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LooseDiamond 08-31-2013 08:12 AM

DDW and bailing out
A little background: Sailing about 6yrs and singlehand more often than not. Mostly self taught by reading and experience. Last year a buddy and I were out on my Catalina 22. Light winds so I had the genoa up (I almost never use it. The boat balances better in most conditions with smaller jib). Wind died, then piped up from almost 180 degrees. We enjoyed a fast adrenaline charged run wing/wing right on the edge for a while. Soon we were approaching skinny water and something had to be done. Before I could say anything, my buddy said, "here" and reached for the boom, bringing the main around as I yelled "NOOO!!!!". :eek:

We went over hard, with me standing on the port cockpit coaming near the bulkhead (looking for where the water was going to enter first), and he almost directly above me clinging to the pushpit railing. Little water entered, boat righted itself. I had a newfound respect for my little boat. I immediately changed to a smaller headsail and reefed the main to head back. I realize the wing/wing was a bad idea (both sails on same side of boat would have prevented the whole thing), but we were really caught as the windspeed increased almost instantly.

So, question is:

How does one bail out of a dead downwind situation when faced with limited sea room?

Lessons taken from this experience: 1. Don't sail dead downwind and 2. Never wing/wing.

bristol299bob 08-31-2013 10:20 AM

Re: DDW and bailing out
I think it's great that you are out the learning and doing. It's the only way. Mistakes happen along the way, it's ok. It's part of it.

Ill disagree respectfully, with your lessons. Nothing wrong with sailing ddw at all and nothing wrong with wing and wing when you do. There are surely times when wing and. It downwind does not feel safe. But I would not eliminate it f rom your bag of tricks.

If I understand correctly your buddy's decided to gybe the boat. The first suggestion would be to learn how to gybe safely, and the first rule there is communication. Everyone on board needs to be aware, and ready. And everyone needs to know what to expect and what they are expected to do during the gybe.

Also if conditions are very rough you can consider "an exaggerated tack". So instead of a gybe, you can turn the other direction and tack through the wind, 270 degrees or more. It's much more benign. Not very racer-like but safe.

We all get caught in conditions and situations that push our limits. It's a great way to learn. I'd say that you done good.

lowtide 08-31-2013 10:49 AM

Re: DDW and bailing out
Leave the Jib alone, sheet the main in as you normally would during a careful gybe, and gybe the boat to the jib side. Now you can trim to head up or reach away.

Just takes a few seconds.

Racing in cruising non-spinnaker divisions will make you practice this a lot.


outbound 08-31-2013 10:55 AM

Re: DDW and bailing out
4 Attachment(s)
Real problem is when you're wing and wing with preventor on main and pole on genny when singling. My order is to release pole, move genny. "Chinese" gybe as suggested by Bristol, then sort yourself out moving pole to other side or stowing it as conditions demand. Pulling in main in preparation for controlled gybe, handling wheel and sails seems just too much to do for me. When I set up for wing and wing try to have head sail on the side I will "bail out" to if situation demands. That way won't have to suddenly gybe the main. Can fool with it in non urgent fashion. Coastal sailing is chess not checkers. Need always to plan ahead.
Sometimes just roll in the genny. Sail the new safer course with just the main briefly to get out of harms way and decide what to do. Have great respect for the boom. Did a Bermuda. On another boat man was decapitated by a gybe.
Lowtide is right. With two should be easy to just gybe and stay safe. Great fun

Irunbird 08-31-2013 11:29 AM

Re: DDW and bailing out

Originally Posted by bristol299bob (Post 1082168)
Also if conditions are very rough you can consider "an exaggerated tack". So instead of a gybe, you can turn the other direction and tack through the wind, 270 degrees or more. It's much more benign. Not very racer-like but safe..

We learned this as the infamous "chicken gybe". It works, but if you don't have a preventer or whisker pole rigged to get in the way of things, the easiest (and probably safest) way to turn around is to just head up and drop the genoa. I'm guessing your boat behaves well under main alone, so you should be able to sail a bit while you take the genoa down and get a smaller jib up.

outbound 08-31-2013 11:34 AM

Re: DDW and bailing out
4 Attachment(s)
Yup iron got it right. I had my order wrong.just realize I get rid of the pole first..sorry sleep deprived.

nolatom 08-31-2013 01:23 PM

Re: DDW and bailing out
I too endorse the "chicken (non-) jibe wholeheartedly, whether you are running out of searoom or not. Sea story follows:

Decades ago Marblehead Town Class sloops (17', spruce mast, lowers but no backstay, big main) during Race Week, and (surprisingly) found myself in the lead heading for the gotta-jibe-it reach mark as a squall overtook us. I "ain't givin up the lead" , so tried to jibe, I really did, but couldn't physically pull the mainsheet in to pre-trim the main for the jibe. Despite being much younger and bulletproof then, I took this as a sign from God that I had to swallow my pride, sail past the mark some, then chicken-jibe it. I seemed to take forever, and my 10-boatlength lead was down to two as the second boat, sensing victory, jibed...

and broke his mast in two places. Third-place and I think all others too (I didn't look back, had my hands full as it was really honking out) chicken-jibed. I did hang on to win that race, and was thanked by quite a few at the cocktail party for "chickening out"

To finish answering your question though, if I knew I was going to run short of depth or room, I might have rounded up earlier, dropped the main, and continued with just jib, which is much easier to wrestle down on a run.

Faster 09-02-2013 10:55 PM

Re: DDW and bailing out
While I don't enjoy W on W, if you find yourself there in a building breeze its seems to me it's much easier/smoother to gybe the headsail and round up out of DDW that way, rather than attempt to jibe the main in a big breeze. A so-called chicken jibe would call for that anyway.

LooseDiamond 09-03-2013 02:01 PM

Re: DDW and bailing out
Thanks for the replies. I have "chicken gybed" on occasion, and am familiar with sheeting in the main to reduce forces. Neither were an option as the vodka infused partner pulled the boom around with little/no warning! Given nolatom's account, there are significant forces involved. My concern is that with too much canvas up for the conditions, when the main moves to the other side will still result in some stress ie rounding up when trying to transition from a run to a reach, no matter how quickly I let out the mainsheet. Maybe if done slowly the apparent wind angle will help reduce forces? Hope that makes sense.

Faster 09-03-2013 02:06 PM

Re: DDW and bailing out
It's difficult to 'gybe slowly' in a real breeze, esp on a responsive boat. When the sail finally flips across there is likely to be some serious rounding up forces. I like to sheet in as far as I can prior to the actual gybe, and then allow the sheet to run in a controlled manner - not fetch up short. Your ability to be able to let the sheet run under control will depend on size of the main, number of parts in the tackle and the conditions themselves. Pretty serious rope burn can result of this goes badly.

The degree of round-up forces will likely vary with hull type and displacement. Obviously the helmsman and the main trimmer need to be in sync (as your 'helper' clearly wasn't! ;))

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