That head in the water is getting away from you at 10 feet per second, and you’re only going six knots. So, in the five seconds it takes you to react, she’s already 55 feet away. 10 seconds, she’s 110 feet astern. If there’s any kind of sea running or a foot of chop, how long before you lose sight of that head, life jacket or not?
Just for training, wad up a paper bag or some wrapping paper, or blow up a balloon to about the size of your head. Toss it over side when you’re under way, and time yourself. It can be hard to find.
That’s why savvy sailors have that yellow pole with the orange cylinder at the base up along the rigging at the back of the boat. It’s a MOB (Man Over Board) pole.
The MOB pole is attached to the stern pulpit at the base, and to the backstay, enclosing the flag at the top. 50 or more feet of line (yellow) is tied to the float on the pole, and the other end to your horseshoe buoy. The picture below shows the basic pole in two parts for shipping, and how it might be mounted.
Deploying the pole is simple – a quick reach back from the helm, lift the pole from its seat, and drop it, reach over, and throw the horseshoe – not necessarily in that order – as long as it’s done quickly.
Now, there’s a high-visibility flag and pole six to ten feet high in the immediate vicinity of your overboard crew. The skipper and crew can track the person the water using the flag, making it much easier to take in sail and get the boat around and back to that flag. You will come up on the windward side of the flag, grab the pole, and reel in the horse shoe with the errant crew member.
A number of sailboats, particularly racers, have an installed horizontal tube, open at the transom. The pole in inserted flag end first, with the line coming out of the transom to the horseshoe. The horseshoe is thrown, and the resulting drag pulls the pole out toward the person in the water.
Many skippers attach a light to the pole. You may not see the pole/flag at night, but you will see the light. Obviously a good idea, and one we’ve used for years of cruising and offshore racing.
Get the pole and install it. You may never need to use it, but if you do, you will need it.
Closing at more than 40 knots, and no time to trim, duck or do anything except the right thing obviously gets interesting fast. We think this is scary at eight knots. Who was that said “…watching a sailboat race is like watching paint dry.”?
Ocean racing is just about to become more colorful – again!
The new ORR rules are allowing bloopers on non-sprit boats (with some restrictions). For sailors who don’t remember, look at the picture, and check out the big sail tacked to the port bow.
Look at the wake, and the waves, and realize just how deep and fast they’re sailing. Pole back a bit, ease the main a bit, and trim on the the blooper and that boat is still launched – even dead down wind. In light and moderate air, you’ve got a big downwind sail you trim with the halyard. You’ll want a racing crew with someone who either has or can develop a different set of trimming skill, but you’ll make up for it with VMG and boat speed. That blooper helps narrow the gap between an older boat and the sprit boats.
We’ll see them this year on the ocean races such as Bermuda, Transpac and Mackinac.
The ORR rule limits blooper use by treating the blooper as headsail (no pole), and within the number of sails the boat is allowed to carry. It has to be attached to the bow, and there are restraints on the boats allowed to fly them, as in basic design from before 1986. And couple of cautions: Think oscillations. Think about a little too much breeze and an interesting round up or crash jibe.
On the other hand, think speed.
Not everyone shares your taste in music. Or sports. Or boats. Or recreation. Or wakes. Or engine noise. Or even beverages. Even if they do, they probably don’t want to share right now.
It’s easy to get totally focused on what you’re doing, even in a shared environment. Let’s face it: when you’re cranking along at 25 knots, your attention is on making sure you don’t hit anything solid, and the exhilaration of speed on the water. You’re not looking back at your wake, and seeing how much the swimmers, paddle boarders and kayakers appreciate it. Or how much the waterfront folks enjoy watching their watercraft bang on the dock. And the people out for a quiet day fishing really want to compliment you on your speakers and how loud your motors are.
They’re just as happy as you are when you’ve just nestled in to bed after a long day on the water, and someone drops anchor next to you, invites friends, fires up the generator, plugs in the blender and the music, and parties down until the crack of dawn.
The long and the short of it is that you ARE in a SHARED environment.
Even the gray whales in Bahia Todos Santos shy away from noisy boaters, and bass in the lakes don’t really flock to rock and roll.
Respect the rights of others. Show some consideration for the people around you.When you’re at the launch ramp or the dock, be quick and make room for the next boat. Respect the private property along the shore. Make sure you have permission to go ashore, use the dock, or cross their land. And so on….
Remember, the other folks in or on the water have the same rights you do. And, just like you, all they want is a good day on the ocean, lake or river.
~ Mike Dwight
We are very honored and excited to have been named the 2015 recipient of the Fisheries Supply InNEWvation award in the Plumbing category! Pictured are our own designers John Dean and Art Bandy with the award-winning ClearView End Fittings. Forespar’s composite boat plumbing features the full line of Marelon, from seals and fitting to a full array of valves.
Bob Foresman, Forespar’s founder, never stopped innovating and testing sailing concepts – a company premise that continues today, 50 years later. From the original telescoping whisker poles made in the garage to today’s carbon fiber poles, furling systems and the rest of a catalog of boating products from the modern plant, the family continues to experiment, produce and sell new products.
A classic example is Fore Sail, the Foresman’s Catalina 400. Working with Catalina Yachts, Forespar developed Fore Sail as a test bed for a Forespar-built Aero Rig, with an eye toward a Catalina production model. While this ultimately proved impractical because of market conditions, an easy-to-sail (and single hand) 40-foot cruiser with a very different rig drew a lot of attention in the early 90’s. Shown here with Art Bandy, now the Forespar OEM Sales Manager, at the helm and strings tacking up the Newport Beach Lido Channel.
