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Old 04-10-2003, 06:35   #1
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Mostly Other Stuff & Some Heavy-Weather Tactics:

I think Troubledour started a great thread here:

Troubledour:
Might maybe have started a new thread but this is in the area of "Heavy Weather Anchoring", so here goes ...

Any comments about sea anchors or drogues ? The conditions in which they're best used, types, tips for proper deployment, experiences with, etc.

Thanks, Troubledour


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Talking See Troob-I don't REALLY ignore you

Read a book a loooong time back called " Heavey Weather Sailing" but can't remember the authors name. One of his techniques in these conditions was to ' STREAM WARPS" ya-ya, I know -what-za warp? This guy called ropes warps, why I have no idea. Anyhoo, he would stream them aft to hold bow to wind. He would attach both ends to the boat so the "Warp" would stream ina u-shape. Used anchor rodes for it, the worse the weather, the more warps. I have seen sea anchor ads,and have heard of people using chunks of board and read of a person or two using the pilot chutes of parachutes as a drag.
"WARP FACTOR TWO, MR. SULU- THIS IS A REAL DRAG"

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"Heavy Weather Sailing" by K. Adlard Coles & Peter Bruce, is the classic text on storm tactics. Written over 30 years ago, I understand (but have not seen) that it was updated in 1999 or so.

It's a great book! Suggest anyone going off-shore (and CERTAINLY those contemplating long-distance passagemaking) read the book.

A "warp" (n.) is a HEAVY line, usually used to move (pull or tow) a vessell into place. "Warping" is the actioon (v.t.).

Warps & Drogues: In this application (running), you tow a heavy line, shaped in a "U" (belayed at both stern quarters) , to slow the boat down, preventing broaching, tripping or pitch-poling.

Sea-Anchors: Stream from the bow to keep head to wind.

Encountering conditions wherein it's necessary to tow a warp, drogue, or sea anchor, would indicate to me:
1) I'm on very BIG water (Pacific Ocean etc)
2) I'm on a ill-conceived passage.

These are truly tactics used in extremis!
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Stede

Mr.T,

I've never had the occasion to use either a sea anchor,or a drogue. I guess that's a good thing,because I don't have either one Sailing offshore on my 26 footer,I always figured I would rely on the "cork theory" in extreme conditons.The trips I've done though didn't involve crossing major oceans where unexpected storm systems are more likely.I always thought that when I eventually take off to sail the "great blue sea", I would make sure I had these devices on board.When I was attending a class to help me prepare for taking the Captains exam,the instructor had an opposing viewpoint that has left me reconsidering some of the use for them.He owned a Pacific Seacraft 40ft.cutter. He had done some long range water sailing">blue water sailing and was an advocate against using sea anchors.His assessment was that the concept itself was good, but that the forces exerted on a boats hardware in extreme weather was so excessive that most boats couldn't withstand it.He said he had seen almost the complete removal of part of a boats bow from using a sea anchor,as well as some other similar damages to boats.He had no problem with the use of drogues because the forces exerted were not near extreme as though applied to the attachment point of a sea anchor rode to the boat. I don't know what the answer is to this dilemma is, but it gave me something to think about.I always thought that before I take off, I'll spend some time talking with other blue water sailors to get their input.Just my $.02 worth.

STEDE
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Old 04-10-2003, 19:38   #2
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Personal Disputes

With respect, I'd like to ask that personal disputes remain personal. GordMay & I fundamentally disagree on the issue of firearms on board. We've both shared our opinions, along with the reasoning supporting our opinions, publicly & have exchanged our personal pleasantries in private (private message).

I think this is as it should be, we address any given issue within the forum as frankly & as completely as we wish, but when it comes to an issue between posters we have the mechanism of the private message available.

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Old 05-10-2003, 05:32   #3
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Back to Heavy Weather Tactics...

Like STEDE (& probably most of us), I’ve never had to deploy a Sea Anchor, Drogues, or Warps - and neither have I had to ‘Heave To’ nor ‘Lie Ahull’. I have experienced some very ‘interesting’ (as in the Chinese curse) conditions - and imagine that the conditions requiring those extreme measures would be TRULY FRIGHTENING!

By way of example, I recall two situations where we ran for hours (perhaps 6 & 4 Hrs respectively), continuously surfing at well beyond hull-speed. Neither of these events occurred on Blue Water, where the outcome(s) could have been disasterously different.

