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  #2451  
Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalebD View Post
It is surprising how quickly a situation can go from the exhilaration zone to the humiliation zone.
+freakin1 to that brother!

We didn't even get any clams!
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  #2452  
Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

Bravo Smack Certified Bfs.... arghhh damn them tarpedoes I says!
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

While you guys are out adventuring and finding rocks and mud, I've endured a nearly non event sailing season with tourists who throw money at the boat.Other than the wet and cold June the sailing was great all summer. One highlight was the family who came with their matriarch in a wheel chair. I mentioned her in an earlier comment. Her last wish was to sail again and we scattered her ashes on the Salish Sea. No harsh weather, no breakdowns, just two or three daily departures with the appropriate returns and accompanying cannon fire at passing pirates.Now it's autumn and lighting the wood heater and cracking a 2liter jug of homebuilt vino is as good as it gets on the Thane. Sorry to bore you with the mundane but I wanted to put things in perspective.
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

Good point Capt Len.
I think BFS entries should be about that warm glow of satisfaction you get after being on your boat where you still feel the boat moving under your feet back on land, not trips to the "humiliation zone", however funny they may be in retrospect. Especially sails that you wanted to piss yourself on should be BFS material. Do we need to put a finer comb on this?

There already is a "Biggest bonehead move" thread somewhere on SN. I've posted to it a few times already. Should we use that old thread or start a new: "Sailing Trips From the Humiliation Zone" (STFHZ) thread?

Whadda' ya think?
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Old 10-16-2012
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

Had I not enjoyed that awesome, hull-flying BFS after the initial Fiasco, I definitely would have put this one in the Bonehead thread.

As for the Humiliation Zone, I vote we keep CharlieC's Bonehead thread as HZ Central. That thing's a classic.

PS - My next ocean race is coming up on the 25th. Looks like it might be a spanker! Stay tuned!
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Old 10-16-2012
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

Not sure of this is big enough but...

We were in port at Pentwater, MI, returning from Mackinac Island and the North Channel. It was Saturday morning. We had to get back to Chicago as most on board had to be at work on Monday. One couple lived in Milwaukee, the rest of us in Chicago.

The harbor there is very sheltered. Reports we were getting said 4-6 foot seas out of the north with winds steady at 15-20 knots. I was still kind of a newbie then, with less than 1,000 miles under my belt and mostly self-taught. The weather didn't seem all that bad.

Two of us walked out to the beach. The wind was blowing hard. I grabbed a handful of sand and, to see how hard it was blowing, I threw it up in the air. The sand quickly vanished, straight south. I pondered the effectiveness of the test.

At that point on Lake Michigan, you probably have a couple hundred miles of open water to the north. Anyone who knows weather on the Great Lakes knows with the short swells and steep waves, the Great Lakes can become some of the most dangerous waters on earth in heavy weather. 10,000+ boats on the bottom will attest to that. I hadn't yet grasped that fact.

We were sailing a Columbia 45, more of a motorsailer than true sailboat. With its 45' mast, that may have turned out to be a good thing that day.

The "sand-in-the-air" test was to decide if we should reef the sails and if so how much? As I said, I was kind of a newbie. With its short mast, the main had only one reef point. We only had one foresail, our genoa.

The Columbia 45 was stoutly built, like a tank, and, with its 5' freeboard, we never buried the rails. I had become overly confident in the boat.

I made the decision not to reef.

We hanked on the genny and then motored out of the channel. Once out, we hoisted the sails and headed west for Milwaukee. As we got into deeper water and away from shore, the seas started building from 4' to 6' to 8' and up. And the wind speed increased.

I saw the rail bury for the first time.

We were about 5-10 miles out when I began to worry. No one else on board had any sailing experience and all relied upon me to make the right decisions. The wind speed varied between 20-30 knots. I walked to the mast, holding on tightly. I looked up and imagined the mast snapping. Once there, I eyed the bend from the base of the mast, then checked the tension on the stays. I was losing my confidence in the boat.

When I got back to the cockpit, I told the crew we weren't making the trip across the lake to Milwaukee today, a distance of about 80 miles. The pale-faced, white-knuckled crew didn't argue.

We turned south and headed for Muskegon. We sailed wing and wing trying all the while to keep the genoa from collapsing. We had no whisker pole.

Our speedo dial topped out at 12, far higher than the boat was capable of hitting under sail. As I stood at the wheel I saw the needle bury as a wave picked us up and pushed us forward. Then it dropped back to 6 knots as we fell off the back. We did that over and over.

