Curious Double Fatality at Sea

Foredeck Shuffle

More of a Stoic Cynic, Anarchy Sounds Exhausting
3. On the accident night, the wind is described at about 2200 as increasing to 25 steady with gusts to 30 - and the response was to put in a single reef. The account is not specific on point of sail, but it sounds like the wind was behind the beam. My best practice on my boat is to look at the TWS and canvas the boat the same upwind or down, though I’ve certainly bent my own rules. It’s seductive to carry more sail off the wind - the boat isn’t heeling as much (none in my case - cat), the apparent wind is lower, the noise is lower, all the signals say the boat’s OK with the extra sail. Going to first reef and apparently still flying the genoa in that reported TWS I would consider overcanvassed in my boat. I think this is a critical point in the chain. This was an opportunity to go direct to second reef and downshift to staysail. Connection here to the local knowledge issue too….
I think you are in good company when reading the accounting and seeing this as the point where it all broke down. Everything was reading very well, competent and conservative. Skipper comes up, likely tired, has not been experiencing the conditions long enough, has the forecast he's been sent by the router in his head; single reef. I immediately thought, it's dark, why not two with the stay then retire to a very quiet boat after under powering?

I'm betting a combination of the forecast from the router and coming up in the dark, still foggy, led to the decision. Even good sailors make mistakes.
 

tane

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"They can actually. I know someone who singlehanded a 90 foot sloop."
...I should have written "ANYBODY can handle..."
We all know Vendee Globe racers handle huge sail areas in appaling weather at speeds we only know from our cars, others race giant multihulls singlehandedly, & all with "manual" gear! This does NOT mean, that given the "right" equipment ANYBODY could.
Seems to me in this case it was not even "genuine" equipment failure, the boat had just "gotten away" from them. I doubt that any mainsheet/traveller arrangement could handle a wildly swinging boom in really bad seas, something is going to give.
So in a way it was "equipment failure", but provoked by wrong handling: the mainsheet wasn't tightened as the boat was brought up into the wind.
The root-question for me is:
why would anybody want to have a reefing system that requires the boat to be brought up into the wind using the engine? On passage all the sleeping off-watch crew would be rudely awakened by the ruckus of engine-start & the boat being brought head to wind.
On the charterfleet I worked on in the 90s we had 2 boats (39 & 44 feet) with "Sailtainer" booms, & their mains could also only be reefed by heading into the wind under engine. True enough the 39footer one day came in with a pulverised traveller car: the kinetic energy of the -very heavy - boom swinging freely was too much for it.
 

tane

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BTW: what is a "first" or a "second" reef on a roller furling boom supposed to be? One of the very few "advantages" of these widow-makers is the ability to have infinitely variable reefing.
On the much smaller systems I was familiar with ("Sailtainer") we had removed the lines that led to the cockpit, so the charter guests had to do the rolling of the mandrel from the mast too, because one had to see if the luff-rope was rolling up correctly, otherwise big f..up!. Angle of boom to mast was EXTREMELY critical, extremely.
 

Tylo

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the kinetic energy of the -very heavy - boom swinging freely was too much for it.
This is the most terrifying and sobering thing for me to think about - imagine how much that boom on the 76 footer weighs with the mandrel inside, probably hydraulics inside, and a quarter of a third of the main rolled up inside it as well. When that thing gets moving at some speed the forces it exerts on the sheet and sheet attachment points must be astronomic when it suddenly stops.

BTW: what is a "first" or a "second" reef on a roller furling boom supposed to be?
A lot of furling sails have "reef points" marked out somehow, either on the furling line or the sail itself.
I always assumed it was for the sake of repeatability and to have a few settings where you know from testing that the boat is balanced on the headsail and mainsail in a reefed state. Also, on a boom furling main with full battens I've heard you should always furl until a batten is underneath the mandrel to act as an outhaul on the sail, so the "first reef" may have been to the first batten and the "second reef" may have been to the second batten and so on.
 

tane

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This is the most terrifying and sobering thing for me to think about - imagine how much that boom on the 76 footer weighs with the mandrel inside, probably hydraulics inside, and a quarter of a third of the main rolled up inside it as well. When that thing gets moving at some speed the forces it exerts on the sheet and sheet attachment points must be astronomic when it suddenly stops.
I sincerely doubt, that sheet/traveller/attachments can be made strong enough to take come-what-may, if the boom starts swinging freely.