The first instance occurred on Lake Superior, aboard our Mirage 26 “Auspicious”, and in company with “Southbound” (which we later bought & lived aboard). We were at that most dangerous stage of experience, wherein we were no longer ‘newbies’, but not yet seasoned sailors (I think it was our second year of sailing, behind extensive small powerboat experience). We were also young enough, to still be “bullet proof & invisible”.

On the first day of our three-week cruise, we were ‘pooped’ as we cleared a cape, and (I didn’t discover ‘till later) the engine exhaust muffler was flooded. We were, to all practical effect, engineless. No problem - it’s a sailboat, right?

Sometime, in our last week of holiday, we were anchored in the Slate Islands, a neat little hurricane hole, nestled among the Isles. As our exit was a thru’ a very narrow, twisty, reef strewn channel, we took a tow (from ‘Southbound’) to open water, where we were cast off and raised all sail. This occurred in the lee of the Islands. There was a dense fog, and the wind and seas appeared moderately exciting, but not severe.

Upon clearing the lee, we discovered that our initial assessment was totally inaccurate. There was a “Strong Breeze” blowing, uncharacteristically from the South-East (BTW -this Beaufort guy must have been some kind of ‘Superman’ - I mean, 40 something Knots is a ‘Breeze’?). With ‘Southbound’ gone, dense fog, and no engine, returning to the anchorage didn’t seem a viable option.

With 45 Kt winds off our Port Quarter, we were surfing at about 8-10 Kts ! I spent an hour dousing the Genoa, and raising my “Reefed 115%” (didn’t have a storm jib), and double-reefing the main. Maggie was sick as a dog, and only able to take the helm for seconds at a time, so it was quite a physical ordeal, but exhilarating nonetheless. We didn’t lose a tick of speed, with just the “hankies’ up.

During the next 5 hours, we picked up weather-warnings reporting nearby “Water-spouts”, and “Freak 25 Ft. Waves” - but encountered neither. Believe me, the continuous procession of 10 Foot seas & 45 Kt winds were enough to keep my adrenaline level up. It’s quite strange to sail blindly through fog, at those speeds. I cannot quite explain the unusual combination of high winds and fog, but there you go.

We finally reached the barrier Islands protecting Rossport Harbour, and safely negotiated those channels (in somewhat moderated wind/wave), only to be totally becalmed about 200 yards from the Government Dock within. A local came out, and towed us in with his dinghy.


The second instance occurred about a dozen years (and a lot of experience) later, en rout from Gunn/Cat Cay (Biminis) to Nassau, Bahamas.
Knowing that “weather” was approaching from Florida, I chose to make a run (ahead of it) to Nassau. We’d weathered the ‘Christmas Storm’ at Gunn, finally taking refuge at Cat Cay Marina (just the previous year) - and hadn’t enjoyed the experience.

We got a good push, and made great time over the Bank, left Momma Rhoda Rk (Chubb Cay) to Port, and entered the Tongue of the Ocean.

All hell broke loose! The exhilarating 30-35 Kt winds quickly became an alarming 45-50, and (more importantly to me) the previously moderate seas grew to 15 - 20 or 25 Ft (trough-crest), and it was dark.

There’s something about feeling a monster sea lifting your stern, and (sometimes) driving a yaw towards a broach, when you cannot see it!

I recall feeling one particular monster wave that I was certain was going to ‘poop’ us - it didn’t and we surfed off this as all the others. In my alarm, I exclaimed "Ohhhhh Sh*t". Maggie was down below,trying to sleep, but heard me. Now Maggie & I make one decent sailor between us - she never gets scared, and I never get sick. My exclamation got her attention that night! She later (much later) admitted that she expect to die momentarilly. This from a girl who's weathered hurricanes, abandoned ship, et al with aplomb.

Anyway, we ran this storm, on surf, and safely into Nassau Harbour. Arriving at about 8 AM, we were greeted with “must have been a wonderful over-night sail” (conditions had been breezy in Nasasu). Not hardly!

And of course “Murphy” rears his ugly head. My packing gland began to leak substantially, requiring about 10 minutes of hand-pumping per hour. Gord wept, Maggie slept, God laughed.

