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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #11  
Old 12-18-2009
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Not having left the pier yet, I can't critique your sailing techniques, but I can say that your risk management assessment was great. You recognized your limitations and made a decision to protect your passengers instead of pushing onward in conditions you didn't know how to handle (yet). There's no shame in turning around.

By posting your story, you allowed me to learn from it, and the following responses from the experienced sailors, so thanks.
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  #12  
Old 12-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seb5thman View Post
...The winds picked up to steady 20-22 kts with gusts up to 28 kts coming from behind me (180 degrees) and I was afraid of an accidental jibe. The seas got big (for me) with what I would estimate to be 12-15' following seas. I felt very out of control. ...
seb,

During the period (quoted above) when you were running deep, you would have been wise to rig a preventer to the boom. Maybe you did, but neglected to mention it in your narrative.

Running like that can feel a bit squirrelly and takes some getting used to -- many novice sailors do find it unnerving compared to sailing and steering upwind in moderate conditions (when the boat almost feels as though it's on railroad tracks). So what you felt/sensed was natural. With a bit more experience you'll come to realize that it's normal and not necessarily anything to worry about.

For the sake of discussion, based on your description of the situation, I will suggest that the better decision MIGHT have been to press on. That doesn't mean you made a bad decision or the wrong decision, only that it might have been more advantageous to keep going. I wasn't there and don't know the area -- I'm just suggesting hypothetically.

When making a passage, the go/no-go decision point is not necessarily the midway point on the rhumb line between your start and intended destination. That is because if your destination is downwind and your departure point is dead upwind in heavy air, often times it will take far less time and difficulty to reach your destination than to return whence you came. In other words, you may have travelled as little as 1/4 or less of the charted distance, but be well beyond the half-way point as far as time and difficulty for returning are measured.

As others mentioned, sailing downwind in those conditions is well within the capability of your boat. With reduced sail area and preventer set, it would normally be considered a good ride. On the other hand, sailing upwind in those conditions would normally be considered an arduous slog -- undesirable if a downwind alternative existed. Also consider, what you would have done had the motor quit on you? Heading to a destination downwind should have been an option in the back of your mind, even if it was further away.

I think you did pretty well, all things considered. Don't let this incident spook you at all. You got your family back safely, and are taking the time to think through and ask what you might have done differently. Sounds like you're on the right tack.
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  #13  
Old 12-18-2009
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I would reinforce the point made above that sailboats are more comfortable and generally better handling in bigger winds and waves with some sail up.

btw - are your windspeed numbers true or apparent? If you were running DDW (always an uncomfortable situation on a real breeze) and showing 28 knot gusts the real wind was probably closer to 35 which is a handful for anybody, experienced or not.

Given your (completely rational) concern about an accidental gybe, dousing the main and continuing under small headsail would probably have been a good plan.

But you got yourself out of a pickle on your own... learned a lot and will be better prepared next time.. don't despair!
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Old 12-18-2009
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Sailing with the jib only is a good solution. Because the main is not up you will not have any jibes if you keep the wind a little bit less than 180 degrees. Because the wind acts mainly on the front part of the boat keeping the boat on course is comperatively easier. Sailing even with the full genova might be possible if you can keep the wind very near to 180 degrees. Furling some of the genova will decrease the size and the shape is not very important in your sailing direction.
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  #15  
Old 12-18-2009
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Hey guys, thanks for all the excellent advice. I have read each reply a couple of times over and feel better informed to handle a similiar situation better prepared. You are right that experience is the key. I appreciate your input very much.
Merry Christmas.
Jim
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Old 12-18-2009
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See why I love this site? Fantastic thread.

Sailnet rocks.
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  #17  
Old 12-18-2009
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Agreed. Lots of encouragement and sound advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
See why I love this site? Fantastic thread.

Sailnet rocks.
I have always favored learning in dingies. It is good to go out in a small boat, to sail in rising conditions, and then get beaten and capsized and pitchpoled more than once. It teaches humility. It allows you to see the behavior of a hull as it is beginning to be overwhelmed, something you never want to see full-scale.

Buy a small boat, just for practice, and sell it in 4 years. You will get almost what you paid for it, in general, and you will learn FAR more about wind and waves than you will in a few charters.
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  #18  
Old 12-18-2009
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You did great. Think of it this way - when everyone sitting around the bar is telling sea tales - now, you've got one.
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Old 12-18-2009
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dont know the area but sounds as if there may have been an element of wind against tide causing steeper seas with a tendancy to break. definetly better to sail than motor far more comfortable in rough water.K
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  #20  
Old 12-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knothead View Post


On our first cruise there was a night where I was following the reciprocal course of the one which I had followed for the previous day.
We had left Turtle Bay (the north anchorage) after listening to the morning VHF radio talk among the cruisers, deciding to get underway for Madelina Bay. (despite our gut feelings)
After motoring into a slowly building southerly for the entire day, we finally gave up, turned around and ran back. Under bare poles we were doing a consistent 5 knots. All night.
I could hear the waves breaking behind me. All night.
I turned around once that I remember. Holy Freaking Crow that thing was big. I didn't turn around the rest of the night. Just listened. And cringed.
Once, early on in the night, Jen slid back the hatch to check on me. As she looked over my shoulder, I watched her eyes grow to the size of saucers and her jaw drop. I told her, "Just don't look!".

We dropped our anchor back in Turtle Bay (the south anchorage) about 22 hours after we left.
I slept for the next twelve hours.
As a newb, I'm always "mentally preparing" for these kinds of conditions. So this thread is really helpful.

But when you and Charlie (and other salts) talk about these kinds of waves, I get serious butterflies. Knowing the difference between a "greybeard/hisser" and a "breaker" is pretty critical. But being in anything big the first time has got to be wicked spooky.

BTW, seb, mind if I steal your story for the BFS thread? I'd say you did very well on a definite BFS.
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