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Old 10-22-2000
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ideal wind speed?

It''s getting hard to link responses to queries--time to start some new topics!

Two related queries--ideal wind speed for comfortable sailing, and boathandling in heavy weather.

My vote for ideal wind speed is 7 knots. I don''t go out for excitement, but relaxation, and 7 knots is usually ideal. I can reach hull speed and not have to worry about accidental jibes and large waves.

But everyone has a different view of ideal. Yesterday it was blowing 17 and gusting in the 20s, and my wife was delighted to whomp through the waves and feel the wind and spray. Unfortunately, an accidental jibe in a strong gust broke the gaff, so we spent most of the day motoring and it looks like the sailing season is coming to a forced close earlier than I would have ended it otherwise.
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Old 10-22-2000
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ideal wind speed?

I am not sure where you are heading with this but I think that every boat and every skipper will have an ideal wind range and of course they will all be different.

I have sailed heavy offshore boats that only come into their own in winds over 12 knots and are a lark as winds approach 20 knots. I have sailed small open traditional wooden boats and poorly designed cruiser racers that become very scary in winds much over 12 knots.

Dealing with weather varies with each boat as well. On almost any boat flattening the sails is the first step. Tightening halyards, outhauls and vangs pulls flattens the sails and reduces the component to drive that causes boats to heel and make leeway. Dropping the traveller presents a strighter less powerful foil to the wind. Moving the jib sheets aft and inducing mast bend (on a modern bendy rig) flattens the sail, opens the leech and spills air aloft. Mast bend is usually induced by tightening the backstay which helps tighten forestay which also flattens the jib.

On a Gaffer, the runners are tightened to tighten the forestay, and the throat halyard is tightened a lot and the peak halyard is left as it is or slightly tightened. This allows the gaff to sag off to leeward, reducing heel but at the same time reducing ability to point.

As winds build beyond the point that those simple measures work, the solutions will vary pretty widely with the boat. On most rigs the strategy will vary with the wind type. In gusty winds on a masthead rig with a comparatively large jib and small mainsail, occationally flagging the main is not a great loss. It is important to have a lot of vang on in those conditions so that easing the sheet does not ''power up'' the mainsail. This is known as vang sheeting. On a fractional rig, mast bend and changing traveller position is often enough to address gusts. Gaffers have far fewer options.

In solid state breezes or on a long course more permanent measures make sense. Depending on the boat, reefing the mainsail or peeling down to a smaller jib is next step. For cruising purposes, reefing is usually easier than a sail change but again that usually varies with the boat and its gear. At some point boats with roller furling jibs start to furl in some sail area. This is a mixed blessing. Roller furling is a quick and pretty easy way to reduce jib area, but it also powers up the jib, and hooks in the leech over time as the clew pulls toward the foot. This is the opposite of the flat sail and straight leeches that you would like to have in heavier air. Roller furlers are generally good for a 10% reduction in area after which sail shape really deteriorates. Unlike a sail change to a smaller jib, there is no way to tension the luff once a jib is rolled so if you think you will be in heavy going for a long period of time of building conditions, then the change to a smaller headsail is the way to go.

As wind speeds build it is a matter of another reef, a smaller jib, another reef and perhaps no jib or storm jib. Trysail and so on. You eventually outstip the options and get into survival sailing but I think that is al ot more controversial and beyond the real scope of your original question.

In my case, I think an ideal wind speed is between 5 knots and wind speeds approaching 20 knots. Over 20kts things become less leisurely and I need to pay closer attention to what is happening (especially in gusts and confused waves). As winds approach 30 knots she is a bit of a handful but after I get used to being in that much wind (it is a bit like getting into cool water, getting in is the hardest part), I have had some really great sails in this stuff.

This wide wind range is a product of the boat that I own and my experience with her. I have a light weight boat that is easy to adapt to the conditions. She is still fast and controlable even under greatly reduced sail. I have owned her for 12 years and so I am very familiar with her bahavior.

Anyway, good luck fixing your gaff and I hope this was what you had in mind.

Regards
Jeff
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ideal wind speed?

Jeff,

Thanks for the wealth of info! I was responding to a couple different messages under learning to sail, and didn''t have an agenda in mind, though you have certainly provided lots of content to pursue all sorts of related issues.

What boat do you sail?

Cheers,
Bruce
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ideal wind speed?

