No. 62 - April 1985

MAN OVERBOARD

John Charters (#1000)

 

During the nine years I was the Course Chairman of our Power Squadron's Seaman­ship/Sail course, one of the subjects covered in some detail was man overboard procedures. And we faithfully taught and learned the 'classic' method of rescue as detailed in many books. During which time I couldn't help thinking it all sounds too easy. And promised myself to never fall overboard. 'One hand for myself and one for the ship' would be my motto.

 

And still is. Frankly, the thought of being overboard with only my wife left to cope with the boat and rescue, in 20 knots plus, scares the hell out of me. I promise to wear my safety harness more often; in fact I've bought a new one, made by Tom Taylor, their SEA-FARE harness which incorporates a cordura vest to eliminate all the fumbling normally involved in putting on a standard webbing harness. (Sells for $45.00).

 

Here is an attempt to do a Readers Digest on the research done by the Seattle Sailing Foundation. Not an easy task I assure you. The fact of the matter is their report is so complete it is almost impossible to cut anything out. I quote verbatim from their opening tentative conclusions.

 

1.    A reliable boat handling method known to at least two crew members is a must.

2.    Visual contact with the victim must be maintained.

3.    The use of engines may be dangerous, especially with the inexperienced boat handler.

4.    Drowning, not hypothermia, is the primary danger.

5.    Hypothermia will be substantially reduced if the victim can get out of the water even though soaking wet.

6.    Panic must be dealt with.

7.    Some lifting device to get the victim back aboard is necessary.

8.    Following the victim into the water is risky and probably ineffective.

9.    Man overboard prevention, including harness gear, should be re-examined.

10.  Life jackets are a must.

 

The Foundation then went on to study published data, but found much did not relate directly to pick-up procedure, but dealt with hypothermia, drowning, CPA, life jackets and harnesses. Despite the importance of these subjects, the research undertaken was directed towards conventional pick-up methods, to arrive at some definite conclusions and hopefully develop new and better methods.

 

THE TESTING PROCEDURE (and I quote directly)

 

Most of our testing involved a live man overboard in a wet suit denominated 'victim'. While we used a dummy (Clyde) on a few tests we returned to the live person to simulate reality. All tests were of a single-handed retrieval method.

 

The Lifting Assist. We started with the basics. We saw how heavy it really was to manually lift someone out of the water. We saw right away that a lifting assist was necessary, and we tried several.

 

The main sheet was used with a sling around the man overboard. The problem was, however, that to lift a person over the lifelines or even to the rail with two blocking the mainsheet was very awkward and not practical. The boom in some cases had to be topped at a 200 angle.

 

We tried halyard winches and determined that they did not provide enough power on most boats (particularly for a person of light build) to winch a heavy man aboard.

 

We settled on a tackle affixed to the main halyard and hauled far enough aloft so that the person can be lifted over the lifeline. If due to a particular boat's layout the main halyard is impractical, another halyard will do. As backup, the tackle fall can be led to a winch.

 

The First tests: The first testing was done in light weather on Lake Washington with the technique of dropping sail, starting the engine, powering alongside, throwing a sling made of fire hose to the victim, and hauling him aboard on the tackle. In light air (4 - 6 knots) this took an experienced boat handler five and one-half minutes to accomplish a retrieval.

 

We then tried the sail pickup method in similar light air. This method was suggested by several publications and consists of using an unhanked jib as a sling. It took 25 minutes of effort to get the 'victim' alongside the boat, sails down, jib rigged, victim in it, and hauled up as high as the boat rail. He then fell out. In the meantime, he reported extreme claustrophobia in the giant enclosed bathtub we had created. We did not pursue this method.

 

Unquote! As a member of our local Coast Guard Auxiliary, I participated in a towing and rescue operation last summer, with our yacht club's committee and rescue boat. Unfortunately, our boat only did practice towing. Others took on the task of doing a rescue. And like the above tests, the victim was clad in a wet suit. During the video replay, it was noted by our instructor that most rescues took far too long, and in one case the rescuers had to snag the victim with a boat hook to get him alongside. And these were members of the Auxiliary, about ten to a boat to assist with rescue. So the results of the test done by the Foundation come as no surprise.

 

The second set of tests conducted by the Foundation were done in salt water and more wind. They found that in 20 knots or more wind, there are entirely different problems; in particular, drift of the boat with sails down while effecting the rescue. Without repeating their findings, it is enough to say that pick-up is far more difficult when the wind pipes up. This I am sure comes as no surprise.

