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Old 06-08-2011, 19:30   #1
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Turning into the Wind

OK so you are downwind sailing offshore and happen to get caught in a system. The wind increases to say 45 kn and you want to hove to now,waves getting fairly enormous. How hard is it to turn the boat toward the wind to do this? Can the few who have been in this situation give us an idea of just how hard it is to do this?
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Old 06-08-2011, 19:42   #2
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Re: Turning into the Wind

What sails are up?

Main and jib on opposite sides, jibs wing and wing, cruising spinnaker. All have different methods...
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Old 06-08-2011, 19:45   #3
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Re: Turning into the Wind

Turning up is easy. It will be noisy. Staying dry is hard. Getting those two reefs in (late) is hard.
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Old 06-08-2011, 19:47   #4
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Re: Turning into the Wind

I'd want to flush out a few more details. You say " you just happen to be caught in a system" What exactly does that mean? You were sailing along just fine with all sail up and a sudden squall, that you didn't see.. came up from astern? Can you define enormous waves?

Or, were the winds and seas building gradually over time and you were having such a good time..that you didn't notice? What is your sail configuration when you decide you want to heave-to ?
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Old 06-08-2011, 19:52   #5
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Re: Turning into the Wind

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Originally Posted by daddle View Post
Turning up is easy. It will be noisy. Staying dry is hard. Getting those two reefs in (late) is hard.
Not with double line reefing it isn't. Just head up and sail on the jib alone, drop the traveler, maybe let out a little mainsheet, drop the main, and you're done.

What's so hard?
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Old 06-08-2011, 19:57   #6
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Re: Turning into the Wind

On a down wind passage I always just reduced sail to slow the boat down and manageable...even down to just a small headsail. No need to stop, turn into wind and hove to. Safer to run before under control. Heave to by all means if you are going to windward and the wind gets up....stop and rest!
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Old 06-08-2011, 19:59   #7
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Re: Turning into the Wind

If you can't turn your boat into the wind, I'd say your rig is not tuned properly. A little weather helm can be a good thing, especially when the wind picks up. Echoing Tempest245, what does "caught in a system" mean? Did you check the forecast, did you look around, what are you doing offshore in the first place? IMHO it's to late to ask for advice once you're "caught in a system"!?!
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Old 06-08-2011, 20:12   #8
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Re: Turning into the Wind

Having a good time say triple reefed main and hankie jib on a broad reach, now know wind is due to rise more and enormous waves meaning > 30 feet. I think that coming into the wind might be pretty scarey now? We want to hove to until system passed, but think that process of coming into the wind to hove to will take us broadside to huge waves?
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Old 06-08-2011, 20:22   #9
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Re: Turning into the Wind

Just a little addition: If in a multihull under such circumstances, you definitely do not want to turn into the wind, but rather go deeper. Turning into the wind to shorten sail will significantly increase your apparent wind and run the risk of capsize/pitchpole.

With our double line reefing and battcars, putting in another reef, even deep downwind, is quite easy. With 45 knots, we would very likely be going to just a piece of jib or even the storm jib, with no main at all. We would also be running, trailing warps or going to the drogue instead of heaving to, but that's because cats don't heave to worth a darn.

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Old 06-08-2011, 20:27   #10
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Re: Turning into the Wind

Breaking waves? Steep-sided waves? What is their period? All part of changing course...

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Old 06-08-2011, 20:39   #11
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Re: Turning into the Wind

If there is sea room I would much rather run before 45 knots than heave to into it.We experienced this sailing the Mendocino stretch 2 years ago.Just before dark we rounded up into 30 foot seas with engine assist,I put the second reef(main has 2 large reefs) in as fast as I could,as waves came right up and over boat.I should have put the storm jib up instead,I had to live with that decision for 14 hours,glued to the wheel.Speeds were uncomfortably high,but we made it through the night.Another boat near us hove to all night,going nowhere,we were almost at Pt. Reyes by morning,feeling only 35 knots apparent from astern(averaging 10 knots all night).
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Old 06-08-2011, 20:41   #12
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Re: Turning into the Wind

It's almost always possible to get the boat to a close reach position. The higher the wind the harder it will be to get close to the wind, however. With choppy waves, etc, you just cannot make much headway to give the rudder a bite and the wind is always trying to blow the bow off the wind.

