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Old 04-05-2011, 02:52   #1
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Multihulls - Heavy Weather (Passive) Handling

I know this topic has been discussed several times along with the various techniques to be used.

Having read whatever I could find on this topic, I came to the conclusion that 9 boats out of 10, quited by the crew, have later been found floating upright and almost intact.. The ones who have not survived are the ones that deployed either wrong technique or right tecnique executed poorly. (or the boats not conceived to handle these severe conditions)

So, is it fair to say that "unless you are 100% sure of what you are doing, the best is not to do anything at all, not even try to steer.." and "never leave the boat even if you are upside down unless a)there is someone who needs some kind of medical intervention not possible on board, b)you are taking serious amount of water and sinking (very unlikely with a standard multi) c)yr nerves don't stand anymore and you feel that you are about to make stupid decisions.."


NB:most people refer to 50 knts of wind as a "storm". I have been up to 52 knts and continued to sail with my coffee on the table..
By heavy weather, I mean 65-70 kts of true, 25-30 ft breaking waves on the boat. By the boat, I intend a 40-45 ft cat, solid enough structurally to deal with these conditions.

Thx for yr contribution..

Yeloya
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Old 04-05-2011, 05:05   #2
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Re: Multihulls heavy weather (passive) handling

When you say "not do anything at all" - presumably you would furl the sails, right?
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Old 04-05-2011, 05:32   #3
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

I have never been in a storm of this magnitude at sea, but I have a friend who has in his Trimaran on two occasions, including a hurricane with > 50' breaking waves! He said that in both cases, a parachute or drogue would've ended in disaster due to breaking wave impacts.(He also has stood at the wheel for DAYS, if needs be!)

He surfed the waves at a diagonal, then straight, then diagonal... with the engine in gear so he could continue to have steerage. It seems that surfing with the water flow can cause the rudder to loose it's grip.

He concluded that both the drogue/parachute options AND doing nothing, would've ended badly.

Unless we go through something like this, it is hard to know what works best or we can tolerate.

M.
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Old 04-05-2011, 05:59   #4
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pirate Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

Got caught in the approach to the Straits of Gib.. Atlantic side... by a piddly little 50kts that stood the waves up fast.... needed to run both engines and use them for steerage.
Would not have dared go make coffee.. let alone leave it on the table...
Could not leave her to her own means or turn to run as the wave/wind combo would likely have had her over... and it was at night..
Side Slipped into Barbatte with both hulls flooded... under bridgedeck holed... severe pounding as we dropped off the back of steep waves...
Mind the Catalac's are narrow beamed..
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Old 04-05-2011, 06:02   #5
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

Second Mark's comments. Being at the helm and steering can be a help however not sure what to do at night as you can't see the waves coming.

Kind of hard to come up with a universal recommendation as each storm is different and there are a lot of different hull shapes, and loads aboard, among multihulls.

Have heard a delivery skipper say that when his cat started surfing down wave faces too fast for comfort he turned the engines on and put them in reverse at 3000RPM to slow down.

Would be interesting to know how many multihull owners have carried drogues and parachutes and how often they have been used and to what effect.
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Old 04-05-2011, 06:03   #6
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

Well, even if you happen to leave any fraction of sails, I would assume that 70 knts of wind will take care of them anyway..
(if the mast is still in place of course)

Yeloya
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Old 04-05-2011, 06:23   #7
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

Dave of Maxing Out has circumnavigated in his cat and in squalls, he would simply drop sail and start both diesels, powering the boat on the most comfortable/safe course; in extreme conditions he successfully deployed a para-anchor off custom made chainplates on the bows (the mooring cleats cannot withstand the forces).

What he did not do was leave the boat to her own devices. Indeed, as Boatman 61 suggests, lying ahull could be a recipe for disaster (and intuitively, the last thing one wants to do in a multihull is take large seas from abeam).

I am installing chainplates on top of the hulls at the stern in order to employ a series-drogue. Yes, I know that some worry about breaking seas from astern, but my cockpit is further forward and more protected than on most cats and, my companionway door is narrow (about 26 inches) and very strong. Yes, I too have managed in winds over 50 knots without resorting to a sea anchor or series drogue, but I had the sea room to run with the storm and it was of relatively short duration.

