What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 10-12-2013 Thread Starter
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What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

What sailboats are the most seaworthy?

Boats that can withstand 30+ foot ocean waves?
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post #2 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

Does "full blown" mean Category1? Or Category5?

Read "Fastnet, Force 10" to get some idea how boats do at sea.
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post #3 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

The Westsail 32 in the book/movie The Perfect Storm survived.

But, survival also depends on how well the boat was maintained. That same Westsail in poor condition may have had a different ending.

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post #4 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

A 30 foot wave at sea and and a thirty foot wave on your local beach are not the same thing.

A thirty foot wave at sea only occasionally breaks and when it does, only a portion of it becomes white water. Don't get me wrong, the energy in that portion is still formidable and can do damage but it isn't like the breaking wave that hits land. Mostly you sail over thirty foot waves at sea without incident.

Another thing to consider is surfing. In my opinion allowing you boat to surf swells of 30 feet is playing Russian Roulette - eventually one will kill you. I won't elaborate here.

We sailed through a storm with 80kn and 30+ feet. We got knocked down twice by breaking waves as described above but we safely "sailed" over hundreds more. We sustained more damage from the wind than from the sea.

We have a 44ft GRP sloop.

Was that a "full blown hurricane"? No because it only lasted two days. But in terms of wind speed and wave size, yes it probably equaled a Cat 1. Would you survive a Cat 5? I don't think so.


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post #5 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

I presume you are looking for a neat list.
Do you want that in alphabetical order or by LOA?
Color?

Please visit my blog. It's fun to read.


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post #6 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

A big warship? But that is not a sailboat neither a small boat.

It is crazy to think that a sailboat or any small boat can survive a major hurricane, I mean not near an hurricane but at the worst of it.

Miracles can always happen but they are miracles because they happen very rarely.


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Last edited by PCP; 10-12-2013 at 02:44 PM.
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post #7 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

In general, and your sea miles may vary:
NO sailboat is guaranteed to survive a hurricane.
There are no guarantees at sea, except that the sea has a good chance of finding its way through weaknesses in either boat or crew.
Any small boat skipper who intentionally challenges a hurricane would seem likely to be either a fool, harboring a death wish, under terrible pressure, seriously unlucky, or extraordinarily delusionally over-confident.
Theoretically, a boat could be designed for having a maximum probability of surviving hurricanes, but it might have to be so over-built that it would be a pig in normal conditions. (glossing over some discussion of Westsails and such like)
There are boats built to sail in heavy conditions, and one could do a lot with flotation, water tight compartments, over-built rigs, high-strength impact-resistant hulls, more-or-less bulletproof steering systems, control lines led to sheltered locations, etc. If one were wealthy. But, a thirty-foot breaking wave can simply overpower most smaller craft, depending on how it catches a boat and how well the crew is able to anticipate and respond.
With good voyage planning and weather routing and an efficient boat, a smart and not-too-unlucky crew can avoid most of the really heavy weather. What's sometimes harder to avoid and to manage is the really light stuff.
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post #8 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

What sailboat could survive a full-blown hurricane at sea?

A fortunate one.
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Full, is the spirit, that thinks not, of falling.
True, is the soul, that hesitates not, to give.
Alive, is the one, that believes, in love.
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post #9 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

Read God Forsaken Sea by Derek Lundy. Be prepared for some terrible gut wrenching
descriptions.
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post #10 of 22 Old 10-12-2013
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Re: What sailboats could survive a full blown hurricane at sea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PCP View Post
A big warship? But that is not a sailboat neither a small boat.

It is crazy to think that a sailboat or any small boat can survive a major hurricane, I mean not near an hurricane but at the worst of it.

Miracles can always happen but they are miracles because they happen very rarely.
Big ships often fair worse than a small sailboat in extreme conditions. Whereas a large ship may span a few waves and beak her back, a strong, small sailboat would be much like a cork, if watertight.
I have survived 2 hurricanes at sea in sailboats.
The first was just west of Fiji, probably a high cat 1, but it was before satellites so it may not be a "full blown" storm in your mind. We were capsized 3 times and sustained a lot of damage, but she got us back to a safe anchorage, so I guess she was a pretty good boat, considering she was 65 when she went through it.
The second storm was in the western Indian ocean and because we were beating, we escaped the full force of the storm, but it was still 45 to 60 knots for 10 very difficult days as the darn thing chased us across the ocean. That boat was Brown 37' trimaran, which handled quite a few "heavy weather" experiences very well, including 1200 miles up the Red Sea in northerlies.
Once again, it would very much depend on the choices made by and the experience of the captain (certainly NOT the case in the hurricane (cyclone if you prefer) off Fiji, as I made some very bad choices, but as they say, "hindsight is 20/20"); good choices increase the survivability in any situation, especially at sea, in heavy weather.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.

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Last edited by capta; 10-12-2013 at 05:36 PM.
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