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Old 08-16-2008, 11:30 PM   #1
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I've been in some pretty interesting weather in the past but mostly in power boat in the 60 to 130 foot range. Also I have read various opinons on what to do in crappy to hazardous weather in cats. Seems there is no one answer or a set of rules. Am I wrong? If so, how would you prepare for a full blown gale at sea?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-17-2008, 02:56 AM   #2
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Seems there is no one answer or a set of rules. Am I wrong? If so, how would you prepare for a full blown gale at sea?
Hello Pairahulls,

Not Wrong ! However, as always when discussing what to do when you know that conditions are going to deteriorate ; IT DEPENDS - how much experience does the skipper and crew have relative to storms? What type and size of Catamaran? What speed can she attain and hold ? What direction is the storm coming from relative to the direction the Skipper wants to go?

If the Boat cannot out run the storm - then all the normal sailboat preparations apply EG : batten down the hatches, secure all loose hardware and equipment, rig storm sails , start auxiliary engine/s, check pumps , communications, prepare sea anchors, give clear instructions to crew, etc..

On the other hand the modern day catamaran that is carrying no more than its pay load and with sufficient warning can outrun most storms. Let's not forget young Ellen MacArthur's exploits in both Catamarans and Trimarans in latitudes that produce gale force every day.

Others will say with some justification that monohulls are better suited to the higher latitudes.

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Old 09-16-2008, 01:30 AM   #3
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Hi Pairahulls,

Richards reply just about says it all. I have experienced some rough weather, and depending on what the circumstances were, used different methods/combinations to suit. They might not have been the best choice but they worked. I have found that my cat is very forgiving, and allows me to select another/better method. The only thing that she does not like is lying ahull, even in moderate winds(F5), so I will never do that again.

When running under bare poles and we wanted to slow down, from >11 to <6kts, before using the drogue we tried trailing lines. I trailed lines of varying length,approx 40 -100 feet, with a knot or two near their end, all across the stern. This slowed us down to <9kts and also had the waves breaking before they reached the stern, which was an added bonus.

The only way you will know what method to choose is by experience, just have the necessary gear and practice using it, before you really need to.

Happy Rough Weather,

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Old 10-03-2008, 08:34 PM   #4
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I guess that to 'heave to' is not an option for a catamaran?
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Old 10-04-2008, 11:46 AM   #5
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I guess that to 'heave to' is not an option for a catamaran?
Properly managed and performed ( depending on the actual conditions) 'Heaving To' is a better option than 'Lying A-Hull' - again depending on boat and equipment - skipper - experience and most importantly the seas , the obstacles, and the wind!

Not much different to the requirements for a Monohull - Except that the modern Multihull has the advantage of being elsewhere when the Proverbial hits the fan !
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:26 PM   #6
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Fortunatley I have only met up with 40knts so far. The wind being just in front of the beam we sailed with a dbl reefed main, and a staysail.. I am sure there is worse in my future with my planned passages. As always time will tell.....i2f
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:49 AM   #7
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Pairahulls poses a good question which is difficult to answer for the reasons given in other posts. The story below gives a bit of insight to one of my experiences. It occurred in the South Atlantic and the measures taken if it had occurred in the Med would most likely have been different.

I have personally had four such situations in all the years whilst sailing (I am a delivery captain). One of them was as follows:

In mid 2007 I was enroute from Cape Town with my first port of call being Jamestown, St Helena Island, a trip of 1700nm which I had sailed 28 times before. I was delivering a 40’ Leopard catamaran to Fort Lauderdale. I had on previous trips experienced heavy seas of 8 to 9 metres and 45 knot winds turning from the south to northwest whilst a cold front passed by. None of these seas had been breaking or too steep – I had simply dropped sail with the exception of a handkerchief size bit of foresail and run with the wind and swell until it was comfortable to turn back on course and continue NW once the front had passed.

On this trip, however, things were slightly different – about 700nm out of Cape Town I started experiencing 9 to 11 metre steep swells with the occasional breaking waves as a huge frontal system approached. The wind picked up to just over 50 knots, gusting to about 60. In reality the swell was every about 7 or 8 seconds but seemed to be 4 seconds. We had started surfing uncontrollably down the waves and needed to do something to prevent this or we would be rolled or pitch-polled. The daylight was fading (amazing how the bad stuff always happens at night) when I instructed the crew (3 PO to haul out our spare anchor warp, a 22 mm nylon line of 100 metres in length. We attached each end of the line to the mid-ships cleats and then lead it aft and around the aft cleats as well. Then dumped the entire remainder overboard and dragged it as a “U” behind the boat. The object was to stop the boat surfing down the front of the waves. It did not help! As we accelerated down the front of a wave the line simply pulled out of the water, forming no resistance at all. I needed to add weight to the line to keep it under water.

