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  #1  
Old 10-24-2006
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Sailing Late October/november

Hello,

I am fairly new to sailing and have only sailed in the English Bay, Straight of Georgia, and Gulf Island Areas in the summer in moderate winds. I live in Vancouver, BC.

I am wondering if it's relatively safe to sail in the English Bay/ Bowen Island area this time of year, late october early november, in a 27 foot boat like a Catalina.

I would really like to get out there for a 2 day trip to Bowen island and back. Or Pirates Bay past the Gabriola Pass

I haven't had much experience in gales, and it looks like the winds are rough.

With a 27 foot cruising boat and a jib up in strong winds is it relatively safe to get to these destinations?

Does anyone have experience sailing during this time in these common areas?

How big can the waves get in gale force winds in the straight of georgia?

Not that I mind the excitement and adventure, but I do not want to put the crew in danger.

I went out to Point Atkinson just this weekend and the winds were up to 28 knots, had to take down the main and use the Jib alone. Is this regular this time of year?

Kacper

Last edited by Kacper; 10-24-2006 at 02:29 AM.
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Old 10-24-2006
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Whether it is safe really depends on several things... your skill and experience as a sailor, your familiarity with the boat, and how she handles heavy weather, the boat's seaworthiness, and the weather.

Getting experience in heavy weather is the only way to really learn about how to handle heavy weather.

For the last sail of my 2006 season*, we went out during a Small Craft Advisory, and encountered winds gusting up to 35 knots, and had seas up to 9' or so... we had a great time, because the crew and the boat were prepared for it...we did skip lunch as there was no way to prepare lunch in those kind of conditions reasonably...

Gales are a bit much to be sailing in, in a 27' boat, with average winds of 34-47 knots... I doubt you actually meant experience in gales...no sailor in his right mind goes out in a gale.



*The only reason it was my last sail is I've been grounded for medical reasons, otherwise, I'd be sailing until the snow hits the deck.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 10-24-2006
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Kacper

We sail year round in the same area, and there is no question that the weather gets a bit harsher this time of year. There is an increase in the number of windy days, especially from the SE with the approach of bad weather. While this year has been exceptionally mild, it has been unusual.

An overnight trip to Bowen Island is no problem any time of year, but you do need to pay close attention to the forecasts. As you may have noticed this past weekend fog is also more prevalent in the fall and winter months.

A dash across Georgia Strait is also doable, again depending on the forecasts. Silva Bay, however, is not one of our favourite anchorages because the wind can really whistle through there all night and the wind is generally stronger on that side of the Strait than elsewhere. Of course, in the winter months we tend to tie up in marinas to get power to keep things warmer below.

Last year we did New Years eve at Bowen, but had to leave early to get home before a forecast storm came through. By the time we got home and checked the wind conditions on the net, things had heated up to 44K at Sisters Is, so we were wise to get ahead of it.

So use common sense, listen to the forecasts and current conditions on the VHF, dress appropriately and make sure you have the boat properly equipped for the harsher conditions (reliable safe cabin heat, the right sails/reefing systems in case things blow up unexpectedly, etc.)

And Enjoy! (and feel for those who have only a six month sailing season each year)
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Old 10-24-2006
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Smile

Thank you both for the great advice.

I'm going to opt for the experience and head out there, will watch the forecast closely.

What's the best way to learn more in depth about the weather patterns here?
I'd like to have a more intimate idea of what winds/currents affect the weather.

Also... I've never sailed in rain, only a light drizzle.

What's it like sailing in rain/heavy rain? How do you prepare for it? What are the dangers?

Kacper
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Old 10-24-2006
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Visibility sucks in heavy rain, and getting chilled in a heavy rain is a serious problem...good foul weather gear and fleece is a must. Don't forget to have your running lights on when in the rain, or any other lowered visibility condition. A masthead Tricolor is often more visible off-shore than deck-level running lights, which can often be obscured by sails and waves.

