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Lancer28 04-17-2008 09:59 AM

Help me figure this out - planing upside down, or sailing a torpedo?
I just got my 14' racing dinghy out on the cold Colorado water after a long winter in the gulf of Mexico cruising around for some stuff to write about in my book.

I should explain the conditions and then I'll tell you how the boat sailed and perhaps someone can either explain what is happening, or what I was doing wrong.

The breeze was a steady 20-25 mph, waves were about 2 feet and I had 100% main and Jib out. The boat would heel if I sheeted in too far like a racing boat - to about 30-35 degrees (where the water would just start to spill over into the cockpit from the wake).

Going upwind was fast and comfortable, but when I reached my turning mark, I put the helm over gently and started to go downwind. Almost as soon as the boat began to reach, a wave would break over the bow, like the boat was digging into the waves for a moment and completely covered the boat from stem to stern under the wave as it rolled over the boat. Several times after that, I was expecting to get wet when I turned, so I didn't think too much of it UNTIL I turned downwind, and the boat STUCK under the water and waves almost like it was trying to plane or something downwards! This lasted for at least 30 seconds, as I kept thinking it felt as if it was going to come back up at any moment, and to just hang on.

The entire boat was under water from 4 inches to about 1 foot from my measurements this morning. It stayed "stuck" underwater, and I was getting nearly torn off the boat from the water pressure, not to mention almost drowning from getting little gasps of air between surges over the bow. I thought I was about to drown, so pushed the helm over to weather and the boat stood up and bobbed like a cork, dry and with the sails smartly luffing in the wind, almost like a slow-speed forereach.

I thought something might be out of balance, or I had too much sail on either end, but after adjustments, I could not get the boat to stop shooting underwater on the downwind turn like a torpedo 6" under the surface. I tried turning faster, and that increased the problem. The only way I kept the boat above the waves was to turn it VERY slowly - about 1 degree of helm per second.

Can someone help me figure this out? it would be a great learning thread or addition to my book, but I can't figure out a resolution to it.

Was I in too much wind? Going too fast? Last winter I took this boat out and never, ever had a problem like this. I was soaking wet and was near hypothermia when I brought the boat out, so I didn't have a lot of time to "troubleshoot".

Sailormon6 04-17-2008 10:40 AM

I'm editing my original answer because I just realized that I mis-read the facts. Poltergeist's response makes sense. Also, if a small, low freeboard boat starts to take waves on the bow, the weight of them could be enough to briefly overcome the boat's buoyancy, and hold the bow down. When you turned the boat downwind suddenly, and the wind filled the sails, the force on the sails would have tended to wrench the bow down, especially on a small boat that had no ballast below the waterline, and it might have driven the bow under water. When you turned downwind more gradually, it allowed the boat's buoyancy more time to lift the bow, and keep it out of the water.

That's my best guess.

poltergeist 04-17-2008 10:41 AM

One thought ...
Did you try moving your weight aft as much as possible?

That's pretty elementary ... I'm not trying to insult your skills.

What kind of boat?


timebandit 04-17-2008 10:43 AM

Water sloshing in the bilge?

Lancer28 04-17-2008 10:55 AM

I was sitting as aft as possible, on a lake, not a river, no following waves and the boat is a stealth.

Sailormon6, your reply makes sense for what kept it underwater, but it wasn't a wave from the stern that dipped it in the first place - let me see if I can describe it - it was almost as if when I turned, the boat began to dig down.. I think that does it. Imagine being heeled over going upwind, then turning for a reach like going around a point on a course, and it is like the nose grabs and shoots underwater.

Lancer28 04-17-2008 11:04 AM

Called the manufacturer.

They think that the jib had too much depth and asked me to be sure I wasn't using the spinnaker as a jib, because stock they don't have them and it is an add-on. (Of course I wasn't and the wind was just too high for a spin)

Does that sound right?

poltergeist 04-17-2008 02:17 PM

I took a look at the Stealth (manufactured by CL, right?) on the web, and now I'm as confused as you.

In your first post you mentioned having the main and jib up, but I understand the Stealth has a main and a "gennaker/assim spinnaker" on a retractable bowsprit. So assuming we're not quibbling about terminology here, if you were flying both sails (over 200 sq. ft. on a 14 ft. boat) could you simply have been overpowered? Traditional spinnakers with poles have big "shoulders" and tend to lift the bow ... I'm not sure that your assim wasn't pushing you down in a boat that light in 25+. Still, you said that upwind it sailed well. And in your last post, you said (if I understood) that you weren't flying the spinnaker because there was too much wind.

Looks like a very cool boat ... but I don't have a clue beyond that.


chris_gee 04-17-2008 07:35 PM

You did have the bungs in?

ardoin 04-17-2008 08:27 PM

CE to far forward. Sounds like you were overpowered or too much jib.
Been there done that. Once the water start running over the bow you have
to correct the turn or you get washed off the boat. Turn gradually and the boat will not dip as fast. Another thing that worked if the wind wasn't too
strong was reefing the jib in the turn so the CE further back.
Had a small boat in Vermillion Bay and had the same problem when the
winds were brisk.

Lancer28 04-21-2008 11:14 AM

ardoin - I reproduced it yesterday, and it was too much jib / too round of a sail shape.


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