 

From the preliminary tests, they found there were two basic problems; one of boat handling and another of lifting. They felt they had a start on the lifting solution, but getting the boat to the person had not been answered adequately. Next time we'll take a look at the various procedures.

 

CONCERNING HANDICAPS

Mike Nicoll-Griffith

 

There are primarily three handicapping systems operating on two different techniques and I offer my uninhibited comments about them.

 

The two techniques are Time on Time and Time on Distance. Time on Time multiplies elapsed time by a factor to give corrected time. It lacks accuracy when yachts move from skin-friction speeds to wave-making speeds and start to be limited (inequitably) by length and hull form. The short tubby yachts suffer first, then the larger tubby yachts. Planing hulls are much less affected (they appear, relatively, to accelerate) while catamarans just seem to go faster and faster since their hulls offer relatively even less resistance than planing hulls.

 

Time on Distance allows a certain number of minutes per mile as a deduction from elapsed time. It presumes you can measure the distances accurately and fairly (which may be an unreasonable expectation when you are beating). The premise, I believe, is that yachts are travelling at or near hull speed throughout the race. The method becomes unfair to yachts with shorter rigs when the wind speed drops, partly because the wind fails first near the water surface, and partly because it is obviously nonsense to have a pre-fixed number of minutes as the fleet speed gets slower and slower.

 

You might suppose that when small boats suffer in stronger winds through one system, and through lighter winds in the other system, that one could make a composite calculation that would be fair. This might indeed be the case for cruising hulls - I consider the mathematics to be beyond me - but would not work universally, because the planing hulls tend to be quite good close to flat calm, when catamarans are just hopeless.

 

So it seems to me that Time on Distance is appropriate for offshore racing, where the trade winds blow, there is usually no flat calm, and sail changes are the order of the day; that Time on Time is appropriate for shorter races, inland use, lighter winds and more variable fleet speeds.

 

Now to the application of these two techniques.

 

Portsmouth

This is for time on time, and is all around the best; (my opinions speaking).

 

We used this for a long time before I went to Indonesia and it seemed to give excellent results. We actually used our own numbers, which we maintained based on Portsmouth publications, both from R.Y.A. and from Dixie, this last one later becoming the USYRU system. We also had a formula for dinghies that would enable a calculation of the SLV number, via the Portsmouth number using length, sail area, and an adjustment we used to apply for the estimated calibre of design.

 

These SLV numbers were maintained by a retired couple who spent a lot of time studying results, so they were very good. We then had what I now believe was the best system and numbers for our needs with the possible exception that we did not use the USYRU Portsmouth corrections for wind speeds, other than for catamarans, mainly because the wind speed had to be decided by an amateur race committee. We simply made one separation for them at 12 knots, when white horses become visible.

 

The apparently arbitrary nature of the decision-making irritated certain commercial interests that were trying to design and market hot new boats of revolutionary design and could not get hold of any 'formula' to design against Thus Steffen Yachts, primarily, pushed for a Measurement Formula, such as MORC (Midget Ocean Racing Club), but never were prepared to put in the work to arrange the conversion or keep such a thing running. Every yacht owner would have to pay an associate membership fee, and possibly also a measurement fee of over $100 which was outside this area's experience and norms.

 

There was always suspicion that the numbers were tampered with, if not to favour friends, then at least to change the scene, and in an excessively arbitrary way. This is how it was. The numbers were good because we made unscheduled adjustments based on what we considered the best information available, including our own races, PHRF, Dixie, R.Y.A. etc. - whatever we could get for a reasonable price.

 

Time on Distance

In 1976 the system was changed to a Time on Distance basis to make use of PHRF numbers. The letters stand for "Pacific Handicap Racing Fleet". PHRF numbers are the result of the experience of those who sail in the Pacific North West.

 

Because they were unadjusted (at least locally), they were more defensible, and we have now used them for eight years. However, the information I have is that the numbers are deliberately designed to favour faster (and newer?) designs, and there­fore this may or may not be what you are looking for. In the Hudson Long Distance Race, there is a definite bias showing up year after year, and people are pointing fingers at the numbers.

 

One thing that would tend to favour the suggestion that faster boats are getting an unfair edge could be the fact that lake racing tends to involve triangles with windward work, and windward legs give a wind shadow advantage to those that move off from the start earlier. This may mean my criticism of PHRF is unjust, but it does not make the PHRF numbers any better for lake use as a consequence.

