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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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  #21  
Old 12-18-2009
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I agree with most of the advice, and have tended towards using the jib alone in these kind of conditions. One thing that happens in a following sea that is disconcerting, especially if you haven't experienced it before: the rudder only works when there is water going past it. In a following sea, there is a moment when the stern is lifted that the water is not moving past the rudder and the rudder loses much of its ability to steer. Although this is brief, in my experience it causes a yawing motion of the boat that is very unpleasant from a motion sickness point of view and very disconcerting for a helmsman. As others have suggested, avoiding dead downwind helps, but it is also something you just get used to.
It sounds like you handled the situation well, and I applaud your decision to put safety first and learn from it.
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  #22  
Old 12-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tweitz View Post
One thing that happens in a following sea that is disconcerting, especially if you haven't experienced it before: the rudder only works when there is water going past it. In a following sea, there is a moment when the stern is lifted that the water is not moving past the rudder and the rudder loses much of its ability to steer. Although this is brief, in my experience it causes a yawing motion of the boat that is very unpleasant from a motion sickness point of view and very disconcerting for a helmsman.
I assume this intermittent loss of steering would be compounded with a drogue. Is that true? Or does the drogue minimize the yaw?
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  #23  
Old 12-18-2009
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Don't know, never tried it with a drogue. By slowing you down, I think it would aggaravate it as far as rudder control, but since the drogue is keeping the stern pointed aft, the boat would not tend to turn as much.
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  #24  
Old 12-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mintcakekeith View Post
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
The far side of Catalina is pretty much open ocean, there really aren't any tidal currents to speak of (unless one is REALLY close to shore). However, the fact that the wind increased in intensity rather quickly probably accounts for the steepness of the wavefronts. Without much fetch (distance AND time), the waves just hadn't had enough time to sort themselves out.


Seb-

First of all, you made the right decision, for you and your crew. Had you kept going it would have taken you several uncomfortable (and anxious) hours to get to Avalon; turning back to Cat Harbor may have made for an even less comfortable ride, but undoubtedly lowered your anxiety level considerably (since you knew that a safe harbor was just a little ways away).

Given your description, it sounds like the wind was Force 5 - gusting to Force 6 (I never have had a boat with a dependable anemometer, so I just use the good ol' Beaufort scale). At that wind speed you can get fairly large waves IF the wind has been blowing for several hours (maybe 8 - 12) over open water. At the start of a blow the waves will be considerably smaller, BUT much steeper, often making for a very uncomfortable motion. Once you get some more experience you'll probably consider conditions like this "spirited sailing". However, Force 6 is about as strong a wind with which most recreational sailors feel really comfortable.

The point has been made that motoring into the wind and waves probably made for a less comfortable ride than running with them. That's true for three reasons: first, your apparent wind probably increased by 12 to 15 kts (your boat's speed x2) when you turned around; second, you were also plowing into the waves at a much higher speed (wave speed plus boat speed, rather than wave speed minus boat speed), making the impact of the bow against the waves much more forceful; and lastly, the face of a wind-driven wave is much steeper than the back of the wave (unlike the situation for ocean swell, where the two sides are more or less symmetric). Together, all this probably made for a pretty wet ride back to Cat Harbor.

But, at the time, I'll bet you felt better turning around. Why? Probably because you had a near-by harbor to aim for (always a comforting thought); and you weren't used to the yawing that a following sea will induce. With more experience you'll learn how to limit such yawing (by a bit of judicious use of your rudder, and by sailing with the wave off you stern quarter), and you'll get used to the feeling of a small amount of yaw.

But, don't sweat it too much. NO ONE sails for any length of time without getting a bit scared now and again. Remember, that which does not kill us, makes for a great story to tell (and, the story will only improve with age, since each time you tell it the wind will be a bit stronger and the waves a bit bigger ).
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Old 12-18-2009
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Smack Daddy wrote: BTW, seb, mind if I steal your story for the BFS thread? I'd say you did very well on a definite BFS.

If my story will help others, absolutely use it. It happened just the way I described. I have learned so much from the responses and feel a lot better about handling other situations in the future.

