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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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  #31  
Old 11-11-2008
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I reckon he was trying to get through it and home. I prefer to run myself up to a certain point. When pitchpoling becomes a real possibility or the seas get past a certain point, I would rather heave to and ride it out. If I was heaving to under bare poles (hurricane conditions) I would want a drogue/chute flying off the bow with a bridle and some sort of snubber for shock absorption. Running with a drogue/chute off the stern is inviting crushed hatchboards and downflooding as well as rudder damage.
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  #32  
Old 11-11-2008
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Running a drogue or drag or chute off the bow or stern is going to be a choice made primarily because you are being pushed ahead (deploy astern) or pushed astern (deploy ahead).

It is going to depend on which way your boat is being pushed. Now, whether you can still come about so that you have a choice of taking the waves on the pointy end or not--that's something else again. Since the boat is usually designed to go forward, I'd expect that keeping the pointy end forward and dragging from the stern would provide the best motion, and least chance of being pooped over the stern. But the boat design itself is undoubtedly going to affect that as well.
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  #33  
Old 11-11-2008
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Thanks for the feedback guys. The book essentially concluded that the safest overall approach - especially for fin keels - was the bow-to-waves chute technique. And, though loosely, seemed to endorse it as the safest approach for all boats. The resultant bashing certainly did sound uncomfortable - but sure made a believer out of me in terms of making sure a chute is part of my eventual kit.

I sure wouldn't want to risk lying a'hull. That sounds terrifying - though as you guys have said - a lot depends on the boat.

HS - the book obviously pushed setting everything up prior to getting hit - so in that case, the direction of point would have to be already decided. Hence, my question about Skip. I agree with you Charlie that he just probably wanted to get home. Makes sense.

This is a very good, very sobering book, BTW. Force 12 blows, 40'+ breaking/confused seas, and some truly gnarly sailors. Wow. Some great lessons.
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  #34  
Old 11-11-2008
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I highly recommend renting or buying Mark Schrader’s Heavy Weather Sailing (rent on Netflix, buy from US Sail). There is lots of good content from people like Warren Luhrs and Steve Dashew. They describe all these techniques and whether or not they would work depending upon the boat. The general gist is a drogue off the stern keeps the boat moving and tracking straight thus keeping it from broaching or pitch poling. A sea anchor off the bow will keep the boat stationary and breaking waves will be on the bow where (theoretically) the boat is strongest. They touch on the design changes in the past 20-30 years (i.e. bigger beam ratios, “flat” underwater surfaces in the stern) that favor running from the wind a “better” tactic than the old “head-to-wind”. If your boat cannot point within a few degrees of the wind when “heave to” then running might be better. Here is an article from Dashew on the subject.

SetSail.com - the serious cruising sailor's website

Wildflower was built from a Wylie mold so it was definitely more capable running than beating into heavy seas, Wylie’s being a light weight racer. He also was slowing the boat down so the autohelm could still steer the boat. Could Skip have turned into the storm and rode it out head-to-wind? He said he didn’t think that he could physically stand to ride it out for the additional week it was predicted to blow. I will defer to him on his decision as he has much more experience than all of us combined.




Oddly enough, last weekend I did a bit of heavy weather sailing myself, albeit perhaps not to the BFS standards. We were transiting south from Drake’s Bay to San Francisco in 27-35 knot winds, seas averaging 15 feet with a two foot wind wave. What made it really snotty was the wave period was only 12 seconds and the amplitude 7.4 (anything over 7 is breaking seas). I can tell you running is a hell of a lot easier than beating through it. (We originally wanted to go through the Bonita Channel. But when we saw some really big breakers inside the channel, we opted to claw our way off shore and then go around the Potato Patch and come in through the main shipping channel – who knew it would be breaking there too.) We were sailing in a C36MkII which performed flawlessly, even when we fell off a wave or two. I was able to steer out of several broach situations. We flooded the cockpit once when a wave broke directly above us and had other numerous close calls. We surfed the heck out of a bunch of waves and broke the 10 knot threshold multiple times and once hit 15 when we came off of a particularly big and nasty wave. We made the 40NM passage in a little over five hours which placed our average speed for the day to around hull speed. I’ve got a couple of photos of our buddy boat, another C36 from earlier in the day but my skills as a digital photographer are some what lacking. Most of the shots are just the masthead sticking out of the wave.



