Hull to Transom Reinforcement Needed?
I have read several points
concerning the question of this hull to lower transom joint. Indeed,
I believe it also has something to do with why the First 235 rudder
is attached to the aluminum housing with large plastic screws,
which might give before the joint. On the other hand, this apparently
didn't happen here. Note, I think the rudder is actually only
several inches below the wing, probably no more than 3-4 at the
most -Still this is worrisome as seen above. Please see more BELOW.
A week ago I saw a Beneteau 235 just make it to the launch ramp
before sinking. It rested its keel on the ramp and the skipper
tied it to the dock to keep it upright. What happened was that
the rudder had hit a submerged object, and the force on the gudgeon
had pulled the lower part on the transom away from the hull. Copious
amounts of water flowed in a 5 ft crack in the transom-to-hull
joint. This joint is formed with the L-shaped edge of the transom
cemented to the aft edge of the hull. The fix should be easy as
nothing seemed broken except for the joint failure.
The main point of this posting is to warn others with boats of
similar construction to check and reinforce that joint. It was
obviously very weak, since the boat speed was moderate when it
hit the obstruction. A kick-up rudder would also have prevented
damage. The really impressive thing was the size of the split.....the
boat was sinking fast. The final result is that the boat rested
safely on its keel until the local fire company came with a pump
big enough to get it to float so it could be put on its trailer.
This happened at Lake Nockamixon, PA.
Brent W. Benson
COMMENTS ON ABOVE
Rudder Deeper than Keel
So much for Beneteau as one of Ferenc Mate's
(From a Bare Hull, Best Boats, etc) signature example of a fine
yacht builder. There is a First 235 in our boatyard, and as I
remember it has a rudder that lifts up like a daggerboard. I know
it has such an arrangement for the outboard motor.
This is bad design,
pure and simple. When a boat can be configured so that the rudder
is the deepest part of the boat, the designer has to consider
the possibility of the boat grounding on the rudder while moving
at speed. The only arrangement that will protect the rudder in
this situation is having it kick up on a pivot.
Beneteau is not alone in this.
Take a look at almost any shoal draft Hunter with a fixed rudder,
especially the older ones (25, 27, 30). See how the rudder's bent
back? That's because the designer never changed the rudder when
he added the shoal draft keel. The keel may draw 37" of water,
but what good is that when the rudder draws 40". Even the
newer Hunters are guilty. I have a friend with a shoal draft 28.5
who had to have his rudder unshipped and bent back to original
shape. Sure enough, the rudder is as deep as the keel, maybe even
a little bit deeper. He grounded the boat on the thing one day
and bent it back far enough that the trailing edge scraped against
the underside of the hull and it interfered with his steering.
If he had been going faster, I can imagine a situation where the
trailing edge of the rudder could go right through the bottom
of the boat. Being below the waterline, this could easily sink
Rudder Deeper than WING
The rudder lifts, as you
say, but given that you have to back off two bolts, it's clearly
not meant to be done often. The initial design of the 235 seems
to have been with a fin keel deeper than the rudder. They now
offer a wing keel that draws a couple of inches less than the
rudder. This is the only model that I've seen in this area. As
you say, they should have worked on the rudder to either decrease
the total draft, or allow it to kick up.
The outboard bracket does not
lift, at least on my boat. It's just a solid piece of plywood
bolted to an opening in the transom. You pivot the engine in the
There are some good things
about the Beneteau 235. Its performance, especially in light airs,
seems to be better than most boats in my area under 30 feet. The
sail handling hardware is top notch, and the finish detail is
also good. In many ways, it's a much better boat than most in
its size. As it should be, given its price. Aside from the rudder,
my only concerns have been with the lousy spinnaker setup they
provide, and the cheap PAR head.
Still, one of the worrisome points
also appears to be the joint at the transom. I think any owner
should consider reinforcing this joint. Many of have modified
the rudder attachment but have failed to put much thought into
this potentially troublesome area at the hull to transom area.
Well, we now have photographic evidence of this very problem as
seen by Pat Turner's "Windseeker" which hit a hard object
on the way to the haul out area, this splitting almost the entire
seam around the transom to hull, not only at bottom, but up to
the deck! In essence, the ENTIRE TRANSOM had separated (and rudder
cracked from bottom bolt up)! Luckily, Pat was near haulout but
had this happened far from help, the boat would be on the bottom.
Going in an reinforcing this area seems a definitely priority
in troublesome locations. A breakaway sheer pin or kickup rudder
would help greatly as a precaution. See Pat's AFTER shot below,
with reinforced transom to hull joint as well as new rudder mount
To see a FULL
1200PX highlighted version of the BEFORE pic, see HERE.