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Old 05 December 2006, 12:32   #1
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Flotsam and Jetsam

I suppose that I am a coward at heart. Once going over, say, 20 knots I become afraid of hitting something. Around here, off the West of Ireland, I find both on the shore and afloat plenty of baulk timbers. Some of this stuff is 12" x 12" and up to 20' length and can be semi-submerged. There are also logs of substantial size. Once there is any wave on the sea, it can be near impossible to see this stuff.
I would image that there is also a good deal of debris in the English Channel, being a busy shipping lane. I have heard of containers bobbing along ! So, how do you guys feel about the risks that I am afraid of?
It could be, statistically, that there is little risk in hitting something. Surely, however, even with a commercial type hull it would be catastrophic to hit a big lump of timber at 40 knots.

P.
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Old 05 December 2006, 13:08   #2
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I don't think you can worry about it. Think of all the high-speed commercial operators; they don't slow down. I too have heard of containers, floating along just below the surface. Never seen one though.

All one can do is trust to luck and if one does spot a dangerous object, radio its position to the coastguard.
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Old 05 December 2006, 13:59   #3
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We have intermittent problems here with bits falling off old wooden wrecks into the harbour and causing a hazard. I've fished a couple of little bits out and you sometimes see the harbour launches towing bigger bits but not that often and its in an enclosed space.

I keep an eye out but to be honest I don't worry about it too much.

If you hit a 12x12 timber end on, it'll go through just about anything and even side on it won't do you much good though I suppose if you are planing you might get away with losing the engine and whatever it was bolted to....

One of the Halmatic launches belonging to our company (GRP lifeboat hull but heavy duty commercial stuff - I think the Speedwell weighs about 12 tons) hit a drifting steel buoy or something in the dark some years ago and punched a hole right through the hull - doing about 18 knots. If it had been a RIB with half the hull thickness (maybe less) doing twice the speed it would have been pretty messy I think!
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Old 05 December 2006, 14:26   #4
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It is a worry.

The other owner of Renegade collected a railway sleeper coming into Portsmouth a few years back. I don't know how fast he was going (but I do know he has a very heavy right hand).

The hull suffered a few minor scratches, but the end of the trim cylinder was pulled out by the impact on the engine. Cost a few quid to repair.
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Old 05 December 2006, 15:01   #5
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A lot depends on the time of year - after heavy rain loads of stuff is carried out to sea from the rivers. A bloke I know spotted a piano and a settee floating in the Bristol Channel....

I keep a very good eye open as much as possible for debris - I have seen quite a few nasties but managed to avoid them.
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Old 05 December 2006, 15:18   #6
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Among other job lots in the Solent...

A load of fridges bobbing about out there at one stage!

And enough railway sleepers to keep MFI going for a year.

Kathleen & Paul
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Old 05 December 2006, 15:20   #7
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Among other job lots in the Solent...

A load of fridges bobbing about out there at one stage!

And enough railway sleepers to keep MFI going for a year.

Kathleen & Paul
I would salvage all the sleepers - great for my woodburner!!!
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Old 05 December 2006, 16:50   #8
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No railways in the Falklands so I think we are safe from that
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Old 06 December 2006, 02:09   #9
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There's plently of debris on the Thames. I lost one boat 8 months ago from hitting a large semi submerged log or branch at 35 kn in the dark. The result was that the engine leg provided excellent leverage to split/crack the hull where it joins the transom. All looked fine when I moored it up, so I left it for a week or so while I went on holiday.............had a nasty surprise when I got back........but at least it was insured for collision damage!!!!!!!

Debris can be problem, but try and keep a permanent look out, and slow down at night!!!
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Old 06 December 2006, 04:26   #10
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I too have heard of containers, floating along just below the surface. Never seen one though.
Whilst there undoubtedly are containers in the sea around the world, I think that the danger of hitting one is wildly overestimated. This isn't helped by the fact that it is the standard excuse given for mechanical failures for racing yachts and boats on record attempts!

A few things will float just below the surface, but most hazards are avoidable if you look where you're going and keep your hand on the throttle. Around the coast you're more likely to snag a crab pot than hit any substantial floating debris, but places like the Thames (especially at the top of the tide) can be quite interesting.

John
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Old 06 December 2006, 04:30   #11
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I hit thick rope on the Thames and took a blade off a stainless steel prop.
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Old 06 December 2006, 04:51   #12
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We worked in North Devon / Cornwall for 10 days and the water has a lot more crap in it that South Devon! It was a spring tide and that probably had a lot to do with it though .........
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Old 06 December 2006, 06:54   #13
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I've crossed the channel a fair few times in powerboats, and I have to say hitting stuff worries me more than anything else. Nearly every time I've crossed we have either almost or actually hit something. If you can, always have somebody with eyes on the water in front of you!

