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Old 10-29-2004
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Gusting conditions

I was reading the Owner’s Handbook for the Raymarine ST4000 autopilot and came across the following statement under Gusting Conditions (pg. 11):

“In very strong winds and large seas, you should avoid sailing with the wind dead astern:
- ideally, bring the wind at least 30 degrees away from a dead run
- in severe conditions, you may also need to remove the mainsail and sail under headsail only”

This last statement really bothers me. If for no other reason, because we’ve always done the opposite and sailed under main alone in the conditions described. (We’re no experts thou…) Is the statement correct?
When, if ever, should one sail using only the jib? I see others doing it but I don’t see any advantage to it.
Thank you in advance.
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Old 10-29-2004
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Gusting conditions


My advice is not to try and read ''sail management'' into that paragraph (which I also read with some disdain...) but rather view it as a mfgr. trying to coach customers on how to deal with an autopilot that simply can''t steer very fast. Keep in mind that little teenie muff-n-tin motor that''s trying to control your boat. Their concern, I believe, is that your boat will have a sea rolling up its hindquarters, slewing the boat sideways at some speed, and that poor a/p can only turn the wheel so fast. So the alternative they mention is to put the Center of Effort way forward (by dousing the main and keeping up the jib), so that the boat is being ''pulled'' by the sails insofar as possible, effectively offsetting at least a bit the rapid yawing influence of the waves and/or wind.

Personally, I think this is like suggesting one put a gallon of gas in the car before heading out to the Rockies; it''s just not going to cut it. I''ve been very impressed with the features, quality and performance of our 4000+ for its price but, again, suggest that there''s only so much we can expect from a tiny motor with only so much mechanical advantage.

My advice is to sail the boat the way you find the boat needs to be sailed, and if the conditions require you to helm the boat, either enjoy the experience or ask yourself if a below-decks, expensive but much more powerful a/p is worth it.

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Old 10-29-2004
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Gusting conditions

I think the real reason here is that if the AP can''t control the boat downwind, it could cause an uncontrolled jibe. With the main down, you don''t need to worry about jibing and having the boom swing around and hurting someone or breaking something.

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Old 10-31-2004
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Gusting conditions

My partner wore out our ST 4000 in two days of following seas on the west side of Vancouver Island. He was under double reefed main and a partly furled headsail (I wasn''t there). When we talked about it he said in future he would not use AP under these conditions, period. It worked itself to death trying to hold a course.
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Old 11-02-2004
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Gusting conditions

Is this a good time for a self-steering gear?

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