 

You mention varying wind speed and the difference between salt and fresh water as possible factors of inaccuracy. I am not sure that your suggestions are as strong arguments as the wind shadow one, but they are interesting to consider.

 

MORC

All the above has led to the creation of a MORC station in this part of the world which is currently being initiated.

 

SLVYRA's position is that the MORC sailors are members of a club, equivalent to a one-design class, and have their own speed-equalizing/compensating formula. They may therefore request a class start in club events in 1985.

 

We are uncertain what will happen for scoring in the former Cruising Division since the MORC group may decimate the latter. I personally have not yet decided whether to apply for an Associate MORC membership in order to take a MORC handicap into the Hudson Long Distance Race (assuming such would be allowed for a Tanzer 22).

 

However, I think it is instructive to note that PHRF numbers are changed by the following Seconds per Mile when the MORC numbers are used:

Tanzer 22 +23       C&C25     +10

Tanzer 26 +0        Mirage 27 -8  

C & C 27  +3        J/24      +11

C & C 30  -8        Mega 30   -19

J/30      -2        J/29      -1

 

There's not much there for classes you mention as being sailed on Kootenay Lake, so I will leave Handicaps for now, and write a little about SLVYRA.

 

SLVYRA was founded in 1946 as a competition area of NAYRU, now converted into USYRU. It now operates two of the Regions of the Quebec Sports Federation in association with the Quebec Sailing Federation. It has 13 member clubs.

 

In the Pacific North West there is a PIYA (Pacific Inland Yachting Association, I think), which is similar to us. Like SLV, that Association is not recognized by CYA. We pay dues to CYA but they will not put us on their mailing list, apparently for fear of muddying the line of official communication through the Provincial sailing authority. Thus PIYA includes Canadian Clubs, but is instead a member organization of USYRU. This matter may be addressed by the 1985 IYRU Rule Book, in the "eligibility to compete" section.

 

 

BITS, BOLTS & TURNBUCKLES

Jacques d'Avignon (#595)


Engine mixture too rich

If you ever find the mixture too rich, engine will not idle properly, (quits when you try to grab a mooring . . .) and you are sure that you have followed the instructions carefully; it may be due to pinholes in the hose or the pipe sucking gas from your tank. I had this problem occur to me a few weeks ago. The carburetor was dirty but the main reason would appear to have been air being sucked in and making the float bounce and the mixture was overly rich. You should have seen the spark-plugs; when removed they were dripping oil. I know that a Mercury is not a diesel . . . The incident cost me a towing job to Gardon Marine in Gananoque. Incidentally, they are super and would recommend them to anyone having some problems while cruising the Thousand Islands.

 

Jacking trailer for winter

If you keep your boat on a trailer during the winter, I would recommend that you do not block up the trailer by putting shoring under the frame but under the axles. Last winter in order to relieve pressure on the springs of the trailer I put the blocks under the frame of the trailer instead of the axles. During the winter the frost heaves twisted the trailer and apparently slightly distorted the hull. When came time to attach the shrouds in the spring, one set was 4 inches too short.

This was the first time this had happened in 10 years. The boat is OK now, does not favor one tack or the other, but it was a lesson that I will not forget.

 

Anchoring in Thousand Islands

If you travel to Lake Ontario and arrive at Endymion Island and find that no moorings are available, it is not a disaster. As long as you anchor outside the weed area you will find a good clay bottom. Last time I anchored in 30 feet of water with 150 feet of anchor rope. In the morning I had to run over the anchor to get it out. The Danforth came up with about 50 lbs. of clay, you know the real sticky and dense stuff. My experience is that in most areas where no weeds are present, the bottom is a very good holding ground.

 

If you use the moorings supplied by Parks Canada, I would suggest that you use double lines leaving one slack. Last week during a windy night one of my lines was chewed up badly. I was using one half inch nylon and in the morning the line was chafed right across. So two lines, better safe than sorry. Even at a mooring, I now have an anchor light. Too much traffic at night.

 

Radio Installation

As you will see in the photo #1 a neat way of installing a VHF is overhead the table. It is out of the way and readily accessible. The little box beside the radio is a junction box to make the connection to the radio. I also mounted a navigator light on the box so that I can have light on the table at night.



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