Took the new main out for a test drive
I recruited one of my buddies to crew with me after work yesterday. The unstable air made for challenging sailing (for me, anyway). There were long, strong gusts, mingled with brief periods where it seemed that the wind would nearly die. This caused lots of sail trimming.
The gusting was so strong, that I was hesitant to use both sails, so as on Sunday, I started with the main.
Ok, I'm just not ever going to do that again unless I'm on a beam reach or I'm running. I don't know about other boats, but my boat doesn't point worth a fart on the main alone.
So I dug around for a moment, found my testicles and raised the jib. Night and day difference. I had good control and could point to the course I wanted.
The new main is very nice and was perfect for the weather. It's a heavier cloth, with heavy leather reinforcements on the corners and some serious stitching. The chandlery says it was probably built for offshore use. It has one deep reef, and full battens. Clean and white and I can actually get different shapes in it.
We sailed across the mouths of the Rhode and West rivers. When a gust would pipe up, I'd hold not knowing how severe or how long it would last. The boat would heel, heel, and heel some more until the rub rail got close to the water, so I'd ease the sheets. Then the gust would die out and we'd slow and the sails would luff until we harden the sheets again. Sometimes a milder gust would come along that would give us a nice burst of speed without requiring a change in trim.
The wind was as strong as on Sunday, but the waves hadn't built up yet so yesterday's sail was better.
We changed course and ran out to edge of the Chespeake. The chop was stonger there but I was game for it. Unfortunately, the whole thing was kind of an impulse and my buddy had to get home so we decided to return. I tacked right into a gust and the heel was so bad, that I chickened out on the tiller and stalled the boat. I fell off, we got our momentum back and the next time I put the helm over like I meant it.
We reached back to the channel, and ran wing on wing back to Ponder Cove where the wind utterly died in the shelter of the land and trees. I tell ya, I wouldn't need the engine at all if I didn't have to make such a tight dogleg to get to my slip.
If your sailing upwind during puffs you should try sailing higher (more into wind)than normal during the puff as this will reduce the sails power and your heel
If thats not enough than just dump the main during the puff and the jib will keep you going
You know, the more people I talk to, the more I can divide people into two schools of thought:
1. Point higher to reduce power and heel.
2. Trim the sails.
Some people really seem to have a preference. I think the "hold course and trim" method matters most when you have a specific point on the water that you're trying to reach, perhaps as in racing. If you're just out fooling around, with nowhere specific to go, pointing higher is the easier method requiring less work.
I just can't help myself. Are you self taught?.:confused: .....i2f
In order to prevent thread drift, I responded to your question in a PM.
I deliberately kept my course, and worked the sails because I want to understand what it's like to have to reach a specific place, whatever the wind conditions may be.
I'm toying with the idea of doing the Down the Bay race this year.
I tend to point higher when I get a gust. Gain every inch and the natural “weather helm” on the MC helps. I can always come off if needed to make a certain point but I know zip about racing. Dan S/V Marian Claire
Without knowing your sailing angle the main is still your depower sail during puffs
Most of the time your going to want all the crew weight up on the rail and its very fast to depower by dumping the main and retrim it
If that does not work then your carrying to much sail for example in last summers race we were carring the spinaker in about 25 knots making a pretty steady 9 knots and as we got close to this and not really wanting another dip
It was time to take it down and go back to the 150 Jib and still go 9 knots on the return leg we stuchk with the 150 and a deep reef in the main
It would have been better to change to the 100 jib BUT the sea state was so bad i felt that combo was the best overall to keep the crew safe
When you get hit with a puff, two things happen.
The first thing is that the sails generate more power, so whatever forces are at work on the sails before the puff will be magnified.
The second thing is that the apparent wind will more aft. Since the apparent wind angle is a combination of your boat speed and the windspeed, when the windspeed increases it reduces the contribution of boatspeed to the equation. As your boatspeed increases, the apparent wind will move forward again.
So knowing that, when you experience a puff, you should either head up (if close hauled) or ease your sails to adjust for the artificial lift generated by the puff. You must do this to prevent being overtrimmed. If you are still overpowered at that point, you should look for ways to depower the rig quickly. Depending on the boat and point of sail, you could accomplish this by easing the main sheet, dropping the traveller, or blowing the vang. Once your boat has picked up speed, you will need to bear off some due since you will lose your artificial lift. Then as needed power up the rig again, by undoing the things you did to depower.
A couple quick thoughts here, yesterday there were a lot of vertical gusts, cold air dropping down through a comparatively slower moving warm air layer. This is tough conditions to sail in for a variety of reasons. For one since the gust is vertical, it fans out as it hits the water and so depending on where you are relative to where the gust hits the water, it can mean a very big wind shift relative to the prevailing wind, but also there is a big difference between the gust and the ambient wind speed.
While feathering up towards the wind is usually the fastest tactic in gusty conditions, in vertical gusts, heading up does not help as much and so you need to be prepared to decrease the angle of attack of the mainsail. Ideally this is done with the traveller since easing the mainsheet will power up the sail just when you want it at its flatest.
If you are not close reaching or beating (and perhaps even if you are pointing if you think you will be easing your main sheet) your vang should be set very tightly to prevent the boom from rising and the sail from powering up in the gusts and adding to your heel angle.
If you are on a beam reach or broad reach, you often cannot ease the sails enough to prevent a knockdown, and so you can often turn closer to downwind to deal with a gust, picking up speed in the process rather than heel.
Your boat is similar to most in this respect. There are some designs that will do okay on main alone, but most will need their jib to make decent progress upwind.
One suggestion: Especially when it's gusty or the wind is trending upward, try to spend the first 2/3 or 3/4 of your time working your way upwind. That way, if the wind continues to build and begins to get borderline unmanageable, you can then ease off and run back to your protected waters, without having to fight your way home upwind.
This assumes you're just out for practicing, without a particular destination in mind, and that you have "water" to head upwind in.
When sailing upwind, close hauled in gusty conditions, we usually use a combination of procedures to deal with the sails as they become temporarily over-powered in gusts.
One option is to reef down. But sometimes this option can be frustrating, as it can leave us seriously underpowered when the gust subsides.
On a monohull, the other option is to adjust both trim and heading in the gusts (this is not a good options for multi-hulls, which should reef to the gust conditions).
When a gust hits while sailing close-hauled, you should really employ a combination of procedures. What exact order depends somewhat on the boat and conditions, as well as the heading objective. The usual options and order are to feather up into the wind somewhat, drop the traveller down, and finally ease the mainsheet.
When beating to weather, feathering up is very advantageous. This is because it takes you farther to windward, while simultaneously maintaining boat speed (as a result of the boost from the gust).
But if you were simply sailing on a close-hauled course (but not beating), you might choose to drop traveller and ease the mainsheet instead. This would allow you to maintain course more easily, which might be important if there was a shoal or other obstruction to windward.
But, just to avoid confusion/misunderstanding, we usually don't say "trim the sails" when we actually mean to let them out. It's more clear to say "ease the sails". "Trimming" suggests bringing the sails in tighter, which would not be one of the basic strategies for responding to gusts.
Hope this is reasonably clear and helps some.
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