Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Long Island, NY
Thanked 78 Times in 73 Posts
Rep Power: 14
Re: Newbie Sailor
What kind of boat? Some boats sail great on headsail alone, others sail great on main alone. When I was still learning a lot (and I'm still learning) I used to grab my older brother and head out on windy days to learn about sailing in more challenging conditions. This was back in 2004 when I had only been sailing for a year and 20 kts was a lot of wind. My Newport 28 sailed fine with just the headsail. Sailing with main alone was slow and I was unable to tack because the boat would stall when head to wind. With the headsail alone I could tack but there was a lot of weather helm. The boat sailed best with a reefed main and a reefed headsail (150 rolled up to a 100).
Some lessons I learned about sailing in windy / gusty conditions were:
- If you're hit with a big gust, head up real close to the wind and let the sails luff a little.
- Ease the main sheet a lot. The top of the sail will twist off and spill the wind while the lower part of the sail provides power.
- Sailing with headsail alone is pretty easy to do (on my masthead boats).
- Practice reefing a lot so you can do it quickly and easily. If your reefing system isn't set up to be easy to use then modify it. It should take just a few minutes to put a reef in. This way, when it's time to reef you will, instead of just wishing the wind would get lighter.
- Healing is scary when you aren't use to it. After a dozen or so times healing at 20 degrees, my wife and kids are now used to it and don't complain. To be honest, I'm not crazy about heeling that much either. I don't mind it, but it makes doing ANYTHING (making lunch, using the head, trimming the sail, etc.) difficult.
Good luck. On the long island sound, late fall sailing is my favorite time of the year because there is usually good wind, the water is still warm, and there are very few other boats out there.
Deep Blue C, 2002 C&C 110
Mt. Sinai, NY
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