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post #1 of 14 Old 04-23-2019 Thread Starter
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Small Craft Warning

So, something of a cross-post here from another thread - similar question (two actually), but different angle:

I've found I like sailing in heavier weather (and my wife does, too), and have been working to learn more about it over the last few seasons. I should add I'm in the PNW, on a 27' masthead sloop, so heavy weather for us is about the bottom end of a USCG small craft warning (21-33 kts).

We've taken what opportunities we could over the last few seasons to learn and practice some heavy weather techniques: especially trimming to 'twist off' the top of the sails, 'active sheeting', and 'pinching off'.

This isn't just for sport: we prefer shoulder-season sailing, recently did our first short ocean hop, and are hoping to build up to a circuit of Haida Gwai. I'd like to feel confident well away from safe harbor in a typical PNW blow (25-35).

But at this point we have run into the limits of our sailplan, I think: we run a 135% genoa, and trying to go to windward much over ~23 starts to result in a buried rail and a lot of strain on the rig, so I'm thinking that the next step is a second, smaller headsail.

1) Thoughts on the best size for a smaller headsail? I'm thinking a 90 (small #3) with roller reefing, which is ideally sized for those 20-25 kt blows, and can reef down to almost a 70% (a small #4) when needed.

2) Any other ideas for study/practice for heavy weather techniques?
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-23-2019
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Re: Small Craft Warning

How many reef points in your main? Are you working with the traveler?
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post #3 of 14 Old 04-23-2019 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danvon View Post
How many reef points in your main? Are you working with the traveler?

3 points, fully battened, although the previous owner fixed the boom at the top of its slider, so the center of effort is quite high (boom is fixed a solid 7' off the cockpit sole).

And Yes - should have clarified I was including working with the traveler as part of active sheeting.

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post #4 of 14 Old 04-23-2019
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Re: Small Craft Warning

Do you not have roller furling now? If not roller furling and an appropriate sail can get expensive. Also going from a roller a 135 to a 90 on a roller furling can get complicated.

On my current boat I am considering a 135% headsail on a roller furler as my cruising set up. Then add a 'Gale Sail' for heavy weather sailing.

Jordan
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Oceanside CA
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-23-2019
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Re: Small Craft Warning

if you don't have a furler on the headsail that should be your first step. Then you can reef it and the main. Some would say that you need a new forsail with ref points to keep it from getting stretched but I say go with the sail you got and if it gets stretched down the road then get a new one.

Another thing about a furler is safety. If its just you and your wife its a lot safer to pull that sucker in than have someone go up and hank it down. yuck!

We have a little staysail on a furler. from 25-30knts one reef in the main and the staysail keeps us at hull speed comfortably and still points ok.
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-23-2019
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Re: Small Craft Warning

Hello,

When I am on a fully crewed race boat as the wind increases we change down from the #1 to the #2 and then to the #3 when we see 25 kts apparent. We hoist the new sail inside of the current sail, with 1 person on the halyard, another feeding the sail into the foil, and more people trimming. Once the new sail is up we have the same guy on the halyard to lower the big sail and two guys to pull the sail down and then tie it on deck.

When I am on MY boat, sailing short handed, if the wind goes above 25 I will just furl the headsail and sail on a reefed main. I find that the boat is perfectly happy sailing on either the reefed main OR a reefed headsail. If the wind is over 25 when I leave the harbor I won't even take the main sail cover off, I just roll out 1/2 the headsail and that's plenty of sail area for me.

The race boat is 35' and my boat is 36' so the sails are large and loads on the boat quite high. Still, even on a 27' boat there is no way I would want just one person trying to lower a sail and hoist another when it's blowing 25 kts or more. I suppose that if you are going to be sailing for a long time, like 12+ hours, then I MIGHT struggle to lower one sail and hoist another, but for a few hours there is no way I'm going through that much work.

Personally, if I had to go upwind in those conditions I would be motorsailing with a reefed main alone.

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post #7 of 14 Old 04-25-2019
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Re: Small Craft Warning

Sailing in SF bay where winds often get into the upper 20's to low 30's in the slot, I use a #3 pretty much all the time. The boat will not balance well under most conditions unless the main is reefed, which it needs to be much of the time, so that is generally OK, but is a PITA if the wind drops. Bristols are somewhat tender, so sailing a double reefed main and #3 at 30 knots just about puts the rail in the water. Since my B40 is a Yawl also I have the option of sailing jib and jigger, which works well in strong winds.
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post #8 of 14 Old 04-26-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Small Craft Warning

Quote:
Originally Posted by dadio917 View Post
if you don't have a furler on the headsail that should be your first step. Then you can reef it and the main. Some would say that you need a new forsail with ref points to keep it from getting stretched but I say go with the sail you got and if it gets stretched down the road then get a new one.
Should have clarified this! We do indeed have a furler, which is what carries the 135 now. So what I'm planning to get are a pair of new sails, both with roller reefing.

