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Well well what a great 2 days of sailing we had, camped out on boat Saturday night on Matagorda bay, about 20 miles out, just short of the BIG jetties. We were about 3 miles from homeport headin in, when out of nowhere, and I do mean nowhere, northern front moved in and... I will tell you, it was a matter of 5 minutes or less, winds were 20-30 knots out of north. We did have a frontal system moving in , but wasnt forecast to arrive until 6 pm Sunday (this was at noon Sunday). It had different plans for us.
Beautiful skies, no cigar clouds approaching, a slight north wind that put us close hauled flying full sail and 130 jib at a blazing speed of 2-3 knots. We did not have time to douse the sails, BELIEVE me it does happen, all did within 5 minutes.. So here we were, mainsheet all the way out, main luffing wildly, jib was about to be ripped to shreds. had a very hard time furling jib in, but got it in first. (and jib did not get furled tight due to windy conditions,, will get to that part in a minute..hahaha). Now We had to get the main down, when all of a sudden my rudder swung over hard and snapped the radial stop on bottom of it, making the cable fall free from slot in radial.. NO WHEEL STEERING!!! AND the main was still up. I got the emergency tiller out and scrambled to keep boat heading into wind to no avail.. main sheet was all the way out , we heeled over at least 45 degrees and I looked at my wife and bro in law, my eyes were saying, "whether ya'll want to or not, we are gonna go swimmin'... BTW my bro in law is a stink potter, and wife is a newbie to sailing. I have sailed for 25 + years on and off, between wives, hahahahaha. ( newleyweds here) So anyways, Bro in law has to help me keeping bow headed up with tiller. We get it under into the wind, I tell them to lower the main. Well They did open up the retaining cleat from the lever being down to it being up, but they could not budge the main down at all. DUH... I had them come back to stern and I knew what the problem was,, The cam lever was not released all the way down So I had Gene (BRO IN LAW) take the wheel and I went and fully unlock the mainsheet. And lowered the main (very poorly due to gusts) of course. tried to motor, but the steering down to emergency tiller we couldnt keep headed up. So I decide kill the motor, drop the anchor, and ride it out.. This was about 1 pm now. laid out 75 feet of rode, it held well (mind you, bay is only 12 feet deep at highest at high tide. So I knew we had good rode.. So we decide to just ride it out, and low and behold the Jib started to unfurl.. Talk about a ride,, I went to bow and took me 1/2 hour to get jib tied back in place. Went back to tiller and tied it to aft cleats to keep it centered. Hour later the jib broke loose again. I always wondered why the previous owner, had all these bags of duct tape onboard?? So I get on bow again and 1/2 hour later I get it taped to roller furler. As I was finishing up jib, Gene greets me on the bow sliding on his butt, HANDING me a LIFE JACKET.. Yes I was dumb enough to go topside in 6-8 chop and 45 knot winds without a lifejacket. And yes I almost fell overboard twice.. My mistake,, VERY stoopid. Ya'll can chew me out good for that mistake I need it.!!!!!.. So anywaysssssssssss...
We were just sitting and riding it out, SNAP.... goes the anchor rope.. right after the telescoping boat hook goes overboard, Drifting towards 3 feet of shell shoal.... I say.. YANMAR dont let me down now.. Fired it up and made a record speed of 2 knots into 45 knot wind @ 2800 rpm. Yep the hunter 28 did good. problem now was my sunbrella/bimini, was HANGING 10 so to speak. We got the cover off and was heading home at 2 knots. Finally about 6 pm we pull into harbor, and were greeted at slip by 3-4 people, 1 of which as always has to be a smartass and say something like.." didnt ya'll watch the weather reports,?????" Typical know it all... I was gonna answer him and say.. " nope sure didnt !! We are just ole country hillbillies and cant even spell weather radio, cant watch the weather news cause we aint got no tv, heck we aint even got indoor plumbin'." But I guess my bro in law knows me well enuff to say " MARK lets go home" haha The other couple that greetd us was sporting a handheld, digital Wind meter. He showed me gusts ONSHORE of 46 knots. Needless to say we survived the stuff and I am very confident of the boat. I may question my self though on the life vest thing though. The boat looks like we were testing missles, inside and out at the dock where she sits today. (will tidy up tommorrow after resting today) So in summation, May I offer these few tips I have learned.
* Always grab the vest
* Lower canvas and lower early, ( it did gust, no warning , in 5 minutes)
* Chafe.... Anchor rope was riding on toe-rail. Carry rubber hose for chafe
* I guess give yourself 4-6 hours leeway on forecast fronts
* Teach your crew the sheets, etc what they do etc..
BTW on the radio, there was 3 PAN PANs' issued, 1 by a capsised CAT, another by a 23' stink pot taking on water, grounded at the rock jetties, and another was just concerned about their status in the gusts. So we werent alone. Hope they all made it in safe. thanks for letting me share this with ya'll on this VERY good forum
Mark and Karen
Palacios Texas
Hunter 28
"KAREN MARIE"
__________________
Marky Palcios Texas
1990 Hunter 28
 

