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Old 20-01-2011, 15:06   #1
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Calm the Savage Seas with Oil

I know that many people used to use oil to calm the seas in a storm. Does anyone still do it? What preferred oils- vegetable-sunflower-canola? Has anyone used another type of oil? Mineral oils too messy?

Or is it something that we either dont do or at lease dont admit to for fear of being called an enviroterrorist?

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Old 21-01-2011, 19:57   #2
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"many people used to use oil "
No, SHIPS used to use oil. Small craft and pleasure boats wouldn't be able to carry enough to make any difference. And IIRC the usefulness of oil, as compared to a modern drogue or sea-anchor, has been proven to be worthless.
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Old 21-01-2011, 21:02   #3
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I think it was ship's lifeboats that used to use it. Not very practical and it was more to reduce spray- not sea conditions.
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Old 21-01-2011, 21:17   #4
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Why I refer to it, is that I was browsing a 1970's cruising book in which it was mentioned. I assumed that it had been a regular thing with older cruising yachties.

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Old 21-01-2011, 21:25   #5
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Why I refer to it, is that I was browsing a 1970's cruising book in which it was mentioned. I assumed that it had been a regular thing with older cruising yachties.

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Chapman's state's that "Experienced seamen have long known the value of oil for modifying the effect of breaking seas. Oil is easily dispensed and quickly dispersed; the effect of even small amounts(as in 1-4 gallons) is significant." Seems pretty unambiguous.

There's about a page of information about its use as a calming affect on rough seas. Probably a better source of info than people who have never tried it, and never will.

Edit: Oh, and this I got the info from the 2009 edition.
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Old 21-01-2011, 21:32   #6
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If anyone has experience actually trying this, I'd be interested to hear their report.
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Old 21-01-2011, 21:33   #7
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I read that book... "My Old Man And The Sea" ( Amazon Link), excellent read...

It made me curious as well, so I googled it, but never came up with anything useful.

I assume it's intention is to create a layer of oil on the surface that will break the waves before they get to the boat. But (if that's true) from what I understand, a long rope or pretty much anything in the water will accomplish the same thing. On a larger ship, a long rope breaking a wave isn't going to help much, but on a small sailboat, where you only need to divert the wave 20 feet in either direction, it makes sense to use Something... But, it seems that if conditions are that bad, you'll probably have a drogue, warp, or sea anchor out which will essentially accomplish the same thing (and more).

just guessing though.
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Old 21-01-2011, 22:04   #8
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I read that book... "My Old Man And The Sea" ( Amazon Link), excellent read...

It made me curious as well, so I googled it, but never came up with anything useful.

I assume it's intention is to create a layer of oil on the surface that will break the waves before they get to the boat. But (if that's true) from what I understand, a long rope or pretty much anything in the water will accomplish the same thing. On a larger ship, a long rope breaking a wave isn't going to help much, but on a small sailboat, where you only need to divert the wave 20 feet in either direction, it makes sense to use Something... But, it seems that if conditions are that bad, you'll probably have a drogue, warp, or sea anchor out which will essentially accomplish the same thing (and more).

just guessing though.
Chapman's actually lists parachute anchors as one of the times that oil would be used, and that they sometimes come with an oil can. And it is supposedly used to prevent waves from breaking.
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Old 21-01-2011, 22:29   #9
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I read that book... "My Old Man And The Sea" ( Amazon Link), excellent read...

It made me curious as well, so I googled it, but never came up with anything useful.

I assume it's intention is to create a layer of oil on the surface that will break the waves before they get to the boat. But (if that's true) from what I understand, a long rope or pretty much anything in the water will accomplish the same thing. On a larger ship, a long rope breaking a wave isn't going to help much, but on a small sailboat, where you only need to divert the wave 20 feet in either direction, it makes sense to use Something... But, it seems that if conditions are that bad, you'll probably have a drogue, warp, or sea anchor out which will essentially accomplish the same thing (and more).

just guessing though.
LOL! Brilliant!

I'm going to add "just guessing though" to all of my posts! Then I can make up all kinds of B-S and nobody will fault me.
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Old 21-01-2011, 23:59   #10
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using oil to calm seas in a storm is the nautical equivalent of bleeding a sick person to restore health.
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Old 22-01-2011, 00:13   #11
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using oil to calm seas in a storm is the nautical equivalent of bleeding a sick person to restore health.
The Pardys swear it works. To demonstrate its power, they suggest putting a few drops of oil on the surface of a pond on a windy day. I do not have any direct knowledge myself, however.
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Old 22-01-2011, 00:24   #12
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Even if it worked and knocked the waves down, wouldnt you just keep outrunning your oil slick?
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Old 22-01-2011, 00:29   #13
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the calming of very heavy seas with oil

during the late 1970's whilst i was learningoto sail with an elderly sailor who owned and had sailed an alan bucanan 34'yacht for many years we took a trip to auckland Island down south of NZ and as it was very southerly we tried to predict good weather and in fact nearly succeeded but we had only just arrived when a southerly gale blew up and we could not shelter in the only so called safe area and had to run for open sea.. that nearly sank us with the boat being repeatedly knocked down and all the deck planking sprung etc - very unpleasant .. we bailed for 2 days pretty much continously and were very much at risk of broaching in following seas higher than the mast at times - despite having a sail and 100yds of warp over the stern and the trick to stop the top crest flooding the cockpit was to tip a quarter of a cupful of diesel over the stern just as the stern started the dizzy rise about a third of the way up the swell and that smoothed out and minimised the break immediately on the stern - was absolutely incredibly effective if the timing was perfect - we used all our deisel supply this way but it worked. By practise it is amazing how little is needed to stop the break on the stern.
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Old 22-01-2011, 00:31   #14
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foot note I have never been back that way!!
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Old 22-01-2011, 08:27   #15
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I thought it was the Pardy's who said to put oil in a plastic bottle with a hole in the cap so it drips out. Then tow the bottle astern (maybe throw over the bow if going upwind ).

The idea is its just a few drops, not whole buckets of the stuff.

and they used old engine oil.


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