Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 16-03-2009, 17:29   #1
Registered User
 
drew23's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: cruising Mexico
Boat: Searunner 37 trimaran, Islander 34
Posts: 286
heavy weather?

Hey folks,

I'm a new sailor, only a few hundred hours on the water so far. Most of that has been in semi-protected waters, in windspeeds of 20kn or less.

This weekend I was supposed to make my first "real" voyage in my new Searunner 37, a trip of 30 nautical miles, with 20nm of that being in open water. That got cancelled due to a series of logistics headaches, and we ended up taking the BC ferry system instead.

Coming home yesterday, the winds were gusting up to 40kn, and there were six to eight-foot swells out on the open water. The ferry was tossed about quite a bit!

My question to you folks is - I don't really have much experience in weather like that. I know the theory - reef the sails and fly only the reefed main and possibly a storm jib, tie down anything loose, etc. Part of me watched the wind and the waves earlier in the day in the lovely spring(?) sunshine and kicked myself for not bringing my boat - but later on that night, after the sun went down, watching the spray whipping off the top of the waves in the dark, it looked *terrifying*.

What's reasonable when it comes to bad weather? Would my 37-foot tri have had a harrowing crossing, or would it have shrugged it off with ease? How do Searunners behave in big swells - do the amas come way out of the water and smack down into the waves? Would I have been insane to even attempt it? I hear that it's almost always the sailor who gives up before the boat, but I don't want to jump into anything stupid...

I'd love to hear your foul weather stories.
__________________

__________________
drew23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-03-2009, 17:53   #2
Senior Cruiser
 
rebel heart's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 6,190
Images: 3
A good book I'd recommend, at least for mono hulls. Amazon.com: Storm Tactics Handbook: Modern Methods of Heaving-to for Survival in Extreme Conditions: Lin Pardey, Larry Pardey: Books

I start getting ready for heavy weather quite early. Don't worry if you see other people running full canvas when you feel like you should reef; most people don't know what they're doing and certainly don't have a clue how to operate in heavy weather.

Another thing I do is throw a reef in before the sun goes down if you're sailing through the night. Or even double reef if you suspect heavy weather and want to play it cautious. You lost almost no speed if you're overly reefed, but running over canvased in a strong blow is very uncomfortable and can really stress out the crew and boat.

Make your moves early and obvious, both in navigating and in heavy weather.
__________________

__________________
rebel heart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-03-2009, 22:35   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
A

Make your moves early and obvious, both in navigating and in heavy weather.
Great advice, worthy of a .sig line!
__________________
Karl_in_Chicago is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-03-2009, 23:14   #4
Registered User
 
JiffyLube's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Oceanside, Ca.
Boat: Islander Freeport 36
Posts: 567
Images: 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Make your moves early and obvious, both in navigating and in heavy weather.
I agree!
__________________
JiffyLube is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 01:35   #5
Registered User
 
Heikki's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Finland
Boat: Stormwind 40 cutter rigged steel ketch - "Columba Livia"
Posts: 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by drew23 View Post
Would my 37-foot tri have had a harrowing crossing, or would it have shrugged it off with ease? How do Searunners behave in big swells - do the amas come way out of the water and smack down into the waves?
I am not familiar with your boat type at all, however, assuming it to be a typical modern 37' sloop, I would say that you would have made it all right, however, as it would have been your first time, you would have been more than pleased to have it over it. If you have a typical modern fat stern giving you generally good downwind performance, you would had it less pleasant on heavier sea. Would she had been thrown up and down a bit with some noicy bangs when going down? Most likely yes. But you would have made it just fine.

