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Old 09-06-2010, 10:06   #1
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Sailing in Ice (Patagonia, Alaska) with a Cat

Hello all,

I'm looking for people with experience in sailing in regions with ice on a catamaran..
Also trips with a cat to patagonia, Alaska, Cape Horn....

I have a Aluminum 43' cat and plan a circumnavigation including these regions....

Any help or link to the subject are welcome...
Thank you,
Marc
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Old 09-06-2010, 11:49   #2
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I don't know about those areas, but I sail in the winter....
  • Ice and friction. A cat is breaking 2 hulls through. Even small amounts (1/4-inch) create great resistance.
  • Props. At lease with outboards, the greatest concern is the props hitting ice. Even with a thin layer, the sheets tip and go through the blades (I can hear it), allowing only very low RPMS.
The cold never bothered me much. However, with a metal boat you may want to think about condensation and heating.

Sail Delmarva: Winter Sailing
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:57   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonobo View Post
I'm looking for people with experience in sailing in regions with ice on a catamaran..
Also trips with a cat to patagonia, Alaska, Cape Horn....

I have a Aluminum 43' cat and plan a circumnavigation including these regions....
We have lots of ice experience, including Cape Horn, Patagonia, etc, with an aluminum mono . . . not sure if we can help or not. Are you looking for anything in particular?

You are going to find that not many cats have been to the ice. In the two years we were in Patagonia I believe there was not even one. We do know a german couple on a cat (cold molded if I remember correctly) who did it some years ago.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:37   #4
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Thank you for the reply's.

I need all info I can get on the behavior of a catamaran in Patagonia and cape horn.... preferably first hand by people who have done it....Any book, cruising story in the area...article in a magazine...

I know it is commonly done with aluminum monohulls but what about a cat...
The ice between the two hulls...???
And most important, the type of sea encountered there....
The possibilities of avoiding bad weather, Sheltering... Anchoring ...
The best way to get down there... Where to start the trip to the Horn... Atlantic or Pacific... Where to spend the time in the channels ?? Are there books on the subject, maps, Best time ? Winter or summer ? when are the storms ??
I just start the project, I have no info at all at this time..So I need all the info before I can point out the details I miss....

You see, I need lots of info...
Thank you in advance,
Marc
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:41   #5
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[QUOTE=thinwater;466193]I don't know about those areas, but I sail in the winter....

Thank you for the link to your website. I look into it !!!

Marc
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Old 10-06-2010, 14:58   #6
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I hate to be a naysayer, but if you go where it's severely cold, you can encounter a lot of icing on the surface of the decks with snow, and it will sink a catamaran. The forward netting will turn into a solid surface, each spray of the waves will add more and more ice, the decks will freeze over and the large cockpit's scuppers will clog and become untenable building up thousands of pounds of frozen saltwater and snow. Once it freezes into the grates and drains you really can't get rid of it with a blowtorch and it will make it a slippery pit. After that the boat will lower into the water, sinking down until your bridgedeck clearance disappears and the ice bound waves stop your boat completely. On deck you need to kneel down and pull yourself forward for standing is impossible on the iced over decks. They are more slippery than anything you've ever tried to walk upon and they also are pitching up and down. You take your life in you hands with each step. Large chucks of ice will also be falling from the frozen rigging and landing like rocks on the deck with the force of a bolling ball thrown from the top of a three story building. The large windows and ports will freeze over from the inside out, becoming enshrouded in snow and only emitting a dark grey light. Finally the above water through hulls will become underwater throughhulls and you'll be running around in a completely dark boat with a bucket and a flashlight trying to hear exactly where the water is coming in above the loud sounds of the sea ice grinding against the hulls as the boat rams sideways into the densely packed ice over and over again, driven by those polar winds that shriek day and night. Each slam is so violent due to the catamarans high windage and light weight and the sudden stop of it hitting the immovable ice is so quick it will knock you off your feet as you're trying to feel your way through the hulls.

Ahhh, did I mention that I've been through several bad winters on a catamaran?

Underway, in the middle of the ocean, it would be as close to hell as you can imagine.

I'm a catamaran evangelist, yet I would never take a catamaran north where it was actively snowing or especially where it could be subzero.
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Old 10-06-2010, 16:26   #7
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That, Sir, is the best damn post I can imagine to convince my Wife that we were right for buying a mono.

