Characteristics of offshore
yachts is an excellent book that anyone considering an offshore
boat should read. That said, most keelboats are made to its parameters these days. It's actually hard to find hulls with very serious violations.
Secondly, it takes both good seamanship and a seaworthy
boat to safely cross an ocean, but both of those factors merely reduce risk, they don't eliminate it. Fools can be lucky in bathtubs, and professional sailors can die in a battleship. One-off anecdotes of success or failure mean nothing when you're talking about risk, they serve merely to reinforce incorrect cognitive biases for or against something. You can't prove anything with an anecdote.
There's no such thing as a perfectly safe boat in every storm, and no such thing as a sailor who can face down any typhoon every time in any boat.
What turns anecdotes into useful information is compiling a lot of them into statistics. Once is an accident
. Twice is a trend. Ten times is a characteristic. The more information we compile about seaworthiness, the more seaworthy
boats we can make.
In the Fastnet '79 race
, many boats that lied ahull were capsized, but none that hove-to were. Because we're talking about hundreds of boats, that provides real statistics that mean something. It proves that regardless of type, keeping the bow (or stern) to the waves is vastly safer than letting the boat simply drift. A wave 1/3 the LWL of a boat can capsize
it from the aft quarter, but a boat can survive waves longer than its LWL if its met bow on. That's a dramatic safety
factor that requires constant seamanship during a storm--you're much safer if you tend your direction during a storm and don't just batten down and pray.
The new stability index (STIX)-based CE regulations
are having a dramatic effect on manufacturers. My boat (which for me is a weekender) was build to have an All-Ocean rating--but only just barely. If you run the numbers, you can see that Beneteau
modified the boat's design to be safer in order to achieve the A rating they wanted for the boat. So you've got a marketing
factor ("All ocean rated") with real meaning in these CE regulations
. I think it's going to save lives ultimately, as manufacturer's cannot simply self-certify a boat as being "blue water". It now has to mean something.
The Stability Index itself is based on insurance
actuarial data and statistics from disasters like FastNET and Sydney-Hobart. It's not complete, but it is good solid statistical information about what makes a boat safe, compiled into numbers that boats can be built to. That's how disasters come to have future meaning that benefits all.
Finally, while the physics remain the same, our ability to model them with finite state analysis and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) make it possible to run simulations of hulls in storms thousands of times over to test permutations of ideas and effects of seemingly minor changes on stability and recovery. This is also vastly improving form stability of hulls and providing exact information about what is required of a keel
to right a boat.
It was CFD modeling that proved that in fact a boat needn't avoid being beamy to return upright, because guess what? In a storm, there's ALWAYS another wave that will start the return roll. As long as the boat is more stable right-side up than upside down, it will return to right-side up.
Click on my boat and you'll see a boat decried as a floating hotel
. It's all there, open interior
plan, care taken with interior
Well, it's CE all ocean rated, it will roll back over within 3 minutes if it's turtled despite its beam, it'll float on either side with its companionway
should it loose its keel
, and its hull
form has been tested in a CFD virtual storm thousands of times over with waves hitting from every direction.
And before you say that computer simulations are meaningless and statistics won't save anyone, please back your opinion up with something besides bloviation and anecdotes.