I'd also recommend hoisting a good radar reflector, like the Davis Echomaster deluxe, which they sell here on Sailnet. The big ships can see you much better on radar, especially in the rain, if you have one...otherwise you're basically invisible—which is bad.

Sailflow.com can give you some idea of what the wind patterns and such are like in the area.

I hope this helps.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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  #6  
Old 10-24-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kacper
I went out to Point Atkinson just this weekend and the winds were up to 28 knots, had to take down the main and use the Jib alone. Kacper
Kacper - You had the right idea to reduce canvas, but using a full jib and no main is an unbalanced load on your rig, could lead to trouble. A better way is to be able to go with a smaller jib and reefed main, for better control, less weather helm, and less stress on your rig. More comfortable too! If you want to go out in heavier weather, learn more about and make provisions for these - I'd encourage you to learn about reefing if a reefing system isn't already installed on your main, install one. If you have a hanked-on jib, you might look for a second smaller one; if roller furled, investigate adding a rope luff that will allow you to partly roll your jib up to give less canvas while maintaining a decent sail shape.
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Old 10-24-2006
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Eryka's right about the sails... the boat will handle much better if the sails are properly balanced. While going downwind in heavy winds with just a jib is feasible, it does make it very difficult for the boat to tack, as the center of effort is too far forward.

Also, as far as reefing is concerned.... if you're wondering if you should have a reef in, it probably means you should have already put in a reef. It is better to reef early than to reef late, and much safer to do so as well. Most boats, in really heavy winds, will sail flatter, faster and safer with a properly reefed mainsail and jib, than they will with an unreefed and overpowered main and jib.
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New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 10-24-2006
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Kapcer, in 28 knots of wind, even if you take down your main, or reef it, you will be damaging your sails. The strong winds will literally distort the shape of the cloth--permanently.

You really should be using "storm sails" in high winds, they're much cheaper than replacing the main sails, and made of heavier cloth. Various international safety and racing bodies also suggest most strongly that the storm sails be made of high visibility cloth (i.e. orange or red) because in a storm...it helps if you can be seen against the whitecaps and fog.

If you can find the polar charts for your boat (or ask a sailmaker familiar with it) you may also find that it pays to reef as early as 14-15 knots of wind. By then many boats are over-canvassed and you'll actually be slowing down from excess heeling, as well as blowing out your sails.

Look at it this way: You can buy different sails for different wind ranges, which will cost something. Or, you can blow out your only set of sails, sail uncomfortable and inefficiently, and wind up paying even more money to replace the sails more often.

Either way, you wind up paying.
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Old 10-24-2006
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Hi guys,

Thanks again for the excellent tip. Especially on the sail color and storm sails.

Eryka, What is a "rope luff" for roller furling sails? I thought you could reef roller furling sails just by rolling them up 1/3rds - 2/3rds.

... Yes, I did distinctively have the thought "Hmm, should probably reef the main", but didn't listen to myself.

Instead I took down the jib and left up the full main... I had no idea how strong the wind was because the boat we chartered didn't have a wind speed gauge.

We started keeling over excessively and water began to flow into the cockpit. It was a big lesson in sail balancing.... I lost control over the boat because of the outragously strong weather helm with just the main up, and the boat went into irons.




I do have another problem which I'm curious if others experience too.

I believe I am addicted to sailing. I have been thinking about nothing else but sailing for days and days now. I can barely focus on work, all I can see is the water and all I can feel is that exciting, warm, and timeless feeling of leaving the dock as the engine is humming,...out into the open.

All day my mind thinks of scenarious and situations and how to handle them, and I fantacize about cruising out across the Pacific to islands far far away.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Kacper

Last edited by Kacper; 10-24-2006 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 10-24-2006
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A rope or foam luff is something that is often added to a roller furling sail to help the sail keep its proper shape when the sail is reefed on the furling gear.

There's no such thing as being addicted to sailing...really...if there was, there would be a 12-step program for it..wouldn't there.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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