Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered? - SailNet Community

   Search Sailnet:

 forums  store  

Quick Menu
Boat Reviews  
Search SailNet 
Boat Search (new)

Shop the
SailNet Store
Anchor Locker
Boatbuilding & Repair
Hatches and Portlights
Interior And Galley
Marine Electronics
Other Items
Plumbing and Pumps
Sailing Hardware
Trailer & Watersports
Clearance Items

Advertise Here

Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
 Not a Member? 

Like Tree2Likes
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 09-28-2013
Harborless's Avatar
Blue Horizons
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Jacksonville, Fl
Posts: 1,052
Thanks: 4
Thanked 19 Times in 16 Posts
Rep Power: 4
Harborless is on a distinguished road
Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

I have a hank on boat. Today I comandeered a very nice condition hank on storm jib from an old derelict sinking slowly at the dock. It fits very nice on my boat other than it needs a pennant to reach the foot over the stanchion rail to prevent chaffing and new sheets.

I also came across a much smaller, fair to poor condition jib.. about a 70% maybe? So im wondering now that I suddenly have a much larger sail inventory what would be, if any, the dangers of sailing with smaller sails?

my thought process is that on non windy and windy days with rough swell id rather perhaps have smaller sails on since im often solo and do not want to be tired out. In windy situations with small swell I love to crack on and let the toe rail get her foot wet but with swells of steep or short natures I think id rather run smaller for stability and ease sake.

When is it too early for a storm jib? 35 knots? 40? 30?
Im not a racer and more importantly im often by myself and making small passages and trips. While 1 or 2 knots would mak a huge difference in a long cruise right now ill be only island hopping and close offshoring.

Also im just curious to you alls procedures but if your in say the Bahamas in June and you see the almost daily afternoon squalls moving in do you immediately reef or double reef the main and put on a storm jib or roll in to a storm jib dimension? Do you lower sails and trust the iron genny? What is your course of action?

In shallow water anchored out in a large body of shallow water with land in sight would you stay at anchor? Say water is 15 feet or less and you see a storm coming. If you do stay at anchor do you dinghy out a second anchor or increase scope?
if you leave anchor then do you reef and make smaller the foresail and make passge toward deeper water or if possible try to find a land mass to duck behind to reanchor?

If your anchored overnight and during the night while asleep you are hit by storms do you do the same as above? How do your night time procedures differ from daytime?

Sorry went a little off topic but no point making multiple threads and these are all very important topics to myself and I venture to assume others as well.

Last edited by Harborless; 09-28-2013 at 03:01 PM.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
PaulinVictoria's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Sidney, BC
Posts: 1,881
Thanks: 7
Thanked 45 Times in 44 Posts
Rep Power: 6
PaulinVictoria is on a distinguished road
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

More sails gives you more flexibility to adapt your sail plan to the conditions, be that wind or waves. Nothing dangerous about it, it's called sailing
Orange Crush
1974 C&C27 MkII

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
AlaskaMC's Avatar
Frozen Member
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 562
Thanks: 25
Thanked 20 Times in 19 Posts
Rep Power: 5
AlaskaMC is on a distinguished road
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

I have been really enjoying your posts lately and thanks for being willing to share with everyone. I must say though that many of your post strike me as looking for absolute answers for questions that really have a "it depends" answer. While I don't have tons of experience sailing at sea yet, I appreciate that much of the learning is about being able to assess situations that you describe above and make the call.

When training folks for guiding in many areas, the main issue is situational awareness and providing MANY options for resolutions. Then you hope when people are out there they will be aware of their surroundings and make the right decision for the moment.

For example in your example above, my mind asks more questions. You are anchored in what kind bottom, what direction is the storm coming, what is nearby, tide, current etc. Every high risk decision made in adventuring is cut against so much information that there are rarely single answers.

But, the questions you are asking are sure creating great discussions and that is what it is all about on here. I guess I am just saying don't be frustrated when you get more questions to your questions. Have fun!
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
MarkofSeaLife's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,237
Thanks: 28
Thanked 57 Times in 53 Posts
Rep Power: 4
MarkofSeaLife is on a distinguished road
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

Originally Posted by Harborless View Post
When is it too early for a storm jib? 35 knots? 40? 30?

Just imagine trying to stand on the foredeck, solo, in 30 knots trying to change jibs. Let alone 35 or 40 knots.

on the better front, you can make a pennant for the strom jib, just use a bit of old rope. It doesnt need to be flash.
Sea Life
Notes on a Circumnavigation:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 825
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Rep Power: 9
chris_gee is on a distinguished road
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

There are a lot of questions.
It depends on your boat and how stable or shortlived the weather is, and course and sea state.
Two basic principles are foresails are designed for a wind range. A standard jib may optimally cover 15-20 knots say. For every 7 knots increase the sail area should halve to give the same force as the force is proportional to area x velocity squared.
Rarely will the wind be unvarying and known beforehand. You may have 5 knots extra and ten knots in gusts. You may handle some by flattening the sails, luffing etc short term. It pays to reduce sail early while you can more easily. The point where you are consistently overpowered is too late. So you may use a storm jib from 25-30 but boats differ as some are underpowered to start. It also depends a bit on crew and experience.
Being a bit conservative may be faster and helps build confidence and experience. Too little sail will be slower but if the conditions are light you can increase sail safely.