I handed the wheel to a crew member and walked to the stern. I'm 5'7". As I stood there, looking at the waves that were racing to meet us, I had to look up to see the top of the wave. I couldn't see over them. Adding the 5' freeboard, I estimated them to be at least 12'.

Once we reached Muskegon, we dropped the genny but the wind was blowing so hard we couldn't get the main down. Our path had led us to less than a mile offshore. We were beginning to see whitecaps breaking dangerously. Turning into the wind again and exposing our beam to the now breaking waves seemed too risky. Finally I decided to sail her into the channel under main.

As we approached the breakwater, with our main eased fully, and still feeling the the winds from the north, I was shocked to see a number of small boats, probably fishermen, at the mouth of the channel, just idling there, looking out at the open water. That they were considering even going out told me they had no idea what was out there. Or maybe they were just crazy.

Once I committed to entering the channel, there was no going back. Shallow water was now to the north and south of us. But I knew the little boats would give me clearance. It appeared I was wrong.

One boat idled at the the mouth, disappearing beneath the waves and reappearing again at its peak. I put the engine in reverse to slow our speed. With main alone we were going 5 knots, with the engine in reverse. The powerboat, about 16', didn't move. I waved for him to move and sounded our horn. It had no effect. He just kept bobbing up and down in the swells as if we weren't there, disappearing and reappearing in the swells.

The guy at the helm just kept looking out to sea, as if trying to believe there was some hope he'd be able to fish that day, or maybe he just looking for an adrenaline rush. I kept getting closer. I couldn't stop and he wouldn't get out of the way. I thought a collision was inevitable.

I braced myself for impact when, less than a boat length away, he hit the throttle, spun around and raced back down the channel. I was both relieved and furious at the same time.

Once inside the channel, the wind died enough to lower the main. We docked there and stayed overnight. Everyone had to call their boss and say they wouldn't be back to work until Tuesday. We talked about that trip for years.
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  #2457  
Old 10-16-2012
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

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Originally Posted by JulieMor View Post
Not sure of this is big enough but...
Oh hell yeah!!

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Old 10-23-2012
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

I guess this should be posted here. Contrary to other guys that have posted on sailnet their stories it seems to me that this one has done everything right...except one thing:

A big storm like that does not pass unnoticed, even more near the US coast. True, he was expecting a lot less and that the storm passed further away...but I have learned the hard way that you have to give a lot of latitude to weather reports and not hope that things happen like they say but that the storm that is passing near by can change of direction and that wind prevision of force 7 can easily turn on a force 10.

So be careful with the weather reports out there and expect always the worse.

On this case that seems the time for the passage was not the right one and not even all good seamanship and a well prepared boat could avoid the consequences of that small mistake.


s/v Sean Seamour II – the final log post after

tropical storm Andrea

May 12th 2007

This is the log of actions and events driven by the only subsequently named Sub-tropical Storm Andrea, leading to the sinking of s/v Sean Seamour II and the successful rescue of its entire crew on the early morning of May 7th 2007.

We departed from Green Cove Springs on the Saint Johns River in the early morning of May 2nd, 2007. Gibraltar was our prime destination with a planned stopover in the Azores for recommissioning and eventually fuel. The vessel, on its second crossing was fully prepared and some of the recent preparations done by Holland Marine and skipper with crew were as follows:

· Full rig check, navigation lights, new wind sensor, sheet and line check / replacement
· New autopilot, stuffing box and shaft seal, house battery bank, racor fuel filtering system
· Bottom paint, new rudder bearing and check, new auxiliary tiller, full engine maintenance
· Recertification of life raft and check of GPIRB (good to November 2007), update and replacement of all security equipment (PFDs, flares, medical, etc).

Although paper charts were available for all planned destinations, with increased dependence on electronic navigational aids, two computers were programmed to handle both the MaxSea navigation software (version 12.5) as well as the Iridium satphone for weather data (MaxSea Chopper and OCENS). A full electronic systems checkout and burn trial was done during the days prior to departure.

For heavy weather and collision contingencies cutter rigged Sean Seamour II was equipped with two drogues (heavy and light), collision mat, auxiliary electric pump, as well as extensive power tools to enable repairs at sea with the 2.4kva inverter. Operational process and use of this equipment was discussed at length with the crew in anticipation. Other physical process contingencies such as lashing, closing seacocks, companionway doors, etc. were equally treated.