My "horror story"? Last summer we were beating up to north on BalticSea. The wind had been from 14 to 22 knots all morning, which for our heavy steel ketch means full canvas. My wife warned me for an approaching thunderstorm, however, I judged it not to be an our route. A few moments later she warned me again and suggested reducing some canvas. I disagreed about the risk, but volunteered to roll in some of the genoa. As soon as I was on the winch, the wind really started to pick up. I kept on furling, and while I was halfway done, the wind was already 35 knots and it started to hail so hard it was difficult to see anything. I kept on furling the genoa completely in, which I think took less than two minutes to complete. I looked at the anemometer which showed a bold 50 knots of true wind! From 20 to 50 knots in two minutes and we are not talking about gusts - the wind stayed there for the next twenty minutes.

I sure agree with the idea of reefing early. When I had not done it early enough, for me it was a better idea to keep on sailing than starting to reef on that wind. It was a small clould, so we very pretty sure the thunderstrom would fairly soon be over with. We would have had an option of furling out a staysail and dropping or reefing the main, however, I do not like being on the deck and working with a large sail flapping back and forth on that weather. With a lighter vessel we sure would have been in a serious trouble.

What became very important on that situation was the knowledge of the limits of the vessel. You need to know what the boat can handle. When you know that it has behaved nicely on 65 knots for two days, you are pretty confident for few moments on 50 knots. For that reasons, I think it would have been good for you to be out there. It would not have been a real pleasure, but you would have gained confidence on your boat. That is crucial when things really get bad.
__________________
Heikki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 02:50   #6
Registered User
 
Hampus's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Sweden
Boat: Between boats
Posts: 463
Images: 6
Send a message via MSN to Hampus
I have a similar thunderstorm story. This was in 2003 or 2004. We (me and ex) were sailing a Misil II (Hallberg Rassy 24), a very capable boat and this particular one had two Atlantic crossings behind her. She wasn't equipped with an engine though, we sailed everywhere we went. We were anchored in a lagoon on an island in the archipelago on the Swedish west coast. This stretch is very very narrow and littered with islands, large and small, as well as with underwater rocks and reefs. Around lunch, we decided to sail into the nerest marina to get supplies. We had two friends with us, sailing their 23-footer. Everything went well, we got supplies, food, charcoal for the barbeque It was an extremely hot and moist day and we had seen, and could hear), a thunderstorm build up on the horizon. As we set off to go back to "our" island, the weather was still just fine. The archipelago was littered with boats. ourr friends were sailing in front of us and the wind was around 10-15 knots. A sudden gust blew their chart over board and it landed a few hundred yars in front of us, floating on the water. We swung up to it to pick it up for them (it was laminated). As we lay there, side towards wind with our main and large genoa, a gust hit us, maybe around 35 knots and the boat was pushed down. Now we knew what was coming and within 6 minutes we had reefed the main and set the storm jib, the reefing system was very clever and fast. We then set course towards the marina again, as did everyone else. I don't know why though as I'd rather be in a place not littered with panicking people in boats. Anyway, the wind had shifted and we had to beat into it in a narrow channel. Rain and hail was pouring down, visibility was around 100 yards, but we knew the watters well and we knew eachother and the boat. Winds picked up til around 70-75 knots and we litterally sailed in a forest of lightning striking the water and islands around us. Water was still calm though. Finally we had to turn around, it was just impossible to keep your eyes open when the rain came at you at 70 knots. When we came back out to relatively open waters the wind had died again. By the time we dropped the anchor, the weather was as beautiful as ever before. That was one of my best and most thrilling sailing experiences ever. Would I want to do it again? No! Did I learn anything? Definately! Thunderstorms are like politicians, can't be trusted. Now I always reef the moment I see those clouds at the horizon. Usually people laugh at me and usually nothing happens. But there has been a few occations when I got the chance to laugh back
__________________
http://adventureswithsyingeborg.blogspot.com/
On the way back to Sweden.
Hampus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 05:10   #7
Registered User
 
