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Old 16-12-2007, 17:34   #1
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CATASTROPHIC SEVERE weather during a passage....

Just for my own edification...................
A lot of talk here, particularly when "newbies" are axing questions about which boats are "bluewater" and which are "coastal"...........
What happens physically to the boat during SEVERE weather, mammoth waves and just the worst atmospheric conditions possible, like during a HURRICANE?
If the boat doesn't roll,and keeps the stick in the air, what causes it to break-up or, worse case scenario, sink?
If anyone has had any experience on-board during these conditions or been on a boat that took on too much water or sank.......
Please educate us.
The reason I axe this is because I was on a chartered MORGAN OI 41 many years ago in that situation and the boat survived........
this is the same boat that many experienced sailors here say it's NOT a bluewater boat........ just curious....... and no, I've never owned a MORGAN.
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Old 16-12-2007, 17:55   #2
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The "bluewater" stamp is kind of weird; I think that term gets over used a bit. I'd rather have a bluewater crew than a blue water boat, if I had to pick between the two. Maritime screw ups are almost entirely always the captain's / crew's fault.

The question can really be broken up to what happens (a) at sea, (b) at anchor, and (c) in a marina / tied up.

At sea there are a million variables, but if you read something like "Heavy Weather Sailing", there are reports of waves busting open portlights, pooping the cockpit (and then causing your steerage and bouyancy to go out the window), and of course people getting washed to sea.

At anchor the biggest problem is dragging, or having someone else drag and snag your rode, or slam right into you. I had a boat slam into me once; no fun. Woke up in the night and there was this little Newport sliding to starboard, then just drifted away towards the beach.

For a marina, the proximity of the dock and the violent motion will do you in. It's really amazing how much damage your dock can do when you slam into it a bunch of times. Check out the hurricane katrina pictures for that one.

Happily, I've never lost a vessel at sea, nor had any major mishaps short of the routine stuff. The worst things that have happened to me in a storm are:

- Fouled job sheets.
- Fouled halyard.
- Busted furler drum.

All of them would have been avoided if we had employed better seamanship; again, it was the crew's fault (myself included), not the vessel persay.
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Old 16-12-2007, 18:47   #3
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I think the drivel you read about 'bluewater' is just that. Drivel.
A Swan 57 got into extreme difficulties in May this year. You won't get a better boat than a Swan, nor were the crew anything but extremely experienced. So one may ask what the problem was. Quite simply a big wave. They were 1,200 miles South East of Capetown South Africa. Go check that on Google Earth and then look what season they were down there... May. What a fun time to be in the Southern Ocean? Not!
Look at the search string for lots of articles: "swan 57" southern ocean overboard - Google Search
Basically this boat was doing what many others have: Run before a storm when the waves start to break as they would on a beach. (When their potential energy converts to Kinetic energy. When the particles of water in the wave as a whole stop moving just up and down and start to move forward).

Being thrown off the top of a wave, being engulfed by a wave, or having one curl over and crash on the boat are the ways that a modern yacht will founder.

So there are 2 basic ways to avoid this:
1) Avoid big waves. This yacht could have gone north after the Cape of Good Hope instead of south, but they wanted a shorter journey. Going north would have moved them to a better weather zone. Also good weather notification services on your boat can let you sail around some storms.

2) Use a different method than running with a storm. there is a body of discussion now that centers around using a Parachute Anchor to stop the boat and reduce or eliminate the ability of waves to hit the boat.


There are some excellent threads on this in the last week or so on this forum in the Seamanship category. I am very interested in the wise words from experienced people that have contributed in the subjects in Seamanship and commend the whole category to you as one to read carefully

Mark
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Old 16-12-2007, 19:23   #4
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Most vessels will survive most weather, with or without mast & rigging.

The most common cause of hull failure in heavy weather is just as Mark describes. The weight of thousands of pounds (even several tons) of water crashing down on the hull or decks.

The most vulnerable parts are the portlights but it has been my experience that several vessels have experienced total cabin trunk failure from heavy seas. This would allow copious amounts of water down-below and eventual sinking in some cases (not all, however). I have personally seen a few vessels come into NZ with crushed cabin tops.

The other common failure is hull to deck joints. I shouldn't really say "Common" because it is not common, however it does happen.. This can happen on a light displacement boat that is allowed to lie-ahull in heavy seas. The boat can actually free-fall from some distance and cause a massive hull to deck breach. This would most surey be fatal and is probably why we don't hear about it.

Severe weather conditions are actully fairly rare if you merely pay attention to seasonal passage making. Some of us get more foul weather than others due to the fact that we chose to sail during "Risky" seasons and/or above 38 degrees latitude. This is something that should be avoided until one has many ocean passages under their keel and have had the experience and developed plans and routines for dealing with heavy weather.