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Great Story!

Glad you and yours made in back in. This is the stuff of great sailing stories...scary as heck when its going on, but then, back on land, you've got tales to tell and learning to absorb.

We've been there, sudden storm, mechanical problems. Sounds like you handled it ok!
 

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Mark—

I'd recommend you carry woven chafe protectors, like the velcro closure ones, instead of the hose ones. One major failure of nylon anchor, dock and mooring lines is due to internal friction causing heat and causing the damage to the nylon. Woven chafe protectors allow water through to cool and lubricate the nylon fibers... which help prevent that form of failure. :)

A tether and harness would have been a good idea, along with the PFD—especially since the boat probably could not have successfully recovered a COB given the problems with the rudder.

One thing that I applaud is the use of your anchor. Too many people forget that an anchor is a piece of safety gear, and deploying it can often give you breathing room when brown stuff hits the fan...and let you have a chance to fix things, or at least get them under control. Dropping the mainsail, when hanging on an anchor is relatively simple, since the boat is likely to be pointed head to wind. :) Unfortunately, it didn't work out so well in your particular case, due to chafe.

Another good thing you did was had the emergency tiller aboard and knew how it worked. I can't say how many people I've seen that have wheel-steered boats that don't carry their emergency tiller. Most emergency tillers have trouble in heavy winds, since they don't have the same amount of leverage that the wheel steering system does.

You did well...and I'm willing to bet you learned a lot that you're not going to forget anytime soon. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanx for the input. I will check into woven protectors.. at least My pride is not damaged as much as I thought it would be. if it happened at night That would have definately put it at a perfect "10" on the pucker scale..
 

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Telstar 28
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Glad to help... :D
 

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KMDudley, If I am not mistaken, your hunter has an Edson Steering system – wheel, standard (old style?) pedestal and a quadrant in the 12 inch range. How did the cable come off the quadrant again? Do you have a mechanical stop or wire cable stop on the quadrant? How much tension do you have on the cables? Were you able to fix the steering while underway or did you have to wait until getting back at your slip? I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and opinions. Congratulations, this trip definitely qualifies as a BFS (See the “Big Freakin’ Sails” thread).
 

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Well done, esp. with the tiller and deploying the anchor, both of which gave you something approaching breathing room with the jib, etc.

May I suggest that on a 28 footer, you consider reverting to a hank-on jib? Furlers are great and I have one on the big boat, but there's a limit to what some of them will endure, or what you can rectify with them once it really starts to blow. A jib for your boat isn't going to be hard to handle or to stow, and will come down in the worse wind via by hand or by downhaul, and will let you point higher. Most people find a No. 1 and a No. 3 enough for cruising.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay more confessions from me.. George, I do have a mechanical stop or I did, It was corroded on bottom of radial wheel and snapped off. I did replace the cable 3 weeks ago and somewhere ,I think on the Edson url , they said to not tension the cable too tight or you will loose the feel of the wheel. cable was too loose. yes I did repair it while anchored, and this time I have it good and tight not too much but it will stay put now.. As far as the stop I have one ordered from edson 40 usd well worth it..
 

