Speed, Strong, Flotation = Safety

Speed is Safety

“Unfortunately, the speed range for typical displacement boats between 20 and 50 feet is only five to 10 knots- not nearly enough for many recreational roles. True, slow moving, full displacement vessels are reasonably efficient at carrying heavy loads because buoyancy forces sustain the weight for free, and only modest engine power is needed to slide it along. Greater pace usually requires planing hull forms that can lift the entire boat enough to minimize skin friction and wave-making loss.”
Sven Donaldson
Pacific Yachting, January 2006 pg 55

At the February 2008 Seattle Boat Show, I learned that Pacific Seacraft had ceased operations in Costa Mesa. This sad event was inevitable. A modern design ocean sailboat should be capable of making way at close to if not above double digits. This speed allows the captain to make use of modern weather, tide and current reporting. If the hull of the sail boat limits her to under 10 mph (as is the case with displacement hulls under 38 feet) the safety that modern reporting provides is compromised. The ocean is not a place for compromise. Hence the noteworthy ocean pocket cruisers of the past, such as the Danas and Flickas of Pacific Seacraft, are desirable today for historical rather than safety reasons.

Sailing and motoring fast have become the primary safety features in recreational boat design. Unlike Davy Jones – the objective is to avoid harms way. But like him, no modern ocean sailor should tolerate a slow boat or delay in mounting a fast engine or learning how to sail at fast speed.

I have been told that it is good luck to get caught in a gale or storm when first learning to sail because newbies are likely to survive, so is the sailboat, and because it is very unlikely the crew will get caught a second time, all other sailing endeavors will appear easy. However, with modern reporting and reasonable speed that kind of luck isn’t likely. Today a sailor must actively seek or consciously choose seasons and crossings where disaster is possible and then set out to challenge them in a slow boat. The conscious choice is reflected in offshore boat insurance policies which require captains to avail themselves of modern reporting prior to leaving harbor. The crew of the Murrelet is weather cognizant. We enter conditions in the log book. However, our vessel is a sailboat after all and small craft warnings are cherished conditions for sailboats. You will often see sailboats headed out when powerboats are headed in.

Strong is Safety

Slow displacement sailboats continue to be manufactured. You will find new models every year. They are easy to spot. These boats must be fitted out like tanks to be ocean worthy because they can not motor or sail fast enough to avoid dangerous conditions, like a tidal current or predicted storm.Because, if the sailboat is under 38 foot and a displacement hull, then by physics the boat is slow.

Patrol Boat RiverTrailerable sailboats are usually strong enough to handle storm conditions. This is because those conditions are encountered routinely during the process of and while trailering. Hurricane force winds are encountered when trailering. Trailerable sailboat cruisers remind me of the fiberglass PBRs of the Vietnam war because they likely can be dropped 25 feet from a lift without being damaged like PBRs were from helicopters. One sailboat manufactured by Macgregor toppled off its trailer down an Indeo California highway embankment with no structural damage other than stanchions being bent.

750 PBRs were minted directly from Uniflite 31 foot Sports Sedan molds in Belingham Washington in the 1960s and at least 300 of the Uniflite patrol boats saw duty in Vietnam. The four man PBR crews were trained near Catalina Island in Coronodo, south of the MacGregor Yachts factory, as well as in the San Francisco bay where I grew up and their production influenced west coast boat designers and builders such as Roger MacGregor and Robert Perry, if not the designers and builders on the east coast. Perrys Valiant sailboat design was initially produced by Art Nordtvedt, the founder and manager of Uniflite. Water jet propulsion, which is less efficient than traditional propellers became acceptable on the west coast for boat design owing to PBRs. Personal Water Craft share a heritage with the war boats.

imageThe recent recovery of a half dozen PBR vessels demonstrates that after 40 years the 1/4 inch laminated hulls show no signs of deterioration or warping.

Also like the PBRs, Macgregor cruisers are fast so they can make passage before tide changes create current hazards and they sport powerful engines useful in fighting strong currents as well as making port before sundown. The PBRs could operate in less than a foot of water; Mac26x cruisers require only 9 inches. Ms a few inches more. The major finding regarding Mac26x cruisers from his book is that dealers told Dr. Cardwell that the Mac26x has an additional layer of glass fiber throughout the hull than is normal for trailerables. This was done because there was a question about the vibration and pounding the hull would take owing to motoring at wide open throttle with the standard 50 hp engine. Like PBRs, Mac26x and m cruisers have solid foam flotation.