The lessons learned were similar in both instances - so, why didn’t I learn them the first time? Some critical observations:

1. I did not take proper cognizance of the weather, underestimating conditions in both instances . The first time through ignorance of the forecast, the second through disregard for known predictions .

2. In neither case was I prepared to tow a warp or drogue, should it have become necessary. I suppose I could have deployed an anchor line, but that would have required some difficult foredeck work. Although I thought (at the time & events proved) that I could safely run, I had no prepared options available.
A note: Twisted Three-Strand does not make a good emergency warp - it will become kinked or hockled when towed. Use braided line, instead.
There are 26 letters in the alphabet, and the more of them you use the better (Plan ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, etc.) Give yourself (lots of) realistic options.

3. I had only practiced “Heaving To” in moderate conditions, and “Lying Ahull” never. I was unprepared for the next, more extreme condition possible.

At the risk of being pedantic, let me comment on the strength required to safely carry the loads a sea anchor will impose.

A Sea Anchor will certainly be deployed in the most severe circumstances, and will impose huge loads on the boat (deck hardware etc). These loads would not, however, exceed those that might be experienced at a dock, under similar circumstances (Ie: a Dock is firmly fixed, whereas a Sea Anchor is not - and our dock tether will be much shorter, allowing less stretch) .

All deck hardware (and the structure to which it is attached) should be much stronger than any line that might be attached to it, including Dock Lines and Sea Anchor harnesses, Drogues & Warps, etc. This is not to suggest that most boats do have adequate deck hardware construction - I’m appalled by the size, type, quantity, arrangement, and general utility of the cleats etc with which manufacturers equip their boats.

Most boat owners are not much better. I’ve seldom convinced a customer to upgrade his belaying equipment, to include more, and larger (& better backed/fastened) cleats & bollards etc - even though it would often be a very small percentage of his total re-fit cost. We use, and rely upon our deck cleats virtually every day, but spend our effort ($) on toys & niceties that add little or nothing to our basic comfort & safety. (oops, a little rant on a pet peeve - sorry)

With all due respect; I suggest that the structural failures that were previously cited, and attributed to excessive Sea Anchor loads, were more likely due to completely inadequate structures. The same boat might have failed at the dock, or anchored under the same storm force winds.

You calculate the worst case scenario you might encounter, and expect to survive; and then build to (beyond, to the best of your ability) that standard.
Actually encounter worse? It’s called a tragic accident, and you kiss your ass goodby. Can’t accept that possibility (having done all you can to prevent it) - then don’t go to sea.

OMO
Gord



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Old 06-10-2003, 15:57   #4
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Troubledour,

I believe you're right in your assessment that personal matters should remain personal.In my mind,I believed I had some good reasons to attack GordMay here both personally,and publicly.I realize now that regardless of what I perceived those reasons to be,I was wrong.I allowed my emotions to over rule my judgement,and I am sorry for my actions.I apologize to GordMay, and this board for taking up space on this board addressing a matter that didn't belong here in the first place.In the big picture scheme of things, I know that our cause should be to help one another in any way that we can.Not to tear one another down over something that was said.My resolve for participating on boards like this in the future will be to share,learn,and grow.If I find that I can't hold to my committment, then I will not be coming here anymore.
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Old 06-10-2003, 16:02   #5
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Thank you

I'm sure I'm not the only one that enjoys your posts, so I hope it doesn't come down to taking off.

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Old 06-10-2003, 19:58   #6
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Troubledour,

Thanks for the encouragement. I enjoy reading your posts as well. Yeah, I don't want to take off. I would rather stick around to see you get off that roof top,on to your boat
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Old 07-10-2003, 01:10   #7
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Apologies

I made some very inappropriate allusions, on another Forum, which Stede (rightfully) found hurtful & personally offensive. I also accept his right to defend himself. I hereby retract those unseemly comments, and apologize for my churlish behavior. In a “class act”, which I hope will become a “class action” [sorry, I just can’t help myself ], Stede has graciously offered up the “Olive Branch”, which I gratefully accept, and hope I may always honor.

Now that we’ve put this family squabble behind us, I hope we can get back to the topic of heavy-weather tactics.

