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Harborless 04-24-2012 11:12 AM

Over Powered in 30 knots?
Took out the house yesterday on the St. Johns. 20 knots steady, gusts to 35 maybe 40. Good sailing weather.

The wind is blowing out of the NorthWest. I head out through the bridge and decide to run with the wind for awhile. I have only my standard jib up. I had my little sister on board and I thought raising the main even with it reefed would be too much excitement for her.. Some people don't like when water comes over the toe rail... Anyway, Were running pretty much down wind... maybe at 4:30 or 5 o'clock to just a little off it.

We cruise down to NAS Jax and decide to start heading back up wind. St. Johns waves were large and wind was really whipping. Anyhoo, Time to gybe round and head back.
***Note: My boats 26' 4" with 6'7" draft... So I have a lot of lateral resistance.
Anyway, i gybe us round and now were at about 2-3 o'clock trying to shave in to 12 since 12 is actually the way we need to go (I know, I should have headed north out of the marina then ran downwind back for ease) So we need to go into 12 o'clocl but I cannot tack us on to a starboard tack. The jib is up and the tiller is pushed hard over and we barely hold 2:30 before we get pushed to 4 then drift back to 230 then back to four. So I could never tack back over 12. The problem was I was riding the coast and getting to shallow water and docks. I was being overpowered by the wind/waves so that even with the jib winched in tight I couldn't hold a 2 or 3 o'clock course.. I kept getting "slid" towards the shore.

Well after a few tacks and repeats and tries I decide the hell with bobbing around getting waves full on broad-- So I turn back around run at 5 o'clock and skinny my way into a very upscale marina that happened to be a half mile down wind or so. That is where my boat sits today.. Getting ready to go sail her back home.. Winds still out of the NW but only 10 knots so I know I can power through my tacks no problem.
***Note: Onboard is 8 HP diesel. Would barely push me through the chop into the marina so no way it would have powered me at 12 o'clock for 4 -5 miles in those conditions.

So, my question is why was I unable to tack back home? I could never get the jib to hold a starboard breeze without forgoing any northward progress going back towards 12 so the whole time was stuck on the clocks right side between 2-5. I have lot of draft. Also, could not raise the main at that time unless I would have dropped anchor to go bow in the wind. Otherwise would have never made it past the shrouds. I think adding more sial would hardly help matters unless it would let me shave in closer than what I was??
we were never in any real danger. I just couldnt make the boat go where I wanted despite all my best efforts. Any ideas?

peterchech 04-24-2012 11:30 AM

Re: Over Powered in 30 knots?
My guess is you had Lee Helm with just the jib up. All good boats have a bit of weather helm (many have too much). This means that with the sheets pulled in, going upwind, if you release the tiller the boat will turn into the wind. This is a good thing, for example if the boat gets overpowered by a gust, it will "round up" into the wind even if you are so heeled over that the rudder is pushed out of the water.

It looks like, in this case with just the jib up, the wind was pushing your jib to lee, and with no main to counteract it and a strong wind/chop countering the effectiveness of your keel, you got a wicked case of lee helm. Pushing the rudder all the way over just slowed the boat, exascerbating the problem.

The only solution would have been getting the main up. A few ways to do that in these conditions that I have done (I'm sure someone will add some more techniques). First take down the jib. Then: either motor into the wind and raise the main, or else just raise the main (once you get a little of it up, it should weathercock into the wind enough to allow you to raise it, at least I can on my 25 footer in 20-25 knot winds).

8 HP should be enough to push a 26' boat, do you have a corroded prop or something?

Ajax_MD 04-24-2012 11:36 AM

Re: Over Powered in 30 knots?
The key is balance. It sounds like you were unbalanced. Too much sail forward, and none aft.

I would have flown the smallest jib, and reefed the main to it's smallst dimension. This would place the center of effort where it belongs instead of all the way forward, generating the lee helm.

You mentioned not wanting to dip the rail in the water by raising the main. If you're getting knocked down, you're sheeted in too hard. Either play the mainsheet when the puffs come, or feather up into the wind. Or both.

The boat will remain on it's feet, with the proper amount of weather helm.

marcusc130 04-24-2012 11:41 AM

Over Powered in 30 knots?
It was explained to me once that the main is named such for a reason. The jib makes the main more efficient, but a jib alone will not provide the "lift" you need to sail to weather.

rockDAWG 04-24-2012 11:59 AM

Re: Over Powered in 30 knots?

Originally Posted by Harborless (Post 862625)
Over Powered in 30 knots?

Haha.... I am glad you and sister are OK. For a second, I was worried. That is no way your can tack with the jib alone. :)

But you did good, a wise call and good save. :D

celenoglu 04-24-2012 12:00 PM

Re: Over Powered in 30 knots?
It is always a good idea to have main and jib together. Under these conditions the boat will turn towards the wind. With only the jib the boat will not be able to tack. The sail plan should always allow, reducing both sails at the same time.

travlin-easy 04-24-2012 12:05 PM

Re: Over Powered in 30 knots?
Why didn't you just fire up that iron Jenny and use it in conjunction with the sails? As for the motor's power, yep 8-HP would be fine on a cal day with no tide, but the boat is still underpowered IMO. My old 27 Catalina had a 30-HP Atomic-4 in her and I never had a problem with conditions such as those you described. However, I have a friend who had a Catalina 30-T that had a puny 11-HP diesel. He had to wait for slack tide sometimes in order to get up the channel to the marina, and that was with just a 15-MPH wind and 3-knot tide.

Good luck on your trip back home,

Gary :cool:

CarolynShearlock 04-24-2012 12:07 PM

Re: Over Powered in 30 knots?
Ditto on all the above. And note that if you ever are in a situation where you can't tack and there's an obstruction (such as shallow water coming up), you can do a quick jibe all the way around -- instead of tacking through 90 degrees, you jibe through 270 degrees. Hard to make upwind progress as you'll lose a lot, but it can keep you in safe water.

tommays 04-24-2012 01:10 PM

Re: Over Powered in 30 knots?

IF it was really that windy it would be giving a full on race boat a bit of beatdown and we would be in survive and TRY not to break the boat or crew mode :)

When i am out by myself it does depend on the boat BUT the Cal 29 needs a BIT of both sails to function well VS the J24 which does pretty good on Mainsail alone

donlofland 04-24-2012 01:11 PM

Re: Over Powered in 30 knots?
Ditto above.

And when day sailing I'll usually go the difficult direction first, (up wind/up current, etc.), and coast the easy way home. Going upwind always seems to take longer on the way home...

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