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Old 21-08-2015, 09:54   #16
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Reschedule. The sailing is going to be a bit intimidating, but nothing like trying to manuever a 35 ft boat on and off the dock if you are not more experienced.
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:03   #17
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Don has a point I hadn't considered being departure and arrival. I have no idea how your marina is arranged or located. But it is something to consider.

In my slip if there is goodly breeze out of the south it's almost impossible to leave. Of course it doesn't help that the slip is VERY narrow. I only have a bit more than a foot of clearance on each side.


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Old 21-08-2015, 10:41   #18
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

You'll only hurt the boat or yourself if you go too close to any hard stuff: Submerged rocks, other boats, docks... But you can't avoid doing that as you leave your marina slip and come back to it.

I'm in a very tight slip myself, and the solution is to "warp" the boat out of the slip, i.e. handle the boat on lines taken to shore to control her in her own slip and past the adjoining slips until I'm clear of them and in the harbour basin proper. Tough if you are single handing, but there is usually people in the marina who are glad to help. Good way to make friends as long as you don't bend THEIR boats :-)

Marina staff will help you come safely alongside if you radio the marina while you are approaching.

As for the gusts: Not many of us have not been caught by a gust and found ourselves over-canvassed. A well-designed and well-trimmed boat will automatically "bear up", i.e turn towards the wind if you let the tiller go. Wheel steered boats no so much, so I don't like wheels in boats under, say, five and thirty feet. "Bearing up", so the sails luff, automatically takes the pressure out of the sails and the boat will get back up on her feet. If you NEED to do bear up (or, rather, WHEN you need to do that) it's high time to reef. You shoulda done it before, but as long as you don't panic you can do it soon as the gust passes. Remember: One hand for YOU and the other for the ship!

Many, many years ago I crossed the 26 NM of the Straits of Georgia, single-handed in 25 knots and gusting while I had the worst case of Katzenjammer I ever had, and therefore so seasick that I was basically incapacitated forty minutes out of the hour. Couldn't reef - woulda been washed off the deck if I'd tried. Handled it by luffing up and hanging tight. The passage of six and twenty miles took me over twelve hours, but no real danger. Just unpleasant.

So go have some fun. Just keep your feet warm and your head cool :-)!

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Old 21-08-2015, 10:59   #19
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

I don't know what the forecasts are like in general where you are at, but the ones around here generally are conservative, i.e. they forecast higher winds than you will usually expect. But sometimes they are correct too. You just never know. They can miss it completely the other way too and the winds might be much stronger. We would definitely go out in that forecast but be ready to reef. If we didn't we would never get out. But we always do our own weather check based on our own experiences. If it looks like it will blow hard, it may well do, regardless of the "official" forecast.

When in doubt I will check with multiple sources of forecasts, e.g. PredictWind app, local news, wunderweather.com (in US and some other countries), etc.

Steady 20 kts may get a little exciting for you if you are just learning how to handle a larger boat, but the boat will handle it fine. Reef the jib and the main and you'll be fine. And pay attention to bodies of water with lots of fetch as the waves/chop will be worse there. It is much different in protected waters or near shore if the wind is offshore.

You'll get the hang of it with practice. Don't be afraid to pack it in and return if it is too much for you and/or crew. No need to get really spooked just after you got a bigger boat. We went through the same thing you are doing. Now, if it looks like it will be blowing harder than we care for, we wait a day. We might be fine in it, but just don't want to fight it sometimes.
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Old 21-08-2015, 11:07   #20
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Thanks for all the replies, lots of good advice. I was a little concerned about the docking to begin with, but during the classes I did really well in the practice sessions -- with light winds, though. It sounds like the charter company has a 'docking procedure' to go over, so presumably they are prepared to deal with people who are not full-time boaters bringing rented boats in and out of the dock. I will ask for their advice before we leave.
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Old 21-08-2015, 11:34   #21
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

I have been following this discussion and enjoyed reading the other comments from some very experienced sailors and cruisers. Lots of good points above this post.

