Mini Cat Transat?

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Alex.A, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    Bob Beggs did well in a Tiki 26 in the OSTAR, but I think he wouldn't be allowed to race it now.

    Fanie, you're definitely right about the need for safe interior space, not too constrained. Jones mentioned that a small open bridgedeck cat was excellent for that, since you had two hulls; each crew could go be alone if he or she felt the need.

    Zed, I agree that there is more hope for recovery if a small mono is capsized. But there may be more to the story than that. The disaster for a mono is not capsize-- even if you lose the rig, as often happens, there's always a chance to jury rig something to limp home on. The disaster for a mono is sinking, which a cat sailor doesn't have to worry about. A violent capsize can rip off hatches and doghouses, leading to sinking. Even then, great seamanship and heroic effort can save a boat-- look at Tzu Hang, which capsized twice in the Roaring Forties, ripped open, and saved only by what seems almost superhuman effort. Another thing to bear in mind is that although capsize can be a disaster for a small cat, it takes a whole lot more energy to capsize a small cat than it does to capsize a small mono. Presumably any attempt to take a small cat across the Atlantic would be timed to provide the least risk of heavy weather. The beach cat came across on the tradewind run from east to west in 18 days. Their big concern was light weather, since they only had food for 17 days.

    In the hurricane that Jones and his wife weathered in their modified Wharram Hinemoa, Two Rabbits, they were spotted by a good-sized, well-found, new fiberglass Dutch yacht, Banjo. Later that night, Banjo fell off a wave crest and split open. Despite the crew's best efforts, the boat sank, though they were lucky enough to be taken off without loss of life. As the storm reached its peak, Jones crawled across the deck to the windward hull, where he waited out the storm. When the storm had passed, they hoisted sail and headed back to the U.S coast. They had no gear breakages or other damage.

    Your point about seaworthy cats possibly being slower than mini-transat boats is well taken. I don't know how it would work out, but it would be interesting to see the times. My feeling is that ingenuity would eventually lead to the cats being faster than the monos. For example, some sort of gunter main and a screecher on a prod might allow a lot of sail in light conditions, but you'd be able to reduce windage substantially in gale conditions. In any case, the cat would be far more comfortable than the mini-transat.

    People forget, but the first Atlantic crossing by a cat was a boat only 23 and a half feet long, crudely built and sailed by a near-novice... I have to add that after that experience, Wharram built a 40 foot cat, which may tell us something.

    I have to confess that much of my enthusiasm for multis comes from my overactive imagination. Whenever I've been out on blue water in a mono, I can't help thinking about all that black water that my corpse would be sinking down through to the bottom of the abyss, if something went badly wrong-- say, I hit a shipping container and the life raft didn't inflate.

    I recently read a tragic book about a woman who was sailing around the world with her husband and two children in a big strong monohull. They were within 20 miles of the New Zealand coast, when an unlit freighter ran them down. Their son probably died in the collision, as his bunk was in the area crushed by the freighter. She, her husband, and their young daughter got out as the yacht sank, but the life raft had been torn away in the collision, so all they had to get into was a half-deflated dinghy. The husband had been off watch and had little clothing and began to suffer from hypothermia. The freighter did not stop, and the woman could see the faces of the crew watching her as they steamed away. The daughter was washed out of the dinghy, the husband went after her, but was unable to reach her before she drowned, and then he slipped under the waves. For a long time that morning, she could see her daughter's body drifting in the red lifejacket they'd put her in.

    By a miracle, she survived and the currents carried her to shore, but it's a cautionary tale for anyone who puts too much faith in any particular kind of boat.

    Sorry about writing so much, but it's a subject I find very interesting, though I don't know that I'd ever have the nerve to try crossing the Atlantic in a small cat.
     
  2. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Ray, you tell great stories, if you have more, please do tell !

    The last time I was in bad weather I vowed if I ever build any kind of boat again I would make it unsinkable, or not build at all. So I'm paranoid about it. My son was on the boat with me, he cried from fear so I made him sit and look aft. If anything went wrong that day, engine failed or anything else, a wave overboard it would have been overs cadovers. The only fear I had was if something went wrong, a wave hit the boat side on, anything weard, a lost moment of concentration.

