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Lancer28 09-02-2007 10:03 AM

Running downwind at high speed, how to turn away?
I had a thought I figured I would post here again. This might sound a little goofy coming from me, but here goes.

When running straight downwind (beam reach or wing and wing), and the wind picks up beyond my (or my passenger's) comfort zone, how in the heck should I turn to keep from getting knocked down?

How should I bring the sails back to where I could then turn upwind and ease the motion of the boat out and reduce excess heel?

I know this sounds goofy, but I was thinking that if I was caught going downwind in that storm yesterday, I would have not had much of a choice but to hit the shore at 15 kts or tip the boat over trying to turn upwind. I never placed much thought into turning off of a downwind run.... hahahaha

sailingdog 09-02-2007 10:11 AM

If you're running the boat won't be heeling... the wind is pushing the boat forward, not sideways. If you have a roller-furling headsail... let the sheets out and put it in the shadow of the mainsail, and then furl it down to a reasonable size, and then you can turn the boat up a bit, using the headsail, which is now sized for the higher wind speeds you'll now have. Turn up head to wind and reef the main... then continue on..

BTW, not paying attention to wind speed is a big problem if you're running downwind...since the actual wind and the apparent wind will differ quite a bit. This is even more the case for multihulls, where the boat moves the difference is even larger. If you're sailing downwind at 7 knots and the wind is 25 knots... you have an apparent wind of 18 knots... however, as soon as you start heading up... it will jump up to the real 25 knots pretty quickly. Most boats don't have to reef in 18 knots of wind... but many will have to reef in 25. When you start going upwind, then the wind will increase even more... say to 28 or 29 knots apparent.

camaraderie 09-02-2007 10:21 AM

Assuming a furling jib...bring it down to a smaller size. Then sheet the mainsail in to centerline while the jib continues to carry you down wind. Now reef the mainsail. Then turn to your next point of sail.

sailingdog 09-02-2007 10:39 AM

If the wind is strong enough to be a worry, sheeting the main into centerline can be a problem even when sailing downwind. IMHO, turning upwind and letting the main luff is probably an easier way to reef it.

C27Shockwave 09-02-2007 10:39 AM

Same question.
My question is the same as Lancer28, only we did get caught in a storm on lake St. Claire.

I was crew on a C&C 33, we were wing on wing and the wind was at 4 knots The dark sky was approaching. When the wind started to come up we were in a tight pack. Fifteen seconds later the wind was at 45 knots. Another fifteen seconds and it was blowing at 58. We couldn't turn when we wanted to because we were so tight, and turning would have meant a collision.

We released the genoa sheet, let out the main until it was plastered against the shrouds, and released the vang. My last glance at the knotmeter, we were doing 9 knots and couldn't turn if we wanted to. The engine was now running and in gear and was no help. The skipper tried taking the wheel over and once it was against the stop all the boat would do is heel.

What played out is that we rode it out until we were in danger of running out of lake. By then the wind had died down enough to allow the helm to respond but, it was still blowing like hell. We were able to then get the main down. Then we put the boat back into a run so the genoa would be flapping off the bow. I was able to ball it up within the pulpit and secure it with a bungee.

What did we do wrong and what did we do right? I already know about reefing early but, it happened so fast and we were concentrating on making better time over the next guy while in light air.

I think letting the headsail go helped but, it was destroyed. I really, really wanted to get the main down but felt there was no way we would be able to haul it down while it was hard against the shrouds. Should we have cut the outhaul?

Any ideas on how to do it once your in it would be appreciated.

As in Lancer28's question, the answers being sought aren't what to do before, but what to do once you're in it.


P.S. What a ride that was!!!!!

Lancer28 09-02-2007 10:44 AM

c27 - that is my exact thing - you're describing my "worst case scenario" I was mulling over this morning.

So what to do then? I'm trapped going too fast downwind, sheeting in the main to centerline makes the boat turn hard and act like it is going to heel over and I'm feeling like I am in the handbasket to h-e-double hockeysticks.

camaraderie 09-02-2007 11:46 AM

If the wind is strong enough to be a worry, sheeting the main into centerline can be a problem even when sailing downwind. IMHO, turning upwind and letting the main luff is probably an easier way to reef it.

If you can't sheet the main in to are you going to turn upwind?

Lancer28 09-02-2007 11:59 AM

wait - <lightbulbs come on and reading comprehension increases>

if the boom is out to starboard, I could turn to port and just leave the main sheeted out... then it would start to luff, right?

Of course, I would have to pull in the jib and use that to sail with to keep heading until the main went down...

GBurton 09-02-2007 12:17 PM

Blow the jib and turn up into the wind. Of course if the boom is out to port turn to stbd

Dihydro77 09-02-2007 12:28 PM

This is from and applies to a dinghy but I think the principle is applicable to larger boats. I feel that some of the circumstances described in this thread justifies having a hand on the mainsheet when running dw. As I am in a learning phase, the following helped clarify and reminded me that practice on this technique of sailing is as important as MOB drills. Being good at the former may prevent the latter in this case. :)

Originally Posted by CaptainJeff
rtbates gives good advice, but is a bit off regarding the terms.

When sailing DDW (dead downwind) one cannot fall off the wind any farther, because there is no deeper point of sail to "fall off" to.

What rtbates is actually proposing is to avoid a DDW point of sail by steering the boat higher into the wind, so as to have both sails drawing on the same side. This maneuver would be to Bear Up, Come up, Go Up, Harden up, or Head Up. The result of hardening (the sheets) up would be to put the dingy on a deep run so as to adopt a strategy of so-called downwind tacking (an imprecise term, but it describes the zig-zag downwind course that results).

Practicing downwind tacking (gybing from a starboard deep run to a port deep run, and vice-versa) is a worthwhile use of your time, but should be practiced, like most maneuvers, in lighter conditions until skills and timing are perfected. When gybing:
harden up the mainsheet to center the boom, while maintaining a deep run
pull the tiller to weather until the mainsail fills from the opposite side (shift your bodyweight at this moment to the new windward side to retain balance)
ease the mainsheet to let the boom out quickly so as to avoid a broach, then
trim the new working jibsheet and adjust your course.
This prevents the uncontrolled swinging of the boom from one side to the other in a fresh breeze, i.e., a crash gybe, and the sudden shift in balance that is hard to keep up with, and which undoubtedly caused your dunking .

Until those skills are perfected, when caught in strong winds, performing the so-called chicken gybe will leave the boat in your control and prevent damage to the boat. The chicken gybe is performed by:
quickly heading up from a starboard run through a close reach, hardening the mainsheet energetically to keep the boat driven
continuing the turn by steering the bow across the wind (tacking), and
easing off on the mainsheet/trimming the new working jibsheet to adopt the new point of sail, a port run, or vice-versa
There is nothing "chicken" about staying in control of your boat; rather, it is the sign of a prudent skipper.

Your anecdote brings back my salad days on the bay teaching myself in my own 14' dinghy. You're going about it the right way, from all I can tell.

SkiprJohn is right: the farther off the wind your point of sail is, the less centerboard you need in the water. Just don't forget to lower it again when coming up, or you'll be side-sliding across the bay with no board to prevent leeway (been there, done that).

Note: when the breeze freshens, there is a real danger of a broach, an uncontrolled acceleration/pointing up due to over-pressure on the mainsail. In extreme cases, it can spin the boat around like a top before dumping you over. On broad reach and deeper courses in any kind of breeze, always have the mainsheet in hand and ready to release in a blink, or you could find yourself capsized and/or inadvertendly hitting someone/something.

Fair Winds,

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