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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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  #1  
Old 10-17-2010
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More adventures in singlehanding

Went out today on the Patapsco out of Rock Creek (Baltimore, MD) on a beautiful day with winds predicted to be 10-20 (mph). As I was setting up, I heard a few gusts that made the rigging sing a bit, and I pondered putting in a reef at the dock. A few more gusts like that and I went ahead and did it; but on my way out I saw boats my size coming in without any reefs, so I took mine back out as I motored out of the creek. Needless to say, later I wished they had still been in place.

Once again, as back in my July post "I am overpressed with sail," the wind was from the west and got up into the high teens in knots, and I found myself unable to hold a broad reach. Every time the wind gusted I got bad weather helm that pulled me back up into the wind -- often up to 90 deg offcould course!

But this time I decided to heave to and put in a reef. I'd practiced heaving to, and I had lines set up on the boom for reefing, so I figured I'd give it a go.

Heaving to and setting up the reefing lines was easy. What surprised me was that I was unable to hoist the main back up to retension the main. I could see that the main was not up as far as it could be, but even grinding on the winch wouldn't move it up. I didn't persevere with the winch, which turned out to be a very good thing.

Trying to come up into the wind under sail wasn't helping, so I fired up the ol' A4 and powered dead into the wind and tried again. Still nothing. Suddenly I noticed that the main halyard was not making a straight run up the mast from the turning block, and looking away from the masthead for the first time, I saw that the halyard had somehow got wrapped around the starboard spreader. If I'd kept grinding on the winch, I might have damaged it -- thank goodness I'm of the "if it ain't moving, quit pulling" school.

I figured the only way to get the tension off the main halyard to free it was to completely drop the main, which I did. I took the jib down too, just to get all the sail pressure off the rig. Then I went forward, leaving the tiller tied down with a bungee cord, and freed the halyard from the spreader.

After getting that free I went back to the cockpit and got the boat right back into the wind again and hoisted the main. This time I was able to get decent tension on the main, though I wasn't completely happy about it. But after I raised the jib again, I saw that the sheets had managed to tie themselves in a knot over the port lifeline. This was a serious knot, and not one to unwind itself just by pulling on the starboard sheet.

So once again I had to tie down the tiller and go forward, and this time I had to submit to the joy of being flogged by the loose part of the knot as I attempted to free it. I got two or three good THWACKs by the sheets before I got everything right.

Finally I had everything set up, and was able to get back under way. There was still more weather helm than I think there should have been with a full 110 jib and a reef in the main. I'm going to have the rigging looked over by a pro before next season, just to make sure everything is correct.

But all in all, everything was working OK, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. I think there's something off about the rigging setup, that I need two reefs in just 20 kt wind to balance a 110 jib. Something's just not right about that.

But it was another good day of learning: I relearned the old standby "never change your first answer on a test" by putting in, then taking out, then having to put in again the reef in the main. I also learned that heaving to to put in a reef is a pretty easy thing to execute.

Another good day on the water. When I got home I checked the wind speeds off the NOAA buoy just outside the Key Bridge: 16-20 kt steady, with gusts up to 26.

I need some Tylenol.
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Old 10-17-2010
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JA,


We saw you out there today when you were going through you troubles. You looked like you had everything in hand though and when you finally righted everything you seemed to have a good sail.

We wound up reefing both main and jib on diffrent sail points today. The wind was stead, especially strong down by the Key Bridge where it was 20-22 steady wuth gusts around 30 on our wind instrument

Was a roaring day out
Dave
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Last edited by chef2sail; 10-17-2010 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 10-17-2010
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I noticed that the closer I got to the bridge the stronger the wind got. As much of a bitch she was on a broad reach today, she was very happy to sail close. Heading into that wind, she was as smooth as silk

I need the practice single handing, but man am I aching tonight.
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Old 10-18-2010
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Hello,

I used to own a 1986 Newport 28, with the deep keel. The boat was on the tender side and I needed the first reef at 15 kts. At 20 kts the she would be on her ear with 1 reef and a 135 genoa. If I rolled up the headsail to a 100, it would be better, but I would have 20 degrees of heel and a decent amount of weather helm. She would stiffen up at that point and would not heel much more than that.

I enjoyed my Newport, she was a nice sailing boat. Just expect to heel a lot and you'll be fine. I used to single hand in 20 kts of wind all the time. The boat is fine for that.

Good luck,
Barry
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Old 10-18-2010
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It's not the heel that bugs me, it's the weather helm. She just doesn't like a broad reach; wants to come up into the wind to the point that I actually can't hold her.

I had one reef in and a largeish genny -- I don't think it's a 135, more like a 110 or 120 -- and I would have thought that with the reef in and the big jib I'd get rid of the weather helm. Well, it decreased quite a bit, but it was still noticeable and a big PITA. I guess next time I'll go to the second reef.

I guess my new rules of thumb are going to be "over 10kt == 1 reef"; "over 15kt == 2 reefs". Big genny up to 20kt, go to 100 at anything over.

We'll see how these work out.
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Old 10-18-2010
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Hey,

I just remembered that my boat came with old sails (2 mains, 1 genoas - both 150,s and two spinnakers). The sails were old and in poor condition. After two years I bought new sails and the boat sailed much better. So if you have a lot of weather helm perhaps your sails are blown out?

Barry
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Old 10-19-2010
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Yeah, I thought about that, too. However, I had some work done on my main this spring down at North Sails in Annapolis, and the guy there said it looked "OK." I know that doesn't mean much, but at least he didn't say it looked awful and baggy. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if that isn't at least part of the problem. It'd be nice to be able to try out a new sail just to see.
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Old 12-12-2010
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have you tried increasing tension on the back-stay to reduce weather helm? I've not sailed the Newport, but my similar vintage Hunter 30 responds well to this adjustment.
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Old 12-13-2010
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I notice you never mention the traveler. Do you use it? Dropping it to leeward should reduce your weather helm.
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Old 12-13-2010
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There are a lot of things you can do to de-power the sails. Reefing obviously is a good idea if the wind is just too much. Flattening the sails as much as possible by increasing luff tension, foot tension, backstay tension and such can make a huge difference as well. Some boats are more tender and require you to reef sooner than other designs.
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