I own a Laser 28 (Bruce Farr design) but I get to sail on a lot of different boats as I am invited to help people race or just plain sort out their boats. Over the years I have owned a wide variety of boats from the very traditional (Lapstrake Folkboat and a 1939 Stadel cutter) to some pretty high tech boats like the Laser 28. I also get to race gaffers at least on an annual basis. This year I had the chance to race on a really neat Antonio Dias designed cutter.

Actually my prior post was a bit narrowly focused in that it did not look at cutters or multi-masted rigs. I ran out of time and wanted to get out sailing.

Good luck
Jeff
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Old 10-23-2000
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ideal wind speed?

Hi There.
I would like to thank you for your wide Explanation to Sailing with an ideal wind.
My name is Ernest and I am prety new in the world of sailing, I am taking Sailing classes with my wife, in a 20'' Catalina, and so far after our second class it seems easy to handle, but when it come to our boat things get a little complicated. We have a 1977 68'' motor-sail ( Alden ) with two Masts, and many more sails. and my question is. will I be able to sail this large boat, in blue waters, the same way, that the small Catalina ?. Or should we get also sailing lessons with a similar large ship ?
Dear Jeff and Bruce, you guys sounds veeery enlightened, and I thank you, for your valuable time, to help us.

Ernest. Stella Maris. Miami FL
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ideal wind speed?

Sailing a 68 footer, especially a motor sailor, has it own set of skills that go far beyond those that you will learn sailing small boats. If you are really just learning to sail and operate boats, then I would be very concerned about operating a boat of that size. The momentum and wind load forces are so large in the that boats of that size can easily hurt people. I would strongly suggest that you work your way up to the 68 footer. Perhaps with a boat in the 30-35 foot range. This is a safer platform to learn boat and sail handling skills. I would suggest that you also get some time crewing with more experienced sailors to see how they do things.

Big boats require a different kind of judgement that smaller boats. In some ways big boats are less forgiving. It takes judgement to know when to shorten sails because manhandling sails in a blow is not an easy option. Big boats do not turn or stop as quickly so it takes judgement to figure out is a place is safe to enter and to develop an exit strategy if things go wrong. If things go wrong it is very easy to do a lot of damage or worse yet hurt someone.

Then again most motor sailors are a strange breed that are not great sailboats and not great power boats either. As sailboats they have a lot of drag and a lot of windage. As powerboats they are underpowered, rolly, and slow. As a sailboat a motorsailor that size would be useless in the lighter wind range that most people prefer to sail in but as the wind builds so do the need for sail handling and setting skills.

Then there are hardware issues. Deck and sail handling hardware has greatly improved since 1977. We have better winches, vangs, travellers, and even running rigging. We have lower stretch, lower weight sail cloths. All of these things make it easier and safer to handle a bigger boat. Unless Stella Maris has been upgraded, you are dealing with a more difficult situation than simply handling a big boat.

I don''t know how much boating(other than sailing) experience that you have, I don''t know who you have for crew and I don''t know what your plans are but handling a 23 year old 68 footer in "blue water" is not something to be taken lightly.

Respectfully
Jeff
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ideal wind speed?

Dear Jeff.
Let me introduce my self and my crew. I''ve been in power boats all my live, and I have crused the bahamas many times before, I am not the best there is, but I know my ways around. My first mate is my wife, she has never been in open water, and the rest of them, my beatiful daugther Indira 14, and the intrepid of Kevin 5 years old. It mght sound crazy, and it maybe is, but that is something we want to do.
I am looking also for a reliable couple with experience in a large boats, to crew them with us, or a Captain, a very especial one, since we will be traveling with my family, in that way, we all can learn better over the path.
I take my hat off respectfuly, and thank you, for your always wise advise, Thank you in the name of my family.

Ernest & Inova + Kids
Stella Maris. Miami, FL

Excuse my writing. I am Spanish educated
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ideal wind speed?

That sounds like it should work. I think that it a really wonderful thing that you are dong with your family. In my teenage years, a time when many parents and children lose touch and friendship, being able to share sailing with my parents resulted in a friendship with my folks that have carried us through a lot of tough times over the years. Good luck and safe sailing.

Jeff
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ideal wind speed?

I just borrowed a book from a friend for learning more about trimming sails and rig. This is a great book to learn more about "tuning" the engine on a sailboat. You can order the book in several languages, including English, under

www.dedekam.com
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ideal wind speed?

I am experiencing weather helm at rather low wind speeds 10 -15 knts. I have the tiller over to the point of it to act as a break. It is just getting exciting and then the boat get real hard to stay on coarse w/o it turning into the wind. Any suggestions????
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