I guessing we should've reefed or ? - SailNet Community

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Old 09-12-2011
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I guessing we should've reefed or ?

So my wife and I went out sailing today on Lake Michigan on a rented J22. This was our 4th time out by ourselves since we completed ASA 101. The first three times out were very easy going with winds between 3 and 8 knots. At the time we sailed today it was 12 knots with gusts up to 17 knots. First of all, our boat we took out was somewhat beat up. The cam cleat for the jib sheet was broke, the main sheet rig cleat had a half working cam cleat, and the outhaul was jammed too far forward. I tried with all my might to free the outhaul before going out of the harbor but I couldn't and gave up on it. After raising the jib and main we were off and fast. We were heeling considerably. At one point the rudder was out of the water. I knew that was too much and my wife was having a panic attack. I took it in stride as part of the learning process and maybe had a little too much fun. I wanted to the reef the main but my wife wanted to go back to the dock ASAP. I tried to explain it to her that we could depower the main as much as we could with a broke outhaul or tension on the cunnigham or boomvang or reef it. I was pretty sure that we weren't going to cap because the waves were 1 ft and this boat has a heavy keel. None of that was able to persuaded her to stay out. Should we have dropped the main and sailed with jib only? Is our boat too small for those conditions on Lake Michigan? What is the best way to sail in those conditions with minimal heel? Thanks for your help!
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Old 09-12-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agarcia View Post
So my wife and I went out sailing today on Lake Michigan on a rented J22. This was our 4th time out by ourselves since we completed ASA 101. The first three times out were very easy going with winds between 3 and 8 knots. At the time we sailed today it was 12 knots with gusts up to 17 knots. First of all, our boat we took out was somewhat beat up. The cam cleat for the jib sheet was broke, the main sheet rig cleat had a half working cam cleat, and the outhaul was jammed too far forward. I tried with all my might to free the outhaul before going out of the harbor but I couldn't and gave up on it. After raising the jib and main we were off and fast. We were heeling considerably. At one point the rudder was out of the water. I knew that was too much and my wife was having a panic attack. I took it in stride as part of the learning process and maybe had a little too much fun. I wanted to the reef the main but my wife wanted to go back to the dock ASAP. I tried to explain it to her that we could depower the main as much as we could with a broke outhaul or tension on the cunnigham or boomvang or reef it. I was pretty sure that we weren't going to cap because the waves were 1 ft and this boat has a heavy keel. None of that was able to persuaded her to stay out. Should we have dropped the main and sailed with jib only? Is our boat too small for those conditions on Lake Michigan? What is the best way to sail in those conditions with minimal heel? Thanks for your help!
You should have been fine with the main up, as long as you could depower it. It sounds like the boat itself was in a bit of a state of disrepair and that was preventing you from adjusting much on it. Normally you would want to crank on the outhaul and the backstay. The outhaul will flatten the bottom of the main, while the backstay bends the mast and flattens the top of the main. The less draft (depth) the main has, the less power it carries, and the less overpowered the boat will be. Once you have flattened the main as much as possible, you can start to drop the traveler down, and then if necessary ease the mainsheet to further depower. You can have the first third of the main bubbled out and still be fast and in control. If you are still overpowered then (should be 20+ at that point), then you can look at dropping the Jib, and going main alone. The J22 will sail quite well under main alone. From there if you are still overpowered, you can reef the main.
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Old 09-12-2011
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Depends on the boat. Next time try dropping the jib and using the motor with the main sail only.
Be prepared to let the main out if the wind shifts direction.
Sailing with only the jib is better for going down wind on most boats but a lot depends on the shape of the bottom of the boat (hull shape).
Stay safe and keep your significant other happy.
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Old 09-13-2011
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The technical thoughts you have been given are fine and on point. What you may wish to think about separate from the technical aspects is your level of comfort with heeling and speed versus your wife's. I'm still new enough that I am working myself up to being comfortable heeling, so I know how it feels to be tipping "too much." If I were heeled much beyond my comfort zone, no amount of explaining is going to make me feel better. And I may be less likely to go out the next time.