Reflecting upon my own experiences, I’m certain that the first principle should be simple heavy-weather avoidance. Most of my serious (weather & life) grief has derived from poor planning!
What did I do - (& what mother always told me)
1) I did not make myself aware of likely weather conditions. (Look before you leap)
2) I took too little heed of what I should have expected. (Pay attention)
3) I let a schedule determine my actions. (First things first)
4) I took defensive action too late. (A stitch in time saves nine)
etc...

There’s no magic bullet there - just common sense (which isn’t all that common). The precepts merely address basic issues of passage planning (and life, in general), which must never be overlooked. None of the exotic gear and advanced tactics need come into play, if we can (first) avoid dangerous weather.

Notwithstanding the above, given enough sea-time, we will all get caught out in heavy weather. So what can we do ...

Respectfully, and with apologies to Stede and all who had to endure,
Gord
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Old 07-10-2003, 05:55   #8
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Hi Gord,and all,

Gord,I couldn't agree with you more about your 4 examples of poor planning while boating.I personally might would re-priortize your #2 & 3# items,but I don't think you have them orgainized by priority anyway. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the two big ticket items that have bitten me most , were being unaware of short range weather conditions,and letting my schedule dictate my actions. The first time I ran my 26 footer aground was on a trip from Oriental,NC to Ocracoke island on the NC outer banks.I had purchased Claiborne Youngs guide to the area prior to the trip,and even though he gave excellent recommendations for cruising the area,I still screwed up.My first mistake was not getting an up to date forcast for the area.It's ~40 miles across from the two land points I mentioned.Not long after starting the trip the conditions worsened and we were beating into a very strong wind.The Pamlico Sound is fairly shallow.You can be out of sight from land,and still run aground in places from the many shoals.Because of my first error concerning the weather,it was taking a lot longer to make the crossing than what I had estimated.I decided to head more to the northeast in an effort to cut off a few miles even though Mr.Youngs advice for sailing the area suggested following navigation practices religiously.My brand new Raytheon Tri-data instrument had quit working (great timining!) as we were sailing about an 1/4 of a mile offshore,and I ran agound.My shoal draft boat only draws 3 ft.-2 in! We eventually were able to kedge the boat off,but ended up losing a good CQR anchor in the process.(Another stupid mistake!) The ferry boat terminal had pity on us,and allowed us to limp into their port to take refuge from the bad weather.The next major mistake I made was allowing my schedule to dictate my actions. I had made hotel reservations for my family and me for a certain date on the island of Ocracoke.Even though the weather was bad when we spent the night at the ferry terminal,I decided to leave the following day so that we could make our planned reservations Ocracoke.Once we left the shelter of the terminal,things really got dicey.When the wind picks up on the Pamlico,it creates short,stacked choppy waves that will seem like they are going to beat you to death.My wife and daughter became very sea sick,and the boat took a hell of a beating.The bow would come up so high out of the water over the chop,that it sounded like her hull would crack in two when she dropped back down into the troughs,sending spray back to the cockpit drenching me.We eventually did make it to Ocracoke.By the time we checked into the hotel, I felt like all I wanted to do was take a hot shower,put my jammies on,and curl up in the fetal postion The trip was one of the worst ones I 've done.Not because of the area,but because of my many mistakes.I vowed from that trip that I would never leave shore without a good forecast again,and I would never put myself in the postion that we had to sail to meet an agenda.

BTW Gord- I really enjoyed reading about your trips when you were discussing the uses of sea anchors and drogues
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Old 07-10-2003, 16:35   #9
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Arguments happen

But Guys( Stede and Gord), you both have something I don't posess---YET, namely, experience out there. I was worried that I would lose either one of your input , through umbrage, of how to handle certain situations at sea. You both have a quality that I wish to take advantage of- experience and a willingness to share it with others. Guess what I wish to say is, glad your both stickin' around.
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Old 07-10-2003, 17:55   #10
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Thanks Mr.Cascade

Thanks for your comments. I think Gord is probably much more experienced than I am, but hopefully we'll all stick around and learn something
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Old 07-10-2003, 18:31   #11
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Flying Tales

This thread seems to have shifted to “I learned about boating from that” & I’m enjoying the sea tales. As one that’s never taken a boat out of sight of land (and a quick beaching when need be) I can’t contribute much that directly applies but I think a couple of lessons learned from flying can be instructive. They certainly were for me.

