soft inner forestay (Vectran with a hard-wearing outer cover) which attaches with a Wichard turnbuckle and can easily be detached and secured aft without undue chafe on the rigging. When the staysail is hanked on it lives in a zip-up deck bag. The whole bag and inner forestay can be moved aft and out of the way of the foredeck and spinnaker pole.
The life lines were in a very poor state, made from plastic covered stainless wire (a very bad idea as it promotes corrosion within). Bruce came very close to deciding to use Dynex Dux lifelines, but eventually decided to go with 5mm 1×19 stainless wire due to superior chafe resistance. Rather than paying someone to swage the wire fittings, Bruce ordered turnbuckles and Hayns Hi-Mod compression fittings from Vela Sailing in the US at a good price and fitted the lifelines himself. A further advantage of doing this is that the compression fittings can be re-used so it is easy to shorten the lines, replace wire in the future etc.