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Old 22-08-2009, 23:44   #31
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Many times on this and other sailing forums I've heard the question asked which boats are really blue water boats. Invariably the answer is given that the boat will be tougher than the sailor, or some other non-answer which doesn't really address the question. Or maybe I'm just not getting it. I am also searching for my first boat and in discussions with my wife the first criteria on our list is safety. We understand that education, experience and planning are paramount to a succesful voyage; however, it seems that the first consideration would be, can this boat survive a worst case scenario without sinking. I am concerned with this issue especially because we keep hearing comments like "I wouldn't even consider taking an Oday across the Atlantic" or "I wouldn't consider a catalina for a circumnavigation." I understand your frustration with having the same questions asked by novice sailors such as myself and I hope you'll forgive me for presenting you with one more. But please understand my frustration. We simply are hoping to be emotionally secure in our boat and confident that our boat can take a pounding.

What qualities should I look for in a boat that is expected to encounter severe storm conditions at sea? what will be the greatest danger to a boat in that situation?
The greatest danger to the boat will be that you make the wrong decision(s).
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Assume for a minute that I am perfect and will make no errors during this encounter. What about the boat is most likely to kill me? And what boats are least likely to suffer these problems? What boat would you choose to cross the north atlantic at it's worst? Are there particular brands of boats that have earned a reputation for being safe boats and why?
It comes down to a question of build quality. Heavy duty, thick layers of fibreglass, top quality metal fittings that are oversized and everything in Bristol condition. If you have a boat like that, then it's going to survive unless it somehow gets filled with water and sinks. The reason that most people are not sailing these boats is that they are expensive compared to the average production boat. Thick hulls that can absorb impact and are stiff enough to deal with the shear forces of the water take a lot of time and money to produce. The really great fittings cost a lot more than the standard chandlery issue stuff. They are also not necessarily the most attractive or the most luxurious boats out there.

Some of the builders known for producing this type of quality are:

Island Packet, Pacific Seacraft, Hinckley, Swan, Siltala Oy (Nauticat), Amel, Sam Morse, Valiant, Oyster, Whitby, Fisher. This is not an exhaustive list and not all boats made by these manufacturers were designed and built for bluewater work. Even the best builders will not equip their boats with the strongest hardware unless it is specifically ordered.

Most of the boats out there cruising were not made by these builders, and their crews have covered hundreds of thousands of miles in safety. When you hear people saying that they would not go offshore in a particular brand of boat, they are voicing a subjective opinion that is based solely on their own experience of that brand. Oft times they have never set foot aboard one.

If you are looking for safe sailing, start small and learn patiently. An average boat in the hands of a skilled sailor is far safer than the best built craft in the hands of a neophyte.
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Old 24-08-2009, 08:05   #32
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IMHO, what single thing sinks the most boats is sailors losing their nerve and running for a lee shore harbor in bad weather. So, what sinks boats? I'd say "rocks". The flip side being letting something besides the weather determine scheduling: " Gotta be in the office Monday" causes more problems than it solves.
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Old 24-08-2009, 09:06   #33
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"What boat would you choose to cross the north atlantic at it's worst? Are there particular brands of boats that have earned a reputation for being safe boats and why?"

Answer to 1st q: Have you ever heard of the Titanic?
Answer to 2nd: Submarines sink too.

"Island Packet, Pacific Seacraft, Hinckley, Swan, Siltala Oy (Nauticat), Amel, Sam Morse, Valiant, Oyster, Whitby, Fisher. This is not an exhaustive list and not all boats made by these manufacturers were designed and built for bluewater work."

It's quite likely and certainly possible that at least one of each has sunk throughout history - coral can't read the nameplate.