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TO the OP:

To paraphrase a famous line in a song by the Blue Oyster Cult: "Don't Fear the Reefer."

1. The only way to gain confidence in wind conditions like this is to actually sail in them. Do not avoid them. I suggest you seize the opportunity to learn and practice and gain experience and skills in these higher than average (for your location) winds.

2. If you feel you are not ready for this, hire an instructor to go with you. Get them to help you or show you what needs to be done in winds like this.

3. If you feel that at this time you and your spouse (assuming you are a couple) do not feel you can handle the "bigger boat" in those winds, you should consider taking along two or more "crew" or friends to assist you. They could help on the reefing (on a typical boat) and with leaving the marina and docking the boat.

4. If you intend to do this as a "double handed sail" with just you two people aboard, then prepare, talk through the steps you both need to take, and practice. Then switch roles.

You can practice reefing procedures at the dock without leaving your slip. Just don't raise the sail all the way. Simply walk through (and use your hands and actually walk through) the steps that each person takes. Do it several times to memorize it.

The worst thing to do is let only one member of the two person crew know what to do.

BOTH should know and BOTH should feel confident at the helm or at the mast. IF you are not BOTH confident, then take that on as the lesson for the outing and raise your confidence level by practice.

Have fun sailing!
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Old 21-08-2015, 11:48   #22
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steady Hand View Post
I have been following this discussion and enjoyed reading the other comments from some very experienced sailors and cruisers. Lots of good points above this post.

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TO the OP:

To paraphrase a famous line in a song by the Blue Oyster Cult: "Don't Fear the Reefer."

1. The only way to gain confidence in wind conditions like this is to actually sail in them. Do not avoid them. I suggest you seize the opportunity to learn and practice and gain experience and skills in these higher than average (for your location) winds.

2. If you feel you are not ready for this, hire an instructor to go with you. Get them to help you or show you what needs to be done in winds like this.

3. If you feel that at this time you and your spouse (assuming you are a couple) do not feel you can handle the "bigger boat" in those winds, you should consider taking along two or more "crew" or friends to assist you. They could help on the reefing (on a typical boat) and with leaving the marina and docking the boat.

4. If you intend to do this as a "double handed sail" with just you two people aboard, then prepare, talk through the steps you both need to take, and practice. Then switch roles.

You can practice reefing procedures at the dock without leaving your slip. Just don't raise the sail all the way. Simply walk through (and use your hands and actually walk through) the steps that each person takes. Do it several times to memorize it.

The worst thing to do is let only one member of the two person crew know what to do.

BOTH should know and BOTH should feel confident at the helm or at the mast. IF you are not BOTH confident, then take that on as the lesson for the outing and raise your confidence level by practice.

Have fun sailing!
Steady makes a good point above, having many hands makes things a lot easier.

If its just my wife and I, we tend to sail very conservatively, as two could almost be considered the minimum crew for a C&C 35 (yes, I know they can be single handed).

Just break down tacking on a boat with a wheel and an 11 foot beam. Skipper at the wheel, crew 1 on the leeward jib sheet, crew 2 on the windward sheet- behold we're already at 3 people and nothing has even gone wrong yet!

So bringing a friend or two might help, even if they aren't sailing wizards.

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Old 21-08-2015, 12:11   #23
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Lots of great info. Particularly reefing more than you think you might have to and do it at the dock.

You can arrange for help getting on and off the dock. Ask people to watch for five minutes in case you decide to come back.

Close all the ports so the interior doesn't get soaked.

Close toilet seacocks so when heeling the water doesn't flood the head.

Make sure ALL lines are tight and secured. Many boaters (not the boat) get in trouble during high winds because lines go overboard and get in the prop. Leave nothing on deck or even in the cockpit that you don't need.

