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  Topic Review (Newest First)
08-19-2006 09:09 AM
foxglove Jeff's comment about proper trimming to achieve hove-to is right on. If the boat wants to turn with the wind, you need more boat speed to give the rudder more bite, thus trim the main for more speed. If the boat wants to cross the wind and resume sailing, you may have over trimmed your main and need to slow the boat.

My comment about staying out all nght, if necessary, is a lesson I learned from the old sailor's saying, "If in doubt - stay out". A few years ago, three sailors lost their wives when they tried to enter Cleveland harbor in a blow. They missed the channel and wound up on the rocks. The men managed to dig in but their wives were washed away. They would have been safer to have stayed out in the lake, possibly hove-to.

As Jeff said, not all boats hove-to easily. I believe that all boats can be brought to hove-to but with some, the balance between backed jib and rudder is so delicate that they won't stay balanced for more than a minute; like balancing a half-hull on your finger.

An illustration about the importance of practicing how to hove-to is this. One cold and windy November night, I tried to get my little Macgregor 21 to hove to so I could take a moment to read the charts and sort out the lights of the fairway into Chance on Deal Island in the Chesapeake. It just wouldn't happen. I spent the night washed up on the beach becuse I didn't know of the unlit dogleg turn after the last light because I couldn't read the chart because I couldn't get the boat to hove to. I later practiced and finally learned the precise formula for getting that boat to hove-to.
08-18-2006 09:25 PM
sailingdog Broaches are very dangerous...especially in heavy seas and winds... I'd also say that running downwind is generally a bad idea, unless you're very far out to sea...which is not the case for most people.... as you will eventually run out of room and then you're really screwed.

Most boats can take far more punishment than the people aboard them. As an example, one boat was recently abandoned in the Gulf of Mexico, and about two months later the boat was found floating, with lots of sea birds aboard.
08-18-2006 04:41 PM
Cruisingdad Nice Writeup Fox.

No, I don't see anything you missed. It was well covered. I will comment that every boat heaves to a little differently and should be practiced on a good day, not bad.

We marked reef point on our reefing line (Jib) to coorelate with the same for the main. The point is a fairly balanced boat. Of course, this is done in controlled conditions, not the otherwise, so would not have helped you then. Just hindsight.

Now, my humble little opinions:

If you are running in a sea, be VERY cautious about a broach. Very dangerous. If you have any concerns about it, try altering your course or pointing into the seas until the storm passes. It can sometimes be tough on the passengers, but I typically like to take the seas head on where possible. It will break around the bow, in general. If you are digging into the trough, reef a little more and/or head off some.

Storms are great ways to teach us what we know, what we don't know, and what we thought we knew... and now you are the better sailor b/c of it.
08-18-2006 04:21 PM
Jeff_H Charlie,

Most boats will heave to but not all. It still sounds like the jib is too tight and too large and the mainsail is too loose.

08-18-2006 04:07 PM
CharlieCobra Whenever I try the above manuever, the backed jib overpowers the rudder and she comes on around.
08-18-2006 03:53 PM
Did you say breaking?

A 3 ft wave should be nothing for a 25 footer, unless it's breaking.

If the waves you experienced were breaking, that changes the formula. I have sailed my 26 ft water ballasted boat in 6 footers on the great lakes with no problem. Even on a beam reach the wave rolls under me, lifts me high in the air, I wave to Cleveland and Detroit, then it rolls away gently lowering me in the trough.

A large wave on the quarter is different because it tends to push the stern off to the leeward side possibly causing a broach putting the boat beam to the next approaching wave. You will roll a little but still, not a bad problem if the waves are not breaking.

If the wave is breaking, it is not going to roll gently under you. The face of a breaking wave is vertical and it slams into your boat instead of lifting it.

If you get broached by a breaking wave, even a 3 ft breaking wave, your boat will be pushed beam to the wave and rolled sharply, possibly causing a knockdown.

This may have been what you were experiencing. First, something was causing the waves to break. Usually the cause is shallow water which you can sail away from into deeper water. Sometimes a quickly building wind can cause the waves to break.

There are a few ways that I might have handled this situation. I would probably have first trailed a long line in a loop over the stern. I cleat the line on one of the stern cleats then put a couple turns around the free winch on the other side (to haul it back in later) and cleated it. This should help keep the boat lined up with the following seas so that you don't broach. If the line doesn't help, I might have tried trailing an anchor or something over the stern. A sea anchor is best for this but I never bought one.

But it could also slow you down too much causing the breaking waves to poop over the stern. If your cockpit doesn't drain fast enough, you could swamp.

