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SiXeVeN 10-25-2008 02:02 AM

A salty sea tale told again... AKA my rough day at sea!
A friend and I got to talking and the tales of the sea came up. So even though I wrote about this before, it is still a good story to share.

I decided to take "Miss Snip" out solo for an late afternoon sail. I live near the Gulf o' Mexico so I have a nice body of water to play in. The problem is that in the late day hours the wind can pick up and get pretty nasty. That same wind blowing over some considerable sea kicks up some hairy waves as well.
Anyway, I had been out sailing with full main and 150% Genoa when the winds finally reached the reef or head in stage. I'm about 3 nm from shore. Since i'm solo I decide that i'll drop the main first and then turn and run with the Genoa (easily furled). All goes well for a while until the wind really started to pick up. I'm guessing 30-35? I stay with it because the boat is being pushed along at a exciting pace but i'm starting to lose some helm control as the large head sail is pulling the bow around at will. About 1000 yards from the inlet I need to duck in, I decide it's time to furl in the Genoa and motor in. That is when things turn ugly. I get about 2 turns out of the furler when it jams solid. It won't come in and it won't come out. AND because I have 2 turns on the furler shaft, I can't reach the internal halyard to drop the Genoa. I can run just fine but any other point of sail is impossible as the wind had too much control over the bow. Essentially I had a full 150% Genoa out in growing wind AND no mailsail up to allow other points of sail. Since the wind was behind me I was unable to raise the main either. I tried to use the motor to pull me round but the full genoa was too much for the motor. As I'm fighting all of this I notice that I have now run about 500 yards and now the shore is getting mighty close. I run forward and throw out the anchor which is also no match for the full genoa. I can feel it being dragged across the sea floor. Since the genny sheets are still stuck on the end knot at the genny car, I decide to release them to try and further dump the wind but all that does is release a huge 150% flag flapping wildly forward of my boat. Now I have ZERO control. I'm STILL dragging my crappy anchor (since replaced:D ) AND the motor STILL can't bring the boat through the wind. The wind is now closer to about 35-40 with the usual associated 6' rollers and white caps coming in. I find that the motor in reverse can keep me steady in position.... sort of.

So, here I am, motor running full tilt in reverse, tethered in on the pointy end of my boat trying to hand over hand manually roll in my Genoa. Every gust of wind tearing it out of my hands and tearing large nasty bleeding blisters into my hands. Plus, the rollers are following in so nice blasts of salt water foam are spraying me in the back and the boat is bucking and pitching wildly. I got about half of the sail in and noticed the motor was now able to pull the boat. I secured the remaining genoa and jury rigged a rope stop to keep it from unfurling again. I was TOTALLY exhausted. I get to the helm and turn for home. About 5 minutes later, while i'm in the channel, a gust of wind grabs the remaining genoa and BOOM it is yanked back open again. Since I was abeam to the wind it grabbed the bow of the boat and physically threw it sideways. I heeled to about 3 feet from the spreaders and nearly fell overboard! I was back to square one and now I was in the channel with NO control. Again the motor was useless. Fortunately, I had turned the corner of the beach so the wind direction was better and was blowing parallel to shore. I let the boat drift and went back to work up front. Hand over hand, each twist with excruciating pain as I futher tore open blisters. It took me ONE HOUR to get the genoa back in again. I drifted over 4 nms offshore by the time I had it secured!!! I was completely and absolutely spent. I sat back at the helm and began the slow motor into home. I was soaked to the bone, cold, and had dried blood and salt all over my arms and hands. I ignored the no wake rules at the dock and flicked off the old man who *****ed about my small wake. I had just had one hell of a sail.:eek: I figured he could cut me some slack:rolleyes:

BTW, I have since learned a VERY clever trick to deal with a rouge sail. Thanks to GIU.:cool:

sailingdog 10-25-2008 06:51 AM

First, you need to maintain your furling drum. :)

Second, you need good sailing gloves—they'd have saved you a lot of blisters and pain.

Third, I was going to point you to Gui's Genoa wrapping trick, but I am guessing you've already found it.

What you probably should have done is reef the genny before dropping the mainsail. By keeping the full genny up, you were asking for trouble. If it had been reefed say 40%, and with winds of 30-35 knots...that is plenty of sail still—dealing with it would have been much easier.

In general, you should drop the sails from bow to stern...and raise them stern to bow... If you had had some mainsail might have allowed you to point head to wind, and made dealing with the flogging, stuck genny a lot easier.

When sailing singlehanded...which it sounds you were... always sail with less sail than you would if you had crew... sail a bit more conservatively when out alone... Think about what would have happened if the genny had knocked you overboard... I don't think we'd be reading this story ATM.

SiXeVeN 10-25-2008 12:28 PM


Yes, that was my post incident conclusion as well. To return to port required a downwind run. I figured the main wasn't absolutely needed and because I was singlehanded and didn't want to fight with it closer to shore, I furled it early.

Because I was essentially using the Genoa as a large chute in a dead run I was able to keep much more canvas in the air than the winds would have actually allowed. What appears to have happened is the furler was over stressed and the huge load on the Genoa elevated the furler drum off the bearings and allowed a washer next to the forestay turnbuckle to bend. That prevented the furler from re-seating and thus turning.

Usually overpowered sails will present themselves with excessive heel to give inattentive sailors a warning (on a monohull;) ). Since I was in a dead run there was no heel to provide such feedback. Regardless, I should have known I was overpowered in the run when the helm began to become increasingly light. Instead I was too busy enjoying the speed and wasn't paying attention to the boat trying to talk to me.


you need good sailing gloves
Believe it on not but the blisters were THROUGH the gloves!!! It was the twisting motion that caused the blisters.


Think about what would have happened if the genny had knocked you overboard
I was tethered in but if the boat was any bigger I would have been SOL. It took everything I had to get that sail controlled in that wind. I would have eventually turned up in Cuba!:D Actually, if I hadn't gotten it partially controlled the first time, I would have been blown ashore with likely catastrophic consequences

Anyway, it was a learning episode I will always remember.

sailingdog 10-25-2008 12:37 PM

Just curious, what brand/make furler was this??

knothead 10-25-2008 12:50 PM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 390149)
Just curious, what brand/make furler was this??

From the description, this was probable a CDI flexible furler.

Internal halyard, washer, drum rising up.

erps 10-25-2008 01:07 PM

Good story. Now I'm going to have to find the thread on taming a runaway sail, although I usually have to learn the hard way, from my own mistakes.

jjablonowski 10-25-2008 02:56 PM

Can somebody post that link to "Gui's genoa-wrapping trick"?

sailingdog 10-25-2008 03:41 PM



Originally Posted by jjablonowski (Post 390181)
Can somebody post that link to "Gui's genoa-wrapping trick"?

SiXeVeN 10-25-2008 04:03 PM


It was indeed a CDI furler! Nice pickup. Not a piece of equipment I could recommend.

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