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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
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!
 

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

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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
 

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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:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
sailortjk1

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.
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
PBZeer

Yet another Sailnet paragon that's out living the life - or is it outliving the life? Anyway - great sailing spirit from back in the day to now.

Back in the day:

11/13/2002
Gulf Coast in a H26
Having only sailed on lakes to this point, how plausible is it to sail the Gulf Coast, Nov-April, in a H26? Would like to do that while looking for a liveaboard boat when I retire (Sept 06). Seems like it would be a good way to get a feel for what I want in a bigger boat. Would be starting out from Mobile, after coming down from the Tennessee River system.

Forgot to mention, I''ll be singlehanding.

Back in 2007:

I crossed from Texas to Florida in the Spring of 2007. Partly on the ICW, partly open water. My only prep, instruction-wise, was to daysail on Galveston Bay. I've had no formal instruction.

Off we go!

And now:
All over Sailnet. Like you need a link?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Knothead

And this story is about as big as it gets from one of the nicest, most knowledgeable sailors on this site. It's long, but it's great:

Here ya go smacky, I'll start a little tale about a real sailor.

I spent a few years growing up with Harold.
He was my brother, four years older than I. (apologies to Paul S.)
One of the memories that really stand out was when I was about 10 or 11. We were anchored in Richardson Bay off Sausalito. We lived aboard the Oscar Tybring. A Colin Archer built double ended ketch. She was built in 1898 or there about and was credited with saving over 100 vessels and 300 + lives. All without an engine and in some pretty rough waters, (Norway).
Everyone had gone to shore that day. I had taken them in the dory. Which I had learned to scull rather well by that time.
I can't remember just what was bothering Harold that day, but he was in a foul mood. That I remember. It may have been around the time that Dad had signed a guy on to help him take the boat up the coast. Harold was so pissed. He would sit for hours whetting his knife. A fillet knife that he carried in a sheath on his waist. The guy asked him once how sharp he was going to get it and Harold replied, "sharp enough to cut your head off". He really felt insulted that Dad had brought this guy aboard and let everyone know about it.
Anyway, sometime after I had returned to the boat, I must have said something really annoying, something that only a kid brother would say I'm sure. Anyway, he snatched me up quicker than I could run, (and believe me, I could run), held his knife to my throat and after a short lecture as to how a little brother and cabin boy should behave, gave me a little slice below my right eye and tossed my butt overboard.
I don't remember how long he made me swim around but eventually he let me back on board.

Sometime around that time, (I really can't remember if it was before or after), during one of my Dad's trips up or down, (can't remember which) the CA coast, I remember being below in my little berth in the foward cabin. We called it the foc'sle. It was blowing like hell. We were rounding Point Conception. There was only the three of us aboard but I wasn't allowed on deck that night.
The Oscar was groaning and creaking like something alive. The wind was shrieking and I was scared sh!tless. All of a sudden, an explosion. Or it seemed that way to me. The Jib blew out. I don't know if it was a storm Jib or not but it sounded like a cannon. I could barely hear my Dad yelling from the helm and the pounding of my brother's bare feet on the deck as he ran forward to bring in the tattered remnants of the headsail. He was no older than fourteen at the time and wearing canvas pants that he had made by hand from a drawing on a book.
My brother was a sailor.

My Dad was a pretty good sailor too. Lousy Dad, and not a really great husband either. Or so I heard. But at least he had the decency to never marry after my Mom died.
Anyway, after he was forced to sell the Oscar he loaded me and my brother in an old station wagon and drove across the country to New Orleans. He almost killed Harold on the way due to an exhaust leak. Had to drag him out of the car and lay him on the road for about a half hour before he came to.
He found a rotten old Dutch canal boat sitting and sinking at the dock and bought her. The three of us spent a few months cleaning and patching her up at the dock. He never did haul her but I remember him reefing and caulking seams above the waterline. His plan was to sail to FL and do a complete rebuild. If I remember correctly, he was going to use the boat as a mold to build a ferro cement boat. The fad was just beginning to take hold around then. Anyway, bottom line is, we didn't get far.
February14, Valentine's Day, 1968. We got as far as Lake Pontchartrain. A storm blew up and the boat started leaking faster than we could pump. Dad made the decision to run her up on a beach. Which he did. The boat was barely floating by that time. He told us that we could grab one thing each. Dad grabbed the ships compass. A huge thing. Harold grabbed his boom box. I grabbed my puppy. A three month old Shepard pup.
Only one of these things survived the trek across the marshes, the compass, but at least the three of us did. Barely.
Dad knew that there was a fishing camp out there somewhere, according to the chart. He didn't count on the fact that it was off season. Fortunately, (and truly I mean Providentially), there was a caretaker on the property and he and his family saved our lives. No ****.