The 7 day weather GRIBs downloaded almost daily from April 25th onwards showed no inconsistencies, with the two high and two low pressure systems fairly balanced over the western Atlantic. Only the proximity of the two low pressure systems seemed to warrant surveillance as the May 5th GRIB would indicate with a flow increase from the N,NO from 20 to 35 knots focused towards coastal waters.

Already on a northerly course some 200 nautical miles out, I maintained our navigational plan with a N,NE heading until increased winds warranted a more easterly tack planned approximately 300 nautical miles north of Bermuda towards the Azores.

Wind force increased about eight hours earlier than expected and later shifted to the NE reaching well into the 60 knots range by early afternoon, then well beyond as the winds shifted. Considering that we were confronted with a sustained weather system that was quite different from the gulf stream squall lines we had weathered previous days, by mid afternoon I decided to take appropriate protective measures.

From our last known position approximately 217 nautical miles east of Cape Hatteras I reversed course, laying my largest drogue off the starboard stern while maintaining a quarter of the storm jib on the inner roller furl. This was designed to balance the boat’s natural windage due in large part to its hard dodger and center cockpit structure.

By late afternoon the winds were sustained at well over 70 knots and seas were building fast. I estimate seas were well into 25 feet by dusk but after adding approximately 150 feet of drogue line the vessel handled smoothly over the next eight hours advancing with the seas at about 6 knots (SOG). By late evening the winds were sustained above 74 kts and a crew member recorded a peak of 85.5 kts.

Growing and irregular seas were the primary concern as in the very early hours of the morning the boat was increasingly struck by intermittent waves to its port side. Crew had to be positioned against the starboard side as both were tossed violently across the boat. Water began to accumulate seemingly fed through the stern engine-room air cowls. I believe in retrospect the goosenecks were insufficient with the pitch of larger waves as they were breaking onto the stern.

At approximately 02.45 hours we were violently knocked all the way down to starboard. It appears that the resulting angle and tension may have caused the drogue line to rupture (clean cut), perhaps as it rubbed against the same engine-room air-intake cowl positioned just below the cleat. The line was attached to the port side main winch then fed through the cleat where it was covered with anti-chaffing tape and lubricant. Before abandoning ship I noticed the protected part of the line was intact and extended beyond the cleat some five inches. Its position in the cleat rather than retracted from it also supports this theory.

After the knockdown I knew there was already structural damage and that we had lost control of the vessel. I pulled the GPIRB (registered to USCG documented Sean Seamour II) but I suspect that the old EPIRB from 1996 (Registered to USCG documented Lou Pantaï, but kept as the vessel was sold to an Italian national in 1998) might have been automatically launched first. I kept this unit as a redundancy latched in its housing on the port side of the hard dodger; it may have been ejected upon the first knockdown as Coast Guard Authorities questioned relatives with this vessel name versus Sean Seamour II. Herein lies a question that needs to be answered, hopefully it will be in light of the USCG report.

The GPIRB initially functioned but the strobe stopped and the intensity of the light diminished rapidly to the extent that I do not know if the Coast Guard received that signal. At the time were worried the unit was not emitting and I re initiated the unit twice. The unit sent for recertification with the life raft a few weeks prior had been returned from River Services. They had responded to Holland Marine that the unit was good until this coming November, functioned appropriately, and that the battery had an extra five year life expectancy. I will await reception of the Coast Guard report to find out if one or both signals was processed as all POCs were questioned regarding Lou Pantaï and not my current vessel Sean Seamour II (both vessels had been / in the case of Sean Seamour II is US Coast Guard documented).

As all communications excepting hand held VHF were down (SSB antennae on backstay, DSC VHF down and backup antennae inaccessible, Iridium soaked in roll, GPIRB not functioning, EPIRB seemingly lost to sea when hard dodger sheared) too much time was dedicated to hailing over the hand held VHFs and attempting to re-initialize the GPRIB). Had I cut the rig, dumped the 150 yards of chain in the bow, plugged the deck through mast passage and rerouted the rule pumps through the deck air cowl vents, we could have jump started the engine, deployed a second drogue with the sixty yards of stern anchor chain and regained control of the vessel. But that critical time window was lost

Expecting worse to come I re-lashed and locked all openings and the companionway. At 02:53hours we were struck violently again and began a roll to 180 degrees. As the vessel appeared to stabilize in this position I unlocked the companionway roof to exit an see where the life raft was. It had disappeared from its poop deck cradle which I could directly access as the helm and pedestal had been torn away. When I emerged to the surface against the boat’s starboard (in righted port position) it began its second 180 degree roll. As it emerged the rig was almost longitudinal to the boat barely missing the stern arch. Spreaders were arrayed over cockpit and port side, mast cleanly bent at deck level, fore stays apparently torn away.

