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Old 09-01-2008
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Shrinkage and other musings from Maine

Hi All,

We just got back from a great trip and only had one mishap.

While entering the Fox Isle Thorofare in Penobscot Bay, with a nasty current of over a knot and a half and only about 1 knot of wind, we picked up some floating poly line on the prop. No, we did not hit a lobster pot this was black floating line that the lobstermen use between traps on the bottom. They are not supposed to be using it anymore but they do.

On moon tides the line gets washed back off the shore and into the bay to float, mostly invisibly, until some unsuspecting boater sucks it into his or her prop as we did.

At first it was just a nasty vibration and I thought it could be a large piece of kelp so I tried a quick burst of reverse. Wrong! It stopped the motor dead. So now we're dead in the water and the current is moving us towards the ledges faster than our sails can fight it. I mustered all my light air racing skills managed to claw off the ledges and sail into the thorofare where I set the hook and dove on the mess..



I tried to pull as much of it out of the water as I could but with the current and the amount on there some escaped. In total it took almost 40 dives on the prop to cut this stuff free and my knife is very sharp. The ball of line was as big around as my prop and had begun to melt on teh shaft already.

Why didn't I wear a wet suit? Well our daughter was hungry and I thought this would only take a few seconds to cut free. Never second guess the cold Atlantic ocean or you'll come out of the water as I did with major shrinkage! All I could say to my wife was "I was in the pool" a George Castanza quote from Seinfeld!!

Other than picking up some floating like the trip was perfectly smooth with no failures, mishaps or broken equipment.

This is a piece that was against the shaft! So yes polypropylene line can melt even when fully submerged!

Cary a sharp knife with a wrist lanyard, mask, flippers, wet suit and a 5mm dive hood (prevents your head from banging the bottom of the hull) when cruising Maine and DO put on your wet suit!

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 09-01-2008 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 09-01-2008
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400 degrees is what it melts at, halekai, if I remember correctly and unfortunately the stuff is not only cheap but ubiquitous. It sounds like you had some "interesting" moments there and I am surely glad that you were able to find just a bit of sea room lest this story have ended differently.

Good advise as always. You really do need an exceedingly sharp as well as strong knife for jobs like this as you're not really afforded the luxury of just cutting the line free-it's more like hacking-since you cannot either properly see nor does just one bight exist that will free it all.

They could stop making polypro tomorrow and you'd hear no complaints from me. Aside from the deficiencies noted, too many people think that it's stronger than it is and use it for everything. Might even revive the manila industry, too!
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Old 09-01-2008
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Halekai-

You're lucky hypothermia didn't get you, even this time of year, up where you sail it is a serious danger. Glad it all worked out... and you did get a work out.
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Old 09-01-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halekai36 View Post
Why didn't I wear a wet suit? Well our daughter was hungry and I thought this would only take a few seconds to cut free. Never second guess the cold Atlantic ocean or you'll come out of the water as I did with major shrinkage! All I could say to my wife was "I was in the pool" a George Castanza quote from Seinfeld!!
That was a funny episode!!

Good advice for about the wetsuit. Mine doesn't have a hood -- I'll try to pick one up if ever we make it to Maine. Thanks for the tips.
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Old 09-01-2008
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Is it my imagination, or doesn't polypro harden up after it has been melted and allowed to solidify again? I'm thinking a serrated knife (which I usually don't like) or a fresh hacksaw blade might cut it faster, because of that hardness.
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Old 09-01-2008
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You didn't have to head that far east to wrap your prop that hard, Halekai. The same thing happen to me between Cushing and Ram Is last week! I, too dove on my boat for about a half an hour and pulled off around 30 feet of poly rope. I wish my hood was thicker - I banged my head fairly hard a couple times when the big wakes rolled by.

It also sounds like you were luckier than I. I am pulling my boat out of the water this week. Something is not right after my ordeal. I think a may have damaged my cutlass bearing - There's a pretty substantial vibration now. See here if you want to read more, or help.
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You didn't have to head that far east to wrap your prop that hard, Halekai. The same thing happen to me between Cushing and Ram Is last week! I, too dove on my boat for about a half an hour and pulled off around 30 feet of poly rope. I wish my hood was thicker - I banged my head fairly hard a couple times when the big wakes rolled by.

It also sounds like you were luckier than I. I am pulling my boat out of the water this week. Something is not right after my ordeal. I think a may have damaged my cutlass bearing - There's a pretty substantial vibration now. See here if you want to read more, or help.
Question for LB and Halekai:

What kind of rudder and shaft arrangements do you have? Is your prop on a P-strut, saildrive, or in an aperture?
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Old 09-01-2008
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Is it my imagination, or doesn't polypro harden up after it has been melted and allowed to solidify again? I'm thinking a serrated knife (which I usually don't like) or a fresh hacksaw blade might cut it faster, because of that hardness.
Yes polypropylene gets very hard and nearly impossible to cut with a straight blade.

I use commercial fishing serrated knives from New England Marine & Industrial about $10.00 each and I carry about four new ones on board at any given time as you can hit the shaft or strut and dull them quickly..

Here's a link to the knife: Dexter Great White Knife



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Last edited by Maine Sail; 09-01-2008 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 09-01-2008
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Question for LB and Halekai:

What kind of rudder and shaft arrangements do you have? Is your prop on a P-strut, saildrive, or in an aperture?
We both have fin keels, though both shoal style. LB has a spade rudder on a skeg and I have a spade rudder with only a partial skeg.

With floating debris/junk line even full keelrs with apertures are not safe. I cut line of an elderly couples Cape Dory two years ago and that aperture was so small I could barely get my hands in there to cut..

Spring tides with 3500+ miles of coastline bring lots of deposited flotsam & jetsam back into the bays when they reach high up onto the shores and drag it back into the waters. Spring tides in Maine can be a royal PITA if it isn't a fouled prop it's a grocery bag, weeds or other junk sucked into a seacock and overheating an engine..
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 09-01-2008 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 09-03-2008
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This is one of the reasons I'm glad to have an outboard for an aux. Makes cutting the line off much simpler.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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