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Old 13-02-2018, 17:33   #1
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Masthead floats for cruisers?

This is sufficiently obvious to feel like a dumb question but...

Capsize at sea on a cruising cat seems kind of permanent. I see videos of the rescue of those whose cats have flipped during storms or squalls. I know that smaller cats have floats that deploy at capsize- which might not be a good idea immediately after capsize with a cruising boat since the conditions responsible for flipping the boat would still exist- but it still seems like an idea with merit.

What has been designed as a masthead float that could be deployed after sea conditions have abated enough to try to right the boat? Seems like I remember seeing deployment of a large, collapsible waterbag used in conjunction with winches to roll the boat back onto her hulls after the float has brought the masthead to the surface. No?
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Old 13-02-2018, 18:05   #2
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

I can see from your recent posts that your looking for various information. What I would suggest is to go to the Multihull sub-forum and start to page backwards through the threads. You will find a lot of info and can then start to look at boats that fit your goals. It could take months, but in the end is much more productive than starting a thread every time something crosses your mind.

Like with this question, if you use the google custom search on this forum for "catamaran mast float" you will find 10 pages of hits. Not all are exactly what you are looking for, but many are and they have a lot of details in them.
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Old 13-02-2018, 19:15   #3
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
I can see from your recent posts that your looking for various information. What I would suggest is to go to the Multihull sub-forum and start to page backwards through the threads. You will find a lot of info and can then start to look at boats that fit your goals. It could take months, but in the end is much more productive than starting a thread every time something crosses your mind.

Like with this question, if you use the google custom search on this forum for "catamaran mast float" you will find 10 pages of hits. Not all are exactly what you are looking for, but many are and they have a lot of details in them.
Yes, I did a search before posting that thread, but none of the results had anything about masthead floats. Not 10 pages of hits. Maybe I did something wrong, but I just typed "masthead floats cruising cats" in the search window and had no luck. So I thought I would ask directly.
I've been looking back through the multihull forum for about 10 days now and find that it's like other specialist boards; there are very qualified responses there, but you have to separate them from the lurkers and those who are armchair posters. The difference is usually pretty obvious. The beauty is in the details!
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Old 13-02-2018, 19:37   #4
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

I would imagine that the rig would crumble when a large cruising cat flips. If not upon the impact then certainly through the effort needed to flip the vessel back over. Especially with the newer heavier wedding cake cats coming out these days. This is an arm chair opinion of course.
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Old 13-02-2018, 19:39   #5
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

Masthead floats are not there to right the boat, but to keep small cats from turning turtle with the mast pointing down. You then use your body weight to actually flip them back upright. For them to work like this on a large cat the float would have to be massive, something on the order of 1/5-1/10th the size of a hull. But the boat would still be on its size.

Secondly you would have to engineer the mast to handle these loads. Most likely it isn't anywhere close to strong enough, nor is the mast-bridgedeck connection.

Third, it is far easier to use the interior of a flipped upside down catamaran for living space while awaiting rescue than the interior of a boat on its side.

Fourth the cost would be pretty high for something that maybe 1 in 1000 boats would ever use, and would likely have a marginal success rate anyway.

Fifth the hit of sailing performance would be excessive.


Basically its because small boats and large boats don't work the same way.
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Old 13-02-2018, 19:55   #6
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
Masthead floats are not there to right the boat, but to keep small cats from turning turtle with the mast pointing down. You then use your body weight to actually flip them back upright. For them to work like this on a large cat the float would have to be massive, something on the order of 1/5-1/10th the size of a hull. But the boat would still be on its size.

Secondly you would have to engineer the mast to handle these loads. Most likely it isn't anywhere close to strong enough, nor is the mast-bridgedeck connection.

Third, it is far easier to use the interior of a flipped upside down catamaran for living space while awaiting rescue than the interior of a boat on its side.

Fourth the cost would be pretty high for something that maybe 1 in 1000 boats would ever use, and would likely have a marginal success rate anyway.

Fifth the hit of sailing performance would be excessive.


Basically its because small boats and large boats don't work the same way.
"...small boats and large boats don't work the same way."
No kidding? Wow.

Back to my question.

