HIGH LIFELINES AND SAFETY HALYARDS - HOW TO STAY ON BOARD OFFSHORE
Exit Only has an extremely safe cockpit for offshore sailing. As long as the crew remains in the confines of the cockpit, there's little risk of falling overboard.
The danger zone on board Exit Only is the area forward of the steering wheels until you reach the safety of the amidships cap shrouds. If you are moving or standing in that area and the catamaran is hit by a wave and suddenly moves sideways, there's a significant risk you could fall overboard. That's not just a theoretical risk.
When we were in a storm north of New Zealand, the boat was knocked eight feet sideways by a wave, and one second I was standing in the middle of the salon, and the next second I had fallen down into the galley.
Boats sometimes get knocked sideways, and if you are standing on deck when it happens, you can instantly be thrown overboard.
That experience taught me a lesson.
I decided to install high lifelines that would protect the crew when we sailed offshore. I put those lifelines in the danger zone, because that was the location of highest risk.
When we started our circumnavigation, we had port and starboard jacklines running the full length of the boat.
I didn't like the wire jacklines because stepping on them was like stepping on ball bearings. They would roll under my foot and they could cause me to fall.
I also didn't like the fact that they had a white cover on them that made it impossible to inspect the integrity of the wire. Hidden corrosion could damage the jackline, and it could break just when you needed it most.
I have heard that in some countries it is illegal to use a white cover on lifelines because you can't tell the status of the wire.
After several years, I replaced the wire jacklines with ones constructed of webbing.
Although the webbing worked fine, I worried about reports of people falling overboard and being dragged through the water and drowning because they were not strong enough to get back on board in a water-logged state. Sometimes injuries prevented the overboard victim from getting back on board, and in one case an elderly crew member wasn't strong enough to pull her husband on board, and he drowned.
The jackline concept is good in theory, but in practice, it doesn't always prevent you from going overboard. It doesn't prevent the safety harness from breaking your ribs, it doesn't prevent fractures if you get slammed into the side of the hull, and it doesn't get you back on board.
Our solution to the jackline problem was to install high lifelines that ran at waist and shoulder height from the stern to the amidships cap shrouds. These lifelines gave us protection in the danger zone.
We made our high lifelines using nylon webbing. We ran webbing back and forth from the stern to the amidships shrouds to create a "spider web" barrier that made it impossible to fall overboard. These high lifelines were so secure that we would brace ourselves against them to stabilize our cameras when shooting pictures offshore.
Once forward of the cap shrouds, we were out of the danger zone standing at the mast with ten feet of deck between us and the deep blue sea. The risk of falling overboard while standing at the mast was extremely remote.
Whenever we sailed offshore, we installed the high lifelines to keep us safe when going forward. At the end of the offshore passage, we took the high lifelines down so that the webbing wouldn't be continually exposed to the harmful effects of the sun's radiation.
Trampolines are the other danger zone on board Exit Only.
In rough seas north of New Zealand, we broke ten stainless steel eyebolts that held sections of the trampolines in place. We discovered the broken fasteners before anyone fell through the trampolines. Falling through trampolines isn't a theoretical risk. Racer Rob James was lost at sea after falling through the trampolines on his yacht.
Because of these and other foredeck risks, whenever crew goes forward to work on deck or stand on the trampolines, we attach him to an extra long spinnaker halyard that clips on to his safety harness. There's plenty of slack in the halyard for the person to move around on the foredeck, but if the crew member would go through the trampoline or fall overboard, recovering them back on board simply involves winching them on deck using the spinnaker halyard attached to their safety harness.
If someone falls through the trampoline on Exit Only, there's a good chance that they will be able to save themselves with the spinnaker halyard, and if that doesn't work, then a crew member will be able to winch them on board.
Every yacht is a different design and has different danger zones. On board Exit Only, high lifelines and an extra long spinnaker halyard protect our crew when they are in the danger zones.
Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.
Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.
If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.
Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.
Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.
Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.
After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.
Join Team Maxingout as they sail through Pirate Alley and up the Red Sea
See what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before you spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one
After watching the Red Sea Chronicles you will be able to see yourself sailing on the ocean of your dreams
Although I like the feel of a paper book in my hand, I love trees even more. When people purchase an eBook, they actually save trees and save money as well. Ebooks are less expensive and have no negative impact on the environment. All of Dr. Dave's books are available at Save A Tree Bookstore. Visit the bookstore today and start putting good things into your mind. It's easy to fill your mind with positive things using eBooks. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can pull out your smart phone or tablet and start reading. You can even use electronic highlighters and make annotations in your eBooks just like paper books.