    Though we made it out I had the option to stay on an island. It would have been the better choice and just wait the storm out. That brings me to the next point :D If the boat was just a meter or two longer and wider, wow, what a difference that would have made ! Size does count, just ask Godzilla.

    A friend of mine and his father in law used to go fishing from his ski boat every year. One afternoon they got a storm warning, packed up and left asap. They could see the beach and were right behind the breakers when the storm hit them, next moment it was almost dark. The boat got flipped both men in the water. My friend said he couldn't see or breathe the foam and spray was that bad, never mind helping the old man. And we considered ourselves capable at that age. This one had a happy ending though.

    The wives were on the beach, they also heard the storm warning, and so was a life saver, my friend said it was a young snot nose kid :D This young guy swam in and got the old man out, then him. He said he had no idea how he found them in the dark and turmoil. He also said he was totally spent, just from fighting to keep his head up for air, said he saw there how easy it is to drown with a life jacket on. They would not have made it out on their own.

    The thread turned a bit morbit but there are more great days than bad ones. Some days the sun is up, the fish bite so much you have to throw them back on the other side of the boat out of fear you may catch the same ones again :D You move to the next spot when the mouthes of the fish you catch begin to look like raggs :D No seriously, some days are just un be friggin lievable.

    Point is a little bigger boat can make a huge difference. I think there is a bit of difference between just only just capsize and only just not capsize. He he... you know it's close if you feel it going over and you instintively lean away and the boat comes back up :D All 500 tonnes of it...
     
  3. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    Yeah, you're right about me getting a little morbid. I recently reviewed the book about the woman who lost her family, for Living Aboard magazine, so it was on my mind. Anyway, I think anyone who ventures out onto the ocean has to be aware of its power-- even when the beach is in sight, as your story illustrates.

    It's true that a little bit bigger boat makes a huge difference. Having looked at the numbers, the static stability difference between a 23 foot cat of conventional beam and a 30 footer is enormous. But the 30 footer is a massive project in comparison, in both time and money.

    I can think of one advantage the smaller cat might have. Because it does have so much less stability than the 30 footer (even upside down) it might be a little easier to devise a workable righting scheme for the smaller boat that could be managed by the crew unassisted. To me, this is the Safety Holy Grail of small multis, just as positive flotation is the Safety Holy Grail of monohulls. The ability to right a capsized cat could be just as valuable as the ability to not sink if your ballasted monohull fills.

    Of course, if you attempted to draw a 23 footer for ocean crossing, a workable righting scheme, flotation designed to permit living upside down in reasonable comfort until the seas went down, and stowage designed not to lose vital supplies would have to be among your design priorities.
     
  4. dialdan
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    dialdan Junior Member

    How about a Nic Bailey 26ft Cool Cat for starters ? Sorry you will have to Google it ,I can,t post the link.
    Al
     
  5. Alex.A
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    Alex.A Senior Member

    OK - so difficult - not impossible.... sounds like the mini transat.
    Give an extra wide beam and restrict mast height - designers will find a way to get speed with a lower coe? Might get some sail innovations?
    For saftey, it could be 2 crew?
    Due to fast crossing , less supplies needed...
    Length 8 to 8.5m?

    Combine the cats with the mini circuit and race?
    Allow weather info for saftey?

    To promote small cats - how about cat-moths?
    Will innevitably get hi-tec and expensive in no time tho....
     
  6. Zed
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    Zed Senior Member

    Mini Transats can average 15 knots and get into the 20's, that is no mean feat for a small cat at sea. I reckon that there will be a small window of conditions in which a cat will be consistently faster and I will be surprised if they are not slower in light conditions at sea. To bank on the multi being that much faster as to make a significant difference, I think, is underrating the monos typical ability. The best days run stands at 269 miles, as far as I have looked anyway, again no mean feat for any craft that size.
     
  7. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Sorry Ray, I didn't mean you turned morbid, we need to hear some things as a reminder of what can go wrong. It is a good story and I'm glad you posted on it. I think it's really terrible that the big boats crew saw them and did not assist them. Could have been so much different... maybe.

