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Old 11-08-2007, 10:25 PM   #21
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In Peter's younger days he spent all his spare cash on the hunt for giant bluefin tuna. As a sport, back when bluefin tuna sold for about $0.02 per pound, and was used for catfood. Even though fuel for a sportfishing boat was cheap, the amount of fuel that such a boat consumed still made it an expensive sport. As such, he and his buddies did not have fancy boats, never stayed in a marina but rafted up with the commercial fishing boats for the night, and got their bait from them after they had pulled their nets. The fishermen were happy to give a bucket or more of trash fish in exchange for a six-pack of beer.

Anyway, it was from the New England commercial boats that Peter learned about using a tire on a long warp as a drogue. Fishing boats used tires for a lot of things: fenders when they tied up to the commercial docks, rafted three or four boats out; snubbers for their anchor/mooring chain when they sat out a bad storm; and as a drogue when the bad storm hit them while they were still many miles from shore.

Tires seem to have worked, but not many pretty sailboats carry tires around - they're ugly and leave nasty black marks on everything they touch.

I don't think that I would use polypropylene line for anything much, however. The line is significantly weaker than nylon: 1" economy nylon rope has a Standard Tensile Strength of about 24,700 pounds, 1" General purpose Polypropylene TS is 14,250 pounds. And since polyprop. has a very low melting point, the greater risk is the weakening due to repeated tensioning and chafe, something you can't avoid with whatever line you use running a drogue or sea anchor.
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Old 11-08-2007, 11:32 PM   #22
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14k is a lot of tensile. more than most cleats, and more than a lot of plastic/wood boats can take on the stern without something coming off. Also, I attach at two points, so I have a total pull of around 28k but only 14k on each bit. Sometimes you WANT a line to break if the alternative is worse. For instance, witness the tugs pulling barges that have gone down when their cables snagged a sub...or vice versa...the navy is usually mum on these incidents. And, the benefits of floating poly in a confused sea where one second your drogue may be almost within armslength, and the next its on the other side of the wave you're in the process of surfing down...well...if its on the surface, its not in the prop.

I use black poly, it not only floats, it doesn't break down in UV anywhere near as fast as the others, and at 1" the bight makes a pretty fair drogue by itself. In survival conditions, add the tire and it will equal or outlast pretty much any commercial drogue I know of, many of which have been lost or rendered ineffective as they self destructed in a true gale. Further as I said, the tires I'm familiar with have been painted with a kind of liquid vinyl or similar paint. From more than 3 or 4 feet away, you'd swear it was a man overboard ring.

Now, as for "pretty yachts" being without tires, well that's true...but then again, you see a lot of pretty yachts loaded on freighters or special yacht transport boats rather than sailing across by themselves. And, of those that do cross oceans, there are still some out captained by those that are less concerned with looking good, than surviving, and not only just the gales. I've seen quite a few cruising skippers over the years that would intentionally dirty up the exterior of their boat...laundry, unkempt lines tossed in a random fashion, some water based paint slopped onto the stainless to make it look like painted galvanized..etc., all before spending some time in certain third world ports. Lastly, on the issue of chafe on a drogue line, a proper seaworthy bit is placed so that a drogue line run aft, touches neither chock nor gunnel. Other captain's may have other views, but now you've heard mine.

seer

Oh, yeah, the difference in price between one inch poly and braided nylon, plus the used tire vs. the commercial drogues buys one HELLUVA lot of good times down at the local sailors' pub assuming one's swash, buckles in that direction

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In Peter's younger days he spent all his spare cash on the hunt for giant bluefin tuna.
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Old 11-09-2007, 05:21 AM   #23
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14k is a lot of tensile. more than most cleats, and more than a lot of plastic/wood boats can take on the stern without something coming off. Also, I attach at two points, so I have a total pull of around 28k but only 14k on each bit. Sometimes you WANT a line to break if the alternative is worse. For instance, witness the tugs pulling barges that have gone down when their cables snagged a sub...or vice versa...the navy is usually mum on these incidents.
Just a little word of caution about the two-bits set up. You do not say if you secure your warp to two bits in tandem or using a bridle arrangement. I assume though, as you state that each bit is taking about half the load, that you mean a bridle arrangement.

A bridle arrangement is useful in many circumstances, not least when towing as it facilitates steering, but if using such an arrangement the load per cleat/bit depends not only on the maximum towing load but also on the angle between the two parts of the bridle. Shallow angles will not increase the load per cleat/bit very much but larger angles will. The total load will not be more than the total weight of the tow or, in this case, the forces exerted to hold the vessel at her sea anchor, but the load per cleat/bit and bridle part can be far more than 50%.

Sitting in a hotel room here in Southampton I cannot do any calculations on this but when I return home, at the back end of next week, I will pull out Norries and do the trig exercise to give an example or two.

