I've been meaning to share the story of some disturbing cracks I found on my original Hobie AI hull and how that lead to my recent conversion to the 2011 fuselage.
I also wanted to point out a source of potential structural failures for older hulls that are worth keeping an eye out for.
Finally, this story (like so many others), underscores why the Hobie Ownership Experience, while frustrating at times, is the best in the business. ==========================
Around the beginning of 2011, I was tinkering with my late 2007 AI, replacing worn parts, upgrading others and giving it a good physical.
After reading the great threads about Aka corrosion and sacrificial anodes (thanks Keith) I decided to pop off the Aka crossbraces and check under the mounts. This involves using a hex wrench to remove the stainless steel soc screws that fasten into brass receivers. It's not hard to do.
I had noticed the slight weeping of white aluminum oxide from those spots since I acquired the boat from it's original owner. But I was not prepared for what I found,
From above, my bars and hull had the appearance of being healthy, but an unseen cancer was eroding the aluminum bars from the bottom up. Essentially, you have stainless steel - on aluminum - on brass in a constant contact with salt water, setting up the eventual failure of the aluminum parts.
The brass inserts and steel soc screws were still in perfect shape, but the aluminum areas around the soc screws were eaten way - and near the point of failure. After cleaning the corrosion from the bars, you can see that the holes were large enough for the screws to escape, meaning the crossbar could have ripped free under stress at any time.
Worse yet, compression forces and plastic fatigue under the port mounts had caused fractures of the hull that could have caused serious issues far from shore.
These fissures were still invisible, (unless you removed the crossbars), but were about to break out and spread downward, as you can see.
So I had been happy as a clam, sailing hard every week until I found this problem. Once it was exposed, I judged it to be too dangerous for offshore use. I grounded the boat (in the middle of whale season) and contacted Hobie through my dealer. The whole process, with shipping, took about 3 months to resolve and I was high and dry during that time. (Try quitting cold turkey!)
They offered me a couple options, (and this is where it gets interesting). - A reduced cost 2010 demo hull that was on island (wrong color)
- A 2011 RED hull at reduced cost (mmmnn,..new rudder??) But I would have to wait months for it to ship in.
- A 2011 RED hull at reduced cost + I pay the shipping to expedite. (That's what I decided on).
However, there were several problems with this:- 2007 masts do not fit 2010 and 2011 mast receivers.
- 2011 crossbars do not fit the pinned 2007-2010 Akas.
- Older V1 drives become loose in the new hulls, etc, etc.
So Matt and Brendan built me a true "Hybrid" AI. It features:- 2011 hull with larger T&S rudder and tiller,
- 2007 vintage mast cup and V-brace for my "male" mast.
- Pinned Crossbars for my original 2007 Aka/Amas. (one anodized, one not!)
- New axle for my V1 drive.
If you saw it at the beach you might scratch your head awhile figuring it out. It's a real "Poi Dog", as we say over here, but I love the result. (New hull, handles, rudder and steering improvements along with the reliability of the ancient pinned Aka connections. No popping knuckles or loose rivets, etc to stress over).
Hobie eventually replaced the rudder for me as well with the new one - my main reason for going with the 2011 in the first place.
I'm still trying to figure out why the cracks and corrosion were worse on the port side. Probably sun damage from the original owner, maybe it was related to the few months I laid the hull on its side while storing it in the shade. Or maybe it had to do with the corrosion itself, building up localized pressure under the plates/screws and causing the plastic to lift and erupt. The pictures above show a clear bulging of the plastic under each contact point. The starboard side had hairline cracks starting as well.I would highly recommend that owners of pre 2011 AI's pop their Akas once a year and inspect under the crossbars. It's unlikely that you'll find advanced material cancer under there, like me, but it's worth getting a checkup.
Thanks again Hobie - It's great to be back in the saddle.