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post #91 of 139 Old 02-17-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

I have lost my copy of Bowditch so I can't quote it exactly, but if I may be allowed to paraphrase his line about extreme circumstances in a hurricane at sea, "With the arrival of the bar, all navigation ceases. The safety of the vessel and her crew become paramount..."
It is a sentence that has always impressed me. I read it as all the rules go out the proverbial window and from this point forward, you are winging it.
I also prefer to avoid these sorts of experiences at sea as I age. It is a lot easier since they've thrown up a bunch of weather sats and we no longer have to rely on ship reports for deep sea weather. But that doesn't mean that you can't get a tropical cyclonic storm at sea. None of us can out run a storm traveling at 20 knots or so. Or even unforecast storms of incredible magnitude in the Gulfstream, between the NE and Bermuda, a little 650 mile hop. Even a relatively mild norther in the stream between Fla and the Bahamas (49 miles) can produce seas that can be absolutely terrifying, and there is no going back if you are around half way, as it's going to be just as bad going any direction.
So, we try to prepare. We read, watch videos and hope that if that storm ever comes, we have the ability to get through it. But when push comes to shove, as above, we are all winging it. Each heavy weather experience is unique and therefore each a new challenge. Luck often plays a part, but intelligent action and calm, collected thinking play a much bigger part.
For example, when I encountered that tropical cyclone (a Pacific hurricane) off Fiji, we went into the eye fairly early after entering the storm (it was moving at 22 knots, after all). It was such a relief to be in a calm, with small but confused seas, that we really wanted to stay there forever. But we had damage to mitigate and I paid no attention the really important thing. Instead of flat chat powering across the eye and entering the back of the storm, I allowed us to fall back into the dangerous semicircle, which meant about 4 more days of storm. Had I entered the navigable semicircle, we would have been out of the storm in 8 hours or so. Intelligent action and calm, collected thinking could have made a huge difference.

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ďBelieve me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.Ē ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #92 of 139 Old 02-17-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

I am happy to call myself a chicken sailor. I do my best to avoid heavy weather, be it for short coastal hops or multi-day passages. I feel no need to go out and test myself, or to challenge Nature.

But at some point those who venture offshore will get caught. This is where experience, luck, skill and the quality of your boat will all come together to allow you to learn new lessons — or not.

In these times I focus on protecting the ship and protecting the crew (so we can protect the ship). I have great confidence in my little vessel, but there are no guarantees once you untie the dock lines. You do the best you can in the circumstances.

My limited experience has taught me to remain calm, and try not to get exhausted. Eat warm food if I can. Stay warm and dry if I can. Don’t try to be the hero all the time. Protect the ship, and she’ll protect you.
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post #93 of 139 Old 02-17-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

Unfortunately if you want to get some places you have to sail off shore. Long term forecasts are sure helpful and these days there are weather routers. This is fabulous. But weather can decide to not follow the predictions.

On almost all my ocean miles the weather was fine... the only horror was the 91 Marion Bermuda which was started on schedule and send 200 boats in the eye of a deep low in the Gulf Stream which went on to become the famous Perfect Storm and killed Mike Plant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Plant) on his way to the BOC solo round the world race.

Of course you can be trapped in heavy weather in coast waters or even at anchor in a snug harbor.

Today it's probably a lot safer when you choose your weather window and use a weather router and keep abreast of the weather.

I too am more of a fair weather sailor... I have nothing to prove and that sort or risk/excitement is for younger lads.

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post #94 of 139 Old 02-17-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

Sandero I remember that race. We were on a Hinckley center cockpit ketch and scared sh-tless. On trip back bent the mandrill for the in mast roller fuller. Got DQíd as captain talked to a ship about the weather.
Think Iíve been misinterpreted. Have used the AP in squalls with someone in hands reach of the wheel. Have used the windvane with warps out. Havenít put the AP on in a storm and gone blithely down below. Agree that would be a tactic of last resort (incapacitated crew and no other option). Like Mike my storm experience is limited and I work hard to keep it that way.
Iím a wimp. Usually reef before nightfall as I hate to reef in the dark. Carry a jsd and rig an extra forstay for a storm jib if leaving on a passage. Donít single on passage so carry at least two crew with me. Try as hard as I can to prep the boat before leaving. Always get multiple weather sources but still pay for weather routing service.
In spite of this as Capta has rightly pointed out itís not if but when. Hopefully itís just a squall or two. Still I think you must hope for the best but prepare for the worst. In a small boat with 2 to 6 crew of average experience and endurance some way to passively endure the weather should be in your toolkit. Hobart, fastnet and so many other reports would seem to support that view.
Would add to the discussion just like Capta has no faith in drogues I have no faith in hoving to on a fin keel boat once winds>~30. I be curious if others feel the same way.

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post #95 of 139 Old 02-17-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

May have mis remembered. Race I was referring to was the one a doc was hit in the head by the boom. To my knowledge the only fatality in that race.

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post #96 of 139 Old 02-18-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

Quote:
Originally Posted by outbound View Post
May have mis remembered. Race I was referring to was the one a doc was hit in the head by the boom. To my knowledge the only fatality in that race.
I think the 91 some was hit in the head by the boom.

This was my first offshore passage aside from sailing from Ptown to ME. It was also the worst.

I entered not to race, but to do an offshore passage with 200 other boats, a crew and the boat that was prepared and inspected by the race committee.

When I go offshore I always rig the inner forestay and have the storm jib either hanked on and tied up or ready to go with sheets attached. Set up the gybe preventer. I often rig a 3rd sheet for the genny which can be used if the working jib gets messed up... or if I want to re position the car Usually reef before dark. Kept a regular radio sched with SouthBoundII.

