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Old 01-05-2015, 12:01   #181
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

Jon's excellent analysis of sea-kindliness got me thinking about my boat and the way I've adapted to its modern vagaries. This will probably read like a bit of a defense of the sea-kindliness of modern monohulls, but it's really just my experience of it so far coming from a narrow-beam full-keel classic Columbia Sabre '32.

For example, I frequently helm standing between the two wheels, one hand on each, when we're motoring in and out of harbors. I never gave it much thought until Jon mentioned the problem with dual helms in rolling seas, but I now realize that I do this because I prefer the lower rolling motion on the centerline when under power, and because I dislike the heading perspective shift that occurs when one is off the centerline in close quarters. Now, when sailing and especially in seas, I vastly prefer being on the leeward helm, where spray from the bow generally misses me as it sweeps across the cockpit and where I've got the best view. When sailing to weather the boat doesn't roll really at all, but constant heeling is a fatigue factor for the crew.

There are some significant advantages to this newer hull as compared to my full-keel Saber 32', which was a very, very easy boat to sail and great in weather for its size. For example, I tether myself to the middle of the arch between the mainsheet blocks with a loop rather than clipping to the variety of pad-eyes provided for that purpose, because the arch keeps the tether up, in my eye-line where I'm not tripping over it, off the deck, and out of the way. With a single tether, I can move to both helm stations, all around the cockpit, and down into the cabin as far as the nav station all without unclipping. I frequently find I'm pulling myself along the tether as I move about the cockpit to the cabin-top winches for the additional stability. While I dislike the arch (because it's at forehead level to me, I hit it, and it obscures the forward view at my height) generally, I like the tether point so much I'll likely never tether anywhere else.

Having a roller furling main and jib makes balancing the boat in any weather trivially easy and allows me to manage heel very quickly. Being able to reef the main --after-- I already should have known better makes the boat exceptionally forgiving, and I can reef it to the exact heel angle I want rather than in large steps. With all lines led to the cockpit (unlike my old Saber) I'm not on deck ever. That's vastly safer than dealing with changing a hank-on jib or trying to slab-reef in a blow. In a sudden gust I can dump the main quickly to manage immediate heel, and then use the two winches to simultaneously reef the main while I bring the mainsheet back to where I want it. You have much more control of trim in a storm with a roller furling main than you could possibly have with slab reefing.

The combination of these features means the new boat handles F4..F6 winds SO much more easily than the Sabre that instead of turning back from discomfort, we just trim and keep going.

The roller furling main and aft-mast design (the boat's mast is further back on the centerline than typical, so the jib is larger and the main is smaller) also makes a hove-to exceptionally easy--so much so that it can be done with the jib fully furled and the rudders locked straight. By reefing the main down to 50% with the jib fully furled, and lacking a full keel, the boat just pivots on its fin and faces the wind directly in any blow. This saves flogging on both sails and means I can maintain a hove-to indefinitely with no concern for loosed sheets or a change in direction suddenly tacking the boat and powering up. It's as simple as lying a-hull with the safety of facing the wind and waves head-on. Very very restful in a blow because I can stay safely in the cabin without worry.

There are tradeoffs and some obvious design mistakes. I'm constantly annoyed with the new boats kelp-catching fin-keel, bottom bulb, and dual rudders. If we pass over kelp, one of the three is guaranteed to catch it and drag it along with us, cutting speeds dramatically--often by half, which also increases heel. This is where you really pay for modern hydrodynamics. Getting kelp off the fins I've worked out with a boat hook, but the only way I know of to get it off the keel is to reverse off with the engine, which just isn't an option in any kind of waves and weather, so we drag it along and hope it finds its way off. It usually doesn't.

In weather, we have to keep the table installed in the saloon to keep the passage narrow. Otherwise the cabin is too wide to transit safely on an unsteady heel. The forward open arch is a forehead magnet, and we've had to pad it. The silly square-angled doorknobs on the cabin doors will leave you with an angry scratch on the lovehandles, which they're perfectly placed to catch. They're being replaced, and I'm shocked they were ever installed in the first place. Otherwise the cabin works well in a storm, although everyone in my family is tall so the boat's not quite as expansive for us as it would be for most.