Choose your poision between a para-anchor or series drogue, but I believe that all cats intended for offshore sailing should be equipped with at least one and proper chainplates for deploying the same.

Brad
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Old 04-05-2011, 06:48   #8
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbanker View Post
Second Mark's comments. Being at the helm and steering can be a help however not sure what to do at night as you can't see the waves coming.

Kind of hard to come up with a universal recommendation as each storm is different and there are a lot of different hull shapes, and loads aboard, among multihulls.

Have heard a delivery skipper say that when his cat started surfing down wave faces too fast for comfort he turned the engines on and put them in reverse at 3000RPM to slow down.

Would be interesting to know how many multihull owners have carried drogues and parachutes and how often they have been used and to what effect.

My friend was in these terrible conditions through the night as well, and determined wave direction by riveting his eyes on the wind indicator, keeping the wind behind. The sawing back & forth was to slow the descent on the waves, and at the bottom, or when hearing a foaming breaker, he'd turn straight down. The engine ticking over kept propwash going over the rudder. Had it been in reverse to slow down, I think one would occasionally loose steerage.

I doubt that I could stay at the helm that long, (36 hrs) but one never knows. I carry a GaleRider drogue (deployed off of the stern), and a parachute (deployed off of the bow). In both cases it seems reasonable in medium bad conditions, like 40 knots & 18' waves, to get some rest and wait it out without loosing ground. So far, I've used neither...

In truly life threatening conditions I think I might try one of these first, with a knife handy, and when the "sphincter factor" gets to 10, turn & run, hoping for the best...

M.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:11   #9
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

I have experienced over 50 into New Zealand with malfunctioning auto-pilot.
I made a drogue - it was problematic.
And over 70 knots into New Caledonia (but not mature ocean waves, as I made it into the lee of the island)
Had parachute sea anchor - which I deployed on some occasions. Without Auto-pilot you only have so much energy - need to rest.
The chute works very well.
This was on a St Francis 44 with bow pad eyes for bridal in the optimum location.
For my new boat - it has horn cleats on top of bow and chafing "solution". Will fix this soon.
I have bought chute, and drogue appropriate for this boat. I also bought a 2nd anchoring system(only had one). I designed new rode for anchor/drogue/parachute - 600' of mega-braid. 600' is a lot but actually the minimum according to para tech's 10-15 times boat length. Swivels etc. Retrieving chute is tough. Need to decide about trip rope(I didn't due to Murphy's law)
Running under bare poles in the direction of the wind/waves becomes dangerous as the vessel starts to surf - auto-pilots may not react(function). the drogue will slow boat enough. As it gets worse/want to rest - the parachute is the way to go.
I don't believe reversing engines will slow/prevent surfing on big waves. Night day doesn't matter. Can see/feel the rise of the waves, etc. Actually night can be better as you can't see how big they are!!
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:38   #10
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

I'm pretty much a novice cruiser cat sailor. I've been on monos and beach cats but have mostly only done the charter cat thing and never in the really bad stuff. In another life I lived for windsurfing and was one of the early pioneers in 1980 when Windsurfer was the only brand. On my shorter ocean boards I've sailed in up to 25' waves and about 45 knts. wind. It was really hairy and we were right at the limit or past that limit. Way too fast, cavitation, etc. Most times wind and waves were less but still respectable. Sometimes we would go pretty far offshore just to hook into the harness, rest and work our way back upwind. We would catch swells and ride them all the way in. Maybe a mile or more. So, what I'm getting at is it possible to surf a cruiser cat on ocean swells for longer distances than just down the wave? Has anybody ever caught a wave and gone a good bit and in what conditions? If not then why? BOB
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:42   #11
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

After a lifetime of studying and living through bad (fortunately never severe) weather at sea, I too would love to know the answer.

It seems to me that no one has the right answer because there's never a true correlation between certain conditions and certain boats...enough to declare with any certainty a safe course of action.

It always seems that what works for some...didn't work for others and I just have to laugh at those that survive severe conditions that are so quickly promoted to "expert".

There's an old expression..."better lucky than good (or smart)" and I truly believe in horrific condition this holds true.