Moral of the story - there is no real answer to your questions. Crossing the street is dangerous. Only you can decide how you evaluate risk.
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Old 24-08-2009, 09:15   #34
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- - There is a consensus running through the threads that "what sinks boats" is first stupidity and/or ego and to a much minor degree some random encounter. Stupidity covers also lack of effort to learn/educate yourself as to operation and maintenance of the vessel, and actual lack of ability/skills to navigate the vessel. Whenever there is a significant difference between how you do it on land and how it needs to be done out on the water, there is a strong chance another vessel is heading for Davey Jones' Locker.
- - However, the last category of what sinks boats is the random occurrences which are more fun to read and recount. Two that come to my mind is first the very experienced couple sailing north to Bermuda. Just as they were checking in with Bermuda on the radio, as required, the boat severely lurked. Looking down below, the cabin was flooding rapidly. While one person called Bermuda with the mayday, the other went below and found a whale sized piece bitten out of their hull in the V-berth area. The boat sank in minutes but the crew was prepared and as is the rule, stepped up into their lift raft. They were quickly rescued by the Bermuda authorities. In the aftermath, due to a friend in the US Navy it was found out that there was a Russian submarine in the area. So what are the odds that a submarine conning tower will take a bite out of your hull?
- - The other was with floating containers. The incident was published in a sailing magazine with photos. A sailboat crossing the Atlantic was in a no wind, no seas patch of the mid ocean. They saw a strange object off to the starboard floating level with the ocean. Motoring over they found a refrigerated container floating. They took lots of photos standing on the top of the container in mid ocean then opened the doors and let the container sink. Later investigation by the magazine determined that the container was reported lost several months earlier and was floating all that time. Of course, the experts said that was impossible, containers sink in minutes - evidently not sealed refrigerator containers, or as mention above, ones filled with sufficient flotation material.
- - There is a reason why expensive "blue water" boats come with a sealed watertight V-berth compartment system. What I did was to convert all the V-berth lockers and other spaces into watertight compartments with FRG and Epoxy and then filled the unusable areas next to the hull with liquid flotation foam. The idea being to contain any sea water entering by a mild collision and keep it from flooding the main cabin.
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Old 24-08-2009, 09:19   #35
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Fear of sinking is but a very small part of why I would not pick certain boats for certain types of cruising.
Good point.

When I go to the shows, I always look to see how the interior handholds are placed. Very often in the new boats, there are none accessible to a short person and none at all in the middle of the cabin. In any kind of a sea, you simply couldn't move safely while below.


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Old 24-08-2009, 09:27   #36
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Water
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Old 24-08-2009, 09:37   #37
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Water
...on the wrong side.
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Old 24-08-2009, 09:56   #38
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Don't forget the previous owner. I bought an old circumnavigator. The boat had to be completely rewired and redone- she was a fire hazard and many hoses were on the edge of giving out. I think shody work can sink a boat as fast as a crew. (Moral of the story- be prepared to redo you boat and get a good survey)
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Old 28-08-2009, 16:40   #39
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Fear of sinking is but a very small part of why I would not pick certain boats for certain types of cruising.
What he said.

A bluewater boat is more than just a safe boat.

A bluewater boat is about fuel and water tankage; general storage (can't get too much); directional stability; a balanced sail plan; a sail plan that works in light air as well as heavy air; a seakindly motion that doesn't beat up the crew; a dry boat inside even in nasty conditions, yet has great ventilation when it's hot--in fact, has good ventilation even when it's raining; has clear access to the foredeck; durable hull, rigging, and all systems; a useable galley even at sea; a head that works in a seaway; real seaberths; decent sailing performance; a robust steering system; and, of course, a boat that is seaworthy.

A seaworthy boat may, or may not, be a bluewater boat. Seaworthiness is just a start.
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Old 28-08-2009, 17:39   #40
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What sinks boats?
In my limited experiance the biggest issue in cruising boat loss or crew loss or injured cases is fatigue. Managing fatigue with a small crew is difficult. Fatigue leads to poor decision making - heading for harbors that are best left till calmer times, navigation errors that cause reefs to show up under the boat, failure to tend to small issues while sailing the boat leading to big issues, failure to notice the fishing fleet behind us.
Get sleep on the offwatch, eat warm meals, share the load.

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