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Old 30-03-2015, 08:39   #1
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To jibe or not to jibe

Hello everybody

This past weekend I participated in a catamatan training on a Helia 44. First time sailing on a cat, great experience, definitely my cup of tea for the liveaboard plans.

One thing is bothering me, so maybe some of you longtime multihull cruisers can maybe enlighten me.

When we were sailing downwind with about 20-25 knots of true wind, I asked the skipper if we could do a jibe. He said no, it's not recommended, maybe up to 15 knots but above that too much load an the rigg, not safe. Always tack he said. What??? Never heard such a thing and actually a contadiction to stuff I read before.

So I seriously doubt the guys statement, but who am I to question a seasoned skipper with years of experience? Am I all wrong? I really thougt that jibing is safer, especially in heavy weather.

I'm greatful for helpful comments, even if you consuder me a complete greenhorn, which as a matter of fact, I am.


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Old 30-03-2015, 08:47   #2
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

You will get tons of opinions on here, but he was simply saying it's safer and easier on the rig to tack rather than jibe while going downwind in high winds.

Just circle back, tack, and head back down.

Extreme example:

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Old 30-03-2015, 08:49   #3
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

Yes, it would be normal to avoid gybing above a certain wind strength, and to tack instead. This is known as a chicken-gybe, for obvious reasons.
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Old 30-03-2015, 08:49   #4
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

In general, gybing is not safer because of the forces it can put on the rig. But that's a very general generalization. Beyond that, there are ways of gybing safely even in 25 knots, depending on boat speed, how much of a seaway you're in, etc. In fact, in some circumstances gybing would be preferable to a "chicken gybe" where you pull a 270, such as if you're in a good sized seaway where you don't want to put the boat broadside to the waves. In addition, catamarans are not known for their snappy tacks and between that and having good boat speed and lower apparent wind I'd probably opt for the gybe if I felt it could be done smoothly and in a controlled manner.

Another generalization. While gybing is not a highly technical maneuver on most boats, it does require timing, between sheeting in the main and dealing with whatever headsail you have up, timing the turn, and being aware of the sea state and the motion of the boat. It demands more familiarity with the boat and it's handling than a simple tack.
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Old 30-03-2015, 10:33   #5
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

When gybing on my own, I furl the jib first, while shrouding it behind the main. This leaves me to concentrate on handling the main.

If I've got crew they'll just bring the jib over as the main gybes.
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Old 30-03-2015, 10:56   #6
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

I can't say on that boat, but...

  1. It depends on whether you have too darn much main up. If it is too much main to jibe, I would argue you should have reefed. It's easy to keep too much sail up downwind on a cat. The "experienced" skipper should have learned that on a Hobie Cat. Sounds like his experience is narrow.
  2. Center the main first and sheet in pretty tight. The boom-end traveler gives a lot of power to control the boom. Travel out quickly after the jibe. Should be VERY little impact.
  3. Consider a dynamic traveler line (nylon climbing rope instead of polyester, or the worst possible choice, Dyneema. Less bump.
  4. Keep the genoa pulling; the better the genoa pulls, the more boat speed, the less apparent wind.
  5. Use more genoa than main off the wind. Too many cats are set up with small jibs, which gives poor balance and contributes to problems 1 and 3. Sometimes the skipper is lazy and rolls up some genoa instead of reefing the main.
Tacking in a big seaway is lame plan on a multihull. He needs another plan. If the wind came up, how was he planning to get the main down, if he can't come beam-on.
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Old 30-03-2015, 16:20   #7
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

1. 20-25kts TWS is going to be 26-34kts AWS coming through the tack as you head to windward in the chicken jibe strategy - certainly well beyond the point when a reef should have been already taken in the main. (you were over canvased for the circumstance)
2. 20-25 kt.s TWS will be perhaps 10-15 kts. AWS down wind.
3. Centre the traveler, sheet the main in tight, and time the jibe bearing in mind the effect of swell when boat speed is highest and AWS lowest, and make a decisive gibe. The main will look after itself, while to deal with the headsail sheets. Steer the new course near DW until you reposition the traveler and ease the sheet then set you new course and trim the headsail accordingly.
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Old 30-03-2015, 16:46   #8
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

