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Old 11-02-2008, 13:22   #1
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Multihull Capsize Due to Lack of Experience

I hear it all the time....

This cruising cat turtled, but it was due to errors made by the captain/crew in rough conditions.

Well, I know how to handle a mono in rough conditions, but not a cat.

Does anyone have any pointers on how not to become a statistic on my 2000 mile "Catamaran 101" course?

I know to reef early, but in a mono, I used to do that when things became "uncomfortable." I sailed a lot be feel, not instruments.

What are some of the most common mistakes made in heavy weather that get cats into trouble?
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Old 11-02-2008, 13:56   #2
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Where have you read this all the time? I don't think I've ever read it. Most times cruising multi's get tipped over, they aren't cruising - they are RACING. Being driven as hard as they will go and pushing the limits. And most of the ones that tip have relatively big rigs, because the owners want to race them.

AFAIK boats like Prouts have never gone over - after how many years in producton, and how many circumnavigations?

You can tell when you're pushing the boat hard - they do heel a little, and you see plumes of spray flying off the lee bow, and you are going fast. If you're not racing, then it's time to reef.
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Old 11-02-2008, 14:17   #3
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I jumped from a 30ft. monohull to a 46ft. cat. I agree it is a different sailing beast. Mostly it is the lack of common sense that gets people in trouble in anything, not just sailing...JMHO....John
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Old 11-02-2008, 14:24   #4
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Well, most of the the times I'm talking about are from this forum, actually.

There's the one near the top of Michigan, the one out in the Pacific NW and the one off the coast of Ireland. None were racers or were racing. All were caught in storms and the conclusions on this board were that the cats went over due to "poor seamanship" on the part of the captain/crew.

I'd like to avoid any "poor seamanship" in my 1500-2000 NM crash course in cat handling. I know what I'm doing handling monos. Cats... I figured there were a few differences. Maybe not?

Anyway, thanks for the tip. So I guess I can still sail by feel, then?

I will be able to feel a little bit of heel and sense that the downwind bow is getting a little bit buried? That's when you know you might need to reef for safety?
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Old 11-02-2008, 14:28   #5
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Originally Posted by imagine2frolic View Post
I jumped from a 30ft. monohull to a 46ft. cat. I agree it is a different sailing beast. Mostly it is the lack of common sense that gets people in trouble in anything, not just sailing...JMHO....John

Jumped is maybe not the word... more like leaped! ha ha

The difference in interior volume must have been staggering at first. Did you just stay in one hull for a while to adjust?

So I'm taking it that maybe the same principles apply to the cats as the monos... don't do stupid stuff (like passing between a tug pulling astern and the barge that's coming behind it eventually).

In my last boat, (Gulfstar 45), I could be out in some pretty bad conditions and not really think twice. The boat handled most anything thrown at it with ease. She was strong and solid and fairly heavy. I'm imagining the cat might be more like downhill skiing, in that you need to react a bit more. I could be wrong though... this is why I ask.
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Old 11-02-2008, 14:56   #6
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I also jumped from a Catalina 30 to a Mahe 36. On the Cat I use the electronics alot more because you don't "feel" the boat the way you do the Mono. The main difference is the cats ability to go to windward, I may have been able to go 25-30 degrees to wind in my mono, it is more like 45 in the cat. If the winds are up I'll put in a reef before starting out for the day. I really believe you have to be a very poor sailor to pitchpole one of these while cruising. I just delivered a 46 foot Moorings Cat from the BVI's to Ft Lauderdale and hit some very rough weather (sea's 10 to 12 feet, winds 35 knots and lots of rain) had the boat reefed on 2 points and make 9 to 10 knots, the boat handled it just fine.
Just use good judgement, and you'll be fine.
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Old 11-02-2008, 15:03   #7
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capsize

44c, try the pages of your favourite mag (australian multihulls) . lightwave 38 upside down on widebay bar.

Ssulivan, downhill skiing is prety close. Towing a bite of rope and chain certainly calms things down when the swell picks up . Usefull even in winds as low as 25 knots down wind with very little loss in average speed.
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Old 11-02-2008, 15:09   #8
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Scott,

My point exactly....just use good judgement!

sulli,

I actually ventured into both hulls, but took a compass with me....LOL.

