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Old 12-04-2011, 12:32   #1
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What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

I was reading the threads about single handed and solo long distance sailors and saw this mentioned in post by Boatman61. I wanted to ask him what made the boat non seaworthy, but thought that the forum might be interested in the topic also. I am planning an off shore journey in the near future and often ask myself..is she sea worthy? I hear many stories of people putting off trips, until they are too old to go anymore, while diligently working on and adding on to making her "seaworthy" So what makes a boat seaworthy?
Tom

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Old 12-04-2011, 13:19   #2
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

That is a pretty broad question, and I suspect the answers you will receive may run into many, many pages. Basically, any boat designed for sailing off shore will be seaworthy as built, and will remain seaworthy if properly maintained and not overloaded with gear and extras to such an extent that the loading compromises sea-keeping ability. Some designs are, of course better than others, and some are safer than others in a wider variety of weather and sea conditions. If you are going to be single handling, you will want a boat that balances well, is weatherly, and perhaps stiff, and has a good auto helm or self steering system so you are not constantly having to man the helm.
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Old 12-04-2011, 13:28   #3
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

Here's a starting point:

Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts:

Amazon.com: Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of the Offshore Yachts (A Nautical quarterly book) (9780393033113): Steven L. Davis, John Rousmaniere: Books#_

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Old 12-04-2011, 13:31   #4
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

would this count as seaworthy?

Sailor, 85, crosses Atlantic Ocean on raft | Outposts | Los Angeles Times

It made it across the Atlantic.
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Old 12-04-2011, 14:37   #5
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

This book gives a decent idea of the basic underlying issues on the boat:

Amazon.com: The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat (9780071343282): John Vigor: Books


That's not to say this book is comprehensive or exhaustive, but it is the best starting point I have found.
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Old 12-04-2011, 14:55   #6
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pirate Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

What makes a boat seaworthy...
Many answers to that and will vary from person to person..
Personally...
a solid hull with no leaks
sound rudder and rigging
good sails and pumps
Anything else is a luxury... including decks that don't leak...
Shoot.... thats 90% of the boats I deliver..
It's great being a bottom feeder.....
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Old 12-04-2011, 15:54   #7
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

sea worthy = ocean stays on the outside

after this everything is an extra
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Old 12-04-2011, 16:53   #8
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

The above posts/links have given you a good start regarding the vessel "Seaworthy" question. While on the subject lets take it one step further, while your vessel might be seaworthy is your captain/crew? Experienced? Mental/physical health? How about your provisions, charts, spares, comm's, medical etc.... A lot more to being "Seaworthy" then the vessel alone.........sorry if I went OT but the word is a bit of a pet peeve.
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Old 12-04-2011, 17:06   #9
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pirate Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRSandbo View Post
The above posts/links have given you a good start regarding the vessel "Seaworthy" question. While on the subject lets take it one step further, while your vessel might be seaworthy is your captain/crew?
Experienced? Bopped around a bit...
Mental... My friends say I am...
physical health?... Gonna die of Cancer on 40/day... sometime... according to my 'Doc'...
How about your provisions, Good enuf for me....
charts, Passage, main and secondary....
spares, comm's, medical etc.... Ahhh... an Optimist....
A lot more to being "Seaworthy" then the vessel alone.........sorry if I went OT but the word is a bit of a pet peeve.
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Old 12-04-2011, 17:11   #10
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Great reply, thanks for the laugh........
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Old 12-04-2011, 17:22   #11
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

I will add something that you don't read about in the books--a well-tested boat. I don't care how great the design, build, or equipment is, but a boat is not seaworthy until it has been tested by the sea, gradually and carefully. In other words, get your boat in what you consider good shape and then sail it around for a year or two to get all of the kinks out. I will never forget the tail of Arthur Beiser, author of the famous book The Proper Yacht, having his extremely high-end nearly brand new boat sink out from under him on his maiden trans-Atlantic trip. He's not sure what happened, but theorized that one of numerous hoses or through hulls started taking on water for whatever reason, but he couldn't find the leak and she sank. Beautiful boat, everything new and absolutely the finest, yet she sank because she wasn't tested.
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Old 12-04-2011, 17:29   #12
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pirate Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I will add something that you don't read about in the books--a well-tested boat. I don't care how great the design, build, or equipment is, but a boat is not seaworthy until it has been tested by the sea, gradually and carefully. In other words, get your boat in what you consider good shape and then sail it around for a year or two to get all of the kinks out. I will never forget the tail of Arthur Beiser, author of the famous book The Proper Yacht, having his extremely high-end nearly brand new boat sink out from under him on his maiden trans-Atlantic trip. He's not sure what happened, but theorized that one of numerous hoses or through hulls started taking on water for whatever reason, but he couldn't find the leak and she sank. Beautiful boat, everything new and absolutely the finest, yet she sank because she wasn't tested.
Don't do any delivery work if thats your criteria... lucky if you get 2 days to sort her out... unlucky if it takes 7....
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Old 12-04-2011, 17:50   #13
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

Quote:
Don't do any delivery work if thats your criteria... lucky if you get 2 days to sort her out... unlucky if it takes 7....
That's why they're paying you to do it! I have done some skippering of other people's boats and it was a nightmare of things not working properly because they weren't real cruisers. It wasn't really the boat or the gear, but the way everything was set up. What people can put up with for a weekend or overlook on a near-shore trip can kill you if you take that same boat offshore. I made the mistake of offering to "keep an eye on" a friend's boat once as they were going on a trip. It was a beautiful old wooden ketch--looked gorgeous, but I soon discovered that the only thing keeping the boat afloat was the bilge pump hooked to shore power. I discovered this one day when my wife, who was swimming around the boat, noticed that it was rather low in the water. Of course the bilge pump and switch had both failed due to an electrical problem and only some big pumps saved the thing. I hired a diver to take a look and see if he could figure out where the water was coming from and he found only a six-inch long piece of caulking that had fallen out between two planks, which was letting in enough water to overwhelm the bilge pumps. The boat would survey as "seaworthy," yet it wasn't.
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Old 12-04-2011, 18:03   #14
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Re: What makes a boat seaworthy or not?

I like to view seaworthiness as the core thing - the boat by design being capable of undertaking particular type of voyages in a safe manner.

It used to be all based on accumulated experience and more or less evolutionary development. Now today some of seaworthiness is added by the help of computer assisted design - we pretty much know what things are supposed to be to withstand particular stresses and forces before we use a number of samples and destroy some of them finding the golden mean in the process. We still will use reverse engineering (e.g. in racing boats) but in the broader market of commercial and pleasure craft better and better designs are created with only a fraction of the risks (and destruction) that were present for centuries. We are also very lucky to be able to trace faults much more often today than it was possible to do so in the past.

But seaworthiness is a movable feast and to add complication to ambiguity we will find that at times what was un-seaworthy yesterday may be made seaworthy today. For no one will disagree that we could not build a safe canting-keel boat some time ago while today such boats cross oceans at great speeds and on a very regular basis and, surprisingly, they seem to be at the point of development where loosing the keel is far less common than loosing the stick! Lifting and canting keels have entered the picture for good and I am convinced they are here to stay this time.

Interestingly, re-reading Alec Rose's book I am at the point of his safe arrival in England. I must have missed something because I cannot remember any big dramas there. There were wipe outs, but these will always be in the Southern Ocean. So, it turns out a 20 years old wooden hull, properly designed and well maintained, can be seaworthy to the level of taking a 60 years old keen sailor round the world thru some of the most storm infested areas of our globe. Seaworthy? Definitely!

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