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Old 03-06-2014, 19:59   #676
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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Eric mentioned that the boom went over in a broach. Were preventers rigged, and if so, were they rigged forward? Or did they fail or otherwise give way?

I had preventers rigged, from the end of the 19' boom through a pad-eye on the deck about even with the mast, that came back and attached to a cleat at the starboard quarter. I have a hard time believing that enough load was transmitted through that to cause the leaking that we had, but I really don't have any data either way.

I had ocassionaly also rigged a preventer all the way forward to the sampson posts which actually worked fine in more gentle weather, but when things got gross it just wasn't manageable. I'm not sure if we ever did that on the Pacific crossing.

I would and did have the staysail prevented out to the sampson posts, running through a freeport on the gunwale.

How did the boom damage the hull/deck joint (that was the impression I got, but it seemed a touch unlikely)?

I really don't know, and possibly it didn't. I know we broached pretty violently, I know we started to have leaking at the joint after that, and I know it got worse as time kept ticking. Especially when shipping green water.

Was Eric hand-steering when the broach happened, or was an AP or windvane in use?

Windvane. I was in the companionway I believe.

Did you havestern drogues/para off the bow of any sort, and were they used to slow or otherwise help to keep the boat in a "broach minimizing" direction?


No. We went through a few different mindsets:
1) Try to keep the speed up so we can get through the area and make time. We had reduced canvas but in general the ITCZ strategy is to try to cut through it as quick as possible, or certainly not linger.

2) Stay hove-to to get some rest, cook dinner, do things that it helps to not have the boat banging around (showering, etc).

3) Actively steer when the wind/waves changed direction and strength when squalls came through.

4) Try to actively steer around the squalls to make your life much easier.

Could RH have heaved to effectively and was that considered or attempted?. From what I could see from the lines, it looked pretty heave-to friendly.

Yeah we did and it was fine, except when we got into mixed swells. The prevailing wind would have us hove-to, but there was another swell that would break that would catch us beam-on. I'm pretty sure that's actually what broached us.

Were the batteries and SSB in an unusual position? You mentioned water ingress damaging both, and I wonder if positioning came into this? Was your SSB antenna the backstay or an antenna carried aloft on a halyard? The SIM card fiasco just out and out sucks...

Backstay antenna, nothing special, insulators installed maybe three years previous. The batteries were in the standard under-the-quarter berth location and the SSB was mounted with the back of it hitting the bulkhead.

To give you an idea of the amount of water that entered the boat on that big broach, an auto-inflating life jacket inflated in the cabin. It was just pure green water, and that hit the radio as well (I can't imagine it not). To imagine the location of the radio, if you were to walk down the companionway facing forward and stick your arm out to starboard, it was right about there along the bulkhead aiming amidships (towards the port bulkhead).

I gather you had both manual and electric bilge pumps. Would you consider that a PTO on the diesel to run a engine-powered pump would have been a decent option, or just a further complication?

I think it would have complicated it further. The manual we had was something I bought because I read about it in a book and the author said it was the only pump he could really rely on. In truth, it actually cleared a decent sized toy one of my kids managed to jam in there without us noticing probably months before.

The integrated systems, even just needing electrical power or the engine, were definitely the most vulnerable. When the electronics started to fail it was circuit by circuit it seemed, and somethings would come back online and then fail twelve hours later.

We were a pretty "old school" boat in our equipment choices, with a lot of manual or otherwise simple electronics. Even at that, losing even just a couple of pieces of critical gear causes a lot of problems.
Thanks for these answers, Eric. While I rig preventers to the rail forward to roughly the mast and then back to the cockpit on Lake Ontario, the customary way is to take them forward to blocks at the bow and would be my habit at sea, given the lurching. You mentioned this as being not manageable. May I ask why?

Were your batteries in a lidded box with opening for the cables or just strapped in?

I wouldn't mind knowing the brand of the manual pump that could suck a plushie out of the bilge. Was it perhaps a Patay diaphragm pump?

Do you have any thoughts (location, better waterproofing, fusing or subpanels) on how you might have made your electrical system more robust?

Did you have dropboards in the companionway or doors, and for either did you have a way to keep them in places (barrel locks, lanyards, what have you)? I gather when you took water into the interior you had the companionway open.

Did you use the SSB for wxfax, or did you have any kind of offshore forecasting?

I don't know if you had dorades, but in the broach, were they sealed and did the seals hold?

