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Old 13-10-2012, 21:11   #346
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
That debris is going to be a serious issue. Do they have a plan for dealing with it? The freezer, nothing much you can do but pay attention, but they know all that debris is coming. Doesn't mean they have a solution or even that there is one.
We show some debris that was clearly tsunami (piece of a dock), but lots was just junk: bottles, oil containers, fishing floats, bits of net, etc.. Two boats on our radio net reported seeing overturned boats.
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Old 13-10-2012, 21:34   #347
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

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Ha, ha - Good one RF...

However I was referring to the "effect" the headlands would have on the wind.

I'd leave it up to my GPS to direct me into the headlands...

As you can imagine, we think it's a big deal around here when a 4-story condo messes with our breezes.

But after what happened to Newt -- watch them headlands!
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Old 13-10-2012, 23:58   #348
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
Use a proper preventer rigged to the foredeck, or use a boom brake. A vang to the toe rail is not wise.
+1

Don't use a vang!

Rig a strong line to the END of your boom, take it FORWARD to a midship cleat, bring it back to a cockpit winch. Use it whenever the mainsheet is loose enough to potentially allow the boom to swin, regatdless of point of sail. Adjust it EVERY time you trim the mainsheet. Keep it tight - it won't work if it has even a little slack in it - snatch load from an accidental jibe will snap it, if there is any slack.
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Old 14-10-2012, 02:18   #349
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
+1

Don't use a vang!

Rig a strong line to the END of your boom, take it FORWARD to a midship cleat, bring it back to a cockpit winch. Use it whenever the mainsheet is loose enough to potentially allow the boom to swin, regatdless of point of sail. Adjust it EVERY time you trim the mainsheet. Keep it tight - it won't work if it has even a little slack in it - snatch load from an accidental jibe will snap it, if there is any slack.
Well, I won't reiterate my earlier post re having used "vang preventers" since the late 70's, and why I think they are a good solution to this issue, but nothing that any of you have said convinces me that I've been wrong all these years!

And Dockhead, how does leading a line from the end of the boom to a midships cleat do any preventing with the boom well out near the shrouds? Seems to me that there is no useful angle with that setup... the "preventer" runs nearly athwartships when set up as you describe, not fore and aft as required to do any preventing. A preventer from the end of the boom needs to lead well forward of amidships to be useful.

Cheers,

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Old 14-10-2012, 07:01   #350
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

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Indeed. The cutter rig really earns its keep in such conditions.

I was amazed when I first got my boat -- my first cutter -- how well she sails under staysail alone. I would have thought that I would need some mainsail up for balance, but nope -- in 35 knots of wind and more, she is perfectly happy with just the staysail up. Won't sail very fast, but I can make 6 knots or so on a reach or a broad reach with very little heeling with just the staysail up, and very good helm balance, and I have not yet found the wind force upper limit for this configuration -- even at 50 knots of wind, still little heel, and good helm balance.

My staysail is on a big roller furler, so theoretically at some point I can start reefing it, but I haven't yet found that point. The only thing is that 40 or 50 knots of wind, the sea state even say in the Solent where there's not enough fetch to build up a dangerous sea state, will not allow me to make any progress in that configuration with the wind ahead of the beam -- I would need more power than the staysail alone will give to punch through. But as long as I'm not trying to claw off a lee shore, I can sail slowly but with perfect comfort and a feeling of great security in quite strong conditions with just the staysail up. BUT -- using the staysail in strong conditions, you have to be really careful to set a running backstay correctly -- more about that below.

If sailing DDW or nearly so, I don't use the staysail, because I would prefer to have the center of effort as far forward as possible. In really strong wind -- 40 knots or more -- I use a little bit of the yankee. Furled way down, the shape of the yankee is no good for anything but sailing downwind, but sailing right downwind you don't care about the shape.

Another benefit in really strong conditions using a bit of the yankee instead of the staysail is stress on the rig. The forestay is balanced by the backstay, which is permanently set and can't be mishandled. The inner forestay, on the other hand, relies on a running backstay -- if you don't set it right, or if someone inadvertently lets it off, you can damage your rig.
This broadly reflects my experience with a fairly generous staysail and a reefed down or rolled up yankee on a steel full keeler. I can't do better than 90 degrees, but in 28 knots or better, I can be very comfortable and can be driven at six knots (hull speed is seven and a bit).

I have chosen not to add furling to the staysail, but I am considering putting in a reef point to make it good to 50 knots or so. Trysail and reefed staysail in such conditions (and perhaps towing a warp or a drogue) should give me enough boat speed to maintain safety and steerage.

