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Old 07-01-2015, 12:44   #1
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External Water Ballast

I had this though many years ago but lost it in my mind until yesterday.

Background. I've been cruising on my Hunter 376 for a few years now. Below is a picture of my routes I've taken. Some of the water I've sailed gets pretty rough at times and I found myself wishing I had a much heavier keel in those situations. I've wondered what it would be like if I were on an IP or something similar. However, there are times when I've very glad I have my Hunter 376 such as my last leg where I was doing 6.5 knots close reaching in 9 knots apparent but the IP behind me was doing 3.1 (according to AIS). They soon turned on the iron genny and motor sailed the whole way while I sailed the whole way.

So my desires to buy a heavier boat has gone down quiet a bit. I like my boat and she does well for me. However, an external water ballast just might make my boat sail much better in those nasty conditions such as 30 knots and 10 foot steep seas where I have 3 reefs in the main and two in the jib to keep the heel down to a comfortable 15 degrees. Problem with that is of course I slow down to about 5.4 knots and it's a bit bouncy.

So, what are opinions on this site about using an external water ballast that can hold $1,200 lbs? Yes, I want to keep this discussion focused on this question and not the question 'why are you cruising on a Hunter' or 'why don't you buy a different boat'. Let's just say I have my reasons for those types of questions

I guess the issues I'm worried about are:

1) The dynamic forces from the bag to the connection points.
2) Why I never see any other cruisers using them considering those who sell them claim it would be beneficial to any boat.
3) Would it make the boat out of balance and cause problems after a big wave has passed? I guess not because we are basically talking about rail meat used in racing, right?
4) I've know a few boats have used them in races but I haven't heard of many. If it works so well one would think all racing boats would use them, right?

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Old 07-01-2015, 12:53   #2
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Re: External Water Ballast

Never heard of them before. Care to share a link?

My off hand guess:
- Space on a cruising boat is at a premium. If it's something used less than once per year, is it worth the space?
- Cruisers are typically less performance oriented and would rather just crank up the iron genny. By the time you factor in the costs it's probably cheaper to do so.
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:57   #3
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Re: External Water Ballast

I have nothing of value to add, but I am interested in your routes. Do you have a bigger image?
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Old 07-01-2015, 13:01   #4
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Re: External Water Ballast

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Never heard of them before. Care to share a link?

My off hand guess:
- Space on a cruising boat is at a premium. If it's something used less than once per year, is it worth the space?
- Cruisers are typically less performance oriented and would rather just crank up the iron genny. By the time you factor in the costs it's probably cheaper to do so.
MAXI MARINE - Top performance for inflatable boat, RIB or sailboat

I could just leave it attached and empty like I saw in some pictures online. Iron genny doesn't calm the bouncy ride that the weight would.
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Old 07-01-2015, 13:06   #5
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Re: External Water Ballast

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Originally Posted by VinnyVincent View Post
I have nothing of value to add, but I am interested in your routes. Do you have a bigger image?
Not really. I had to piece together stuff from spot and add the missing stuff due to me not downloading the corrdinates within their 30 day timeframe. I have changed to Delmorer Inreach now because they don't delete data from their system and I can also have two way messages sent (about 40 per month) for the same price.

Basically my routes have been:

-- to and from Vera Cruz Mexico from Galveston
-- Galveston to St. Petes
-- St. Petes on around to Miami.
-- Miami to Marsh Harbour then down to George Town
-- George town to Cartagena, Colombia
-- then to Bocas Del Toro
-- then Providencia
-- then Caymans
-- then back to Marsh Harbour
-- and now back to Spanish Wells on my way to Grenada.

This bag could come in handy for the jump to T&C to PR and/or my trip from Caribbean to Spain the following year.
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Old 07-01-2015, 15:11   #6
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Re: External Water Ballast

I'm left with the questions:

How do you fill the bag under way?

How do you tack/gybe?

Are you sure that the toe rail is strong enough for the attachments?

Jim
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Old 07-01-2015, 15:20   #7
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Re: External Water Ballast

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I'm left with the questions:

How do you fill the bag under way?

How do you tack/gybe?

Are you sure that the toe rail is strong enough for the attachments?

Jim
Fill it with a pump. Empty it by pulling the plug. I think this idea is for very long tacks like my Georgetown Bahamas to Cartagena trip. I could have really used it then.

That is the issue I'm having now is how to attach it. The company says their attachments will not work on my type of toe rail. I'd have to bolt on a bar to my deck and provide a big backing plate for the bolts.