Thanks for your answers in advance. This is most enlightening, and if you need to take comfort, replying to queries on "what worked and what didn't" is very helpful to people planning similar adventures.
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Old 03-06-2014, 23:47   #677
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

Thanks for these answers, Eric. While I rig preventers to the rail forward to roughly the mast and then back to the cockpit on Lake Ontario, the customary way is to take them forward to blocks at the bow and would be my habit at sea, given the lurching. You mentioned this as being not manageable. May I ask why?


It takes a bit of time to undo that setup, on our boat, and it required us to go up to the bow which got dicey in trashed weather. For squall management we would gybe a lot, and that was maybe a dozen times a day so needing to head up to the bow with green water was a little too thick for me.

Were your batteries in a lidded box with opening for the cables or just strapped in?

Just strapped in. They sat in boxes that were bolted down, and there were pad eyes with straps holding them down into the boxes. There was never enough room between the tops of the batteries and the quarterberth beams (sitting under the boards which made up the bed) for lids.

I wouldn't mind knowing the brand of the manual pump that could suck a plushie out of the bilge. Was it perhaps a Patay diaphragm pump?

We had the Edson 30 ( Rebel Heart - Eric's Blog - the manual bilgeĀ*pump ). It was amazing and if I'm ever crossing an ocean again I want another one.

Do you have any thoughts (location, better waterproofing, fusing or subpanels) on how you might have made your electrical system more robust?


That's tough because I think to some extent if you just toss a bucket of seawater at the distribution panel it's going to fry things out eventually; electronics just don't do good with water.

Some critical systems that do not at all need ship's power would be more the way I'd approach it. A handheld GPS with a big stock of batteries hanging out. A handheld VHF with portable batteries. Portable sidelights and stern light, stuff like that.

Did you have dropboards in the companionway or doors, and for either did you have a way to keep them in places (barrel locks, lanyards, what have you)? I gather when you took water into the interior you had the companionway open.

We had the big plexiglass in, but I opened the sliding top door because I was getting ready to exit and go into the cockpit. Just bad luck on my part there.

Did you use the SSB for wxfax, or did you have any kind of offshore forecasting?

No offshore forecasting, but I did use uuplus.net for email and gribs via my Iridium satellite service. I really liked uuplus.net; they're a great service provider. Like many I found that weather is pretty much all you're concerned with offshore and although you get a general idea of what's going on with gribs and the such, there just isn't anyway to accurately predict offshore weather to the detail that many would like.

Our SSB was used only for voice.

I don't know if you had dorades, but in the broach, were they sealed and did the seals hold?

We had one dorade, on the port side, and a ton of water went into it. It was tough because the interior was getting swamp like with the rain and heat so we wanted to keep as much open as we could, but you'd pay the price for it when green water showed up.

We had some of the "aironly" vents as well, but those let water in too. If someone knows of a way to keep a green-water-shipping-boat ventilated well without letting waves of water into the cabin, I would be all ears.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:10   #678
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

Eric, I know this is addressing an issue after the fact, so possibly not helpful, but back in the 90's, I saw people protecting their radio installations with clear PVC curtains. If necessary, this could have been run under the deck, over the SSB, and down as far as you like. Stuff like that makes the boat appear less "homey", but can be helpful.

All the best, and glad to see you back here.

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Old 04-06-2014, 09:39   #679
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

It takes a bit of time to undo that setup, on our boat, and it required us to go up to the bow which got dicey in trashed weather. For squall management we would gybe a lot, and that was maybe a dozen times a day so needing to head up to the bow with green water was a little too thick for me.

That's a lot of heavy weather. I don't blame you. I thought the idea of preventers to the bow was, however, so you could control the boom movement from the cockpit, i.e. using blocks and cam cleats, plus horn cleats to secure that.


Just strapped in. They sat in boxes that were bolted down, and there were pad eyes with straps holding them down into the boxes. There was never enough room between the tops of the batteries and the quarterberth beams (sitting under the boards which made up the bed) for lids.

Aside from the obvious advice to "raise the quarterberth", you might be a candidate for AGM house banks that can go places flooded batts can't.


We had the Edson 30 ( Rebel Heart - Eric's Blog - the manual bilgeĀ*pump ). It was amazing and if I'm ever crossing an ocean again I want another one.

OK, so noted, and clearly a real-world endorsement.


Subpanel/electronics: That's tough because I think to some extent if you just toss a bucket of seawater at the distribution panel it's going to fry things out eventually; electronics just don't do good with water.

Some critical systems that do not at all need ship's power would be more the way I'd approach it. A handheld GPS with a big stock of batteries hanging out. A handheld VHF with portable batteries. Portable sidelights and stern light, stuff like that.

