Seasoned Sailor Need Information
You know, over the years, I have come to question the validity of certain key pieces of gear and equipment. Thus, I would like to call on the help of Sailingdog, Surf, Camaraderie, Jeff_H, and the many, many other sailors that read these threads. Feel free to jump in.
1) Floating Winch Handles. I will throw this one off to Cam. I think you are in the Bahamas right now?? Please do me a favor: Would you sail out to the Tongue and throw your new, floating, winch handly in the drink and see if it really floats? I keep finding myself buying those things for all my boats... but still do not know if they really float. I personally have not been able to bring myself to tossing a $40-60 winch handle in the drink. I can tell you, from experience, that the $80 Lewmars double-handers do not float. In fact, they sink quicker than you can say, "Aww-Sh**". Come to think of it, the only thing I have found that sinks quicker than a winch handle is a $360 dive watch. All you would be sailors and old salts: These should be standard equipment for your ground tackle. SHould an anchor fail in a hurricane, just tie a line onto a dive watch and toss it overboard. I guarantee you it will sink so far down you will never find it again.
2) Submersible VHF. I think this one belongs to SD & Jeff - our most knowledgeable sailors. I am intrigued by the depth of their answers and the thoughtfulness of their replies. Now, would you mind buying a $350 ICOM, swiming down 5-10 feet (isn't that what they say they are good for??), then coming back up and giving it the ole' college try?? Personally, I cannot do it. Just cannot.
3) Life Raft with Hydrostatic release. Ahh now, this one really is the clincher. The test to end all test. Only a successful lawyer should get stuck with this one. Surf - you the man. Please go out and buy a 6 person Switlik life raft (oh, about 5-6K), tie it on an anchor, and see if it really does pop at 15 feet. Oh, and since you are doing that anyway, please check and see if that $700 watermaker you had them stuff in it really made it in there and not just on some Mexican "resale" shelf. I hate to tell you, but if my boat is going down, DO YOU REALLY THINK I AM GOING TO JUMP IN THE WATER AND WAIT FOR MY BOAT TO GET DOWN 15 FEET SO THE LIFE RAFT CAN BLOW????????? No. Hell no! I am going to be kicking, prying, and cursing that thing open... even if I have to use my teeth.
I realize this is a lot to ask of you, but you all-- I MEAN WE ALL-- have to make sacrifices for the sailing community.
I look forward to your "consumer" reports and kind responses.
Your true friend,
"1) Floating Winch Handles."
I know someone who bought a nice fancy two-hander. And dropped it overboard while trying to claw upwind and make time one afternoon. They looked at where it had last been seen and said "Oh *&@#" and when I asked about going back for it, said "And can you still see it? Forget about it." cursing for some time about the price. If you can do an effective MOB drill and search grid for something that small...yes, they float.
Bahamas? Calm water? Maybe better. You might want to check out a dive shop, they sell marker buoys for things dropped overboard. Bacically a bright floating spool with 100' of polypro on it and a sinker. Keep one in the cockpit coaming and if something goes overboard, throw the marker buoy fast. Makes a good reason to dive there.<G>
Personally, I think any crew who drops a winch handle overboard and doesn't immediately shout "MAN OVERBOARD!" and lunge for it, just isn't trying hard enough.<G>
"2) Submersible VHF. " They are all rated to a certain depth and time ONLY. They are not "waterproof". I did toss my waterproof binoculars in the sink once to see if they'd float, while they were under warranty. And that's the trick. If the warranty says submersible, the maker will eat water damage during the warranty period. That doesn't mean you should use the radio in the pool.<G> It does mean the radio without that rating will fry faster in the rain.
"3) Life Raft with Hydrostatic release."
Well, those hydrostatic releases on all sorts of things are not there for everyday use. They are there so that if the crew hasn't gotten around to deploying the raft and the boat is going down WITH IT, you've got some chance that it might come up free. Without the release, you've got no chance. So, sure, I'd like that. But I'd settle for a plainer raft, stowed in the cockpit so I could grab it with me.
You might check out Doug Ritter's web site, www.equipped.org, about aviation and marine safety equipment mainly. He's actually done a batch of testing, including life raft testing. Some interesting stuff there--like reports from folks who actually have ditched, and lived to speak about what does and doesn't work as planned.