I'm not an engineer so I don't know how to calculate for forces it would generate and how many attachment points I would need and how thick of fiberglass I would need. If I remember correctly, the part that is my 'rail' is about 1/4 inch fiberglass.

I tried to get some info from them about this and they just said they are re-designing the product and will not have any to sell until the summer. Not sure if there are other companies out there that make these bags.
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Old 07-01-2015, 15:24   #8
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Re: External Water Ballast

I'm pretty sure the rail is strong enough...just need to find out how to distribute the load correctly. After all, we are talking about 6 crew members acting as rail meat. One wouldn't bat an eye at that, but for some reason a big bag makes us wonder
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Old 07-01-2015, 15:28   #9
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Re: External Water Ballast

Just hang them from the lower lifeline, like rail meat ().
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Old 07-01-2015, 15:32   #10
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Re: External Water Ballast

Google water bladders or better fuel bladders.Talk to these companies
Dashews used them on their sailboats gave additional 1.5-3.5 knts.Much better "sea kindliness" Also vessel much closer to vertical.Theirs were built in.

Bladders best bet.



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Old 07-01-2015, 16:03   #11
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Re: External Water Ballast

Interesting idea, but in the conditions you want it for (up wind in waves) I would worry about it getting torn off or bursting. Have you thought about inside under the side decks? Would not give the righting power of external. You could use fresh water and have backup drinking supply.
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Old 07-01-2015, 16:14   #12
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Re: External Water Ballast

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Originally Posted by FranklinGray View Post
Fill it with a pump. Empty it by pulling the plug. I think this idea is for very long tacks like my Georgetown Bahamas to Cartagena trip. I could have really used it then.

That is the issue I'm having now is how to attach it. The company says their attachments will not work on my type of toe rail. I'd have to bolt on a bar to my deck and provide a big backing plate for the bolts.

I'm not an engineer so I don't know how to calculate for forces it would generate and how many attachment points I would need and how thick of fiberglass I would need. If I remember correctly, the part that is my 'rail' is about 1/4 inch fiberglass.

I tried to get some info from them about this and they just said they are re-designing the product and will not have any to sell until the summer. Not sure if there are other companies out there that make these bags.
"Fill it with a pump" ! Boy, that sounds good when you say it fast. But I wonder if you have ever tried to pump several hundred pounds of water up a few feet when standing (or sitting) on a rocking, heeled sailboat? And into a bag hanging over the side of said boat... I don't think it would be so easy.

And only using it for long tacks? Well, yeah, sometimes I have made passages where we were on the same tack for long periods. But, there have been plenty of instances where I EXPECTED to be on one tack and was forced by circumstances to switch... sometimes repeatedly. What happens when this happens unexpectedly in strongish winds... now you have all that ballast on the wrong side... dragging in the water... could be awkward!

Finally, comparing the attachment point(s) to rail meat is not valid. The rail meat loads are spread out over several square feet of area and several linear feet along the gunwhale. The bag is hung from a few discrete points where the load is concentrated.

I've only sailed on one boat with water ballast: an open 50 designed for the 1994-5 BOC race. The ballast was internal, part of the original design, and the two sides were connected with 4 inch pipe. There was a manual pump to transfer the water if required, but the skipper (Alan Nebauer) said that after trying to pump the water up to the high side a few times he basically abandoned that technique and would let gravity transfer the water prior to tacking, even though the boat was badly burdened during the time when the ballast was on the wrong side. On the other hand, the performance increment from adding the ballast was wonderful.

I'll admit that having optional water ballast would be nice at times, but I'm not sure that this system represents a practical means of achieving the goal. If you decide to go ahead with it, we'd all like a report on its usefulness.

Jim
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Old 07-01-2015, 16:17   #13
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Re: External Water Ballast

Why not use an electric pump?
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Old 07-01-2015, 16:59   #14
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Re: External Water Ballast

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Interesting idea, but in the conditions you want it for (up wind in waves) I would worry about it getting torn off or bursting. Have you thought about inside under the side decks? Would not give the righting power of external. You could use fresh water and have backup drinking supply.
That would be my concern. The static loading may be no problem on a calm day but if the conditions are rough, you have a very heavy weight bouncing around and being pulled on by large passing waves. What seems like a no brainer can quickly become a toe rail ripped off.

They are just a little to glib in their FAQ section.

I'm still going with my original thought: Uses up valuable space when stored and the cost would pay for a lot of iron genny time.
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Old 07-01-2015, 17:25   #15
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Re: External Water Ballast

Exterior water ballast doesn't do anything else but stop you, thought you can stop with a sea anchor as well and it doesn't need fillin..
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