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post #1 of 27 Old 12-18-2009 Thread Starter
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Jibing in high winds

What is the right way to jibe in high winds? I got some good advice on dealing with unexpected high winds when I posted a story in the 'Seamanship' forum. Heres the short version: this past summer I was sailing downwind on the backside of Catalina Island, Ca when we were hit with 22-28 kt winds. I turned back and ran for shelter, but had I continued downwind, what is the correct procedure for jibing in high winds. This is what I would have done:
- alerted the crew to the pending jibe
- centered the boom
- released the main sheet as soon as the boom shifted sides

Thats the way I learned it, but are there subilities that make it go smooth?
This summer there was a race in high winds at a local lake near here where a very experienced captain did the same thing, but apparently didn't let the main sheet out fast enough and was capsized. Thats why I ask, what are the little things that make it go right?
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post #2 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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Originally Posted by seb5thman View Post
What is the right way to jibe in high winds?

And I'm only half joking.

If you have the proper amount of sail area out for the wind conditions, jibing should not be much more difficult in high winds than normally (but jibing always requires certain amount of caution).

The problem often arises that we have too much sail area flying for the conditions. That's because on a run downwind, the apparent wind effect diminishes the force of the true wind and, by nature of that point of sale, the boat does not feel pressed. So if conditions are building, it often will not register until we get REALLY overpowered, when we suddenly realize we're far over-canvassed. That's when jibing can get very tricky.

In situations like that, it's often best to come up, get the boat pointed into the wind, and reduce sail area (especially mainsail). Then bear away again on the downwind course and jibe as per usual.

Also, in your step-by-step above, you should add "release preventer" and "re-set preventer" to your check-list.

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post #3 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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Yup, nothing wrong with doing the 270 degree tack 'till you feel comfortable gybing in higher winds. Couple things about your situation that local knowledge might have aided:
1. If you had continued, once you came around the end you'd have been in the lee of the island.
2. the winds you describe are common on summer afternoons, usually they only last a couple hours then calm down, strongest winds in the channel are usually from 1:30 to 5:30 with it peaking around 3:30.
3. you might get that Cat 36 to "wet" the toerail but it's tough to lay one all the way down, I'd have sunk a lot of keelboats by now if it was easy.

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Last edited by capttb; 12-18-2009 at 11:34 AM.
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post #4 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
Tack. And I'm only half joking.
Seriously, that's what we do at times....

We sailed in a very windy area for over 20 years and when things got wound up good we generally tacked "the long way around". We used to call this a 'chicken jibe' (we were scared to jibe conventionally ) It's a bit noisy because unless you trim all the way through the manoeuvre your sails can be luffing quite a bit, but it definitely works and you're under complete control at all times despite possible brief extreme heel on the way around. Come up from a broad reach, keep turning, tack, and bear away to the opposite broad reach heading.

If you are going to simply jibe in heavy air, we always nearly centered the boom, and as the helmsman turned through the wind made sure that the main sheet is uncleated (but held by the trimmer) so that when the breeze caught the other side of the main you could control the runout of the sheet and avoid a slam jibe. A ratchet block in the system makes this much easier, and gloves are mandatory because a lot of sheet can run through in a hurry. An underpowered mainsheet tackle makes this a more difficult thing to do too.

Next time try the 'chicken jibe'....


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post #5 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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Use the traveler to help ease the shock of the jibe.

When running keep the trav to leeward. Sheet in the main hard.
Ease the boat over, as soon as the main flops over release the sheet and the traveler line, "smoking" them both through your hands. The purchase of the traveler and mainsheet should slow it down enough not to break anything.

Or "chicken jibe", which is just turning around and tacking through the wind, then bearing off again. This can be difficult in high seas, pick a flat spot to make the turn or the next wave will just push you back on your old tack.

Everyone has chicken jibed at least once, if not, they only sail in fair weather, or sail charter boats.

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post #6 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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Hi Seb,

Yes, you learned to gybe the correct way...by centering the boom easing the helm over and easing the boom out on the new gybe.

However, As John has pointed out very well.., doing that in high winds and with the seas running that you stated, this maneuver requires a lot of coordination and timing. Especially if you have a preventor rigged, requiring someone to go on deck to release and reset.

In your situation, I think...heading up into the wind, dropping the main....then furling the jib to the desired set and then falling off again to a broad reach would have worked.

In your situation...You'd want to be able to maintain boat speed throughout the process..and keep your head to wind...while you make these adjustments...so starting up the engine, would have been a good idea. You don't want to head to wind to take the mainsail down and have the wind and seas knock your boatspeed down to zero...then you're going to end up beam to wind and sea, with no helm. So the engine ( lacking a full crew) in that case is your friend giving you boatspeed and helm control....while you make your adjustments..
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post #7 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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In a boat the size of the 36 footer, holding the main sheet in your hand is a recipe for problems. Depending on the exact configuration, and assuming you have crew, follow the steps you noted, haul the main sheet tight before jibing, and as you are jibing have a crewmember release the mainsheet from the cleat, but with a single wrap around the winch. Then it can be quickly eased out under control, with the winch bearing the brunt of the force.
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post #8 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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Do you guys know of a thread on here that shows how to rig a good preventer?
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post #9 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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The best preventer is a good helmsman. On the way to Hawaii we occasionally used a preventer attached to the perforated toe rail track which included a 1/4 “fuse” line. On our only accidental gybe, the little fuse refused to break (we were on a 13 ton 44 footer)wherein it promptly ripped up about eight inches of perforated toe rail. Svendsen’s and the owner are still trying to work out a satisfactory repair.

IMHO, the “classic” mid boom to midship preventer should be only used in those light air and choppy water days to control the up and down boom movement and not the side to side. They say the best way is run a line from the tip of the boom up to a block at the bow and back to the cockpit (so it can be adjusted.) Unfortunately, the “lazy” preventer line can take out a crewmember as it gybes across. The Navy 44’s have this nifty attachment at the boom making it easier to detach the preventer prior to a gybe. I’ve only seen a similar set up on a couple of other big boats. I understand that preventers are mainly East Coast things and the "fast is fun" crowd here in the west generally shuns them.

I am a firm believer in a spinnaker net. It works amazingly well to protect against headstay wraps allowing the helmsman to concentrate on keeping the boat balanced on waves and the boom on the correct side.

Last edited by GeorgeB; 12-18-2009 at 03:01 PM.
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post #10 of 27 Old 12-18-2009
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Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Do you guys know of a thread on here that shows how to rig a good preventer?
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