I am going to relate the following with a caveat, I am going to get spiritual here. Take it for what it's worth and do with it what you will.

We, Dad, Harold and I had walked through waist deep marsh, across numerous bayous, (we were all wearing PFDs), for hours. We tried valiently to hold onto our treasures, but after a few hours about all that was left was the compass. My puppy didn't make it far.
We reached another bayou. The sun was setting, It was getting dark and it was raining and cold. Dad was laying on his back exausted. He was in his mid fifties I think. Always smoked. Harold had a side ache. Stiches some call it. He was just laying on the bank. I remember bawling my head off and being more scared than I had, (have), ever been in my life.
I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday, looking across this next watery barrier and falling to my knees and praying. I have no recollection of the substance of my prayer but when I opened my eyes. I saw a light. Not too far away either. One more bayou and a short distance across another marsh. I didn't say anything. I just went. I remember Dad yelling at me but no one stopped me.
Sometime later, It was pretty dark by then, I got to the fishing camp. There were a lot of little cabins but only one of them had a light on.
A single bulb burning on the porch.
I pounded on the door and when it was opened I found that I couldn't speak. I was making lots of noise but no words. The woman took me into the cabin, removed my life jacket and put me into a hot shower. A few minutes later the man gave me what I later found out was a hot toddy. I have a fondness for them to this day.
When I could speak, I told the man that my brother and father were out there. All I could do was point. He didn't hesitate.
The next morning, looking out over the distance we had trekked the day before, there was only water. No land anywhere.

After this little adventure, Harold hit the road. He was 16 at the time. Dad left me with some folks he got to know while we were in Louisiana while he went on down to Ft. Lauderdale and got a job at a boat yard. He got back on his feet and sent for me a couple of months later.
I didn't see my brother for a few years after that.

The tale goes on and doesn't really have a happy ending but I don't get the feeling you are into happy tales as much as tales of adventure. And my brother Harold was man of adventure.
A man to be emulated? I'm not sure about that. But a man who embraced life certainly.
He and I eventually became friends. Sadly, I didn't have much of a chance to know him that way, but such is life.
 

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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.
You would have to inspect the block and see if there is any distortion or not.
If not distorted the block is fine. But if the schackle or any other part is distorted then replace that block.

In fact you should carry spare blocks on board for ready replacements as required by the weather.
 

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Speaking of getting in slightly over your head. I took some friends from work on their very first sail one fine, sunny Saturday. It was blowing 15-20 when we eased Oh Joy out of the slip and motored into Burrows Bay. I had full Genny and Main up and the winds increased to 20-25 by the time we passed Allen island headed South. The plan was to sail down to Deception and duck into Bowman Bay to drop the hook for lunch. By the time we got abreast of Deception Pass, it was blowing 25-30 and time to reef since we'd been running with the rail in the water to the winch. Needless to say, running offwind wasn't an option as we were next to a Lee shore without enough room. So, with a rook at the helm for his first time, I furled the Genny and went forward to rig the Solent Stay for the Staysail. Mind you there's no lifelines forward of the sprit's butt and no Pulpit on Oh Joy so hanging out on the pointy end as it makes 15' sweeps while shipping green water ain't exactly fun. I got it done and hanked on the Staysail, not wanting to shred the new Genny like I did the old one. Reefing was problematic since the rook had trouble keeping us head to wind and the boom took me off the housetop once but again, I got it done.

We had a great sail back and the other rookie finally got control of her stomach so we went out across the Rosario to Cypress. The wind moderated back down so I pulled the Staysail, Solent Stay, reef and went back to full canvas. On the return, I hoisted the chute and did a "Titanic" on the sprit while my rookie helmsman enjoyed driving the chute back at 7.5 or so. It turned out to be a nice sail that set the hook for both of them as far as sailing goes. The rook did so well that I let him punch through the tidal chop coming back into Burrows.

I do need to pick up some tethers though. There's been more than a few times when they should've been worn.
 

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You would have to inspect the block and see if there is any distortion or not.
If not distorted the block is fine. But if the schackle or any other part is distorted then replace that block.

In fact you should carry spare blocks on board for ready replacements as required by the weather.
I checked it out the last time I went up the mast, no issue. I have a half dozen of these old blocks aboard. Matter of fact, we broke one on the Leeward sheet during the above sail and replaced it while underway, without losing ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Charlie - if you actually said the words "I'm king of the world!" you should just be slapped. Otherwise - tethers would be good.

Hey - after reading Skip A's story - it sure made me re-read your F11 tale with a new perspective. Holy crap. I suppose you had the good fortune of getting off the water before the waves built like his.

