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Old 02-04-2007, 21:16   #1
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Flying Pig Prevention Measures

I've posted the below in rec.boats.cruising earlier this morning. In the event you'd like to go have a look at those comments, it's generated a great deal of traffic in the 12 hours or so it's been up.

For the recent arrivals who aren't aware of it, some very brief background: Lydia and I went hard aground in the Keys recently; I posted a "I learned about Sailing from that" post-mortem analyzing what had happened - having seen that will add a great deal of perspective to the below. This is a followup generated by some discussion of that event and following analysis, in the rec.boats.cruising newsgroup.

From: "Skip Gundlach" <SkipGundlach@gmail.com>
Subject: Flying Pig Prevention Measures
Date: Monday, April 02, 2007 11:23 AM

Wayne B wrote, in another thread:

On 1 Apr 2007 06:24:13 -0700, "Skip Gundlach" <SkipGundl...@gmail.com>
wrote:

>As to never accidentally touching ground again, if you define ground
>as stuff which isn't usually wet, I think you're right about that.
>However, I fully expect we'll not only touch bottom again, there may
>even be times we'll have to get pulled off, or wait a long time to
>float off. Any sailor who sez they've never been aground hasn't left
>the dock, or started yesterday :{))

That's all true but avoidance is still the best line of defense.

Speaking to that issue, I'm wondering if you've had a chance to fully
come to grips with the circumstances of your recent mishap, and put
together a plan of action for future prevention. I've studiously
avoided any public comment on what should or should not have been
done, but certainly have a few opinions based on my own experience if
you're interested. More important however are your thoughts.


Hi, Wayne, and group,

Well, that's an entirely legitimate question, and one which we've
pondered ourselves for most of the time since it happened.

I'm going to make excuses first :{))

I'm currently enjoying reading lots of Steve and Linda Dashew's
postings on SetSail.com. Those who don't know them can find them at
SetSail.com: The Ultimate Sailing & Cruising Reference. I hold them to be pretty well experienced. They,
too, go aground - with some regularity, though not necessarily as
heavily as we did - despite all sorts of heavy duty electronic gear
and lots of vigilance.

In the Island Packet sailnet list in which I participate, there is
currently a discussion about the QEII captain (reasonably assumed to
be pretty well qualified and vigilant) who ran her up, at full speed,
on a rock now known as Queen's Bottom near Boston, causing, though not
catastrophic, millions of dollars of damage.

I've had the distinct pleasure to hear Nigel Calder speak at a few
Seven Seas Cruising Association meetings. Pertinent to the subject,
in one of his seminars he discusses how often, and how hard,
sometimes, he's gone aground. Like the above, I consider him
adequately experienced and cautious to not do that.

Finally, we have been amazed at how many we found, beginning when we
were still in the Keys Boat Works who, when told of our adventure (for
that's what it was, even if it had turned out worse), describe their
personal experiences of the sickening sounds of fiberglass crunching
as their boats were crashed on rocks. Most of them also described how
long they were there, and the efforts needed to extract them.
Fortunately for all of those particular stories, they didn't have to
get a small navy involved and pay a salvor. Lately, we've even had N
(something greater than 5 but I don't remember exactly) folks who have
told us about *losing* their boats, with two of them having lost *2* -
and each of them, as well, were extremely well qualified, including
one who's an "any ocean, any vessel, all endorsements" captain.

So, we'll not have any further remorse over the mortification we experienced :{))

That out of the way, the grounding was merely the symptom of the
disease.

The disease was inadequate (insert many -ing/-ion items). And, as
discussed in the "I learned..." post, all of them could have worked
out all right, so, but for a couple of degrees, as others have said in different forums/lists/ groups where this has been discussed, it might well have never happened, and the disease might have gone unnoticed, as those many have been in similar circumstances before, and gotten away with it.

So...

First order of business is to become more familiar with the boat and
its gear. I'd wanted, from the start, to take an extended US coastal
trip as a shakedown. Sometimes you have to be hit upside the head
with a 2x4 to get your attention; that's now happened with Lydia,
who's (now )enthusiastically looking forward to all that the East
Coast has to offer. And, as life is what happens as you're making
other plans, who knows? We may find such pleasures addictive and do
that plus the Bahamas for many years. However, we expect to head out
again in November or thereabouts, beginning our Caribbean
adventure(s).

That first order of business will prevent many of the problem elements
of our first rudely interrupted cruise. Had she fully understood how
the chartplotter worked, and manipulated it to look forward and back
and around in varying scales, even in her impaired condition, our
grounding could have been avoided as, while it didn't offer great
detail, it *did* show the reefs, and we, or even just she, could have
done something about it before it happened. I made it a point not to
cast recriminations, but she's now come to (also without dwelling on
it) accept responsibility for the end result; she tells folks, now,
that she wasn't in condition to stand watch, but didn't fetch me to
either take over or assist. We'll not make that mistake again.