OK, this is interesting. I carry a Walker log, sextants, hand bearing compasses, even a freakin' lead line, so naturally I also carry a Garmin 72H (basic but quick-acquiring handheld GPS) and three SH handhelds, two with MMSI #s input. And this is on Lake Ontario...Same with portable lights, solar whatnots, etc. I just assume that it's possible to have an electrically dead boat and I'd better have a Plan B that doesn't involve flares or waving an inverted ensign. So I fully subscribe to that insight. I sometimes say "your start point is not that you should think that the sea is actively trying to kill you, but rather that it is completely indifferent to your survival...and work forward from there". This has yet to lead me wrong.


We had the big plexiglass in, but I opened the sliding top door because I was getting ready to exit and go into the cockpit. Just bad luck on my part there.

Yes, that's always a factor.


No offshore forecasting, but I did use uuplus.net for email and gribs via my Iridium satellite service. I really liked uuplus.net; they're a great service provider. Like many I found that weather is pretty much all you're concerned with offshore and although you get a general idea of what's going on with gribs and the such, there just isn't anyway to accurately predict offshore weather to the detail that many would like.

Our SSB was used only for voice.

OK, thanks. I'm installing an ICOM M-802 because my kid will be doing high school offshore (my wife's got a teaching degree) and therefore I need basic email offshore to collect and reply to class assignments and so on. So SSB will get a workout on our boat.

We had one dorade, on the port side, and a ton of water went into it. It was tough because the interior was getting swamp like with the rain and heat so we wanted to keep as much open as we could, but you'd pay the price for it when green water showed up.

We had some of the "aironly" vents as well, but those let water in too. If someone knows of a way to keep a green-water-shipping-boat ventilated well without letting waves of water into the cabin, I would be all ears.

It depends, as far as I know, on the design of the dorade box itself and the height of the internal baffle and the ability of the box to drain quickly. I assume by "air only", you mean vents like the low-profile "mushroom" style by Lewmar and Nicrovent...those don't seem to work directly on deck if there's more than an inch of water sluicing over. A method I would consider is what I will have for my engine room: positive powered ventilation to blow heat out via grab bars (think: vertical brass "stripper poles") from the engine room to gooseneck ventpipes (able to be shut off, of course) on the pilothouse (in my case) or the coachhouse (in yours) top. Just cycling engine room air will tend to draw moisture out of the boat, as will the somewhat counterintuitive running of a diesel (NOT propane) bulkhead heater: diesel is a "dry" fuel and will suck the damp air out the chimney. And even in the tropics, slightly too warm, but dry, is preferable to warm and wet, or so I feel.

Thanks for the replies, Eric. Hope this exchange is proving to be of some use.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:07   #680
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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Subpanel/electronics: That's tough because I think to some extent if you just toss a bucket of seawater at the distribution panel it's going to fry things out eventually; electronics just don't do good with water.

Some critical systems that do not at all need ship's power would be more the way I'd approach it. A handheld GPS with a big stock of batteries hanging out. A handheld VHF with portable batteries. Portable sidelights and stern light, stuff like that.

OK, this is interesting. I carry a Walker log, sextants, hand bearing compasses, even a freakin' lead line, so naturally I also carry a Garmin 72H (basic but quick-acquiring handheld GPS) and three SH handhelds, two with MMSI #s input. And this is on Lake Ontario...Same with portable lights, solar whatnots, etc. I just assume that it's possible to have an electrically dead boat and I'd better have a Plan B that doesn't involve flares or waving an inverted ensign. So I fully subscribe to that insight. I sometimes say "your start point is not that you should think that the sea is actively trying to kill you, but rather that it is completely indifferent to your survival...and work forward from there". This has yet to lead me wrong.
I couldn't imagine going offshore without a battery operated GPS and VHF... electronics are probably the most delicate part of any boat and in my mind that's one of the weakest links, so having some kind of a backup is a safety requirement...

How bad was the broach? Were you all the way over on your side?

On a side note, can you even use a sextant in the Great lakes? In the USCG Cel nav isn't required for the Lakes because it's too hard to get a good horizon... I never tried, but I imagine as long as you're offshore far enough you can use them?
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:32   #681
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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On a side note, can you even use a sextant in the Great lakes? In the USCG Cel nav isn't required for the Lakes because it's too hard to get a good horizon... I never tried, but I imagine as long as you're offshore far enough you can use them?
In general, there are always azimuth angles on Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron where there is a water horizon.

Additionally, you could purchase an artificial horizon for your sextant.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:03   #682
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

I want to thank Rebel Heart for coming on to give us his experiences. My picture of what happened is getting clearer and clearer. Most CF members have never been offshore, and RH writes well enough to give a picture of what it is like.

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That's a lot of heavy weather. I don't blame you.

