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Old 26-04-2013, 10:47   #136
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Pelagic seems to be in your camp on this also.

I will have to give it some further thought.

We personally are a bit spoiled, because of our structural hard dodger, allows us to be "out and active" while still being "in and protected", the best of both worlds. . . . and this is also the solution the vendee guys this year picked.

I actually have a car rally chair in my nav station that is very snug and you could belt yourself into it and be quite happy thru knockdowns, but if I was belted in down below with the noise canceling headphones I worry that I would miss: (a) the transition to the back side of the storm and the possible need to change tactics (perhaps add a bit of sail) and (b) chafe on drogue rodes or sail ties coming off the main or other stuff like that.

I can only imagine the noise in the cabin. It seems to me that the hull tends to act like a bell, magnifying even small sounds. That's what people say about hurricanes (on land) after they've been through their first one -- that the thing that used them up psychologically was the noise of it. I believe I would have a very hard time with the noise in the cabin in a really major blow.
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Old 26-04-2013, 10:55   #137
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

Instead of noise cancelling headphones, why not get passive noice cancelling headphones (in-ears or circumaurals), som of those takes off almost 25db, making it all the more pleasant without missing anything. Or, of course, you can use earplugs for the same effect.
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Old 26-04-2013, 11:06   #138
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

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Instead of noise cancelling headphones, why not get passive noice cancelling headphones (in-ears or circumaurals), som of those takes off almost 25db, making it all the more pleasant without missing anything. Or, of course, you can use earplugs for the same effect.

You know what? That's a REALLY good idea, and I am going to add several sets of earplugs to my first aid kit. I am unlikely to be caught in the worst of the kinds of storms talked about here, but I have been struck (pun, sorry) by how loud minor sounds can sound when inside a sailboat. I"m thinking particularly about children -- there will be two aboard my boat next weekend.

I think ear plugs would help stressed people even without Force 10 - 12 winds.

I stayed on my boat while it was in a boat yard for about a week one winter, bow pointed north. We had lots of wind, and the boat bumped *ever so slightly* on its stands. Inside the boat it sounded like the boat was really bouncing around. Of course I got out and looked, and couldn't even see the movement, it was so slight, but it was freaky to me (and I was brand new to living aboard), and i went to a hotel that windy night. Logically I knew I was in no danger, but I was also not sleeping at all.

I also thought the idea of head protection mentioned by someone would be a good idea in a really big blow. The amount of knowledge and experience on this form is truly remarkable.
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Old 26-04-2013, 11:19   #139
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Pelagic seems to be in your camp on this also.

I will have to give it some further thought.

We personally are a bit spoiled, because of our structural hard dodger, allows us to be "out and active" while still being "in and protected", the best of both worlds. . . . and this is also the solution the vendee guys this year picked.

I actually have a car rally chair in my nav station that is very snug and you could belt yourself into it and be quite happy thru knockdowns, but if I was belted in down below with the noise canceling headphones I worry that I would miss: (a) the transition to the back side of the storm and the possible need to change tactics (perhaps add a bit of sail) and (b) chafe on drogue rodes or sail ties coming off the main or other stuff like that.
Ha, the bit about the noise canceling headphones was a bit tongue in cheek! but honestly I rely on the feel of the boat much more than sound. I Lie in my bunk and try to feel whats going on, timing and judging the impacts of the crests, and making sure she is responding properly.

I am glad I have got you thinking, you've done the same for me. And made me critically evaluate my ideas and even rethink some. It's much appreciated
because we do get set in our ways if we aren't careful.

I like the idea of a car seat. Don Mcintire's great video of his BOC race shows him strapped into one in a good blow of cape horn, complete with helmet. It also shows great video footage of a knockdown viewed from his external camera. Here is a youtube teaser, right at the end it shows the knockdown.