The second will be better education and general skills. We're taking
the Captain's classes beginning in a couple of weeks. That won't make
us better sailors, necessarily, but it will add to our skillsets. See below for additional measures.

The third will be better voyage preparation. I tend to "go on" so I'm
concerned that I'll/I am blather/ing, but VanZandt, in his Gentleman's
Guide, speaks to a 4-hour-per-day weather prep. We didn't do that -
but we very well did the tracking. It didn't help, as the weather
system wasn't mentioned in any of the print, internet, or VHF stuff we
either heard or saw, either before or after. However, our actual
plotting and paper/electronic prep was inadequate. We'll spend more
time on that, and also more time underway in review of our position,
movement and changes of condition. Having the (literally) hundreds of charts we do isn't very valuable if we've not actually got them out and worn them out, so to speak.

4th, and covered, really, in the first, will be more heavy weather
practice. We attempted to heave to, unsuccessfully. Had we
succeeded, we would not have been where we ended up; instead, we
continued, as the result with heaving to wasn't an improvement in
stability or comfort, and continuation improved both. I don't know
why we were unable - but our practicing should reveal the solution.

The question was raised, along the way, why we didn't just anchor. We
did consider that, but rejected it for a couple of reasons. The first
was the sea state's contribution to safety on deck. Our anchors (to
prevent a loss by self-launching) are shackled. Even though we have
cockpit controls for the windlass, one of us would have to go forward
to relieve - in the dark, with a wildly pitching deck and green water
attacks - the pressure on the chain to allow unshackling. The second
was that without a huge snubber (something which could be done for
hurricane prep, but wasn't a viable solution in the current
conditions), even though I would have been willing to go forward to
make it happen, I knew that we'd have ripped the roller system - which
included the forestay chain plate - off in the heaving, even with a
4-5/1 (with the depth at the time, it's all I could get with my 300
feet of chain) scope. So, I rejected that solution. Perhaps a
destruction of the roller system and a likely dismasting to follow,
given that we had to pay a salvor, in the end, would have been a
better outcome - but we weren't adequately prescient to see the
eventual end of the story :{))

In the end, to the specific question, which really is just about a
specific incident, the remaining solution will be to avoid or cure
excessive fatigue. Much has been written about fatigue management in
various realms so I'll not try to duplicate them here. Our lives in
general should not have to deal with excessive fatigue, but if we find
ourselves in that condition, we'll place the vessel in such a position
as to allow us some relief, or, simply, not depart before adequate
rest.

So, a rested crew, with an intimately familiar set of instrumentation
(and their manual backups) and gear, combined with a higher level of
experience (and therefore muscle memory, rather than figuratively
scratching our heads, being the response to a set of circumstances),
is our solution. Ironically, we have a sea anchor. It's buried to
where it's inconvenient to get to it. Likely we'll have it more
accessible when we next set out, as it could well have done the job
instead of a bottom anchor. I was tired enough that it didn't even
enter my mind at the time...

Let the potshots begin :{)) I look forward to constructive
suggestions on additional measures which we might take (not, "sell the
boat, you're a danger to yourselves and all the rest of us out there!"
as has been seen in some of the venues where our escapades have been
exposed) to make us better denizens of the coastal and high seas...

L8R

Skip

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Old 03-04-2007, 04:03   #2
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You folks sure seem to have a lot of time for writing. I thought you had an insurmountable amount of boat work that was crippling you financially?
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Old 03-04-2007, 05:02   #3
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i agree it just goes on and on, i finally scrolled down to type this usless post, next time sleep longer
sean
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Old 03-04-2007, 06:51   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipgundlach
Any sailor who sez they've never been aground hasn't left the dock, or started yesterday :{))
I'm not sure - is this saying acquiescent, dismissive or derisive?
After nearly twenty years of driving ships, large and small, frequently in challenging pilotage, I have yet to go aground. Not that I think it can't or won't happen, but I don't think it should be a foregone conclusion that if you go to sea you will touch bottom.

Oh btw, brevity is the soul of wit.

Kevin
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:05   #5
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Skip’s observation is an old adage, probably intended to describe gunkholing cruisers, more than deepwater passagemakers.
It’s a general reflection, akin to:
“If you've never failed; you've never tried.”
Like all proverbs, it shouldn’t be taken literally.
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:18   #6
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Hi,

Have to agree with other previous posters. Lengthy dialogue almost seeking to find excuses for the incident........and earlier plea's for funding donations........both combine to set you up for expected negative responses.

A shorter list of all the things that went wrong, and an honest list of what were the boat / your own shortcomings, and equally what you think the solutions could be, would IMHO be more useful for all readers - especially the newer sailing guys.

If we can all turn a bad experience into a valuable experience - and share it - then we'll all get to be better sailors.

Cheers

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Old 03-04-2007, 07:46   #7
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Skip:

Your introspection is impressive. That said, I believe there is one rule, that if adhered to, will prevent some, if not all problems concerning closing land. IF it's dark and especially if it's stormy SEEK DEEP WATER, NOT LAND.

