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Had a crappy sail today, learned a couple things.

It was very windy outside of Baltimore today. I went out by myself with about three hours of daylight left. I planned to try reefing my main, which I've never done before other than a quick trial in light air.

Here's how it went:

- Started to unfurl the genoa. I intended to keep that reefed too, but she snapped all the way out. With a sheet in one hand and the furling line in the other, I let go of the furling line to handle the sheet. Oops...furling line is too short (recently re-installed the furler) and now the bitter end is lying up on the foredeck.

- (By the way, I normally raise the main first, but today the wind was coming from a different direction and I was able to bring out the genny and secure the engine while still in the creek).

- After reaching some bigger water, I tried to come up into the wind a couple times to take air out of the genoa, but the wind just would not allow me to. By now we're really getting beat up.

- Started the motor, but with the tiller hard over and the motor at the highest RPM I was comfortable with, the wind would still not allow us to come up.

- Meanwhile, my genoa is beating itself up and--a new experience for me--the sheets have now knotted and twisted themselves together. Now I am unable to try my backup plan of jibing back toward shelter instead of heading up to handle the sail.

- I went forward to haul in the reefing line. I got 6 or 8 feet in when it jammed. Let it back out, tried again, jammed again.

- Did I mention that lee shore?

- Looked at the jammed furler, looked at the winch on my coachtop, remembered all the furler/winch stories I'd heard. Yelled some stuff at the wind, then at the boat, then hauled on the furling line until it started to furl again. Got the genoa put away.

- Oh yeah, the lee shore. Depth meter is reading the same depth I saw when I went aground in this area a while back. Under motor only, I try to turn directly into the wind and directly away from the shore, but she just won't do it. The wind wants to turn us broadside. I settle for about 45 degrees off the shore, and sight along some landmarks to confirm that I am inching away from the shore. INCHING.

- Finally saw some more depth under the keel and limped back into my creek.

- Never got the main up, thank God.



Things I learned:

- College football can be an alternative to a Saturday sail.

- My boat has limits beyond which it can't maneuver in wind. I'd have been fine in open water, but I wasn't in open water.

- The end of the furling line should reach the cockpit when the genoa is completely out. I knew this, of course, but it didn't really matter in the type of weather I'm usually out in, so I hadn't fixed it yet. Dumb mistake.

- If the genoa is flapping like crazy, I need to be able to keep the sheets from fouling each other. Any advice here?

- Give that lee shore lots and lots of extra space when it's blowing.

So basically today I emerged from shelter, floundered around for 45 minutes with only marginal control of my vessel, then crawled back home. I had considered inviting some people along today, and I'm REALLY glad I didn't! (None would have been helpful handling the boat, and probably would have been terrified).

OK, cheers then, I've got to go find a rocks glass...
 

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Scratchee,

Sometimes we learn the most from when we f-up the most. You survived so not so bad in any event.
Fall winds in cooler temperatures are stronger than the winds of 80F summer days. Trust me. Cooler air is more dense.
Next time reef the main first and then figure out how much genoa you want.
 

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Maybe have an anchor ready to deploy that would bring her head up and give you time to sort issues out.dont stress over your day it sounded like you learnt a lot and you did well to sort it all out.
 

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Putting the genoa up alone will cause a lee helm. It makes sense, if you think of the bow being pushed by the wind, with nothing on the stern to balance. This may be why you were having trouble rounding up at first.

However, are you saying you could not turn her into the wind under bare poles? Wind data at Patapsco says 25+kts yesterday afternoon. What motor/boat combo? Seems underpowered.
 

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How short is the Furling line? If the bitter end clears the last fairlead, maybe you could tie on some extra line, so it reaches the cockpit, until you are able to replace the whole length.
 

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It may have not been the most pleasurable outing, but it sounds highly successful with problems handled, lessons learned, a story to tell, and no bruises to body or boat.

Bonus: no friends or loved ones scared off from ever sailing with you again.
 

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I feel your pain, same thing happened to me about a month ago, went out into pax river, tried to head up to deploy the main and I couldn't. We keep going in circles, turn to port and the wind would push the bow to starboard, around we'd go, try to stop the spinning, no go. I started to worried about the bridge, and the other boat traffic, and was lucky to hail a guy and his wife coming out of the marina who pulled us back to out slip. NO FUN! I thought the 8hp diesel could handle a 6000# boat, found out different! Thinking about adding a outboard, till I can come up with money to upgrade the eng.
 