First – what’s a big wave? Is it the 100-foot wave from The Perfect Storm”? Could it be the waves from a TV show called Bering Sea Gold, when they tell us there’s a storm, and it looks like all of 12 knots of breeze and two-foot chop?
The answer is yes. Any wave that makes you feel that you and your boat are in danger is a big wave. All that matters is that the waves are challenging you, and you’re nervous about handling them safely. There are some basic rules that can help:
The classic example is the trip back home from Catalina Island. You left the mainland early on Saturday, and it was flat with no wind, so you zoomed over (zoom speed is relative – maybe six knots from the Yanmar in the sailboat, and 30 knots from the twin Volvos in the cruiser). You leave for home on Sunday afternoon, and there 32 knots of breeze pushing some healthy wind waves along with a big swell rolling down the channel, and you’ve got 20 to 30 miles to go with that on your beam or under your quarter.
You are relatively inexperienced, but you’ll probably make it. You’ll beat up the boat, and scare the pants off your crew and yourself in the process. The crew may never get on the boat again. Or, you are experienced, and you’ll make it. You’ll wear yourself and the crew out, and the boat won’t be real happy either.
If you are next to the helm on one of those days, and the driver is calm and under control, it’s amazing how much you can learn just watching and listening. Then when you trade places and you’ve got the helm, a calm voice in your ear, coupled with the positive results, can help you learn a lot, and apply it at the same time. Then you gain the confidence to try it yourself.
Going into the waves, while often scarier, is easier on the boat and the driver when you do it right.
Don’t worry about your specific destination – as long as you’re making up distance to the mark (technically VMG – Velocity Made Good), you’re doing well. If you steer at an angle somewhere between 20 ⁰ and 45⁰ off the face of the wave, the boat is a lot more comfortable, and is actually faster than heading straight into the sea. You don’t get the big flying spray, and you don’t get the big pounding crash, either. And, you’ll be under control.
Not steering at your mark seems counter-intuitive, but any racing sailor can tell you that it works.
That’s nice, you’re thinking, but at some point I have to make up for that angle away from the harbor mouth. You’re right. You do. If you’re paying attention, you’ll find a periodic flatter spot between waves that will allow you to make the turn (tack) without wrestling the boat over a bigger wave.
Heading downhill requires more touch, and more attention to your helm. The basic design of most powerboat hulls has a broad, usually flat, surface for the following wave to push on, along with a more or less square corner (the quarter). This means that when that big wave comes at the stern, it lifts the stern while pushing on that flat surface. The combination of shapes and forces make the stern want to go to the side, and the boat wanting to turn parallel to the wave’s face, tilting away from the rising wave. This can make for some interesting or even dangerous moments. Sailboats do the same, but with a less exaggerated motion.
With some practice, you can learn to anticipate your boat’s tendencies, and start steering up the face and down the backs of oncoming waves, into the direction that swinging stern takes (It’s called “Yaw”) on following seas.
When steering off the wind, some of the math works for you. If the waves are moving at 13 knots, and you throttle back to about 13 knots, keeping the bow down enough to increase your waterline (hence control and comfort), you’ll find that steering the boat and managing the course is a great deal easier. The waves are coming at you a lot slower, and you have much more time to make your adjustments to steer a comfortable and productive course. With some practice, you’ll find yourself actually surfing the boat.
Think safe, learn well, practice and slow down. Your boat, your backs and your butts will be much happier.
For boaters who have the courage to go “boat hunting” or just to “take a look” you will likely wind up wanting to buy at least three that you find.
Making the right decision about your selection process can be simplified if you use these seven hints during the journey:
* Points provided by Yachting Magazine
~ Forespar Point of View Team
There’s a place for rock and roll and it’s not on an anchored boat.
Salt water boaters often find themselves anchored or on a mooring. There’s a swell, a surge from the swell or just enough breeze to create some waves, all just enough to rock the boat. That rock can be strong enough to be uncomfortable. It is hard to sleep with a grip on the mattress, and an evening on the deck or in the cockpit isn’t very comfortable.
A flopper stopper is the solution. I’ve tried several types over the years, and settled on one that works across the board – the Roll-X™ from Forespar. The same system has dampened the roll quite well on my power boats (a Grand Banks 42 and a 28’ Wellcraft) and my sail boats (a Baltic 52, and a Soverel 33), as well as other vessels.
The Roll-X stabilizer consists of two stainless plates, about 12.5 by 40 inches, hinged together, and supported by a single line attached to a basic harness. It works simply. On the down roll, the unit folds together on the hinges, and drops deeper. On the up roll it unfolds, creating about seven square feet of resistance – sufficient to dampen a dramatic roll, completely quash a smaller wake or wind wave. And, the Roll-X has winglets to minimize the “skate” fore and aft while down, making the ride even more.
Roll-X stabilizer is most efficient when used with a pole to increase the leverage (one comes with the kit). You can see how on the trawler below.
Many sailors use the poles they’ve already got – spinnaker pole, a heavy whisker pole and often the boom. Swing it out on a halyard or topping lift, and couple of lines for guys and the crew is going enjoy a lot more stable time at anchor.
Candidly, the Roll-X stabilizer works pretty well as a flopper stopper with no poles, although using two (one on each side) helps make up for the lack of leverage. They are simply lowered over the side, down six or eight feet, and made fast to the cleats nearest the beam of the boat. Yes, we were in a hurry, or just too lazy to rig properly. They do work better poled out, and you must be sure to hoist the stabilizers in before weighing anchor and sailing away.
You can be sure that you’ll be well rested because you’ve experienced a lot less rock and roll.