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Old 15-02-2024, 10:48   #1
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Forward cockpit flooding

Hi All


Whenever forward cockpits are discussed the concern arises regarding flooding of the forward cockpit.

Personally, I have never even had a wave come over the bows, so I tend not to worry about forward cockpits or the large windows.



I am wondering if anyone ever experienced first hand a wave coming over the forward crossbeam and dropping a (significant) amount of water either into the forward cockpit or against the windows?


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Old 15-02-2024, 13:42   #2
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

Quote:
I am wondering if anyone ever experienced first hand a wave coming over the forward crossbeam and dropping a (significant) amount of water either into the forward cockpit or against the windows?
On our 32-foot cat offshore in a gale we took solid green water across the deck at times. Filled the aft cockpit many times, and one big one hit up around the first set of reef points--I remember holding my breath and looking up through the water at the sun. Estimated height over the water surface was around 10-12 feet for that breaking top. Not typical, but possible.
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Old 15-02-2024, 13:54   #3
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

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I am wondering if anyone ever experienced first hand a wave coming over the forward crossbeam and dropping a (significant) amount of water either into the forward cockpit or against the windows?
Yes. 39 foot trawler with a bow 5-6 feet above the water. Stuffed it hard enough to take green water flooding into the recessed front and side decks. There is a reason they make Portuguese Bridges.

This temporarily flooded the foot well by the lower helm side door and the port side of the cockpit until the scuppers drained it all. The cockpit deck has an aggressive barrel shape to push the water to the stern scuppers.
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Old 15-02-2024, 14:26   #4
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pirate Re: Forward cockpit flooding

Off Cape Trafalgar we hit a strong Easterly wind against tide which had us going over one wave and through the next for a couple of hours till we managed to crawl into Barbate with both hulls flooded to calf deep over the boards and a split from hull to hull under the cabin.
This was a 'built like a tank' Catalac.
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Old 15-02-2024, 14:51   #5
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

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Originally Posted by barnab View Post

I am wondering if anyone ever experienced first hand a wave coming over the forward crossbeam and dropping a (significant) amount of water either into the forward cockpit or against the windows?


Thanks
Adrian
Have you ever sailed offshore or crossed a bar? We have a 55 foot cat and when sailing upwind have had green (blue?) water over the front beam and even over our cabin top. It doesn’t take much wind if waves are steepened due to opposing currents. Or it can be with developed offshore conditions and breaking waves on top of the swells.

We don’t have a forward cockpit and consider that an unacceptable risk if you are planning anything other than coastal sailing or a coconut-zone circumnavigation.
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Old 15-02-2024, 14:54   #6
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

We have a FP Bahia 46', we have had waves over the bows in quite moderate conditions, going to windward with short, sharp seas, wind against tide. Enough to take a surprising amount thru the saloon windows that were open at the time.

In saying that, I presume that a forward cockpit in a cat would have sufficient drainage to cope with these sort of situations.
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Old 15-02-2024, 15:11   #7
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

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Originally Posted by barnab View Post
Hi All


Whenever forward cockpits are discussed the concern arises regarding flooding of the forward cockpit.

Personally, I have never even had a wave come over the bows, so I tend not to worry about forward cockpits or the large windows.



I am wondering if anyone ever experienced first hand a wave coming over the forward crossbeam and dropping a (significant) amount of water either into the forward cockpit or against the windows?


Thanks
Adrian
Are you aware that the QEII had a wave wash over her bow with enough force to wash away her forward light mast? The ocean really does care what worries you, she can come up with worse.
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Old 15-02-2024, 15:17   #8
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

Yep, buried a cat into the back of a wave up to the mast. Biscay. Have also sailed for many hours with car wash on forward saloon windows. Madagascar. Laid a hull for 10 hours with blue water over decks. New Zealand. If you venture offshore long enough then conditions beyond your control will be very decisive.