Solid Floatation is Safety

Image498It is not surprising that many military families own Mac26x cruisers. If the battleship was sinking, its crew would board small motorized life boats that are not unlike Mac26x cruisers. Both vessels have solid foam flotation and hull forms that do well in heavy sea. Owing to sails, the X boats have unlimited range hence bettering PBRs. PBRs sported two waterjet Jacuzzi fitted two stroke V-6 Detroit6V53 engines rather than outboards but both boats are operated at speeds over 20 knots and both vessels pull water skiers. Both were built on the west coast of the USA, the PBRs in Washington State and the X boats in California. A PBR is featured in the dark film Apocalypse Now and the Mac26x in the dark film Tease. Documented Mac26x cruisers can be commissioned by the US armed forces in a time of need and hence the theft of one of them is treated like the theft of any US Navy vessel. The description of a Mac26x as a “fun” boat, ignores the serious functionality portrayed by comparing the vessel with its Spartan interior to a PBR war boat. Solid flotation means there is less worry regarding capsizing. All recreational boats, regardless of size, in sufficient sea, can capsize.

Analysis of disasters at sea usually find that the vessel was unable to recover from a capsize as quickly as it might have owing to ballast shifting. Even so many capsized vessels are later recovered, and there is a growing school of thought that their crew would have also been recovered safely had they not abandoned ship. It is even being suggested that life rafts be banned from ocean cruisers so that crew are not inclined to concentrate efforts on deploying them over seeking shelter in the capsized vessel until weather permits a righting. The Mac26x and m models have a life raft built into them owing to solid flotation. When fitted with a mechanism for blowing or pumping water ballast the ballast tanks are water tight compartments further adding to safety.

Mac26x capsizes likely all involved skipper error, and most involve partially filled ballast such as the cruiser near Oakland with a full load of passengers that capsized during the process of emptying ballast outside of (instead of within) a 3 mile protected channel). The most recent reported capsize was in the Bristol Channel U. K. Apparently the owner headed out to sea with the valve open to empty ballast and power at speed with bare poles (no sails). He came upon rough water slowed, forgot about the valve being open, and suffered a capsize likely owing to partial refilling of the ballast tank. This was a new owner who abandoned the vessel with the help of rescuers.

 

 

Capsizing is not as dangerous an event for vessels with solid flotation. The Bristol Channel Mac26x could have been saved by putting out an anchor, the owners returning when seas permitted righting her. The boat was only a couple weeks old.

There have been other incidents in Lake Erie and off Catalina Island. The later apparently involving motoring fast with sails up and centerboard and rudders down which would also be skipper error. Controversy involving a July 4 2002 drunken boater capsize does not explain MacGregor Yachts introduction of the 26M, though it may have been a contributing factor. No one is happy with the negative publicity. The prosecutor of the captain responsible for two children’s deaths was unable to remove design questions from the case, hence partaily absolving the captain and putting the yacht company in a position of blame. The operator instructions for the vessel are posted. These read:

“The ballast tank should be full when under sail in rough conditions. It is a good idea to have the tank full when there are more that 4 adults on the boat. When powering over 6 MPH, the rudders and centerboard must be fully up. Lower sail. When operating at any speed without a full water ballast tank, no one should be on the cabin top or foredeck, and crew weight should be low and toward the rear of the boat.”

SPECIAL SAFETY INFORMATION 26M from web site
SPECIAL SAFETY WARNINGS:
Boats, like any other form of transportation, have inherent risks. Attentions to these warnings and instructions should help keep these risks to a minimum.

THE WATER BALLAST TANK SHOULD BE FULL WHEN EITHER POWERING OR SAILING.

IF THE BALLAST TANK IS NOT COMPLETELY FULL, THE BOAT IS NOT SELF RIGHTING. (IF YOU CHOOSE TO OPERATE THE BOAT WITH AN EMPTY TANK, SEE THE SECTION ON OPERATING THE BOAT WITHOUT WATER BALLAST.)

WHEN THE BALLAST TANK IS FULL:
– NO MORE THAN 6 PERSONS, 960 POUNDS.

