LOGS - WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE LOGS?
A classic Indiana Jones scene show Indiana sprawled on the floor inside an Egyptian tomb surrounded by hundreds of snakes. As he looks at the cobra in front of his face, he says, “Why did it have to be snakes?”
Jones has a real aversion to poisonous reptiles - they are not his cup of tea in the jungle, in ancient Egyptian tombs, or anywhere else on planet earth.
I understand how he feels. I don’t like them either.
Fortunately, during my global adventures, snakes have been a manageable risk. If you look where you put your feet and hands, and where you sit, you rarely have a problem.
During our Arabian adventures, I encountered an Arabian back fanged cobra that slithered away from me so fast, I could barely keep up with him as I chased him with my camera.
During other Arabian escapades, I met up with two sand vipers, one large and one small, and neither of them showed any interest in me or my desert companions.
The first time I transited the Panama Canal, we had a large snake swim by our boat at our anchorage in Gatun lake.
In New Caledonia in the South Pacific, sea snakes were in abundance. You can see dozens of them in the lagoons and outlying islands anytime you want (or didn't want for that matter). We even had sea snakes climb up the stern of our catamaran - not to attack us, but to enjoy the tropical sun on our transom. New Caledonian sea snakes are non-aggressive which is a good thing because their venom is among the most potent in the world.
Even though I am not fond of venomous snakes, they don’t give me nightmares, and I don’t worry about encountering them.
Logs are an entirely different matter.
As Exit Only sails offshore, I say to myself, “Logs, why did it have to be logs?”
The biggest logs I have seen offshore were in the Indian Ocean after the global tsunami. Massive trees were washed into the ocean by the tsunami in Sri Lanka. This was your worst case scenario. As we sailed south of Sri Lanka, we weren’t just looking at floating logs. We were looking at whole trees with root balls that were ten feet tall, trunks that were four feet across and a hundred feet long.
I would have been happy to just see a palm tree or small log float by when I was sailing south of Sri Lanka. But no. It was whole trees.
The trees were so large, it was necessary to stop the sailboat at night to avoid colliding with the logs in the dark. That is one of the few times I have had to heave to on Exit Only, and I discovered that heaving to works on a catamaran just like it does on a monohull.
With global warming, we are now seeing category five hurricanes sweeping through the caribbean, and it’s not surprising they put lots of logs in the water.
Hurricane Irma had a top wind speed of 177 miles per hour. That amount of wind with accompanying storm surge puts massive amounts of debris in the water, and that debris takes years to go away.
On our passage from the Bahamas to Panama, I saw more logs in the water than I had seen on our entire circumnavigation - if you exclude the logs dumped in the water by the global tsunami.
In the Caribbean we ran a log gauntlet, and hitting one of them could cause serious damage, and disable or even sink a yacht.
During the daylight hours, we watched the logs floating by, but at night it was impossible to see and avoid them.
Sailing at night was like Russian Roulette, and you hoped to make it through the night without disaster.
When a log hits a sailboat, the amount of damage it creates depends on multiple factors, and it all comes down to design of the boat and the amount of energy involved in the collision.
When we sailed through the windward passage, the seas were flat, and the logs were relatively stationary objects that you did your best to avoid. It was the log slalom olympics, and if you made it through the floating debris without damage, you gave yourself a gold medal.
When we left the windward passage and entered the Caribbean sea, we immediately encountered closely spaced steep fifteen foot waves and wind blowing 23 - 28 knots. Logs now presented an exponentially greater danger. A log careening down the face of a fifteen foot wave could do massive damage to our boat. Not a pleasant thought, and not a great way to end a world cruise.
The design of the yacht makes a difference as to what happens when you collide with logs at sea.
We are a catamaran without daggerboards. We have a relatively deep and long sloping keel which could push a log out of the way without doing much damage to the yacht. On the other hand, if we had daggerboards on each hull like many cats, a daggerboard striking a log could be a real problem. Damaging the daggerboard is the best case scenario, and destroying the daggerboard case is a worse case scenario. If you rupture the daggerboard case, water can flood the yacht.
When we sail through large logs, I am grateful we don't have daggerboards.
Yacht builders now install saildrives on the majority of new catamarans. Unfortunately, the installation of a saildrive requires the builder to create a large hole in the bottom of the yacht in the engine room. The hole is sealed off with a heavy duty gasket that prevents ingress of water so the yacht does not sink. It works good in theory and is easy to install, but it's a nightmare when sailing through a log jam offshore.
If a large log hits your saildrive, it can dislodge the saildrive with massive flooding the boat. Such an encounter can be catastrophic with loss of the yacht.
If you are a shallow water sailor, and you sail in a log free area, then saildrives should work for you. Just don't get a sheet or line entangled in the prop which could rip out the saildrive.
As a real ocean cruiser, I don’t want to sail offshore dodging logs with a saildrive in my boat.
It’s also helpful to have collision bulkheads. Our collision bulkhead is about 12 inches back from the bow, and the bulkhead completely seals off the bow from the rest of the boat. You can knock an eight inch hole in the bow, and there will be no flooding of the yacht. Collision bulkheads work.
When our new catamaran was delivered from France to he USA, the delivery skipper struck an unknown object and knocked a large hole in the bow of our catamaran. The collision bulkhead prevented flooding of the starboard hull. It was a shame to have a gaping hole in the bow of a new boat, but it was an easy fix, and it demonstrated the value of collision bulkheads.
So there you have it. I am not worried about snakes, but logs are another thing. Logs are my nemesis.
Logs, why did it have to be logs?
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.
Captain Dave and his family spent eleven years sailing around the world on their Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only. During the trip, the crew shot 200 hours of video with professional cameras to show people what it's like to sail on a small boat around the world.
The Red Sea Chronicles is a one hour and twenty-two minute feature film showing their adventures as Exit Only sails through Pirate Alley in the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea. The professional footage documents their experiences in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and the Suez Canal. It chronicles the rigors of traveling in a remote section of the world rarely visited by cruisers. Exit Only dodges Yemeni pirates, fights a gale and sand storms in the Bab al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The crew explores deserted islands on the western shores of the Red Sea, and learns to check the cruising guides for land mines before venturing ashore.
The Red Sea Chronicles also has outstanding Special Features including an Instructional Video on Storm Management that tells sailors how to deal with storms at sea.
The Red Sea Chronicles is a first class adventure that stokes the sailing dreams of both experienced and wannabe sailors alike.
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
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