A9m Buyers Guide

WIP

The Achilles was very strongly built and I understand that, at least those used in salt water, rarely if ever suffer from osmosis so they are a good bet, but as with all boats there are a few things to look out for. 

This is best read in conjunction with my page About the Achilles 9m and Sancerre which gives a lot of information about the class, how they handle and a lot about how good they are 😊

To get comprehensive insurance the boat will probably need to have had an out of the water survey done within the last 8 - 10 years so that is a good starting point as a surveyor should pick up most things, but here is a list of weaknesses known to me, all of which have, to a greater or lesser extent, occurred and been fixed on Sancerre, most professionally for previous owners.

Skeg & Rudder

Sancerre's skeg being rebuilt. The
complete job was billed at 28 hours.
These are the main weakness with the design and construction, both are foam filled and if they become waterlogged, perhaps from a leak around a pintle some work is going to be required and in an extreme case the steel reinforcement to the skeg may gave to be replaced as happened with Sancerre, this can be done by the amateur but Sancerre was done professionally for previous owners, once for the rudder and later for the skeg which was probably as bad as it gets. Diagnosis is usually fairly straight  forward - listen for a dull thud when tapped.

As with all fin and skeg boats check for slack in the system, the bottom joint is the most likely problem but it should not be a big job to fix. 

Soft spots in the deck

The bane of all boats with a balsa core deck, when I got the boat there were a couple of them caused by deck fittings being put on with little or no sealant - I strongly suspect by pro's at a yard! These were easy to fix by injecting epoxy, although its messy when done from below to avoid repainting or disfiguring the deck. In extreme cases to fix large areas one skin is removed (usually the lower),  the wood replaced and recovered, again doable by the amateur but a bigger job. 

As far as I am aware the only serious issue is likely to be if it happens below the mast (where the timber is ply rather than balsa), that should be a straight forward but possibly lengthy repair (billed at 21 hours on Sancerre) and requires the mast to be taken down. The mast step is supported from below by a sturdy steel pillar so wider "knock on" damage is unlikely. 

P bracket

The P bracket in process of being
stripped for inspection late 2020 note
the loss of material on the anode.
This is unusual and I have not found other owners to have had the problem, Sancerre's bronze P bracket was rotting from galvanic action to the extent that small pieces could easily be removed with a screw driver. Fortunately the damage was limited to the front of the lower "hub" section, its structural integrity was not affected and after grinding the degraded material away the cutlass bearing could be refitted with no play in it.

The likely cause was dodgy shore power connections and particularly the P bracket not being bonded to the engine. The later can't easily be fixed so after finding  the problem in 2019/20 I put a small disk anode on each side of the bracket, this was severely eroded in one year but did its job protecting the bronze. 

For 2021 I installed a galvanic isolator in the mains power system, always a good idea but not something I had got round to doing, renewed the "P" bracket anode and to be on the safe side I replaced the wiring for the bilge pump which had a set of connecters that could have rested in bilge water. Hopefully the problem is now sorted.



Minor Items:

  • If headsail  roller reefing is fitted check that there is some form of halyard deflector, they are cheap and can prevent a halyard wrap and if that happens when reefing as a squall comes through its going to be a struggle to sort out. Fortunately it happened to me when furling the sail and the only damage was a broken wire halyard.
  • Check for chafe on the port jib halyard, it runs very close to the spinnaker exit sheave or its fixing screws, rather than try and remove the sheave I reverted to the rope and wire halyard that would have originally been fitted. That runs clear, will last for donkeys years and does not stretch.
  • If you have water in the forward compartment, check the clam shell covers to the anchor locker drains. Mine had been removed and the screw holes painted over, when the paint gave way water found its way in and it was a devil to find where it was coming from as it can down between the hull and the anchor locker moulding. I found the covers in the large box of chandlery that came with the boat and refitted them and the problem was fixed. Another owner had a similar problem when he tried to enlarge the drain holes out in Atlantic in severe conditions, rather than do that stuff the anchor locker with fenders when at sea, that will limit the amount of water that can accumulate there and will also stop the anchor and chain from crashing about inside the locker.
  • Openers for the dome vents in the Dorade vents tend to break, with care an M10 bolt will screw into them and self tap, a bit of glue and you have a new opener.

That's it, I think!

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