WHEN THE BALLAST TANK IS EMPTY:
– NO MORE THAN 4 PERSON, OR 640 POUNDS.
– CREW WEIGHT CENTERED FROM SIDE TO SIDE.
– ALL SAILS REMOVED, ENGINE POWER ONLY.
– NO ONE ON THE CABIN TOP OR FORDECK.
– WAVES LESS THAN 1 FOOT.
-OPERATE WHERE WATER IS WARM AND
RESCUE IS LIKELY.
– NEVER OPERATE THE BOAT WITH A PARTIALLY
FILLED TANK.

WHEN POWERING OVER 6 MILES PER HOUR:
– RUDDERS AND DAGGERBOARD FULL UP.
– SAILS REMOVED.
– NO ONE ON THE CABIN TOP OR FOREDECK.

ALWAYS, BEFORE OPERATING THE BOAT, CHECK TO CONFIRM THAT THE BALLAST TANK IS FULL. THE WATER LEVEL IN THE BALLAST TANK SHOULD BE NO MORE THAN 1” BELOW THE LEVEL OF THE FORWARD VENT HOLE. THEN MAKE SURE THAT THE FORWARD VENT PLUG AND THE TRANSOM VALVE ARE CLOSED AND SECURE.

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS EXPLAIN WHY THE ABOVE RULES ARE NECESSARY.

STABILITY.
Unless the water ballast tank is completely full, with 1000 pounds of water ballast, the sailboat is not self-righting. Without the water ballast, the boat may not return to an upright position if the boat is tipped more than 60 degrees, and can capsize like most non-ballasted sailboats.

The MacGregor is big, but relatively light, and excessive crew weight can overpower the basic stability of the boat. For this reason, we have placed the restrictions on crew capacity, shown in the preceeding section.

OPERATING WITHOUT WATER BALLAST.
There may be times when you wish to operate the boat with an empty ballast tank. For example, when pulling a water skier, when trying to conserve fuel, when a faster ride is desired, or when you are in the process of filling the tank. Since only a few miles per hour are lost with a full tank, we recommend that most of your use of the boat be with a full tank. If the tank is empty, carry no more than 4 persons, or 640 pounds.

When operating with an empty ballast tank, keep the crew weight aft, low in the boat, and centered from side to side. Keep the crew in the cockpit, sitting down. The rear of the hull is relatively flat, and the nose area has a deep V to allow the boat to slide through waves with less slamming. If there is a lot of crew weight forward, the flat part of the hull bottom, which normally provides the stability, is raised higher out of the water, and is less effective in providing sideways stability. With the crew weight forward, the nose is depressed. The deep V nose shape does not contribute much to stability. When excess weight is at the front of the boat, the less stable nose area is carrying more of the weight of the boat and crew, the boat becomes far more easily tipped. Keep weight off of the forward V berth when under way, and avoid storing heavy items under the V berth. Crew members on the foredeck or cabin top are far more likely to get bounced out of the boat than those in the cockpit or inside the cabin. Anyone on the cabin top will have a natural tendency to grab the mast or mast support wires if the boat tips. That puts a heavy load high on the mast and tends to lever the boat over. Keep the weight low. Obviously, it is best to have the crew positioned so the boat sits or rides level rather than leaning to one side or the other.

Do not have the sails up when the ballast tank is empty. They can produce a very strong sideways force and capsize the boat.

If the waves are larger than one foot, they can induce a lot of rolling motion and compromise stability. Keep the ballast tank full in such conditions.

If you are operating where the chance of outside rescue is slim, where conditions are rough, or where the water is cold and uninviting, fill the ballast tank. You will go slower, but you will be a lot safer. A full ballast tank gives greater safety.

Never sail or power with the ballast tank partially full (except for the few minutes that it takes to drain the tank when you are under power). With the water sloshing around in the tank, the center of gravity of the water changes rapidly, which can make the boat relatively unstable. Fill the ballast tank full and make sure the vent and valves are securely closed. Be extra cautious when the tank is filling or draining. You can drain the tank by powering the boat at 7 miles per hour. You will be able to see the water shooting out the valve in the transom. The water tank will empty in about 3 to 4 minutes.

If the valve or vent plug is open, even slightly, the motion of the boat can drain the ballast water from the tank or allow the boat to fill with water. If either the vent plug or the filling valve is open, ballast can be lost when the boat leans over. You might think that the tank is full, and that the boat is self righting, but you may be unpleasantly surprised by an unexpected capsize. If the transom valve is left open, or partially open, the forward motion of the boat can drain the tank.