A well-designed cutter is still the passagemaker's preference, I find, although if I could find a modern cutter-ketch without vices, I would have been quite happy with that, as "jib and jigger" is a good choice in many otherwise hairy situations.
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Old 14-10-2012, 07:05   #351
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

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Except for floating tsunami debris! I personally worry more about hitting that unseen object at night than I do about hitting land. I can do something about missing land, but not much about the log floating just at the surface. Hit a 100-lb. propane tank offshore once, and just dodged a floating freezer chest about 8 feet long on the same trip headed north from the Bahamas back to North Carolina. Lots of floating crap out there.
That was a factor in our choosing steel, actually. Not to mention collision bulkheads! I just have to cut rubber plugs for the limber holes....
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Old 14-10-2012, 11:11   #352
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

Just read that a sailor was killed on the boat he was racing on in Virgina...Hit by a boom? Re read the article,said he fell from the windward side of the boat and cpr was performed to no avail...got to be real careful out on the deck ,said he had no life vest on ...
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Old 14-10-2012, 12:10   #353
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Well, I won't reiterate my earlier post re having used "vang preventers" since the late 70's, and why I think they are a good solution to this issue, but nothing that any of you have said convinces me that I've been wrong all these years!

And Dockhead, how does leading a line from the end of the boom to a midships cleat do any preventing with the boom well out near the shrouds? Seems to me that there is no useful angle with that setup... the "preventer" runs nearly athwartships when set up as you describe, not fore and aft as required to do any preventing. A preventer from the end of the boom needs to lead well forward of amidships to be useful.

Cheers,

Jim
Of course, every boat is different, and it depends where your cleats are. My boat's a cutter with the mast well aft, and the midship cleats give a good angle. If the don't on your boat, then lash a block to the rail somewhere forward enough.
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Old 14-10-2012, 14:47   #354
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

Statements like "a vang to the rail is not wise" and "don't use a vang" fail to recognise that circumstances alter cases.

I'm with Jim Cate on this.

One particular problem with boom-end preventers is that there is no way to convert an accidental gybe to a controlled gybe, sailing shorthanded. If the boat is not (or cannot be) brought back through the wind in time, you have a problem which is not at all nice to have, in some seastates.

The way they are typically rigged also exposes whoever is reconnecting them to danger during the reconnection phase. With permanent toe-rail vangs, no-one ever needs even to stand up, let alone leave the cockpit, to resecure the boom wherever it might be.

I feel that the end-boom solution protects the boom at the expense of the safety of the crew.

There are ways to protect both the boom and the crew, when rigging toe rail vangs permanently on both sides, by incorporating a 'fuse' which fails progressively (but keeping the boom still outboard, as described earlier in this thread) if the boom should dip at speed, or the sail be caught aback in winds too strong in relation to the sail area.

Having said that: I've sailed on a number of vessels without such fuses, sometimes in very testing conditions, and have not damaged either a boom or a vang attachment point. We did admittedly eviscerate a few heavy blocks: best to avoid ball or roller bearing blocks for this duty. It's not funny when they shed their balls all over the deck when pull turns to shove at 0300.

.... However I must admit that at least one of those vessels HAS subsequently broken a boom, most recently off South Georgia, and I recognise that this is a potential problem.

That said, If circumstances did not permit fitting a progressive fuse, I'd still rather risk that, than face the safety problems due to the limited protection offered by end-boom solutions - particularly short handed (and what cruising boat is not, especially at night?)
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Old 14-10-2012, 15:32   #355
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
Statements like "a vang to the rail is not wise" and "don't use a vang" fail to recognise that circumstances alter cases.

I'm with Jim Cate on this.

One particular problem with boom-end preventers is that there is no way to convert an accidental gybe to a controlled gybe, sailing shorthanded. If the boat is not (or cannot be) brought back through the wind in time, you have a problem which is not at all nice to have, in some seastates.

The way they are typically rigged also exposes whoever is reconnecting them to danger during the reconnection phase. With permanent toe-rail vangs, no-one ever needs even to stand up, let alone leave the cockpit, to resecure the boom wherever it might be.
G'Day Andrew,

Thanks for that, mate. It sounds to me like you have actually used vang/preventers at sea (as I have) and can speak from experience rather than parroting legends. I think that your explanation of the factors was better than mine.

Getting back to Newt's unfortunate accident, if he had had a vang/preventer on his boat he would not have had to release the preventer when he went forward to drop the mainsail and when the accidental gybe occurred there would have been no ill effects. A crew member could have eased the boom across under control, the helmsman could have regained control and the sail then dropped, all without drama or injury.

One further thought: Folks are always yammering about "dipping the boom end" and what disasters will then occur. With most typical cruising yachts, this is a pretty unlikely event. Our booms are pretty high these days, and generally fairly short relative to the boat's beam. We've done many thousands of "prevented" miles downwind and never experienced the dread event. Further, if conditions are so heavy that one could conceivably dip the boom end, one would likely be deeply reefed, and thus no sail area would get into the water, and the force generated by dragging the spar itself isn't so great.