Thank you.
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  #26  
Old 12-18-2009
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DONE. Thanks Seb.
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  #27  
Old 12-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seb5thman View Post
This summer I chartered a 36' Hunter out of MDR California for a sail to Catalina Island. After a day in Two-Harbors we sailed around to the back side of the island and spent the night in Cat Harbor. The next morning was beautiful with the weather report calling for 2'-3' seas with wind 8-10 kts picking up to 12-15 kts in the afternoon. Our plan was to sail completely around the island and spend the night in Avalon.

About 2-hours into our sail things changed drastically. 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. I put my wife and younger son down below while my adult son and I tied onto the cockpit with lines (we did not have harnesses).

After reducing sail I regained some control of the boat, but the following seas were so large and breaking that I was afraid I would get pooped. I made the decision to forego our trip around the island and return to Cat Harbor under motor, which took us a couple of hours.

I am a new sailor and have taken the ASA 101, 103, 104 courses. I have been out with an instructor a couple of other times but never experienced the conditions we did on this day. When we got back to Two-Harbors the next day several boats had their head sails blown out and the Harbor Patrol had to moor all the boats coming in because the wind was so high.

I felt so demoralized because up to that point I was pretty confident in what I had learned over the past couple of years. Here's what I'm asking:

1. How could I have continued with the downwind sail? (When the winds are high I feel more comfortable sailing into the wind than with it)
2. How do you deal with large breaking waves from behind?
3. Any other suggestions?

My confidence is still a bit shot so thanks for not taking unnecessary shots at me, but I would appreciate any solid advice or critique.

Thanks.
If you want to run in windy conditions it may be advisable to reduce sail even more than you think is necessary. Maybe just a reefed main and no jib or maybe just a little jib with no main (would also eliminate your jibing worries). And don't run dead downwind, so you won't have to worry as much about an accidental jibe.
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  #28  
Old 12-18-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoastalEddie View Post
First of all, you made the right decision, for you and your crew. Had you kept going it would have taken you several uncomfortable (and anxious) hours to get to Avalon; turning back to Cat Harbor may have made for an even less comfortable ride, but undoubtedly lowered your anxiety level considerably (since you knew that a safe harbor was just a little ways away).

Given your description, it sounds like the wind was Force 5 - gusting to Force 6 (I never have had a boat with a dependable anemometer, so I just use the good ol' Beaufort scale). At that wind speed you can get fairly large waves IF the wind has been blowing for several hours (maybe 8 - 12) over open water. At the start of a blow the waves will be considerably smaller, BUT much steeper, often making for a very uncomfortable motion. Once you get some more experience you'll probably consider conditions like this "spirited sailing". However, Force 6 is about as strong a wind with which most recreational sailors feel really comfortable.

The point has been made that motoring into the wind and waves probably made for a less comfortable ride than running with them. That's true for three reasons: first, your apparent wind probably increased by 12 to 15 kts (your boat's speed x2) when you turned around; second, you were also plowing into the waves at a much higher speed (wave speed plus boat speed, rather than wave speed minus boat speed), making the impact of the bow against the waves much more forceful; and lastly, the face of a wind-driven wave is much steeper than the back of the wave (unlike the situation for ocean swell, where the two sides are more or less symmetric). Together, all this probably made for a pretty wet ride back to Cat Harbor.

But, at the time, I'll bet you felt better turning around. Why? Probably because you had a near-by harbor to aim for (always a comforting thought); and you weren't used to the yawing that a following sea will induce. With more experience you'll learn how to limit such yawing (by a bit of judicious use of your rudder, and by sailing with the wave off you stern quarter), and you'll get used to the feeling of a small amount of yaw.

But, don't sweat it too much. NO ONE sails for any length of time without getting a bit scared now and again. Remember, that which does not kill us, makes for a great story to tell (and, the story will only improve with age, since each time you tell it the wind will be a bit stronger and the waves a bit bigger ).
Slight hijack here....

But damn Coastal, welcome to Sailnet.

You have made what 9 posts? and if I can say it every single one I have read has been absolute gold. You are obviously a sailor of some experience and yet possessing a great attitude....some may say a rare combination

I
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  #29  
Old 12-18-2009
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Ditto!! Well done Coastal...great analysis..
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As a new sailor, i give you full props on your experience building adventure.
It sounds like you did the best you could in a tough situation and you got your family back safe and sound.

One question I have for the more experienced memebers is this: I have been told by my instructor NOT run with jib only, especially in high winds as the loads on the jib and stay can demast the ship. How likely is this?
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