Drain the tank in the smoothest water you can find. Avoid fast stops and starts, or turns, while the tank is draining. After you think the tank is empty, check the level with the dip tube just to make sure.

NEVER POWER THE BOAT OVER 6 MILES PER HOUR WITH THE SAILS UP. The forward speed of the boat can create enough wind to capsize the boat if the sails are up. The result could be instant capsize. If the ballast tank is empty, the boat will not be self righting.

NEVER POWER THE BOAT OVER 6 MILES PER HOUR WITH THE DAGGERBOARD OR RUDDERS DOWN. If you hit something at high speed with the daggerboard or rudders down, you will stop really fast, and may damage the board or rudders .

At high speed, the daggerboard and rudders create lots of sideways lift and can cause the boat to be unstable. This can roll the boat severely or possibly cause a capsize. Pull the daggerboard all the way up into the boat and secure it well. It is extremely important to check the control line frequently while powering to be sure the board has not come loose and lowered itself. This is particularly important when the boat is pounding into waves and things tend to get jiggled loose. It is OK to leave the daggerboard down for low speeds (under 6 mph), where it will significantly enhance steering control.

BE EXTRA CAREFUL WHEN POWERING FAST.
Slow way down in waves or when powering with large crews. Waves come in all shapes and sizes, and can yield some nasty surprises. Wave induced problems, particularly with large crew loads, or crew weight high on the boat, can cause an upset.

Watch the water ahead of you. Hitting heavy stuff in the water at high speed can damage the boat or cause capsize. There is a lot of junk out there that floats just at the surface, and it is often barely visible. Bumping into something at sailing speeds is one thing, but at high speed, it can be nasty.

The boat will be less stable with the mast up than with the mast down. The mast is light, but it is up there, and, like any other weight aloft, reduces stability. When conditions are marginal, (high winds, waves, lots of crew weight, etc.), lower the mast and secure it to the pulpit and mast carrier.

DO NOT OPERATE THE BOAT WITH A LOT OF WATER IN THE BILGE (OUTSIDE OF THE BALLAST TANK). It can slosh around and seriously degrade stability. Always keep your bilges dry. Check the bilge frequently.
There are a number of places where water can collect. Check them all.

The top of the daggerboard must never go more than 57” below the level of the deck. There is a line, with a knot and washer, that will keep the board from going too far down. Do not change the position of the knot, and make sure that it is in the same position if the line is replaced.

DO NOT ALLOW ANY PART OF THE BOAT, TRAILER, MAST OR RIGGING TO COME IN CONTACT WITH ANY SOURCE OF ELECTRICAL POWER. If your mast or any part of your boat or rigging comes in contact with a power line, you could be killed or injured. Don’t sail your boat into a power line. Don’t raise the mast into a power line. Don’t move your boat, on its trailer, into a power line. Masts, wires, or wet fiberglass are good conductors of electricity and can carry current directly to you. Look up and make sure you will be clear of sources of power before doing anything with your boat. Don’t remove the warning decal from your mast. It may help you remember to look and avoid a major calamity.

If you are caught in an electrical storm, don’t touch anything that is metal, including the mast, shrouds, boom, lifelines, rudder, tiller or metal hardware. If possible, don’t touch anything that is wet. Many experts recommend that a heavy gauge copper wire be securely fastened to one of the shrouds and allowed to hang in the water to carry off the electricity from a lightning strike.

MAKE SURE THAT YOU TOW YOUR BOAT WITH A LARGE ENOUGH CAR. Check with your car manufacturer or dealer to determine if the weight of the boat and trailer is within your car’s towing capacity. Load your boat so the weight on the trailer hitch is between 250 and 300 pounds. If the weight is less, the trailer will tend to swerve dangerously from side to side. If the weight is more, an excessive load will be placed on the rear end of your car, and the trailer will be very difficult to hitch or unhitch. To protect your back when removing the trailer from the car, use the hitch jack or have an adult hang on the back of the boat to take some weight off the tongue.

NEVER OVERLOAD THE BOAT AND TRAILER. THE MAXIMUM WEIGHT IS 4200 POUNDS, AS SHOWN ON THE CERTIFICATION DECAL NEAR THE HITCH, ON THE LEFT (PORT) SIDE OF YOUR TRAILER. Remember, the maximum gross vehicle weight (G.V.W.R.) includes the weight of the trailer as well as the weight of the boat and all gear in the boat. You may not deduct the weight that is carried on the hitch of the car in arriving at the G.V.W.R. Check your state law to determine if there are any other weight or braking requirements that must be met.