So, all hands pulled the line in and I took a 10 metre length of anchor chain and a large shackle and fastened the chain to the line. I did it so that the shackle could slide down the warp and “self centre” itself at the back of the “U”. It worked! There was now enough resistance to stop the cat surfing down the front of the waves. We took a lot of white water over the stern of the boat but she lifted comfortably to let the waves pass under her.

At about 02:00 I was on watch when I heard the “big one” come. All I heard was a few seconds of “Shhhhhhhhhh” before it hit. A wall of solid water came over the stern of the boat and blew out the saloon door. We took on about 2 tons of cold Atlantic in a split second – it took the bilge pumps over an hour to pump the hulls out. This was the only wave that actually caused any problems. Although the boat took water and violently shuddered when the wave hit us, it remained stable and kept going in the right direction with the warp keeping the resistance needed to prevent the boat taking off uncontrollably.

When we arrived in St Helena a week later we re-installed the sliding door and had no further problems on the delivery.

On subsequent deliveries I have always had the spare anchor warp and chain “ready for deployment” before I have departed. I experienced no chaff on the warp from the movement of the shackle or any at the cleats.

What would I have done differently – nothing! What would have happened if we did not have the warp and chain – I would more than likely not have been writing this post, simple as that! The route sailing boats take to St Helena in not near a shipping route and thus, if things had gone “pear-shaped”, there would not have been much chance of rescue.

So, how about others that have been in the situation where things have not gone the way they had planned and have been in a situation where they have thought “I really don’t want to be here”. Lets hear your story, what you did and your post experience thoughts.
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Old 12-01-2008, 12:10 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing JohnT.
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Old 12-02-2008, 01:11 AM   #9
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Excellent post johnT, I have been really wondering and researching the effectiveness of a sea anchor on a catamaran, and though there has to be instances where sea anchors have been used effectively on a Catamaran in bad seas, I have yet to personally read about it. Being new to the multihull world and coincidentally having a Leopard 40 on order your report really interested me.
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Old 12-02-2008, 02:51 AM   #10
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I first learned of, and became interested in, the Jordan Series Drogue when I read a report of a trimaran caught in severe wind and seas who deployed their newly-made series drogue which slowed their downwind speed dramatically and reduced their risk of broaching or pitchpoling. The more I read about the theory, and the trials of the series drogue, the more I liked the idea.

Peter at first was skeptical of carrying a series drogue, saying that all power boat operators knew how to deploy a drogue using just their anchor rode, chain, and even an anchor in the worst of conditions. Pretty much the warp that John describes above. I finally built a series drogue during a lengthy convalescence, but we never deployed it in need, just as a trial, which gave us an idea of what it could do. Very tiring to retrieve it. Took a long time to sew all the cones and attaching tabs, but " 'twas a thing of beauty."
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:14 AM   #11
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Jeanne,

Did you buy the drogue from the US manufacturers in kit form or did you make an equivalent one to specifications?
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:29 AM   #12
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Jeanne,

Did you buy the drogue from the US manufacturers in kit form or did you make an equivalent one to specifications?
See THIS THREAD
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Old 12-02-2008, 01:56 PM   #13
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Del, we were in Lawrie's Marina, Buddina (up the canal from Mooloolaba) and the sailmaker there had a box of sailcloth scraps that I was free to use. I borrowed one of their heat knives, bought the sail thread and strips from them, and went to the local (Cash Converters?) used gear shop to buy a sewing machine for about AUD $20.00. It was a very colorful drogue with all the different colors of scraps used, and because of the use of scraps, much more reasonable than if I had had to buy the material for the cones - all 125 of them (if I remember correctly).

Nice people, the sailmakers. He, an Aussie racing sailor who went cruising and met her, an American, in the USVIs. They cruised, married, had three children and returned to Oz. Nice, nice kids, too.

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Jeanne,

Did you buy the drogue from the US manufacturers in kit form or did you make an equivalent one to specifications?
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Old 01-13-2009, 02:30 AM   #14
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hi , i bought a large parachute sea anchor for a trip from wellington to auckland nz in a 46ft wharram cat that i had just bought, many people that carry these on offshore trips never get to use them however on our second day we were hit with 50-70 kts and breaking waves which we were able to steer thru with a storm jib , slightly upwind at about 6 kts. Before dark i decided to set the sea anchor as we would not be able to avoid the breaking waves in the dark plus with only 2 on board and 1 a new sailor we were getting tired. As i was preparing the anchor we were hit by a large wave that took out 10 ft of bulwarks and broke 1 tiller. once the anchor was out we rode very comfortably and slept the night with a light out. The next morning we found that we had only moved around 3 miles overnite and were able to make temporary repairs before retreiving the anchor and making for Napier the nearest port. They are reasonably priced and easy to carry, i would always have one available on any offshore trip
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