There are few subjects that offshore sailors like to discuss and argue about more than which is the best storm survival strategy and related gear. But it’s time to stop the debate because it’s a solved problem.
The most common reason for yacht abandonment at sea is being capsized by a “rogue wave”. But is “rogue” a good description of these boat-killing waves? And are there things we can do to reduce roll-over risk?
Trevor Robinson updates what he has learned about using and maintaining a series drogue built to Don Jordan’s design. This is not theory, but true testing over a gruelling circumnavigation in the Southern Ocean, including multiple deployments in gale and storm force conditions. Anyone who goes to sea in small boats will benefit from reading this.
Some of us write about extreme heavy weather survival at sea based on a few experiences accumulated over decades, combined with not a little guesswork and conjecture. And then there’s Trevor. Few offshore sailors have even one-tenth the first-hand survival storm experience that Trevor shares in this article.
Anyone who goes to sea needs to read every word in this chapter with great care and attention.
So how can we be sure whether or not heaving-to will result in a knock-down or roll-over in heavy weather? John tackles this difficult but vital question.
Changing survival strategies in the middle of a storm at sea is not something that any of us want to be faced with, but here are some thoughts from John about how that might be done safely.
There have been a couple of well-publicized cases of series drogues, based on Don Jordan’s research and design, deteriorating after as little as ten hours’ use in strong gale conditions. John investigates and shares what he intends to do to upgrade his drogue.
Ever wondered about the safety of those big pilot-house windows that we increasingly see on modern designs? John has too.
Analysis of the abandonment of the French yacht “Tao”. The disaster started with a capsize, as yacht losses so often do. And while researching the weather at the time, I discovered something interesting…
We have covered a lot of ground and many details in this Online Book. So I have ended with a chapter the key points in this chapter.
It’s a sad fact that most production boat companionways are potential boat-sinkers. But it does not have to be that way. In this chapter I provide solid suggestions on how to stormproof your companionway.
Theory is great to learn from but real world experience is always better. In this chapter I relate an email interview we conducted with a reader who survived a killer storm south of New Zealand using some of the techniques that I have discussed in this book. It’s a long chapter, but read it carefully because doing so and acting on the information could save your life.
One of our most useful tools in dealing with heavy weather at sea is our engine and in this chapter I relate how we used ours to good effect in a nasty lee shore situation. But the sad truth is that in many cases a yacht’s engine is disabled by heavy weather making it useless at the very time that the crew need it most, so I go on to share some solid suggestions of things you can do to storm proof your engine.
In the previous chapters we have talked about heaving-to and various drag devices, but none of that is going to help us if we are caught on a lee shore. In this chapter I write about when that exact scenario happened to me and what we have done to prepare ourselves and our boat should it ever happen to us again.
Continuing on with the theme of learning from the best, this chapter is about the many things we learned from Tony and Coryn Gooch about storm survival and drogue retrieval—they know what they are talking about after decades of voyaging in some of the toughest parts of the world’s oceans and Tony’s single handed non-stop circumnavigation.