The best skippers truly have a feel for their craft and can "feel" how the boat is performing....the decision to do anything is often based on how things are progressing than blindly following a checklist and deploying something or determining a course of action that will be followed right into the capsizing.

I've been happily fishing in 20 plus foot rollers after a storm but have been worried in confused, steeply breaking 20 footers. One required no unusual action other than trying to run before the seas and keep the lures working well and the other situation took effort just to remain on deck safely.

It is crazy how many hulls survive their skippers after being abandoned...I have personally witnessed this as a USCG helo pilot...but to think doing absolutely nothing versus keeping the boat at it's greatest harmony for the situation may be just as fatal thinking that some "device" or "some expert's plan" is the best course of action.
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Old 04-05-2011, 08:46   #12
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

As a new monohull sailor heavy weather techniques are high on my priority list for advancing my knowledge of sailing subjects. This subject is also the only confusing part of my reading on this forum, everything else I read and understand for the most part.

I think psneeld did clued me in to why that is so.

Six foot seas are the largest I have encountered so far, and no storms yet. I thought, dang, what would twenty foot sees feel like? I'm not prepared mentally for that.

Can anyone point me toward on-line resources that discuss this subject? Like a heavy weather 101 course of sorts. Or explanations of sea conditions during storms, etc. Wind against current, running with, plowing thru, bare poles lying a hull, hove to, sea anchors, drogues, man it's all mind boggling. I've only practiced heaving to a couple of times in non storm winds.

I can search myself, but I'm interested in resources that users here have found helpful in advancing their knowledge. I realize there are books on the subject but I prefer to leverage the technology of the internet to my benefit.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:09   #13
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

My friend Christophe is a delivery captain that specializes in catamarans. He has done 15 Atlantic crossings and 2 Pacific crossings in cats ranging in size from 40' to 82'. I've asked him multiple times about this after reading opinions on CF and his answer is simple - you go bare poles down wind until you run out of ocean. Then, you turn into the waves and hold position using your motors. He has never used a drogue and wouldn't even consider a parachute an option. His worst storm was a typhoon in the Pacific where they ran bare poles. His scariest moment was during the day when a unusually large (I won't call it rogue) wave 30' high came from behind. He was at the bow and saw it coming and ran for the helm to take it off autopilot. He didn't make it before the wave hit and it lifted the stern almost vertical and they surfed down the wave hitting 30 knots. The autopilot performed it's job. This winter he delivered a 82' luxury charter cat from St. Martin to Lyon France and encountered multiple storm systems. They where surfing waves at 34 knots.

For him, having accurate weather data is paramount. He will avoid weather first, then run with it. He will be captaining Palarran to the Mediterranean next year and I have almost no fear about the passage, at least due to weather and us handling it.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:11   #14
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

Sailing a catana 47 who carbon mast failed in 60 kts. we ran downwind and slightly cross the waves at about 10 kts for 8 hours, both engines running in idle as safety, after a few hours we rigged a 300 rode in a stern to stern loop with the 45" CQR in the center, this was quite effective and allowed the autopilot to maintain control though we kept a man lashed to the helm at all times. Seas were 10 meter but regular with crests that only rarely broke at the stern and only once of twice in the cockpit.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:39   #15
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Re: Multihulls: Heavy Weather (passive) Handling

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllezCat View Post
I have experienced over 50 into New Zealand with malfunctioning auto-pilot.
I made a drogue - it was problematic.
And over 70 knots into New Caledonia (but not mature ocean waves, as I made it into the lee of the island)
Had parachute sea anchor - which I deployed on some occasions. Without Auto-pilot you only have so much energy - need to rest.
The chute works very well.
This was on a St Francis 44 with bow pad eyes for bridal in the optimum location.
AllezCat -- As a St F 44 owner, I'm interested in some details. We've never encountered anything over the low to mid 30's with seas that didn't worry me. Ours also has the bow padeyes for a sea anchor. I'm curious about the drogue you rigged and what you found problematic. I had pretty much assumed that if we had plenty of sea room, I'd go with a drogue and use a chute if we didn't have much sea room. Your thoughts?

Thanks!

ID
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