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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...
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Thread: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots... Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
04-25-2013 01:17 PM
youmeandthed
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

After reading all these stories I am so glad I bought a full keel canoe stern sailboat. When we have been in over 30 knots our boat loves it. The autopilot barely has to do anything, she just surfs down every wave on course, none of the fighting of the helm. Into the wind is a different story....
04-25-2013 03:23 AM
ScottUK
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

Cheers Smack and I wish you well in finding your next 'thrilling ride'!
04-24-2013 11:30 PM
smackdaddy
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottUK View Post
I did this trip once but in the opposite direction. We had been motoring for a long time and the forecast said we were to get a favourable wind. We waited and waited for the wind to arrive and it finally did a few miles before The Rock. So we got to roll out the genny and continued on. By the time we got to Tarifa we had 45 knots sustained and with just a scrap of the genny out we were making record boat speed. The wind was coming straight out of the Med (I believe they call it a Levanter) and the the tide was coming in so we had big seas and were being pushed around a lot. I was at the helm and I had to spin the wheel as hard as I could one way then hold it for a couple of seconds then spin it the other way in order to maintain a course. I actually got a large blister doing this but only backed the sail once with a minor flutter. It was the most thrilling experience I have had sailing. I should also point out that this was my first time sailing ever.
Here's to thrilling sailing!
04-24-2013 11:05 PM
svShearwater
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

Howdy!

I have trouble keeping up around here. I go away for a few days and a nice little thread develops. I'm really enjoying the discussion.

In this case, I think most of you have discovered what we discovered along the way. I mentioned in the captions when we furled the genoa whether we should have doused the main instead and later in the evening we did douse the main and unfurl just a few feet of genoa. That worked great and it was easier to steer, but it was slower. We sailed that way all night to get some rest. It wouldn't have made nearly as interesting video though.

If we were to do it again, we would probably douse the main first. We sailed that way a lot crossing the Atlantic. That said, this was a better experience. We both got some great practice driving and the driving was probably a little more challenging (which was a good thing) given the absence of a headsail and the tendency for the boat to want to round up if you weren't square to the waves. It was a beautiful day to work on some sailing skills.

We had a preventer rigged, but not engaged because I was more concerned with sticking the boom in the water and breaking something than accidentally gybing.

It does look a bit tiring, but really the helm was very light. The only thing tiring was standing up for a long time, so we switched off, or just let the autopilot steer. The autopilot could have steered the whole time, but it wouldn't have been as fun, nor as smooth, since the autopilot can't see or sense the good waves or the bad waves.
04-21-2013 03:09 PM
HMoll
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

Not that impressed. He's sailing a J Boat. Awesome share. I've had my fights with the furler putting so much load on it with a partially furled genoa on 30+conditions. I'll suggest that genoa shouldn't be more than 25% out. Furling rope can overtighten and pinch itself inside the drum, and THAT is a potential big problem in those conditions. That's where a continuous-line furler would be great to have. Also, make sure you have adequate hardware for furling line. Not all furling lines are rigged to work under sail load.

Man, I could play that video again and again. Haven't been out since july!!

Cheers,

Hans
04-21-2013 05:12 AM
ScottUK
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

I did this trip once but in the opposite direction. We had been motoring for a long time and the forecast said we were to get a favourable wind. We waited and waited for the wind to arrive and it finally did a few miles before The Rock. So we got to roll out the genny and continued on. By the time we got to Tarifa we had 45 knots sustained and with just a scrap of the genny out we were making record boat speed. The wind was coming straight out of the Med (I believe they call it a Levanter) and the the tide was coming in so we had big seas and were being pushed around a lot. I was at the helm and I had to spin the wheel as hard as I could one way then hold it for a couple of seconds then spin it the other way in order to maintain a course. I actually got a large blister doing this but only backed the sail once with a minor flutter. It was the most thrilling experience I have had sailing. I should also point out that this was my first time sailing ever.
04-20-2013 07:15 PM
PCP
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

I don't see any problem in sailing downwind with a reefed main and a small jib or a reefed genoa, even with 30 or 35K wind and I think the boat will be better balanced.

But if you have already the main all reefed, the wind increases and you need to take sail out I think it is a mistake to take the front sail and go only with the main. That seems it was what that sailor in the video had done.

If you go only with the main you have a lateral component bigger and the boat tend to roll more and worse, if the wind continues to increase it will reach a point where that lateral component, even going as much downwind as you can, will be too much and will force a round up.

Then you have to turn the boat to the wind to take the main down and that is very very difficult without a front sail, specially if you are sailing alone or with an inexperienced crew, even with the help of the engine.
04-20-2013 02:58 PM
JimMcGee
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
...But what several of us are trying to say is that taking the main down and securing the boom completely eliminates the risk of a gybe. Sailing with a partial genoa is far more relaxing and forgiving. So why not? Those of us who have never been out in such severe conditions wonder if there are issues with control of the boat, or danger to the rigging (severe pumping, perhaps?), under genoa alone.
Jack, Paulo, last fall we had afternoon winds piping up into the 30's. Dropped the main and took in some jib before we turned downwind for home and she was quite happy. This is my usual approach, In fact if the wind is really up I'll just sail on the jib and not raise the main. But then I'm sailing on Barnegat Bay and we get chop, not the kind of building waves you're dealing with.

What I'm asking is if I would gain something having a reefed main up in those kind of big seas? Additional control, less roll, a more comfortable motion, easier steering? Just trying to learn, thanks
04-20-2013 12:39 PM
killarney_sailor
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

I am a headsail kind of guy off the wind when it is honking. Might be related to relying on a Monitor vane where being pulled by the wind (headsail) rather than pushed (main) is the only way to go. We tend to reef the main earlier and much more than the jib. Might also matter what the boat is like.
04-20-2013 12:31 PM
outbound
Re: Skilled helmsman steering downwind in 30-40 knots...

Hve been in similar setting
On a cutter find a yankee works better than staysail. Keeps bow up.
On solent . Use the solent rather than genny . Clew of sail higher up.
Find trailing warp off windward stern corner helps slow boat so don't surf into next wave and easier to hand stear. I'm a cruiser don't need to go faster. Keeping boat on a wave instead surfing constantly wave to wave scary and dangerous.
On both cutter,sloop or solent main comes down at 30kt. but rig trysail or rig lines for third reef and drop/stormjb and don't deploy.
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