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smackdaddy 09-22-2008 02:10 PM

Big Freakin' Sails
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Okay - this thread is for people that ACTUALLY LIKE Big Freakin' Sails (note for morons: the verb, not the noun). BFS simply means sailing that pushes limits - whatever those limits may be. And herein lies the rub...and the reason I need to explain a couple of things so people don't start foaming at the mouth right off the bat.

There has been a tremendous amount of hubbub over this "philosophy" in another thread - but that thread apparently "came with a lot of baggage" - to the point that the topic itself got lost in the fog of war. So, this is an attempt to start cleanly.

It must be understood that the love for the adventure and excitement of hard sailing is just as valid and robust in the newbie as it is in the big-sailing old salt. The gap between the two is experience and knowledge. And the goal here is not to fill that gap by quashing the spirit of adventure and excitement with a deluge of cynicism and technicality - but to help us all learn, if and when the time comes, how to better handle that moment when mother nature starts rising beyond our sailing abilities. Because if you keep sailing - it will happen, period. And as you'll see, it can get very frightening very quickly.

For an old salt, these limits will obviously be worlds beyond those of the typical newbie. That old salt will probably snicker at the point at which the newbie becomes terrified - understandably so. Yet, there will inevitably be an even more seasoned salt that will, in turn, snicker at the snickerer when he/she soils his/her own breeches in a blow. It's all subjective and un-ownable.

Therefore, the BFS factor of a newbie experiencing a hard heel and wayward helm for the very first time is just as exciting, important, and valuable (in BFS terms) as the old salt battling a 50 knot gale. It's just about the attitude with which the exploit is approached and remembered - and taken into account as they go back out for more. There are great stories and valuable lessons in both experiences - as well as great opportunities for good hearted slams on the brave posters (which is valuable as well). That's BFS.

So, to be clear this thread is JUST AS MUCH FOR THE SAILING NEWBIE (of which I am one) as it is for the old salt. It's a place to tell your story, listen to others', learn some lessons, and discuss the merits or detractions of Big Freakin' Sails.

The following inaugural BFS stories illustrate what this thread is all about. As I said, I'm a newbie - and you see my first BFS story below. You can then compare that with the other great BFS stories thereafter (sometimes edited to protect the innocent) which I think are great tales from great sailors; they cover the spectrum of "pushing the limits". Then, hopefully, you'll throw down some BFS of your own (either your own story, stories you admire, or stories that are just flat-out lies but with great BFS value - whatever).

Now, let's have some fun...shall we?

smackdaddy 09-22-2008 02:20 PM

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With Ike blowing in last week - we finally got some bigger wind in our area - which is usually in the 8-12 range this time of year. The estimates were 30+, with gusts up to 40. I wanted to try it. Here's my BSF:

First off, the Ike sail was epic - at least for me. The wind was far less than forecast, registering steady 20-25 with gusts up to 32. And the scariest part of the whole thing? Getting out of the freaking slip! I've discovered that my C27 is woefully underpowered with a Suzuki 6 outboard - at least for any REAL sailing. Anyway, with the wind at my stern, and the motor cranking in reverse the boat stayed plastered in place. First time ever. Undeterred we handed her out into the marina and punched forward. Before we could get enough momentum to engage the rudder - the wind pushed us broadside back to the dock. Much cursing, scrambling, and poling kept us "pretty much" off the other boats and we handed her back into the slip. We drank copious amounts of rum - also known as "strategizing".

A seasoned sailor who grew up on the Chesapeake was working on his boat in the next slip and I asked his advice. He said he wouldn't be "comfortable" chancing it in winds like we had with our "egg beater" motor. That was all I needed to be convinced.

He was nice enough to help us hand her back out - while he shook his head and asked about next-of-kin notification. We flipped her bass-ackwards into the slip. We tied off a jib sheet to the bow, had a buddy stand on the dock to pull her into the wind - and we punched it.

Like butta.

The sailing was less than I expected. Since the lake is somewhat sheltered by the hills we weren't getting the full pleasure of all those knots like Charlie would be in the salt. So, we threw up all the canvass we could muster. And it was...a...blast. I can't wait for the next one.

BTW - using all the valuable advice and ridicule received here - I tightened the outhaul, cranked the vang, tweaked the traveller, and got far less weather helm. Now I'll go take a look at Giu's "sailing-with-bobo" videos and see what else I did wrong.

I can't wait for the next real blow! This BFS stuff is freaking awesome! You guys ought to try it!

Stillraining 09-22-2008 02:21 PM

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No snicker here...That wisker pole is 90' long.

smackdaddy 09-22-2008 02:24 PM

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BFS from that very cool, intrepid sailor CharlieCobra:

Back in the day:
My first foray into sailing the big water was when myself and two others took off for Friday Harbor on my Venture 21 with no experience other than lake sailing in the daytime. It was blowing 15-20 that day and it still stands as one of the fastest trips there and back that I've ever made. We averaged 6.5 knots for the trip which means we were surfing and planing more than half the time. We were beat up and dead tired when we got home but it was a helluva trip. Keep sailing and reading. Sooner or later you'll get out there. There ain't nothing like it in the world Dude, nothin'. I've been bike and car racing, skydiving (including HALO) and lots of other so-called extreme sports but for me, nothing makes me smile like being out when the wind is up and the piss is flying on a sailing yacht.

And now:
Oh Joy Coming Home Trip

smackdaddy 09-22-2008 02:26 PM

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Originally Posted by Stillraining (Post 372706)
No snicker here...That wisker pole is 90' long.

Ahhmmm, Still - did you get the note? Verb, dude. Verb. Stay focused.

smackdaddy 09-22-2008 02:28 PM

Skip Allen
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An amazing and sobering BFS story - period. Tremendous respect to this guy.


Boasun 09-22-2008 02:28 PM

Yeah! I love it when a wind gust causes the spreaders to touch the water just before we ease the sails a little and stand the boat back up again.
The looks on the newbies faces is something to enjoy....:D :D :D :rolleyes:

smackdaddy 09-22-2008 02:31 PM

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Here's some great BFS from another cool sailor on Sailnet:

1. Charlie, ya should have been on L Michigan yesterday. We had steady 20knots from the NE. Went out in building seas. (2-4 foot chop quickly building to 4-6)

The Dog got seasick and the wife got mad that I would not head for cover. She got even madder when the words "Suck it Up" came out of my mouth. Than she got really mad when she took and elbow to the forehead as I was trimming the Genny.

Than she laughed about it when we got back in.
She is a great girl.

2. We had a BFS night on the water last night.
Race commity canceled the race due to high seas and wind, so the skipper that I crew for decided it was a nice night for a cruise.

CharlieCobra 09-22-2008 02:32 PM


Originally Posted by Stillraining (Post 372706)
No snicker here...That wisker pole is 90' long.

I cannot imagine having that much canvas aloft in anything over 10 knots.

CharlieCobra 09-22-2008 02:34 PM


Originally Posted by Boasun (Post 372716)
Yeah! I love it when a wind gust causes the spreaders to touch the water just before we ease the sails a little and stand the boat back up again.
The looks on the newbies faces is something to enjoy....:D :D :D :rolleyes:

I don't go that far. Too easy to break shyte when that happens. I'm still wondering how that ragged old ash and bronze block held up when we got pinned with the chute up that time.

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