Given the choice I would not have flat foredecks, reverse bows or fixed keels.
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Old 16-02-2024, 01:38   #9
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

Thanks for you answers so far...Re-reading my question I notice I didn't write I'm asking about catamarans....sorry for that...


I have sailed about 8000nm in a Leopard 38 and Bali 4.3 and I never got solid water over the bows. Heavy spray yes, and it makes a mess inside if you forget a front window open. But even in short and steep wind against current waves I always had the bridgedeck slam before the wave would make it over the bows. The slam provides tons of buoyancy, lifting the bows and slow the boat, helping to no pierce into the waves.

I'm aware both my boats are of the heavy and slow types, so maybe the experience is different than more performance oriented cats...And I'm more of the careful type of sailor, I slow down when the weather gets rough.


Maybe I should rephrase the question and ask for people who actually have a cat with forward cockpit and ever had that filled by a wave?
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Old 16-02-2024, 05:41   #10
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingHarmonie View Post
Are you aware that the QEII had a wave wash over her bow with enough force to wash away her forward light mast? The ocean really does care what worries you, she can come up with worse.
QE II & Hurricane Luis [1995]

She was on Trans Atlantic Voyage Number 1014, Westbound from Southampton and Cherbourg, to New York City.
On night of the 10th to 11th September 1995 the ship was slammed by a 95 foot high wave, followed by two smaller waves. The captain, Captain Warwick, reported winds to 130 miles per hour with average wave heights of 40 feet.
The 95 foot wave hit as most passengers were asleep in their beds, those who could sleep being tossed all night, at 0410 hours (4:10am)

The captain said, "At 0410 the rogue wave was sighted right ahead, looming out of the darkness from 220°, it looked as though the ship was heading straight for the white cliffs of Dover. The wave seemed to take ages to arrive but it was probably less than a minute before it broke with tremendous force over the bow. An incredible shudder went through the ship, followed a few minutes later by two smaller shudders. There seemed to be two waves in succession as the ship fell into the 'hole' behind the first one. The second wave of 28-29 m (period 13 seconds), whilst breaking, crashed over the foredeck, carrying away the forward whistle mast."

Officers on the bridge estimated the wave at 92 feet, because they were eyeball to eyeball with the crest.

More ➥ https://www.theqe2story.com/forum/in...p?topic=2841.0
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Old 22-02-2024, 09:08   #11
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

We have a forward cockpit similar to those on a Gunboat. More of a sail handling well than a place to lounge like an Atlantic. In close to 50,000 miles, including a crossing of the North Pacific to Alaska and a spin down to Chile, we have never had more than a bucket full of water in the forward cockpit. This is likely due to a combination of buoyant hulls, abundance of caution and dumb luck. We did bury the bows in a wind against current situation while flying the spinnaker in 25 knots while rounding Cabo Corrientes in Mexico (failure of abundance of caution). The water never reached the cockpit, however, and we doused the spinnaker and proceeded in a more dignified manner. Should we ever manage to take a wave into the cockpit it should drain quickly through the 4 large scuppers. All the forward cockpits I have seen were designed similarly.

We consider the forward cockpit the best feature of our boat. The ease of sail handling and safety that it provides are worth the small chance of flooding in our estimation. In discussions with other owners of forward cockpits none have ever mentioned flooding being an issue.

This topic comes up from time to time and I have summed up what I consider the pros and cons below:


Pros:

Sail handling is done from the place in the boat with the least amount of motion. The cockpit is about as close to the center of pitching, rocking and yawing as you can get. It is set well below the level of the deck which decreases motion even more. It's surprising how much difference 3' in altitude can make in the motion one feels.

You cannot fall overboard from a forward cockpit, no matter how determined your efforts. When standing in the cockpit you feel as though you are wearing the boat like a pair of trousers

All sail handling is done from the same spot. You don't have to cross a deck to trim the spinnaker.

In the tropics, the front door and hatch provide excellent ventilation.