I'm not talking about awaiting rescue, I'm talking about righting the boat and continuing to sail on if the rig has not been destroyed.
If a big cat is upside-down and her rigging is intact, do your think a flotation device at her masthead with a potential greater enough to offset the forces holding the rig underwater would be able to bring the masthead to the surface via that flotation device? This might be a device similar to an airbag in a car, only designed to be inflated underwater, remotely.

If, once the cat was floating with the masthead at the surface, might it be possible to completely right the boat by using the winches to haul on a bag full of water?
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Old 13-02-2018, 20:55   #7
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenton View Post
"...small boats and large boats don't work the same way."
No kidding? Wow.

Back to my question.


He did answer your question. Well I guess he gave reasons leading to the conclusion of:

No

Just because he doesn’t agree with your train of thought doesn’t make him wrong, or you wrong for that.

Could it be done? Possibly.

But does the cost benefit make sense? Probably not.

The likelihood of the rig surviving those forces in such severe conditions is slim. Beefing it up enough to withstand those would not only be expensive but also very heavy.

The skippers ability to deploy those fancy water bags in such severe weather would be increasingly more unlikely.

What’s more likely is you hit that EPIRB and hold out in the turtled boat.

If you have the itch to reinforce your rig, have a custom mast with self deploying air bags, and carry side mount water ballast bag and boom systems off the hulls. Well go you.

Just about anything CAN be done. FFS boats go faster than the wind now. But is it a practical application is an entirely different story.
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Old 13-02-2018, 21:12   #8
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
Masthead floats are not there to right the boat, but to keep small cats from turning turtle with the mast pointing down. You then use your body weight to actually flip them back upright. For them to work like this on a large cat the float would have to be massive, something on the order of 1/5-1/10th the size of a hull. But the boat would still be on its size.

Secondly you would have to engineer the mast to handle these loads. Most likely it isn't anywhere close to strong enough, nor is the mast-bridgedeck connection.

Third, it is far easier to use the interior of a flipped upside down catamaran for living space while awaiting rescue than the interior of a boat on its side.

Fourth the cost would be pretty high for something that maybe 1 in 1000 boats would ever use, and would likely have a marginal success rate anyway.

Fifth the hit of sailing performance would be excessive.


Basically its because small boats and large boats don't work the same way.
Sixth, only nubes and armchair sailors worry excessively about a catamaran flipping compared to the 5 other much, much, much, more likely catastrophic things that can happen.
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Old 13-02-2018, 21:35   #9
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

There have been three cats that I know of that have been saved from turtling in Australia by capsizing in shallow waters and having their masts stop inversion. In each case, the boat was easily recovered and sailing within a day. If they had turtled the damage would have been much greater.

Rushour is the latest to do this (see photo). She hit her mast on the bottom and stayed on her side. She was pulled up with limited damage. Gavin Le Sueur capsized "edoc" in a Magnetic island race and did the same. So did Windswept in Pittwater. So if you are going to flip, do so in the shallows. The mast in Edoc and Rushour's case was fine.

The only large cat that I know of that had a masthead float was Apache Sundancer back in the early 1970s. She was a Macalpine Downie design about 42ft. She did capsize (racing and she had a narrow beam) and she floated fine on her side. Then the float broke off and she inverted fully. There was no rush to copy her. The float was like a flying saucer shape.

For 50 years people have tried to work out inflating masthead bags and such. It could work but it has to be very strong, light and ready to work at a moment's notice. It gets put in the too hard basket. You still need someone to give you a quick tug to get back on your feet too.

The rig should easily take the load. After all, it is just the same, but in a different direction as the load to lift a hull, which you hope your rig can do. As to getting multis to self right, almost no-one has ever done this. Dereck Kelsall came the closest with a client who actually tested his system on flat water. I have never heard of anyone doing this in real life. There is an interesting book called the Capsize Bugaboo that has lots of interesting articles in it. Try to find a copy secondhand as they have been out of print for ages.