Anchoring well. You preferably want to be sheltered by land from over night wind. If a storm is due the winds may change direction as say a front moves through. Desirably a good anchorage allows for that.
It depends on the bottom and anchor. With both good as they should be, then scope length and a good amount of chain help. You want 7-10 x the depth in scope. That is easier in shallower water. Conceivably you might use two anchors in a severe storm but normally you look to other factors first.
As storms do not always follow a predicted path you should think of an escape route if required but that would only be after covering all the other bases. It wouldn't be much fun to haul say 60 m of rope and chain singlehanded pulling the boat against wind and tide because you can't motor steer and haul at the same time, and get the sails up and head out to sea. Sure being well clear of land is better than near a lee shore, bit a snug secure anchorage is better still.
34crealock likes this.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
smurphny's Avatar
Over Hill Sailing Club
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Adirondacks NY
Posts: 2,853
Thanks: 55
Thanked 63 Times in 61 Posts
Rep Power: 6
smurphny is on a distinguished road
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

As Mark mentioned, a piece of rope. Keeping some pieces of Dyneema aboard is good for stuff like that. It's easy-peezy to splice and has the strength of wire.

I have to have a good reason to put on my 160 genny, even on a roller. It would never go on if I had to get up on the bow singlehanded and try to stuff all the freakin canvas in a bag with a strong wind blowing. It isn't like you're racing anywhere so think small as far as headsails go. Trying to max out sail size usually results in having to remove it in short order. You could consider putting a reef point in a jib.
Alberg 35: With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
capta's Avatar
Master Mariner
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: somewhere in the Windward or Leeward Islands
Posts: 1,464
Thanks: 13
Thanked 71 Times in 66 Posts
Rep Power: 4
capta is on a distinguished road
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

Every boat is different. You are going to have to actually find out for yourself what works best for you and your boat.
When we sail, we set up the rig for what we believe is the most sail we would want up in the worst conditions we might encounter that day. For us that's a Yankee jib and a deeply reefed main (as in the pic), most days. We generally sail across the channels here in 18 to 25 knots of wind, hard to weather. We have taken a 45 knot squall with this rig, easing the main quite a bit (it's old) and using the Yankee for power. On the other hand, when sailing the lees of the islands, we will sail with only the Yankee, as it's easier to handle just the one sail when the wind shifts constantly in the fluky light airs encountered in the lees. When we hit the valleys, especially when the trades are honking, we can get very strong winds with some down draft components to them and we'd surely not enjoy that with the main up. But this boat sails incredibly well under just the Yankee; your boat may or may not sail well with just a headsail.
What you really do not want to have to do is constantly be on the foredeck changing sails. It's tiring, hard work, especially for a singlehander and potentially dangerous.
As for the anchoring questions;
Again simplicity is the key. You aren't going to want to put out a second anchor every afternoon. Your main anchor set up should hold the boat quite well in 50 to 60 knots or more in a short lived squall. But seas and surge are the killer here. You need to find sheltered anchorages that protect you from the prevailing wind driven seas. If you anchor on the banks in the Bahamas, you are going to get some pretty rough water accompanying the squalls.
If you are caught in a place where you do not have shelter from the seas, you may have to drop your anchor and chain (don't forget to buoy the end so you can come back and retrieve it) (especially as a singlehander as you are not going to be able to power up on your anchor) and put to sea. This brings up another important point; do not secure the end of your anchor chain to the boat with a shackle. Always have enough line on the end (tied to the chain and on the other end to the boat in the chain locker) so you can cut the line on deck (not in the chain locker) in an emergency. Then there's a snub line between the chain and boat, but there are plenty of threads on this on the site.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
azguy's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Scottsdale
Posts: 537
Thanks: 0
Thanked 14 Times in 14 Posts
Rep Power: 3
azguy is on a distinguished road
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

I wonder how that storm jib would have worked in help you in and out of that inlet the other day...?? It may have helped taken some of the bounce out of your travel and gave you some power to control the boat better.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
deltaten's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Lancaster Co. PA/ North East, MD
Posts: 681
Thanks: 6
Thanked 15 Times in 15 Posts
Rep Power: 2
deltaten is on a distinguished road
Send a message via Yahoo to deltaten
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

I run a short, 85%'er jib alla the time. Might not be as fas,t in light breezes as the 150 Genny; but I don't have to go fwd to douse and change jibs, either. I use Arnold section of halyard as a pennant to bring the foot up to boom level.
Only problem is "really* short wind when ya need just a bit more canvas!
S/V Chrysalis
'80 Watkins 27
North East, MD
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 09-28-2013
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 1,935
Thanks: 4
Thanked 34 Times in 34 Posts
Rep Power: 8
Tempest is on a distinguished road
Re: Is it Dangerous to Sail Underpowered?

To try to answer the question " is it dangerous..."

I think to put it simply, you want to sail " under control" and unless you're hove-to, you want to have steerage. Rudder control.

If you're not in control of the boat ( over-powered or under-powered) you can't steer then you can't avoid danger. You can go as slow as you want..deploy as little sail as you want, as long as you control the boat, and where it goes.
Sabre 34
Morgan, NJ
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may post attachments
You may edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
dangerous with a jigsaw QuickMick Gear & Maintenance 3 12-19-2009 04:05 AM
Asking for opinions... (could be dangerous :-p) AKsailer1983 Boat Review and Purchase Forum 5 07-12-2008 10:47 AM
Dangerous Seafood Ralph Doolin Her Sailnet Articles 0 03-20-2003 07:00 PM
dangerous wakes nauticalrich General Discussion (sailing related) 16 02-03-2002 11:18 AM
Dangerous Dinghies Tom Wood Cruising Articles 0 03-27-2000 07:00 PM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:38 AM.

Add to My Yahoo!         
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
(c) LLC 2000-2012

The store is owned and operated by a company independent of the forum. You are now leaving the SailNet forum. Click OK to continue or Cancel to return to the SailNet forum.