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  #1  
Old 10-15-2012
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Turned Around - Yikes!

We were out this past weekend and the wind was blowing from the South of the lake (very unusual for this lake) at 12-18 knots. We had a nice, long pleasurable sail downwind about 10 miles. We had the 100% jib up and no Reef in the main. I considered the Gennaker, but thatís another story!

So, it was time to turn around and head back to the marina. I was looking forward to the upwind sail. But, for some reason she just didnít want to perform upwind. Granted, it started blowing up to 28 knots, and there were pretty good sized swells. But she usually does great upwind (Merit 25).

I had the backstay tensioner in, boom out so we wouldnít heel too far over, but she just didnít seem to be moving fast.

On my starboard tack, the wind gusted and just spun her around into a (scary) upwind gybe! I tried to point back into the wind, but to no avail! We ended up taking the sails down and motoring in, and it got gustier and the swells got bigger the entire way in.

So, is this once again my stubbornness about NOT reefing? Was I simply overpowered? Did the swells prevent my rudder from doing its job? Did the wind push me to a starboard gybe by blowing the bow?
Not really sure, but I would like to maintain control next time this happens!
It is a constant learning experience, isnít it?
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Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

From your description it may have been simply that your rudder cavitated and lost its 'bite' and that radically 'unbalanced' condition allowed or forced the the boat to tack.

The Merit 25 although spade ruddered, does have the top of the rudder quite near the boat's waterline. Any 'weather helm' encountered at such a time (w/ large amount of heel to expose the top of the rudder to 'the air') will aggravate the possibility of the rudder 'cavitating'. What youll feel in such an episode is the the tiller will suddenly become VERY easy to turn, but the turning of the tiller doesnt result in the boat turning, due to the air bubbles being 'sucked down' along one side of the rudder.

The apparent slowness 'could' have been that the sails were over-powered ('stretched') into a VERY full drafted shape .... 28 kts. is well beyond what a normal (dacron) set of sails, normally designed for 12-15kts.

Other possibility for the upwind broach could have been that the forestay, even with hard backstay tension applied, still was 'sagging well off to leeward' ... and this created a 'skid' to leeward and the leeward skid finally resulted in the boat 'tripping' over its keel (the apparent broach). Watch for your boat skidding in 'blammo' conditions .... when you feel increasing helm pressure the NEXT thing you do is look at the stern wake and if its not coming almost straight off the stern but is a visible angle from the boat's centerline, youre skidding to the lee .... and if that skid is 'large', you can then risk 'tripping over' the keel.

The first 'warning' you get in blammo conditions for all the above cases is what you feel in the helm is 'felt like' increasing weather helm ... but isnt 'weather helm' - look at the wake, look at the forestay sag, look to see if the sails have 'powered-up' by increased draft because of 'rig or sail cloth stretch'.

Last edited by RichH; 10-15-2012 at 01:42 PM.
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Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

Guessing since I wasn't there, but sounds in gusts to 28 you were overpowered, and your "upwind jibe" consisted to getting tossed to windward by a sea, jib caught aback, then involuntary tack with everyone on the wrong side. Full main and a genny above 20 knots is just too much sail on that lightweight boat.

Reefed main and smaller jib may have given you a less hair-raising ride, since you could trim smaller sails in more, maybe ease off of close-hauled a few degrees to a "close close reach" so you have more margin to avoid getting caught aback again.

But. You lived, you're learning. Hang in there.
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Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

Thanks both of you for the advise. I'll go over this info and craft a plan for the next outing (which, sadly will not be until next spring - she comes out for the winter in 2 days)
:-(
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Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

I've read a couple of good quotes about shortening sail;

"If you're wondering about it, it's already past time for it."

From an old schoonerman to the new owner; "Just don't be afraid to get sail off her and she'll do you fine."

The old "skinny boat" rule of thumb about reefing once the rail was awash doesn't apply to modern beamy boats so it takes a bit more judgement. I start thinking about it when the inclinometer is consistently over 20 degrees
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Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

Reef, and in for upwind - boom in tight, traveler controls heel - not a luffing main and flailing boom.
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Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

I'm confused. Did you gybe or round-up? A lot of boats develop more weather helm as they heel. If too much then the rudder looses lift, and the boat heads into the wind. If you where going upwind, became overpowered, and the bow fell OFF the wind, then you probably developed lee helm. Maybe with the jib set, and the main luffing, the boat wanted to fall off rather than head up.
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Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

What lake do you sail on that is near Newark Valley,NY. lake Cayuga?