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Good you are safe and lessons learned. We went out in the same wind from Rock Creek yesterday. Saw stead 15 gusts to 28....one rouge on at 35.

We reefed in the slip.

Like Minnie said our boat doesn't work well on a jib only after we turned down wind, we shook out the reef and hit record speeds. Yesterday was very windy and a good sailing day, but not an easy one. Not a lot of relaxing, but lots of speed and excitement.

When I single hand or have inexperienced crew in big wind I stay very conservative about sail area.

Flying a big Benny yesterday would be difficult except down wind

Glad you are safe and sound
 

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Rule #1... Never, EVER "let go" of the furling line when rolling out the headsail... And, yeah, sounds like you definitely need to replace your furling line with one of sufficient length... :)

When I'm dealing with a furling jib singlehanded in a strong breeze, that's one situation where I'll always take the trouble to put on a pair of sailing gloves, for starters...

Permitting the headsail to 'snap open' like that is a common error, and probably the most common cause of a jam on the furling drum. I think the easiest way to guard against that, is to use a ratchet block as the final turning block in the fairleads back to the cockpit. They work best if placed fairly far aft, so that you get at least a 90 degree turn around the ratchet, to get a sufficient 'grip' on the line...

And, as far as trying to reef the main for the first time, you know you don't need a strong breeze to do that, right ? You might want to try it first in a lighter breeze, just to make sure everything is set up and working properly, before you need to do it 'in anger'...

Good on you for getting out there... The season will soon be winding down for many of us, and college or pro football is never a good alternative to sailing on a weekend...

Well, not until the playoffs, at any rate... :)
 

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That's unfortunate because we had one of the best sails of the season out of the Patapsco :)

Sounds like you need to adjust the furler so you have plenty of line left to wrap around a winch if needed, a stopper knot would also be a good idea. I wrap the furling line around a cleat once or twice to help it roll into the drum smoothly.

Sounds like you learned a lot, we've all been there before, I know I have. Yesterdays wind were probably not the best time for you to try and sail by yourself, it was blowing pretty good!

Don't give up though :)
 

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Glad you had fun! :)

That was a good trick to edge off the lee shore with the engine :)

3 hours of daylight left is too late because it means you had to hurry to get to the boat and you would have to hurry to do your sail. Hurrying is bad all round.

A genoa or jib should never be used by itself. The main should always be up and set correctly first.

If you had the main up and properly reefed you could have had any stuff up with the genoa but still been able to go up wind or tack.

Don't worry when a sail flogs a bit when things go wrong. Its not gunna rip apart.

When the sheets knot up together get both sheets to winches. The windward sheet to a windward winch often helps pop the knot out. But if it doesnt it gives you something nice and firm to hold onto while you go forward to sort it out.

With an engine that wont put you dead upwind in a squall you must, must, must have your main up the whole time even when motoring for an hour for fun.

When you get your longer furling line put a Figure of 8 knot in the end so the furling line can't escape its block and fly forward. Make sure you have Figure of 8 knots in all lines and sheets :) (except spinnaker sheets)


Mark
 

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Scratch,

We had a VERY similar sail late last season. As others have said, don't sweat it.. you didn't get hurt, you learned a few things, and you've found that you can exist outside your comfort level. Scary, not fun, but you can exist. No worries.

The biggest eye opener for us was probably the same one you had; our 8hp outboard was only able to keep us pointed into the wind at pretty much full throttle. I asked my wife to keep the boat pointed into the wind (we were at about half throttle) while I went to the mast to hoist the main. The wind spun us around like a cork while I was at the mast; tore the tiller right out of her hands and I did some serious mast-hugging. Scared the crap out of both of us. We, too, survived.

Power for steerage (better too much than too little) was our major lesson for the day. It sounds like you simply don't have enough power on our boat for fighting the wind with just your engine. As Mark said and we've learned, getting the main up first is usually a good idea. Others in our marina have suggested to me that you can sail with just a working jib on windy days, but I've never tried it.. it seems like it'd push your bow off the wind constantly without the balance of the main present. On the other hand, I don't know much... :)

Hang in there. Glad you're OK.

