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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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  #1  
Old 03-08-2008
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Storm Tactics with a Heavy Boat

I know I'll probably get 20 different opinons, but here goes

Have done a bit of research into storm tactics for heavy boats, (say Displacement / Length ratio of 300 and greater) and for me it appears that keeping the bow pointed into the rough stuff is the way to go. Whether this is by hove to, motoring into the weather or whatever this appears to be the best approach for my boat.

I think most of us would agree that lying-a-hull would not be preferred. The other main tactic of running is possible however you run the risk of broaching leading to a knockdown, or 360 degree roll, or pitchpoling. By keeping the bow pointed into the weather it appears you avoid these risks.

Also note that I have considered drogues and parachute anchors, however if your boat can happily hove to why go to the extra trouble of deploying gear off the boat? (note that I will probably have some of this gear onboard, however first tactic would be to hove to)

Note that the conditions I am thinking of is extreme force +10 or consistently above 50 knots.

I'll also say that I have not personally experienced these sort of conditions. The most I have seen is 30-35 knots and in these conditions we reefed down and kept going. The research comes from a variety of sources; The 1994 Pacific Storm Survey, Adlard Coles Heavy Weather Sailing, Surviving the Storm by Dashew, Pardey books, etc.

To give a few details of my boat it is a Roberts 45 Classic, length 43' 8" beam 13' 3", draft 6', displacement 28,928lb (13,121kg), ballast 10,500 lb (4763kg). Has a long keel with a cutaway forfoot. Is a ketch rig. Statistics are D/L 388, SA/D 17.2, Capsize ratio 1.7 & comfort factor 40.2. I also believe the angle of vanishing stability is around 138, however this is an estimate.

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Old 03-08-2008
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Ilenart—

One reason to consider drogues and sea anchors is when you're in survival conditions, similar to what you're describing—Force 10 winds for an extended period of time. Heaving to often requires some sail up. With winds of that strength, it is very likely that any sail up will be too much. You'd be surprised at how fast some boats can move under bare poles.

A drogue or sea anchor gives you options that you wouldn't have without one aboard. They're usually designed for the conditions you describe, with far less damage to the boat and the crew. It will often allow you and your crew to get some rest, even in really difficult conditions, where heaving-to would probably not be as comfortable.

In terms of full disclosure, I do have a jordan series drogue and have tested it several times, granted not under full storm conditions, but nonetheless, the testing I've done with it, has led me to believe it is a worthy tool to have in your emergency kit.

From the Jordan Series Drogue website:

Quote:
Practical Seamanship Magazine

Contest 40, 250 mi. N. W. of Bermuda. " Gusts were furious now. The seas were 25 ft with faces at 45 degrees and breaking crests. Deployed drogue. Slowing effect was phenomenal. Deploying the drogue was like jumping off a 30 ft. wave with a 40 ft. yacht. The feeling of being elastically tied to the sea itself is hard to imagine. We slowed to 1.5 knots with the stern pointed aggressively into the sea. It was as though we had entered a calm harbor of refuge. With the reduction in the yachts motion our situation seemed to be not too bad. We were exhausted and took the opportunity to get some sleep".

Many skippers have commented on the bungee type feel to the boats motion with the drogue deployed. This important characteristic was developed from model testing in the U.S. Coast Guards flow channel, which has glass walls so the underwater motion of drogue models could be observed. In a major storm, a yacht moves forward as it passes over the crest and backward in the trough for a distance of 50 ft. or more. The length of the drogue and the weight at the end is designed so that the drogue normally assumes a hook shape with the weighted end hanging almost vertical. When the boat is passing over the crest the drogue tends to straighten out and more of the cones take up the load thus checking the boat. In the trough, the weight sinks, taking up the unwanted slack in the towline. Thus the drogue is always aligned to respond to a dangerous breaking wave strike. The cones are attached at both ends so they cannot turn inside out if moving backward.

Model tests clearly show that the behavior of a parachute or cone drag device is unacceptable. As the device is pulled forward, it forms a wake behind it. When the towline goes slack the water in the wake continues to move forward and turns the chute or cone inside out, often causing it to tumble or foul the shroud lines. In the Coast Guard full scale tests in breaking waves on the Columbia River bar, the series drogue performed flawlessly and was retrieved with no damage, while a cone type drogue was destroyed.

Hurricane

A Tartan 38 left Beaufort, N. C. just after Hurricane Gordon passed over Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, the storm reversed direction and recrossed Florida back into the Atlantic, catching the boat a couple of hundred miles out. The storm brought 75 knot winds and 30 ft waves. The crew deployed the drogue at 2.00 PM and rode throughout the night in relative comfort. The boat was undamaged.
During the same storm, the Coast Guard airlifted to safety the crew of the 42 ft. ketch Seaflower.
....

