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post #77 of Old 12-14-2013 Thread Starter
Crazy Woman Boat Driver
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Re: Our New Boat

Originally Posted by PCP View Post
Nice sailing. You are going almost dead downwind. Do you prefer on your boat on that position the main over the Genoa?


I would have preferred the Genoa over the main in this situation. Going DDW would require for the most part a poled out Genoa and I don't have the pole set up just yet. The dealer is taking his sweet time getting the track on the mast..
The danger in just running the main out of course is an accidental gybe and broach. It takes some skill not to let this happen. First, the main has to be trimmed so as the bow falls off the wave it points into the wind (trim the main into the wind; tighten it up and traveller midship). Second, boom preventer attached ( you will see the red sheet lead aft in the video). Third a good helms person able to recognize and steer the boat properly.
We were over canvas for this sail. I should have put a reef in the mainsail. Having said that, we didn't for some good and bad reasons. First, I had two crew members real seasick. Jenn and I were both not feeling all the great ourselves. Turning the boat into the wind and waves to reef should have been done but I felt that would have been more of a problem than just running the way we did considering our situation. This later proved to be a good decision because when we did roll the main in, the furling line broke. I needed all hands on deck to roll the main in at the mast. (wind was blowing a steady 25 knots).
Right after I shot this video we lost the main steering. This is a story in itself. Remember this is a new boat. The following seas put a great deal pressure on the big spade rudder this boat has. Jenn and I both took turns steering this boat every 20 mins. We did not put the autopilot on due to my concerns on a accidental gybe ( we tried it out in the beginning and did OK but not to my satisfaction, more on this later). The chain around the sprocket on the starboard side jumped off. We had a warning about 10 mins before this happened when we both heard a loud bang coming from the steering. This was the chain slipping on the chain sprocket. We didn't know it at the time. I thought we hid something. When Jenn called out to me she couldn't steer, I put the autopilot on and headed up into the wind 20 degrees to be out of the DDW situation. (The below deck autopilot is independent of the wheel steering in most sailboats). The boat steered fine with the autopilot so I knew right away that I had a cable problem. Seen this before a few times racing. I quickly got out the tool box and opened up the top of the steering pedestal to find the chain off the sprocket. I got the chain back on. Now I had to adjust the cable in a heaving deck under the starboard transom locker. With Jenn holding me by my pants (there are pictures of this I will not share) I had to hang upside down to tighten the cables. Once that was done we were back in business san bruised, tired and mad as heck).
So lessons learned:
1. NOAA and all the other wx sites I use were wrong on sea state and wind forecast. They all called for 3.5' seas, wind 10-15 knots. When I got out into the ocean we had 5' seas, 3 secs spacing and wind 15-20 knots, one hour later seas 5-9' wind 20 knots gusting to 28. I should have ducked back into the ICW at this point (a 30 min into the wind and sea state for the St Simons inlet vs 90 min run to the next inlet. You make the call).
2. Sea sickness- I lost 2 crew members after one hour. One got real sick and the other on the verge. Jenn and I both were a little under the weather. We all tried the one ear plug in the non-dominate ear. It worked for 3 of us.
3. My bad for not reefing the main earlier when I had all 4 crew members in the beginning.
4. Boat handling in rough seas. I wanted to see how this boat could handle the seas. She did great except for the mechanical problems. There were so many lessons learned here, in too many ways it was a great learning experience close to shore vs out in the middle of nowhere. Best to find out now before we cut the docklines this summer. One reason I did what I did.
5. I also wanted to see push this crew to see where we were. Some would say "my bad", but others would say need to know now on a very short cruise like this before bigger adventures are planned. I have been sailing with this crew on/off now for some 7 years. That night at sundowners we went over the lessons learned. It was a full bottle of rum night (23 year old).
6. Steering cable. When this happened I was very upset and still am. I know that after time the steering cable will stretch. But not after only 4 sails. I am blaming Catalina and the dealer for NOT adjusting the steering cables properly during commissioning. This put the crew and boat in danger. Remember. the Salty Dog rally, two Catalina's (38'&42') lost steering too. Not sure yet if this is a design defect out of Edson/Catalina or not properly maintain cable tension. I am voting for the later. So for the rest of you, if there is any slop in the wheel get your cables adjusted. You shouldn't be able to move the wheel right or left without the rudder moving.
a. What we did right. Autopilot on. If works it is a cable problem, If it doesn't it is a real bad problem; autopilot steering arm locked up, broken rudder post/rudder.
b. The new Raymarine IP-70 autopilot with EVO is a wonderful thing except in one area. The "response" to course corrections. In the new system I have only 3 settings; leisure, cruise and performance. In the old ST-60, it was numbered 1-9. When running downwind, we need a bigger response time so we don't accidentally gybe. I need to further my education on this on what does performance mean compared to the old system.
I made some good and bad decisions here. I hope everyone can learn from this experience.
BTW the crew is still going to sail with me after this experience.

Melissa Renee
Catalina 445, Hull #90
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