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Old 23-10-2014, 08:03   #16
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Ok, let's talk about confused seas, say 50 degree split and breaking. What's the best tactic for those?

Jeff
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Old 23-10-2014, 09:58   #17
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Great post 2wind, thank you.

The only boat I've ever sailed on that had a massive main like a big cat would have was an open 60. He used runners, so his shrouds weren't as swept back. he also used lazy jacks, always deployed, to catch the main while reefing.

If memory serves, he could tighten them up from the cockpit while reefing. I wonder if that would help with the battens flying around.

Two line reefing is the ticket. If you don't need to worry about battens bashing the shrouds, then the ultimate set-up is to also have a little cam cleat for your halyard. To reef you:
- Fix the halyard into the cam cleat at the premarked position.
- release the halyard clutch so that the right amount of slack jumps out, stopped by the cam cleat.
- yank down on the luff reefing line which is also your down haul, cleat off.
- tension halyard
-tension leech line

Upwind on a 35 foot cruiser with full batten main and no track on the mast, I can reef in less than 30 seconds.

I don't know if I've ever reefed my boat going downwind, though, since I only seem to need to go upwind when it's blowing that much! I've shaken a reef downwind and it was never too much issue.
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Old 23-10-2014, 12:03   #18
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kestle View Post
Ok, let's talk about confused seas, say 50 degree split and breaking. What's the best tactic for those?

Jeff
Upwind or down?

I hadn't responded to this topic as I've never had to go upwind in breaking waves. Frankly, I don't understand why anyone would choose to do this unless they had to get off a lee shore. In that case I'd be motoring. Weather info is so plentiful and reliable these days that the best tactic is avoidance. But you alluded to racing in your original post so maybe the opportunity for upwind in breaking water would come up. Good luck. I imagine different boats would have different tactics.

Off the wind is another matter and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Big cats with boards (up) surf really well and my practice has been to have no main at all when deep off - just my genoa. These boats like to be pulled, not pushed. On an 8 day passage from Ches Bay to Tortola several years ago we didn't even put up the main for the first 6 days. A sleigh ride in 25-35. Fast and comfy lazy for the crew and the AP loves it..... With some main we could have gone faster with a lot more work, but this wasn't a race.

As for confused seas, we've had our share of that and if the boat speed is up, you have to get at least parallel to the waves to avoid launching off the tops and beating the boat up - and the crew. We've had to run off with deep reefs to let a front pass. But we knew it was coming and put in our deep reefs early.

2 Hulls Dave
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Old 23-10-2014, 20:42   #19
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

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Originally Posted by Sailingcouple13 View Post
Who would reef a big cat down wind in 25 knts. It should be sailing 10+knts with 15 apparent. Perfect conditions in my mind. 35 knts different story, once head sail is in, the pleasant thing about full battened mains is the flogs less. If you are going to be out in those conditions prepare your boat to reef from the helm station

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Originally Posted by 2Wind View Post
Is this bravado, or ignorance?

Well, to answer the question....I do. And I'd be surprised if most don't.
In fact most cruisering cat skippers, are not looking to surf. We'll be doing better than 10kts in 20kts of wind, downwind and I'm happy with that. At 25kts, the sea state starts to become important. Also at 25kts TWS down wind, you are also thinking about whether the wind is going to strengthen. Proactively managing the main is pivital to safe downwind sailing. You can easily dump the genoa or a ASI, but deang with an over powred 85 to100m2 main in rising and steep seas is always best avoided.
Racing wth a capable and sizeable crew and a budget to match, perhpas a different story.
I guess we all have to know our limits.
I would also. Probably like you, I get nearly the same speed down wind with either one or two reefs as I do with the main fully up. You can ease your traveler and main sheet further without the battens bending over the shrouds. Downwind it's all about the jib. In fact, with 20 or 25 knots true, I'd rather fly my spinnaker then have my main fully up. It's easier to dump.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post
Upwind or down?

I hadn't responded to this topic as I've never had to go upwind in breaking waves. Frankly, I don't understand why anyone would choose to do this unless they had to get off a lee shore. In that case I'd be motoring. Weather info is so plentiful and reliable these days that the best tactic is avoidance. But you alluded to racing in your original post so maybe the opportunity for upwind in breaking water would come up. Good luck. I imagine different boats would have different tactics.