If the skipper thought it was too dangerous to gybe, he had too much mainsail up for the conditions.
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Old 30-03-2015, 18:56   #9
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

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Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat View Post
If the skipper thought it was too dangerous to gybe, he had too much mainsail up for the conditions.
+100

My gybes have very little impact on the rig. As said before, I first pull in main sheet then center the traveler. The main flops over with almost no snap. If the wind was so strong to be afraid to gybe, I'd be reefing before doing anything because coming into the wind is going to get hairy.

Plus, at least for me, when sailing downwind, I'm better off with a reef or two, or three, depending on the wind speed because I can release the main further without it resting on the shroud.
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Old 30-03-2015, 19:03   #10
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

With strong winds from astern, one should consider furling or heavily reefing the mainsail and running only/primarily with the jib.
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Old 30-03-2015, 19:18   #11
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

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With strong winds from astern, one should consider furling or heavily reefing the mainsail and running only/primarily with the jib.
Very true. Except - don't just consider it - do it!
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Old 30-03-2015, 21:31   #12
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

on my monohull, one big mistake I've made is leaving the main fully out sailing downwind when I know the wind is going to increase. It's ok to ease off the headsail and roll it up, but with a furling main, you have to turn across the waves to take enough pressure off the sail to roll it up. High winds usually means big waves and sailing across one of those can be scarey. These days I roll the main away if I'm sailing downwind and there's any chance of a big blow. I also start rolling the Genny at 8 knots; that's enough of an adrenalin hit for me on a 37 footer. Reduce the Genny and keep her running at 7-8 :-) beautiful.
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Old 31-03-2015, 04:02   #13
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

Quote:
Originally Posted by SwissMocha View Post
Hello everybody

This past weekend I participated in a catamatan training on a Helia 44. First time sailing on a cat, great experience, definitely my cup of tea for the liveaboard plans.

One thing is bothering me, so maybe some of you longtime multihull cruisers can maybe enlighten me.

When we were sailing downwind with about 20-25 knots of true wind, I asked the skipper if we could do a jibe. He said no, it's not recommended, maybe up to 15 knots but above that too much load an the rigg, not safe. Always tack he said. What??? Never heard such a thing and actually a contadiction to stuff I read before.

So I seriously doubt the guys statement, but who am I to question a seasoned skipper with years of experience? Am I all wrong? I really thougt that jibing is safer, especially in heavy weather.

I'm greatful for helpful comments, even if you consuder me a complete greenhorn, which as a matter of fact, I am.


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Old 31-03-2015, 04:48   #14
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

Mr Mocha, In OTB cats in survival conditions we used to perform this manoeuvre
(called a "lucky circle" here in oz) when a swim apeared the most likely outcome if we went for the gybe.

Back to cruising cats:
In flat water and strong wind when short handed the "lucky cycle" keeps every thing under control. Its really hard to centre the main through a gybe , then release the instant the gybe occurs if you are short handed as the main will try and steer the boat, ie cause a "round -up" if not coordinated with the turn, which may be a little erratic due to the conditions.. Being caught with slack in the mainsheet on the gybe, with a roachy main will certainly lead to broken battens at least, possible rig damage in extreme conditions.

I have found it to be a pretty uncomfortable manoeuvre in any sort of seaway. One can always use this manoeuvre to put in a reef if caught with too much main in an increasing wind. Get rid of the jib before rounding up. Probably not going to make the tack without the motors though.



In short, plan ahead, try and minimize any shock loads on the rig and think outside the box, its not a race.

"Lucky circles" have a place on cruising cats.
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Old 31-03-2015, 08:39   #15
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Re: To jibe or not to jibe

Quote:
Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat View Post
If the skipper thought it was too dangerous to gybe, he had too much mainsail up for the conditions.
We have a winner.
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