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Old 01-05-2013, 10:20   #16
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

Only over night? Luxury!

In January I did 13 days up wind by myslef for Key West to St Martin with current against me the whole bloody time and a couple of tacks not more than 1.5 nms long! A couple of tacks I made nowhere and the bloody wind clocked from NE when I was heading NE to SE when I was heading SE. For 13 DAYS! with no pornography, little beer and No chocolate!!!

Was fun, but

If you are plugging along making little ground and need to spend a night at sea just do what you need to do to get plenty of sleep, 20 minutes at a time and keep plugging... Wait till the wnd moderates or the gusts, etc, conditions change so you can better sail it.

You are right not to stress your rigging. Set your sails like you assess them to be best, then go below and make a coffee using time as your friend.

Maybe try fishing for a blue fin tuna?





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Old 01-05-2013, 11:06   #17
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

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Originally Posted by GILow View Post
Hello Cruisers,

I recently had a short jaunt across the Gulf St Vincent in South Australia with three of us on board a Swanson 42. The trip over was great, did the 35 nautical miles in 6 hours pointing the whole way, nothing to complain of except one of the crew got quite seasick. The next morning we set out home, a trip due East for 35 miles, but had to turn back when the crew member became quite sick again. For various complicated reasons this meant I left both crew members on the Westerns side of the gulf (to be collected by car) and sailed home alone, into a pretty grotty Easterly. I didn't get to leave till midday so I was looking at a very late arrival, but the boat has good lighting, good auto pilot and a radar so I was not too worried, and once you are half way across the gulf you can keep all shipping traffic to the south of your path so solo navigation was not a big problem. The weather forecast was for a number of days of similar or worse conditions, so waiting around on the Western side was not a great option either.

The unexpected problem I ran into was that the wind was gusting between 18 knots and 28 knots. To reduce strain on the boat and rigging during the 28 knot blows, I reefed the main down to about half size and rolled the jib back in to give a balanced helm. This stopped me worrying about the strong gusts, but I found that between the Swanson's rather "rotund" hull form, the suprising large seas coming from directly on the bow and the fact that with the sails reefed down that much there was barely any power when the wind abated to 18 knots, I made absolutely no headway all evening, and to cut a long story short, did not get home till 5:30 in the following morning.

Looking back, I feel there must have been a better tactical approach to this one. On the face of it, it was simply a matter of beating 35 miles into strong winds in fairly undemanding expanse of water (though it can get a bit scary if there has been a Southwesterly blowing for a bit of time.). I had plenty of sea room to the North and South of my course, though the area to the South does have some shipping traffic so I was keen to avoid it. The boat was certainly up to the task, but taking nearly 18 hours to do 35 miles is horrible and left me with the unavoidable need to take short sleeps between tacks, reinforcing my desire to keep the sail area to a minimum, and slowing me down even more. Vicious circle.

What should I have done?

Thoughts and suggestions welcomed, I'd really like to avoid another night like that one.

Matt

Was using the engine an option?
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:32   #18
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

even when using engine against winds one is not going to go fast. there is a lot more than just turning on the engine and going involved here in this.
here on west coast the current to the south is between 4 an 1.5 kts in a southerly direction. close to shore there are tidal northerly currents that are transient. just turning on engine aint gonna fix the world.
while motoring at 3-4 kts and sailing adding only one kt to that mix, against a 5 kt opposing current , one will not gain much way. this is something that one learns as one goes onward in their cruising lifestyle. easily learned. just takes experience.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:52   #19
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

What size jib do you have? For sailing in SF Bay in summer (where winds are typically 20-30 kts) I've found myself using the 82% as standard now. I've found that it works much, much better to windward than a partially furled larger jib.

In fact, in 25-30 kts, I saw the best speed I've ever seen on that boat close-hauled. Better than the working jib was at lower wind speeds. Must be the low drag - the 82% is a bit of a blade.

