Commonly Asked Questions About the Turbo Boatabag®
Will the water ballast weight harm the toerail or hull? Does the added stability put more stress on the sail rig? What if the water ballast ends up on the leeward side of the boat? What happens if a wave hits the water ballast container? What if you forget to retrieve the water pump? Can water ballast help the performance of a heavily loaded cruising boat? What increase in performance can I expect from my boat? How does water ballast affect handling and rudder control? Is the system easy and safe to use? When should I use external water ballast? Do I need water ballast for each side of the boat? Can the container be used to carry drinking water? Will water ballast improve radar tracking? Can water ballast help reduce sea sickness? Will the container reduce hull spray on deck? Is external water ballast legal for racing? When will other sizes be available?
Will the water ballast weight harm the toerail or hull?
No, the entire weight of the water ballast is distributed across the toerail with many hooks, each supporting the comparable weight of one person or approximately 190 lbs. Also, the force on the rail is mostly compressional or downward which puts little or no stress on the toerail and it's fasteners. This force or weight shouldn't exceed the manufacturers specifications for most toerails which are designed to hold a person's weight (diagonally) on the leeward side of the boat without giving way under foot. The force along the side of the hull is also minimal because of the large area on which the container rests.
Does the added stability put more stress on the sail rig?
No, the water ballast is normally used to level the boat and improve performance by changing the angle of the sail's driving force to the horizontal, not the amount of driving force (or force on the rig). No additional stress occurs if the same amount of sail is carried and reefed normally. Any additional force from the added projected high of the sails is compensated by not having the weight of the mast (rig) and shock loads on the rig while heeling in a seaway. The added ballast weight also reduces the motions that results in shock loads to the rig and attachment of the keel. There is no sense in stressing a rig while cruising, especially while on long passages far from land fall. Leveling the boat without stressing the rig and increasing speed by a knot can take several days off a long passage and make it more comfortable.
If the boat is allowed to heel excessively with the maximum amount of water ballast, the stability will place more then normal stress on the rig. This is only recommended if the rig is designed to carry additional crew weight comparable to the water ballast weight on the rail, and your sails are within their recommend operational range.
What if the water ballast ends up on the leeward side?
Because of the hydrodynamic shape of the container (similar to an outrigger pontoon), if it should end up on the leeward side of the boat it can still be sailed, although with reduced speed and maneuverability. The added displacement of the container in the water will also minimize the heeling angle before coming about or releasing the water to continue sailing.
What if you forget to retrieve the water pump?
The water pump can be left in the water indefinitely because it's designed to only pump enough pressure to completely fill the water tank but not over pressurize it. Although, there will be unnecessary drag from the propeller if the water pump is left in the water.
What happens if a wave hits the water ballast container?
Most of the time the container is above the tops of the waves, but if a wave does impact the container it's absorbed by the water in the container without harming the container or boat.
Can water ballast help the performance of a heavily loaded cruising boat?
Yes, if the heavily loaded boat heels more than 10 degrees, water ballast will help increase the driving and tracking forces to approach hull speed and improve your velocity made good (VMG). Boats that are "top heavy" with gear or shoal-draft will benefit in more moderate conditions. Water ballast can help a heavily loaded cruising boat take advantage of the wind when it's available and shorten a long passage by several days.
What increase in performance can I expect from my boat?
Amazingly enough, all keel sailboats have a substantial increase in performance with water ballast. Light boats with flat under bodies and powerful sail plans are capable of going beyond their hull speed and plane on a reach. Heavier displacement sailboats have a substantial gain but are limited by their hull speed (Hull speed calculator). Narrow beamed boats which don't hold the ballast as far out on the beam gain because they're easily driven. Generally, a 20% increase of speed can be expected on a close reach or beat and 15% on a reach or broad reach in windy conditions, when the boat normally heels more that 10 degrees. In rough conditions water ballast helps maintain a constant heading and velocity punching through waves, sustaining the steady state of air flow along the sails and water flow along the keel (no stalling) for increased performance. The added directional stability and less leeway also improves the VMG.
How does water ballast affect handling and rudder control?
With less heel, the rudder has a greater projected profile and increased power in the horizontal direction exerting more force into turning instead of trying to lift or drop the stern. Also, most boats have better tracking characteristics with less heel and the ballast weight helps reduce or eliminate roundups in gusty conditions. The added directional stability increases the boat's speed and puts less demand on the helm or autopilot.
Is the system easy and safe to use?
Because the Turbo Boatabag operates from the cockpit and most of its functions are automatic (See operation), it's easier and safer to use than a spinnaker, or to reef a main sail from the mast. The Turbo Boatabag also makes reefing safer and easier with a nearly level working platform.
When should I use external water ballast?
When the normal heeling angle on a reach starts to exceed 10 degrees water ballast can be used in most conditions to level the boat (reducing heel by more then 10 degrees) and increase speed. In heavy weather conditions with large waves the water ballast should be emptied to slow the boat down. Also, from a practical standpoint tacks should exceed half an hour since it takes about seven minutes to completely fill the container. Because most trade wind sailing conditions are moderate, external water ballast can be used for weeks at a time on long passages.
Do I need water ballast for each side of the boat?
No, especially on long passages or trade wind conditions when the sailboat can be on one tack for several days. The system can easily be switched from one side of the boat to the other in minutes. If you're in conditions that require tacking several times a day it's best to have one on each side of the boat.
Can the container be used to carry drinking water?
Yes, the container has an FDA approved liner for carrying potable water and can be filled with an adapter. A container size that is one size smaller than recommend is used for this purpose (See specifications).
Will water ballast improve radar tracking?
Yes, if the radar antenna isn't already gimbaled, a nearly level antenna reduces the loss of signal or targets when the operational angle of the radar beam is exceeded.
Can water ballast help reduce sea sickness?
Yes, water ballast helps reduce and damp the motion that results in sea sickness. For non sailors water ballast also helps eliminate the disorientation and psychological or instinctual anxiety of capsizing from heeling, especially in gusty conditions.
Will the container reduce hull spray on deck?
Yes, the container blocks windward hull spray normally blown aft of mid ship into the companionway or cockpit.
Is external water ballast legal for racing?
Many races don't allow external or internal water ballast as in IMS racing. Races that do allow external water ballast treat the water ballast as any other movable water ballast. Many regional PHRF will rate water ballasted boats, as an example Pyewacket in the 1998 Pacific Cup, although rules are established by regional boards that vary around the country (not US Sailing). Since external water ballasting is now readily available for all sailboats without major alterations, this should open up the race course for more versatile and less specialized sailboats that do not have permanent internal water ballast tanks. Proven for safety with numerous ocean passages, external water ballast should gain more acceptance with wide spread use.
When will other sizes be available?
Boatabags for smaller sailboats will be available soon. Custom designs and Boatabags for larger vessels can be special ordered. Please contact us with your specific requirements.
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