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Ajax_MD 12-19-2012 07:57 AM

Here on the Chesapeake, some of us aren't done sailing.

Yesterday was 60F, partly cloudy and when I departed from the dock, it was blowing 20 knots varying rather widely between the west and northwest.

20 knots for me is fun, lively sailing. I reefed at the dock and loaded the 130% genoa. We shot out of my river as if from a canon. Downwind sailing, 6.5 - 7.5 knots.

Down the Rhode, into the West river, and out into the Bay. After a few minutes, I felt the boat being pushed even harder and I just knew that the uphill slog back into the West River was going to be some real work.

I turned the boat back west, and got my a$$ totally handed to me by a 32 knot wind. Boat's on her side, water splashing over the coamings, even with a two-speed winch, I simply couldn't grind that jib in. We were being shoved sideways by the waves and wind. The winch was intermittantly underwater. All leeway and no headway.

I gave up and fell off. Now we're under control and flying, but being driven further away from home, to the SE. This time, I want to tack and sail north to get lined up with the mouth of the river. It took two tries to get the bow through the wind, and I still couldn't get the jib in enough, but I was able to start the engine and drive us north, even with the mouth of the river, finally getting the jib sheeted in to the correct point.

We tacked again to sail WSW back into the river and I was able to disengage the engine. We tacked one final time to sail north, into the Rhode river to my marina.

I was disappointed that I chose an incorrect sail for the conditions, and disappointed that I allowed myself to be overpowered, and required the engine even briefly. Seriously, 32 knots deserves respect but I should have been able to handle this.

I intend to sail around Delmarva and if I can't handle a 30 knot breeze, I have no business being out there.

I have an auto-pilot, but it's not installed yet.
I do have a storm jib, but it was in my storage unit in town, not on the boat where it shoud have been.

I considered dropping the main, but felt that I would lose my ability to point, and require even more engine work to return to port. The Pearson 30 derives it's "drive" from the jib, and main balances the helm and provides pointing ability.


lapworth 12-19-2012 08:21 AM

Re: Overloaded
No storm jib no sailing for you. 30 knots is a small gale warning I drop my sails and head home. I have a smaller boat so the waves on the bay start to over power my engine. If you want to practice storm sailing you might want to bring the storm jib.

Ajax_MD 12-19-2012 08:26 AM

Re: Overloaded

Originally Posted by lapworth (Post 964051)
No storm jib no sailing for you. 30 knots is a small gale warning I drop my sails and head home. I have a smaller boat so the waves on the bay start to over power my engine. If you want to practice storm sailing you might want to bring the storm jib.

I agree with that. The forecast was for a max of 20 knots, I wasn't expecting it to build to 32. Still, the sail should have at least been aboard my boat. 130% in that much breeze is simply too much.

The wind didn't maintain that intensity for long. Unfortunately, I had no idea how long it would last, so I headed in.


BarryL 12-19-2012 08:52 AM

Re: Overloaded

Was the TRUE wind 30+ kts or was that what you saw when sailing upwind? I'm guessing that the TRUE wind was 20-25 kts, which is great for sailing downwind but not so great for sailing upwind unless you are on a fully crewed race boat with 1000 lbs of beef on the rail.

IMHO, if you are going to be SAILING in 30+ kts you need at least the second reef in the main and the headsail should be a 100% jib or smaller. Even then the ride probably won't be fun or easy.

For me, if I'm out for a fun sail, and I encounter weather like that, I will drop whichever sail is easier and then motor sail back. IMHO, there is no point in beating up the boat or myself when the goal is to have fun. I love a spirited sail, but there comes a point when it ceases being fun.

Lastly, even if you had the storm jib aboard, where you going to change it under those conditions? Not me, I would either reef the existing sail or, more likely, just drop it.

