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post #11 of 33 Old 04-14-2018
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

I think many sailors, even those with quite a bit of sailing experience, feel shallow water as 'safer' than deep water.
In fact, shallow water can be much more dangerous. In the Gulf of Mexico many places are very shallow, very far offshore. Waves come up much faster and can be much larger and closer together than their deep water counterparts would be. Especially when the wind comes off the land, which at times can make it impossible for a smaller vessel to make even the few miles it would need to find shelter, hence the frequent tales of sailors stranded for days out in the Gulf.
A 50 foot Tsunami crashing into a coastline was but an indecipherable ripple in the deep ocean. One should not underestimate the Gulf, just because it is shallow.
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post #12 of 33 Old 04-14-2018
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

Its a good point about the reefing.

You are on a new to you boat, basically in the open ocean on a boat that has a reputation for being a bit tippy. the Coast Guard makes a special announcement that squals are iminent. Waiting for the squal to hit before reefing sounds reefing sounds unusual.

However, we have all waited too long to reef at one point or another, or I know I have any way.

The squals down there can bring some really big sustained gusts. When I was racing off Sanibel 3 boats were capsized and required rescuing in one night and at least one of them was a very very experienced multi sailor (with a PLB and survival suit). So I guess it can happen to any one even very experienced people.
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post #13 of 33 Old 04-14-2018
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

I don't think it had much to do with shallow water, and the Gemini isn't really a tippy boat. It probably was more about not appreciating just how fast and severe the line squalls are around Florida, and then a bit of bad luck. I'm guessing from the description that they had begun to reef, the sail was a bit bagged as they let the halyard down, and the line front was upon them. This just slammed the sail, turned the boat around (or the wind came from 180*), and started to drive the bows under. Wave height probably didn't matter much here, and they didn't appear to tip sideways. Instead, it was all about a short waterline - not enough lever arm or buoyancy forward to overcome that big, high force driving them down. I suspect a Prout 34, or any other 34' catamaran would have been caught similarly. I also suspect if they had a full hoisted sail, it might have spilled wind better and be more recoverable.

The partially lowered main is just my guess - the description in the article was vague at this point about whether they had begun to take a reef or not.

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post #14 of 33 Old 04-14-2018
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

Line squalls, particularly around Florida, and especially if the CG are sounding alarms, make us drop sail completely until we better understand our situation. No reefs, just no sail. Many times it seems foolish to be overcome by a nasty looking squall that just brings another 5-10kts of wind from maybe a slightly different direction, but we have been caught enough times with otherwise to have learned our lesson. Besides, they are usually over in 20min and you can just raise sail and continue on then.

Regular squally weather we just reef. But for those here from CA or similar who haven't seen those Southern US East Coast black lines bearing down on you, just take my word and get the sails down.

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post #15 of 33 Old 04-14-2018
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Regular squally weather we just reef. But for those here from CA or similar who haven't seen those Southern US East Coast black lines bearing down on you, just take my word and get the sails down.
Bingo.

This is exactly what we did. Of course, I was sailing much more conservatively on that trip than I otherwise would have with my two boys as crew...but when you see a long dark line headed your way - you pull it all down and get ready to get spanked.
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post #16 of 33 Old 04-14-2018
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

I guess there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat

I personally don't like going bare poles if I can at all avoid it. Don't like giving up control and being blown down wind, especially on a multi hull, there is no way to slow down.

I find I can take some pretty strong wind by reefing, depowering and fore reaching. I have two reef points in the main, one quite deep and if that's not enough, I can drop the main and go to just a reefed jib. Of course, I am not saying my way is the right way, its just how I prefer to take a squall.
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

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I guess there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat

I personally don't like going bare poles if I can at all avoid it. Don't like giving up control and being blown down wind, especially on a multi hull, there is no way to slow down.