It is not the heavy weather or the vessel that is all that dangerous. It is the ability of the skipper and crew to deal with the heavy weather in most cases.
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Old 16-12-2007, 20:27   #5
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Get a copy of the book, "Left for Dead" It is the story of Grimalkin(?) an entry in the 1979 Fastnet race. Weather came down on the fleet within hours.

The detailed descriptions of what this crew and boat went through is absolutely riveting.

Most of the crew abandoned ship leaving two sailors for dead. Both revived and were able to get back on board. One subsequently died and the second was lifted off after the storm. The boat survived, was recovered and is still sailing.
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Old 16-12-2007, 21:01   #6
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Why would you get off a floating boat????
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Old 16-12-2007, 21:18   #7
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Why would you get off a floating boat????
Panic.


The worst atribute of modern 'western' people is they watch too much TV and movies and they ramp up situations to match the drama of what they see on TV/Cinema.
In the old days the Stiff Upper Lip / One must do ones duty etc etc kept many from pannicking. Now it's I GUNNA DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HELP ME SOMEONE! SUE THE EPIRB, SUE THE COAST GUARD! Wheres My Rescue Helicopter! I paid $4,000 for this liferaft and I wanna use it NOW!

Just stay on the boat and don't ramp up the situation
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Old 16-12-2007, 21:49   #8
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Why would you get off a floating boat????
This is an age old question and one that every cruising sailor needs to really deeply soul-search.

I have no idea how or why it occurs but it happens for too frequently. From what I have seen in my many years/miles of sailing, it is 90% inexperience. The "Fear of the unknown". What lies beyond the relm of each persons experiences is fear. I don't care if you are talking about walking, riding a horse, driving a car or sailing across an ocean.

Just the thought of going beyond the sight of land is extremely intimidating to most. If you couple that with encountering 30+kts of wind for the 1st time, that may be all it takes to overwhelm some. I have seen it time and time again.

Remember the 1st time that you got sea-sick?.....all most people want to do is die. After the 2nd or 3rd time, it's just something that you know time will take care of. However, the only way that you can know that is to experience it.

Who knows what makes any particular person leave a floating boat and get into a life-raft. It makes absolutely no sence to most of us because we are sitting comfortably behind our computer monitor at the moment.

When 2 men are shot, one falls to the ground and the other keeps running. What is it that does that? I suppose there is no way to know unless you can get inside both people's head.

I have had a couple of close friends that have abandoned their boats at sea. Both of them told me that they knew that it was wrong when they did it but when the oportunity presented itself and they were in a state of exhaustion, their priorities changed somehow.

Getting into a life-raft is some kind of a suicide wish in my book. It should never be an option as far as I am concerned. The 2 or 3 (or 20) minutes that it takes to luanch that thing should be time better spent on keeping the vessel afloat IMO.
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Old 16-12-2007, 22:04   #9
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Why would you get off a floating boat????
Let's not be too cocky in our comfortable armchair analysis. If you read the descriptions from both the Fastnet and Syndey-Hobart disasters where boats were, possibly unnecessarily, abandoned the crews went through multiple rolls. They had crew sustain serious injuries during the rolls and felt they were at risk of going down with the boat while trapped below. These were not lightly taken decisions by panicked crew. I'm all for being clear that saving the boat and staying with the boat is the best general policy, but making other decisions based on the circumstances does not make it wrong.

Paul L
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Old 16-12-2007, 22:37   #10
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Let's not be too cocky in our comfortable armchair analysis. If you read the descriptions from both the Fastnet and Syndey-Hobart disasters where boats were, possibly unnecessarily, abandoned the crews went through multiple rolls. They had crew sustain serious injuries during the rolls and felt they were at risk of going down with the boat while trapped below. These were not lightly taken decisions by panicked crew. I'm all for being clear that saving the boat and staying with the boat is the best general policy, but making other decisions based on the circumstances does not make it wrong.

Paul L
Good points. One thing clear from teh grimalkin story is that the cabin was an extremely hostile environment in those condiitons. During the rolls, crewmembers were "stuck" in the cockpit underwater. Probably quite disconcerting.

However trading that for a lifeboat still isn't the right choice in my opinion.

You can assess situations at the time and make the call under stress. However it is better to have a procedure worked out in advance and stick to procedure. This makes everything predictable. It won't always work out if you stay on board and it won't always work out if you leave but the odds are with staying with the big boat.

In the Fastnet case and the Satori case, if the crew had been briefed that the only time we will abandon ship is if the boat is uncontrolably on fire or sinking then the crew would have had direction to proceed. Especially in Grimalkin when the skipper was incapacitated and anarchy was setting in.