cheers

Phil
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Old 14-02-2018, 00:59   #10
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

one of the most experienced catamaran cruisers today is Wolfgang Hausner, singlehanded circumnavigation in the late sixties with a Manners cat, several circumnavigations with a bigger cat he had built in the Phillipines (& btw the chap that got numerous Austrians-my lady & me too - onto the ocean
in his first book https://www.amazon.com/Taboo-Mannes-...annes+freiheit (in German, sorry) he voices a strong opinion against these floats:
in conditions in which a cruising cat would capsize the rigg & the "ridiculous float" would be torn off in seconds. because of its windage, particularly when the cat has already a hull in the air, the float can only aid in capsizing..
a voice not easily discounted!
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Old 14-02-2018, 01:06   #11
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
Sixth, only nubes and armchair sailors worry excessively about a catamaran flipping ...
easier said at 56' than at 34'...
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Old 14-02-2018, 02:23   #12
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

Systems such as this have been postulated for many years. Donald Crowhurst is in the media spotlight at the moment because of two movies that are being released. Way back in 1968 he developed an inflatable system to recover and/or prevent a capsize of his trimaran. Unfortunately, he ran out of time and the system was never tested, in fact I don't think it was ever fitted, at least in a workable condition.

The engineering problems would be considerable (but perhaps not unsurmountable) and given that most yachts do not venture into challenging conditions, the market demand would not be great.
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Old 14-02-2018, 03:54   #13
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenton View Post
"...small boats and large boats don't work the same way."
No kidding? Wow.

Back to my question.

I'm not talking about awaiting rescue, I'm talking about righting the boat and continuing to sail on if the rig has not been destroyed.
If a big cat is upside-down and her rigging is intact, do your think a flotation device at her masthead with a potential greater enough to offset the forces holding the rig underwater would be able to bring the masthead to the surface via that flotation device? This might be a device similar to an airbag in a car, only designed to be inflated underwater, remotely.

If, once the cat was floating with the masthead at the surface, might it be possible to completely right the boat by using the winches to haul on a bag full of water?
Why not fill the bag at the masthead with helium and use it to get you completely upright?
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Old 14-02-2018, 06:57   #14
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

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Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat View Post
Why not fill the bag at the masthead with helium and use it to get you completely upright?


Is this a serious question?
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Old 14-02-2018, 07:04   #15
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Re: Masthead floats for cruisers?

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Originally Posted by catsketcher View Post
There have been three cats that I know of that have been saved from turtling in Australia by capsizing in shallow waters and having their masts stop inversion. In each case, the boat was easily recovered and sailing within a day. If they had turtled the damage would have been much greater.

Rushour is the latest to do this (see photo). She hit her mast on the bottom and stayed on her side. She was pulled up with limited damage. Gavin Le Sueur capsized "edoc" in a Magnetic island race and did the same. So did Windswept in Pittwater. So if you are going to flip, do so in the shallows. The mast in Edoc and Rushour's case was fine.

The only large cat that I know of that had a masthead float was Apache Sundancer back in the early 1970s. She was a Macalpine Downie design about 42ft. She did capsize (racing and she had a narrow beam) and she floated fine on her side. Then the float broke off and she inverted fully. There was no rush to copy her. The float was like a flying saucer shape.

For 50 years people have tried to work out inflating masthead bags and such. It could work but it has to be very strong, light and ready to work at a moment's notice. It gets put in the too hard basket. You still need someone to give you a quick tug to get back on your feet too.

The rig should easily take the load. After all, it is just the same, but in a different direction as the load to lift a hull, which you hope your rig can do. As to getting multis to self right, almost no-one has ever done this. Dereck Kelsall came the closest with a client who actually tested his system on flat water. I have never heard of anyone doing this in real life. There is an interesting book called the Capsize Bugaboo that has lots of interesting articles in it. Try to find a copy secondhand as they have been out of print for ages.

cheers

Phil


Thanks Phil,

Interesting picture of the cat on a side.

One question, my understanding has always been that most non-performance cats are designed so that the rig would snap well before exceeding the force required to flip the cat. Of course there still are some cats that flip, but I assume these are all performance cats or the sea state caused them to flip. Is my thinking correct here?

In regards to the posters question, the airbag idea seems quite impractical, much easier and likely more effective would be an automatic mainsheet release system that is installed on some high performance cats to prevent capsize in the first place. But this also seems unnecessary for the typical cruising cat.
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