I ordered the crew to start all pumps. By their own volition they also cut out 2.5 gallon water bottles to enable physical bailing while I continued to locate the life raft. It finally appeared upside down under the rig. As its sea anchors and canopy lines were entangled in the rig and partially torn by one of the spreaders I decided to cut them away in an effort to save time and effort. I needed the crew below and had to manage the rig entanglement alone. This done I managed to move the unit forward and use its windward position to blow it over the bow to starboard, attaching it still upside down.

Below, water was being stabilized above the knees. The new higher positioned house battery bank was not shorted by the water level but the engine bank was flooded not enabling us to start the engine and pump from the bilge instead of the seacock. In retrospect this was not a loss as having to keep one of the companionway doors off for bailing and to route the Rule pump pipe, the water pouring in from here and the through-deck mast hole were no match for the impeller’ volume. Plugging the mast passage was also not a solution as it was moving and hitting violently against the starboard head wall and was dangerous to try to cope with.

I knew the situation was desperate but it was still safer to stay aboard than to abandon ship, let alone in the dark any earlier than necessary. Estimating daylight at about 05:30 hours, we needed to hold on for at least another two hours. As the boat shifted in the waves it became increasingly vulnerable to flooding from breaking waves. One such wave at about 05:20 added about 18 inches of water, as the bow was now barely emerged these two factors triggered my decision to abandon ship. I exited first knowing that the raft was still upside down. In addition, some of the canopy lines still needed to be cut from the rig entanglement. In the precipitation the grab bag containing Iridium phone, VHF, GPS and all our personal and ship documents was lost.

As we boarded the now upturned raft it immediately flooded with the breaking waves and once unprotected from the wind by the hull structure was prone to turn over (no sea anchors nor canopy to roll over on). Hypothermia was already gaining upon one of my crew and myself and our efforts to right and re-enter the raft drained strength. Periods spent lying on the overturned raft exposed to the wind seemed to further weaken us.

Sean Seamour II sank a few minutes after we abandoned ship fully disappearing from view after the second wave crest.

We became aware of fixed wing overflight sometime between 06:00 and 07:00 hours and estimate that the Coast Guard helicopter arrived some time around 08:30 hours. As seemingly the most affected by hypothermia and almost unconscious the crew had me lifted out first. It was a perilous process during which Coast Guard AST2 Dazzo was himself injured (later to be hospitalized with us). The life raft was destroyed and abandoned by AST2 Dazzo as the third crew member was extracted. He also recouped the GPIRB which remained in USCG custody.

The emotions and admiration felt by my crew and myself to the dedication of this Coast Guard team is immeasurable, all the more so when hearing them comment on the severity and risk of the extraction, perhaps the worst they had seen in ten years (dixit SAT2 Dazzo). They claim to have measured 50 plus foot waves which from our perspective were mountains. We measured after the first knockdown and before loosing our rig winds still in excess of 72 knots.

Also to be commended are the medical teams involved, from our ambulatory transfer of custody from the rescue team to the personnel awaiting us at Cherry Point Naval Hospital. There the personnel under Director for Administration CDR Robert S. Fry sought not only to address our physical and medical trauma, but preempted the humanitarian crisis we were facing after all this loss and anguish by bringing in the disaster relief assistance of the American Red Cross to whom we owe the clothes, shelter and food that helped us survive this or
deal.

....
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Old 10-23-2012
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

Quote:
Originally Posted by JulieMor View Post
Not sure of this is big enough but...

We were in port at Pentwater, MI, returning from Mackinac Island and the North Channel. It was Saturday morning. We had to get back to Chicago as most on board had to be at work on Monday. One couple lived in Milwaukee, the rest of us in Chicago.

The harbor there is very sheltered. Reports we were getting said 4-6 foot seas out of the north with winds steady at 15-20 knots. I was still kind of a newbie then, with less than 1,000 miles under my belt and mostly self-taught. The weather didn't seem all that bad.