In the channel the separation zone between the shipping lanes seems to be where you need to be most alert - in there we have hit pallets, railway sleepers and bits of floating netts before. (and have had close shaves with oil drums and smaller blocks of wood).

The worst part is, as you hit the object the massive bang! and then watching the engine revs fall as one or both of the engines almost stalls, then not knowing what the hell has happened and thinking: oh **** we're going to sink in the middle of the channel!!

The sleepers and pallets don't tend to do much good at 22knots (you know what they are when you see the two halves bob up in the wake of the boat out the back) - on both occasions they have bent blades on the props causing huge vibration through the whole boat, and reducing our speed to about 10knots for the rest of the journey. We were fortunate on one occasion to be lifted out at cherbourg (on a sunday) where a highly skilled chubby french bloke with a big mallet 'tapped' them back into shape - they then ran smooth enough to get 18 - 20 knots on the way home.

I've heard the big buoyant containers that ships 'loose' in bad weather often float just under the surface - you really would be pretty unlucky to hit one of those at any speed, but also hopefully very unlikely!

Around local coast, lobster pots are the biggest pain in the arse, but they normally plant them in lines, so once you have spotted the first, you can normally avoid the rest. I've never heard anyone suffering real damage from these, apart from having a ball of rope around the prop - which if you have outboards, shouldn't be too hard to sort.
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Old 06 December 2006, 12:22   #14
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Floating debris

I notice in the Rib Int Mag, when the lads were hovering under the severn bridge, two big items including shed were in the water, so I guess it depends on where you are.
I recall some years ago when working in Lourdes (FRA. for non R.C.) the river Garve was a babbling brook at the near foot of Pyrenees. Every 5-7 days the humidity would build to a thunderstorm which was most spectacular (more so sitting under cover with bottle of wine) when the following morning, trees etc would flow down a Torrent like Tsunami... Think too of God`s way of "flushing the river " down where 20k inhabitants live most of the year until Easter - Sept when it swells to 1 Million people. Thats a whole lot of Sh.... to contend with, let alone the trees going out the bay.
The mind boggles......

I seem to recall though from Yachting Monthly or similar in my sailing days, that tens of conatiners are lost after a storm in notorious Bay of Biscay. This is a place that has scared the Sh... (same stuff flowing the Garve) out of many a Yachtsman. It gets quite nasty in this area for any unsuspecting Yachtie heading for sunnier climes in the Med..

However at 30 kts, I am not sure that you will be able to take evasive action without spitting occupants into briny who will be less than pleased with your powers of observation at that time. If there is a risk to life or limb, throttle back to safe speed, "you know it makes sense Rodney".. dell boy
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Old 06 December 2006, 17:49   #15
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Crabs !

It still amazes me how quickly a lobster pot line will stop a RIB and most other types of boat

big problem around the LLyn

Andy
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Old 06 December 2006, 21:33   #16
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laid open the aft portside air chamber on a 20 ft catamaran rib I had a few years back. Was running along at night and must have grazed a beam with either nails or sharp metal sticking out from it. Cut a line straight as an arrow for about eight inches on the bottom of the sponson. Didn't really notice anything until the boat started performing strangely, I looked back and the tube was completely flat on that chamber, boy, did that suck! Losing an aft chamber really affects the way a small boat runs. Sat it down and idled it back to home base. That ended the season really because the tear was in a difficult spot, ended up taking the boat back to the manufacturer to get it fixed properly.
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Old 07 December 2006, 12:23   #17
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Lobster pot

Hi Floater, you can imagine how the lobster felt on the 0-30 start.
I would say it was mash through the nets.

In some places in the west of ireland, one can arrive surfing down a wave looking straight at a Fish farm that is not on Chartplotter....Gives a new dish called "Rib of Salmon"
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Old 08 December 2006, 06:04   #18
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debris on thames

last year when I ran commercial tours we had many occasions where we were lucky to miss the semi submerged timbers, pallets and rubbish.
We too saw bits of trees and also loads of palletts around the shipping lanes by the old forts.
The most worrying ones were a group of oil drums 2/3 submerged (black) in a heavy sea which we found one eve at dusk.

We, in fact I am also concerned about hitting things. I decided that driving according to vis and conditions always gave more notice I tended to radio in any really major problems like the drums, the 50-60 4x2s etc and always found that people did the same.

I don't think you are a coward but do think if you drive a speed which suits you and gives you more time to see ahead then it's plain old good sea man ship.
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Old 08 December 2006, 17:00   #19
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Debris

Does any body recall last year the story of the fisherman in the west of scotland who pulled in some thing like 70,000 bottles of port in display packs with cheese in there fishing nets, that apparently went over board in a container in the bay of Biscay ?


Andy
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Old 09 December 2006, 03:44   #20
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Probably more profitable than their catch would have been!
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