I've met lots of men whose wives just don't go out with them (and a friend whose wife refused to let him bring his Hobie Cat from California even though the Navy would have moved it for free because he liked to go really fast.) I want to work on this gradually enough so that both my wife and I are comfortable as we learn and become more seasoned, rather than her looking at the wind speed and saying "nothing over 8 knots" or whatever.

Just something to think about.
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Old 09-13-2011
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The technical thoughts you have been given are fine and on point. What you may wish to think about separate from the technical aspects is your level of comfort with heeling and speed versus your wife's. I'm still new enough that I am working myself up to being comfortable heeling, so I know how it feels to be tipping "too much." If I were heeled much beyond my comfort zone, no amount of explaining is going to make me feel better. And I may be less likely to go out the next time.
Agree. I became much more comfortable with heeling when I learned to control it using the mainsheet (or maybe traveler on a J22). After that I felt like I was in control of heel, rather than it just happening to me. Let your SO control the mainsheet in windy conditions. She may also be more comfortable if she knows the physics of heeling. Mainly, that as the boat tips, the righting actions of the keel increases. AND, as the mast leans over, the sail area exposed to the wind decreases.
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Old 09-13-2011
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My wife's tolerance for heeling is far lower than mine. I know what my boat can handle and what it takes to be overpowered. Even though we may be sailing in conditions that do not require reefing as far as I am concerned, I think about my wife and will carry less sail so she is comfortable. Believe it or not, you can usually sail as fast (if not faster) when reefed. The flatter you can keep your boat, the faster she is going to sail.

I have found that gradually introducing heel and ALWAYS being in control of my vessel has increased my wife's tolerance. We handled 23kt winds on a 27NM leg a few weeks ago and she didn't even get nervous. That is a win as far as I am concerned!
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Old 09-13-2011
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I think the absolute best advice has practically already been given; make sure the Admiral is comfortable or go back in. You've got to be very careful, especially as a "new" sailor in that she hasn't built her trust level in your skills yet. You don't want her secretly looking at you in the "rebel" eye; otherwise you sailing career will be cut short. There's nothing worse than owning a beautiful boat that remains tied to the dock because the wife ain't having anything to do with it. Furthermore, you should've immediately went to the rental agent and asked for a different boat.
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Old 09-13-2011
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I think if your boat had been in better repair, you would have been able to control it better, and the wife would have been calmer.

You're paying for a service. Don't let the rental agency do that to you.
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Old 09-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agarcia View Post
... and my wife was having a panic attack. I took it in stride as part of the learning process and maybe had a little too much fun. I wanted to the reef the main but my wife wanted to go back to the dock ASAP.
I agree with everything said above. I will also add that if your wife is already panicking and you are both novice sailors, what happens when you then (hypothetically) fall overboard/have a heart attack/aneurysm/whatever and your wife needs to deal with things on her own? It's kind of making her crappy position even crappier if she then has to deal with an emergency on top of it.

In your list of ways to depower, you left out the most basic: head into the wind.

Sorry, I'm on your wife's side. You should never have left the dock in those wind conditions on a boat that sounds like it had fewer non-working parts than working. It's not a stick by another woman thing, it's a safety thing.

I hope you try easing into those conditions together so that you're both on the same page and enjoying the sailing time.


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Old 09-13-2011
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We started out sailing in an area notorious for high winds on a daily basis, often topping 20 knots on a typical day (thankfully no waves to speak of)

We started on a 24' Shark, a good, solid but small boat. I can't tell you the number of times we poked our noses out of the harbour only to turn around and try again another day (in the beginning) due to the 'Admirals' comfort threshold.

Eventually, though, we got it together and now my admiral would rather beat in 20 knots plus than run in the same conditions. She's happiest hard on the wind....

Taking it slow never hurts, beats having her quit in fear... have seen that lead to divorce, sale of the boat, and/or both.....

As to the incident in question, clearly the boat's poor setup contributed... reefing would certainly have been in order (and would have circumvented the bad outhaul if properly done)
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