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  #1  
Old 02-26-2013
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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.
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Last edited by NewportNewbie; 02-26-2013 at 02:48 AM.
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  #2  
Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

What sail controls do you have on the Santana 30?

Were outhaul and cunningham (main downhaul) on? How quick and easy is it to add backstay tension?

With the traveler down, if you saw a big puff coming, would you have been able to let out the mainsheet quickly before the puff hit?

How did the helm feel while you were sailing?

How much use has that mainsail seen?
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

If my forestay is vibrating, at least on my boat, it is likely the leach of one of the sails flapping. Take a look at the leach of your jib next time. Chances are, it's flapping and you need to tighten up the leach cord. Just tighten it up just enough to stop the flapping.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgscpat View Post
What sail controls do you have on the Santana 30?

Were outhaul and cunningham (main downhaul) on? How quick and easy is it to add backstay tension?

With the traveler down, if you saw a big puff coming, would you have been able to let out the mainsheet quickly before the puff hit?

How did the helm feel while you were sailing?

How much use has that mainsail seen?

No cunningham on the boat...I plan on adding that. From what I understand about it, I would add more tension on the cunninghang in heavy weather and that would spill more wind...correct?

Backstay tension can be adjusted by cranking the wheel at the rear of the cockpit. Pretty easy to do. Never don it though. Again, this can depower the main, correct?

I had the mainsheet in my hand and ready to ease it, BUT I felt sometimes, the main was out a good amount already. Would it be enough? Didnt want to test the theory before asking...lol.

Helm felt GOOD. Easy to steer and control, boat was very responsive. Didnt need a huge amount of force on the tiller.

Main is in pretty good shape actually. Fully Battened North. Its about 10 years old, but the previous 2 owners didnt use it much. The Yanmar put in 2 owners ago around the same time has less than 300 hours on it. I put almost 200 on it in the last year.

All great questions that lead me to my answers...very Socratic..thank you!
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

Reef
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

Every boat is different, so all too often one-size-fits-all advice doesn't. And I'm definitely no expert. One starting point might be to find out whether Ullman or North or any other sailmaker might have written a tuning guide for the Santana; sometimes these guides not only talk about rig set up, measurements, and tension, but also give good general advice for the best way to control the rig in different wind speeds and wave conditions.

Reefing can make the boat go faster (especially in the non-leeway direction!).
Some boats of course will want to start being reefed in less wind than others.

Another good idea someone once told me was to experiment with setting your controls in a medium-ish or pretty good all around setting, then spend time experimenting with just one sail control at a time. There's the general notion of what the controls are supposed to do on most boats -- and then there's finding out just exactly what they do on your boat. Some people might use the cunningham as a general front-end-of-the sail flattener in conjunction with the outhaul and backstay; others might be more focusing on using it to help move the draft position (more bent/deeply cupped area) position of a much-used main sail back more forward, more like where it was when the sail was new. Some boats seems to like to use lots of vang downwind; on others that might be ineffective or bad news for the boom. It's also possible to do too much of a good thing in excessively depowering.

Maybe you can find a not-too-expensive way to get a local sailmaker to come on board, or at least to look at some pictures of your sail in action (such as from below the sail looking up or from another boat aft of you). There are probably articles findable about looking at the patterns of wrinkles on the sail (such as "overbend wrinkles"), draft position, etc., and all that good stuff.

North publishes a couple of pretty nifty books for general philosophy. What would be really nifty would be if you could find another Santana 30 owner somewhere nearby to go out and do some tuning play with you out on the water, setting up both boats just the same to start and then coordinating how you both change things.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

The Cunningham acts to flatten the main. It doesn't actually spill more air, but by shortening the draft I the sail you can point slightly higher but with reduced power. I high wind situations where you are converting maximum power to drive anyway the Cunningham basically trades something you don't need (power) for something you do (point).

Ditto for the backstay, but it also acts to tighten the headstay, allowing you to point higher.

Dumping the main is always a good bet if you are overpowered. Just be sure you don't have on the vang, or it can hold the boom in.


Other options

1) out haul acts to flatten the main
2) halyard tension acts to flatten the main
3) flattening reef -flattens the main
4) drop traveler more
5) ease main sheet
6) move the jib car back. This opens the leach on the jib spilling off the top.
7) tighten forestay - brings the draft forward and flattens the jib
8) more the jib car outboard - opens the jib even more (this is a pretty extreme option if not reaching)
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

Reef for your highest expected wind, especially if single handed.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

When you are sailing upwind you want to have your headsail right in. It will make you heel less, not more, because it will flatten the sail. You also want to crank on the backstay to take the sag out of the forestay. Make sure the baby stay is tight to prevent pumping, and to help induce mast bend which will flatten the mainsail. On the main, also pull the outhaul on hard. Most old dacron will benefit from cunningham on hard as well. Set your mainsheet tension so that the top leech telltail streams about 50% of the time.

Once you have your sails all flattened out for upwind work, your helmsmanship comes into play. Pay attention to your jib telltails. Make sure you keep the leeward telltales streaming. If they are drooping or twirling around then you are sailing too low. Your goal should be to keep the boat frim heeling too much. The Santana is happy with 15 degrees or less. The more you heel the more rudder input it takes to keep the bow down. Pay attention to the how far off center the tiller is. Too much rudder input means you are digging a big hole in the water, and putting the brakes on. More importantly your rudder may stall and lose bite causing you to round up. If you are heeling too much, ease the traveller down. It is normal on a boat like yours for the luff of the main to bubble when you do this. It is not unusual for me to be driving off the last couple of feet of the leech, with the rest of the main backwinded when going through gusts. Just try to avoid flogging the main. Another way to deal with big gusts is to "pinch" through them. When the gust is about to hit, let the boat come up another few degrees, so that the jib is luffing a bit. Be careful not to over do it though, because if the gust is a big header you don't want to auto-tack!
If you try all of that, and you still can't keep the heel off the boat, then it is time to downsize your sailplan, either by going with a smaler headsail or reefing the main. (I have never reefed my main!)
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Advice for gusty conditions? Got a few Questions!

You should start using your backstay adjustor... the headstay was probably too slack for the conditions. In those conditions your backstay adjustor probably should have been near the (tight) end of its range.

Other than that and perhaps having chosen to reduce sail sounds like you did alright.

In windy conditions it's good to get used to the idea of 'feathering' towards a pinching condition, on some boats you lose little speed, depower and take off some heel. It takes some attention & a fine touch, though, you don't want to pinch hard enough to seriously slow, and esp not to 'autotack'. Fractional rigs handle that kind of thing better than large J masthead rigs like yours, but experiment and see what works.

You may have felt more 'force' due to the cooler temperatures, the higher density air has a bit more 'punch'...

EDIT... I see SchockT beat me to it... great minds...
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