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Hunter 386
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Big fan of learning on small boats. Beach cats and dinghy's will conquer fear of keel boats.
I'm gonna disagree with this one. It might be so for some people but there is a whole lot of weight (physically and psychically) attached to a bigger keelboat. I can capsize a laser all day with a smile on my face but sitting on the windward side of our boat with the rail 6 inches above the water is in no way the same experience.

We've learned not to sail in anything over 10 knots the first day we are back on board (we are usually away from the boat 8-10 months at a time). A couple of days and the nerves settle in and we are back to sailing in 15-20. But I have to say we still can't get over gusts. A 20 knot gust in 15 knots scares the crap out of me (us). Every. Single. Time.
 

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Get an inclinometer, the angle of heel isn't as great as it feels, it starts getting hard to move about upright at much lesser angles than you'd think.
 

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But I have to say we still can't get over gusts. A 20 knot gust in 15 knots scares the crap out of me (us). Every. Single. Time.
Something is wrong with that. Sailing must be fun, not scary. Realize that you control the boat completely. Even in those gusts. I must assume that it is when you are sailing upwind that the gusts cause fear, because sailing off the wind gusts just make you go faster. Either way you need to learn to aggressively feather the helm (point the boat briefly more into the wind) for the duration of the gust. You can see the gust coming by looking at the rougher water ahead of you. Off the wind just let your sails out and/or also head up slightly to spill air. (I am assuming you are already adept at reefing and flattening your sails). I especially enjoy gusty conditions that require feathering the helm. Of course always be prepared to quickly release the sheet(s) if you get broadsided by a freak gust. It works. Fear not!

-Doug
 

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One other thing to add to the logic that the boat won't "tip over". As you heel over, the effect of the keel becomes greater (the lever arm is longer when heeled), AND the sail area exposed to the wind decreases. As long as there are minimal waves, and there isn't water flooding in, a keelboat will not be capsized by wind.

I was going to mention this, also. Two easy ways to demonstrate it to people - tape a good-sized nut to one end of a pencil. to represent the ballast. Pivot it in your fingers and watch how it takes more and more force to heel the pencil as the angle increases. Another one I've done is to have someone climb onto the boat and stand on the edge. The boat will immediately heel a bit. Have a couple more people join the first one. The boat will heel a bit more, but not proportional to the added weight. That's the effect of the leverage of the keel as the angle increases.

Although I started out as a kid racing dinghies aqnd scows, they aren't a good way to learn about the physics of heel in a keelboat. In both, the effective sail area is reduced when the angle of heel increases, becoming effectively zero at 80 degrees or so. But in the keellboat, at that 80 degrees, you have maximum righting moment from the keel, and in the dinghy or cat you have essentially zero righting moment, no matter how many people are on the edge.
 

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Bluescruiser
Hinckley Bermuda 40
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In the old days (before roller furling) working jibs- that is, a jib with no overlap, or one whose foot more or less equaled the base of the fore triangle (also called “ j” measurement) were a lot more commonly used than today. Sails were selected based on local wind conditions of the moment. Since roller furling has become almost universal, genoa sails are almost always used. Meaning, boats are more often over-canvassed, particularly since most roller furled sails are inefficient partly rolled up. In windy conditions above 18 knots, dropping the main is often not much of a help because to get the boat to point satisfactorily going to weather requires sheeting in- increasing the likelihood of excessive heel, especially in puffs.
If there is any way you can set a true working jib- not a genoa rolled to working jib size- you will probably have fewer nerve-racking moments. I recall the feeling well- it took a while to realize that the boat could take more than I could.
 

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Hunter 386
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I have been informed by some nameless, faceless administrator that my comment: "Man up or get out." was removed because "...it was not helpful." Given the myriad truly unhelpful posts permeating this entire forum, the irony cannot be lost upon the readership.
There will be many who find my comment both helpful and pertinent. Taking a vessel loaded with friends and/or loved ones out to the open ocean is no small feat, requiring a definitive mindset where fear must both be acknowledged AND conquered. To say that my comment is unhelpful is both incorrect and disingenuous.
Actually I found it asinine and borderline offensive — but each to his own.
 

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Actually I found it asinine and borderline offensive — but each to his own.
'Tis true, to each their own; but dead men tell no tales. Nor can they be offended.
Safety on the water with friends and loved ones onboard is a non-negotiable; for me, anyway.
But to each his own, right?
 

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I haven't yet needed a penis to sail the boat, but maybe others here can tell me how this appendage can be used in short-handed sailing. Can it hold the helm while I adjust the main in a gust, perhaps?

In all seriousness this whole thread is about acknowledging fear and how to manage it, understanding when it is rational (inexperience should make you nervous) and when it needs to be put aside and how to do so. It's a useful discussion for safety reasons. But also, sailing is supposed to be fun! If heeling the boat gets in the way of your fun instead of adding to it, this isn't a hard call: reef early, let out the main in a puff, feather the helm into the wind. Lots of sailors aren't happy unless the boat is heeling 30 degrees but it's fine to be a sailor who dislikes it, an entire catamaran market exists in no small part because many sailors (and more passengers) don't like heeling.
 

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<Sigh>
Let's be perfectly clear, since speaking rhetorically is so heavily dissected these days.

I commend the OP for the courage & wherewithal to seek counsel. That revealed intellect sufficient to appreciate the bluntness of my message. IE, do whatever it takes to get over your fear for the sake of you and everyone onboard as quickly as humanly possible no matter what it will take. Lives are at stake.

My bad for deciding to use a mere 5 words in the 1st place to say the exact same thing. When there's a fire you yell "FIRE!" & don't offer verbose explanations why you should leave the building.