Off the wind is another matter and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Big cats with boards (up) surf really well and my practice has been to have no main at all when deep off - just my genoa. These boats like to be pulled, not pushed. On an 8 day passage from Ches Bay to Tortola several years ago we didn't even put up the main for the first 6 days. A sleigh ride in 25-35. Fast and comfy lazy for the crew and the AP loves it..... With some main we could have gone faster with a lot more work, but this wasn't a race.

As for confused seas, we've had our share of that and if the boat speed is up, you have to get at least parallel to the waves to avoid launching off the tops and beating the boat up - and the crew. We've had to run off with deep reefs to let a front pass. But we knew it was coming and put in our deep reefs early.

2 Hulls Dave
Pure heaven. I wish I had that type of weather for even a full day blowing me in the right direction.

Good posts 2 Hulls.
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Old 24-10-2014, 06:49   #20
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Yes, good point! Why is it the wind only blows in the right direction 10% of the time. just my impatience I know.

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Old 24-10-2014, 12:26   #21
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

This thread makes a lot of good comments, but misses a key point I think. A 40’ racing cat is not a cruising cat. (This isn’t Hydrogen II is it?) You are probably 25% the weight, 400% the sail area, and 4x the speed of a cruising cat. This changes everything. I am not a cruiser, but I have raced a big coastal racing cat for a while.
A key issue is, what percentage of your time at sea will be in conditions that could capsize you if mishandled? For a racing cat, >50%? For a cruising cat <1%? Capsizes are almost always crew error, and they are always surprised. Prepare for multiple things to go wrong. We hand-hold all sheets at all times, never leave a winch handle in a winch, never self tail, never autopilot. Cruisers use cleats and autopilots.
Downwind- In a breeze you will have trouble slowing , leading to exciting big surfs, and bow stuffs in the back of the wave in front, a potential pitch pole. Series drogue is recommended. You have to have angle in reserve to fall off in a puff. Anything that slows you is dangerous; bow stuff, kelp bed, etc. The AWS goes up fast, the AWA goes forward, headsail collapses, rudders stall and a weather helm round up leads to a lateral capsize, if the main is not released fast enough.
Upwind- You need power to punch into the waves, but you will be overpowered if you foot off. You will be blanketed in troughs and blasted on crests. Gusts are bigger in big wind. A racing crew can push into this for hours. A cruiser, has to reef down to a safe condition for the biggest expected gust.
Furthermore a 40’ racing cat is more lightly built than a cruiser, has low freeboard, nets for decks, and little shelter. Not intended for big conditions that a cruiser could be ok in, except that the cruiser would also avoid these conditions, or pick the most comfortable heading, or deploy a sea anchor and go below.
I hope racing a racing cat is good practice for being safe on a cruiser. I have one coming.
Let me know if I can be of any assistance.
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Old 24-10-2014, 14:45   #22
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Gibbs View Post
...Downwind- In a breeze you will have trouble slowing , leading to exciting big surfs, and bow stuffs in the back of the wave in front, a potential pitch pole. Series drogue is recommended. You have to have angle in reserve to fall off in a puff. Anything that slows you is dangerous; bow stuff, kelp bed, etc. The AWS goes up fast, the AWA goes forward, headsail collapses, rudders stall and a weather helm round up leads to a lateral capsize, if the main is not released fast enough.
...
Welcome to CF, Bill. Great first post!

I'm a bit confused about what you've written on the Downwind part. I'm very interested in performance cat sailing, though I'm just a monohull cruiser in the real world.

If I'm running downwind and suddenly slow down, the AWS will increase, but the AWA will go back, not forward. Can you run through the sequence in a little bit more detail? For example, I'm not sure why the rudders stall and where the weather helm is coming from in the scenario.

Thanks!
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Old 24-10-2014, 15:58   #23
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

When heavy weather comes I slow down.

Sometimes I slow down a little:

ABBOTT DROGUE

Sometimes I stop:

Blue Water Catamaran - Exit Only Sails Offshore Around The World.Â* Captain Dave - Privilege 39

It works for me and I see no reason to change.
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Old 24-10-2014, 16:53   #24
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

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Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
When heavy weather comes I slow down.