There's give and take with modern design. Some of the new stuff is obviously better, and some of it is showing that its a mistake. I'm just glad that there's serious R&D going into monohulls again after a half-century of stasis.
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Old 01-05-2015, 14:35   #182
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

This may be a bit of thread drift but ... more than differences in design types ( fin keel or full keel, spade or skeg or barn door, etc.) I think boats are suitable or not suitable for blue water based more on build quality and ongoing maintenance. Most of the boats lost at sea we read about have had some major structure fail. Deck to hull joints separating, ports or hatches leaking, bulkheads separating, rudders failing or keels being lost. Of course there are boat designs not meant for heavy weather sailing but even boats whose type has lots of offshore success are only blue water capable if the are constructed and maintained to be reliable in sustained heavy weather.


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Old 01-05-2015, 17:03   #183
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

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Originally Posted by mstrebe View Post
There's give and take with modern design. Some of the new stuff is obviously better, and some of it is showing that its a mistake.
+1!

It is as you said it. It has always been this way.

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Old 01-05-2015, 21:06   #184
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

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To me, it simply implies that a good boat for offshore doesn't require an excess of 'management' by crew to be sailed safely and comfortably, and will have a tendency to 'behave' if she has to be 'left to her own devices' for a bit... The advantage of a boat that can be made to heave-to with relative ease, as opposed to one that cannot, cannot possibly be overstated... perhaps the single biggest consideration in a cruising boat likely to be sailed shorthanded, IMHO, yet it's amazing to me what a lost art that simple tactic has become these days, or how unsuited to it some modern boats have become...
A good offshore boat should require virtually no on-going management no matter what the weather does, and this is highly achievable with a vessel that is balanced and sails well regardless of the weather and a self-steering vane on the back.
Hanging outside in the cockpit in heavy weather is asking for an accident, like getting washed overboard, and in bad weather offshore I am either monitoring the sea from down below or in my bunk. And cooking something warm now and then.

When it comes to the old heave-to-no-forward speed debate, as far as I am concerned, if you get away with it the weather wasn't bad or you were awfully lucky. Try that in a heavily breaking sea and you are gone, keel pointing up with everything crashing down around you.

Comfortable is good, but safe comes first. There is a point where the boat needs sufficient forward speed not to get thrown sideways in the sea and rolled. Punching is not always pretty and it can take a strong boat to carry on with it, but it remains the safest and most predictable way of pulling through a blow most of the time. It can be hard, but it doesn't go wrong unexpectedly and requires zero management or intervention on a decent yacht well set up.
Most of the time, in the average gale with a sea getting high and breaking now and then, it doesn't actually take a lot of forward speed to hold a steady course at a safe angle with the sea, and it is pretty comfortable with nothing else to do but lie in a bunk and keep tabs on how things are developing. Fin keelers tend to do it brilliantly because they generally point and track more easily upwind, and more so again when not crippled with extra windage everywhere.
On the other hand, things regularly go wrong when people stop them. Of course they always have plenty of good reasons and they always know better, but it still goes wrong regardless.
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Old 02-05-2015, 06:40   #185
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

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Originally Posted by OceanSeaSpray View Post
A good offshore boat should require virtually no on-going management no matter what the weather does, and this is highly achievable with a vessel that is balanced and sails well regardless of the weather and a self-steering vane on the back.
Hanging outside in the cockpit in heavy weather is asking for an accident, like getting washed overboard, and in bad weather offshore I am either monitoring the sea from down below or in my bunk. And cooking something warm now and then.

When it comes to the old heave-to-no-forward speed debate, as far as I am concerned, if you get away with it the weather wasn't bad or you were awfully lucky. Try that in a heavily breaking sea and you are gone, keel pointing up with everything crashing down around you.

Comfortable is good, but safe comes first. There is a point where the boat needs sufficient forward speed not to get thrown sideways in the sea and rolled. Punching is not always pretty and it can take a strong boat to carry on with it, but it remains the safest and most predictable way of pulling through a blow most of the time. It can be hard, but it doesn't go wrong unexpectedly and requires zero management or intervention on a decent yacht well set up.
Most of the time, in the average gale with a sea getting high and breaking now and then, it doesn't actually take a lot of forward speed to hold a steady course at a safe angle with the sea, and it is pretty comfortable with nothing else to do but lie in a bunk and keep tabs on how things are developing. Fin keelers tend to do it brilliantly because they generally point and track more easily upwind, and more so again when not crippled with extra windage everywhere.
On the other hand, things regularly go wrong when people stop them. Of course they always have plenty of good reasons and they always know better, but it still goes wrong regardless.

Looks like these guys decided against pointing (for the time being) and just secured the rudder amidships, put out a bit of jib, and let this old full keeler sail herself downwind while they went below to work on a leak I believe they had.