You should really try reefing for conditions like that. Shorten both sails so it is balanced and your boat should actually go faster then with more sail up. It will also sail flatter and be much easier to steer.

Too bad the season is practically over. Some of the best winds are in the fall and the water is still relatively warm.
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Old 10-15-2012
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Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

How accurate is your wind assessment? Did you guess at 28 kts?
How many people did you have onboard?
What lake? I'm not sure you had any real swells, maybe some chop, but nothing big. Unless you were on lake Ontario.

Lots of things going on here.
How old are your sails and what are they made of?
Was the backstay full on?
Outhaul full on?
Halyard/cunni full on?
Traveler 3/4 down with a tight leech on the main?
Where were the jib cars placed?

VERY IMPORTANT: How much rake are you running? The Merit 25 is a deck stepped mast with inline spreaders. So the backstay DIRECTLY EFFECTS headstay sag. Merits like a lot of rake to be able to point well but it's a good idea to take some of this out for heavy air sailing. This moves the CE forward to eliminate excessive weather helm.

The "auto tack" which you described is due to backwinding the jib in breeze. A puff rounds you up into the wind and if you turn a little more.... PRESTO! you tack w/o wanting to. It happens very fast on that boat.

Rudder cavitation isn't normally a huge issue. If you're using more than 5* of rudder, you're going slow anyway (well before cavitation happens). Rudder should be very close to straight on that boat when it's balanced. If you can't get it settled down, REEF. We reef with full crew around 25 kts sustained and that's with 3-4 guys on the rail. With just two in the cockpit, reefing at 20 isn't a bad idea.

For future reference, upwind we change out to the #3 at 15 sustained depending on wave state and crew weight. Then you're good to go to 25 with full crew. Reef will get you to 30-33 maybe, then you need a #4. The 4 will actually be usefull from 30+ so no need to wait for it to start nukin. After 35 hit your second reef. All these wind speeds will drop if you don't have 4 guys on the rail. The boat likes to sail flat, like most boats.

Shoot me an email and I can send you a simple tuning guide. If you have any other questions just let me know. I've raced the boat in 35-40, and even though it wasn't fun, you can still get to where you want to go safely. Great boats.

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Old 10-15-2012
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Unhappy Re: Turned Around - Yikes!

Quote:
How accurate is your wind assessment? Did you guess at 28 kts?
How many people did you have onboard?What lake? I'm not sure you had any real swells, maybe some chop, but nothing big. Unless you were on lake Ontario.

Lots of things going on here.
How old are your sails and what are they made of?
Was the backstay full on?
Outhaul full on?
Halyard/cunni full on?
Traveler 3/4 down with a tight leech on the main?
Where were the jib cars placed?
How accurate is your wind assessment? Did you guess at 28 kts?
Well... the wind was oscillating and gusting. I know it was reading 24-26 knots on the gauge going upwind. IF we were traveling at 3-4 knots, then perhaps it was only blowing at 20-21? But, the gust that took us downwind was large!

How many people did you have onboard?
2, my fiance and I... less than 330 pounds together!

What lake? I'm not sure you had any real swells, maybe some chop, but nothing big. Unless you were on lake Ontario.
Cayuga, very unpredictable! There were whitecaps, something I don't like in the M25

Lots of things going on here.
How old are your sails and what are they made of?

100% jib (although I think it is smaller, the specs with the boat claimed 100%) - Dacron (cloth like), main - Mylar quilt cut, boat is a 1984, not sure how old the sails are...

Was the backstay full on?
Nope, I kept letting it off when the wind died down to 15-18... probably about 1/2

Outhaul full on?
As full on as we can get it (cleat is way too small for the line)

Halyard/cunni full on?
No Cunni on the main

Traveler 3/4 down with a tight leech on the main?
Traveler at center, and Boom WAY out due to the gusts and not wanting to heel!

Where were the jib cars placed?
Pretty close to fully forward

Hmmmm, as I step though this, I'm thinking that I made some mistakes!!!!
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Last edited by Merit25lovers; 10-15-2012 at 09:26 PM.
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