From the reading I've done, roller reefing sails will hold decent shape up the point where they are 20-25 percent reefed/furled. Thus, my thought is to get a 135 and a smaller sail - maybe a 100, or a 95 or 90. That way I can reef the 135 down to almost 100 in a pinch, or in heavier weathrer just start with the smaller sail and reef it down (to about 75, or a #4). The way I figure it, that gives me the equivalent coverage of having about a #2, a #3, and a #4 (albeit one with only so-so shape).




Quote:
Originally Posted by chicory83 View Post
Sailing in SF bay where winds often get into the upper 20's to low 30's in the slot, I use a #3 pretty much all the time. The boat will not balance well under most conditions unless the main is reefed, which it needs to be much of the time, so that is generally OK, but is a PITA if the wind drops. Bristols are somewhat tender, so sailing a double reefed main and #3 at 30 knots just about puts the rail in the water. Since my B40 is a Yawl also I have the option of sailing jib and jigger, which works well in strong winds.
This is great information, thank you!


Overall what I'm thinking is to probably go with a 95 for the second sail. I think there's an argument for having a bigger 'gap' between the two sails, since the 135 will reef/furl down to almost 100 anyway, but I think going too small (for instance to a #4) would be overkill given that the strongest spring/fall blows we get tend to only run to 30-35 knots anyway, with a few well-forecast exceptions.
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post #9 of 14 Old 04-26-2019
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Re: Small Craft Warning

Hi,

You don't say what kind of 27' masthead sloop you have, but something like a Catalina 27 should do fine with the 2nd reef in the mainsail and the 135% reefed to the -second mark (equivalent to an 85%) up to 25 - 30 kts . But that can vary depending on the stiffness of the boat.

If you sail frequently in steady wind more than 30 kts, you may need get a purpose built 70%, made of heavier cloth than your 135. But switching out an RF sail is a pain in the butt.

A 135% genoa with a luff pad that is not baggy, should reef down to the 20% mark and function similarly to a #4 (85%) quite nicely. That 20% is linear, not area. In terms of area, that's equivalent to .8 *.8 = 64% of the original area. So a properly designed 135% can reef down to the area of .64* 135 = 86%. That's a heavy air jib for your boat.

Think of putting a couple of marks on the foot of the sail at 10,20 and 30% . When you reef down to to the linear 10% mark, you're at 0.9 x 0.9 x 135% = 109% area wise, and slightly flatter. at the 20% reef linear reef mark,, you've got 0.8 x 0.8 x 135% = 85%

You should put a couple of marks on the foot of the sail at 10,20 and 30% of the total foot length. When you reef down to to the linear 10% mark, you're at 0.9 x 0.9 x 135% = 109% area wise, and slightly flatter. at the 20% reef linear reef mark,, you've got 0.8 x 0.8 x 135% = 85%


If your 135% genoa is baggy, or converted from hank on, or doesn't have a luff pad, it will not furl well. It will be too deep and have lots of wrinkles. That will cause heeling and rounding up and poor pointing. If your mainsail is baggy, or designed with a too deep draft, you will heel excessively when sailing upwind under gusty conditions. (Or you need to use all the controls better to depower more)

If you sail frequently in 25-30+ kts, maybe you should consider a 110% jib and then add a couple of free flying light wind sails, for less than 10-15 kts, such as a Cruising Code Zero on a furler for apparent wind angle in front of 90 degrees and an asymm spinnaker for AWA > 90 degrees.

Judy B
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Last edited by jblumhorst; 04-26-2019 at 11:51 AM.
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post #10 of 14 Old 04-26-2019
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Re: Small Craft Warning

In my brain, a 70% that had an integrated inner forestay sounds like a great solution for this. (Not sure if it exists, though.) Just put it in a velcro-closed sail bag on deck with the sheets run and the halyard hooked up, but velcroed to the base of the mast. When the wind picks up enough that you can't reef the 135 enough, just furl away the 135 and hoist the 70, letting the velcro pop open. Should stay out of the way, but be ready immediately, and nobody needs to go forward. Also keeps the center of effort back and low.
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