A lot of furling sails have "reef points" marked out somehow, either on the furling line or the sail itself.
I always assumed it was for the sake of repeatability and to have a few settings where you know from testing that the boat is balanced on the headsail and mainsail in a reefed state. Also, on a boom furling main with full battens I've heard you should always furl until a batten is underneath the mandrel to act as an outhaul on the sail, so the "first reef" may have been to the first batten and the "second reef" may have been to the second batten and so on.
Forgot about the battens...
 

floater

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and that is the way boomless mains work too - sheet to a batten. my little weta had this and it was super cool. no boom at all, and a beautiful clean main. the foot so much prettier than any boomed sail.
 

floater

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Are you guys saying that a mid-boom, german sheeting option would be safer given these circumstances?

The CNB had this. Thats a lot of strain on two single spots.
View attachment 530457


I wonder where the failure was exactly.
it seems pretty clear to me - to reef the main you simply need to center the boom. this is the failure point: centering the boom!*

what could be easier? why are people complaining about reefing systems when the failure point was the fucking main sheet. A simple bad wrap here. an override. perhaps a line twist on the outside of the block. and it is all fucked. you simply cannot "manhandle" the loads involved here. then comes death. holy shit.

I do not think its a leap to say that this system does not belong. and in fact whoever sails on a boat that looks like this should be scared shitless.

*I haven't read the article twice. but this is the way it reads to me.
 

kent_island_sailor

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...I should have written "ANYBODY can handle..."
We all know Vendee Globe racers handle huge sail areas in appaling weather at speeds we only know from our cars, others race giant multihulls singlehandedly, & all with "manual" gear! This does NOT mean, that given the "right" equipment ANYBODY could.
Seems to me in this case it was not even "genuine" equipment failure, the boat had just "gotten away" from them. I doubt that any mainsheet/traveller arrangement could handle a wildly swinging boom in really bad seas, something is going to give.
So in a way it was "equipment failure", but provoked by wrong handling: the mainsheet wasn't tightened as the boat was brought up into the wind.
The root-question for me is:
why would anybody want to have a reefing system that requires the boat to be brought up into the wind using the engine? On passage all the sleeping off-watch crew would be rudely awakened by the ruckus of engine-start & the boat being brought head to wind.
On the charterfleet I worked on in the 90s we had 2 boats (39 & 44 feet) with "Sailtainer" booms, & their mains could also only be reefed by heading into the wind under engine. True enough the 39footer one day came in with a pulverised traveller car: the kinetic energy of the -very heavy - boom swinging freely was too much for it.
My point is the boat wasn't that hard to sail *as long as nothing broke*. If the electrics or hydraulics took a shit at the wrong time, you were screwed. The owner was not a hard-corer racer, it was more the boat had power everything.
 

floater

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I doubt that any mainsheet/traveller arrangement could handle a wildly swinging boom in really bad seas, something is going to give.
well, at least if you eliminate the traveler a solution is clearly available. for example:
I did it to get rid of the traveller that essentially destroyed the cockpit from an ergonomic point of view.

Instead of two tackles, I have two separate mainsheets direct to two separate winches. The winches are Harken 46s, and that seems the perfect size for my boat (Olson 40, about 350 sq ft main, end boom sheeting). The mainsheets dead end to cars on the rail, up to low friction rings at the end of boom, at gooseneck, at chainplates, to a block on the rail a bit forward of the winches, to the self tailing winches. The sheets are dyneema single braid, spliced to dacron double braid near the winches.

Pros:

I now have a nice, safe, comfortable, fun cockpit.

Much lighter, cheaper, and stronger than a traveller.

Fewer fasteners, so less leaks.

I can get the main right where I want it no problem.