Have confidence in the boat. It won't sink.
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Old 21-08-2015, 12:13   #24
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Look at the wind and water when you get down there. If it's roiling and blowing hard I would avoid it your first time out. If it's a nice day go out.
Then just make sure the reef lines are led and that you are familiar with how to reef. Do it at the dock maybe, practice it. And remember the cardinal rule: If you are thinking about whether or not to reef you already should have!
If it starts blowing when you are out there, then you will be more used to the boat by then hopefully. Often winds pickup in the afternoon. Depends though on if it's a front or normal wind situation.
Just think ahead, be mindful of lee shores etc. Have fun!
BTW: I've chartered two boats that had no reef lines led at all when I got the boat.
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Old 21-08-2015, 12:18   #25
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Regarding Tacking by Double Handed Crew (a couple sailing):

If the sail trimming/winching (grinding) is too much (tiring), I suggest:

1. They switch roles

2. They can get a cordless power drill with appropriate fitting to make their primary winches "instant electric" winches.
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Old 21-08-2015, 12:20   #26
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Lots of good advice already but sailboats are options waiting to be discovered.

First off, if motoring from the dock seems actually dangerous, it's already time to hit the bar and watch the whitecaps pass by as the umbrella blows out of your rum runner....

High winds are what challenges sailors and experienced sailors live for. Some of us are crazy enough to go out in 14' O'Day's at the tail end of a hurricane, but that's not for beginners.

I hate engines. I only use engines leaving a dock on rivers because the current can push a boat faster than the wind and you irreverently lose that battle every time. As soon as possible, I often sail on the jib out of anchorage, since it's easier to set solo and easier to tend overall. If wind is a problem, roller furling partially to find the sweet spot that yields forward momentum in any wind and prevents passengers from losing their lunch works just fine. Sailing on the jib is good practice, for those days you just ripped your main and would prefer to take it down for mending rather than destroy it totally.

On the main, I've actually never reefed a sail, despite conditions. Spilling wind up to 95% just means you're in conditions you should not be in and it's time to drop sails OR it's FREAKIN GREAT, novices need not apply!!!!

The main is complicated. Reefing a main or changing a headsail in high winds is actually potentially deadly and should never be a 'I wish I'd done this sooner' event. Dousing/resetting sails are actions you prepare for AHEAD of conditions, not as an afterthought. I AND another sailor were nearly blown off the bow of a 54' ketch when the owner was in 1-4 knot winds and had a 120% genny on and declined to take down the headsail BEFORE we sailed into harbor CLEARLY seen with binoculars beyond Small Craft Advisory conditions (Gale Warning), where EVERY sailboat was pitched at 45 degrees.

In any conditions, you can always duck, let all sails fly free, head into the wind, collect your thoughts, start the engine, point her into the wind, safely douse all sails, and turn the boat wherever you'd like to go (short of a hurricane) and head for home. WAY more important in this scenario is 1) did you REALLY check the engine status before you went out and 2) do you REALLY have enough fuel to get home. It's a sinking feeling to be 1/2 mile out, out of gas/diesel, and realize your going home under sail in a gale. It's an even WORSE feeling to realize 1/2 your guests are suffering heat exposure, your out of drinks, the wind totally died, and your going to have to hail call for a power boater to tow you in or face a medical emergency.

Any complement of sails has a storm sail. Setting a storm sail for rigging before the storm ensures safe passage home. If conditions are picking up, fine. So be it. Set enough sail to be comfortable and plan your backup actions before you go for when things go wrong. They always do. It's not what happens to you, it's how you respond.

SO.....

planning.....

My first thought would be safety gear inventory
My second thought would be life vests
My third thought would be a last chance trip line. That's 100' line prepositioned in the cockpit you throw behind the boat clear of harbor. If anyone goes over, they have 100' to grab and you have an easier recovery
My 1st actual action would be to file a float plan w/the USCG. You should start out right. That includes the plans on when/who/how you check in. It's WAY better to hear 'it's pretty rough out here but we're dealing w/it Okay' then overdue dead silence followed by darkness and worry.
My second actual action would be checking all stowage aboard, standard stuff.
Radio check, frequencies set. portable radio that floats on my hip.
In severe conditions, every person has a handheld signal device on their person. I'd rather live with their fear than live w/the consequence of losing sight of them in a sea state 3.