Other Uses

Magazine Latitude 38, from a 35 ft. Sloop captain ...."but the surprising thing is that you don't have to experience storm force winds in order to get good use out of the drogue... Rita and I were alone in near gale conditions. After fighting the weather for two days we were both exhausted. Deploying the drogue was quicker and easier than heaving to. Further, it allowed us to continue on our downwind course at a speed of 1.5 knots, despite the 35 knot winds. During the night the conditions got much worse and I was quite happy to stay on the cabin sole and feel sorry for myself. I remembered when Rita was building the drogue I'd pronounced that we would "never use that thing".
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Last edited by sailingdog; 03-08-2008 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 03-08-2008
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Sounds like these guys could have used a drogue!

http://coastguardnews.com/coast-guar...at/2008/03/04/
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Old 03-08-2008
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I wonder why they left the boat? The boat looked like it was handling the conditions. Do you know what happened to the boat?
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Old 03-08-2008
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No but here is a short video report...I assume the boat was left adrift. No national news seem to have picked up on the story.
YouTube - Coast Guard Rescues Two Men from Disabled Sailboat
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Old 03-08-2008
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I've read the design specs on the Jordan and was wondering, since it is easier to retrieve than say a sea anchor, why couldn't you deploy the Jordan off the bow with a bridle to adjust for prt/stb forward orientation? Is it because you would have to stop running and head up? Or, exposed vessel surface area? Your thoughts?
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Last edited by ccam; 03-08-2008 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 03-08-2008
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My preference with a heavy boat in challenging, but not dangerous, conditions such as the ones you describe would be to broad reach with a drogue and either a trysail and staysail, or a reefed staysail alone. The idea of a drogue, as I understand it, is to reduce speed to a range below hull speed so as to avoid surfing, which would cause a heavy full keeler to either broach or pitchpole if coming down the face of a wave. In such conditions, you WANT the keel to dig into the water, so that you have the greatest part of the rudder able to steer the boat. You also want to keep a certain pace with the wave train rolling to meet you. Keeping to a broad reach, of course, means you take the waves on either quarter, but you lessen the chance of broaching to.

The drogue also aids the steering itself, by keeping the stern pointed toward or just off the following wind. Balanced with the wind force on sharply reduced sail, it is possible to keep the forces on the rudder also within a comfortable range, and while this may demand active helming to avoid a nasty surprise by a rogue wave from an unexpected direction, or to maintain control if you get caught at a big crest, again it's my impression that this is the best technique for heavy displacement boats...keep on keeping on if you aren't going to hove to and forereach at a knot.

So much here of course depends on conditions, fatigue level of the crew and so on. If I thought I was at the edge of a big depression, and on the "right side" of it, so that I would expect 12 hours of heavy stuff, I would probably actively helm it over four three-hour watches. If it looked like I was simply going to get clobbered and the proximity to either reef or lee shore meant staying put, I would heave to, knowing that a full-keeler is generally going to do fairly well in such conditions and staying put meant to stay safe.
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Old 03-08-2008
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Understand the comments about a drogue and plan to have some sort of drag device onboard. However I have come across a number of cases where boats successfully held into the wind in storm conditions ie in the 1994 Pacific storm, Sabre, Kiwidream, Waitane, Pollenpath and Grenadier all successfully hove too and Por Vida motored into the storm. In the same area Destiny, Mary T, Quartermaster, Arosa, Sofia and Waikiwi II were all running with some sort of drag device and all had major problems (pitchpoled, lost with all hands, knocked down below 90 degrees or rolled; Quartermaster was the exception, however she was partially flooded & lost her rudder).

The boats that hove too / motored into the weather were mostly medium to heavy boats with D/L ratios between 225 and 380 (Pollenpath was the exception with a D/L of 180 and incidently was rolled when lying a hull earlier in the storm). None of these boats used a drag device and the worse they suffered were knockdowns to 90 degrees.

Therefore if you have a medium to heavy boat that can hove too without having to deploy a drag device, why would'nt you use this technique?

Sailingdog, understand your point about having to much sail area. In the examples above the yachts that hove to often quoted as having "handkerchief" or "deeply reefed" sail areas. For this technique to work you need the ability to reef right down. My own yacht has a mizzen which I can reef.

Camaraderie I could'nt get your first link to work??

Last edited by Ilenart; 03-08-2008 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 03-08-2008
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It isn't designed to be able to hold a boat head to wind. Holding a boat head to wind requires a much greater resistance than does working as a drogue, since you have to prevent the boat from moving backwards—which can seriously damage the rudder among other things.

As Valiente has pointed out, it is designed to all the boat to move slowly with the storm, keep the stern oriented into the waves and eliminate the need to steer. By allowing the boat to move off slowly with the storm, much of the storm's force is reduced—giving the appearance that is described by many as "having the boat enter a port of refuge".

If you wanted to hold the boat head to storm, you'd require much more drag and you'd be fighting the storm forces, rather than allowing them to pass by. As my friend who recommended I get a JSD said... "It's kind of the difference between Boxing (sea anchor) and aikido (JSD). One leaves you fighting the storm, the other lets you use the storm's power against itself to protect you."

The forces generated on by a sea anchor, usually a large parachute type device, are far greater than those generated by a JSD. They can do a fair bit of damage to the boat, since most hardpoints on a boat aren't designed to resist such forces. A JSD loads up much more gradually, due to the design where as the tension on the JSD increases more of the small cones will open—gradually increasing the load it takes on, where a parachute loads up fairly quickly and create a shock load. Also, if the parachute collapses, you lose all of your resistance... if a cone on a JSD collapse, you only lose a small portion of the JSD's resistance. The JSD I have has 275 cones on it IIRC, and the load on each individual cone is very small.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccam View Post
Dog/Cam
I've read the design specs on the Jordan and was wondering, since it is easier to retrieve than say a sea anchor, why couldn't you deploy the Jordan off the bow with a bridle to adjust for prt/stb forward orientation? Is it because you would have to stop running and head up? Or, exposed vessel surface area? Your thoughts?
Thx
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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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Old 03-08-2008
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Heres one at work

This fellow also posted one of his anchor holding in 70 kts...bet it was a Ronca or Mason

YouTube - The drogue saves the day...
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