Gybing is better, with much better control, and no big bundle of mainsheet and traveler crashing across the cockpit.

The boom stays where I set it -- it never swings around. This makes a surprising significant safety improvement.

Trimming is as repeatable as a normal system.

No preventer or boom vang. I have a solid vang, but I use it only in place of a topping lift. I never needed the vang to pull the boom down, so after 18 months I removed the vang tackle: it's just a topping lift now. The leeward sheet is perfect for sailing deep angles downwind. If one wanted to sail much DDW, a vang would be useful, but I removed all the symmetric spinnaker gear.

Cons:

It takes perhaps 15 seconds longer to get the main right how I want it.
 

tane

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I am convinced:
no matter how strong, well thought-out, no-traveller, whatever: if the motion of the boat is wild enough & the boom suddenly, after swinging it's full arc, comes to a stop against the sheet system: something is going to give. If totally over-engineered sheets & attachment points are built, the boom will break, or the gooseneck.
imho the solution lies elsewhere:
IF the reefing ystem only works if bot is head to wind (-an absolutely inacceptable system, as written above, but there it is)-the sheet(s) have to be taken up faster than the boat is rounded up. The main must never be allowed to flog before the boom is completely immobilized.
(A cruising friend & a charter customer have been killed by booms on boats much smaller than the 66' monster: Len succumbed to his wooden boom on a 36' in the Red Sea, & a customer to the boom on a 44' in the Med)
 

tane

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& btw: mid-boom-sheeting is bad on slab-reefing booms, with a heavy in boom-reefing-system already the slight play the boom is going to have, no matter how well the sheet is tightened, is going to strain everything & allow the outboard boom-end enough movement to be dangerous to the crew
 

Bristol-Cruiser

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I was struck by the fact that it required all four crew to put in a reef. Perhaps this is as a result of the need to head to wind with in-boom furling. Our Bristol was smaller, but still 40,000 pounds loaded with in-mast furling and no battens. It was routine for either of us, including my 5' 3" wife to reef or unreel alone. One of the advantages of a furling main is that you have infinite choices. You want the equivalent of five reefs when off the wind in 35 knots, go for it. The more I read about in-boom the less likely I am to want one.
 

accnick

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I was struck by the fact that it required all four crew to put in a reef. Perhaps this is as a result of the need to head to wind with in-boom furling. Our Bristol was smaller, but still 40,000 pounds loaded with in-mast furling and no battens. It was routine for either of us, including my 5' 3" wife to reef or unreel alone. One of the advantages of a furling main is that you have infinite choices. You want the equivalent of five reefs when off the wind in 35 knots, go for it. The more I read about in-boom the less likely I am to want one.
Key advantages of in-boom furling compared to in-mast are a more efficient mainsail shape, and less weight aloft in shitty conditions when reefed.

Boats are a series of trade-offs.
 

slug zitski

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it seems pretty clear to me - to reef the main you simply need to center the boom. this is the failure point: centering the boom!*

what could be easier? why are people complaining about reefing systems when the failure point was the fucking main sheet. A simple bad wrap here. an override. perhaps a line twist on the outside of the block. and it is all fucked. you simply cannot "manhandle" the loads involved here. then comes death. holy shit.

I do not think its a leap to say that this system does not belong. and in fact whoever sails on a boat that looks like this should be scared shitless.

*I haven't read the article twice. but this is the way it reads to me.
You don’t center the boom , you don’t go head to wind to reef a roller boom

to reef you put the boat on a tack …, perhaps 60 degree awa …typically starboard

energize the auto pilot, …oversheet the Genoa or staysail to back wind the main and unload the leech

then press the button and presto …you are reefing…single handed , no fuss

using a preventor on the boom is highly recomended ..almost all roller booms have internal preventor rigged

you want the boom to be absolutely stable ..

hoisting the main is a bit more tedious , but generally similar
 

slug zitski

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Once the boom height gets high you have no choice…roller boom or in mast

unless you have crew cable of working aloft in a chair when reefing the main

For stop and go cruising the roller boom , inmast systems are fantastic
 




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