Which was possible on this boat but maybe not on a fin keel boat. Looks like a little boat length is good as well.

A rescue helo filmed this but was unable to assist. Crew was able to make repairs.




Looks like this old full keel Westsail 32 isn't a bad boat to be on during a storm either.

The boat ended up having to sail itself to shore where it was found a few weeks later.


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Old 02-05-2015, 08:01   #186
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

Horses for the courses and the right tool for the job. In a ll respects.

A W32 sailor may and will use heaving to. A Class 40 sailor may elect to run before the storm.

A W32 sailor may start the donkey. A Class 40 sailor may and will hoist a light blade and keep on sailing tight angles to build up apparent.

A glider can fly for hours without any help from an engine, a jet plane ...

And their vessels shall be built accordingly.

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Old 02-05-2015, 08:42   #187
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

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A good offshore boat should require virtually no on-going management no matter what the weather does, and this is highly achievable with a vessel that is balanced and sails well regardless of the weather and a self-steering vane on the back.
Hanging outside in the cockpit in heavy weather is asking for an accident, like getting washed overboard, and in bad weather offshore I am either monitoring the sea from down below or in my bunk. And cooking something warm now and then.

When it comes to the old heave-to-no-forward speed debate, as far as I am concerned, if you get away with it the weather wasn't bad or you were awfully lucky. Try that in a heavily breaking sea and you are gone, keel pointing up with everything crashing down around you.
I think you may have read a bit too much into my mention of a boat's ability to heave-to as a desirable feature. I'm certainly not suggesting it as the ultimate storm tactic, of course I agree that once seas begin breaking about a smaller yacht, it's time to consider an alternative...

I'm simply pointing out that it can be a wonderful 'stress reliever' at times, a means of avoiding fatigue, or effecting a repair or having a decent meal in relative comfort. When sailing to weather, it can simply be a means of taking a break, giving oneself a bit of time to regroup, before pressing on. The very experienced couple aboard MORGAN'S CLOUD, for instance, admit they often do this routinely even aboard their very substantial 56-footer, once confronted with headwinds up around 30 knots or so...

It's simply a really nice tactic to have in your bag of tricks, and one of the reasons I believe it seems to have fallen out of favor among so many sailors today, is that some modern designs, or the types of boats many are venturing offshore today on, just don't heave-to particularly well...

We'll never know what really went on aboard RULE 62 a few years ago, which caused them to abandon the Caribbean 1500 and head for the Bahamas instead... All indications were that the morale of a couple of the crew had become seriously degraded, to the point of becoming frightened... Perhaps if the skipper had taken the option to park the boat for a bit during some of the sportier conditions they were seeing, give a chance to settle some nerves and demonstrate "See, it's really not all that bad out here, right?", it might have changed the tragic outcome of that passage entirely...

Of course, why he did not elect to do so overnight upon reaching the Abacos, and wait until daylight before attempting to enter the North Bar Channel, we'll never know... I can only wonder whether his boat was not particularly well-suited to doing so, and as a result he had never before resorted to employing the tactic...


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Old 02-05-2015, 09:58   #188
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

I too think that a good offshore thing should be designed and laid out so that less than average effort is required from the crew.

Less muscle required to manage the sails (fewer sails, more furlers, smaller sails, shorter masts, etc.).

Better movement (less rolling downwind, less pounding upwind, etc.).

The thing should be good at running under wind or power pilot too.

The thing should sail very well in light winds.

The thing should be able to take at least one complete wipe out without any serious risk of crippling (to the boat, but equally to the crew) damage.

The thing should be very power (engine, electricity) independent.

Etc.

If a boat is too demanding on her crew, when the seagull hits the fan they will be overpowered sooner. No good in case of long offshore adventures, especially in case of permanent or occasional venturing off the rhum & coconut milk highway.

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Old 02-05-2015, 12:07   #189
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

Skippers need to practice a hove-to in their boat, as boats hove-to differently (sometimes very differently). The classic back-winded jib, mainsheet centerline, opposite rudder works well on full keel boats, but I find my new boat needs only a patch of RF main to hove-to very well, as did my daggerboard boat.

The USCG did a lot of testing of drogues for surviving breaking waves, and according to their comprehensive report, the best overall tactic for storm survival is a series drogue deployed from the stern with a bridle.

Drogue Information

Their recommendation of stern-to comes from the greater buoyancy of the stern, but I would be extremely hesitant to face large breaking waves with my open cockpit and flimsy lexan companionway door. I would go bow-to in my boat because of its cockpit configuration.

