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post #24 of Old 04-24-2013
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Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...


I have trouble keeping up around here. I go away for a few days and a nice little thread develops. I'm really enjoying the discussion.

In this case, I think most of you have discovered what we discovered along the way. I mentioned in the captions when we furled the genoa whether we should have doused the main instead and later in the evening we did douse the main and unfurl just a few feet of genoa. That worked great and it was easier to steer, but it was slower. We sailed that way all night to get some rest. It wouldn't have made nearly as interesting video though.

If we were to do it again, we would probably douse the main first. We sailed that way a lot crossing the Atlantic. That said, this was a better experience. We both got some great practice driving and the driving was probably a little more challenging (which was a good thing) given the absence of a headsail and the tendency for the boat to want to round up if you weren't square to the waves. It was a beautiful day to work on some sailing skills.

We had a preventer rigged, but not engaged because I was more concerned with sticking the boom in the water and breaking something than accidentally gybing.

It does look a bit tiring, but really the helm was very light. The only thing tiring was standing up for a long time, so we switched off, or just let the autopilot steer. The autopilot could have steered the whole time, but it wouldn't have been as fun, nor as smooth, since the autopilot can't see or sense the good waves or the bad waves.

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