Well, I like the plastic winch handles primarily because they do less damage to the gel-coat when someone whacks it. And I can verify that the non floating winch handles do not float, and in fact seems to me they sink faster than a cellphone. I don't know how difficult it would be to retrieve a dropped floating winch handle but have thought about it. Locking winch handles certainly are nice and seem to stay on the boat longer. I often wonder how much stuff is on the bottom.
How could I have forgotten about you in my thread???? Many apologies.
I have the floating binocs too. I forgot about putting them in there.
So I guess from your reply Hello, you would like to help Surf on the liferaft??
Thanks for the thougts.
Fair winds! I am leaving for the night.
While they're at it, maybe they could try out all seasickness remedies, simultaneously...
To set the mood, here's a quote from http://www.ehow.com/how_13191_prevent-seasickness.html
The Dutch have been credited with inventing the sport of yachting. The word "yacht" is from the Dutch word "jacht," which when literally translated means "to throw up violently."
I'm with GeneT on the floating winch handles...they're just a lot lighter, and easier on the gelcoat and the toes when you drop 'em.
The submersible VHF is nice, because, when you're out on deck with the handheld and it is pouring cats and dogs...you don't have to worry about the VHF giving up the ghost just cause it is raining.
The hydrostatic release life raft release is a last-ditch effort to let the raft go free if everything else, like the crew forgets—or doesn't know how to do it... If you got swept off the boat and it started sinking—would your crew know how to lauch the liferaft??
Floating binocs aren't as important as waterproof binocs. The waterproof ones are good for the same reason as the submersible VHF units. :D
BTW, equipped.org is a great site...I've used them for about four months or so now...
Since I was "assigned" the floating winch handle test...I can tell you how I solved this ongoing dilemma...pushbuttons! No handle needed!;)
See how technology (and large battery banks) improves our lives!
You know, I have elec winch too. However, I typically turn it off and do not use it.
Why, you ask?
Well, let me explain:
I realized that everytime the button is pushed, we are burning... what... a few amps? Now that might not sound like a lot, but every little bit adds up. To account for this lack of modern sailing, I addressed it in this fashion: My wife does all the winching.
"It helps you build up your muscles," I tell her. "Keeps you fit and trim. We have to stick to the basics."
"What is that button for by the winch?" she asks.
"Er, hmm, well, that is the automatic Epirb Release button. Don't push that unless we are sinking."
Thus, I save a few amps. AND DON'T ANY OF YOU GUYS TELL HER DIFFERENT!!!
You are so thoughtful. BTW, as I recall, you are happily married, right? You don't mind if I have a little chat with her, now do you??? HAHA. We will get you straightened out really quick.
Anyone who does not know who the real boss on the boat is, can be categorized as the following: (1) Not Married, (2) Divorced, (3) On the road to Divorce. My wife always tells me that it is her job to make me THINK I am the boss. She also says I should not complicate my intellect with reality... whatever that means. Ignorance is Bliss.
Now, back to my thread... and not to turn a thread I meant to be lighthearted into something else... but...
I have been around a while and I understand the reasons and justifications behind the liferafts et all. I bought them all for God's sakes, but:
How do YOU really know the liferaft will pop at 15 feet? How do YOU really know your VHF works after being submerged? Have you tried it? How do YOU really know your new Corvette goes 203 MPH??
Answer: You probably do not. We trust in what we read or what we hear. In the pharmaceutical indutry, for example, when a company is making a batch, they are constantly pulling lots and submitting them to QC & QA. These are reviewed internally and watched over by the FDA. There is very little room/no room for human error.
Where is the oversight in the marine industry? A one year warranty on a new boat is a joke. You cannot even get all of the bugs out of it in a year. And forget about a lemon law. That one went down in a thud. What about lifesaving gear? Who watches them? Marine Mfg Assoc? Yeah, right. A loose association of basic standards at best. Where is the accountability that your products will do what they say they will do... and continue to do it.
Maybe the answer is right here in this thread: Word of mouth. But that in itself is biased and unscientific.
So, ask yourself this question: How much money have you spent on your boat? How much of that gear are you confident that it truly does and will do what it says it will do? Now, pack yourself and your family up and head offshore. Right there, in the back of your mind... you feel it? That is that lingering doubt: Does it all really work? We sure do put a lot of risk behind things that have little or no oversight.
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