You can make a series drogue from a long rope (such as your anchor rode) by tying a series of simple figure-8 loop knots every few feet and then knotting clothing onto each loop tightly. It doesn't take long to make and will do just as good a job at keeping the boat pointed as a hove-to will, and will do so without destroying your sails and stressing your rigging.

I wouldn't do any serious passage-making without a series drogue.
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Old 02-05-2015, 14:00   #190
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

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Looks like these guys decided against pointing (for the time being) and just secured the rudder amidships, put out a bit of jib, and let this old full keeler sail herself downwind while they went below to work on a leak I believe they had.

Which was possible on this boat but maybe not on a fin keel boat. Looks like a little boat length is good as well.
Sheeting a small storm jib alone flat in the middle and essentially running under the windage of the rig tends to work on fin keelers as well, and maybe even better because they pivot around their keel.
It doesn't seem to work too well unless there is "enough" wind however, and I mean plenty. It helps a lot with avoiding a broach.

I have done that in a few instances. With the jib sheeted "close-hauled" instead I could get my 30' sloop to broad-reach even with the helm left free (I discovered that after breaking a windvane tiller control line one night, the boat suddenly tacked and took off on a broad reach with the helm loose).

Running ability has very little to do with keel configuration and a lot with hull resistance. At times, the boat is forced to go as fast as the sea for a brief moment. If it can't do that and still track, the wave lifts the stern and tries to drive the nose in. Some wave fronts at times are too steep to ride over stern first, they need to break and smooth out.

No issues with heaving-to and having a break because it is just rough and tiring, or in order to wait for daylight etc. Why not? How you do it doesn't matter much and all boats can do that, some with just a main, some with a bit of jib aback. I still wouldn't leave it beam-on in most cases, it is an unnecessary risk. It makes the situation down below deceptively quiet.
If there was any sign of real weather developing, I would get back under way immediately.
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Old 02-05-2015, 14:08   #191
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

I have become convinced that it is safer to heave to or trail a drogue from the bow, and wait for the storm to pass. If you try running before the storm, you will just prolong the danger and discomfort, and risk pooping or pitch-poling.
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Old 02-05-2015, 15:05   #192
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

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I have become convinced that it is safer to heave to or trail a drogue from the bow, and wait for the storm to pass. If you try running before the storm, you will just prolong the danger and discomfort, and risk pooping or pitch-poling.
But you are lucky to have one of the best boats for staying hove to long after all smaller or lighter craft will already have to fight for their survival!

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Old 02-05-2015, 16:17   #193
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

Lucky am I.
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Old 03-05-2015, 02:28   #194
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

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I have become convinced that it is safer to heave to or trail a drogue from the bow, and wait for the storm to pass. If you try running before the storm, you will just prolong the danger and discomfort, and risk pooping or pitch-poling.

+1 My experience as well. I'm not a good enough sailor to run in the face of a storm, and I've not heard of anyone falling overboard from inside the cabin.


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Old 03-05-2015, 05:44   #195
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Re: Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

Here where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay the waves get close and steep in heavy weather.

Most wouldn't call it offshore sailing, but it can be harder at times because there is limited space in certain directions. No where to run...........plus the shipping traffic which also includes aircraft carriers, frigates, destroyers, etc.

So far in the weather I have been caught in, mostly summer squalls, I heave too. I believe others are doing this also since when it is bad enough to affect visibility, they are giving their position repeatedly on the radio.

We have two shipping channels to cross on our 18 mile bay crossing which is toward the north.

A couple years ago there was an oil tanker blown aground in one of the squalls. There are usually 8-10 tankers sitting out here at the mouth of the bay at any one time. They are anchored and manned with crew constantly.

This day on video below got ugly quick. NE Wind from the Atlantic Ocean shooting into the bay. I'm at about mile 2 on the crossing and by mile 12 it was maybe 22-23 knots. The waves though were those closely spaced, steep ones and the boat was just pounding through them. Ten more feet of boat would certainly have been nice.

Possibly even a fin keel boat that was 10' longer would have made the sailing smoother in that situation because I could have sailed closer to the wind and meet the waves more head on. These weren't terrible conditions but were a pain because my boat was putting the bow under a lot because of the steepness of the waves and the length of my boat. (registration decal go washed off)

I hear this boat (the deep draft version) can go upwind as if it's on a rail in those conditions. It's water line is about 29' whereas mine isn't quite 20'.

ERICSON 35-3 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com

Like someone said earlier, right tool for the job. What will your boat be used for? Where will you be sailing most of the time?


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