Heikki's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Finland
Boat: Stormwind 40 cutter rigged steel ketch - "Columba Livia"
Posts: 90
Hampus, that was a very interesting story to read. There are even more similarities with our experiences. We were also sailing through a fairly narrow and rocky strait on west coast of Sweden. We were actually in between of the island of Öland and the main land, just a little bit north from the city of Kalmar. We were not alone on the sea at all, it was fairly hard to avoid rocks and collision on that weather when other boats made moves that were very hard to anticipate. Also our boat has two Atlantic crossings completed. I also learned to respect thunderstorms after that, even though the winds we experienced were not as strong as the ones you had to fight with. We even seem to agree upon politicians...
__________________
Heikki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 05:47   #8
CF Adviser
Moderator Emeritus
 
Hud3's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Virginia
Boat: Island Packet 380, now sold
Posts: 8,929
Images: 49
Drew,

I've never sailed a tri, but do know from my Hobie 16 days that speed is an important issue with multihulls in heavy conditions. Burying an amah in a wave at speed might cause serious damage, if not a pitchpole. Capsize is a possibility, as well. But all of this is manageable when you kno.

It really doesn't matter what kind of boat you have. The only way to become a proficient heavy weather sailor is to do it. And the best way to get the experience you need is to work your way up to it in as controlled conditions as you can manage.

My advice would be to watch the weather forecasts and take your boat out in conditions that are a little more challenging than you've successfully handled before. Having an experienced sailor or two as crew would be a good idea. Practice reefing; get a feel for how your boat handles wind and waves from all points of sail. Work at setting the sails so the helm is balanced and responsive. Experience what having too little sail up feels like in confused, lumpy seas. Shake out the reef. Try heaving to. Do this in waters where you can find protection from wind and waves if you need to. You'll know when you're ready for the big stuff.
__________________
Hud
Hud3 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 07:49   #9
Registered User
 
s/v Moondancer's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Fiji but heading for Alaska
Boat: Tayana 55
Posts: 1,225
Hud is right...it is one step at a time until you can handle whatever comes. We took our Tayana through 20 hours of 45 knots gusting 55 off the New Jersey Coast in October. 3 reefs and a small amount of staysail with the wind on the quarter and my wife stood her own watch alone, but then it was our 10th gale. We were also sailing towards deeper water and not towards what would have been a very dangerous entry into Atlantic City.

My Corsair F31 tri had 4 reefs in the main and in 35-40 knots I had to reef the bimini to help keep the speed down.

In heavy weather I kept my tri at about 5-6 knots so that the big gusts did not overpower me sufficiently to cause a capsize. I also stayed very close to the main sheet so that I could de-power the sail.

Phil
__________________
s/v Moondancer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 09:19   #10
Senior Cruiser
 
Roy M's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Southwestern Yacht Club, San Diego, CA
Boat: Searunner 40 trimaran, WILDERNESS
Posts: 3,042
Images: 4
Your boat is going to probably do better than you will under nasty conditions. Read Mark Hassell's account of going through a hurricane in the South Pacific (Searunner 37 TALOFAIAOE) in his book "Love for Sail". My worst experiences (so far, only 50 knots and 15 foot seas) on my Searunner 40, entail stuff that wasn't stowed well and became airbourne and shattered. When things get nasty, run downwind or heave-to with the smallest sail area you can muster. The advantage of heaving to is that you can then climb into your berth, pull the covers over your head, and try to imagine warm tropical lagoons with welcoming vahines. You won't be really going anywhere, the motion is indescribeably kinder, the noise reduces from crashes and roars to the hissing of seas going by, and there's little you can gain by fighting the storm, anyway.

Less than heaving to, just stay warm, stay connected to the boat if on deck, and stay informed as to your position. Oh, and stay patient. This, too, shall pass, and that sheltered cove will be so much more enjoyable. And don't forget the tales you will get to tell with your mates.
__________________
Roy M is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 09:45   #11
Registered User
 
