Join Date: May 2002
Thanked 52 Times in 50 Posts
Rep Power: 15
Weather SURPRISE out at SEA
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.