That raises another issue and that is one off succession. That needs to be worked out in advance as well.
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Old 16-12-2007, 23:40   #11
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There is a very old saying..."IF at all possible, climb UP into the life boat".
The modern version is "Why would you trade a large boat in a really crappy situation for a small boat in a really crappy situation".....I saw an interview on television the other night about an extrodinary example of courage and rescue after many hours in the water, with the other crew member drowning. It was riviting stuff ..but...right at the end the very honest gentlemen said..."I just wish that I had stayed with the boat which despite of everything kept on floating,...by itself"
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Old 31-12-2007, 20:56   #12
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Sorry, but there are boats built and designed for 'bluewater' sailing, and ones which are not. This is not to say that one cannot cross oceans in a row boat or traverse Niagara Falls in a barrell, only that it is unwise to do so. There are a number of books on the topic, but if we are talking about monohulls the following seem to be consensus opinions as to what makes a bluewater boat:
1. solid, if not necessarily heavy construction (boats have developed stress cracks and structural failures in heavy seas).
2. a small cockpit with a high bridgedeck, watertight cockpit lockers and at least four 1 1/2" cockpit drains (inevitably the cockpit will be swamped and you do not want water to flood the interior).
3. balance in the rig and hull design so that the boat does not have excessive weather/lee helm and tracks well (saves wear and tear on both a human helmsman and a windvane/autopilot).
4. substantial spars/rigging with open body turnbuckles (loosing a rig is a disaster offshore).
5. significant rocker in the underbody (as Robert Perry, NA says, it is rocker and not 'U' or 'V' sections in the underbody that avoid pounding in heavy seas.
6. narrower, rather than wider beam for LOA (assists in righting ability and reduces weatherhelm when healing).
7. moderate freeboard (improves sailing and anchoring stability in strong winds)
8. an easy to set up and useable emergency tiller (steering systems can break, and many center cockpit vessels have emergency tillers that can only be utilitzed below decks!).
9. strong bow roller for at least 2 anchors and strong bow, stern and spring cleats.
10. smaller and stronger portlights/hatches that can withstand knockdowns and worse.
11. adequate handholds below.
12. sufficient sea berths for the anticipated crew.
13. a galley designed to allow the cook to brace him/herself and a side to side gimballed stove.
14. the ability to sail to windward in heavy sea/wind conditions sufficient to claw off a lee shore.
16. the ability to heave to.
17. adequate ventilation.
18. a proper chart table/navigation station
19. a well protected rudder (best is at the end of a full keel, a skeg is next best).
20 offshore sails with adequate construction and reefs for all conditions.
21. positive locks for all cabin doors/floor hatches.
22. adequate tankage for water/fuel for long passages.
23. sufficient storage space for stores for long passages.
24. Companionway drop boards with positive locking.

The list can go on, and there have been numerous books written on the subject. No matter how you want to cut it, the above are all important features in a 'bluewater' or offshore boat. Many boats can be modified to have some, or all of the above features. But regardless, all of the above are features of a true 'bluewater' or 'offshore' sailing monohull. There IS a difference.

Brad
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Old 01-01-2008, 03:42   #13
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Brad,

IMO would make a great "sticky post".

But of course not everyone who wants to "Go cruising" wants to "go Way Offshore" and therefore does not need a boat capable of pretty much anything being thrown at it.
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Old 01-01-2008, 05:41   #14
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Agreed. But the original post in this thread concerned 'bluewater' boats and surviving the most extreme conditions, including hurricanes. A great read is John Vigor, The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat, International Marine, Camden Maine, 2001. The author has developed a demerit point system for various design/construction features that can be used in rating any monohull for offshore/bluewater sailing.

It includes those which I listed, and which are I think self-evident, but also many more such as front overhang, as opposed to the currently popular plumb bow. As Robert Perry, N.A. has said, some traditional design features such as overhangs are traditional because they work. A plumb bow was used originally in Open 60's because the rating rule penalized LOA and therefore encouraged this design abortion in order to maximize waterline length. For the cruising boat it is exactly wrong. It creates a wetter boat, it ensures anchors will bang the bow/topsides and, most importantly, it reduces bouyancy in the bow, dramatically increasing the risk of pitchpoling if running in heavy seas.

My point was and is that the term 'blue water' boat connotes some real design and construction differences from boats designed/built for coastal sailing.

Brad
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Old 01-01-2008, 08:08   #15
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I second the motion to make Brad's post a sticky!

Ya'll are extremely patient with us newbies looking for the 'best bluewater boat'--perhaps this would help many more to come. JMHO
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