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post #4897 of Old 10-04-2013
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Re: Wow!!!

Originally Posted by PCP View Post
Great video indeed, Paulo!

Bright sunshine, broad reach apparent wind, I guess around 25knts of TWS and nice waves, could one ask for more ?

I think at least a few lessons can be learned, as I did myself in almost exactly the same conditions eight weeks ago.
Surfing down the waves under full white sails and at 13-16 knts boat speed over the last few hours. The predicted windshift from S to SW came exactly in time for our strategic gybe immediately offshore of the Maasvlakte (South approach to Rotterdam) .

Pure sailing pleasure, only we had the NKE autopilot under control.
In true wind mode, I still feel it did a much better job than the helmsman on this video. Although it’s of course hard to say without knowing this particular boat, it seems to me he is overactive at the wheel and therefore somewhat out of control.

Anyway, when a strong gust hit us, even the smart autopilot and the twin rudders of our 12.50 lost control, leading to a very slow and gentle broach, as usual.

Then I became overactive myself.
I took over the helm, thinking I could make a better recovery than the NKE. First mistake.

Then I stood up to release the downhoal –which of course I should have done in the first place-, still holding the tiller in the other hand. Second mistake.
“One hand for the ship, one hand for yourself”. A basic rule I never miss to stress at every security briefing with any crew before setting off.

So there I stood free, one hand at the tiller and the other almost reaching the downhaul on the coach roof winch, when one of those rotten, steep ground waves hit the hull.
I don’t think we even reached 35° of heel but the impact catapulted me onto the low cockpit bench. My wife was in the cabin, saw me flying by and thought I ended overboard. Which I probably would have on a less beamy and stable boat.

Then the boat –even gently and all by itself- recovered, leaving the skipper with a fractured forearm and an even more damaged ego.
Third and probably most important lesson learned: a good boat will take good care of her crew.

Plus: even if your wife mostly sails “passively” as mine does, when the s**t hits the fan she will perfectly know what to do, first as a dedicated nurse and then as a very efficient co-skipper/crew/trouble manager/psychotherapist.
She, the Pogo and the NKE brought us quickly and safely to Scheveningen. Where we “enjoyed” the extremely professional but equally inefficient Dutch “emergency” care, but that’s another story.

Two months later I hope the plaster will come off soon and yesterday I sent a diver down to free our propeller from the barnacles that inevitably grow on a boat that is left unused for too long .

Returning to the video, also there some valuable lessons can be learned.
Except overactive, the helmsman also seems insufficiently anticipating to me. When surfing down a nice wave you bare down because the apparent wind lessens and comes more forward because of the increasing speed. But unless luffing in time before hitting the wave upfront , the sudden loss of speed (rudder) and increasing/giving apparent wind (sail pressure) means trouble. Nose down (especially with an over-trimmed foresail), broach or –the worst- an uncontrolled gybe.

Anyway, I would not dare to sail in these conditions without an efficient gybe preventer.
And certainly not without everyone on board wearing a decent life jacket!

Best regards,

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