Regarding tugs pulling barges. How can their cables snag a sub? I have seen many tugs pulling barges and the tow wire is normally taught or, if there is no load at that particular moment, not hanging far beneath the surface. Also, I am not sure about US regulations but in most parts of the world the tug uses a tension winch which, if the load is too great, automatically pays out the towing wire. For shorter towing trips, such as harbour towage, the towing wire may be placed on a towing hook but these must be quick release hooks so that a rapid pull on a lever will cause the hook to capsize releasing the towing wire.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-09-2007, 03:29 PM   #24
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David,

thanks for the welcome.

First off, I wouldn't advise *deferring* to anyone When you take command of your own vessel you are doing exactly that, including shouldering yourself with all the responsibilities for ship and crew that entails. It is one thing to consider reasoned advice born of the experience of others, (which is what I'm trying to offer) but when the proverbial *buck* stops, it stops with the captain of the vessel and you must make your own decisions as to what is *right* and what is not for Your vessel, and Your crew, facing the conditions actually at hand. Measure what you read, and hear on your own internal scales of experience, reason, and in some cases intuition-and do so mindful of what you know about your own abilities, weaknesses, and those of your ship and crew. While I believe there are many valid *generalities* one can say about this subject, when the time comes, generalities don't cut it. You have to deal with the specifics of the situation of ship and sea confronting you at the moment.i.e., you play the hand you've been dealt.

Having said all that, "Life threatening" conditions vary according to a large number of circumstances, sea state, ship size, type, construction and condition, crew condition, direction and strength of wind, proximity to hazards etc. I guess the only all encompassing answer I could give would be "You'll know it when you see it ". In *general* I would say when you are having extreme difficulty in controlling the movements of your ship, and the likelihood of a broach/roll/ or pitchpole is probable should you err in your efforts at manuevering, then you are *there*. Water temps would figure in as well as would wind activity (strength and direction) capable of bringing your rig down.

If well rested, and in good health I've managed unaided by machinery, about 11 hours in a protected cockpit before noticing that my reaction time begins to fall. An open cockpit in foul weather gear would reduce this number substantially and a fully enclosed secure pilothouse would extend it. Fortunately on the occasions that I've been out in truly life threatening conditions, the autopilot has been fully functional and with that burden removed, I found I could stand 18 hours or so out of 24. In the one instance when it was necessary ( I was attempting to triangulate with a navy ship looking for a family of 4 that was going down), I managed 28 hours, but I was physically worthless for about 24 after that and mentally *down* for substantially longer...(we did not find them in time).

Lastly, you ask about the skipper becoming a threat to the ship's safety... I do not personally believe that many of todays production boats can survive a big storm on their own. The constant quest for lighter, and faster, has substantially reduced the ability of many ships to just *batten down* and wait it out...therefore I consider that a good skipper can extend the life of his boat (and himself) by manuevering in conditions where in his absence she would simply be torn apart.

There are exceptions. Some heavy cruisers might lose their rigs, be rolled etc. and still survive. Many do. I've heard of one steel 36footer that was run down by a tanker, submerged and came back up again looking more like a banana but still watertight and with the captain still alive but with a few broken bones from being tossed about. There are cases where the various coast guards have removed the captain and crew from a seemingly foundering ship, only to find days later that she is ghosting around out there still in relatively one piece, but I think these are exceptions.

As for the car tire, try this one. take your tire out and tie one end to another boat then both pull and try to tear it apart. You can even try it between to cars. Then try your drogue. The forces on any drogue in Force Ten or better and big seas are ENORMOUS. far more than your two average cruising boats can pull. I've heard good things about the series drogue design, I've heard lots of reports of failures. Never heard of a tire coming apart. Never. Remember, I'm not talking about 20 or 30 knots of wind. To me that's good sailing. I'm talking about 75knots and up, way up.

seer

oh, one more thing. the "release" . I rig a tire so that it can be run at 90degrees to the rode and tripped so as to run endwise for less drag. If for some reason I have to lose it *Right NOW* it can be cut loose and I'm out a few dollars. there are lots of tires.

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Hi Seer,

I defer to your obvious depth of experience of heavy weather sailing, but would ask for clarification of two points. First, at what point do you determine seas to have reached a 'life threatening' state and second, when running away in heavy conditions, particularly as a singlehander in a largish boat with a fin keel, how long do you believe you can effectively helm the craft before you become the major danger to the ship's safety?
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Old 11-09-2007, 03:33 PM   #25
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Stephen,

good points.

Your experience at big boat handling is evident but for most small sailing craft the beam at the stern would be substantially less than the length of rode payed out on the drogue so the angles would be seem to be sufficiently small and therefore safe in *most* circumstances. And yes, I'm speaking of a bridle. I like two bits in the stern each at the corners and one more in the bow.