I am not convinced a hard dodger would help all that much in a complete capsize, although on hawk such an event would be much more unlikely than on my much smaller boats. And even then it is pretty remote. To be fair my hard dodger on Snow Petrel probably saved me from a real pasting when we got knocked down by a rogue wave, and it did a good job of keeping us dry on blizzard when a bigger than normal wave caught her wrong. See the video below. We should really have had the hatch shut. Thats a problem with not having all your crew below!
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Old 26-04-2013, 11:24   #140
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

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Personally, I prefer to be going a bit faster when downwind in heavy weather than the series drogue allows . . .
Since the amount of drag is a function of how many drogue cones are being towed, couldn't you put fewer in the water? This could obviously be done by building the drogue with greater spacing between cones, or smaller cones, or just using a shorter drogue section. I understand that there is a standard Jordan design, but perhaps this could be modified.
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Old 26-04-2013, 17:36   #141
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

SnowP wrote:

"it worked well enough until a rope got washed down the cockpit drain and into the prop"

It's details like this that turn a thread like this into a place where we don't all have to learn everything the hard way. That's never happened to me before (although I'm a fan of oversized drains), it's a possibility I've never considered, and now (touch wood) it need never happen to me in the future.

Kudos to you, SnowP, and a thought for those in peril on the sea

A guy on whose boat I once served as sailing master had a couple of sons who got interested in sailing as a result of sailing with their ole man, so they went halves on a sailboat of their own. On the delivery, they had an unattended sheet wash overboard and into the prop, while trying to get into Palliser Bay for a bit of shelter.

(It's just one of those areas which generates legends.... but they were "only" in a NW - the whole region is an order of magnitude more scary as a venue in S sector, as you eloquently describe)

It was still scary enough that they have never again set foot on a sailboat, as far as I know, to this day, thirty years later...
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Old 26-04-2013, 17:48   #142
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

Has anyone experimented with using the engine, in reverse, to ease the retrieval load from a stern-deployed drogue?

I'm thinking particularly in the early stages of retrieval of a series drogue in bad conditions on a biggish boat. I know sometimes people have given up because they found the loads so difficult to manage.

The only person I've suggested this to didn't fancy the idea, because of the risk of tangling it in the prop. I think he had a point in the context of his boat, a fiftysomething foot boat with a mid cockpit-- so the engine controls were a long way from the stern, and had a long overhanging counter, making it hard to see in which direction the drogue was 'growing' at any particular moment. (I'm presuming these were factors in his lack of enthusiasm)

However the notion that such a heavy boat would suddenly back up to a loaded drogue quicker than you could stop the engine was a bit surprising to me.

More likely, perhaps, that an uncharacteristically steep wave might toss the drogue forward, which is why I would tend not to continue the practice once the drogue was partly in, and the loads reduced. I guess the worst case scenario for drogue recovery is when it had failed to achieve the desired result and one was about to attempt something else, rather than the more benign situation where conditions had moderated to the point where it was no longer required.
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Old 26-04-2013, 19:58   #143
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

Thanks to Mr. Starzinger for writing a wonderful document on how to sail when the going gets tough, I've saved it and will read it again.. I'm an inshore cruiser / port-hopper, but I enjoy sailing in heavy weather in my little hunter 33. A couple of years ago I ended up in some nasty weather from Cape Breton to the Magdalen Islands (Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada). Environment Canada marine weather predicted 20 knots, on hind quarter, but badly missed the magnitude. It blew up a hell of a lot higher (2-3 times i'd guess), and we ended up in nasty short chop coming from two directions, about 45 degrees apart, one from the wind direction, and the other coming up from eastern PEI. Wave height was similar to 1st spreader. I have don't have any wind instruments, but this was serious wind and we were doing 7-8 knots on bare poles.

When we steered on course, roughly 30 degrees above downwind, waves would break into our cockpit and over the cabin in a nasty way. We quickly learned we could avoid waves breaking over us by bearing off to completely downwind just before the wave peak hit us, and then adjusting back up to, say, 55 degrees off downwind in the troughs, thus keeping us on course. No big story here, we got to the magdalens, and enjoyed a few days in a special place that I highly recommend (if you're in the gulf, go to Havre Aubert, Magdalen Islands, Province of Quebec,it is a cool place).

I'm not even close to being in the same league of experience as many that have posted here (and btw, I am always thrilled to read the experiences of serious cruisers, thanks for posting!). But i thought that Evans Starzinger's document hit the idea of active steering very well, and it really resonated with me. Personally, I've never been in situations where I had to go farther than 'fast/active', but I appreciate his breadth of perspective, and his appreciation that tactics need to match boat and situation. I've absorbed his material on higher level tactics for when I need them.

