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Old 15-04-2007, 05:39   #16
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I highly recommend that newer cruisers test themselves against wind-speed.

Since winds gusting to 30 knots are common, you can easily test yourself by pulling up on an anchor rode, or dock line, pulled taut at this wind-speed. You may be surprised at how difficult line-handling actually is at this unremarkable wind-speed.

Now extrapolate this to 42.5 Kts (twice the force), or to account for a sail presenting perhaps twice the projected area (so twice the force), and you’ll understand why experienced cruisers (storm victims) suggest that you get off the boat (when possible) in dangerous storms.

There’s nothing you can do against these huge wind-forces.
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Old 16-04-2007, 15:23   #17
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I've been in 70 knots of wind once on a PDQ cat, heading straight into it on a short downburst in the SE USA. The coast guard reported the extra strength winds over an hour after it had already passed. Offshore island hoping I've been in 30 to 40 knot winds sustained several times. You get scared at first and then you realize the boat is handling it just fine. I always sail by the numbers, 20 knots I reef once, reduce foresail to 100% and put a single reef in the main, 30+ knots sustained I reduce the main again and the the genoa. 40+ knots of sustained wind I haven't experienced on the open ocean but the plan would be a storm sail if a short distance or sea anchor. A benefit of a quick cat is you can make a 240 mile plus day and thus plan your weather windows, were I really worried about missing a weather window I can motor at 10 knots for 380 miles. But the biggest benefit is being able to sail at 5 knots in 7 to 8 knots of wind and not run the engines at all.
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Old 16-04-2007, 19:38   #18
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Originally Posted by Limpet
Although I have not done a passage, I have been in situations were the sails had to be reefed or taken down in strong sudden winds. From these experiences, I have decided I would only do a passage if I had a auto-furling system, both on the Jib and Main Sail. I just can't risk one of my family (all girls) attempting to take in a sail in 40 Knot winds. Yes, I may loose some sail shape with a boom furler, but assuming they retract well, the safety aspect is worth it to me.
And what happens when your fancy auto-furling main packs up? If you're concerned about safety and reliability, I cannot think of a worse thing to put on a boat than an automatically furling main. When we were at the HYC there was a large mono there with an auto-furling main. The furler had broken halfway to HI and the uncontrollable sail had very nearly dismasted them. The owners were suing the manufacturer.

Use batten cars. If you're caught with too much sail up, you blow the main and jib sheets, round up immediately, and blow the main halyard. The main will come down instantly, the jib will blow the bows back downwind and you can clean up the mess at your leisure. Have the girls put on a tether and go pour youself a double gin...

And, do I worry about capsize? Yes, absolutely. Worry is what keeps boats afloat (er, right side up). However, capsize risk is easy to quantify - Nth reef at such-and-such a windspeed - and sources of hight wind (capes, mountains, squalls, etc.) are usually easy to see. To put this in relative terms, I worry about anchoring a hell of a lot more than I worry about capsize.

I think that a good, relative inexpensive, way to get answers to these 'what do real cruisers do..." types of questions is to go charter a boat someplace that sees a lot of long haul cruisers: Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia. This will be fun, and you can walk the docks meet people, see their boats, see what works and what doesn't.

There's a lot of variation in "real" cruising boats, but a common thread is simplicity.

-Scott
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Old 16-04-2007, 20:44   #19
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I am in inclined to agree with SMM regarding roller furling mainsails on catamarans. I have seen cats with them, and when they work, they are great. But when they don't work, it's time to sweat bullets. Batt Cars are awesome. You can drop a mainsail in a twinkling of an eye with Batt Cars.

Once when I was in New Caledonia, I met a yacht that had installed a new roller furling sail in New Zealand - a totally new system. On the way to New Caledonia, they got into a blow and couldn't get the mainsail to furl. So the captain had to climb the mast in a storm at sea and he used a knife to cut the sail down. The new main was a total loss.

Of course that's only one instance of a failure in a totally new system.

I confess that I would dearly love to have a reliable roller furling mainsail that I knew that I could depend on. But for now, I am sticking with my Batt Cars.

Cheers,
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Old 16-04-2007, 21:04   #20
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A number of those in boom furlers require you to round up a long way, I have when forced, been able to drag the main down travelling downwind with a decent car system.
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Old 16-04-2007, 21:29   #21
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I confess that I would dearly love to have a reliable roller furling mainsail that I knew that I could depend on. But for now, I am sticking with my Batt Cars.
I had in-mast furling (not automatic) on my first boat. I hated it. Your trim options are very limited and the shape of the sail is poor. It also jammed on me twice in relatively light (20 kts) winds. It also puts extra weight into the mast. A fully battened main sail is, for me, the only way to go.
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Old 17-04-2007, 01:12   #22
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And what happens when your fancy auto-furling main packs up? If you're concerned about safety and reliability, I cannot think of a worse thing to put on a boat than an automatically furling main. When we were at the HYC there was a large mono there with an auto-furling main. The furler had broken halfway to HI and the uncontrollable sail had very nearly dismasted them. The owners were suing the manufacturer.
I recently met a South African monohull sailor in St Lucia who'd been trying to sail S.A. to St Lucia to watch the cricket world cup. Less than 1 day out he got caught in a squall, the in-mast reefing didn't, the mast came down and he ended up flying to St Lucia.