Barry
 

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I personally prefer a double overhand knot to a figure 8 as a stopper knot. I find them much less likely to come undone, which may very well be what happened to the OP. Then again, it seems the furling line was simply too short anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the support everyone!

I wonder if some of you locals saw me. I'm also out of Rock Creek, and did see one other boat heading in around 4:30 or so, looking fine under two sails.

Interesting point about being under-powered. I don't think I am, with a 30hp A-4 on a 27 foot boat. However, my prop was noticeably fouled (in my experience, barnacles) yesterday. This reduces thrust and probably did cause me to effectively be under-powered for this outing. Furthermore, I have seen in the past that when my prop is fouled the prop walk is significantly increased. When I was fighting to get offshore, this would have had the effect of turning me toward shore while my rudder was trying to steer us offshore.

Regarding the furling line: it is long enough, but too much of it is wound onto the drum. This was my mistake from re-assembling after replacing my standing rigging earlier this summer. The few times that I've been out since then, it didn't make too much difference because the weather was nice and I could easily go forward to grab it. Settling for that setup in yesterday's weather was a lapse in judgment for sure.

JonEisberg said:
Permitting the headsail to 'snap open' like that is a common error, and probably the most common cause of a jam on the furling drum.
Ah, that's good to know. I will definitely keep that in mind. On the way back yesterday I made a mental note to contact my old sailor friend Tom. A few years ago when I told him about the boat I was thinking of buying, he responded with one line: "A roller furler will eventually jam in a blow."

Maybe have an anchor ready to deploy that would bring her head up and give you time to sort issues out.
Yeah, that was in my bag of tricks! Didn't need to do that, fortunately.

Cheers everyone!
 

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- Started to unfurl the genoa. I intended to keep that reefed too, but she snapped all the way out. With a sheet in one hand and the furling line in the other, I let go of the furling line to handle the sheet. Oops...furling line is too short (recently re-installed the furler) and now the bitter end is lying up on the foredeck.

- (By the way, I normally raise the main first, but today the wind was coming from a different direction and I was able to bring out the genny and secure the engine while still in the creek).
Am I the only one here who thinks that standard procedure is always "main up first" for exactly this reason - you don't want to be stuck with a lee helm and no way to come into irons?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Zed, for me the normal procedure is to come into the wind, raise the main, then unfurl the jib. Occasionally I will sail under jib alone if I'm just doing a quick leisurely sail. This works fine in light air, and does not create the problems you describe.

And sometimes, the wind is from such a direction that I can unfurl the jib and sail out of my creek (instead of motoring), under jib alone and with the motor off, as a special treat. This mindset of sailing out when possible is what led me to select an unworkable plan yesterday.
 

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Scratch, I guess the key is knowing how much wind you have - wasn't so clear from your initial writeup.

And obviously you weren't looking for your furling setup to go fubar :)

Sounds like you handled it well and learned a thing or two. I had plenty of learning experiences - including a somewhat similar one, trying to sail with only jib and main but no mizzen the first time I was out (brought the wrong bag, had the storm jib & mizzen switched). Same kind of thing: couldn't get thru the wind for the life of me. Was lucky not to get into any trouble.
 

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You guys are always so nice to people that put themselves and their boat in danger. I don't get it :confused:

Not having the mainsail up in those conditions could have been a fatal flaw and something even the most inexperienced sailor would/should have known.

If the wind blows like that here, I double reef the main before even leaving the dock, as it's easier to shake a reef out than put one in especially in close quarters with a lee-shore present...:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
AZguy, you are very kind to be concerned for my safety! In my area, the greatest danger I faced was getting stuck in the mud with a frown on my face.

Another factor relating to my decisions yesterday is that the creek where I keep my boat (really a small river) is well protected. As I stated earlier, I occasionally sail out of the creek under jib alone (there's not really enough room to put the main up singlehanded). Only after emerging from the creek did it become clear how strong the wind was. So what did I do? I dealt with it, overcame some trouble, and returned home.

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Also AZguy, thanks for the advice about reefing at the dock (as I think somebody else had mentioned also). I'll definitely give that a try next time. One reason I never got the main up is that it would have just been too hard with everything else that was going on. Having the reef set already might have enabled me to raise it quickly.
 
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