Glad it turned out well for you.


bloodhunter 12-19-2012 08:56 AM

Re: Overloaded
You know what Bay weather forecasting is like. And on the plus side you managed to cope with a really uncomfortable even dangerous situation with no damage.
You made a good choice not to take down the main . In that wind you would probably have a dangerous lee helm without the main to balance that 130
Seriously, I hardly use my 130 any more. I bought a decent gennaker from Bacon's for a very reasonable price and when the wind is light I fly that and furl the 110. I can't get as close to the wind as with my regular genny so I do more tacking or go somewhere else.
Enchantress goes into hibernation for the winter(?) this weekend. Envy you your continuing sailing.

jameswilson29 12-19-2012 08:59 AM

Re: Overloaded
You probably could have sailed the P30 upwind under reefed main alone or working jib. My P28, with similar displacement and ballast numbers, similar underwater shape, and a shorter waterline (+14 PHRF), will sail upwind well above 20 knots under main alone. The Shaw-designed Pearsons are initially tender and start sailing well heeling at angles greater than 15 degrees, but I have never seen one of mine go over 45 degrees heel - they seem to really tighten up there and resist further heeling. Water over the coamings sounds as if your bow was lifted and stern dropped, trying to climb over the bow wave/hull speed limit?

Glad to hear you will be sailing around Delmarva - fun trip. Give yourself a few extra days to enjoy Cape May.

BTW, years ago, I kept my P26 at Holiday Hills Marina up the Rhode River on Bear Creek in Mayo, MD. You must be at Casa Rio or RRM? Beautiful area with lots of great overnight stops nearby.

chucklesR 12-19-2012 09:02 AM

Re: Overloaded
Just a thought Bubblehead - your Pearson's first reef is probably the jib, and more than likely the same point as other boats of that size and genre - namely at 18 knots apparent.

In other words you should have reefed or put on a smaller sail before you left the pier since you don't have a furler.
Your downwind was fine as the apparent wind was lower - you should have blanketed the jib with the main, changed jibs and then turned to go home.

sailortjk1 12-19-2012 09:04 AM

Re: Overloaded

Lastly, even if you had the storm jib aboard, where you going to change it under those conditions? Not me,
Agreed, if you have hanked on sails the last thing you want to do is go forward on a pitching deck and change head sails. Usually, you sail with what you have up. Had you known it was going to blow and you started with a storm sail that is one thing, but getting caught is another. A furling head sail is a great thing to have for just those conditions. If the big 135 jib was what was causing the problems, it might have been best to get it on deck and sail main only even though she does not sail the best under main only, you still would have been sailing and under more control, even if that meant reefed main only.
Hey, I wasn't there. Its always easier to be on the outside looking in and be the one giving advise. Trial and error on your part is what is going to get the answers that your looking for. Next time, try something different and go from there.

peoples1234 12-19-2012 09:05 AM

Re: Overloaded
My boat is on the hard now so I can do some work to the bottom, but I was at Casa Rio yesterday working on it (more like wishing I was on it sailing). The wind was really intense in the afternoon and depending on direction it really funnels through the river.

At least you learned something without causing damage, right?

Single handing in those conditions is exciting. Sailing is different for everyone, I happen to like excitement. Hopefully this won't discourage you from going out, but rather prepare you better for next time.

pdqaltair 12-19-2012 09:18 AM

Re: Overloaded
a. You could sail the Delmarva and never see sustained wind over 15 knots if you watch the weather. Often enough I have crew that refuses to sail in a strong breeze, so I just work around it. My first 2 trips were with and elementary school daughter for crew in a 1200 pound catamaran; she was game enough to do anything I asked, but parents have responsibilities. Yes, we got caught in a strong squal, but we had the laundry in.

b. Now you know to carry a smaller jib. 2 reefs in the main might have been wise at 30 knots, depending on the boat. Dropping jib is an option.

c. When tacking in a breeze try to get the jib in as it crosses; no grinding.

d. BarryL had a good point. There are times on a passage where you need to suck it up, but on a coastal cruise like the Delmarva, consider the beating your boat will take. Is it worth the deterioration? Often not, depending on the boat. Forget the romantic BS and consider the cost of a stretched sail. Not cheap.

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