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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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  #121  
Old 03-06-2009
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RE: sea anchors... I have a paratech and have used it in conditions where heaving to alone didn't work. I have the loads on the sea anchor are spread because of the harness. One line is from the anchor cleat. Then a snatch block rides on that line and leads back to the stern and to a winch for adjustment. This is the best and most comfortable safety setup for me. Of course you gotta be offshore to use it.
I also tow warps to run. I just use a bight of chain and lines tying the ends to port and starboard cleats. If the chain is on the 2nd wave back this works well for me and keeps me steady with the downhill face.
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  #122  
Old 03-07-2009
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This is a terrific thread. I have learned so much reading it. I do not have as much heavy weather experience as some of the other folks who have written, but maybe you'll find something useful.

When I bought my current boat, an Express '34, I had to sail it from Annapolis to Sag Harbor, NY. I hired a captain to join me and two friends (who had little sailing experience) sail it. We decided to take the ocean route from Cape May, NJ, rounding Montauk on to Sag Harbor. One reason we picked that route is that there are not many ports to duck into in NJ when you have a 6' draft.

En route, we encountered two squalls with wind speeds in the 40 knot range. When we saw the first one at a distance, all but the captain were concerned. He suggested that we would be best served motoring in to the weather. We took the sails down and lashed what we needed to. It was amazing how quickly the distant squall hit us - no more than 15 minutes. With so much of the boat's weight in the keel, I was surprised how well this light boat handled the rough weather.

What also changed was our attitude. After handling the first squall, we were much more relaxed when the second one hit. I felt I learned some very important lessons. One I knew, which is to never panic in a difficult situation. Another is, you may run in to trouble even when not looking for it. While I am not a proponent of looking for trouble, I would put odds on you Smackdaddy. The reason is that you have thought things through in advance and have acquired some very useful knowledge.

Even with a boat that is most comfortable in the sub 15 knot wind area, things went very well. On a subsequent trip from Sag Harbor to Newport, RI, we left in roughly 25 knot winds (forecast was for diminishing winds). We put out a postage stamp amount of our jib (using a #1), and no main. Trip was slow but steady, and later let out a little more sail even though the wind never died down.

The only mishap was my then girlfriend (now wife) getting seasick. She had never gotten sick before so we didn't think to give her meds beforehand. She survived.

For me the basic lessons are:

1. Don't panic
2. Use your best judgement and always err on the side of being cautious
3. Plan ahead and think through contingencies (we knew where we would head to if we didn't want to continue to Newport)
4. Always have a drink and a laugh after you have had a rough day of it
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  #123  
Old 03-07-2009
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Hey Twins - thanks dude. I appreciate that. I am trying to learn and think as much as I can - and have gotten a tremendous amount of great advice here. Yet, to be honest with you - it still scares me thinking about what that first time will be like. Hopefully, I'll be ready and practiced and will be able to handle it as well as you did.

If you don't mind - I'm snaggin' your story for the BFS thread. It definitely qualifies dude.
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  #124  
Old 03-07-2009
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Smack,

Was speaking to a couple a few nights a go who got stuck in a pretty bad blow in the middle of the Tasman sea half way between here and New Zealand.

They choose the sea anchor off the bow, in an attempt to ride it out for a bit and 'get a good night sleep '. Basically they choose the sea anchor option over heaving too or running off as they had been hard on the wind the whole trip with every mile sorely earn't and they didn't want to give a single inch of ground back.

By using the sea anchor they only moved one nautical mile in the entire night.


The bugger with sea anchors (as best I can workout, fortunately I have never needed one in practice yet) is retrieving the things. Heaving too your off almost immediately, this couple had a full crew on board with them and the process of retrieving the sea anchor took a couple of hours.

I have also heard a horror story of another boat that got the parachute caught under the boat during the retrieval mid pacific in 45 knots. The effect was they eneded up stuck stern to the seas, with no option to sail off, or use the engine. Eventually they cut the thing free, and well nothing happened.... The story goes that the skipper went below and sobbed and sobbed for a hour and then surfaced up the hatch again to see that they were drifting free. Ecstatic with joy, they were dancing and waving goodbye to $4000 of sea anchor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by captainrich View Post
RE: sea anchors... I have a paratech and have used it in conditions where heaving to alone didn't work. I have the loads on the sea anchor are spread because of the harness. One line is from the anchor cleat. Then a snatch block rides on that line and leads back to the stern and to a winch for adjustment. This is the best and most comfortable safety setup for me. Of course you gotta be offshore to use it.
I also tow warps to run. I just use a bight of chain and lines tying the ends to port and starboard cleats. If the chain is on the 2nd wave back this works well for me and keeps me steady with the downhill face.
Captain Rick, I would be interested in hearing your retrieval method, as i have heard a couple of schools of thought.
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  #125  
Old 03-07-2009
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In the two Force 10 storms that Paloma has, endured (the first for 48 hours, the second, 36 hours), although I have a parachute drogue aboard, we chose to run before the storm and with 60+ knot winds and 30-foot seas, you want to keep the steering as crisp as possible and to that I've found that keeping the boat moving as fast as she will go - no drogue, no heaving to, no lying ahull - just moving with the storm, works best on Paloma. I would only consider deploying a drogue and slowing the boat if there was a threatening lee shore.
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  #126  
Old 03-08-2009
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Some storms indeed if running before them didn't get you out of the worst of it for 48 hours.