I can't remember now - were you at the helm the whole time? Or did you have to auto-pilot and hunker down as well?
 

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No, no AP on Oh Joy but then again, I wasn't stuck in it for three-four days either. Also, my adventure was in more sheltered waters, BIG difference.

No "King of the world" crap from me. I was standing on the bowsprit, hanging on to the furler and just enjoying the sea as it slid under the bow. Magical time, if just too short.
 

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I'm going to chime in here.. because I've got a pretty good one.. We'll call this story 'lesson learned' ..

I sail in the Ottawa River, Lac Deschenes waterway, skipped a Tanzer 22.. A very overbuilt and sturdy 22 ft keelboat ..

A friend wanted to go out, he had one day he could ..So we decided to do a 2-3 hour cruise up to Aylmer island (about 4 miles to windward from the club) and back .. maybe anchor for lunch . Didn't check the weather, as a) I was a newbie, and b) it was sunny, warm and dead calm (that's good right? *sigh*)

.. anyways, it takes us about 2 hours to tack maybe 2-3 NM towards the island in the exciting 1 kt wind we are experiencing.. I am busy apologizing to Nick for his first time on the boat being 'so dull' ..

As soon as the words leave my mouth, I notice foul weather to the S/W .. of course, I didn't know the weather patterns at the time, and figured 'maybe it will miss us.. if the other boats turn back, so shall we..'

*crackle boom!*

the other boats turn back.. We debate what we'll do for the next 20 minutes, at which point the flottilla is mostly back, and we are way too far out.. .. At this point my 'mildly intelligent sailor' gene kicks in, and I realize we are too far out to make it back before it hits, and the wind is picking up.. we leave the genoa up (duuuuh) and reef the main, and decide to try and sail it .. so we head as close to the windward shore as possible ..

Anyways, first comes the rain, then comes the hail, then comes the 50kt headwind, THEN comes the WALL of black water.. at this point the boat is pinned on her beam, helm is hard over, and all I can do is hope the canvas doesn't tear and the storm runs out of wind before we run out of lake.. which it does..

Ok, not so bad.. it lasted all of 5 minutes, but there is another one coming and I can see it..

"We're not going to make it back, let's do it right this time"

We drop and tie down the sails (duuuuuuh) and get the prop in the water.. all whopping 6 HP of it.. Sure enough, the storm hits again, with even more ferocity this time, and longer.. we ride it out, motoring to windward for a good 20 minutes, holding formation with three other boats whos running lights I can see.. It's like steering on a tightrope, but I'm keeping her pointed with my trusty Johnston 6HP gunned..

However, I'm getting hypothermic (maybe I should have invested in something stronger than a 1 dollar walmart poncho? I am a newbie .. that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) .. so I tell nick he has to take the helm, and jump inside to warm up.. hes doing OK, when all of a sudden our 'strapped down 130% genny breaks free of it's tie, and runs right up the forestay... we go over, pinned to the water again.. this looks familiar, and quickly lose sight of the other boats .. Nick, under my direction does a good job of keeping us beam-to.. it's too dangerous to get up as and bring in the genny we're at a 50 degree heel, and I know it will be over soon.. sure enough, it us.. ..

A few minutes later as we are collecting our wits, and the contents of the cabin police fire and rescue (who had been flanking our small fleet the whole time) come and ask us if we'd seen a boat in trouble .."No, I never noticed anyone" ..

They were responding to an SOS issued by another boat, for someone they thought was going down or in trouble.. it later dawned on me that that was probably us, when our flotilla saw our genny break loose.. .. oh well..

anyways.. after that conversation.. *crackle* *boom* in the west.. I make a judgement call, and decide we can outrun it.. Full canvas up, it's blowing 20-30 and we close haul home in about 15 minutes flat.. probably one of the fastest sails I've made on her ever.. .. dock, derig, and run to the cars sopping wet just as #3 hits, with even more ferocity than the first two..

The boat came through without a scratch or a tear, Nick still can't meet someone knew without telling that story whilst sporting an ear to ear grin..

Me? When the weather turns nasty I know which way it comes from, don my shiny new storm gear, put the canvas *in* the boat.. drop the hook or motor (dependant on position and situtuation) and laugh in the face of danger.. ;)

seasoned, no.. but no heeling, broach or shift really phases me anymore after that.. For me it was the day I 'got my legs', and fell in love with my boat.. After that day she's a she, not an it. and 30+ is a day I 'really should go sailing, as opposed to a day when I should cancel my sailing plans :)
 

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There ya go Casey, the attitude is right and the story is one that's probably been lived by many a trailer sailor. Nothing wrong with being heeled at 50*, if that's what ya wanna do at the time. Being pinned on your beam's end for a length of time takes a little adjusting to though.
 
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