Is that better?

Fair winds, following seas, and peace ☮ out.
 

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Laguna Windrose 18 swing keel
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In the old days (before roller furling) working jibs- that is, a jib with no overlap, or one whose foot more or less equaled the base of the fore triangle (also called “ j” measurement) were a lot more commonly used than today. Sails were selected based on local wind conditions of the moment. Since roller furling has become almost universal, genoa sails are almost always used. Meaning, boats are more often over-canvassed, particularly since most roller furled sails are inefficient partly rolled up. In windy conditions above 18 knots, dropping the main is often not much of a help because to get the boat to point satisfactorily going to weather requires sheeting in- increasing the likelihood of excessive heel, especially in puffs.
If there is any way you can set a true working jib- not a genoa rolled to working jib size- you will probably have fewer nerve-racking moments. I recall the feeling well- it took a while to realize that the boat could take more than I could.
This is great advice. I got blown way over (probably only 45 degrees) on my very first sail. I take the Genoa off and set the 95% jib. With the main reefed and the jib it helps me feel so much better. Also, the more I think about it, the high freeboards are probably making it worse.
 

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Everyone told my mate, once you get in heavy seas - that wont bother you anymore. Well, thats not very helpful. One night, a couple yrs later, se got into heavy seas where the waves were above the spreaderbars. Wave intervals were only two seconds. Thankfully, we were 50 miles offshore so we could sails the wind and not the course.

Getting away from land is key to surviving. Surviving means staying away from land when in heavy weather.

My mantra had always been in the form of a question - What does the boat do? It floats.

Every time we went out, I asked, what does the boat do? And I made sure I got the correct answer. This kind of drills the fact that the boat floats into the subconscious.

Of course, now that shes been in triple overhead seas, a bit of healing doesnt bother her.

Remember to shorten or change sails early. This will make the boat behave like youre in 15knot winds, even though the sea may be raging all around you. Reefing about 18knots, depending on the boat. I always reef at night.

And remember, what does the boat do? IT FLOATS.

One of the best tools in your box is heaving too. Learn it. Watch the magic of how heaving too becalms the sea around your vessel.
 

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Lox, I have another suggestion: search Youtube with your boat make/model and insert "rough seas". If there are no postings with your make/model, then just spend some time watching the many videos provided for "sailing rough seas". You will see several boat sizes bobbing-around, heeling and not capsizing. There is a video of a couple in a 40ish Hunter crossing the Atlantic in 35kn+ winds and they set the autopilot and bunker down in the cabin. I for one would worry about a autopilot malfunction and probably try to remain at the helm, but to each his own. After watching sme of the videos, you might have a better perspective. Good luck!
 

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I have been informed by some nameless, faceless administrator that my comment: "Man up or get out." was removed because "...it was not helpful." Given the myriad truly unhelpful posts permeating this entire forum, the irony cannot be lost upon the readership.
There will be many who find my comment both helpful and pertinent. Taking a vessel loaded with friends and/or loved ones out to the open ocean is no small feat, requiring a definitive mindset where fear must both be acknowledged AND conquered. To say that my comment is unhelpful is both incorrect and disingenuous.
The wording might have been off.

But back in post 19 I suggested learning the envelope of the boat. You can't control the weather, so being a seaman requires understanding how to get the most out of a boat in all conditions, and that comes from understanding the edges. For example, beating off a lee shore may well involve carrying as much (reefed) sail as reasonable and pushing quite hard.

Also the title of the thread was about getting past fear. In this case, since the boat will not capsize (ballast) the fear is false, the OP knows this, and wants to get better. Telling him to avoid wind and reef early does not address the whole problem. One of the steps for getting better is exploring the envelope in controlled conditions. Better to learn what it feels like, and grow to understand how the boat handles it, in calm waters with crew, than during the aproach of a storm.

Or never sail if more than 10 knots is forecast. But that is saddening, so much is lost.

So I'm not saying "man up," I'm saying practice in a safe setting until you know all the boat can do.

BTW, this is even more true with multihulls.
 

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I'm gonna disagree with this one. It might be so for some people but there is a whole lot of weight (physically and psychically) attached to a bigger keelboat. I can capsize a laser all day with a smile on my face but sitting on the windward side of our boat with the rail 6 inches above the water is in no way the same experience.

We've learned not to sail in anything over 10 knots the first day we are back on board (we are usually away from the boat 8-10 months at a time). A couple of days and the nerves settle in and we are back to sailing in 15-20. But I have to say we still can't get over gusts. A 20 knot gust in 15 knots scares the crap out of me (us). Every. Single. Time.
Can you capsize a Tornado or a Pathfinder all day long with a smile on your face, or does the smile start to fade when the boat just won't right for you... :) ?

IDK, keel boat sailing puts me to sleep, I have owned keel boats up to 24000 pounds and skippered much bigger. Gust blows, boat heels over 9 times out of 10 auto keeps steering gust stops and the boat comes back up to level. I haven't even put down my sandwich and and pink grapefruit Perrier :D

Also, with keel boats, that crutch of the inboard engine is ever present. Unless racing or doing an ocean crossing, it takes discipline to keep sailing when conditions get hard. Not so with a beach cat or dinghy. If you want to reach your destination, best to keep sailing no matter how windy it is or is not.
 

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With my Mods hat on: Let me remind people that we do have forum rules and sexism is on the current outter. Showing a lack of compassion to a psychological need is also been proved to be unhelpful to those suffering.

Finally, I just looked in the mirror and my clearly saw my facelessness.

Mark
 
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