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post #1 of 16 Old 02-10-2013 Thread Starter
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Headsail only in heavy weather?

I have read that having at least some sails up during a gale not only allows your boat to make headway but adds to its stability. Does the membership agree?

In the Annapolis Book it basically states that unless in relatively small waves, sailing under reefed main alone is preferable to sailing under storm jib alone. The reason they give is that the main supports and stabilizes the mast and prevents "mast pumping". Do you guys generally agree with this?

I would imagine that I would only contemplate going under storm jib alone if I were going down wind. I can't imagine that it would make being on a close haul or close reach easy due to the lee helm. But what about down wind reaches and runs?.... I could imagine doing that under jib alone and a number of contributors here have advocated that during heavy weather. Is the risk of mast pumping that serious? Wouldn't a tensioned headsail halyard stabilize the mast as well?
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post #2 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

I wouldnt worry about mast pumping.

Downwind a small amouunt of genoa rolled out is good. I dont advocate storm jobs any more.... most boats have furling genoas and no one is going to whip that off in 40+ knots to put up a storm job.... unless they are crackers, of course.

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post #3 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

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Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
I wouldnt worry about mast pumping.

Downwind a small amouunt of genoa rolled out is good. I dont advocate storm jobs any more.... most boats have furling genoas and no one is going to whip that off in 40+ knots to put up a storm job.... unless they are crackers, of course.
Or they just know what they are doing! Of course it also depends on whether they are short handed or fully crewed.

How a boat handles a headsail without a main really depends on the boat, type of rig etc. My boat seems pretty happy with just a jib when it is blowing. When the main is down I connect the main halyard to the end of the boom and pull the sheet on, and I have a baby stay to control pumping.

Having said that, I have yet to try it in extreme conditions. 25-30kts with a #3 is the most I have tried.

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post #4 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

My cutter rigged boat does well with a hanked on staysail in 40+ knots downwind....Storm jib for anything more serious...like 3 days hove to in the Southern Ocean.
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post #5 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

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Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
Downwind a small amouunt of genoa rolled out is good. I dont advocate storm jobs any more.... most boats have furling genoas and no one is going to whip that off in 40+ knots to put up a storm job.... unless they are crackers, of course.
Of course this is the reason for the Gale Sail design, the storm jib that goes over the top of a furlled genoa.

Never the less, seems it's not really needed that much unless the boat cannot manage to unfurl a tiny patch, like 25%, without risk of getting it all out.

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post #6 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

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Originally Posted by matthewwhill View Post
I have read that having at least some sails up during a gale not only allows your boat to make headway but adds to its stability. Does the membership agree?

In the Annapolis Book it basically states that unless in relatively small waves, sailing under reefed main alone is preferable to sailing under storm jib alone. The reason they give is that the main supports and stabilizes the mast and prevents "mast pumping". Do you guys generally agree with this?

I would imagine that I would only contemplate going under storm jib alone if I were going down wind. I can't imagine that it would make being on a close haul or close reach easy due to the lee helm. But what about down wind reaches and runs?.... I could imagine doing that under jib alone and a number of contributors here have advocated that during heavy weather. Is the risk of mast pumping that serious? Wouldn't a tensioned headsail halyard stabilize the mast as well?
It really depends on the boat, some will not balance at all with just a mainsail, and other boats are the other way around. So this is one of the things that you must know your boat and it's characteristics. This is really an area that trial and error comes in handy, just do it in slightly less than force 10 conditions! Oh and you expect that people here will agree on anything?

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Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
I wouldnt worry about mast pumping.

Downwind a small amouunt of genoa rolled out is good. I dont advocate storm jobs any more.... most boats have furling genoas and no one is going to whip that off in 40+ knots to put up a storm job.... unless they are crackers, of course.
I will take most any job if it pays enough! A storm sail would give a lot better shape, but yes unless you have the ATN type gale sail, then it is unlikely that you would put one up.
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post #7 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

I might look into a storm trysail if I were planning to do a lot of heavy weather sailing. My main has two reefs, but even the smallest reef can feel like too much canvas in a big blow. I also don't like the awkward strains that are put on my partially furled headsail and rigging when it's really blowing. Bottom line for me is I need more practice in heavy weather to figure out what works best and what I'm comfortable with.

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post #8 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

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Originally Posted by miatapaul View Post
A storm sail would give a lot better shape, but yes unless you have the ATN type gale sail, then it is unlikely that you would put one up.
OK, then go find a windy day, leave the crew at home and try to put your gale sail up by yourself.

Now contemplate doinig it at 40 knots.

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post #9 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

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Originally Posted by aeventyr60 View Post
My cutter rigged boat does well with a hanked on staysail in 40+ knots downwind....Storm jib for anything more serious...like 3 days hove to in the Southern Ocean.
Thats OK in your true cutter rig because the design overall CE is within that staysail; plus, your mast is at about ~50% LOA .... not the typical sloop with its combined CE behind the mast at ~30% LOA.
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post #10 of 16 Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Headsail only in heavy weather?

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Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
I wouldnt worry about mast pumping.
You will or should if that mast is now harmonically moving back and forth to the extent that your stays/shrouds are momentarily (instantaneously impacting) exceeding the material strength limits of the wire ... and your chainplates are 'old' and full of 'accumulated fatigue'.

Most chainplate systems are grossly under-designed for fatigue failure ... right out of the boat builders shop. With the common stainless steels you only get about 1 million load cycles (about 1 circumnavigation) above 30% stress ... then the plates, etc. are usually very prone to fail, suddenly and without much warning.
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