If the situation was getting too dangerous to continue, I would hove-to. To do this in breaking seas, I would get the motor running, be under reefed main and jib, preferably a smaller jib, let the jib run free, then, with the help of the engine, turn the boat in the trough into the wind and seas. Then I backwind the jib and put the tiller all the way over on the same side as the jib. The wind against the backed jib tries to push the bow away from the wind while the main keeps the boat moving slowly
but just fast enough that the rudder can attempt to steer the boat into the wind. The two forces counter each other.

In the hove-to position, the change from wild seas to reasonable calm is amazing. You could probably take short cat-naps in the cockpit between taking lookouts. If it blows all night, you could stay hove-to all night in relative safety. Be aware of your postion, you'll make a lot of leeway and a little headway. You can sight your wake over the compass to to get an idea of where you are going. You can hove-to on the other tack if you are getting near shore.

If you have never tried to hove-to, you should try it next time you go out. Usually, you don't need the engine and you don't need to let the jib run; just cross the wind as if you were going to tack then push the tiller or wheel over as if you changed your mind and tried to resume your former course. You might need to let the boat slow some more. If it's going too fast, the rudder will overpower the backed jib.

If the hove-to maneuver doesn't help, I would probably put the anchor over the bow to keep the boat facing the wind and splitting the seas. If you are in shallow water, the anchor might grab but probably not. I have never done this so some of the other sailors might want to help me out with their experiences.

If anyone sees any errors in my judgement I hope you will respond.

08-17-2006 04:26 AM
hellosailor I think every sailor makes mistakes (certainly me!) but the question is, how had do you try to only make them once?

The best thing I can say about reefing is, if you have to ask yourself "should I reef soon?" you should have already done it! Forgetting the macho thing, most boats actually will sail flatter and faster when they are reefed sooner than you think, often in as little as 12-14 knots. If you can get, or generate, polars for your boat, and they allow you to check performance reefed/not, you may be surprised.

As for stability, try looking for "capsive stability" or "rollover stability" figures for you boat on the web. That will give you some comparative numbers as to how far you can heel, and what will happen if you exceed it. A 27-38 foot boat that is properly rigged and secured for weather can easily take 6-8 foot seas and 40 knots, if you don't mind a wet ride. Or, just as easily broach, flood, and sink.

And in 3-foot waves, you also have to remember than every time you ride down in a trough, you're now 1-1/2 feet closer to bottom than you would be in flat water. You can get a nasty surprise that way.

So, capsize under power? I suppose, certainly roll of it took the wind and waves broadside. You might find "Fastnet, Force 10" to be fascinating reading, it details the aftermath of a major storm on a racing fleet and goes into a great deal of analysis about weather, boat design, and crew as all being factors. It won't give you black and whites--but is worth reading. There are some heavier tomes about what is proper for an offshore sailing yacht, stability, etc. in general, but while they all give you good background--none will give you a certain answer for your boat. The capsize/rollover stability numbers are your best predictor for that.
08-17-2006 03:24 AM
infonote I don't know about the boat, but here is a good technique for downwind sailing in waves
08-17-2006 01:13 AM
Dewey Benson Yo Simple,

In general keep a sailboat under sail. She will handle the conditions better and be more survivable that way. The rule of thumb is; shorten sail until the boat feels comfortable.

Do you have reef points on your main? Do you have a small jib (60%).

Way back when I had a small daysailor and sailed on a killer lake in the midwest where the winds would come up suddenly into force 3,4, and 5 routinely. I had no reef points on the main (1st season, after that I added lots of things). I would drop the main and leave that little handkerchief of a jib up. When the jib overpowered the boat in a gust, i would let it out keeping little "Red Hot" on her feet. thence sheeting her in to continue her journey.

Remember The famous captain Charlie Barr " any fool can carry sail, it takes a sailor to know when to shorten it"

You are doin fine, hang in there.
08-17-2006 01:05 AM
Newport41 I think in this case it's more a matter of what you can take not what the boat can take. Next time you are in this sort of situation try a reefed main and a storm jib instead. Stay calm and see what the boat does. If you don;t have a storm jib go get one. The small amount of sail cloth doesn't cost much. Some might say it's not worth it but a storm jib is cheap and really makes the boat managable in higher winds. Obviously try changing sails and reefing in nicer conditions first. There are a few basic storm tactics you should try out in light conditions too. Learn how to heave to. A smaller jib might make it easier but it is a vital skill. Heaving to is usefull for everything from waiting out a squal to calming the motion of the boat for lunch. I think the most important lesson is check the weather. Your boat could survive ten foot breakers in the right hands or it could be lost in five foot waves in the wrong hands. It really depends on what you do. Good luck. It's good to see a new sailor who isn;t afraid of a little wind and water.
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