I find I can take some pretty strong wind by reefing, depowering and fore reaching. I have two reef points in the main, one quite deep and if that's not enough, I can drop the main and go to just a reefed jib. Of course, I am not saying my way is the right way, its just how I prefer to take a squall.
You're around the Great Lakes area, so you definitely understand the difference in squall intensity. Do you remember that crazy storm that hit the Mack race boats a few years ago?

Well, I thought about this similar one when we were pulling in behind Dauphin Island...


Here is one that hit us as we were coming back into Galveson after an October offshore delivery of another boat...



We reefed down for this one - and everyone went below (including the skipper) while I stayed at the helm. It was a blast and we were in total control...and I knew I had plenty of backup.

And this is the backside of a big nasty July storm that hit us on our boat near where these guys had their problems...



For this one, I dropped everything, sent the boys below, and motored.

For big slams like this, especially summer storms in the Florida area, I prefer bare poles and engine. It usually doesn't last more than a couple of hours at most - so I don't worry too much about being blown off course as I do being blown down and/or having stuff break.

If it's going to be a longer duration hit, like the October front above, then I do want a bit of sail out. But I always prefer to have too little than too much.

Of course, I'm one of those guys who actually likes a bit of weather.

Last edited by smackdaddy; 04-14-2018 at 08:12 PM.
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post #18 of 33 Old 04-14-2018 Thread Starter
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

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My guess is if you were to do a poll on this site you would find a very small percentage of sailors have either a 406 PLB on their person or an auto activate EPIRB that would have helped them out in this situation.

Its fortunate that they were in the Gulf of Mexico and not somewhere with cold water, 27 hours is a long wait without a survival suit.
Guess I hang with the small percentage. Even 27 minutes with the sun going down while sitting on barnacles is a long time floating on an upside down hull.

I suppose priorities in order many would throw their bucks into a nicer marine stereo rather than locator devices... however kidding aside would have a float plan and check-ins with others so folks would miss them and know where and when to start looking plus would have taken heed of the advanced weather warnings and not waited until it was too late to start adjusting for it.

Lashing themselves to the centerboard probably helped with issues from the water however the barnacles on the hull and sun really tore them up. Sad that they did not clean the hull up when they bought the boat and it was out on the hard since the barnacles are the major reason one of them is still in the hospital. Even more sad since this was so preventable considering all the advanced warning and expectation of that storm.

A lot of the locals are laughing at these guys as more Northerners coming to Florida for a bargain boat, not giving the Gulf the respect it deserves, being too cheap to even give the hull a good scraping to get the barnacles off and then having to pay the consequences by sitting on those barnacles for 27 hours. To be fair they do deeply respect those that ask for advice about local conditions and actually head the advice and would not be laughing if lives had been lost but they survived and hopefully learned the hard lesson on when to reef or drop sail and motor and won't try to make excuses passing blame on unpredictable weather or being caught by a freak storm event.

Sometimes the School of Hard Knocks can be very costly. Thankfully they did not have their wives and family with them or perhaps if they did they would have taken appropriate action much earlier.
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post #19 of 33 Old 04-15-2018 Thread Starter
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

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Originally Posted by capta View Post
I think many sailors, even those with quite a bit of sailing experience, feel shallow water as 'safer' than deep water.
In fact, shallow water can be much more dangerous. In the Gulf of Mexico many places are very shallow, very far offshore. Waves come up much faster and can be much larger and closer together than their deep water counterparts would be. Especially when the wind comes off the land, which at times can make it impossible for a smaller vessel to make even the few miles it would need to find shelter, hence the frequent tales of sailors stranded for days out in the Gulf.
A 50 foot Tsunami crashing into a coastline was but an indecipherable ripple in the deep ocean. One should not underestimate the Gulf, just because it is shallow.
You get slammed into a shallow bottom during a squall and it can be game over in a heartbeat even with a sandy bottom.

