Season 4, Episode 1

We are back on the boat and traveling again.  It feels good to be home and doing what is familiar to us.  It’s a whole new season with new friends and new places to explore.  We are excited to be underway again.

We left Neko on the hard in Clarke’s Court to get her bottom done and a few other bits and bobs.   Terry O’Connell and his crew did a great job removing all the old bottom paint and applying new stuff. We were happy to become friendly with Terry and trusted his work ethic implicitly. We highly recommend Terry (terenceoconnell3@gmail.com) for anyone needing bottom work – just bring the paint with you as you can get it more cheaply in the duty free islands.  Neko was not much worse for wear after sitting in the scalding sun for 3 months. We had two LCD screens burn out from the heat alone and a couple minor leaks, but it could have been much worse.

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Neko heading back to the water with her slick new black bottom paint.

We left Grenada and started our way up the islands. Finally, we aren’t fighting our way east, but are off the wind using those tradewinds to do what Neko was meant to do, sail. Ideal conditions along with her new bottom paint have us consistently sailing at 9 and 10 knots, making great time between islands. Winds are steady and brisk in the right direction and the boat handles the decent sized seas like a champ. We almost always have one or more reefs in and might as well pack away the gennaker as we can’t foresee needing it for a while. We realize this is what VPLP designed the Switch 51 to do.

We returned to some old stomping grounds in the Grenadines and delighted in their clear water and laid back Rasta feel.

But after about a few weeks and just as we were running low on provisions in those lesser-inhabited islands, we set course for one of our favorite islands, Martinique.

Here we could bask in the glory of French culture in an island setting, having great coffee and baguettes every day all while having a few boat teething pains worked on. Le Marin in Martinique is a major stop for French cruisers needing boat parts or work, so what better place for the French-designed and built Neko to put in a stop. It was an added bonus that the harbor in Le Marin is supremely protected because we had a full week of squally, windy, rainy weather. Oh, did we say that it rained a bit? When we have a lot of rain, we catch it and save it to give our water maker a rest. In Le Marin we had more rain than we knew what to do with. We filled our tanks, spare water jugs, buckets, tea kettles and anything else we could think of.   It was just a reminder that in all our lives a little rain must fall.  So we just waited for the sun to come back and the next adventure to begin.

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Our Maggi Chain

Update:   I wanted to update my original post with Maggi’s response to my public complaints about the chain we purchased from them. Shortly after the posting, we received a response from the company seeking to expedite assistance to us. It turns out that they do not produce very much Aqua7 chain in 5/16” – most of their production is in metric sizes. This accounted for the delay. Bad communication accounted for the lack of explanation to us.  As to the rusting issue, the CEO of the company tells us they do on rare occasion suffer loss of galvanizing, but no more on the Aqua7 than on Aqua4. This is hopeful as there has been some speculation that the higher strength chain does not take galvanizing as well as lower strength chains. In any event, they offered to ship to us immediately a replacement chain in Aqua4 and then when a new batch of Aqua7 is produced to ship a length of that to us as well, since the Aqua4 in 5/16” is not an appropriate strength for our boat. We have now received and installed the Aqua4 and are awaiting final production of the Aqua7 replacement. This has been a more than sufficient response for us so far, and we look forward to final receipt of the Aqua7 chain. To reiterate, we had been happy with a length of Aqua4 for 6 years (which had been on the boat for 10 years). We hope that the new chain they send us will perform as well and that the rusty batch was just an outlier.

Original Post:  Our boat had a load of Maggi Aqua4 chain (or whatever they called their G4 back then) that was original to its build in 2004. It was superior chain that we changed out in 2015. It was really only showing a bit of rust where the links connected, but I had the opportunity to replace it and wanted to lighten my ground tackle load. I purchased Maggi Aqua7 chain in a size smaller – 5/16”. It is essentially equivalent in strength to 3/8” G4 chain, and it saved me well over 100lbs on the foredeck.

However, after about a year on the boat the chain started showing alarming amounts of rust and corrosion. Now, after a year and a half, I need to replace it ASAP. This is far to soon for this chain to rust away. The galvanizing on the Aqua7 is not the smooth, hard finish I had on the Aqua4. It is lumpier and seemingly softer. In any event, it is all gone and the bare surface of the chain is rusting. I have heard other reports that Maggi Aqua7 galvanizing does not stand up, and now I have first hand experience.

The most concerning part of this whole episode has been the response of the Maggi company to our issues. The premature corrosion issue was quickly acknowledged and a new chain promised… and promised and promised. But never delivered. Despite what I deem to be the best intentions of Maggi’s US supplier, I have to conclude that I have been given the runaround, perhaps in an attempt to wear us down so we let it go and buy some competitor’s chain. If you want a sense of the degree of runaround we have been given, read the correspondence in the attached file, which begins in April 2016 and ends in December 2016 with me basically saying “Bueller, Bueller?”

This is a major chain manufacturer and supplier to the marine industry. I think the boating public needs to know about the quality of the chain they are selling and the customer service that backs it up. I warned them I would write posts such as this and take other steps. This is one way in which the individual customer has some power in this internet age. So why not exercise it? Buy Maggi chain at your risk.

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A photo taken in April 2016:

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