Sometimes I slow down a little:

ABBOTT DROGUE

Sometimes I stop:

Blue Water Catamaran - Exit Only Sails Offshore Around The World.Â* Captain Dave - Privilege 39

It works for me and I see no reason to change.
Good stuff. Thanks for posting
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Old 24-10-2014, 17:16   #25
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Quote:
the AWA goes forward
Right you are, I typed it backwards. The AWA goes aft.
Here is the long response:
All sail boats can have lee helm (boat wants to turn down) or weather helm (boat wants to turn up) based on the position of the CE of their total sail plan drive force and the CR of their hulls and foils. Lee is from the CE is forward of CR, and weather from it is aft. CR position can be adjusted fore/aft with daggerboard depth. Magnitude of the imbalance is how- far-fwd-aft times CE magnitude, roughly like a lever. CE location changes with trim and course changes, as does it’s magnitude. So a race boat with really big sails for her size, experiences a big effect increasing with wind strength.
In this simplified example, you have balanced the helm downwind, you have a small spinnaker averaging out with the main for a CE position aligned with your CR, boards 75% up. You are going fast, reefed down, topping 18 knots and passing waves, TWS 25, TWA 140, AWA 94. AWS 16, all good. You start down the face of a big wave and accelerate to 25 knots, your spinnaker is collapsing as the AWA goes fwd to 70, but no worries, the foils pick up efficiency with speed, a little weather helm felt on the rudder. You steer down a bit to ride the wave, and sploosh! Your bows plunge into the wave in front. Your headsail trimmer wisely dumped the spinnaker seconds before, helping avoiding a pitchpole. Bows go in deep, green water to the mast base, BS down to 2 and you feel the sterns rising as the wind clocks aft and rises. AWA goes to 140, AWS up to 24. Rudders are stalled from low speed, weather helm increases and the bows start turning up after they pop out of the wave. Time to dump the main to avoid a round up.
I’ve known cruising cats that never adjust daggerboard height, or feel weather or lee helm. One reason is with small sails and high weight, the effects are greatly reduced. The other reason is balanced rudders, the equivalent of power steering. Or a true hydraulic power steering system. Or Autopilot…
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Old 25-10-2014, 03:05   #26
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Great posts Bill.

My background is high performance dinghy racing. Travelled and done tons of international races. Hardly sailed cats though. As Bill wrote, in true high performance boats everything happens very fast. You don't have time to think but everything got to happen automatically or its too late. You cannot read yourself to this.

As per a previous post, buy a small true racing cat, a Tornado, A-Cat, or similar. Marstrom (built most Olympic Tornados) makes some really good cats, M18, M20, or why not the M32 but that's not a small cat. Go out sailing in stronger and stronger winds. When you can sail it in a ~30 knot wind on your human autopilot, you be ready for offshore racing cats.
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Old 25-10-2014, 14:20   #27
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Thanks, Bill

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Old 27-10-2014, 17:30   #28
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

First a little background. I have lived on a 42' FP Venezia for 3 years and sailed her up and down the east coast (offshore, ICW and coastal) and to Bermuda, . She is a non dagger-board cruising cat. We have seen gusts up to 65-70 knots during a sudden Derecho 120 nm off NY. We had sustained 35-40 astern with breaking waves for the 15-20 hours preceding the Derecho that build to 60+ during the Derecho, wind hit like a freight train from about the beam (a 90 degree shift), the seas became very confused, dominant wave train was from astern, but we had to split the new wind/swell and the swell prior to the wind shift. At that point we had plenty of sea-room so we just ran off. In that situation I had no main up, and just a scrap of jib, we were surfing in the 12-15 kts range. I had the engines ready as we were in the shipping channel and lost all visibility both visual and radar. I had an AIS system that worked and have since integrated it to my helm plotter, that system earned it's keep that day. I would not sail in shipping channels without it now.
I never felt out of control, the boat surfed fine and although it took some time getting used to the motion, I felt safe and under control. I had a minimum amount of sail up (furling jib only), had the wind sustained above 45-50 kts, I would have not felt comfortable. In that situation I would have probably have deployed a series drogue, there are many on the market and if you have the sea-room they are a great tool to have in the box. But it's important you have to have an anchor point suitable for the load, many recommend a bridle and reinforced anchor points with chafe protection.

