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Old 01-21-2007
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Battening down for heavy weather

With the recent unpleasantness off Cape Horn (as well as reading Lin and Larry Pardey's Storm Tactics) it occured to me that I have seen little on the topic of outfitting for heavy weather on this site.

During that catastrophe the vessel had a forward hatch stove in and was dis-masted. To me, those are all quite forseeable events far offshore. John Vigor refrains, "think inverted" and it seems sensible to me.

Sailboats enjoy one characteristic that ships do not; they are generally self-righting. That imparts a huge survivability factor and I wonder if ti is exploited to it's fullest.

I am more interested in your thoughts than expressing mine, as my offshore experience has been on very large vessels, but I cannot help but wonder about a few things. Most hatches I've seen on foredecks seem to be designed for sail stowing, ventilation, and light. The fact we're cutting a big hole in the boat, that should be as strong as the deck around it, seems to go by the board. If such a hatch is stove in, where is the dunnage for damage control use? One would think that such material would come with the vessel, perhaps per-fabricated and stowed in it's own locker. I do not hear much talk of carrying a wooden spar lashed on deck-little imagination is needed to see how this could be put to use. Certainly a sea-anchor and storm oil would be carried.

We've seen two instances in the last month where sailors departed their vessel while the vessel was still afloat. In either case I suspect that Capt. Bligh would have found either vessel to be far superior to that to which he was consigned. Is all of our attention focused on rescue, to the detriment of giving up the ship? From those who venture far offshore I'd be interested in what you've outfitted in these areas and others. Thanks in advance.
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