I thank you.
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Old 10-06-2010, 18:04   #8
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ice

Your a cheery sort chap aren,t you?
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Old 10-06-2010, 18:44   #9
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Bonobo,
No 1st hand experience and can't speak for Alaska but cats and tris sail around the horn and up the Patagonian coast all the time, some even single handed and very deep into the southern ocean for record setting. No walk in the park but most make it. I'd plan for a summer(southern hemisphere) rounding. Just in case I'd plan on some heat in the cabin so at least the ice is confined to the outside. That should prevent surfaces above the heated space from icing as well. Dave
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Old 10-06-2010, 18:56   #10
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It seems to me that cats are specifically designed for the tropics. Light & fast doesn't sound like an icebreaker at all. Some monos are specifically designed for the areas closer to the poles, I think they would be much better.
That said, I plan to buy a multi and avoid all ice, except in my drinks.
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Old 10-06-2010, 22:35   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schoonerdog View Post

Ahhh, did I mention that I've been through several bad winters on a catamaran?
...
I'm a catamaran evangelist, yet I would never take a catamaran north where it was actively snowing or especially where it could be subzero.
Good to read that. Most boats have limitations. As Clint said, its all about knowing them.


Mark
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Old 10-06-2010, 23:34   #12
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Ahhh, did I mention that I've been through several bad winters on a catamaran?
I'm glad you lived to tell of it and might I add, very well told. Thanks.
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Old 11-06-2010, 06:03   #13
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Correct, surface area on catamarans make them far more difficult to heat, the large windows make them loose heat faster, and the low load carrying capability coupled with a deck area three times the size of a comperable sized mono mean lots of snow can be deadly to catamarans. In the past winter in the chesapeake we had around 3-4 ft of snow during one event. Every cubic ft of snow weights around 10 lbs, so 800 sq ft with a cubic ft of snow on it and that's 8000 lbs and our boat was sitting a full ft below its water lines.

I'm not saying that these trips can't be made in the summer time, but ocean sailing in temps substantially below zero (C) anywhere is a risky thing on a catamaran, it's what a good insulated steel hulled monohull is made for. A trimaran would be very different as effectively it has one narrow hull and if the amas aren't connected by netting going between them, it has far less deck area than a catamaran of comparable size or possibly even a monohull.
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Old 11-06-2010, 06:09   #14
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BTW, once the temp drops below 25 degrees (F), a heated catamaran on the inside has no effect on snow build up on the outside other than the first snow will touch the decks at the beginning of the snow, freeze into solid ice, and then the snow builds up on top of it. This isn't conjecture.
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Old 11-06-2010, 06:19   #15
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The ice between the two hulls...???
And most important, the type of sea encountered there....
The possibilities of avoiding bad weather, Sheltering... Anchoring ...
The best way to get down there... Where to start the trip to the Horn... Atlantic or Pacific... Where to spend the time in the channels ?? Are there books on the subject, maps, Best time ? Winter or summer ? when are the storms ??
You need to get Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide by Rolfo, Mariolina & Giorgi Ardrizzi. Its the cruising bible for Patagonia and will answer most of your above basic questions.

There is in fact quite little ice in Patagonia. Almost none in the channels. It mostly sits in front of the glaciers. The mono hulls will push thru it to get closer to the glaciers. I suspect you will not want to. But (during the summer) you will not encounter much ice there. Now South Georgia and Antarctica are different - there is lots of ice in those two places and even the mono's have to be extremely careful. Hitting ice at 7kts can ruin your day. So, I don't think your cat will have anything distinctive in this regard you just have to avoid the ice.

There are tons and tons of anchorages in Patagonia - excellent ones about every 10 miles. For the trip to the horn for instance, you sail from puerto williams to puerto torro to calata maxwell, round the horn to calata martial and back to torro - all of the day sails and all except the very horn rounding are in protected (flat) waters.

The best way to get there depends on what you want to do once there. If you want to just see the beagle and Antarctica and S Georgia then you go down the Atlantic to the Beagle (Ushuaia). If you want to cruise all the Patagonian channels up to puerto montt then its best to come in from the pacific - because the winds blow from the north all the way down the channels, so you want to start at the north end.

There is a lot of info on Patagonia on our website - we spent two years there.
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