MAKE SURE THE TRAILER WHEEL LUG NUTS ARE TIGHT BEFORE TRAILERING THE BOAT.

BEFORE TRAILERING THE BOAT, MAKE SURE THE NOSE OF THE BOAT IS TIED SECURELY TO THE TRAILER.

MAKE SURE THE OUTBOARD MOTOR AND MAST ARE ATTACHED FIRMLY TO THE BOAT WHEN THE BOAT IS BEING TRAILERED.

DO NOT TRAILER THE BOAT WITH ANY WATER IN THE BALLAST TANK. THE 1000 POUNDS OF WATER WILL SEVERELY OVERLOAD THE TRAILER AND THE CAR. Open the transom valve and vent, and drain the tank completely before trailering. Leave the valve open when trailering.

DON’T STORE FUEL CANS INSIDE THE BOAT. Gas fumes are explosive. Keep all gasoline containers out of the boat. Store fuel tanks in the open compartments next to the pedestal.
BATTERIES ARE DANGEROUS. TREAT THEM CAUTIOUSLY. Batteries can produce explosive gas, corrosive acid and levels of electrical current high enough to cause burns. Always wear eye protection or shield your eyes when working near any battery and remove all metal rings and jewelry. Never expose a battery to open flames or sparks. Do not smoke near a battery. It could blow up. Do not allow battery acid to contact eyes, skin, fabrics or painted surfaces. Flush any contacted area with water immediately and thoroughly. Get medical help if eyes are affected. Do not charge the battery, adjust post connections or use booster cables without making sure the battery compartment is properly ventilated. When charging the battery, carefully follow the instructions on the charger. Keep the battery filled to the proper level with distilled water. Always keep vent caps tight. Do not allow metal tools or metal parts to contact the positive (+) terminal and the negative (-) terminal or any metal connected to these terminals.

DO NOT REMOVE ANY OF THE FOAM FLOTATION BLOCKS. Loss of any of the foam could seriously impair the ability of the boat to stay afloat if damaged.

IF THE CABIN OF THE BOAT IS ENTIRELY FILLED WITH WATER, AND THE BOAT IS DEPENDENT ON THE FOAM FLOTATION TO KEEP IT AFLOAT, IT WILL BE VERY UNSTABLE, AND MAY TURN UPSIDE DOWN.

WHEN RAISING AND LOWERING THE MAST, DON’T ALLOW ANYONE TO STAND WHERE THE MAST OR SUPPORT WIRES COULD FALL IF SOMETHING, OR SOMEONE, LETS GO.

BE EXCEEDINGLY CAREFUL WHEN SAILING IN HIGH WINDS. LEARN BASIC SEAMANSHIP. The Coast Guard Auxiliary Power Squadrons offer excellent courses at low cost. This is a worthwhile investment.

BE READY TO RELEASE SAIL CONTROL LINES (SHEETS) QUICKLY IF A GUST OF WIND CAUSES THE BOAT TO LEAN EXCESSIVELY. Lines should be free of kinks and knots so they will run freely through the pulleys when it is necessary to let the sails out quickly. Tie a knot in the extreme end of the line to keep it in the pulley. Letting the lines go is your best protection from a knockdown. For best performance under sail, and for safety, keep the boat from leaning (heeling) more than about 20 to 25 degrees.

ALWAYS SHUT OFF THE OUTBOARD MOTOR WHEN THE BOAT IS NEAR PEOPLE IN THE WATER. EVEN WITH LOW HORSEPOWER MOTORS, THE PROPELLER CAN DO SERIOUS DAMAGE. Don’t allow ropes to hang in the water (particularly the rudder ropes). They could tangle in the prop and stop or damage the motor.

SPECIAL SAFETY INFORMATION 26X from Macgregor Yachts web sites

The following safety warnings are included as part of the Owner’s Manual that is provided to the owner at the time the boat is delivered. Many apply to power and sailboats in general, and some apply to the unique design of the MacGregor 26.

IF THE BALLAST TANK IS NOT COMPLETELY FULL, THE BOAT CAN CAPSIZE.

