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· baDumbumbum
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Our trip to Catalina Island included what was, for us, a completely new experience: very light winds (<3kts true) and the usual Pacific swell. As inland lake sailors, we are used to linear relation between wind speed and sea state, and I frankly didn't handle the wallowing, slatting, and drifting very well.

Okay ... it drove me flat-out insane. Our SJ21 is a marvelous light-air boat, but we simply could not keep the sails inflated on most headings. Trying to run down from Two Harbors to Avalon was the worst. We'd catch a puff, the boat would accelerate, apparent wind would drop to zero, and SLAT ... SLAT ... SLAT. Couldn't even keep the spi from collapsing for same reason. It would backwind as each swell picked up our counter. Eventually made it there by jibing thru nearly 90 degrees: broad reaching moved the apparent just far enuf forward to keep the sails semi-filled. But God, it took forever and was way too much work.

Upwind, we could milk the apparent as long as we were willing to accept lower pointing angles, but the swell would likewise cause the boom to swing, and if we sheeted hard to control that, we'd flatten our main too much and screech to a halt (no traveler).

So what are your tricks (on each various heading) for keeping the boat moving when the swell is stronger than the winds? How do you set your sails, course, sheets, etc? Don't say 'fire up the damn motor' -- that's cheating.;)

(BTW, our trip also included 25 kts and short-period chop running 90 degrees to the swell ... but that at least made sense....:eek:)
 

· baDumbumbum
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
*checks name of website is SailNet*

There was a pretty 42ish-foot erstwhile sailboat moored in Desconso Bay that had been converted to a powercruizer -- mast removed, semi-permanent awning over the cockpit. Most of the sailboats at Catalina could undergo the same surgery without anybody noticing.

Four sailboats out of five were either motoring or motorsailing regardless of the wind. Motorsailing needlessly & incompetently, may I add. We beat up from Avalon to Two Harbors in perfect 10 kt west winds, averaging 5 kts on a bowline; it was hands down the finest day of sailing in my life, distilled joy, the sort of day any sailor lives for. We passed a 35 footer heading down to Avalon -- under power, no headsail, but with his main up and sheeted to a close reach. The swell+following breeze was causing his boom to jibe back and forth about 6 feet -- and his bow to plunge violently around. Boat was barely under control. I said, We may be about to see the world's first Motorized Death Roll.:rolleyes:

So let's pretend that our motor isn't very reliable, or that we don't want to rebuild it every two seasons -- or that it's sixty years ago when most sailboats didn't have motors and yet Catalina Island's harbors hosted many dozens of them. Let's pretend, that is, that we are sailors. How would sailors deal with light winds combined with goodly-sized waves?
 

· baDumbumbum
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oh, it's not that I'm a purist so much; our electric trolling auxilliary takes motoring off the table. It's that "Fire up the engine" is the obvious -- and therefore completely uninteresting -- response. I have no idea what among the following ideas would help and what wouldn't, and most I only came up with after the fact ... but a discussion of these or other tactics might actually improve everyone's sailing knowledge:

1. Induced heel. Twenty degrees or more? Move ballast in boat?

2. Full-batten mains: better or worse? Should we drop the main and add pre-load to the battens?

3. The 0.5oz nylon Drifter: why it is your friend. Design, attachment options, and use.

4. Best TWAs; ways to make apparent wind angles work for you.

5. How to present bow or stern to waves to optimize performance. Swell vs. chop.

6. Active sheeting, sail pumping, rudder sculling, hull rocking.

7. Best mast rake; shroud & stay tension; sail draft adjustments.

8. Fake up a traveler. Shorten topping lift and sheet down hard to stabilize boom without flattening main. Rig similar topping lift to jib clew. Bungees, preventers, corn starch, weights hung from reefing points....

9. How to work a symmetrical spinnaker in these conditions, from beam reach to DDW.
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See? There seems plenty of room for trying stuff. Perhaps it's all crap and the choices indeed boil down to "Suffer, Motor." Perhaps, tho, there are clever and arcane methods of eking motion out of nothing. Sailing is about cleverness, arcana, negotiating passage, doing things the hard way ... isn't it? :confused: Or are we secretly just powerboaters with pretensions?:(
 
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