Regarding the tugs, you make a good observation. The answer appears to be that some tugs tow barges at such extreme distances (and I have NO idea of why that is necessary) that the unsupported weight of the cables causes them to submerge substantially. In several instances of which I'm aware, subs just below the surface apparently mistakenly concluded either that the two surface "vessels" were not attached and either steered between them not expecting cables or were simply not even paying attention. In one fatal incident (for the surface vessel) the sub apparently never even realized they had dragged the boat down.

There were two relatively recent incidents off the coast of southern california, one that was hushed off of vancouver and I believe several in the english channel some years ago. Also, there is sustantial evidence indicating that at least one fishing boat was dragged down by a sub catching its trailing nets. Sometime in the mid seventies I had occasion to be on my father's boat off Vancouver island when a sub suddenly appeared on his commercial fishfinder not one hundered meters below us, and it was a BIG one. At first I thought the sounder had broken or that it might be a whale, but in the end was far too large to be anything else.

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Old 11-09-2007, 08:29 PM   #26
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Thanks Seer, The reason I mentioned the aspect of a solo skipper becoming a danger, relates to an experience I had a dozen years ago. I was sailing my long keeled 46' sloop in waters which, though not busy, were a traditional shipping lane and which abutted open commercial fishing grounds for a 300 mile stretch.

I was 'catnapping' for at least 60 hours and had fallen into a routine of spending about 15-20% of the time asleep, setting an alarm for no longer than 15 minutes. After an almost embarrassingly short time, perhaps 36 hours, I found my peripheral vision impaired and my determination to take no risks was being increasingly compromised.

After about 48 hours, I had a constant roaring in my ears and a feeling of detatchment which would not have served me well if a dangerous situation has arisen. At the time, I was aware of my state but felt that any danger would have produced sufficient adrenalin to make me effective.

In retrospect, I doubt that would have been the case. The vessel was sound and sailed happily in a reasonable, following swell and 15-25kt winds under the influence of an autohelm, a radar alarm and a boom brake....but I do believe with the benefit of hindsight that I had become the weakest link (if not a danger to the safety of my boat and the integrity of the voyage) within 24 hours.

But, it was a good passage during which I averaged 10.2 knots SMG (above hull speed) for one 11 hour period.

Cheers

David

PS..How I measured 'sailing happily'.

With no shaft brake, the cadence of the prop transmitted through the hull was a continual 'woo................woo................woo........ .......woo, woo,woo,woo,woo,woo,woo,woo....................woo etc.
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Old 11-09-2007, 10:56 PM   #27
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I'd be interested to see a diagram and/or a description of exactly how to rig the car tyre as a drogue. The description here isn't really giving me the full picture.
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Old 11-10-2007, 03:51 PM   #28
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Having read a few disaster stories, I would hesitate to place my vessel under the partial control of a towed car tyre as I fear the difference between theory and practice could be wide indeed.
Hi, David,

About the tire working vs not--the fellow who is helping us refit our boat had a small trimaran that he took on a loop 'round the Pacific about 20 years ago. He encountered conditions requiring that he deploy his drogue. It was lost within hours. As I recall, the chafe took out the lines to it. He was then "stuck" without a solution in heavy weather and deployed a couple small tires he had onboard. I can't recall why he had them onboard (may have been for emergency steering) but they worked like a charm and he ended up thinking that one would be crazy to deploy a commercial system when his impromptu system of trailing two tires worked so wonderfully.

Also about attaching lines to the stern--I agree that most production boats don't have the requisite tie-in between cleat and something stronger than a tiny bit of deck blocking. Being an old boat, ours was designed with two Samson posts on each side of the aft deck for such heavy duty. At some point, someone saw fit to remove them, but we're putting new ones back in place. They go from the deck through to the hull structure.

Speaking of old boats, drogues, trailing warps, etc. I've read accounts of cruising done 40 to 80 years ago where the cruiser talks about trailing x many hundred feet of line, or trailing 2 lines of x many feet long or even 3 lines of x many feet long. I've not heard any recent accounts of doing this--is it still done? Or, have all cruisers sensibly gone onto the use of drogues, sea anchors....and spare tires?
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:54 AM   #29
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"Speaking of old boats, drogues, trailing warps, etc. I've read accounts of cruising done 40 to 80 years ago where the cruiser talks about trailing x many hundred feet of line, or trailing 2 lines of x many feet long or even 3 lines of x many feet long. I've not heard any recent accounts of doing this--is it still done? Or, have all cruisers sensibly gone onto the use of drogues, sea anchors....and spare tires?