Two of us walked out to the beach. The wind was blowing hard. I grabbed a handful of sand and, to see how hard it was blowing, I threw it up in the air. The sand quickly vanished, straight south. I pondered the effectiveness of the test.

At that point on Lake Michigan, you probably have a couple hundred miles of open water to the north. Anyone who knows weather on the Great Lakes knows with the short swells and steep waves, the Great Lakes can become some of the most dangerous waters on earth in heavy weather. 10,000+ boats on the bottom will attest to that. I hadn't yet grasped that fact.

We were sailing a Columbia 45, more of a motorsailer than true sailboat. With its 45' mast, that may have turned out to be a good thing that day.

The "sand-in-the-air" test was to decide if we should reef the sails and if so how much? As I said, I was kind of a newbie. With its short mast, the main had only one reef point. We only had one foresail, our genoa.

The Columbia 45 was stoutly built, like a tank, and, with its 5' freeboard, we never buried the rails. I had become overly confident in the boat.

I made the decision not to reef.

We hanked on the genny and then motored out of the channel. Once out, we hoisted the sails and headed west for Milwaukee. As we got into deeper water and away from shore, the seas started building from 4' to 6' to 8' and up. And the wind speed increased.

I saw the rail bury for the first time.

We were about 5-10 miles out when I began to worry. No one else on board had any sailing experience and all relied upon me to make the right decisions. The wind speed varied between 20-30 knots. I walked to the mast, holding on tightly. I looked up and imagined the mast snapping. Once there, I eyed the bend from the base of the mast, then checked the tension on the stays. I was losing my confidence in the boat.

When I got back to the cockpit, I told the crew we weren't making the trip across the lake to Milwaukee today, a distance of about 80 miles. The pale-faced, white-knuckled crew didn't argue.

We turned south and headed for Muskegon. We sailed wing and wing trying all the while to keep the genoa from collapsing. We had no whisker pole.

Our speedo dial topped out at 12, far higher than the boat was capable of hitting under sail. As I stood at the wheel I saw the needle bury as a wave picked us up and pushed us forward. Then it dropped back to 6 knots as we fell off the back. We did that over and over.

I handed the wheel to a crew member and walked to the stern. I'm 5'7". As I stood there, looking at the waves that were racing to meet us, I had to look up to see the top of the wave. I couldn't see over them. Adding the 5' freeboard, I estimated them to be at least 12'.

Once we reached Muskegon, we dropped the genny but the wind was blowing so hard we couldn't get the main down. Our path had led us to less than a mile offshore. We were beginning to see whitecaps breaking dangerously. Turning into the wind again and exposing our beam to the now breaking waves seemed too risky. Finally I decided to sail her into the channel under main.

As we approached the breakwater, with our main eased fully, and still feeling the the winds from the north, I was shocked to see a number of small boats, probably fishermen, at the mouth of the channel, just idling there, looking out at the open water. That they were considering even going out told me they had no idea what was out there. Or maybe they were just crazy.

Once I committed to entering the channel, there was no going back. Shallow water was now to the north and south of us. But I knew the little boats would give me clearance. It appeared I was wrong.

One boat idled at the the mouth, disappearing beneath the waves and reappearing again at its peak. I put the engine in reverse to slow our speed. With main alone we were going 5 knots, with the engine in reverse. The powerboat, about 16', didn't move. I waved for him to move and sounded our horn. It had no effect. He just kept bobbing up and down in the swells as if we weren't there, disappearing and reappearing in the swells.

The guy at the helm just kept looking out to sea, as if trying to believe there was some hope he'd be able to fish that day, or maybe he just looking for an adrenaline rush. I kept getting closer. I couldn't stop and he wouldn't get out of the way. I thought a collision was inevitable.

I braced myself for impact when, less than a boat length away, he hit the throttle, spun around and raced back down the channel. I was both relieved and furious at the same time.

Once inside the channel, the wind died enough to lower the main. We docked there and stayed overnight. Everyone had to call their boss and say they wouldn't be back to work until Tuesday. We talked about that trip for years.
Why didn't you reef the boat or took down the genoa when you meet high winds?

Regards

Paulo
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Old 10-23-2012
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Re: Big Freakin' Sails

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Originally Posted by PCP View Post
Why didn't you reef the boat or took down the genoa when you meet high winds?

Regards

Paulo
Overconfidence in the boat with a dash of inexperience thrown in. How many sailors go to the beach and throw sand into the air to see how hard the wind is blowing?
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