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  #1  
Old 09-02-2009
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Sailing "Downwind"

I have a Catalina 25 with a roller furling ( without a spinneker sail ).

I can sail pretty good going up wind ( i guess most poeple can ). But when I need to head back home ( downwind ). I always seen to have a problem going anywhere.

I do not have a spin sail.

So should I use a whisker pole to push out my front sail and push the main sail out perpendiculr to the boat ( I think this is call wing-to-wing )?

But isn't it dangerous to have the boom that far away from the center of the boat?
I would hate to have my boom that far away from the center of the boat, the wind change and it come crashing across the cockpit.

Any ideas?
Or is this normal SOP?
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Old 09-02-2009
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Sailing downwind is a lot harder than upwind as a beginner. I think you are confusing some of your terminology. Having a roller furler has little to do with having a spinnaker.

My advice for you would be to avoid anything complicated like wing-on-wing or using a whisker pole at this point in your sailing career.

When sailing downwind:
1) Avoid sailing DEAD downwind for now (wind directly behind you). Try sailing a broad reach instead.
2) Yes, your sails should be fairly far out. Your fear of the boom coming across the cockpit is and should be a real concern. An accidental gybe could injure somebody so make sure your heads are down and as your sailing you need to do you best to simply avoid the accidental gybe to begin with. You might consider rigging up a preventer
3) Sailing downwind is difficult and you need to be careful. It's not dangerous to have the boom out that far in and of itself. Sailboats routinely sail with the boom out perpendicular to the boat, just see #2. The more you sail the better you'll get at avoiding accidental gybes.
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Old 09-02-2009
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Sailing downwind can require more attention and caution to avoid the accidental gybe you describe from occurring.. however, while sailing upwind relies on sailshape and trim for lift and drive, downwind you're primarily looking to create maximum drag.. this means making your sails as "big" to the breeze as possible. That means main sheet and boom fully out, and the jib "winged" out (with a whisker pole if you have it).

This can be uncomfortable esp in sloppy conditions, but it will be fast in a breeze. You do need to pay attention and avoid slewing the boat into a gybe.

Alternatively you can set yourself up on a broad reach (wind coming over the quarter) and gybe back and forth to get downwind much as you tack back and forth to get upwind. You'll sail more distance but won't be so close to an accidental gybe, you'll have a little more apparent wind and the boat will "feel" better. It just may take you a bit longer to get there (or not, depending on wind strength, sailing angles and the type of boat you're on)
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Ok, thank you for the info.

I currently have tried to do the wing-wing, and never anything good comes out of it. So I usually do the broad reach coming home.

Please explain what the "preventer" does?
What is the difference between "preventer" and "Boom Vang"?
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Old 09-02-2009
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You may also be surprised to find that you are sailing faster than you think down wind. Because the apparent wind is far less and there is little or no heel, you may be doing better than you think. Check your speed with a knotmeter or GPS. This also results in the situation that some novices who start their trip sailing downwind don't realize how strong the winds are until they turn around to go home.
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Old 09-02-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpcAlan1 View Post
I have a Catalina 25 with a roller furling ( without a spinneker sail ).

I can sail pretty good going up wind ( i guess most poeple can ). But when I need to head back home ( downwind ). I always seen to have a problem going anywhere.

I do not have a spin sail.

So should I use a whisker pole to push out my front sail and push the main sail out perpendiculr to the boat ( I think this is call wing-to-wing )?

But isn't it dangerous to have the boom that far away from the center of the boat?
I would hate to have my boom that far away from the center of the boat, the wind change and it come crashing across the cockpit.

Any ideas?
Or is this normal SOP?
Sailing a broad reach is the sure fire way to ensure no accidental gybe. At times though I enjoy going wing on wing. Without a whisker pole, wing on wing is a little tricky. The headsail on my boat doesn't like to stay filled without a pole. I usually sail by the lee just a bit, and it keeps the genoa full. The tricky part is avoiding the gybe without a preventer. I sail on a lake, so shifting winds are a constant battle. I only sail by the lee if the wind is coming straight up the lake and is very steady. I also run a loose vang when sailing by the lee, as it allows the top of the sail to twist forward and helps keep it on the desired side of the boat.

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Old 09-02-2009
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I've always been taught that wing-on-wing is really only for VERY light wing days when it's difficult to get the sails to fill. Just so we're on the same page, wing-on-wing is when you main sail and fore sail are on different sides of the boat. Typically someone has to hold the foresail out in order to get it to fill on a light day (hence wing-on-wing).

A preventer is a device (from just some simple rope to more complicated versions) that will actually prevent the boom from gybing).

More info here: Preventer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The boom vang (here: Boom vang111 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is more of an advanced sail control that allows you to change the shape of the sail by exerting downward force on the boom.
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Old 09-02-2009
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Ok. I have a boom vang then.
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Old 09-02-2009
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Yup, boom vang is fairly standard. If you had a preventer you'd probably know it because you have to set it up every time you went downwind and then removed it if you decided to head up.

Lots of good info here, hope we all helped. Welcome to sailnet btw.
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Old 09-02-2009
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Faster's advice is excellent, as usual.

Wing and wing is a beautiful point of sail when both sails are spread against a blue and white sky. It's especially fun when there's a good breeze, because, in the right conditions, the boat can often exceed hull speed. But, you can never become so entranced by the experience that you fail to keep your focus on the wind angle and your helmsmanship. Either the wind angle or your course don't have to change very much to result in an unplanned gybe.

Sailing wing and wing isn't just for light air. I sailed wung out for over 60 miles on a friend's 30 foot cruising boat in 18-25 kt winds, at speeds up to 9 kts, without a single unplanned gybe. You don't need to be afraid of sailing wing and wing, as long as you keep your concentration, but, before you sail in that much wind, practice it and develop your skill in less wind.
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