Best wishes

randy
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:54   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbates
Skip:

Your introspection is impressive. That said, I believe there is one rule, that if adhered to, will prevent some, if not all problems concerning closing land. IF it's dark and especially if it's stormy SEEK DEEP WATER, NOT LAND.

Best wishes

randy
:{)) Good counsel. Of course, had I the clue that we had closing land, I'd have done something different. As I age, my eyesight now requires assistance for reading. I gotta find a pair of specs which includes hindsight while still looking forward :{))

Lessons learned - and, fortunately, we have a stout boat which allows us to keep going to school (after lots of restoration work, of course). I hope the post has conveyed that we'll do a great deal to make sure we're not in anything resembling the same situation again.

L8R

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Old 03-04-2007, 08:15   #9
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Possibly useful advice: A snubber for the anchor chain isn't just for hurricanes. We have one prepared and available, and use it just about every time we drop the hook. I consider it an essential component of my anchoring system. You should figure out a method of deployment that makes it (relatively) easy to use, regardless of the conditions.

Best Wishes,
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Old 03-04-2007, 08:43   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott
Possibly useful advice: A snubber for the anchor chain isn't just for hurricanes. We have one prepared and available, and use it just about every time we drop the hook. I consider it an essential component of my anchoring system. You should figure out a method of deployment that makes it (relatively) easy to use, regardless of the conditions.

Best Wishes,
Hi, Paul, and group,

We use snubbers, too, and they're easy to deploy. However, our normal anchoring wouldn't be at 60+ feet with 8-10' seas. It was those conditions which prompted that decision.

That we'd not used it before, let alone had it ready to deploy, led to it not occurring to me to use the sea anchor. Most likely that could have been very comfortable and easy resting, when our heaving to failed to produce the desired result. Over in the rbc newsgroup, there's a very detailed response showing how one poster does his sea anchor; I believe we'll adopt that for any voyaging we may do.

Of course, there were many different things we could have done. We're hopeful that our "going to school" (lots of sailing, cruising and practice of various scenarios) will change matters in all regards.

L8R

Skip, working on bulkhead retabbing, wind generator and inverter replacment, and engine room disassembly (to get to the bulkhead tabs hidden under stuff)
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Old 03-04-2007, 08:51   #11
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Nice post, Skip. Clearly, owning up to your mistakes is not enough for some. You must have your nose rubbed in it until??? I would not have opened myself up to this type of bashing, especially after going through the pain of wrecking my boat. OK, the donation request was a bit out there. I salute you for your tenacity.

I soft-grounded a 450' navy ship twice. Both times I was maneuvering in port with a pilot onboard and tugs pushing. One was next to the pier in Savannah, GA, and the other was in the turning basin in Curacao. We touched silt so gently that only the most experienced on the bridge knew we brushed anything, and neither incident was reported, as no one was really sure if we touched or not. But when the ship was drydocked, I saw scuffing on the sonar dome. Groundings can and do happen to anyone.

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Old 03-04-2007, 10:21   #12
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FLS

When I did my first trip in the Baltic, I was warned, in pretty well every pilot book that, in the Baltic, sometime or other everyone runs aground. The charts have cheerful warnings about frequently changing depths and many unmarked obstructions. So I had my turn too but escaped with a damaged ego. Now I use a forward looking sonar.
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Old 03-04-2007, 10:30   #13
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I made it a point not to
cast recriminations, but she's now come to (also without dwelling on
it) accept responsibility for the end result; she tells folks, now,
that she wasn't in condition to stand watch, but didn't fetch me to
either take over or assist. We'll not make that mistake again.



Skip
It seems as you have digested what went wrong and hopefully it won’t happen again!

Everyone makes mistakes, some chose not to accept that, and cannot see there own mistakes only others, others are bitter at there own lives for being unfulfilled so will be quick to send you unconstructive negative comments.

I only want to point out one thing

Your woman believes she is responsible for the wreck, I think that’s wrong to let her continue to believe this.
Correct me if im mistaken here
Your the captain , and as captain its your responsibility to make sure she knew what she was doing before handling the wheel to her, its you who should accept responsibility for the end result and make sure she knows it!.
I look forward to hearing about how you love cruising in the newly repaired Flying Pig as you sail away into the sunset with your woman, good luck and all the best to you and your woman.
Ram



.


About a year ago I picked up a new boat in La Rachell , France and sailed it to Tunisia,
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Old 03-04-2007, 10:32   #14
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Idens

How do you like the forward looking sonar does it really work well?
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Old 03-04-2007, 10:49   #15
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Well enough. It is a lot better than the usual depth sounder reading, which is usually three seconds out of date, so is not the depth under your keel but what it used to be.
The FLS gives me about the same feeling as radar does in fog, i.e. some knowledge of what is out there. Only at very short range of course. It is great for creeping into an anchorage or cautiously approaching a sand bar.
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