I read the water, and reef as needed. I was almost always the first boat to reef on S.F.Bay. I don't believe in pushing the boats limits, or my own. I was never into racing. I liked the idea of getting 90- 95% out of the boat while I ENJOY!

The last time we left Florida we had right at 30knots on the quarter. Double reefed main, and half the headsail. We stayed in the low to mid teens while a cup of coffee sat on the roof of the house. It was easy, and comfortable sailing.
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Old 11-02-2008, 17:56   #9
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44c, try the pages of your favourite mag (australian multihulls) . lightwave 38 upside down on widebay bar.
Ah yes, there was that one. And a perfect example of poor seamanship. The fact that it was a catamaran wouldn't really have made much difference though would it?

They arrived at one of the most notorious bar crossings in Australia, in pitch darkness, at dead low tide, and tried to cross. They claim a "rogue wave" pitchpoled them. Any wave will be much much worse at low tide though, and with the volume of Great Sandy straits emptying out over the bar, there would have been a strong current helping to heap any waves up.

I have also heard that they didn't follow the marked entrance leads, and tried using the "trawler channel" which is closer to the beach, and unmarked. Although that information wasn't published.
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Old 11-02-2008, 18:03   #10
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cats

SSULLIVAN,

G'day, You are on the right idea about the biggest difference about where to reef. Because the cat won't spill the wind you take note of the first figure!! ie 20-30ks it is the 20kts that becomes the limit unlike a mono where the 30kts is the limit. A book I found was helpful when I started out was "MultiHull Seamanship" by Gavin Le Sueur. You should be able to find him on the net & get a copy if not available locally. Anchoring - always use a bridle!!

Regards Bill Goodward
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Old 11-02-2008, 18:34   #11
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SSULLIVAN,

G'day, You are on the right idea about the biggest difference about where to reef. Because the cat won't spill the wind you take note of the first figure!! ie 20-30ks it is the 20kts that becomes the limit unlike a mono where the 30kts is the limit. A book I found was helpful when I started out was "MultiHull Seamanship" by Gavin Le Sueur. You should be able to find him on the net & get a copy if not available locally. Anchoring - always use a bridle!!

Regards Bill Goodward
Some good advice, Bill. Thank you very much!

It's this type of thing I'm after. I will look up the book by Mr. Le Sueur.
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Old 11-02-2008, 19:08   #12
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a charter cat flipped in the dominica channel a few years back.
the people were picked up swimming next to the inverted boat by a passing sailboat.
i was sailing that pass that day, it was blowing around 25 with higher gusts and waves were probably 8-10 on the beam as we had had strong easterlies for a week or so; but i have no wind instruments and it might seem larger from the cockpit of my 27 footer. i did sort of scandalize? the main slightly by shortening my topping lift just a few inches, as when i rolled with the sea, my boom would dig in the water and it worried me.
it was said that they did not free the mainsheet on a particularly hard gust and the boat went over sideways and kept going.
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Old 11-02-2008, 19:53   #13
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Sullivan,

When you read the books let me know if this is true; When hit by a gust one is to bear away.
In a monohull the boat or I or both would tend to round up some, or too much sometimes giving us a little "flog" time.

I have read and been told if this is done in a cat, under the right circumstances, the apparent wind will increase to a degree that can amplify the instability.

It is still not clear in my head so if you find that please post.

Oh yea, some one told me of two Geminis that flipped but got no details about it.
Also I know a guy who knows a harbor pilot here in Tampa Bay that has a MaineCat, the 30?? (small one anyway). He got it after the older couple flipped it somewhere around here. I have not confirmed this but believe it is true since my friend sails with said harbor pilot.
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Old 11-02-2008, 21:50   #14
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The most logical, to me, would be if the wind is forward of the beam then head up and if behind the beam bear away. The intention is to prevent the sail becomming more square to the wind as this presents the greatest area and hence leverage to lift a hull.

Mike
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Old 11-02-2008, 22:27   #15
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I would have thought its not the wind that flips boats its breaking seas.
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