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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #11  
Old 08-24-2003
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snoreky is on a distinguished road
Weather SURPRISE out at SEA

Thanks Jeff, thats what i thought , but wasen''t sure........_/)
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  #12  
Old 08-25-2003
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gweiser is on a distinguished road
Weather SURPRISE out at SEA

thanks for the great story. i havent'' been involved in a squall yet, but in heavy winds, the other day, 20-25 knots for me is heavy, on my cal 25, which is 4000 pounds with a 1700 pound keel, i had a tough time sailing. i reefed the main once, which is all i can do, i furled the jib and i tightened the boom vang. other the tightening the downhaul and outhaul which i didn''t do, would there be any thing else to do to depower the sail and make the sailing easier? i dont have a traveler?

i was mostly sailing on a close haul but couldn''t bring the main sail in too close since the boat heeled too much, so it was mostly flapping alot. i also had a tough time coming about.

question:
1. when do you know if the wind is too strong to go out. the weather report said there was a small craft advisory which i assume applies to boats under 25 feet?
2. what do you gain by having some jib up vs just sailing with the main when it is very windy?
3. would heaving too be a good technique when it is very rough?
4. is putting in a traveler a significant benefit in heavy weather or is it more for racers?
5. why was it so hard to come about.?

thanks for your help.
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  #13  
Old 08-26-2003
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bob_walden is on a distinguished road
Weather SURPRISE out at SEA

I can sympathize; I''m still learning to control excessive heel and weather helm myself. Here''s what I know to do from instructors and reading, in order of intensity:

main:
1. Sheet in hard.
2. Harden vang.
3. Ease traveller.
4. Tighten backstay.
5. Harden outhaul/cunningham/halyard.
6. Reef.

Jib:
7. tighten backstay.
8. reef.

Now, from what you say, You did 1 (somewhat) and 2, can''t do 3, might not have 4, didn''t do 5, but did do 6.

#1 is key, even if initially you heel more. I suspect you didn''t have a flat enough sail, since you didn''t do 5. A sheeted-in but still twisted/cambered main won''t depower.

It''s all about flattening that dang mainsail. Think back: how flat was it? Sheeted down viciously, and with aggressive halyard/cunningham/outhaul, the sail should be flat as heck--or it''s the wrong sail for your rig--or something on your rig is out of adjustment. For instance, does the outhaul have enough range to really stretch out? Do you need a small block to get enough tension there?

It''s hard to flatten a reefed sail--the foot is usually really loose. With a reefed sail, 1 & 3 are usually your best bet. With no traveller, you may need to ease sheets on a reefed main to blow the pressure during gusts. This gives you poor shape, but it works for short periods. Sometimes called "feathering".

I''ve noticed myself too that what works one day does not work the next. A lot has to do with the _type_ of wind you''re dealing with. A few weeks ago here in the SF bay, I was sailing along nicely in about 12 knots on a close reach, heeled about 10 degrees with no reef. Everyone was happy. But as we started to skirt a hilly shoreline to weather it all changed: The boat leaned _way_ over, while the wind felt only slightly heavier. Later I realized that the wind was coming _down_ on us from the hill, increasing the heeling moment because of the downward vector. All I could have done was reef at that point (instead, I fell off to a broad reach and got out to flat air again.)

One last thing: don''t over-reef the jib, and don''t do it at the same time as reefing the main. Definitely don''t reef the jib first. Most small boats develop excessive weather helm as the wind builds, which will tend to round you up into a luff at worst. Reefing the main helps reduce weather helm, since more pressure is now on the jib, pushing the bow to lee. But reefing the jib first only increases weather helm.
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  #14  
Old 08-26-2003
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Weather SURPRISE out at SEA

Gweiser,

To answer your questions as best I can:

1. when do you know if the wind is too strong to go out. the weather report said there was a small craft advisory which i assume applies to boats under 25 feet? Offhand, I donít recall the exact definition of ďsmall craft,Ē but a 25í boat is well within the meaning of the term.

Sailing in 20-25 kts of wind on an inland lake is easy, because the waves are generally small and there are no tidal currents to complicate things. Entering a pass from the sea in 20-25 kt winds against the tide can be treacherous. Sailing across a shoal one day, when the wind is blowing offshore, might be a pleasant sail. The very next day, with the same amount of wind blowing ashore, the waves might become huge and steep as they roll across the same shoals. In short, the amount of danger there is in sailing in 20-25 kt winds depends on the location and other conditions. It would be better to learn about those things while crewing for a more experienced skipper on a bigger boat, than to learn all by yourself on your own smaller boat.

Personally, I take small craft warnings very seriously, having been present when a 27 ft sailboat rolled over while entering a pass in such conditions, at the cost of one life.

2. what do you gain by having some jib up vs just sailing with the main when it is very windy? The jib provides balance to the sailplan. The mainsail creates power aft of the Center of Lateral Resistance, and the jib creates power forward of the CLR. By trimming the sails, you can adjust those forces and the boat will be more powerful and more maneuverable.

3. would heaving too be a good technique when it is very rough? Yes. Also, sailing under bare poles works well, if you have sea room.

4. is putting in a traveler a significant benefit in heavy weather or is it more for racers? Iím surprised to hear that your boat (a Cal 25) doesnít have a traveler. A traveller isnít just for racers. It is a device that allows you to quickly depower your mainsail in a gust, and then, when the gust subsides, you can power it up again. Itís a very handy device.

5. why was it so hard to come about.? In high winds it is inherently difficult to turn a boat across the wind. It takes a lot of power to overcome the force of the wind against the bow of the boat. With only a reefed mainsail and no jib, your sail didnít generate much power. Once, in about 30-35 kts of wind, I was motoring in a 38 ft. Morgan with a 55 hp diesel, and when I tried to bring her bow across the eye of the wind, the wind caught the bow and blew it back downwind. Until the wind lulled slightly, the motor didnít have enough power to overcome the pressure of the wind on the bow.

If you are going to be going out in marginal conditions (and you know you are, because you already have), you should have at least a little storm jib and another set of reef points on your mainsail.
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  #15  
Old 08-26-2003
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Weather SURPRISE out at SEA

thanks for the great response and answers.
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