I have had to sail to weather in my cat in breaking seas on the trip to Bermuda and it was not fast or comfortable. While I could have avoided this by just not going, I chose to do it knowing full well what to expect and took proper precautions. Winds were just gusting up to the 30-35kt range in the t-storms/squalls , we went from full sail plan to triple reefed multiple times most days The sound of the water hitting the bridge-deck was very loud and made it very hard to sleep for those below. The sound and impact could be felt through out the boat.
The boat did fine, though some grounding/electrical issues surfaced due to the constant pounding (6 days). As with most trips to Bermuda we hit many t-storms, and reefed early. I found the reefing to be easy to accomplish while under only sail, we traveled out the main until it almost luffed, then I pinched the boat to windward and it slowed down and gave the foredeck crew a safe speed and minimized the motion, once the reefed was in we traveled it back up and turned down and back off to the races.
Since that trip I have made a storm jib, which hanks over the furled jib with nylon straps, this is similar to the gale-sail by ATN. I bought a used storm sail I made it suit my needs. In very high winds I would potentially use this sail, but if at all possible I would just run downwind.
I also now carry a sea anchor (para anchor) and a bridle and anti chafe system just in case. There is much literature out there on how to rig this up and when to use it, but to put it simply it is when the boat cannot be safely piloted due to weather condition and or crew exhaustion. It should only be used with plenty of sea room and as a last resort.
Other ideas on ways to stay out of this sort of weather are hiring a weather routing service for offshore trips. We rented a SAT phone and called into Commanders Weather every day, at the time there was a hurricane in the Atlantic and they kept us well informed and far from the action. While I agree there are many tools to monitor weather, storms do and can form quickly and when you are undertaking a trip of more than 2-3 days it is a matter of when, not if. Have you bases covered, drogue to slow you down, sea anchor to endure the worst there is and keep the crew safe and AIS/EPIRP/Life raft for the absolute worst.

As another data point I helped delver a 42ft racing trimaran during a Noreaster in November from Annapolis past Hatteras to the Bahamas. We saw wind gusting to 40 and following seas in the 10-15 foot range for 3.5 days. The boat hit a max speed of over 25 kts surfing down breaking waves. In my opinion that was too fast. We had sails blow out, we had water inside everywhere and the boat was slowly falling apart. There was nothing dry in the boat and our 5 day trip to the Bahamas from Annapolis was fast but not comfortable. I felt that the boat was on the very edge of safe, and often felt we crossed that line. The boat had a carbon rotating rig and very high performance sails. We spent most of the trip under just the self tacking jib, until the car blew apart. Then we had to rig a storm jib. On that boat we did not have a drogue, or a sea anchor. On this boat reefing was dangerous, as was said while surfing down a wave the boat speed dramatically increases, then as the boat slows the apparent wind moves aft, with a rotating rig it was very difficult to keep the wind dead astern. We should have reefed much earlier and done it to windward, but by that point it was too late and we had too much sail area up to go abeam to the wind, we would have capsized, so we had to douse the main while flying between 15-25 kts surfing down waves. I was not the captain on that trip, and as is usually the case our schedule is what put us in harms way. It could all have been avoided.
In my opinion each multi has a safe speed and the goal is to keep the boat at or around this speed no matter the conditions, in light air you put more sail up and as the wind builds you take it down, eventually you have to either trail a drogue or deploy a sea anchor. If you are racing on a huge carbon multi, then you wouldn't be asking for advice in the forum, you would have been there and done that. But for fast cruising multis, you want to reef early and try to keep the crew and the boat within a comfort zone. It is import to remember that as the win increases it will accelerate the boat, especially if the boat is surfing down waves, as the boat is not heeling significantly it will put a huge load on the rig. More sail up increases this load. Even carbon racing rigs break, just ask the folks on Phaedo a gunboat 66 that had won many races in the performance cruising multi fleet. Even in bad weather if you make good decisions you can keep the boat and the crew safe and make it fine to your destination.
Here are a few products that might be worth a look.
Jordan Series Drogue
ATN Sailing Equipment | The Gale Sail | Easy Handling Storm Jib
Sea Anchor: Your First Line Of Defense When Facing Heavy Weather
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Old 28-10-2014, 05:04   #29
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Nice post from someone with experience.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recommendations.
Welcome, too, to the forum.
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Old 28-10-2014, 08:53   #30
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Thanks, been a long time reader of the forums, but very rarely post. Heavy Weather is all about avoidance, but when that become impossible it is much safer to have a few different options (Drogue, sea anchor, gale sail).
One other data point is to check out the list of required equipment for offshore races, such as the Newport/Annapolis Bermuda race. Although it is for mono-hulls, it gives you a checklist of sorts for preparation.
During my most recent trip to Bermuda we had to make multiple wiring splices, replace the impeller on the generator and trouble shoot a ground short. Not easy to do in big swell, but glad we had a spare parts list and the tools to do the repairs.
Another recommendation is to take a meteorology course. Once you are more than a day or 2 out, it helps a lot to be able to know what the rising or falling pressure means, and what to expect and when. Weather routing services are great, but conditions can vary across large areas. There are many courses out there. I have taken a few in the Annapolis area and Lee Chesneau (former NOAA Forecaster does one on the road)
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