Finally, underway, my first clear maneuver is to ALWAYS teach everyone to take over and pull off a man overboard drill. They don't need to be good at it, they just need to stop my boat from running away from me while I'm treading water. Fortunately, I likely already would have the last trip line.

It's all truly serious stuff. Remember, have fun. I'm not kidding. When storms come up the single most important factor is the captain exudes calm. You panic, they panic, and it's all over. Either you make it back safe and they never go out with you again, or you don't and it all ends badly. My rule is simple. The bigger the wind and waves, the bigger my smile. I've literally been in storms with women and children screaming in fear and tears and knew I was in desperate shape if I didn't keep focus on the physics...and the fuel... always the fuel...

That's a worst case scenario. Likely you'll go out, spill the wind a bit too late a few times, come into the wind a few times too many, and tip a bit more than you're comfortable with. The goal in high gusting winds is to keep to the course you've set and to set courses you can keep. Do that, despite mother nature's fury, and you collect what us old guys call 'an experience'.

keep sailing. Life is lived best at the foot of a mountain or the edge of a sea...
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Old 21-08-2015, 12:24   #27
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

I looked at SailFlow for this weekend in Mississippi and other than around a possible storm, I don't see any high winds. Just go have a good time and be conservative with the sail amount you put out until you get comfortable with the boat. A 35 foot boat is not anything like a Hobi.

Have fun!


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Old 21-08-2015, 12:39   #28
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

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Originally Posted by J Clark H356 View Post
I looked at SailFlow for this weekend in Mississippi and other than around a possible storm, I don't see any high winds. Just go have a good time and be conservative with the sail amount you put out until you get comfortable with the boat. A 35 foot boat is not anything like a Hobi.

Have fun!


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He said lake ON the Mississippi. He's way up north.

It confused me as well (until I reread it) where he said only lake. I was thinking state where I raced in 2-3 different lakes.
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Old 21-08-2015, 12:48   #29
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

This may seem obvious but a sailboat will align itself stern to the wind (with the sails down, of course). You have amazing control backing into the wind. Seen so many boats pull into a slip in heavy winds bow first and have the bow blow off and hit the dock or another boat.
Practice docking. Don't worry about feeling like a fool. Do it over and over again until you get the hang of it. Set up a spring, of the proper length, amidship so that you can tie that one line and it holds the boat when in idle forward.
Try to think 5 steps ahead and get the feel of how far the boat will move through the water when in neutral. You don't use reverse is landed right. Stop the boat with the dock lines.
Be wary of throwing lines to people on the dock. More times than not it will cause problems if they don't know what they are doing.
Have fun. Enjoyed other comments.
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Old 21-08-2015, 14:22   #30
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

When I first read the OP and wrote my reply I was thinking of out on the water after leaving the dock. But after rereading the other replies and the OP's last post I realized what should have been obvious. Getting in and out of a slip and a marina is the most hazardous and scary part of it all. Our latest boat is still new to us. It is absolutely secure out on the water in almost any conditions (if we follow proper procedures etc) but I am freaked out about leaving and coming in to tight quarters.

It reminded me of how scared we really were when we got our first boat, in light wind and no current. Every time we took off and came back our knees were knocking, I got dry mouth, and our patience with each other was thin. Now that I am more experienced I still have tremendous respect for issues to address in tight quarter maneuvering, especially if the wind is blowing (i.e. the times you want to go sailing).

When we got our newest boat I made sure we had a couple of extra hands on board and/or on the dock to help. We needed it a couple of times. And there will be times in the future when something gets catawumpus when I will wish we had help again, but we'll manage. And so will you. But I recommend practicing docking and leaving when it is calm to start. And if that doesn't work, then get some extra hands. And if that isn't possible, go through your mind what you think the wind/current will do to you as you pull in or out and have some idea of what you will do if things don't work the way you plan. Extra fenders can be handy but too many are a real hassle.

Good luck and have fun. You'll get over the nerves soon enough. But the only way to do that is to get out there and do it.
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