Incidentally, if anyone is motivated to try this method, I suggest that you don't attach the preventer to the boom with a bail. Rather, use a webbing strop. This both spreads the load over a bit more area and avoids the stress riser of the bolt hole(s) where a bail is attached.

I've gone on long enough now, perhaps too long, and will try to shut up.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 14-10-2012, 17:52   #356
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

Vang to rail is OK but when the boom is sheeted at its end it is easy to break the boom or at least bend it (do not ask me how I know;-).

Do not try this with any long and low boom - you will catch a wave and break the boom one day. But many newer boats have their booms very high up and very short ones too (and sheeted to the cabin top rail) - no such risk then.

barnie
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Old 14-10-2012, 18:09   #357
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

I don't know anybody who has been sailing very long that hasn't been caught in an accidental jibe. I was on a boat with experienced crew that had just finished a race. Since we were hauling down the jibe, and poppin beer can tops, we passed the helm over to a girl who was on her first race. The jib was down, and we were all shooting the bull, not paying a lot of attention to what was going on. The boat had slowed down to about 4 knots, but while I was talking to the skipper, the girl at the helm let the wind pass over the stern, and WHAM! Captain got a goose egg.

Since then I have learned accidental jibes seems to happen way more when somebody without much experience is at the helm. It was not the fact a girl was at the helm that jibed the boat, but the fact everybody on board seemed to take it for granted that she would have enough sense not to jibe the boat that caused the accident. Since then, whenever I put a beginner at the helm if we are close to running, I put the boat on a beam reach before turning over to a beginner if I am going to be up front or close to the boom doing anything.

Sailing is not an inherrently dangerous activity in the absence of inexperience. If you don't have reason to trust the helm person, put the boat on a broad reach and hit the autopilot.
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Old 14-10-2012, 18:12   #358
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

Newt - its been a few weeks now - how are you coming along?
Given this is a "confessional" thread here is my learning opportunity:

Brut's traveller is 6" aft of the companionway so that to get to the cockpit from below you have to step over it. With in-boom furling and at 16' long the boom is quite heavy. Coming into Cooktown, alone, under autopilot, with me below on the VHF (checking bar conditions) I could sense that she was on the gybe so rushed up on deck just as the traveller whistled past the opening - with one leg through the gap. The main sheet nearly took my leg off and spun me around so that my chest hit a halyard winch fair and square. I think I passed out very briefly but had the energy to prevent the gybe back and restore order. I was seriously battered and bruised but nothing broken - very lucky. The learnings:
- my boom brake is now on and tightened virtually always (this is the most important gybe risk management tool) - it was a wind shift around the headland that caught me out - the a-pilot was steering to bearing, not wind angle;
- I don't step out unless I've checked it is safe (I can't realistically move the traveller);
- I adjust the traveller lines so it can't cross the companionway (but have to alter this for a controlled gybe/tack);
- I have now installed a preventer system; a line attached at the aft end of the boom to its forward end which connects to lines (port and Stb'd) from the bow back to the companionway roof/winches/rope clutches. The lines are long enough to allow the boom to go on the other tack (I prefer to disconnect them first and use the boom brake and main sheet to manage the gybe). I only have to go the shrouds to connect/disconnect the lines to the boom line - adjustments are done from the cockpit; and
- my next purchase will be a new VHF with a "Commander" microphone which gives you full VHF usage in the cockpit.

As I said above, the boom brake is most important - it also helps me tame the swinging boom as I reef/roll the main before I can get the main sheet on and the securing lashings in place. A must have piece of gear.

Get well soon Newt, Andrew.
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Old 14-10-2012, 19:25   #359
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel
Vang to rail is OK but when the boom is sheeted at its end it is easy to break the boom or at least bend it (do not ask me how I know;-).

Do not try this with any long and low boom - you will catch a wave and break the boom one day. But many newer boats have their booms very high up and very short ones too (and sheeted to the cabin top rail) - no such risk then.

barnie
I think this is a great point. The chances of dragging a boom in the water is pretty low in many boats, but operator error can hit at the worst time.

If you have mid boom sheeting and the preventer at the end of the boom or vise versa, then you can break the boom by cranking on the preventer or the sheet without easing the other.
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Old 14-10-2012, 21:09   #360
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Re: sailboats can injure and kill

I am very interested in how their various systems work. Would anyone post pictures of their systems? Health update: I am now pretty mobile, waiting for surgeon to take out the stitches and let me start some weight bearing. Still hurts, but now it just feels like a good mugging. Almost down to no pain meds. Still have to get the boat ready for winter.
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