HAVE YOU EVER FELT the deck of a fiberglass boat “give” with your weight as you walk over it? Has it ever given you concern, because you were thinking of buying that boat? And did you come to the conclusion that if the springy deck can carry the load of your walking about on it, all must be well?
Ah, but it’s not, apparently. According to one of Britain’s foremost naval architects and surveyors, Ian Nicholson, no boat can be deemed seaworthy if it has flexible panels that encourage the dreaded “hinge effect.”
This is a condition in which the edges of the panel flex back and forth, giving rise to a series of approximately parallel cracks along the edge of a panel. The repeated bending eventually cracks the gel coat.
In his book, Surveying Small Craft, Nicholson points out that you’ll often see this trouble along each side of the bottom of a cockpit well. It happens where there is no cockpit grating is fitted to distribute the crew’s weight evenly over a large area, or where the grating is too flimsy for the job.
It is widely found where the cockpit sole is weakly supported or where the bottom beams are not carried to the full width of the well,” says Nicholson. “It is sometimes seen when these beams are spaced too far apart, or end too sharply.”
And here’s the big warning from the expert: “If the hinge effect is allowed to develop, eventually the whole panel will drop out.”
Nicholson says this is admittedly rare but is occasionally found in the bottoms of high-speed powerboats where the whole hull pants in and out at each impact with the sea’s surface. “The reversing strain, occurring thousands of times each day, soon cracks through the gel coat and then sets about fracturing the glass fibers.”
The hinge effect is particularly troublesome with sandwich construction, which is how many sailboat decks are built, and even some hulls. “If the outer skin does not continue to grip the core, the trouble may develop very quickly,” Nicholson adds. “The first indications of the hinge effect are, of course. the roughly parallel lines of cracks along the ‘hinge line.’”
So now you have been warned. Large areas of fiberglass, especially flattish areas, should be absolutely stiff under load. In the old days, we learned the hard way about metal fatigue when the flexing wings of Comet airplanes broke off in flight. Fiberglass fatigue may not be as dramatic, but it’s not something you want to experience on your boat.
Department of Gobbledygook
This was published by Yahoo News, 12 March, 2015:
“From The American Register
“by Andrew Higgins
“In the finding that could significantly transform recognized opinions of the fact that world is effective, the workforce of astronomers brought by means of Chris Milne of the College or university of Az (UA) possesses identified that supernovae are not even, although diverse—a discovering that lifts concerns about how precisely significantly ‘dark energy’ is in your world in addition to just how fast your world is actually widening.”
Welcome to the wild world of computer newsgathering.
Whenever your preparations for sea are poor, the sea worms its way in and finds the problems.
— Francis Stokes
Tailpiece “Waiter! Get your thumb off that steak.”
“Very well, sir, but if it falls on the floor again it’s your fault.”
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