Unless the water ballast tank is completely full, with 1400 pounds of water ballast, the sailboat is not self-righting. Without the water ballast, the boat may not return to an upright position if the boat is tipped more than 50 degrees, and will capsize like most non-ballasted sailboats. Always, before sailing the boat, remove the 1″ diameter vent plug located under the rear end of the forward V berth, and make sure that the water level is no more than 3″ below the hole from which the plug was removed. Then reinstall the plug. If you have to sail the boat without ballast, do not cleat down any sail control line. You must hand hold them and release them quickly if the boat tips excessively. Always make sure that the line is untangled and free to run out to its end without jamming.

NEVER POWER THE BOAT OVER 6 MILES PER HOUR WITH THE CENTERBOARD DOWN. At high speed, the centerboard creates lots of side­ways lift and can cause the boat to be unstable. It can roll the boat severely or possibly cause a capsize. Pull it all the way up into the boat and secure it well. It is extremely important to check the cable frequently while powering to be sure the board has not come loose and lowered itself. This is particularly important when the boat is pounding into waves and things tend to get jiggled loose. It is OK to leave the board down for low speeds (under 6 mph), where it will significantly enhance steering control.

DO NOT ALLOW ANY PART OF THE BOAT, TRAILER, MAST OR RIGGING TO COME IN CONTACT WITH ANY SOURCE OF ELECTRICAL POWER. If your mast or any part of your boat or rigging comes in contact with a power line, you could be killed or injured. Don’t sail your boat into a power line. Don’t step your mast into a power line. Don’t move your boat, on its trailer, into a power line. Masts, wire shrouds, or wet fiberglass are good conductors of electricity and can carry current directly to you. Look up and make sure you will be clear of sources of power before doing anything with your boat. Don’t remove the warning decal from your mast. It may help you remember to look and avoid a major calamity.

If you are caught in an electrical storm, don’t touch anything that is metal, including the mast, shrouds, boom, lifelines, rudder, tiller or metal hardware. If possible, don’t touch anything that is wet. Many experts recommend that a heavy gauge copper wire be securely fastened to one of the shrouds and allowed to hang in the water to carry off the electricity from a lightning strike.

MAKE SURE THAT YOU TOW YOUR BOAT WITH A LARGE ENOUGH CAR. Check with your car manufacturer or dealer to determine if the weight of the boat and trailer is within your car’s towing capacity. Load your boat so the weight on the trailer hitch is between 250 and 280 pounds. If the weight is less, the trailer will tend to swerve dangerously from side to side. If the weight is more, an excessive load will be placed on the rear end of your car, and the trailer will be very difficult to hitch or unhitch. To protect your back when removing the trailer from the car, use the hitch jack or have an adult hang on the back of the boat to take some weight off the tongue.

NEVER OVERLOAD THE BOAT AND TRAILER. THE MAXIMUM WEIGHT IS 3500 POUNDS, AS SHOWN ON THE CERTIFICATION DECAL NEAR THE HITCH, ON THE LEFT (PORT) SIDE OF YOUR TRAILER. Remember, the maximum gross vehicle weight (G.V.W.R.) includes the weight of the trailer as well as the weight of the boat and all gear in the boat. You may not deduct the weight that is carried on the hitch of the car in arriving at the G.V.W.R. Check your state law to determine if there are any other weight or braking requirements that must be met.

MAKE SURE THE WHEEL LUG NUTS ARE TIGHT BEFORE TRAILERING THE BOAT.

BEFORE TRAILERING THE BOAT, MAKE SURE THE NOSE OF THE BOAT IS TIED SECURELY TO THE TRAILER.

MAKE SURE THE OUTBOARD MOTOR AND MAST ARE ATTACHED FIRMLY TO THE BOAT WHEN THE BOAT IS BEING TRAILERED.

DO NOT TRAILER THE BOAT WITH ANY WATER IN THE BALLAST TANK. THE 1400 POUNDS OF WATER WILL SEVERELY OVERLOAD THE TRAILER AND THE CAR. Open the transom valve and vent, and drain the tank completely before trailering. Leave the valve open when trailering.

DON’T STORE FUEL CANS INSIDE THE BOAT. Gas fumes are explosive. Keep all gasoline containers out of the boat. Store fuel tanks in the open compartments next to the steering pedestal.