I ALWAYS trail at least one line when offshore, It's knotted about every six feet or so with a couple of small loops big enough to stick your hand (second to last) and foot (the last one)thru at the end. Gives a MOB a fair shot at staying close to the boat while you scream your head off for the off deck watch. On one my boats it was possible to rig it thru a shock cord to the tiller, when you jerked it, it was enough to pull the tiller over causing the boat to round up. On my big boat had a hydraulic wheel. Harder to rig, Fixxed it to pull the wheel off course hopefully putting it into circle eventually bringing the boat to a stop one way or another. In a blow bad enough to run from, I try to warp from the two stern cleats, with a bight as I posted before. This is enough to ensure your tail end doesn't swap places with the bow. In a bad news storm, u need to gauge what speed works best for the conditions (I'm a "runner" when it gets bad news...lots easier on crew and craft assuming you have a clear field to run ...if you are on a lee shore, you got a bigger problem ). When you need more than the bight gives you, a tire with 3 or 4 wraps around the tread will give you more drag... if you REALLY wish you had a reef to hook onto, then set your tire up before hand with a 4 or 5 point bridle , 3 or 4 wraps at each point then terminating into a central steel ring. Tie your rode into that to minimize chafe. Steel on steel works best so a shackle thru an eye onto the ring will serve you well. you can have that set up in advance so you can either go for the wraps on the perimeter or the center ring as conditions require. Set up in a bridle, be advised this is serious droguishness you're laying out, so make sure your warp and cleats are up to it. As the previous poster pointed out. Samsons at the aft quarters and one on the bow are darned useful, especially if you have to tow or be towed. I'll leave it to the CG or ex CG's here to tell some good 'almost successful tow" stories.

seer
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:29 PM   #30
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"Speaking of old boats, drogues, trailing warps, etc. I've read accounts of cruising done 40 to 80 years ago where the cruiser talks about trailing x many hundred feet of line, or trailing 2 lines of x many feet long or even 3 lines of x many feet long. I've not heard any recent accounts of doing this--is it still done? Or, have all cruisers sensibly gone onto the use of drogues, sea anchors....and spare tires?

seer
A few years ago we were running under bare pole doing 11-14kts with the waves breaking on the transom hung rudders. We wanted to slow down for the night so before deploying our drogue, I decided to try towing lines. I tied somewhere between 15 & 25 lines of varying lengths (12-30m) with a knot or two in each from the stern. Only two were attached to cleats the rest were just tied to the traveller lines, main sheet or push pit. This slowed us down and kept us under 9kts and the waves broke a metre or two before they reached the rudders. Left the drogue in the locker, and have still not ever used it. An old sailor friend had advised me to try this method many a year ago, said it worked a treat on his mono. It was definately worth remembering.

Regards,

Stephen
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Old 11-15-2007, 03:42 PM   #31
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Never had to use a drogue, thank goodness, so PASS on that part

When I was buying a boat 2 years ago, I avoided furling mainsails on the basis of safety - though happy to have a furling genoa. I am now very jealous of main furlers - with only two of us on board, even with an autopilot, slab reefing and taking down fully is a chore. Yes, we do have lazy jacks - they help but are not as handy as roller reefing.

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Old 11-15-2007, 11:01 PM   #32
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Jib furling seems to be a tested and relatively reliable addition to a boat.

In mast main sail furling is a disaster waiting to happen. They are very prone to jamming unless procedures are followed exactly and in order when furling/reefing. A jammed sail in serious conditions could be fatal. Performance wise, you lose sail area because the sail needs a hollow roach as you don't have battens. It is a non starter for me. I did a little survey in my marina. Of the three boats with in mast furling, all had had them jam. One so badly they had to climb the mast and cut the sail away once they got back to the marina. These were all inshore incidences in relatively protected waters and only moderate winds. Cause of the jams was operator error and all learned how they could prevent the jams if they followed specific steps in exact order under ideal conditions. I'm not sure what they might find in the rough and tumble of a real world storm but I would not be willing to try them.

In boom furling systems are less of a problem if they jam but the cost is stupid. I can slab reef my 350 sf main in 1 minute from the cockpit. Why would I want to pay $5,000 plus to have a system that has to have the boom at an absolute perfect angle with all it's prone to failure mechanical accoutrements. With boom furling, it will take more time to reef and probably a trip to the mast. Besides, those fat booms are ugly. I can drop the main at any time, with the lazy jacks, and forget it till I have the time to flake it down properly.

I think drogues are a product of our affluence. Back in the good old days, cruisers made do with inexpensive options that worked. Now we have the money to pay for very expensive, one time use, safety features that would have been considered foolish wastes of money 20-30 years ago. We never thought of a drogue in 1974 when we left on our cruise. We sported 600' and 300' of Nylon line we could use as warps and a couple of tires if we needed more drag.

Most drogue/warp failures are the result of chafe at the transom. A line under tension can chafe through in minutes. The forces on a warp/drogue are tremendous, possibly more than you could hold on a winch and certainly more than you could crank in. In your preporations, be sure that you have the ability to deal with chafe.

Aloha

Peter O.
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