We had the big plexiglass in, but I opened the sliding top door because I was getting ready to exit and go into the cockpit. Just bad luck on my part there.

Squalls, waves and wind are just a part of passages. What RH experienced was pretty normal passage weather. You need to keep a weather eye out and prepare for stronger wind before it hits.


No offshore forecasting, but I did use uuplus.net for email and gribs via my Iridium satellite service. I really liked uuplus.net; they're a great service provider. Like many I found that weather is pretty much all you're concerned with offshore and although you get a general idea of what's going on with gribs and the such, there just isn't anyway to accurately predict offshore weather to the detail that many would like.

The attached wfax files show the best weather information you are going to get unless you have a really good internet connection. You need to read the waves and clouds to get a more detailed picture.


We had one dorade, on the port side, and a ton of water went into it. It was tough because the interior was getting swamp like with the rain and heat so we wanted to keep as much open as we could, but you'd pay the price for it when green water showed up.

The cowling on the dorade boxes needs to be turned so the opening is downwind.

We had some of the "aironly" vents as well, but those let water in too. If someone knows of a way to keep a green-water-shipping-boat ventilated well without letting waves of water into the cabin, I would be all ears.

Its called a fan.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:47   #683
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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DAN has never had a policy of flying anyone to the USA or their home country. Their policy is to evacuate one to the nearest medical facility capable of handling the medical problem. They have also clarified their policy stance regarding cruisers and they still cover that.

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And how is that different than what I wrote?

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Old 04-06-2014, 14:31   #684
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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And how is that different than what I wrote?
You wrote: "They recently made clear that they are not in the business of flying cruisers with illnesses back to the USA. "

I was making it clear that they never had the policy of evacuating anyone to any specific requested country or to any specific requested facilities. Their policy is to evacuate people to the nearest facility capable of handling the problem.

I was also making clear that they have recently revisited and clarified their stance on this, and cruisers are covered.

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Old 04-06-2014, 16:30   #685
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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You wrote: "They recently made clear that they are not in the business of flying cruisers with illnesses back to the USA. "

I was making it clear that they never had the policy of evacuating anyone to any specific requested country or to any specific requested facilities. Their policy is to evacuate people to the nearest facility capable of handling the problem.

I was also making clear that they have recently revisited and clarified their stance on this, and cruisers are covered.

Mark
Still no substantive difference but thanks for the addition.

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Old 04-06-2014, 16:55   #686
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Still no substantive difference but thanks for the addition.

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Looks completely different to me!

Glad to hear they are covering cruisers. It's a great organization.
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Old 04-06-2014, 18:01   #687
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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Looks completely different to me!

Glad to hear they are covering cruisers. It's a great organization.
Looks redundant to me.
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Old 04-06-2014, 19:08   #688
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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I couldn't imagine going offshore without a battery operated GPS and VHF... electronics are probably the most delicate part of any boat and in my mind that's one of the weakest links, so having some kind of a backup is a safety requirement...

How bad was the broach? Were you all the way over on your side?

On a side note, can you even use a sextant in the Great lakes? In the USCG Cel nav isn't required for the Lakes because it's too hard to get a good horizon... I never tried, but I imagine as long as you're offshore far enough you can use them?
Sure you can. I have no trouble getting a horizon to the East...there's no land...and if you want you can use an artificial horizon or just use the intersection of water and land on the other side (for a sun shot/noonsight). Get away from city lights and there's little problem doing the planets or nav stars at dusk...Venus and Mars are particularly good at the moment. Just plug in the usual height of eye and refraction adjustments, and you're golden. I can usually get within 1-2 NM if I'm weaving and bobbing at the right frequency!
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Old 04-06-2014, 19:14   #689
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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Sure you can. I have no trouble getting a horizon to the East...there's no land...and if you want you can use an artificial horizon or just use the intersection of water and land on the other side (for a sun shot/noonsight). Get away from city lights and there's little problem doing the planets or nav stars at dusk...Venus and Mars are particularly good at the moment. Just plug in the usual height of eye and refraction adjustments, and you're golden. I can usually get within 1-2 NM if I'm weaving and bobbing at the right frequency!
Very cool, like I said, it wasn't required so we never did it, but it's awesome that you can.
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Old 04-06-2014, 21:20   #690
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Re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)

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Very cool, like I said, it wasn't required so we never did it, but it's awesome that you can.
Training your body to take a sight from a moving deck has always seemed more of a challenge to me than finding the horizon or doing the (almanac-assisted) math.

I suppose I would change my tune if I had to work out via the lunar distance method. It's not wrong, but let's face it, CN is hard enough; why pretend you don't know the time?
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