sail-world.com -- Capsized red hull easier to find - then why not? Here's why not
Capsized red hull easier to find - then why not? Here's why not
Sun, 27 Jan 2013
None of us wants to experience losing a keel and having to be rescued from our overturned boat in the middle of an ocean. While cruising yachts are very unlikely to lose a keel, a recent report suggested that hulls be painted red to make them easier to find by rescuers, so why not? Here's why not...
We printed a story in December following Ireland's MCIP (Marine Casualty Investigation Board) findings about the capsize and rescue of the Fastnet Yacht Rambler 100 in 2011 (See Sail-World story). Among the recommendations was that the yacht would have been easier to find if the hull had been painted a bright colour, like red. Now, thanks to reader Alex Blackwell, we have learned of some contrary news about potential results of painting your hull red.
We are half way across the Atlantic doing the trade wind run from the Canaries to Barbados. In front and behind us are about thirty other boats doing pretty much the same thing: whiling the days away adjusting their course and sail plan to the current wind conditions. When not on watch, the people on board are sleeping, eating and doing lots of reading. During daylight hours most boats also troll in the hopes of stocking up the larder with some delicious tuna or Mahi Mahi.
Then, twice a day we all tune in our SSB for a chat, fish stories and a position and weather status update. Dubbed the 'Madlantic Net' by the originators who had sailed in company for several prior months and the NARC (=Not ARC as we were setting out ‘just’ after the ARC departure) by other members of the scattered group of sailors; nets like this are important for safety and peace of mind.
One day on the morning net a boat in our loosely organised fleet reported that they had been watching a pod of 'false killer whales' swim alongside their vessel when one of the whales turned and ran directly at them, crashing into their keel! It then swam back around and did it again as our friend and his wife watched in sheer horror.
Fearing that the whale might hit their rudder, they ran through their boat trying to eliminate any squeaks or other possibly offensive noises. After a few more loud shuddering thumps, the whale finally relented and was seen swimming away with its friends.
'What color is your bottom paint?' someone inquires on the next SSB net session. 'It’s red,' he replies, 'and as a matter of fact, we just had the coat put on over our standard blue before we left.'
Scientists agree. According to Dr. Jeffery Fasick, assistant professor of biological sciences at Kean University in New Jersey who has researched marine mammal eyes, 'Whales (are only) sensitive to green light, so they see in black and white in light and dark. They have one 'cone' and one 'rod', both of which are sensitive to light in the blue/green range of the color spectrum. They match their cones and rods to the color of the water. To them, everything is bright.
'This means that anything that looks blue or green to the human eye is invisible in the water to whales. The one color that whales can see as a dark shape in their bright, watery environment is red. Copepods, the main food source for right whales, are red, allowing whales to see a group of them as a dark mass.
'Sight is the best way to get the most information in a short period of time,' continued Fasick. 'Their eyes bulge out to focus on the mouth to see copepods go in.'
So maybe next time we have our hull painted we'll try for a bright yellow.
Ensign Ship Brokers
Ensign Ship Brokers was established in 1980 and has spent the last 28 years expanding our marine knowledge and developing our reputation! We strive to provide the very best service! [More info]
Festival of Sails
The Festival of Sails is the largest annual keel boat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere with over 400 yachts and 4300 competitors annually taking part in the event. [More info]
GME Standard Communications Pty Ltd
Leaders in communications and navigation. Their goal has always been to make products whose innovation, convenience and peace of mind can help improve the lives of their customers. [More info]
Hood Sailmakers (Aust) P/L is 100% Australian owned and operated. The first sail loft outside of the USA to be granted a franchise in 1968 by the founder Ted Hood. [More info]
Navionics is proud of its superb cartographic database comprising more than 25,000 charts and port plans; the largest privately owned database of its kind, the only one using full seamless technology [More info]
Performance Sailcraft Australia (Asia Pacific)
Laser builder Performance Sailcraft Australia has taken on the successful RS Sailboat range from Britain, and is now licensed to build and distribute all of the RS range in the Asia Pacific region. [More info]
Quantum Australasia Pty Ltd
Quantum Sail Design Group designs, engineers and manufactures sails for racers and cruisers who demand the highest levels of quality and performance. [More info]
Ullman Sails Australia
The Ullman Sails Australia team provides service to customers all over Australia with four main locations in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and the Whitsundays. [More info]
Vicsail Sydney Pty Ltd, launched into the Australian sailing fraternity in 1983 and has been sailing strong ever since. At Vicsail, “We Sail the Boats We Sell”. [More info]