BATTERIES ARE DANGEROUS. TREAT THEM CAUTIOUSLY. Batteries can produce explosive gas, corrosive acid and levels of electrical current high enough to cause burns. Always wear eye protection or shield your eyes when working near any battery and remove all metal rings and jewelry. Never expose a battery to open flames or sparks. Do not smoke near a battery. It could blow up. Do not allow battery acid to contact eyes, skin, fabrics or painted surfaces. Flush any contacted area with water immediately and thoroughly. Get medical help if eyes are affected. Do not charge the battery, adjust post connections or use booster cables without making sure the battery compartment is properly ventilated. When charging the battery, carefully follow the instructions on the charger. Keep the battery filled to the proper level with distilled water. Always keep vent caps tight. Do not allow metal tools or metal parts to contact the positive (+) terminal and the negative (-) terminal or any metal connected to these terminals.

DO NOT REMOVE ANY OF THE FOAM FLOTATION BLOCKS. Loss of any of the foam could seriously impair the ability of the boat to stay afloat if damaged.

IF THE CABIN OF THE BOAT IS ENTIRELY FILLED WITH WATER, AND THE BOAT IS DEPENDENT ON THE FOAM FLOTATION TO KEEP IT AFLOAT, IT WILL BE VERY UNSTABLE, AND MAY TURN UPSIDE DOWN.

WHEN RAISING AND LOWERING THE MAST, DON’T ALLOW ANYONE TO STAND WHERE THE MAST OR SUPPORT WIRES COULD FALL IF SOMETHING, OR SOMEONE, LETS GO.

BE EXCEEDINGLY CAREFUL WHEN SAILING IN HIGH WINDS. LEARN BASIC SEAMANSHIP. The Coast Guard Auxiliary Power Squadrons offer excellent courses at low cost. This is a worthwhile investment.

BE READY TO RELEASE SAIL CONTROL LINES (SHEETS) QUICKLY IF A GUST OF WIND CAUSES THE BOAT TO LEAN EXCESSIVELY. Lines should be free of kinks and knots so they will run freely through the pulleys when it is necessary to let the sails out quickly. Tie a knot in the extreme end of the line to keep it in the pulley. Letting the lines go is your best protection from a knockdown. For best performance and safety, keep the boat from leaning (heeling) more than about 20 to 25 degrees.

ALWAYS SHUT OFF THE OUTBOARD MOTOR WHEN THE BOAT IS NEAR PEOPLE IN THE WATER. EVEN WITH LOW HORSEPOWER MOTORS, THE PROPELLER CAN DO SERIOUS DAMAGE. Don’t allow ropes to hang in the water (particularly the rudder ropes). They could tangle in the prop and stop or damage the motor.

EXCEPT WHEN FILLING OR EMPTYING THE WATER TANK, NEVER OPERATE THE BOAT WITHOUT SECURELY CLOSING THE TRANSOM VALVE AND THE VENT PLUG. If the valve or vent plug is open, even slightly, the motion of the boat can drain the ballast water from the tank or allow the boat to fill with water. If either the vent plug or the filling valve is open, ballast can be lost when the boat leans over under sail. You may think the tank is full, and that the boat is self righting, but you may be unpleasantly surprised by an unexpected capsize. If the transom valve is left open, the forward motion of the boat can drain the tank, resulting in capsize.

DON’T PULL THE BOAT OVER ON ITS SIDE USING THE MAIN HALYARD. If you have to tip the boat for maintenance or for any other reason, use the jib halyard. Using the main halyard will break the mast.

NEVER POWER THE BOAT OVER 6 MILES PER HOUR WITH THE SAILS UP. The forward speed of the boat can create enough wind to capsize the boat if the sails are up. The result could be instant capsize. If the water tank is empty, as it frequently is when powering, the boat will not be self righting.

DO NOT SAIL OR POWER THE BOAT WITH THE STEERING SEAT IN THE RAISED POSITION. If the motion of the boat or the wind causes the seat to fall into the lowered position, someone could be hurt. Make sure the seat is secured in the open position, with the snap cable to the lifeline, every time it is opened.

DO NOT OVERLOAD THE BOAT. Six adults is the limit. With more than this, the weight of the crew becomes very large in relation to the weight of the boat, and the stability of the boat might be compromised. It is important to use great care when carrying large crews to insure that the weight is properly distributed so as not to cause undue tipping or instability.

