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Old 06-29-2010, 10:00 PM   #1
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The weeks are now counting down till we head off to the Louisiades in PNG for a couple of months on our next Blue Water. Since we returned from Vanuatu poor Mico has sat idle in the pen when work commitments sucked us back into the real world with vengance. Thankfully we've killed a couple of clients, seriously injured a few others and put the fear of God into the rest and now perhaps they'll leave us alone to enjoy our sailing

So, I'm pulling out all the gear from last trip and making the inevitable lists of things to do and the even scarier 'things we need to buy', when I opened up the sea parachute anchor we purchased for our last trip. Thankfully we did not have reason to deploy it but we'll pack it aboard once more for the Louisiades.

At present it consists of a number of elements that in an emergency we would quickly shackle together and deploy.

The bow end ( 2 x 6m x 15mm S/S chain inside kevlar sleeves, inside reenforced flexible polytube) runs from our sampson post and out either side of the hawser holes to shackle onto 2 x 15m lengths of sleeved rode that comes to a large single swivel. This is our bridle and we run that back down the starboard side secured to the staunchions by small cable ties with the end sitting in the cockpit near the gate. This is all attached before we leave port so if push comes to shove, we simply attach the rest of the elements and launch the whole thing from cockpit without having to go up to the bow. The drogue, chute and line then dig in, drift away from the boat and snap the cable ties leaving Mico hanging off the end of a deployed 18' sea parachute.

Well - that's the theory.

Maybe I'm getting old and the senior moments are occurring with increased frequency but I looked down at the 100m of rode in one bag; the 30m of nylon line and large bouy in another and the 15m or retrieval line and smaller float in a third bag, and could not for the life of me remember which end attached to which. This led me to think about mounting waves, soaked crew and perhaps a nightime deployment with racing heart and all the confusion that mix might entail.

After chopping up a nightime fluro reflecter cycling vest, I'm pleased to say that now each end, of each line has a large flexible label with a big 'A' , 'B', 'C' and or 'D' attached to it that even blind Freddy in a snowstorm with a potatoe sack over his head couldn't miss! Simply attach 'A' to 'A' then 'B' to 'B' etc et al. After which, toss the whole lot over the side!

Sounds obvious I know but I think its worth considering the insidious deterioration that takes place when we come ashore and spend too much time sitting at a computer! Somehow the old adage of 'win some & lose some' takes on a new and ominous meaning i.e you win extra stomach size and you lose brain cells

Fair winds
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:48 PM   #2
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That's a great post. I wonder why I am jut now getting around to reading it.

I fully agree that anything you have for emergencies needs to be simple and readily available and foolproof and practiced with.

Is there a way to have your chute packed with just one attach point for deployment? And maybe have that lead out of the bag and taped down so you just attach that one part and toss? I don't have a visual of what you are doing, so perhaps I am spouting nonsense.
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:29 AM   #3
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Is there a way to have your chute packed with just one attach point for deployment? And maybe have that lead out of the bag and taped down so you just attach that one part and toss? I don't have a visual of what you are doing, so perhaps I am spouting nonsense.

[/quote]

It's more a question of storage on passage. The bridle is already in place running down the toe rail with the unshackled end in the cockpit. The four bags (Parachute in one, rode in another, main float and line in a third and the retrieval float and line in a fourth) are in the various cockpit lockers. They take up a fair bit of room and most crews I have met have all the components close at hand ready for hook up in the cockpit. I'm pretty happy with that set up as well as the key is to never launch from the bow under any circumstances. We have a couple here who got caught out in a blow and the skipper carried all the stuff to the bow, hooked up and tossed it over. It wrapped around his leg and pulled him over leaving him dangling from the bow. His wife could not manage to pull him back in. She ended up calling a mayday when the rode almost severed her husbands leg. Thankfully they were winched off by chopper and the yacht was left to its own devices. It eventually washed up in the Louisiades and was stripped bare within days by the locals.

Now I'm not saying its impossible to launch from the bow but the manufacturer goes to great lengths to make sure you launch from the stern for safety which makes a lot of sense to me.