I felt really sorry for him until he then launched into a long rant about how unsafe catamarans are. This continued until I pointed out which one of us had successfully crossed the Atlantic in a boat and which one had arrived by plane.
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Old 17-04-2007, 15:42   #23
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Well, I've just got in from a delivery BVI to Lauderdale on a F-P 43ft ex charter boat, with some age on her. Nasty frontal system with winds around 45 kts over the last 2 days. Always felt very confident with a double reefed main and small jib: only scary thing was lightening strikes.
How was the cricket Mike? I missed it all! Tony
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Old 17-04-2007, 16:05   #24
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Not an in-mask furler, but a Boom furler. Better sail shape, and the potential for variable reefing. If it should ever become jammed, you can drop it just like any other sail and lash it to the boom.

I was in the BVI recently on a Lagoon 410. A Squall came in on us in sunny skies. The surprising part was the wind was gusting over 40 knots. We had the standard main sail which collapses into a boom bag.
For some reason the main did not like to come down. We really had to pull on it....there was three of us working on it. Once it was down, then it was time for us to climb on the cabin roof and rigid bimini to put the sail in the bag and lash it closed....the whole time the wind was screaming and the waves were rocking everyone. The guy on the bimini stopped speaking and would not respond to our calls to see if he needed help. The guy was terrified. We helped him as much as we could. He silently slid on to the cabin roof where we helped him down.
Once the squall was gone, and things relaxed, we got our quote of the day, he said; "Had this been a mono-hull, I would have Craped my pants".
It was this experience and others that drove me to want a Boom furler
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Old 17-04-2007, 17:53   #25
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An in-boom furler would not have made any difference in that situation, other than tying the sail up after it was down, least of your worries.
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Old 18-04-2007, 00:08   #26
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How was the cricket Mike? I missed it all! Tony
Tony... The trip was excellent ... England were awful. Thank god the South Africans finally put us out of our misery last night so I don't have to watch England any more.

I'm out on Tortola just for 2 nights 2-3 May. Are you around?
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Old 19-04-2007, 14:10   #27
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I'm out on Tortola just for 2 nights 2-3 May. Are you around?
Yep - I'll have just got in from a charter prior to a Chesapeake delivery starting on 5th! T
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Old 20-04-2007, 15:41   #28
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...I'm trying to get a sense for the level of fear and/or concern you felt for capsizing, especially in bad weather. Is it the sort of thing where it is always on your mind and hence your entire trip plan is governed by it. For example, you might stay at a given safe harbor longer or change your plans more quickly in the face of potential bad weather more so than you might otherwise if you were aboard a mono-hull? ...
Capsize is certainly something that I think about. I've spent the last six years cruising my Atlantic 42 around the Pacific with just my girl friend as crew. We haven't sailed in any truly horrible weather, but have been in many frontal passages and two sustained gales with winds around 40. The boat handled those conditions well. The only time I have been genuinely scared about capsizing the boat was in a hard squall on a trip from the cooks to the Societies. We were sailing in a very slow moving front and a lot of nasty looking clouds had passed us by without much puff so we had gotten complacent and had shaken out the reefs and set the genoa. Of course, just as we were settled in and comfy we got hammered by a squall. I have no real idea of how much wind there was in it, but it was serious... We managed to get the sheets blown and the sail off pretty quickly but I didn't really stop shaking for days.

On the other hand, this was by no means the scariest time I've had offshore. One of my worst experiences was delivering a 45 foot traditional cutter from the Line Islands to Hawaii. The boat had a serious leak and needed to be pumped hourly. The engine was broken. The timber mast had a split growing up the front. The only food on board was a case of vanilla Ensure and a few packets of trail mix. We had no HF radio and had not filed any float plans and the owner turned out to be a depressive drunk... It took us two weeks to make the thousand mile upwind passage and I was fearful the whole way. So, you don't need to be on a catamaran to be concerned.

To answer your question. Yes, I'm always worried about capsize and I do watch the weather. However, there is only so much you can do about that and it hasn't stopped me from going most everywhere I like or from taking long passages. I know folks with monohulls that are more apprehensive about the weather than I am. I've spent a good deal of time offshore in both monohulls and cats and I think the the quality of life aboard the cats is much better virtually all of the time. Still, sailing offshore is very dangerous at times and anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something.

-- Tom.
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