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Old 06-05-2010, 10:12   #16
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Regarding the notion that the Mediterranean is a placid big lake , I have been beaten about there a couple of times but I remember sailing with a 65 year old who had spent 45 years in the merchant navy and swore that the worst conditions he'd ever been in were in the Med.
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Old 08-05-2010, 19:23   #17
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I didn't say it was a placid lake! I did pass geography - and oceanography and geology too, I have some idea of how it works!
But being a naturally land-based species, for many people there is an illusion of safety afforded by being near land. Closer access to rescue, and things like that.
Kind of like how the majority of car accidents are said to occur within 5 miles of home.
All I said was that stories like this are a good reminder that we have to be prepared and vigilant even when it seems like the safety of "home" is just a stone's throw away.
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Old 09-05-2010, 03:10   #18
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A timely reminder to us all. They did the right things for the right reasons, each of them. The one who got it right most did best, just, by chance, and a splash of orange!!!
Paint something ORANGE on your boat. Big enough to be seen whichever way up you are. And wear something ORANGE when the wind gets up.
NOT a smart 'team colours' outfit like the 'professional racers' in the Solent, but ORANGE.
And set the markers for your boat.
Do a Wind Speed Safety Chart that states what safety steps you need to take and what gear MUST be worn as the windspeed increases.
Step 1: (Casting off for some) A harness first, with lifevest and warm jacket attached by clips or worn. SeaSick pills for tender persons for all people not indoors, and allocated and given to those below.
Step 2: (Taking a reef or reducing sail) Lifevests MUST be worn on deck with harness and or crotch strap. SeaSick pills for most persons. Cook up hot drinks to themos, stew and sandwiches. Take a serious look at the boat, the passage plan and divert options and discuss where you are, where land is, MOB system now in place, double up watch, assign a Number 2 to take command and makes sure they understand what their limits are and what the alternatives are, then the skipper gets some rest!!! Be ready for it to get worse even if it's not likely to.
Step 3: 'Batten Down The Hatches' drill.
Advise the skipper and review the passage plan options and alternate destinations. Advisory contact by radio with Coastguard and or nearest shipping. Ready the boat for bad storm conditions, it's good practice anyway!

I make no comment on the article, it can happen to anyone. Luck is the biggest factor in when it happens to us.
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Old 09-05-2010, 03:56   #19
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Maxing out I read your reply with interest, and the initial article with a mixture of awe and horror. It seems a feature of the Med that horrific weather can blow up out of the most benign conditions. We had a small flavour of this anchored one night in among the islands off Croatia, when the prevailing gentle breeze turned 180 degrees and blew up to a Force 8 out of nowhere. Thankfully our anchors held and the anchorage chosen - by sheer chance - meant we were still fairly well sheltered even from the new gale. It had died and returned to its previous direction again by dawn, but certainly got our attention in the interim!

I appreciate you having your anchor to hand in the weather off NZ made it very easy to deploy when needed; well done!

However the whole point of this tragedy to me seems to be the speed with which the situation developed, out of a clear blue sky. In an NZ winter, one can expect a blow or two, especially on a crossing of the type you were doing. But a 'straightforward' passage from Southern France down to the Balearics? The answer then is that there simply isn't any such thing as a straightforward passage.

Also they deployed, not off the stern in a 'still sailing under storm rig' situation such as yourself, but over the bow in a hurricane scenario, meaning they needed to get the sea anchor to the bows to deploy it, rather than just drop it off the stern.
It raises the question, should one have a sea anchor permanently ready to go, and if so, where to stow it on long cruises so it's not hopelessly in the way?