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Lessons learned, well done.
As MMR said earlier, we've all been there; done that.
Don't know if you want any thoughts, but I thought I would share mine.
First thing I thought of when you said the Genny came unrolled is that it could have been secured with an extra piece of spare line. Simply take a spare piece of left over line and wrap it two or three times around the rolled up Genny and secure it. You might have to reach up high to get the bulk of the sail under the line, but on your boat I don't think it will be too high up, I have to reach just above my head. This should aide in keeping her in the rolled up position.
 

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km - great BFS dude! It's GREAT to finally see a Gulfie throw down some big sailing! I knew there had to be some salty dudes in the Gulf.

Sounds like you did a great job getting everyone back in one piece. Well done.

Also, I am hereby stealing this story and posting it in the BFS thread. When George nominates - you know you've got a BFS on your hands.
 

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Well thanx for the nomination for BFS. I just wanted to share this story for all to absorb.. i did take some pics of the action with my Nikon, but pics just dont do justice to what we were really going through.. in pics, the 6-8 trash, (not rollers) that was coming over the bow, looked like a small slight chop. So Aint even worth posting. have got a lot of good positive responses on the story and I appreciate all the input from everyone..Thanx ya'll
 

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kmdudly7 a great post!!! having gone through this gives you a lot of thoughts on what to do the next time. my most recent one was a couple years ago getting hit in a downburst on lake superior with main & jenny up. i swear it was at least 45 kn ! it gets really exciting while you get things taken care of. i didn't look at the instruments, but the water was really boiling past the hull as i went down wind to get the jenny rolled in, then started the yanmar & came about to get the main rolled down.
 

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Thanks for posting about your adventures. I'm glad it ended well for you.

I was wondering, given the suddenness of the wind picking up, and having no time to douse your jib or main, would heaving to have been another option?

I guess the amount of sea room would definitely be a factor. You did say you were being driven towards a 3' shoal. But if there was enough water, would heaving to have been a good strategy here?

I'm not second guessing, I just can see myself in similar straights.

Thanks
 

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Welsh - I've pondered the same thing when reading the Heavy Weather Sailing thread. Being so inexperienced - I honestly don't get heaving to in heavy weather. First - it seems you still have a great deal of sail up which, in 45 knots, is a bad idea based on what I've experienced. Second, you'll be making quite a bit of lee-way and would need to make sure you've got tons of sea room. Finally, doesn't this turn the boat beam-on to the waves?

I'm still trying to get my head around what proper heaving to looks like in 45+ knots and big waves.
 

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Welsh - I've pondered the same thing when reading the Heavy Weather Sailing thread. Being so inexperienced - I honestly don't get heaving to in heavy weather. First - it seems you still have a great deal of sail up which, in 45 knots, is a bad idea based on what I've experienced. Second, you'll be making quite a bit of lee-way and would need to make sure you've got tons of sea room. Finally, doesn't this turn the boat beam-on to the waves?

I'm still trying to get my head around what proper heaving to looks like in 45+ knots and big waves.
I am at least as inexperienced as you. I really like these kind of threads as I learn a lot about strategy from them.

I have practiced heaving to, although not in 45kn winds! You are right about the leeway, but I didn't find that it put me broadside to the waves - I think I would be about 20 - 30 degrees off the wind. This might change given stronger winds however. I thought that, as the sails were all up, and the OP was beating, it would have been a 'simple' (yeah right! as long as the steering mechanism didn't fail!) to turn into the wind and back the jib.

It seems as though the anchor was the best option in this particular scenario. I would like to hear if anyone would advise heaving to in 45 kn winds as long as you are surrounded by lots of water.

My boat is similar in size (26') with a furling jib, so I am very interested in any responses.
 

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I did think heaving to, but the cable broke as we were being broadsided by waves. Other than getting home alive, about all i could think of was keeping head to wind. If I did get into shallows, (i have 3' 10" wing keel) I was afraid we would be swamped and lose the boat. That 40-45 heel scared us a lot..this was my 3 rd time I rode out a storm in the last 20+ years and still scary, but think was the grand daddy of them. Dont want to do that again.
 

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Heaving to, without working steering, is really difficult on a lot of newer boats.
 
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