This for me is the debate behind the debate of what boats should heave to/deploy a para anchor versus what boats should run because Option A does not suit many boat types and running frequently means exhausts tricks at the wheel trying to get the angle down the waves right.

So if running doesn't get you out of the storm in a timely fashion, I wonder if it isn't best to heave to/use a sea anchor and let the storm pass you by...if that is an option.

I suspect that frequently this is as much a question of crew and destination as much as anything else. Six young guys are probably going to opt for running over a cruising couple with no need to get to a specific place.
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  #127  
Old 03-08-2009
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Valiente, IIRC these was some discussion of sea anchors vs/ boat types and deployment techniques in Fastnet, Force 10 and the bottom line that seems to come back every time is that their effectiveness and safety depends very much on the specifics of the sea anchor, the boat, the deployment, and the wx.

Making the only answer "You've got to go out and see what works for you" and anything that is simply bought and stowed for future use--without practicing it--a crapshoot at best.
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  #128  
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One more lesson I forgot on previous thread

Smackdaddy,

First, your welcome and no problem posting it on another thread. I forgot one of the keys of any difficult situation. Not only should you not panic, you should always think about what you want the end game to be, and maybe the next 5 steps you need to take.

By thinking of several, but not too many, steps - you can prioritize and realize things you may have forgotten. My best example of this is not a sailing story. My mother in-law, who I like, was watching our kids while my wife and I were at a hotel in NYC for the weekend. We get a call from our neighbor that my mother in-law slipped on black ice in our driveway and appeared to have a broken hip. Needless to say, we wanted to get back to the house, and then hospital as quickly as possible.

Having just come out of the shower, I thought through the things I would need to do: dress, pack, check-out, get the car, etc. What was important was having thought about getting the car, I realized the first thing I needed to do was call the garage - because that would take the most time. That process probably saved us 20 minutes!

Hope that helps -- Twinsdad
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  #129  
Old 03-08-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
Some storms indeed if running before them didn't get you out of the worst of it for 48 hours.

This for me is the debate behind the debate of what boats should heave to/deploy a para anchor versus what boats should run because Option A does not suit many boat types and running frequently means exhausts tricks at the wheel trying to get the angle down the waves right.

So if running doesn't get you out of the storm in a timely fashion, I wonder if it isn't best to heave to/use a sea anchor and let the storm pass you by...if that is an option.

I suspect that frequently this is as much a question of crew and destination as much as anything else. Six young guys are probably going to opt for running over a cruising couple with no need to get to a specific place.
Yes, huge storms - both had started in Canada, fast moving, burying everything along their way in feet of snow all the way down to Dallas. The second storm hit the Gulf moving at 35 mph packing internal winds of 50-60. Rule of thumb is above 40 knots of wind you shift from sailing to surviving and every boat is different and requires different defensive tactics. Paloma is a sturdy, second-generation Bristol, an IORC/MORC down wind racer from the old school, cutaway forefoot keel, skeg hung rudder. We didn't have the engine, and we needed the speed to move with and react to the waves which would occassionaly cris-cross. If you haven't been scooted along by 30-foot waves, you've missed a real treat. We felt that heaving to or lying to a drogue in 60-knot winds and 30-ft seas we had a major chance of broaching. On the other hand, would I try running before a major storm in a fin keel, spade rudder bay/coastal cruiser? No way!
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Last edited by johnshasteen; 03-08-2009 at 09:59 PM.
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  #130  
Old 03-09-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
No, there's no general rule... there are far too many variables, like wave height and period, wind strength, whether your fuel and water tanks are full, etc... the list goes on.
Sailingdog,

A while back yoiu mention fuel and water tanks. This was regarding the conditions where a boat will flip. Is it better to have full tanks? (assuming tanks very low in the boat)

Regards
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