Jack lines in the cockpit and on deck of course... Liferaft lashed in the back of the cockpit ready to go... radio checks, weather routing flares etc all in order.

I do not make these preparations for coastal.

After 91 I experienced nothing by good weather with some squalls including sailing past a deep low which developed into a hurricane Emily... no more than a period of gale force winds and tons of rain and a waterspout!

The boat performed admirable all times. I would often sail to a more comfortable course and lose some VMG. I was never in a hurry.

I don't know if I was lucky... I've done the trip 10 or 12 times and had mostly lovely weather.,.. even flying the chute for an entire day until sunset. Sailing offshore is something I want to do as little of as possible... that is faster passage is a safer passage.

You never can be too prepared.
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post #97 of 139 Old 02-18-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

Quote:
Originally Posted by SanderO View Post
You never can be too prepared.
I think it all comes down to that.

I have read and note the experiences others here have had offshore. In comparison probably some squalls, a few good blows and some heavy swell is the worst I have ever encountered on an offshore passage.

Whether this makes me lucky I am not sure? I guess you are always unsure how you will handle that 'perfect storm' until you are in the situation. Part of me would like to face the worst and know that I would be up to task.

So maybe this is only my limited experience and good luck talking, but I believe there is an inherent risk in sensationalising the offshore heavy weather risk to the detriment of approaching offshore sailing and indeed all sailing with a holistic view to safety.

Statistics tell me there is more chance of my boat catching on fire, or of my family being blown up by the gas oven, or drowning in strong current in a anchorage , or being hit by the boom (as you mentioned above), or going overboard in benign conditions than the perfect storm ever ending me.

I also note the amount of vessel loses and threat to life when run aground on lee shores or when dragging anchor and wonder perhaps if it is tradition from earlier sailing days that makes us all so obsessed by the 'here there be dragons' approach to those conditions we perceive are waiting to attack us the moment we are 100nm offshore.

Perhaps it is more a peculiar condition specific to US east coast sailors?

The Chesapeake, ICW and those island things down the bottom are all fairly benign and the moment you folk sail 'offshore' things do begin to get quite nasty in that part of the world.

Here in in the Tasman Sea in the wrong conditions with our rugged coast where protection lies only behind barred river entrances if you are out in a blow where the whole coast becomes a lee shore you don't run for port. You sail like hell to get sea room. So this whole bluewater/coastal discussion seems kind of cute to us. Who not just sail good boats and sail them well all the time?

I will agree that when conditions deteriorate experience helps. But you only get experience one way.

How big is big enough? Well to me thats just the wrong question to ask.

'Life is either a daring adventure or nothing' - Helen Keller


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Last edited by chall03; 02-18-2018 at 08:32 AM. Reason: typos.
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post #98 of 139 Old 02-18-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

Quote:
Originally Posted by chall03 View Post
....Statistics tell me there is more chance of my boat catching on fire, or of my family being blown up by the gas oven, or drowning in strong current in a anchorage , or being hit by the boom (as you mentioned above), or going overboard in benign conditions than the perfect storm ever ending me.

I also note the amount of vessel loses and threat to life when run aground on lee shores or when dragging anchor......
I'm sure these are all true (maybe less so for the oven explosion), but they are all a factor of occurrence too. One is going to drag anchor more often than hit an offshore survival storm, because one anchors 1000x more than one makes an offshore passage.

It's like the old adage that one is more often going to get in a car accident, within a mile of home. That's simply because that location is the most common place one drives.

Statistics would consider the denominator, not just the numerator. The truth is, I'm not sure which is more likely. The increased vigilance one probably takes to make an offshore passage could indeed be what is lowering the statistical likelihood of offshore mishaps. I also wonder if inexperienced sailors are less likely to even make an offshore passage, vs. inland/coastal.

I'll offer a new hypothesis. The easy button (EPIRB-SAT/SAR) makes it a whole bunch easier to abandon ship than ever before. That might be increasing otherwise survivable abandoning. Is one more likely to push the button in a 30ft or 50ft boat? I suspect the former. Could be what insurance companies are thinking/seeing.
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post #99 of 139 Old 02-18-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

I suppose there is offshore and there is offshore... that is where you cross and what the historical weather and sea states are at the time of your voyage.

Sailing to the Caribbean from the US east cost means you have to cross the Gulf Stream. Gulf Stream is notorious for bad conditions, it's own weather system. There are eddies and so forth around it. Sure it can be benign and dead calm... but this is the exception not the rule.

Caribbean sea has rather reliable and predictable weather. Sure it gets Hurricanes... but these pass through at a predicted and well known time frame.

Data about the weather and sea state is vastly improved and available to the off shore passage maker now as it never was before. This makes sailing off shore safer... and short term AND longer term forecasts should inform departure decisions because you're out for a longish term...

Today off shore passage making IS safer because of technology and better boats...and equipment. But while all that is changing... human capability has not changed... You still need sleep and can only lift so much etc.

I think the boat size needs to be handle-able by the crew in rough conditions and probably an optimum size is low to mid 40s. Of course sailing a larger boat in fair weather is not much of a problem... but in rough weather the forces of wind increase geometrically... So there you have it.

Find the balance.
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post #100 of 139 Old 02-18-2018
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Re: I was told that for safety offshore you need 45

Quote:
Originally Posted by SanderO View Post
....Today off shore passage making IS safer because of technology and better boats...and equipment. But while all that is changing... human capability has not changed... You still need sleep and can only lift so much etc.......
Excellent point. One should also consider having an incapacitated crew member along the way too. btdt

In a way, this can be where tankage matters offshore. An insufficient crew is likely to need to motor more.


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