WHEN POWERING OVER 6 MPH, THE RUDDERS SHOULD BE IN THE FULL UP POSITION. They can generate enormous sideways loads when the boat is moving fast, and can contribute a lot of capsizing energy. With the rudders down at high speed, you may damage the rudders or the steering system.

DO NOT OPERATE THE BOAT WITH A LOT OF WATER IN THE BILGE (OUTSIDE OF THE BALLAST TANK). It can slosh around and seriously degrade stability. Always keep your bilges dry. Check the bilge frequently.

SPECIAL WARNINGS ON STABILITY. After sailing a ballasted sailboat, you get a bit spoiled and forget that unballasted boats, including the MacGregor 26 with an empty water ballast tank, can capsize and will not right themselves. This can happen under sail or under power. Here are a few hints for keeping the boat on its feet when the ballast tank is not full.

Keep crew and passengers off of the cabin top and foredeck. The 26 is big, but relatively light, and crew weight can be a very significant portion of the overall weight. Misplaced crew or excessive crew weight can overpower the basic stability of the boat. Be extremely cautious. Fill the ballast tank when there are more than four people on the boat. Be extra cautious when powering fast with more than 4 people on the boat.

Keep the crew weight aft, low in the boat, and centered from side to side. Keep the crew in the cockpit, sitting down. The rear of the hull is relatively flat, and the nose area has a deep V to allow the boat to slide through waves with less slamming. If there is a lot of crew weight forward, the flat part of the hull bottom, which normally provides the stability, is raised higher out of the water, and is less effective in providing sideways stability. With the crew weight forward, the nose is depressed. The deep V nose shape does not contribute much to stability. When excess weight is at the front of the boat, the less stable nose area is carrying more of the weight of the boat and crew, the boat becomes far more easily capsized. Keep weight off of the forward V berth when under way, and avoid storing heavy items under the V berth. Crew members on the foredeck or cabin top are far more likely to get bounced out of the boat than those in the cockpit or inside the cabin. Anyone on the cabin top will have a natural tendency to grab the mast or mast support wires if the boat tips. That puts a heavy load high on the mast and tends to lever the boat over. Keep the weight low. Obviously, it is best to have the crew positioned so the boat sits or rides level rather than leaning to one side or the other.

Slow way down in waves or when powering with large crews. Waves come in all shapes and sizes, and can yield some nasty surprises. Wave induced problems, particularly with large crew loads, or crew weight high on the boat, can cause an upset.

Watch the water ahead of you. Hitting heavy stuff in the water at high speed can damage the boat or cause capsize. There is a lot of junk out there that floats just at the surface, and it is often barely visible. Bumping into something at sailing speeds is one thing, but at high speed, it can be nasty.

The boat will be less stable with the mast up than with the mast down. The mast is light, but it is up there, and, like any other weight aloft, reduces stability. When conditions are marginal, (high winds, waves, lots of crew weight, etc.), lower the mast and secure it to the pulpit and mast carrier.

If you are operating where the chance of outside rescue is slim, where conditions are rough, or where the water is cold and uninviting, fill the ballast tank. You will go slower, but you will be a lot safer. A full ballast tank gives greater safety.

Never sail or power with the ballast tank partially full (except for the few minutes that it takes to drain the tank when you are under power). With the water sloshing around in the tank, the center of gravity of the water changes rapidly, which can make the boat relatively unstable. Fill the tank full and make sure the vent and valves are securely closed. Be extra cautious when the tank is filling or draining. Get the nose up and drain the tank in the smoothest water you can find. Avoid fast stops and starts, or turns, while the tank is draining. Be watchful that the water is not pouring out of the vent hole into the boat. This may happen if the nose gets too high. After you think the tank is empty, check the level with the dip tube just to make sure.

Do not install a lifting hydrofoil on the cavitation plate of the outboard motor. These are airfoil shaped wings, offered in various sizes and shapes. Their purpose is to provide lift at the stern of the boat. This raises the stern and forces the bow down, allowing the boat to get up on a plane more quickly. If they do keep the boat level when coming up on a plane, the ballast tank may not drain completely when the boat is underway. You may think you have an empty tank, but you may not.

These hydrofoils create another problem when the boat turns or leans sideways while underway. The lift that they provide goes straight up the centerline of the outboard motor, adding a strong force to promote further leaning or capsize.

These devices can exert a large amount of force; enough to snap off the cavitation plate that is cast as part of the drive shaft housing. Avoid them.

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