As a final note, I've read the pardey's book, and I have to say that I can't imagine putting our bow into that 15-20 foot chop. No disrepect to their material, but Starzinger's piece had a much broader perspective.

Great thread, thanks Evan Starzinger, and everyone else who shared his/her experience and views on this incredibly interesting subject.
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Old 26-04-2013, 20:53   #144
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

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Pelagic seems to be in your camp on this also.
To clarify Evans…. I don’t really have a camp.

I see offshore heavy weather situations as a fluid scenario, where the skipper should not be Fixed in his solutions.

Instead of fine tuning or changing tactics to win a race, you are fine tuning or changing your tactics.. simply to survive!

This is influenced by what resources and information you have at hand.

Organizing my thought process for a tough ocean passage would go something like this:

Be Pro-active: Avoid departing into bad weather
Be Pro-active: Change course/speed early to avoid sailing into developing systems
Be Pro-active: Prepare Crew, Boat, ready to Eat Meals… early for pending bad weather
Be Pro-active: Review Storm tactics, safety and emergency drills with crew. Inform any shore support
Be Pro-active: Set course for path of least resistance out of Storm
Be Pro-active: Modify Watch system to address any weaknesses
Be Pro-active: Constantly assess if your tactics are working
Be Pro-active: Assess condition of Crew to physical danger on deck
Be Pro-active: If real danger to on deck crew has developed.. Default to passive survival early enough
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Old 26-04-2013, 22:30   #145
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Nice summary pelagic. Thanks. Probably I would add last thing pro-active assess when to quit the passive and get her sailing again.
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Old 27-04-2013, 00:48   #146
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

Yes, great summary, Pelagic.

Has anyone mentioned restowing below, and securing abovedecks?

I'm thinking, for instance, of the increasing prevalence of locker doors being broken open by the contents, with the lightly built joinery on some stock boats.

In one recent instance, the occupants of the boat were talking after their rescue about this problem. They might well have been hit about the head by falling cans of food - they couldn't say for sure, but reckoned they'd lost consciousness in the knockown - another vote for SnowP's helmet idea, possibly a lightweight white-water kayaker's one with a face grille? But that's not my point, which is about stowage....

and also their comments about the mess inside: "Cushions everywhere" ... and it occurred to me that if you have cushions on a boat (which I'm not conceding, but IF):

a good thing to do with them prior to heavy weather might be to use them to soak up any spare space in the aforementioned lockers, so the contents can't get any sort of a run-up before hitting the doors....

Whereas, of course, on land, "tidying up the cushions" does NOT involve packing them into the cupboards ....

I think it's less common these days for people to serve an apprenticeship on smaller boats where dealing with knockdowns is a more routine affair, and the mindset for stowing such a boat is acquired in situations which are uncomfortable rather than life threatening.

I was navigator on a medium sized cruising yacht once where just prior to retaining my services, they'd had a brush with a tropical revolving storm (and got lost). The designer was on board as a guest, and although it was his first offshore trip, he was a natural seaman and one of the better cruising boat designers partly because of that.

The owner and his family ridiculed him when he made a tour of the boat before the conditions deteriorated, above and below decks, doing things like putting a girth lashing using strong cordage around the microwave, which relied only on the plastic door catch to prevent the heavy glass turntable from escaping. They gave him a hard time, mainly but not exclusively behind his back, about his 'little bits of string'.

I was really perplexed by this. In many ways they were admirable people, but this seemed an extraordinary response. Perhaps their limited experience meant they, unlike him, didn't know what to do.

Without realising it, it seems possible that this uncertainty was directed outwards, a sort of 'fight or flight' response, in a situation where flight was not possible.

But the resulting tensions could conceivably result in teamwork and decision-making deteriorating to the point where survival prospects are impeded. Sort of the opposite of the Smeeton/Guzzwell effect.

I think one of the major challenges of hard weather offshore, perhaps the most difficult sometimes, is the unpredictability of human responses - I'm thinking of cases where the crew are not all familiar with each other in such conditions.

In the 'olden' days, it seemed more of a problem with the privileged class of people you'd strike if you were a hired hand, but now it seems more universal that people have quite limited experience of having to submit to unpleasant and adverse circumstances, let alone cope cheerfully with genuine physical hardship and evident danger from overwhelming natural forces.

