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Old 21-10-2014, 21:40   #1
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Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

I have raced for 40 years on mono's, including offshore, but am considering a cat now. In Los Angeles, most are fair weather sailors; I grew up in much more variable conditions and want to learn heavy weather techniques for ~40 foot offshore racing cats. No one I have run into has any suggestions.

Would anyone on this list have ideas, in print or a person they know well?

Many thanks in advance...
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Old 21-10-2014, 22:46   #2
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

I am a monohull convert.. Look: Two days north of you is the Channel Islands all the way to Point Conception. It gets so notoriously bad, that: If you were to cruise that all year around You could go anywhere in the world.. Spend some time out as far as Santa Rosa and San Miguel? You will get caught out in sudden weather changes in winter I can assure you... Long fetch waves from the Pacific, and heavy winds, get funnelled into that long channel to extremes of bad weather at times...

In many ways Cats are easier in all points of sail than monos... I mean the platform is so stable there is no comparison, on things like reefing the main, you can hardly get in trouble... It is different, and a little to get used to, but in the end it is all much more easy on all points of sail. Really.. I am a convert, my first Cat a Helia 44, and I have Single Handled racing Her now three times so far just to prove the point. I got caught out in what you call "Small Craft Warning" in America, on the second last single handed, and it was easy by comparison to a monohull.. 25 knots gusting 30, two triangle warning flag weather in America, 6-7 foot windwaves with white horses breaking everywhere, and it was no drama to handle... You have two headsails, but for most both are furling, and if you have to reef the main the platform you are working on is so stable it is a piece of cake compared to monohulls.. Really...

The only real downside to Cruising a Cat is slippage is harder to get up there where you are, and also in Australia from about Brisbane South it starts to get harder. But other than that, I am a dead stone convert..

Kind regards and good luck with your conversion. Helia 44 in Australia
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Old 21-10-2014, 23:04   #3
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

If you're looking for 40ft racing cats, there was a story years ago that an Extreme 40 racer who wanted an F18 cat for training.

You might look for the local F18 and Tornado fleets.
Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach hosts F18 racing.
And there must be a Tornado fleet nearby.

Also try BAMA (San Francisco Bay Area Multihull Association). It's out of your area, but a few members have big racing cats. There's an Extreme 40… but no AC45.
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Old 22-10-2014, 05:52   #4
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

My focus on the post was more from handling haves...breaking stern waves, confused seas, knockdown minimization techniques. In a mono, I wouldn't worry if I laid it on its side, but in a cat that's not an option. So how do you handle angles of stability, drogues, etc. big long rollers are easy, it's the short, steep breakers etc like Lake Michigan. Again, I expect to get a cat with the owner and go to San Fran (a beak into current and wind) as suggested. Just don't want to make stupid mistakes getting there.

Ok, specific question: in tall breaking seas, what angle do you hit the waves at?
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Old 22-10-2014, 06:08   #5
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

REEF EARLY, REEF FOR THE GUSTS.

If overpowered on a beam or deep reach, bear off downwind QUICKLY and sharply. Do NOT round up unless already on a beat or close reach. (Rounding up increases apparent wind, bearing off decreases it. Rounding up generates centrifugal force from weight aloft that adds to windward hull lifting forces, whereas sharply steering downwind generates centrifugal forces the help force the windward hull downward.). In a multihull you can run downwind at higher speeds in the teens or even higher without worrying about being rolled (no weeble effect). Think about it.

One more thing- keep the bows up and do everything you can to avoid burying the bows.
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Old 22-10-2014, 06:31   #6
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

I'd say, look into doing some deliveries as crew. Especially Trans-Oceanic ones. Because so many/most of the Charter Cat Fleets are built in France & South Africa, once they're completed, they're then sailed to where ever they'll be put into service.
And from the information I've run across, if you do sign on for such work, there's not much doubt that you'll see some real weather. As well as learning what needs doing when, & how to cope with, & or survive the storm(s).

Aside from the Deliveries section here, there are plenty of more professionally oriented agencies for this out there. And with a bit of digging, you can choose, or rather aim for (you'd kind of be @ the delivery companies mercy on this), what general types of weather (angles & speeds) that you want to learn about, by choosing your desired jumping off & landing points. As well as time of year, vs. the seasonal pattern for that specific neck of the Oceans.
Ditto on what size ranges of vessel which you request to crew on.

Also, if you track the major regattas, especially the multihull ones, & it sounds like you're familiar with this. Then you can go to the ports where medium sized & bigger races finish, & try your hand at signing on as delivery crew. Not paid necessarily (particularly at first), but you never know.

And of course if you take any of these options/ideas, it'd be wise to have done your homework so that you can determine when to say no to a vessel or route. Based on; Skipper & Crew Experience, Safety Gear aboard, & Evaluating a vessel's condition for the proposed trip.
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Old 22-10-2014, 10:03   #7
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Kestel, You may want to try a google search on the forum. If you haven't done one before hit the search tab and select the second option. I'd use "catamaran storm waves" or something like that. Over the years there have been some pretty detailed threads about this with lot's of opinions.

Sailfasttri's short suggestion is pretty good but I'd add that it really is only good for gusts. Once you make the decision to bear off, your somewhat committed unless you can reef your main under load. If the wind keeps building and your running downwind and can't reef, your pretty close to being fubar'ed.
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Old 22-10-2014, 14:09   #8
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

It's not easy to give general rules which could be valid for every condition, boat state, crew and a specific cat.