My first “incident” occurred while still a student, I was out shooting touch & goes in a venerable old Champ that probably shouldn’t have been in the air at all that day. It was pretty enough but the winds were very gusty & shifty, very difficult to predict & manage.

On my second to last landing of the day I was sweating out a by-the-book approach to a full stall, 3 point landing on the numbers when my substantial quartering headwind simply quit. The result was that my true air speed of about 40 mph very suddenly became 20 mph. I stalled her & dropped like a stone from at least 25 feet above the concrete.

The impact broke the left main gear clean off of the fuselage, put the prop into the pavement and bounced me back into the air as I manfully attempted to shove the throttle right through the firewall. With nearly a mile of runway still ahead of me I probably should have put her down then & there but instead chanced a go around to a decent patch of grass.

I did get her down (one way or another, they always come down). My head wind returned & helped to reduce the actual ground speed to about 15 mph while helping to keep the left wingtip up & out of the turf. By the time I did let that tip drop my ground speed was very nearly zero. Damages ? The left main gear … gone, the prop … gone, the engine’s crankshaft & prop flange … gone, the left wing tip … neatly crumpled … & my pride ? Gone.

The applicable lessons are as follow … 1) Some days are good days to stay in the hanger & tell tales. 2) By-the-book procedures may or may not apply to adverse conditions, that particular landing gone wrong would have been better accomplished as a relatively fast but not recommended wheel landing allowing full aerodynamic control until firmly planted on the ground. 3) Instinctive self-preservation can mitigate property damage … while trying to fly an obviously crippled airplane felt foolish it was afterward widely accepted that any attempt to land straight in after that first bounce would surely have destroyed the airplane, & perhaps her pilot. 4) If you do anything truly foolish & dangerous, an FAA Examiner will be standing on the apron watching you do it, & finally, 5) Always go pee before shooting touch & goes in a light tail dragger.

My next truly proper boner occurred shortly after I got my license. Wanting to show off (and perhaps hold said license out in the breeze long enough to dry the ink) I talked a girl friend into a trip to DC to visit rellies. Departure conditions were beautiful but I was struggling a bit with an airplane that I had few hours in, not the Champ that I’d trained in but a Cessna 150 that I deemed more appropriate for travel. We stopped in Clarksburg, WV for fuel & while the weather reports were fine the local airport folk were saying things like “tie her down & call it a day”.

Newly credentialed & perfectly competent to assess a weather forecast, I bought my fuel & took off. Long story short, the speed & violence with which the rumored thunderstorms hit (yes, storms plural) was an awe-inspiring thing. My delared emergency landing in Winchester, VA was actually 7 or 8 landings in 3 separate & increasingly desperate approaches.

The lessons ? 1) First & Foremost, (and then in no particular order) I had no business whatsoever loading up a passenger & going for unfamiliar airspace in an unfamiliar aircraft with my very limited experience. 2) If you’re absolutely hell-bent on foolishness, nobody can or will save you from yourself, only pick up the pieces later. 3) Wise old airport bums are worth listening to even, or perhaps especially, when what they’re saying doesn’t fit your schedule, local knowledge is good knowledge. 4) Rental cars are easier to handle than light aircraft in the midst of raging mountain thunder storms, 5) Women can be blessedly & inexplicably forgiving creatures. 6) If you do anything truly foolish & dangerous, an FAA Examiner will be standing on the apron watching you do it, & finally, 7) Always go pee before attempting to land a light aircraft at a small mountain field that will be straddled by 3 thunderstorms when you get there.

Regards, Troubledour
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Old 08-10-2003, 05:33   #12
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Troubledour,

I really enjoyed reading about your "successful" first flying trips.I've always enjoyed flying and had thought a time or two about trying to get my license.Unfortunately,I've got too many other items going on to be able to fork out the cash required
Your second incident of landing the plane on the small mountain field made me think of the landing strip on St.Barts.I've posted a picture of it here on the board. It was truly a sight to watch as the small planes nose dive over a small mountain to the short landing strip,with water at the end of it.They were sailing tee-shirts there with the outline of a pilots face at the controls with two large saucer sized eyes,with the inscription below," If you can land in St.Barts,you can land anywhere!" CSYMan here on the board is a pilot.He's landed there.You guys could probably exchange some interesting stories. Also, as far as my opinion here,I welcome any information you wish to share concerning flying and lessons learned
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Old 08-10-2003, 06:55   #13
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Stede

I got my license more than 25 yrs ago & prices of course were a very different thing. What's more, I had a good deal even for that time. With some checking around you might find a similar arrangement.

