The search for the perfect Flopper Stopper
18 February 2010 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Anybody who has been hanging out in the La Cruz anchorage lately knows how rolly it's been - rolly like "things flying across the cabin" rolly, not the "soup gently sloshing in the pot" type of rolly.
And we're one of the lucky ones. Our modified fin keel doesn't catch the current nearly as much as our neighbors in one of those full-keeled Taiwanese jobbies. The other day I nearly got seasick just watching them slam back and forth with the swell.
It's time for flopper stoppers.
I hadn't even heard of flopper stoppers before I arrived in La Cruz, at least not in the context of sailboats. Shrimp boats, yes. Now suddenly, the anchorage is abuzz with talk of them.
There have been a few offered "for coconuts"* over the morning net recently, and those have been grabbed up within moments of the announcement, inflated "coconuts" and all. However, being cruisers, many folks are trying their hands at home-made prototypes. One neighbor has a bucket hanging off his boom, another has a piece of plywood attached to lines at three sides, with the fourth weighted underneath to allow for it to "dip and lift". We tried something different.
An idea inspired by our friend Mark on s/v Southern Cross sounded intrigiung and so simple it just had to work. So Dave and Mark spent the afternoon converting a plastic milk crate to a flopper stopper by adding 4 triangle shaped pieces of plastic cutting board to the inside floor, attaching the edges of the plastic to the inside edge of the milk crate with zip ties to create a hinge. The idea was that when the boat rolled to starboard the flopper stopper would sink, causing the four plastic flaps to swing up against the wall, and when it rolled back, as the flopper stopper was pulled up they would go back down, creating a solid "floor" in the box and enough resistance to dampen the roll.
After they attached the prototype to a spinnaker pole overhanging the water last night, we settled in for a much needed good night's sleep, confident in the results. Like several nights before, I was awake by 2am, rolling back an forth in our berth like a holiday Jello mold on a platter.
It seems that in theory this is a great start in our search for the perfect flopper stopper, it just wasn't beefy enough. Exit Strategy weighs over 14 tons all by herself, and it seems that 18 square inches of a flexible plastic cutting board just wasn't enough to keep the sway at bay.
I am looking forward to how Mark and Vicki do with it on Southern Cross, as they are a bit shorter at 38 feet. In the meantime we're going to head to Home Depot for some plywood to give that option a try.
*Since it is not legal for foreigners to sell items in Mexico, items for sale are often exchanged "for coconuts".