If you are cought with sudden gusts and you feel that you are overpowered, the first thing I would do is to go staraight to the wind (I know this will increase the apparent wind but the boat will be de-powered and slow down) furl the gib completely and try to take the reef on the main. If you think that this would be difficult or take time for any reason, then turn around, take the wind from 180, reduce the apparent wind, take the main sail traveller to the mid point and sheet it fully. These are all temperory solutions; if the conditions persist, sooner or later you will have to take a reef on the main. I've tried several times to take a reef when running down wind in strong winds;it's not easy and quite risky, but possible..

Once you are reefed properly, the cat is much safer than any boat, it doesn't heel, it doesn't broach.

Cheers

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Old 22-10-2014, 19:02   #9
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Depending on the situation, I like falling off to a broad reach if you get caught by a sudden squall. But for the longer term situation you need to reef and either heave to (possibly with the help of a sea anchor) or reach off.

As you fall off to a broad reach and decide it is time to reef sails, collapse your head sail behind the main sail and furl it. Just keep an eye on the jibe angle! Now, heave to with the furled jib and reef the main, or leave the main slack and sail close hauled on the jib as you reef the main.

Bearing off to a broad reach gives you immediate relief in an overpowered situation and allows you to reduce your head sail. From there, you can reef the main and make the boat easier to manage.
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Old 22-10-2014, 20:07   #10
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

...I've always felt that sailing a beach cat gives you great intuition about what a bigger wants to do, before it does it. Besides, my Hobie 17 is still THE MOST fun I've ever had on the water! Click image for larger version

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Old 22-10-2014, 23:44   #11
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by yeloya View Post
It's not easy to give general rules which could be valid for every condition, boat state, crew and a specific cat.

If you are cought with sudden gusts and you feel that you are overpowered, the first thing I would do is to go staraight to the wind (I know this will increase the apparent wind but the boat will be de-powered and slow down) furl the gib completely and try to take the reef on the main. If you think that this would be difficult or take time for any reason, then turn around, take the wind from 180, reduce the apparent wind, take the main sail traveller to the mid point and sheet it fully. These are all temperory solutions; if the conditions persist, sooner or later you will have to take a reef on the main. I've tried several times to take a reef when running down wind in strong winds;it's not easy and quite risky, but possible..

Once you are reefed properly, the cat is much safer than any boat, it doesn't heel, it doesn't broach.

Cheers

Yeloya

As you say, it depends on the actual conditions. In large waves, I wouldn't want to go head to wind. The next step is for the boat to slide down a wave backwards and trash the rudders. Going above close hauled, though, may give enough drive to keep going forward and still let you deal with the sails.

Likewise, dead downwind is awfully close to a jibe, especially if you're a bit panicked about the situation or running around furling sails. 150-160 degrees would do the same thing and be safer.

I have two line jiffy reefing. My main is much smaller than yours, but you probably have nice fancy sail tracks, etc. I can, with some effort, get a reef in downwind. I would think that would be a pretty essential thing to be able to do on a cat. Is it not common to be able to reef a big cat downind?
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Old 23-10-2014, 03:44   #12
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Thoughts about reefing down wind - in a cat with 25+kts......
1. Most mid sized to large cats will have the required high quality track cars anchoring the battens at the mast. When present the luff looks after itself.
2. Most will have slab reefing with the line to a block at the leech and a requirement to go to the mast to manually secure the cringle at the luff. Few big cats will have single line reefing to both clue and tack cringles and this is certainly not ideal which big mainsails. Some may have two line reefing, and I have thought from time to time, this would be handy, especially when solo.
3. The critical issue is control of the leach to prevent damage to the battens as they impact on the shrouds. On my boat where a single winch services both the main halyard and the reefing lines, there is a requirement to slowly and incrementally lower the halyard, immediately taking up the tension in the reeefing line, bit by bit, leaving the luff cringle tension to last. In so doing, I can generally leave the reefing line on the winch where as the main halyard gets only an intermittent single throw around the otherwise loaded winch with just enough tension to allow a controlled release of 6 to 12 inches at a time each followed by immediate winching in of the reef. The battens then avoid impact on the shrouds and the ensuing risk of fracture. The cars and the luff sort themselves out independently.
4. Once the reefing line and reefing block are in the correct position at the leech, the hallyard is lowered a little further, then the luff cringle is secured and the main halyard tensioned.
5. All this works best with the traveller centred with a course of 160 odd degrees down wind. Thus the forces on the sail are less and the vector of force on the cars is more fore and aft making them more likely to run free and less likely to stick.
6. The problem is never at the luff or with the cars, it is always at the leach and with the battens. Nevertheless, I invariably have a loose line through the cringle to serve as a manual downhaul and to tie off, rather than just use a dangling strop and hook/snap shackle.
7. I haven't tried this in 30+kts, but I can't see why it would not work, provided the first reef is alread in and you are planning putting in the second.
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Old 23-10-2014, 05:21   #13
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

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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Old 23-10-2014, 07:42   #14
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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.

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.
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Old 23-10-2014, 07:57   #15
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Re: Heavy Weather Cat Sailing

Never carry more main downwind than you would carry if you were sailing upwind.


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