Easy communication between the helm and the foredeck. This is particularly useful when dealing with the anchor.

It is the best seat in the house on night watches in the tropics. We would often spend the entire shift on a stool in the cockpit, feeling the breeze and watching the stars.

The aft cockpit becomes more of a “lanai” since no sail handling is done from there. Hammocks can be strung, workbench set up etc., while the boat is being sailed from up forward.

It allows for pilothouse helm position which provides excellent shelter and visibility. This has really shown it's worth in higher latitudes, but is a really nice feature in the tropics as well.

Cons:

Visibility from the helm is hampered by the mast and it's appendages. When confronted with a lot of obstacles in the water one must sway back and forth like a lizard to eliminate blind spots.

Sheeting angles for the headsail are limited.

We have been compelled to use a jib on a boom, which works well for us, but we sacrifice some power and speed.

In rough conditions, on a close reach, it is possible to take spray into the saloon through the open door.
This has never happened to us, but on a handful of occasions we have had to be careful to time the opening of the front door. Our cockpit stays surprisingly dry due to several reasons. First, we have high volume hulls which resist diving. A forward cockpit would probably not be a good idea on a boat with wave piercing hulls. Second, we have a lip running around the entire boat halfway up the hull. This diverts a surprising amount of spray. Third, we rarely push the boat hard to windward. It's just not comfortable and, given sea room, we would rather heave-to and wait it out rather than bash.

When returning wet from the cockpit you do drip on the floor. We lay a towel in front of the cockpit door to help with this.

You must give up the idea of a big saloon table. This was not difficult for us as we find that 99% of the time it is just the two of us and we can seat 4 at the galley counter. If we have a big group we spread out into the “aft patio”

A vertical door at the front of the cabin provides a weak spot in case of a direct wave strike. It is conceivable that while lying to a sea anchor in survival conditions this could be problematic. We carry a couple of spare rudders that could be lashed across the front of the cockpit in this case, but, to be honest, I just don't see that ever happening. Unless limited by sea room, we would use our series drogue in those conditions.
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Old 23-02-2024, 01:34   #12
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

Hi Mike, thank you for your detailed answer.
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Old 26-02-2024, 06:53   #13
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

Making a passage into Rodney Bay, St. Lucia on a rather sporty day. Our mainsail sail cover is more than 10' over the waterline. After anchoring, lowered the main and went to sleep. Got up the next morning to a horrible stench. The sail cover had a huge amount of Sargasso Weed in it, which I could not see while lowering the main. Like checking your anchor in a hurricane. A good snorkel and facemask should be standard equipment on a forward cockpit.

Gotta love the St. Lucian Coast Guard. They came out in their big RIB and hailed us on the radio to make certain we were okay. They approached on our lee side. Once we assured them we were fine and not in any sort of distress, they turned back to their base. Two of their crew were doing the "Technicolor Yawn" were plainly visible as they turned. That's dedication!
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Old 26-02-2024, 07:55   #14
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

I'm old school, and see a purpose for following traditional designs, which in this case goes against all common sense and practicality, ironed out by decades of trial and error...IMHO
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Old 27-02-2024, 07:49   #15
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Re: Forward cockpit flooding

Whenever I see comments like the above I am reminded of a conversation I had with a broker at a boat show. He maintained that he would never sail a catamaran offshore because he had a friend with a well regarded offshore monohull design who got pooped on a passage from San Fransisco to SoCal, breaking a few ribs in the process. I pointed out that drawing conclusion about one design based on the experience of another might be unproductive, but he maintained that catamarans were unsafe offshore because if bad stuff could happen to a "proven" cruiser, then imagine what would happen to a cat with it's non-traditional design.

We see this all the time on these pages. People with no experience of a certain design declare that it is unfit for offshore work due to their experiences on a different design. Consider the abuse that those with transom helms, elevated helms, large windows etc. have received from those with no experience with the design in question.
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