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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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
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:
What I like here is that you only "ease the sails a little" when the spreaders hit the water. Nice approach, Boasun - that's milking it for speed, baby! And it definitely impresses the newbies when you've got a snapper in your rigging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
Casey - that brought a tear to my eye, dude. Epic. And, as a newbie myself, I particularly love the part about full-genny/reefed-main. Up until your post, I thought for sure that was the best storm strategy (guess I need some more time with Giu's videos).

Great BFS man!
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
rumpf - have another beer for actually sailing it back into the slip, dude! At my current level of skill - that's kind of the Holy Grail. I feel pretty good out in the open water - but still can't imagine that much control in tight spots. Some day.

As in Casey's story - it seems like sailing in somewhat sheltered waters is actually a blessing for newbies - you can push the boat with big wind without suffering the consequences of building seas. Is that a fair assessment?
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Yep. That's also why it's not really accurate to describe sheltered-water windspeeds using the Beaufort scale. The Beaufort scale describes combined wind and sea-state condition on large open bodies of water, like gulfs, seas, oceans. You may have 50 knot winds in an anchorage, small lake, bay, straight, or other relatively enclosed body of water with limited fetch, but you are unlikely to experience the associated sea-state unless you are in open waters.

So, many of us will eventually get caught out and thumped with anemometer readings in the 50's and 60's on a bad day, but thankfully very few will actually experience Force 10 or 11, when you would expect to see waves well in excess of 25-30 feet with many of them breaking. In most boats those would be dire conditions -- close to if not survival -- and you'd want a lot of searoom in which to manoeuvre.
John - that makes perfect sense. Thanks for the feedback. So do you think sheltered water provides a good opportunity to "push" skill level a bit in order to learn to handle the boat/sails in bigger wind without the sea-state "penalty" (at least part of the sailing equation)? That's kind of been my thinking in wanting to get out in winds that I probably wouldn't want to be out in otherwise.

BTW - I fired off a quick email to Beaufort, and he's cool with the whole lake-knot thing. He just said not to get too cocky around sea sailors when bragging about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 · (Edited)
Knot - great story, again, and on paper no less! I haven't seen that since like '87 or something. I was glad to see that the dog turned out to be a keeper.

BTW - I too am partial to a lady with a "rather large pilot-house".
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Dude - if hooking the dog and fiascoing gear engagement are as inept as you get - you're way ahead of the majority of us.

I'm just glad to see you finally learned how to type.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Okay - so from the preceding stories I have a few questions:

1. Sea Anchoring: What is the principle behind sea anchors - and at what point are they really needed? Don't get too technical here - just explain what the sailor is trying to achieve for us newbies - and the pros and cons of the various means. For example, Allen talks about drogues he was using, he also talks about sea chutes, etc. Then there have also been discussions about tandem anchors, etc. on this site. What's the skinny?

2. Sailing into the slip: How about some tips on this. I've been practicing heaving to in open water - but I'm not yet confident enough to sail in. One of the issues is that with our water down, there's a bottle neck in our marina that leaves maybe 8 feet on either side of our boat coming in/out (with boats on either side). Would that bother the salts out there? Or is that nothing? Giu - you need to get us a video of this (if you haven't already). They've been great tools.

3. The decision to fall off or beat in big wind and waves: When/how is this decision made? In other words, there's the comfort variable in choosing to beat or not in the world of daysailing (when you have the luxury to choose). But I assume that goes out the hatch pretty quickly in a storm. And I understand at some point that the wind and the sea will make the decision for you. But what about the in between. What drives the decision and how do you prepare?
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Cool - thanks Jody. Great explanations. Cogent and coherent, my good man!!

I was really lost on the drogue thing until you finally spoke some language I understand..."brakes on a trailer". Yeah - baby! So it's kind of like tying two dead pit bulls and a busted fridge to the back of my mobile home in a tornado. Got it.

Seriously - thanks. So what about the types of sea anchors - and the reasoning behind choosing one type over the other?

As for the slip sail. I'll work on it. I mean that's what my AIG boat insurance is for, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
if it's blowing at 45-50, and it's bigger than a loincloth, it's too big to control during a blow like that.. the good lord gaveth us storm sails for a reason..use them wisely! :)
Speaking of loincloths - are you a Deadhead? The name got me wondering. "Casey Jones you better watch yo speed". How perfect is that?
 
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