jrd22's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: San Juan Islands, WA
Boat: 1988 Brewer Three Seas 40' Pilothouse
Posts: 251
Our weather conditions here in the PNW, and the geography, make things challenging to say the least. From what Ray says above it certainly sounds like your boat could take it. The problems we face here are the currents and generally no sea room. St. of Georgia (and Juan de Fuca) is a wind chute and chances are that the current will be against the wind, at least at some point. The results are what you saw from the ferry, very steep waves which make it almost impossible to maintain any kind of boat speed. Staying away from land can be challenging in those conditions as it's hard to make progress. You really need to know your boat and gradually gain more experience with stronger winds so you'll know what works and what doesn't. 40 knots of wind in open water is one thing, but 40 knots out of the North against a strong flood in Georgia St. is altogether different. For reference, I avoid crossing if winds are above 30K.
__________________
John Davidson
S/V Laurie Anne
1988 40' Brewer Pilothouse
jrd22 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 09:57   #12
Do… or do not
 
s/v Jedi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: in paradise
Boat: Sundeer 64
Posts: 9,198
I think I agree with every post in this thread ;-)

I can only emphasize things: thunder-squalls are very different from heavy weather. They come suddenly, can be violent and be gone just as suddenly. They are much harder to handle than heavy weather, where you get the time to settle into the right sail-plan, course etc. and get used to these conditions.

So, my advise: pick some more challenging conditions to gain experience but NEVER when thunder-squalls are around. If such a squall is coming for you, drop all the sails and use engine to "heave to". Just ride it out for the 20-30 minutes it takes and try to remember how it was and think about how much sail you would be comfortable with. Maybe, next squall, leave up some sail, like main reefed as much as possible. Keep bow close to the wind so you can let go of the sheet and stop. If you have full battens, the sail will behave and not flutter itself to death.

I know sailors who crossed oceans for 20-30 years and still drop everything when a squall comes for them. They figure it's gonna give them grieve and cost them money or time repairing sails. Not a bad strategy ;-)

With a tri, reducing your speed is more important than for a mono-hull.

cheers,
Nick.
__________________
s/v Jedi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 10:16   #13
Senior Cruiser
 
sandy daugherty's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2008
Location: near Annapolis
Boat: PDQ 36 & Atlantic 42
Posts: 1,178
An early necessary skill is watching the weather and understanding what the weather reports mean to a boat on the water. You want to be able to translate a front's position and type to an expected wind direction, and to factor in things like the fetch of the wind over open water, with or against a current, funneling in or out of a river mouth, and so on.

Another vital skill is reefing quickly and well, and doing so before you can't!
__________________
sandy daugherty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 11:49   #14
Registered User
 
Full Sail's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Florida
Boat: FP Bahia 46
Posts: 113
I'm don't own a multihull "yet", but I have read in more than one place that a multi should have a drougue when it goes off shore as standard equipment. I didn't see that mentioned in this thread but thought it was worth consideration
__________________
Full Sail is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2009, 12:31   #15
Registered User
 
drew23's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: cruising Mexico
Boat: Searunner 37 trimaran, Islander 34
Posts: 286
Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
So, my advise: pick some more challenging conditions to gain experience but NEVER when thunder-squalls are around. If such a squall is coming for you, drop all the sails and use engine to "heave to". Just ride it out for the 20-30 minutes it takes and try to remember how it was and think about how much sail you would be comfortable with.
Whoah, hold up - I was under the impression that heaving to, by definition, was balancing the sail power against the rudder. Ie, throw the tiller hard into the wind until the boat gybes, and then the wind against the sail against the rudder holds the boat pretty much at a dead stop.

How can you heave-to under power? Wouldn't that mean just going in circles?

Really enjoying this thread btw, lots of great info!
__________________

__________________
drew23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Heavy weather anchoring, Stede General Sailing Forum 105 10-12-2008 11:11
HEAVY WEATHER CAT SAILING fred baldwin Seamanship & Boat Handling 6 10-10-2008 14:40
Heavy Weather and Multihulls Sonosailor Multihull Sailboats 13 07-03-2008 10:03
Hull flex in heavy weather cat man do Off Topic Forum 17 21-09-2007 19:24
Heavy-Weather Tactics: GordMay General Sailing Forum 25 28-10-2003 16:44



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:18.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.