Having previously read about your sea anchor advice on your excellent website, Maxing Out, it's a question that has come to me before. You correctly predicted you might need your sea anchor, and so had it to hand. My feeling is that it should be permanently to hand, for those situations you just can't predict, and if so, where does it then go?
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Old 09-05-2010, 05:32   #20
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Originally Posted by toby24b View Post
My feeling is that it should be permanently to hand, for those situations you just can't predict, and if so, where does it then go?
Hi Toby,

Thats the thought of Alby of Para Anchors Australia. He recommends having the line set before leaving port. If, he suggests, have the line on the bow arleady cleated then that line is passed outside everything at the bow and run down the toe rail and cable tied to the toe rail or fittings. The bitter end stowed in the cockpit.
Then in time of deployment all one must do is shackle the para anchor onto the lines bitter end and throw the self deploying bag hard down into the sea from the cockpit.
This lets the crew remain in the safety of the cockpit. The para anchor will deploy and as it does it will break the cable ties.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:03   #21
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Wow, that was a gripping story! Amazing how they went to sea with expensive cigars and wines, and all but one perished.... such a tragedy.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:52   #22
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Eleven, Toby, and Mark. Those are three great posts right in a row. Thank you for providing great advice and introspection. Life"s a learning lesson and thankfully I'm still learning.
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Old 09-05-2010, 17:24   #23
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Still in awe of this story, I just read the (36 page, so be patient!) rationale behind the Jordan Series Drogue, deployed from the stern. Just google for Jordan Series Drogue. Sounds a fantastic bit of lifesaving kit, removing need to put the bows to the storm. Just bung it straight over the back. It puts up an extremely strong argument for going stern to the storm in a modern monohull design, and also in a multihull, and even mooring stern to a storm/hurricane, although this is not as important for a multihull I'd guess.
It claims reducing speed to 1-2knots, which is near enough dead stop for me. Just hope you don't come up against a lee shore...
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Old 09-05-2010, 18:28   #24
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That's the problem with a jordan drogue for catamarans, it slows you down to much. You really want to be going 5 to 7 knots running, especially if its in the direction your going anyway.
I like this design: A STORM Drogue for Extrreme Conditions
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Old 10-05-2010, 00:36   #25
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You're right Parallan, generally you just want to slow down, in which case the drogue you show is fine, as are the home-made ones Maxing Out describes. However I was thinking for when you are in a really big storm, and running out of sea room, or you can't afford/don't want to travel too far.
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Old 10-05-2010, 01:22   #26
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Toby, I really don't know this from personal experience but I've hired a captain in Sint Maarten to care for my boat and he has a huge amount of it. His opinion is that there is no need for drogues, somewhat period. He runs with the storm unless there isn't sea room, then he uses the motors to basically stay stationary into the waves. His take on the concern for chutes and drogues is that its for old catamarans and old school. Newer cats have enough buoyancy to handle surfing if they are properly prepared.

It's been interesting listening to his theories of storm management with catamarans compared to what I've read in books and here. He has 15 transatlantic and two cross Pacific's plus 15 years of inter-island deliveries and charters. His concern for storms seems, from a newby point of view, to be non-existent. He has agreed to captain my boat to the Med in two years so I'll find out first hand then. To be honest though, if I buy a chute and drogue and stash them somewhere, I'll feel more comfortable.
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Old 10-05-2010, 02:41   #27
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Palarran I agree with you entirely. It's one thing to have the experience to back yourself against a storm. It's another not to have the experience and wish like hell you had the drogue!
Good to hear he backs the design abilities of modern cats, though. That said, the boat in this story was a Catana 44, so hardly an old or unknown design, and it still ended on its back. Perhaps the parachute actually became a hindrance rather than a help.
Happy sailing.
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:29   #28
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The peice of information that would be interesting to know is where the daggerboards where positioned at the time. If up, the boat should have slipped sideways. I read it that the boat rolled on it's side, not pitchpoled.

The other real odd thing is the location of the emergency hatch. It's in the floor of the bridgedeck. It would seem plain as day to an arm chair sailor that if the hatch is 6' below the now upturned hull right next to you, that theres air in the hulls. It's impossible for the hulls to be flooded and the hatch be above water.
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:19   #29
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The accident was 15 years ago I think multihull design has come a long way since then.
All the floating shoeboxes I have seen have, what seem on a laymans first glance, to be well positioned emergency hatches that provide some shelter.

None, may I say, have had EPIRBs next to the escape hatches. I think it would be good to have an EPIRB at each and a hand held VHF (and beer).




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Old 10-05-2010, 13:37   #30
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Mark, your all right!! Feel free to drop an anchor right next to me in a secluded anchorage that I had to myself, anytime. Because? Just about any problem you encounter can be solved with BEER!

BEER makes it better - known fact!!
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