And sometimes the people who cope least well are the last ones you'd have expected that from.
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Old 27-04-2013, 02:10   #147
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

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Has anyone mentioned restowing below, and securing abovedecks?

...He made a tour of the boat before the conditions deteriorated, above and below decks, doing things like putting a girth lashing using strong cordage around the microwave, which relied only on the plastic door catch to prevent the heavy glass turntable from escaping.
This sort of routine is good, not only is it seamanlike but it helps calm the nerves, gives the crew something to do and makes you feel like you are in control. Maybe a laminated sheet with bad weather preparations wouldn't be a bad idea.

About securing above decks, I make sure I really put a tight stow on the mainsail, not just a normal stow. In a knockdown any loose folds can fill with water and the extra bulk can also put added loads on the mast. I like those boom bags for this reason, as long as they can be frapped up tight and then lashed as well. Make sure the spinnaker pole is very secure. It is your emergency mast.
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This is how I secure my main. I don't think much could shake the sail loose. The wind has eased, Roller Reefers make it effortless to have exactly the right amount of sail up. In this case we only dropped the trysail and set the main after it dropped back to 20 knots and the full headsail was unrolled.
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Old 27-04-2013, 02:21   #148
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

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SnowP's helmet idea, possibly a lightweight white-water kayaker's one with a face grille? But that's not my point, which is about stowage....

and also their comments about the mess inside: "Cushions everywhere" ...
Introducing the new wearable cushion helmet. Or body armor you can sit on..
regarding helmets I like the idea of these rugby ones, they are soft and should be more comfortable to wear than bike helmets. Although they don't offer the protection of a rigid one.
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Old 27-04-2013, 03:59   #149
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

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This sort of routine is good, not only is it seamanlike but it helps calm the nerves, gives the crew something to do and makes you feel like you are in control. Maybe a laminated sheet with bad weather preparations wouldn't be a bad idea.
On my next boat I'm planning to reserve the colour red for everything which needs to be dealt with at the onset of bad weather (but perhaps including the crockery, just to iron the point home !)

Any valves and vents needing to be closed (or the access panels over them), storm shutters/strongbacks, stove immobilisers, lashing points for specific items etc.... (Bungy cord to be snapped over the chart dividers! - which reminds me of a great story... but not now)

Also any switches on the panel needing to be set to a designated (red spot) position.

But a laminated sheet would be an excellent complement to such a scheme, I reckon.

And not just for unfamiliar crew, even those with great recall and long experience overlook simple things when tired and stressed.

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About securing above decks, I make sure I really put a tight stow on the mainsail, not just a normal stow. In a knockdown any loose folds can fill with water and the extra bulk can also put added loads on the mast. ...

This is how I secure my main. I don't think much could shake the sail loose.....
I can recall more than one instance where some poor wretch has described crouching Quasimodo-like in their cabin, hands clapped their over their metaphorical ears, calling "The Main, the Main !" (rather than "The Bells ....").

This as the main (having escaped, inch by inexorable inch, from its lashings) starts to self destruct, shaking the rig in the process as a terrier toys with a small furry animal .... and them powerless to do anything under the prevailing circumstances.

Which is a tortured and rather flamboyant way of saying what I really meant, which is 'Indeed, and another valid point.'


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Make sure the spinnaker pole is very secure. It is your emergency mast.
Excellent point. Thanks mate. The recommendations on this thread are amounting to where I'm almost thinking that it would be a shame never to put them into practice, and starting almost to regret the almost certain prospect of shuffling off this mortyl coyl without ever encountering a survival storm ((just joshing ya!))

On a slightly more serious note, I think these measures would amount to significant points starting to accrue in the Vigor Black Box. Which of course makes that survival storm just the tiny bit likelier, having checked its clipboard, to stalk off elsewhere in search of more interesting prey...
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Old 27-04-2013, 04:04   #150
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Re: Storm Sailing Advice

SnowP

Looking at that main of yours:

Did you perchance serve (on that square-rigger) under some hard-arse who would inspect your hammock lashings every morning, and if he could insert the tip of his marline spike under any part, trip the hitch, tipping your bedding on the sole, leaving you to relash it "proper good"?
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