First of all, I didn't take lessons from the local Cessna Flight Training Center or anything like that. I went to a small, privately owned school that was very reasonably priced. Better still, we were all basically a collection of friends, just about all of them older than myself & they made it their collective mission to get me going right & keep me alive in the process.

I trained in a rattle trap old 1946 Aeronca 7AC Champ that had been in service as a trainer since new (I wasn't the first or last to bust her up). I don't remember what more mainstream schools were charging at the time, but I got the airplane for $15.00 per hr wet & mowed my instructor’s lawn for her fee of $15.00 per hr. This was in the mid 70's, and yeah, it was one big freakin' lawn.

My instructor was a typical hour builder. That is, her focus was building time without going into her own pocket to do it. The last I heard she was flying left seat for FedEX. Not bad duty at all.

I did have to fly a Cessna 150 for the minimal instrument training offered at the private pilot level, and as the Champ had no electrical system at all (no radios), I used the 150 for all of my nav/comm & cross country training. All other hours were flown in the Champ. I worked at the airport to defray those additional expenses, I washed & fueled airplanes, mowed, kept the hanger swept out, etc. This boiled down to hanging out with plenty to do & in exchange for these light chores my 150 time was also billed at $15.00 per hr.

My ground school cost $50.00 but the fee was more a formality than the "school". I was drilled & tutored unmercifully by just about everybody there, staff or otherwise. Consequently, the written exam was a breeze & I did very well on it.

The actual flight test was much more difficult, the examiner was a bit of a nervous nelly & my instructed time in the 150 was minimal, meaning that I just wasn't accustomed to having a lump of bitching sweat in the right seat. I got through it though & the examiner didn't chuck his lunch up on his clipboard or run screaming from the aircraft upon landing, so I guess it wasn't all bad.

If anybody's told you that the conventional route to a private pilot’s license costs thousands, they're absolutely correct. My suggestion would be that you check around at the smaller airports in your area & possibly find an individual CFI (certified flight instructor) that will take you on for reasonable money. (or in trade for sailing lessons ?) I’ve always been a haggler, it’s just part of my nature as well as my culture, so these options may or may not be for you.

There's also the option of the recreational rating, a rating that didn't exist when I trained. I'm not up to speed on the requirements or privileges of that rating, but it's a reduced private rating with reduced requirements & a few additional restrictions, it might be worth checking into.

A quick web search yielded the following URL that will list the requirements, privileges & restrictions of that option. It’s not a great site, but it’ll get you started & you can easily search for more general info as well as for more specific options local to you. If you have more questions, fire away, I’ll do what I can with them.

http://www.collinsclubs.com/flyingclub/notpilot.htm

I'll quit playing now, & start my day. Have a good one, people.

Troubledour
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Old 08-10-2003, 20:52   #14
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Flying Stories?

Yup, been there, done that.
Flew the planes above, the Champs, the Cessna's, etc.

Spent a few years in Alaska flying bush for a living, the C-185s, the 188s,
and all them tail-wheel machines.

Later I thought my carrier peaked at age 29 when I made DC-3 captain.
Enjoyed that old bird a lot. Flew it in Alaska on the beaches picking up fresh salmon for the local canneries,
and in the Virgin Islands hauling pale tourists from SJU to STT and STX.

Also spent some years in the left seat of B-747s around the globe.

Lots of flying under the belt. Maybe too much.

Have a bumper sticker that says:

"I would rather be sailing"

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Old 08-10-2003, 21:41   #15
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Flying or Sailing

Strictly private here ('cept for the booboo's, those seem to be inevitably public). 4300 hrs with more than 4k of that in Champs, a PA-12 & a Citabria. Never having done it for a living I do still like to fly but like being on the water too ...

lessee (sketching furiously) ... lonnnnnnnnnnnng deck, big tall "arrester" post, "slingshot" gears in the windlass, mangy lookin hanger cat, an empty snack machine & an out of order pay phone ... yeah.

might work.

(stern sticker says "I'd rather be less conflicted")

Troubledour
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