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Old 20-08-2015, 11:21   #1
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New to bigger boats, weather question

Hi,

We have had a Hobie for about a decade, but have decided to start our progress to bigger boats. So we have taken ASA 101, 103, and 104. This weekend we are planning on our first non-instructor-led trip on a 35' C&C on Lake Pepin (the only lake on the Mississippi).

We were feeling semi-confident and prepared for this, and now I'm checking the weather reports, and seeing this:
Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Breezy, with a south wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph.
My question is: do we go out in that? Triple reef and learn from experience? Or is that just too intense for a first-time bareboat charter? Not a big deal at all?

For our 104 class, we got a few hours of probably 12-14mph winds, I'm not too worried if it stays in that range, I'm just wondering how that scales up to 20 with those kinds of gusts?
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Old 20-08-2015, 11:41   #2
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Only you can say how confident you are in handling a 35 foot boat. I assure you that the boat can handle much more than 30 kt winds safely. A 35 foot keel boat is barely going to get going in 10 kts of wind - it's not a light multi-hull. If you are nervous, and still want to experience 'going solo', you have hit on the perfect solution - reefing. I expect that a charter boat doesn't even have a third reef. I think that double reefing is a bit much (50% of sail area), but whatever gives you comfort that you have control. Don't unroll the jib, because you can always do that later. I guess that after an hour of poking along in 15 kt breezes and seeing an occasional gust, you'll drop one or both reefs and have a great time. Eventually, you're going to have to sail in these conditions, and a clear day with no storms approaching on an inland lake is about as safe as sailing gets.
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Old 20-08-2015, 12:11   #3
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

I don't know Lake Pepin, so hard to say for sure, but that sounds like a great forecast to me.

10-20 isn't too bad. Gusts to 31 would be though. But wind forecasts aren't usually that wide of a range - makes me think they don't really know what it's going to be, or the lake has very variable conditions. Maybe the morning winds are light and it picks up 4-6pm (if so just get your sailing done before then).

You might be able to get more detail from a wind forecast site like sailflow.com.

Reefing in windy conditions can be hard when you're new to it, on an unfamiliar boat, so if it's windy I'd recommend raising the main with the first reef in to start (don't raise the full sail). It's a lot easier to start reefed than to put it in later.
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Old 20-08-2015, 13:14   #4
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Sounds like a great opportunity to learn and practice and practice and practice reefing for real.

How much practice would I do on a day like that if teaching new sailors? As much or as many times until they can do it with confidence, smoothly, without errors. Reefing is a basic seamanship skill that many avoid or only do in benign or low wind conditions. If the wind is really going to build during the day, you have a great opportunity to learn with increasing wind.

First, learn and practice reefing before you need to do it for real. If unsure of how that boats rig needs to be reefed, ask someone for a demonstration before you leave the marina.

If you are a couple, man and wife, practice with each of you putting in the reef alone. Then switch roles, one on helm, one at mast. I consider this very important if you plan to cruise or sail as a couple. Practice as the wind increases too, so you notice the change in forces on the rig and sail.

My POV: All crew should know, really know, the right steps to take, which lines to loosen, which to pull, how to tie and secure the reef for that boats rig. You will only learn that skill well by practice several times in varying conditions, with the best possible practice happening as the wind speed increases.

I suggest you start with no reefs if the wind is less than 15k then add one reef as the wind increases or you feel uncomfortable when it gets to the point where you're healing too much and too much helm. Excessive or extreme heeling or Weather helm signals that you are over powered by your main sail, so you adjust. For example you can add a second reef and then adjust your point of sail.

Have fun!
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Old 20-08-2015, 13:19   #5
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Since you ask you probably shouldn't go. But if you go reef for the gusts that are really happening at the time.
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Old 20-08-2015, 13:24   #6
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Quote:
Originally Posted by hblask View Post
Hi,

We have had a Hobie for about a decade, but have decided to start our progress to bigger boats. So we have taken ASA 101, 103, and 104. This weekend we are planning on our first non-instructor-led trip on a 35' C&C on Lake Pepin (the only lake on the Mississippi).

We were feeling semi-confident and prepared for this, and now I'm checking the weather reports, and seeing this:
Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Breezy, with a south wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph.
My question is: do we go out in that? Triple reef and learn from experience? Or is that just too intense for a first-time bareboat charter? Not a big deal at all?

For our 104 class, we got a few hours of probably 12-14mph winds, I'm not too worried if it stays in that range, I'm just wondering how that scales up to 20 with those kinds of gusts?
We don't reef for 31 mph winds. That is a nice sailing breeze.
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Old 20-08-2015, 13:42   #7
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

If I'm nervous about the weather, I'll throw a couple of reefs in at the dock. Its a whole lot easier there.