Last edited by GeorgeB; 11-11-2008 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 11-11-2008
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George - thanks for the heads up on the video. I'll definitely check that out. One quick newbie question - I'm not really understanding the difference between a "heave to" and "lying a'hull". I assume they are essentially the same - with boat hopefully assuming a windward point?

Also - I hope I've made it abundantly clear that I have nothing but respect for Skip Allan. I played Devil's advocate in the Anti-BFS thread regarding his rescue (to illustrate people's prejudice in selectively looking at facts in various sailing "disasters") - but I truly admire the guy and his tremendous experience as you rightly point out.

As for your sail, pictures and "BFS standards"...ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME!!!! That is huge, dude! Wow! Since I know you'd never do it - I'm stealing it immediately and dumping into BFS. It's just too awesome.

I'm also very glad to hear your positive take on the C36 in these conditions. There is always so much crap thrown on these production boats it's just good to see what they can do in the hands of a skilled sailor.

Thanks for taking the time, George.

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Old 11-11-2008
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George, that looks like a nice BRISK sail.
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Old 11-11-2008
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That's what cracks me up. To you guys it's "brisk". To me it's freaking incredible!

I would have been crying like a school girl. But I'll get there one day....the "brisk" sailing part, not the crying like a school girl.
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Heh heh, that reminds me of part of Oh Joy's delivery sail. It was dusk and with the GPS dieing, I decided we had better put into Port Townsend for the night instead of running blind in 50 knots. I had helmed across the Admiralty Inlet on a beam reach and needed a break so as soon as we got in the lee of Marrowstone, I gave the helm over to James and Twan to go below. I hit the head, stretched and fished out a butt. About that time, James yells "Charlie, ya don't have time for a cigarette" I looked out to see us sliding from behind the island and hollered back, "No, but I've got time to light one!" On the tiller once more as again the winds slammed us hard over, burying the rail while we swept in towards Port Townsend in a beam sea. Ah yes, this is what I bought a sailing yacht for...

Last edited by CharlieCobra; 11-11-2008 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 11-11-2008
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Nice pix, George -- man the Bay Area gets some stonking weird weather.

Heaving to means your sails (possibly a storm jib and trysail) are up but counterbalanced, and you are roughly on a close reach. The boat is slightly into the waves and usually you are making just a bit of headway. It's a 'live' boat, even if its progress is mostly leeway. Lying ahull usually means sails are down or flogging, the boat is broadside to the waves and just rolling as they come. Very dangerous position, esp in breaking waves -- the boat can be rolled. Much more passive than heaving to.

According to Beth Leonard, most boats will reach a point in storm conditions when they can no longer heave to or forereach -- the bow keeps getting pushed off the wind and there is the danger of foundering. At that point you can deploy a sea anchor off the bow, or turn downwind and run before it -- maybe with sails up, maybe on bare poles. Much depends on the size and steepness of the waves, and on your self-steering mechanisms. She advises using drogues or parachutes when the boat begins surfing, as that's often prelude to a broach. Running before the wind has the advantage of reducing the apparent wind and keeping the boat bouyant; an anchor off the bow may pin you down as the waves crash over you, possibly removing your rig. OTOH, if you are running before the wind, you may find yourself hand-steering for sixty hours -- and one mistake, you're rolled.

Tough call!
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Old 11-12-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieCobra View Post
Running with a drogue/chute off the stern is inviting crushed hatchboards and downflooding as well as rudder damage.
I have never used a sea anchor or a drogue off the bow so not speaking from experience on that but I have run off the wind under bare poles in better than 70kn with drogues to stop surfing. We were sailing at 7kn without drogues and slowed to 2.5 kn with them.

I reckon there is a better chance of rudder damage anchored from the front because no matter how good your anchor is, there will be brief moments when the anchor moves with the waves. When that happens, you're moving backwards and that is when the rudder will break.

At least running with a drogue gives you some forward motion and a wave pooping you will wash over the boat and will not generate enough force under the boat to damage the rudder.

Wash boards breaking?? Down flooding?? Get a centre cockpit - no problem

As said, I have never sea-anchored from the bow, never intend to try it.

Oh, and lying a-hull in breaking waves is a really bad idea - I know, I've learned that lesson the hard way.
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