Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!
The other day it was gusting 15-25. The weather forecast said it would be down to 10 kts at 4pm. Up to that 10-15 with gusts to 20. So I needed to fill up the tank anyway so I did and since I was near the harbor entrance decided to poke out and get some sea time. Raised the main, then opened the jib. Current was moving pretty fast out of the harbor, which is rare...usually coming in. Wind was westward, again, not normal. So I had the main up, fully. Since the boat is an older IOR design, its got a fairly small main. I have had it up fully in bigger wind. Opened up the jib, its a 125. With this jib, I have never felt overpowered by the wind. Its also an 8oz cloth so its a pretty durable sail. The boat flew out of the harbor. On GPS I was doing 9.6 kts. By far the fastest I have been going singlehanded. The sea state was FLAT. Wind ripples but that was about it. No swells, no waves. As I shot out of the harbor, I looked back and realized it was basically surfing. Thats why I was moving so fast. No prob. I went with it. I was on a reach so it was flat, comfortable and fast. I was astonished how calm, relaxed, composed and effortless the boat was moving. Truly amazing! My only thought was maybe it wont be so comfortable coming back so I gybed and headed up the coast. Now I am close hauled. Boat was heeled pretty good. Traveler was over fully to depower the main, plus I was spilling wind and it was still heeled way over. I was again moving very fast. Probably 7 kts or so, and it was effortless.
My fear at that point was if a nice gust comes up...I would imagine wind was a constant 15-17. If a 10 knot gust hit me pushing it to 25, would I get knocked down? Thats question number 1.
1. At what point would I have to worry about a wind knockdown or do I? I was told, maybe incorrectly, that a knockdown is only from big waves. Wave heights 1/3 the length of the boat to be exact. But what if one is close hauled, in 20 knot winds and gets a 10 knot gust?
So not having the answer at hand, I decided to head back down the coast, so I tacked and now was close hauled going the other direction, and it seemed the wind picked up. I was heeled over even more now, and going against the current more. The little wind ripples from before were now 2 foot choppy waves and I'm hitting them hard. Lots of spray in the face. lol. Now comes question 2.
The forestay seemed to be vibrating pretty violently. I could have tightened the sheets a bit, but again, I wanted to spill off some wind, so I didnt want to crank the winch on the sheets to tighten it up any more. I was wndering if I just had too much sail up and it was too turbulent on the forestay. So I reefed it in a bit, and now since the front area of the sail was so much thicker, it didnt seem to help, so I just cranked it all the way in and furled it completely, then motored in with just the main. 2nd question..
2. What would make the forestay twitch and vibrate like that? Should I have tightened up the jib to where I would have normally had it? My thoughts for not doing that are:
1. IOR boat. The jib was bigger and gets alot of power from that, so that sail would be overpowered first not the main.
2. If I tighten the sheet more, it would heel more, and I was already questioning the comfortable heel angle for the boat in the event of a gust.
I always say, the boat can handle much more than I can, and since I had these questions and was singlehanded, I thought it better to be safe than sorry.
Sorry for the longwinded post, but I feel that these kinds of experiences make you better prepared in the future for unexpected occurrences.
Oh and by the way as I got back to my slip about 4pm, the winds had died down to 10 knots...if I had just stayed out an hour, I would have been just fine...now in that hour I may have been 10 NM up the coast, lol.
S/V Cuajota - 1975 WD Schock Santana 30
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Last edited by NewportNewbie; 02-26-2013 at 01:48 AM.