Retrieval float and line first then big float goes out the gate at stern port or starboard gate - drags the line and you let the parachute go still in the bag; feed the rode out as the vessel drifts away, parachute catches and pulls the rode out, vessel falls back; full rode extends; cable ties holding the bridle tear off, vessel falls back behind the bridle and you retreat downstairs to a big roast dinner and apple pie and watch videos non stop for the next week

Well - perhaps I am being just a tad optimistic

The main reason for the original post was the surprise I got to find just how much I had forgotten after 6 months landbased behind a computer 14 hrs a day. After a fair absence from the boat, don't always assume that the memories are going to be instantly available.

We now even have a start up list we keep in the cockpit, which we go through before we leave the pen. I know others do the same. That has become even more important when we have guests aboard with all their kids and the mayhem that ensures. It's just so easy to forget the essentials. Much like a big fishing cruiser last year opposite us who having loaded everything aboard including mother inlaw, extended family, kids, work mates and some guy who was just passing by, they then hit the throttle only to have their stern line rip the cleats and half the back off his pride and joy.

We've all been there and done that to some degree

Fair winds
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Old 07-15-2010, 09:42 AM   #4
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Oh, time for a story!

When we first arrived in Grenada in 1987, Ronald Reagan's invasion of the island was still fresh in everyone's mind. Invasion of Grenada The bullet holes everywhere might have had something to do with it. And the bright, shiny US Coast Guard cutter, and a bunch of Boston Whalers left behind by the "invading forces."

Grenada's Coast Guard was very proud of their cutter, and they kept it at the marina dock in St. George. Now the marina was not something that the US lavished money on, and it was a shambles, boards missing on the dock, cleats pulled out, piles leaning just a tad more than seemed safe. And the dock where the CG cutter was tied up looked worse than anywhere else.

According to the long-term expats, that was because when the CG took their shiny toy out, they invariably forgot to untie all the lines, and each sortie took a bit more of the dock with them. Nobody had taught them about pre-departure check lists.

By the time we arrived the CG wasn't doing much sortie-ing. They couldn't afford the fuel, we heard. So the local boats sank wherever they found themselves while the CG urged them on the radio to get themselves to the Carenage where their CG boat was.

P.S. We have to be careful that we don't sound too smug here. Peter and I were a bit slow at figuring out that we needed a pre-departure checklist. A few other checklists would have also stood us in good stead. A few stories about some of our embarrassments might be appropriate too, I guess.
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:42 PM   #5
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Let's see check list yep got them and use them. Smug no, learned the hard way to many times and years as a NCO and as a trainer in the military and getting my doctorate taught me that you build the list and use and refine it always (you never, ever get the list fully right the first or second time through). Than things get easier just by following the list and building up good habits. Which is all the list really is and helps to reinforce.

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Old 07-15-2010, 02:28 PM   #6
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Make the list and develop good habits--yes, that's right.

Every time we think we've got it right on something, we go a little too long without having performed that task and bingo--we're blind-sided by something we forgot to do or needs to be now "added" into the list. Like the things I learned about "emergency" night helm work in our boat (see my post about the wily shoals of the CA Delta...). More lists! and hopefully more good habits will develop

This topic of the parachute anchor is non-trivial. It is so very important that this thing be ready to be deployed without injury to crew or boat. There's a good deal of information that I read recently on the blog of the boat "Morgan's Cloud" talking about deploying such an anchor as well as decisions to use Jordan Series Drogue in preference in their case (deployed from abaft the cockpit on a couple specially set in chainplates at the quarter log positions) for reasons of safety deploying and the ability to safely retrieve. Their boat is about 55 ft and parachute anchor size is much bigger, of course. I'm glad that Mico is taking the time to go over all this rather than just think he's going to "wing it"

"Retrieval float and line first then big float goes out the gate at stern port or starboard gate - drags the line and you let the parachute go still in the bag; feed the rode out as the vessel drifts away, parachute catches and pulls the rode out, vessel falls back; full rode extends; cable ties holding the bridle tear off, vessel falls back behind the bridle and you retreat downstairs to a big roast dinner and apple pie and watch videos non stop for the next weekPosted Image"

I just finished reading the book High Endeavors about the inspiring life pursuits of the Smeetons which included their sailing adventures chronicled in The Sea Was Our Village and Once is Enough. They spent a lot of time (trailing warps out the back, etc), lying in bed reading books while storms roared through.

GL Mico.
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Old 07-16-2010, 12:15 PM   #7
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In another group of lists could those be that within that list boat maintenance projects as they arise and are completed. Then the list that records personal activities and obligations.

Then in today's world the budget that allows cruising to continue as a way of life.
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