    One way of keeping a cat from going over to upside down is to have buoyancy in the mast, Manie and I discussed it a short while ago. One have to remember never the less that the conditions play a big role in if you will be able to right the boat or not. If it's only in wind you probably can. When there's waves then it becomes a bit more difficult. Of course if it is dark it becomes even more difficult.

    Imo, the extra it takes for the extra size is going to be worth it. Things on bigger boats happen slower than on smaller boats, but when they do there is much more force.

    There are a lot of things one can implement on a boat to make it safer. Unfortunately all cost money one never have when you need it. Broadband radars are becoming affordable to prevent collision, so does satellite phones which is a far better option than any radio, on the rig you can put clutch cleats (they are being made) so the sudden squall doesn't rip the boat over. It's a lot easier trimming the sail back than righting the boat.

    Alex, I think a place to start is to look at the characteristics of boats that are capable to handle certain conditions, then survey your own and see if it can work in those conditions. Cater for the when worst comes to worst.

    One has to remember that even as Ray pointed out that the first Atlantic crossing by a cat was a boat only 23 and a half feet long that it may be the exceprion to the rule to have made it. People circumnavigated in smaller boats, BUT... :D How many others didn't make it ? A bit like sperm, one makes it, thousands perrish. Sorry probably not a good example :rolleyes: but you get my drift.
     
  8. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    I want to add one more important requirement, we always only look at the rig and how good that is, but no one ever consider or mention the human at the helm. The mental and physical condition of this person often is the factor that makes the boat survive against the odds.

    When you're out there somewhere, and this wall of weather comes rushing at you like a mountain on steroids, do you think 'oh **** we're dead' or do you think 'bring it on !' Well, ok not really but if you're going to hide in the hull crying with fear it's not going to cut it. If you can keep your bearings and some kind of mental willingness you have a chance providing you don't do something stupid. If that lasts for three days, will you make it with what you have... or do you give up after a few hours.
     
  9. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Sorry for the multiple posts.

    One other thing that is imo very important is to know your boat. For the most part most okes go off the water when the weather picks up. If you don't know how your boat behaves or how it reacts to various conditions you may get a couple of surprises. I like to test all kinds of things and more than often thought to myself, ok, that wasn't too smart :D
     
  10. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

  11. Alex.A
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    Alex.A Senior Member

    Make the boat 8-9m. allow for water ballast and design it something like "pookie" on proa-file....
    Using the high, rounded deckhouse and the ballast you may even be able to work out some self righting system?
    Bi mast it? Could sail it on the lee mast mainly to windward and both downwind..... could possibly use crabclaw - could then use both to windward - one straight up and the other at a low angle for less blanketting?

    Fanie - small SA cat - i like your thinking but i am more interested in simplicity and cost....
    1 smaller outboard and less complexity in joining the hulls....
     
  12. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    So am I !!!

    Have about 16 hulls or more to make already... If you're interested I can let you know nearer to the time what the cost will be.
     
  13. Alex.A
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    Alex.A Senior Member

    Keep me posted....
    Your tri looked like fun.
     
  14. Alex.A
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    Alex.A Senior Member

    RAY- self righting - small cats that are demountable might be able to self-right if could demount upside down? Keep tethered while seperating and ballast would right them. One ama would still have beams attached Then rejoin.... not a simple task but might be possible? Would have to wait for calm seas and need a crew but......? Obviously wouldn't work with larger cats.
    Ok so stupid idea but there aren't many other idea's yet.
    Another odd idea - again for smaller, demountable cats - if sustain hull damage - take one ama off and turn into an outrigger...?
     

  15. Hisflyingtune
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    Hisflyingtune Hisflyingtunesmith

    Wayne Dickinson had considerable muscle atrophy from his time at sea in
    his boat God's Tear. Why not add a pedal boat apparatus to combat the muscular atrophy problem?

    Talk about redundancy:
    1) Aux outboard motor power
    2) Oars
    3) Pedal Boat
    4) Sail (of course!)

    It's down to a battle of inches to surpass Serge Testa's record. He did it in
    11'10" or in 142" boat. Using the best materials for weight consideration, shave that down to 11' or 132".

    Who's going to try it?
     
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