Start with one Sail. If all looks good, set a bit of Genoa.

Gusty winds can be challenging, don't let anyone tell you they're not. Play it safe though and you should be fine.

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Old 20-08-2015, 13:48   #8
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

What's mph?

Not sure what is taught at ASA courses but we can as well discuss wind measured in inches per second.

If you mean gusting 25 (knots) then you should be OK in controlled situation / environment. Mind gusting X does not allow for local specifics, there may be some surprises round tall headlands, etc.

Since you asked, I would not go. BUT if you do not go, you never know what the forecast meant. All learning has its price.

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Old 20-08-2015, 14:23   #9
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Honestly I would go and have a blast. But for a new sailor on an unfamiliar boat... Skip it and reschedule. Those conditions are challenging for an inexperienced crew, and doing it the first time you are out on the boat I think is a bit much. Particularly since I would have doubts about any reefing gear I hadn't inspected myself.
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Old 20-08-2015, 14:44   #10
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

My first boat was a Morgan 32. In the beginning I was nervous as a cat in the dog pound when it hit 15 kt. I survived and didn't start getting nervous until 20 kt. And so it went, faster than I thought I was comfortable enough in 20 kt to have full main and 130 Genoa out. Then I put a single reef in main to reduce weather helm and give my autopilot a break.

On this solo excursion will there be an instructor along in a chase boat? One of the schools I attended many years ago did that to keep track of their flock. Talk to your instructor to express your anxiety, your not the first. See what he/she suggests. As a last resort reschedule. This is supposed to be fun.

Have fun and welcome to the world of sailing.

Rich
ps: now 30-35 kt is no big deal. I've learned to trust my boat. I've even singlehanded in that. Now my next threshold is 35+ kt but that gets to be like work.


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Old 20-08-2015, 18:47   #11
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
What's mph?

Not sure what is taught at ASA courses but we can as well discuss wind measured in inches per second.

If you mean gusting 25 (knots) then you should be OK in controlled situation / environment. Mind gusting X does not allow for local specifics, there may be some surprises round tall headlands, etc.

Since you asked, I would not go. BUT if you do not go, you never know what the forecast meant. All learning has its price.

b.
I considered converting to knots because I thought somebody might respond like this: I just used it because that's what the online weather used, and I just cut-and-pasted, and I figured most people on here could make the mental conversion pretty easily. It's funny how weird it felt to do that when talking about sailing, though, and I'm still early in my learning. It had to be like fingernails-on-blackboard to a lot of the veterans.
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Old 21-08-2015, 08:44   #12
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

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Originally Posted by Tessellate View Post
I don't know Lake Pepin, so hard to say for sure, but that sounds like a great forecast to me.

10-20 isn't too bad. Gusts to 31 would be though. But wind forecasts aren't usually that wide of a range - makes me think they don't really know what it's going to be, or the lake has very variable conditions. Maybe the morning winds are light and it picks up 4-6pm (if so just get your sailing done before then).

You might be able to get more detail from a wind forecast site like sailflow.com.

Reefing in windy conditions can be hard when you're new to it, on an unfamiliar boat, so if it's windy I'd recommend raising the main with the first reef in to start (don't raise the full sail). It's a lot easier to start reefed than to put it in later.

Wind forecasts in the heartland and on the Great Lakes can, indeed, vary as much as this forecast. Quite typical this time of year. Reef early and often - one can let out more canvas once you see how the boat responds to the gusts. Lake Pepin is quite narrow so expect to see winds channeled down the length, rather than across. Waves can't get too high there so you can work on sailing skills without having to contend with big seas. Plus, you can drop all sails and motor if it gets too much.

Good place for some experience. Enjoy!
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Old 21-08-2015, 08:50   #13
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

If there are gusts you won't have time to reef. The key is to reduce sail area before you need to so if you are nervous reef at the dock. Also raise your sails at the dock (then lower them) to make sure there are no glitches. Sounds like good sailing weather to me. Be ready to ease the main and the jib and/or head up to compensate for the gusts. Mainly it's just putting in the time. The boat can definitely handle the conditions you describe.
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Old 21-08-2015, 09:18   #14
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

The boat can handle it. As long as the lake is big enough to maneuver (no shallow spots to work around) and nothing breaks you will have a blast. I'd be more concerned about dock maneuvering as a newbie. Have fun!
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Old 21-08-2015, 09:22   #15
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Re: New to bigger boats, weather question

Agree.
Docks & rocks. I have dumped many a Hobie but never a 33ft mono.
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