Originally Posted by TakeFive
That is what I did. Remember, my genoa is only a 110. I actually started with a reefed main, but the following seas on my starboard quarter were turning the boat so much that uncontrolled gybes were unavoidable. (Note that I have swept-back spreaders which limit how far I can let out my boom, which also makes it more susceptible to unintentional gybes.) After a few of them I realized the main was causing more harm than good. I turned into the wind long enough to drop the mainsail and went on genoa alone, which worked fine as long as I corrected after each swell. I never came close to pitchpoling my bow, mainly because the waves were overtaking my boat instead of my boat overtaking the waves.
FWIW, I did the exact same thing on my charter boat last January running north of Tortola from Virgin Gorda to Jost Van Dyke. On that trip I passed three boats who were all experiencing unintentional gybes from the following wave action, and I was making better time with a smaller boat on genoa alone.
Where I was on Delaware Bay (east of G27 on Miah Maull Range), I did not have the option of changing course to keep the wind further abeam, because going further to port would have put me into the shipping channel or run aground on Joe Flogger Shoal, or further to starboard would have run aground on Cross Ledge. So I had to "thread the needle" on a course of 323T.
So you post this
There are others here with tons more experience than me, but in response to OP prior stated concern about gybing in following seas, running on genoa alone completely eliminates the threat of a gybe. Perhaps that's obvious, but I didn't see it mentioned.
Virtually all my sailing is in protected river water, but last May I was down in Delaware Bay by Miah Maull Shoal when it started to blow and I was caigjt in 4-5' following seas. I did manage to get on the cabin top to get my sail down (no lazy jacks on my boat), and then ran on the genoa. Even with that, I had my hands full pulling the wheel all the way to port every few seconds to prevent broaching. It took both hands, and lasted about 90 minutes. I had a water bottle on my binnacle drink holder and could not pause long enough to take a drink. My mouth dried out so much I ended up with cracked lips, but I just couldn't grab the water bottle.
And when someone gives you advice you push back. What difference does your first and only sortie in the Carribean mean in terms of speed vrs strain on the boat which can be fixed with a vang or course change. The object here is to gain safe control, not look or speed. Decreasing the pressure on your boat and centering the driving force as well as minimal use the wave action and gain control. Again by your own admission you still didn't have control for 90 minutes. You still have more sail area up than a reefed main even with our 110. I've seen more broaches/ knockdowns caused by genoa s and really never seen one with a reefed only main. I've also seen more blown out jibs or jibs wrapped around the forestay in conditions like you describe.
First of all that's why made preventers for mains. They help quell uncontrollable gybes of the boom. By your own admission above you boat was not under control. A preventer or boom vang would have helped control this. Also another tactic would be to pull the reefed main into the center tight and run a course with many small mini gybes. Kind of like tail wagging.
Second with the main only reefed the center of force is lower and in the center of the boat. Less strain and pumping the mast. Especially a cabin top setup.
Third, no one spoke about pitch poling. That would happen if you raed down the wave face. Of course the waves moved under the boat faster, that was understood. Especially on the Delaware where they are known to have short intervals.
Fourth, having sailed the Delaware many times in the specific area you spoke of I stay east of the shoals near the lighthouse ruins and NEVER go between them at Cross Ledge. They will amplify the wave action and increase the wave height.
I suggest you buy a block and tackle preventer and practice heavier wind downhill sailing as your swept back rig does have the obvious shortcomings for downwind traveling. Does your double reefed main still hit the spreaders?