Harbor Master used to warn the kids to stay away from the shallows with their sailing dinghies when the wind and waves started kicking where I grew up or they'd might be wishing that their Fathers had never met their Mothers. A few had to find out the hard way and he'd be out there in a flash with a diver to collect them sometimes with one of his own WWII LST/LSVP boats or Amphibious Rescue Vehicles depending on the conditions. Sometimes you'd wonder if some of the kids did it just to get a ride in the LST/LSVP or Amphibious Vehicle.

Real nice to the kids but could give adults a real salty lashing when they ignored him and many times backed those words up with a fine.

Last edited by SeaStar58; 04-15-2018 at 12:49 AM.
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post #20 of 33 Old 04-15-2018
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Re: Catamaran Knocked Down Near St George Island

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Originally Posted by SeaStar58 View Post
Guess I hang with the small percentage. Even 27 minutes with the sun going down while sitting on barnacles is a long time floating on an upside down hull.

I suppose priorities in order many would throw their bucks into a nicer marine stereo rather than locator devices... however kidding aside would have a float plan and check-ins with others so folks would miss them and know where and when to start looking plus would have taken heed of the advanced weather warnings and not waited until it was too late to start adjusting for it.

Lashing themselves to the centerboard probably helped with issues from the water however the barnacles on the hull and sun really tore them up. Sad that they did not clean the hull up when they bought the boat and it was out on the hard since the barnacles are the major reason one of them is still in the hospital. Even more sad since this was so preventable considering all the advanced warning and expectation of that storm.

A lot of the locals are laughing at these guys as more Northerners coming to Florida for a bargain boat, not giving the Gulf the respect it deserves, being too cheap to even give the hull a good scraping to get the barnacles off and then having to pay the consequences by sitting on those barnacles for 27 hours. To be fair they do deeply respect those that ask for advice about local conditions and actually head the advice and would not be laughing if lives had been lost but they survived and hopefully learned the hard lesson on when to reef or drop sail and motor and won't try to make excuses passing blame on unpredictable weather or being caught by a freak storm event.

Sometimes the School of Hard Knocks can be very costly. Thankfully they did not have their wives and family with them or perhaps if they did they would have taken appropriate action much earlier.
I’m also with the small percentage and also a Northerner who bought a boat in Clearwater Beach and sailed it home to Mystic in 1996.

But I made sure the boat was properly commissioned. There were no barnacles, but we had the bottom paint redone, the Loran and GPS plotters checked out by RM, new canvas, offshore PFDs, second anchor, and inflatable dinghy stored below. The admiral and I got the boat to Stuart. I went back down with an experienced offshore sailor to bring the boat up the East coast, with an EPIRB, proper MOB gear, backup 2 meter radio (the boat had an SSB), life raft, backup GPS, and celestial nav. We rigged an inner forestay and associated running back stays and carried storm sails.

For some reason, it seems that the more prepared you are, the less dramatic your cruise. The weather was virtually perfect, especially on our first offshore leg from Ft. Pierce to Beaufort, NC (600 mi in 72 hours—all but 3 hours under sail). We did seek a harbor of refuge (Pt. Lookout) in the Chesapeake, but it wasn’t an emergency—just uncomfortable conditions and too far to the next anchorage. It turned out to be a great trip: 1700 miles in 3 1/2 weeks, including 3 lay days, with a total diesel consumption of 50 gal. The highest winds encountered were in the upper 30’s (The Pt. Lookout day).

It also helped that we did not have a fixed schedule. I did have to get to Washington, DC, for a fixed date, annual program review, but was prepared to stop wherever we found ourselves and make the side trip to DC by whatever means necessary. It turned out that we got to Annapolis and it was a matter of a rental car and an overnight hotel stay, which accounted for 2 of our lay days. Unfortunately the weather was not conducive to sailing when we left Annapolis. It wasn’t bad, so there was no drama, but we did motor the whole way from there to Mystic, including an overnight from the Delaware River to Fishers Island Sound. The highlight of that last leg was being able to keep our course by reference to the stars, which was handy, as our wheelpilot crapped out an hour out of Annapolis (sure we had a compass, but it was easier to align our rigging with the stars and adjust as time went by.)
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