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post #1 of 8 Old 06-14-2010 Thread Starter
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Critque the sailing

Saw this vis on You tube. YouTube - Hellish Gulf Stream -- April 2007

I don't know how to sail so 'Ive really no experince. Just how much do you heel, what is too much and what is unsafe? I read al ot and now am starting to "see" some things.

In this video of a sailboat after a storm on the gulf stream The leeward rail is getting hit pretty big. looks to me that they are heeled too much and going to fast and have too much sail up.

So I wonder Should the have out just a jib or a trysail to keep the boat more upright?

I think I want a mainsail with three reefing points!
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-14-2010
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The problem is that they were in the Gulf Stream when the Nor'easter set in. Setting wind against current, and gale force or stronger winds at that, is going to result in monstrous seas that are basically standing waves and very confused.

Sails aren't going to do much to keep a boat upright under those conditions.


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post #3 of 8 Old 06-14-2010
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Very cool video. Those are some bumpy seas!

As for critiquing the sailing - I definitely don't know enough to do that. I've sailed in 30+ knots only twice - but on a lake.

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post #4 of 8 Old 06-14-2010
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Looks like an average summer day in the Santa Barbara Channel. There are more +20 knot days here than under -20 knot least for me.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-14-2010
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Seems like a fairly narrow boat, designed to be sailed at a heel. They could possibly put in another reef in the main, but maybe they only have two reefs. (Something to think about for the next time- possibly adding a third.) The motion of the boat does not seem excessive: down below things seem pretty calm, and the cameraman IS able to hold the camera pretty steady. Though some of the waves are decent-sized, they're on a reach. The boat is taking them pretty well on the port bow, and not falling off the tops, as they might be if they were beating, or closer hauled. 30 knots of breeze is plenty, but isn't more than a sea boat should be able to handle. 50 knot - or more- squalls in the Gulf Stream are a regular occurance. We've had as many as two waterspouts in sight at the same
time. If you want clear skies and no wind, go to Arizona. (bring your papers if you're tanned.)
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-15-2010
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We call that condition "watching the elephants" here in SoFlo. Not a good time to be out on the water.

Capt. Douglas Abbott
USCG/MCA IV/C.I./M.I. 500-ton Oceans

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post #7 of 8 Old 06-15-2010
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Going on the mainsail trim position they are beating to windward. The boat is well heeled but handling the seas well. If it is still blowing from the NE then that suggests they are sailing to Bermuda.

For a wind over tide situation out in the Gulf Stream conditions look pretty reasonable. The video did not show waves breaking aboard the boat and it was not coming in green over the bow.

Things look OK to me providing the wind does not increase. In which case they will need their 3rd reef which they do not have or that VERY rarely deployed sail the storm trysail which they may not have either. I suppose I might try to depower the main but failing that drop the main and continue under headsail alone, maybe bareing off a bit.

An old salt told me that too windward the crew breaks before the boat but downwind the boat breaks before the crew.
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-15-2010
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To answer the original question, first of all, it is very hard to tell from a video like this whether the sails are trimmed correctly, expecially since there are only two quick shots that show how the sails are trim. It is also aways easier to be a Monday morning quarterback, and always harder to actually be the one actually doing the sailing, so I mean the sailors in the video no disrespect.

That said, I would have had my sails trimmed quite a bit differently, and if trimmed differently, the heel angle should be way less. Starting with the mainsail, if you look at the lower batten of the sail, you can see that the sail is very rounded. In those conditions it should be very flat. To improve the shape of the sail, the foot of the sail should have been hauled aft much tighter than it is in the video. Similarly, the halyard should have been much tighter as well. Lastly, the traveler should be dropped top leeward and the leech made tighter than it is the picture. If this were a fractional rig the back stay should be very tight so as to induce mast bend, which would further flatten the sail while opening the upper leech while still keeping the upper sail bladed. Collectively this would have flattened the heel angle quite a bit and help balance the helm.

The jib appears to be partially furled and judging by the diagonal folds, the leech is creeping toward the tack and the foot is creeping towards the head. That combination appears to have powered up the jib which would increase heel angle relative to drive as well. Plus the windage of the furled sail, and its wet weight aloft adds to the amount of heel and motion,

Here the skipper of this particular boat has few choices. In an ideal world he would have stripped the headsail before the storm and put up a blade. Once the storm hit a sail change on a bowsprit is suicidal and so he stuck with the mess that he is dealing with.

In terms of heel angle, this is appears to be an older narrow beam boat, and for the most part they can sailed at higher heel angles than is ideal for a modern design. The high heel angle may be tiring and may cause more leeway, but it doesn't necessarily equate to bad seamanship.


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