It's usually not a great problem to get the jib down unless you are really way late in handing the sail. I got caught off Point conception with full main and reacher/drifter up when the wind from near ghosting to 30+ knots almost instantly. I set the self-steering to head up into the wind, luffed the main and went forward to haul down the Reacher/Drifter. Had a hell of a time getting the jib down. It was a light weight sail and would climb back up the stay at every opportunity. Several times I nearly got it down only to have it get loose and rehoist itself. Finally got it down after a long long battle.

The mainsail is very difficult to reef unless you head up to at least a beam reach. The sail slides will hang up in the slide track and bind up even more the farther off the wind you are because the slides are bing pulled sideways. If the wind isn't too strong, you can reef DDW but in most instances you'll have luff up and ease the mainsheet to tie in a reef.

Roller furling headsails have made life a lot easier but not trouble free. To be able to roll the sail in when the wind is really up, you have to let the sheets run completely free. The saill flapping madly while you are trying to roll in the sail, often requiring a winch leads to some really creative macrame with the sheets. I've tried keeping a little tension on the sheet while furling the sail but to keep them from knotting up. Found that letting the sail running completely makes furling so much easier and faster that I have less problems with the sheets.

Biggest problem with reducing sail downwind is getting the gear put away. DDW you'll have a headsail polled out. Getting the pole inboard, unhooked off the mast and stowed away is a major task. If you've set up the pole with a lift, fore and aft pole guys and not just hooked the pole to the jib sheet, things are a lot easier. You may just be able to raise the pole end at the mast, haul the forward end down on the deck with the foreguy and leave it until the sail is handled.

Best thing is to keep a weather out and reef/furl before you absolutely have to. From experience that's not always possible, however.
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Old 06-08-2011, 21:07   #13
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Re: Turning into the Wind

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
What's so hard?
Maybe in the Oakland Estuary it's not hard But out at sea in a gale with seas to match on any kind of shorthanded cruising boat it is going to be hard work. Tying a gasket with one hand is even hard when the end is whipping in one's face. Safety harnesses, green water, rolling and bashing...heh...big fun. Then drying out.

Even worse, for many unaware cruisers, is the dinghy will have come loose, the barbeque will be floating around the cockpit, all the knick-knacks that collect on catamaran counters will be underfoot, lazy sheets wrapped around everything, etc.
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Old 06-08-2011, 21:14   #14
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Re: Turning into the Wind

Just turn up.

I, too, have read stuff where people are afraid to turn up into the wind, but have never seen how that could be. So I just turn up.

If you are heading down wind on course then just keep dumping sails till you are running bare poles. But never 'lie ahull' ie no sails and beam to the seas.

Sometimes you need to do something that you might not want to do, just be a bit courageous and do it. You'll be fine.

Dumping speed (or power) out of the boat will make things much better. But as Daddle says it may be noisy and you may cop a bit of spray or a wave over the deck till the boat slows down


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Old 06-08-2011, 21:31   #15
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Re: Turning into the Wind

Yes scary to heave to from a run. You should douse much of the jib, difficult with hanks (a selling point for furlers) in dangerous weather. You can always just let the jib sheet way out as a last resort. The idea is the head sail may keep you from coming into the wind, as it has a lot of leverage on the turning axis of the boat. The main is at the center of turning axis so the boat remains maneuverable.
The main sheet needs to be eased but still making good way, you don't want the high winds on the beam with a trimmed mainsail. Continue to trim in the main during your turn. Trim in the head sail as you point up, steer through the wind (leave the jib back winded). Ease the main, rudder hard over, and you are hove to.
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