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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 09-27-2006
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Sailing amongst Flotsam

Having spent most of my life on power boats I've gotten used to the increased visibility you generally have of the water in front of you. On a sailboat though, especially an aft cockpit, you have a whole lot of boat ahead of you before you see water.

I live in Vancouver and my experience in and around BC waters is to keep a watchful eye out for dead heads (logs). I can't possibly see how this can be done on a sailboat without visiting a chiropractor every week.

What do most sailors do on sailboats? Take their chances or stand up a lot on the deck looking ahead? Maybe coming from a power boat world where I'm cruising at 10 knots is different than a sailboat at 5-6 knots.

Cheers
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Old 09-27-2006
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As a fellow Vancouver sailor, I know what you are talking about. Sometimes the debris in the water is plentiful and on the large size. Of course the big ones are easy to see, it's the sinkers and low lying logs that are the real concern.

Most sailboats actually have very good visibility from the typical helm position, which is usually outboard and away from the coach roof/cabin sight line. (Unless steering from leeward where the genoa can seriously obstruct your view.)

This is where your Cooper 416 suffers a distinct disadvantage. The pilothouse/cabin is very bulky, and my first thought years ago when I first sat on one that visibility forward basically sucked when seated at the wheel. The same applies to the 353 as well.

I can only suggest that you get into the habit of sitting as far outboard and to windward as is possible while driving to maximize your field of view, and perhaps standing up now and then to better check ahead.

But as I said, with most sailboats (non-motor-sailers) it's really not a big issue. Finally, sailing at 5-6 knots is a little more forgiving for contact with the smaller stuff, but hitting a heavy log end-on is still going to wake you up!
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Old 09-27-2006
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Thanks for the reply Faster. Its funny, but it never even occured to me that the sails could also obstruct my view (too many diesel fumes from power boats to think clearly).

I helped crew a sailboat down to San Fransico about 8 years ago and it had a twinscope forward scanning sonar. I think it was still something of a novelty at the time. I imagine the technology has improved quite a bit.

Does anyone have any experience with these types of sonars? Or is this just overkill?

Cheers
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Old 09-27-2006
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We hit a log this season, while motorsailing at 8 knots. Never saw it coming, but it sure was visible as it passed us astern.

The log hit the lower bobstay turnbuckle so hard, the sound reverberated through the entire rig. The bobstay wire amplified the event on up the forestay, down through the alum. masts and shrouds like a tuning fork.

Fortunately, all we got was a little gel coat damage from the turnbuckle springing against the bow - nothing a dab of MarineTex couldn't fix.
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Old 09-27-2006
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They are especially hard to see in choppy, wavey waters, and also when they are quite waterlogged and standing end on end in the water, so the top end is just at water-level. How many of you have safety/repair equipment aboard in the event that one of these holes the hull and creates a significant water leak? I have heard of stuffing it with anything pliable on the inside (e.g. foam cushion) and maneuvering a sail under the hull on the outside, tying it off on either side of the deck. I'm not sure that either of these approaches will work well in a real emergency. Any thoughts?
Frank.
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Old 09-27-2006
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Amazing what a garbage bag and some duct tape can do.
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Old 09-27-2006
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Frank, I've seen some damage control pads that were actually being used as fenders. Basically, a canvas covered closed-cell foam pad about 3'x5' with heavy grommets in each corner. You could do the same thing with settee cushions--but unless someone had grommets pre-installed, you'd have to cut some fast holes to run the lines.

The idea is to attach four lines and use them as a bridle, pull the patch over the OUTside of the hole, and let the water pressure hold it over the hole, with the lines holding it in that location. And then complete a leisurely repair from the inside.

If I was sailing north of Vancouver, with all the log floats and deadheads, I think I'd want the patch, or at least the pre-installed grommets, on board. But I'm not, so I don't worry about that.
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Old 09-30-2006
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In logging country, deadhead logs are a serious problem. In other parts, especially the larger commercial ports, shipping containers can be a problem.
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Old 10-18-2006
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MVSUNSTAR:

I sail across the strait from you, and like you I have a past of power boating. I always found it unnerving to travel quickly when the surface was disturbed or the sun was reflecting off the water. To my mind every little piece of flotsam was the small end of a great ugly Hemlock log that was waterloged and laying at 45 degrees just below the surface. All the tales of all the boats that were holed by stuff coming out of the Fraser River would make me decidedly nervous. It was weird moving from a flying bridge down to the windward side of a small cockpit with the lack of visibility, and I tend to sit a bit like a dingy sailer with my head as far out to windward as is comfortable.
It sounds like FASTER sits that way too. I would think that a glancing blow at 5 or 6 knots would not hole a good hull, I don't know what hammering a 36 inch by 40 foot log that was barely afloat dead on the bow, or square into the keel would do. a log that size, awash, would way in at nearly 17,000 pounds, and isnt going to bounce.

Ah well, lets think posative, our boats are still afloat, and the wind hasn't stopped yet.
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Old 10-18-2006
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The hell with the flotsam...what about the jetsam!!!???
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