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Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:10 pm
by OldRover
Somewhat of an odd question, but am wondering if anyone has experienced a knockdown or capsize? This is the result of one of those conversations that seems to pop up every now and then at the boat yard. One of the guys asked about my project and the whole unstayed carbon fiber mast thing started again. One guy said Freedoms were all the rage back in the 80s, but you don't see them anymore due to the masts... Then someone brought up a story of a friend who had an aluminum mast sheer when they suffered a knockdown. A racer said he has no such fear with his CF mast, but his Pearson uses standing rigging.
I have seen the picture and associated story of the beached Freedom on Eric Sponberg's site. Mine was beached and the main mast broken by harbor patrol who tied off at the masthead to right her. My wife reminded us of a story of a poor fellow who lost his arm when his cat's mast snapped during a storm and somehow the shroud cable caught around his arm. We did say that in at least that sense we fell better about the unstayed 'one less thing to worry about'.
Any stories or thoughts on the topic would be interesting and give me some info for the next yard chat.

Re: Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:10 am
by Rick Simonds
I got knocked down twice in my Hoyt 32, about 15 minutes apart, singlehanding in a truly wild thunderstorm off Clearwater FL about 20 years ago (my 60 MPH anemometer was pegged above 60 for 20 minutes. I found out later that the Clearwater Pass bridge, about 2 or 3 miles away, pegged their 100 MPH anemometer for several minutes.) I had a double reefed main and the Camberspar jib up and I was close reaching, splling wind and "feathering" into the wind enough to keep steerageway, just trying to just let the storm pass. An instantanious 60 degree wind shift knocked me flat. The mast went into, but not under, the water. The boat rounded into the wind and came right back up in just a few seconds, sails flogging like mad. I got back to spilling and feathering, had no damage at all and, 15 minutes later, nearly the same thing happened again, though I don't think the mast quite touched the water this time. Again, the boat came back up with no damage. Nothing. Not a torn sail or a popped sail slide or a lost batton or anything.

Two knockdowns, zero damage whatsoever (except to my shorts!)

Re: Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:40 am
by dwight
The righting moment of the vessel is considered in the initial design of the carbon fiber mast. The mast can handle rolling the boat. A major problem for CF masts is "point loading." This is most often caused by a spinnaker or staysail halyard. There have been several cases where a mast failed when trying to tow a grounded boat by the masthead.

Re: Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:50 am
by Hans
We got knocked down with our 38ft on our Atlantic crossing from Newport to France in May 2005. We had a storm for some days winds gradually building up to +58 knots, waves building as well.
By then running downwind under bare pole. When winds diminished to 35 knots we resumed course broad reaching with 3 reef. In the night we were hit by a freak wave, heard it coming: 'an avalanche of water, sounding like a on storming train'. Pitch dark, didn't see were it came from. We were thrown on our beam, mast hit the water, the new installed tricolor had an different angle on the mast the following morning. Ovendoor of the stove hadn't been secured, the contents of the oven were found on the charttable, they damaged the PC screen. Boat behaved perfect. We had a nice trip for the rest of the journey.

Re: Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 9:15 pm
by OldRover
Guys, great replies! Thanks much.
Rick, once wasn't fun enough and you went for two :)
Dwight, basically what I was trying to tell the yard guys. I'll articulate more the way you stated.
Hans, I have rather limited bluewater experience and your experience is probably my biggest fear (sneaky stuff in the dark). Glad to hear the ending was mostly positive.
Overall, my question came from the yard convo, but good to hear positive outcomes. The closest I have ever really come was way back when the wife and I took sailing lessons on a Colgate 26. Another student panicked after a puff on close reach and pulled the tiller instead of push. Our instructor moved like a flying squirrel and dumped the main just as it tagged the water. After that I prefer to keep the toe rails above water. So far I feel quite confident I should be in good shape with my F39ph. I still prefer nice sunny days, but look forward to pushing my limits, and am not arguing with my wife's insistence of the harness in foul weather.

Re: Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 6:34 pm
by Castaway
Old Rover,

There is a .pdf copy of an article about a knockdown in the Atlantic in the Manual & Documentation section of this forum, under the heading of Article about Freedom yachts in UK Yachting Monthly, page three of that discussion. We bought that boat the following year, and it showed no signs of significant damage as a result. Happily we have never repeated the event, so I don't know what it was like. George Tinley was a very experienced sailor who completed the 1979 Fastnet despite injury, so his laconic description may be somewhat understated!

Freedom yachts all seem to be very tough, and seaworthy too, so I expect most would survive such an event.



Re: Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 10:39 am
by OldRover
Gerald, good article. Thanks to pointing out, I had not seen it. Great to hear she is still in good nick. As far as I can see Freedoms do seem to have been built very solid. With my project I have become very intimate with all aspects. Some of the cosmetics could have been built better, but structure seems really great.
Interestingly my wife has been picking up articles on each aspect of my project as I am doing the actual work (seacock/thru hull removal, prop removal, and even a full rebuild like mine). I think I should not forward the article to her :) Or maybe now is good while we are still on hards.

Comment on Freedom ketch and schooner design

PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 5:35 am
by Michel
Here are some thoughts I gathered after a lot of reading on yacht design and sailing Freedom catketches since 1996.

All Freedoms were designed with a freestanding rig in mind. The forces in a freestanding rig have to be taken up by the hull and deck structural box only. There is no compression load from shrouds and mast base and the forces from the rig are not taken up by a frame connecting mast base, keel frames and shroud attachments points. On the two-masted Freedoms, the hull is designed to take up the torsional forces from two masts moving athwart-ships independently from each other and acting to twist the hull. As far as my experience goes, the hulls are built very rigid (but relatively light) to withstand all these forces. I never heard stories of Freedoms deforming and delaminating in the high stress bow area. The low rig on the two mast Freedoms allows for a relatively low ballast ratio of under 40%. This makes the movements at sea less jerky and allows for some reduction of the laminate stiffness, as do the flexible masts. On the Freedom 44 I have, the distance between the masts is 6 m (20'). Not surprisingly, the widest part of the hull is almost exactly between the masts since the wider the hull, the larger the box frame of deck and hull and the better torsional forces (largest at the midpoint between the masts) can be taken up. In confused seas you sometimes hear the floorboards creak, a sign of torsion in hull and deck, in my opinion. However, this never gave me the idea the hull and deck are too flexible to get to a point where deformation would become dangerous and lead to delamination.

Re: Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:24 am
by Mike Holibar
Sailing in the Marlborough sounds two years ago. Not a great area for sailing in strong conditions as the winds shift a great deal and strong gusts come from the hill tops. However we were heading generally down wind and so sailing under foresail alone, maybe with one reef if I remember. Mother in law and sister in law were below with nephew and daughter, while other nephew and I were sailing. We were hit by a gust of unknown strength from the starboard side. From the deck we saw the boom in the water as the boat rounded up, down below the girls reported the main pilot house windows on the port side were momentarily submerged.
Great thrills for all. No one seemed unduly upset, no injuries, no damage.

Re: Anyone Experience a Knockdown?

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:44 am
by OldRover
Mike, sounds like it would make a great Coney Island ride :) Glad nobody was hurt. Sounds like you keep everything tidy and secure since there was no mention of flying objects.