Not intending to dispute the advice about motoring, whatever works!
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:44   #20
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

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What size jib do you have? For sailing in SF Bay in summer (where winds are typically 20-30 kts) I've found myself using the 82% as standard now. I've found that it works much, much better to windward than a partially furled larger jib.

In fact, in 25-30 kts, I saw the best speed I've ever seen on that boat close-hauled. Better than the working jib was at lower wind speeds. Must be the low drag - the 82% is a bit of a blade.

Not intending to dispute the advice about motoring, whatever works!

Yeah. Partial furling is easy, but puts the center of work in the wrong place.
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Old 01-05-2013, 15:35   #21
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

There are some terrific ideas here, thank you all.

Reading the suggestions overall it seems my mistake was I had put too much emphasis on the main, thinking it would give me better windward performance, next time it seems I should use less main and more jib.

Yes, to the suggestion of the engine except that I really, really, really do NOT love using engines in boats. I have always been a bit of a stickler for sailing when I can (and I would always use the engine if it was a matter of safety) but as soon as I start the engine all the fun of sailing goes for me. I just could not stomach the thought of pounding into waves for a few hours, hammering the boat and losing all that lovely grace that is a sailing vessel under sail. I'd rather spend another ten hours on the water improving my sailing technique, which can always do with some work.

On the other good points, I was making around 4 to 5 knots boat speed, except when a set of waves hit in which case, if the wind was not strong at the time, I practically came to a standstill. That happened every ten to fifteen minutes on both tacks, but probably worse on the port tack, something to do with the way the waves set in the Gulf as the wind was absolutely from the East and my course was due East.

Course change between tacks was around 110 degrees, maybe a bit more, I hate pinching (it makes for such horrid sailing). I had plenty of room to move so I was changing tack once each hour which was giving me enough time to get the sail set right(or so I thought) and make everything ship shape before setting the five alarms (course, depth, autopilot, radar proximity and time) and going back to bed.

Snowpetrel thank you for the really good point about the staysail. I keep forgetting it is there and it probably would have been perfect, having the centre of effort much further aft. I am going to wait for the next bit of decent wind forecast and get right out there and try it.

Thank you all again, I feel ready to try that particular challenge again with a fresh set of ideas.
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Old 01-05-2013, 15:37   #22
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
What size jib do you have? For sailing in SF Bay in summer (where winds are typically 20-30 kts) I've found myself using the 82% as standard now. I've found that it works much, much better to windward than a partially furled larger jib.

In fact, in 25-30 kts, I saw the best speed I've ever seen on that boat close-hauled. Better than the working jib was at lower wind speeds. Must be the low drag - the 82% is a bit of a blade.

Not intending to dispute the advice about motoring, whatever works!
That makes another vote for the staysail I think. I had the standard full size jib on at the time, I am not sure of the size but it was certainly too big for the wind speed.
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Old 01-05-2013, 15:40   #23
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Only over night? Luxury!

In January I did 13 days up wind by myslef for Key West to St Martin with current against me the whole bloody time and a couple of tacks not more than 1.5 nms long! A couple of tacks I made nowhere and the bloody wind clocked from NE when I was heading NE to SE when I was heading SE. For 13 DAYS! with no pornography, little beer and No chocolate!!!

Was fun, but

If you are plugging along making little ground and need to spend a night at sea just do what you need to do to get plenty of sleep, 20 minutes at a time and keep plugging... Wait till the wnd moderates or the gusts, etc, conditions change so you can better sail it.

You are right not to stress your rigging. Set your sails like you assess them to be best, then go below and make a coffee using time as your friend.

Maybe try fishing for a blue fin tuna?





Mark
I like your thinking here... on all points. If you are ever find yourself Adelaide you'd be welcome aboard!
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Old 01-05-2013, 15:56   #24
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

I'm going to assume that you didn't merely forget that you had a motor, and made a conscious choice to stay under sail.

Why not fall off the point and choose a course that would allow you to make better time overall by getting a better angle on the wind and perhaps on the waves?

I'm interested to hear the analysis of more experienced sailors on this. For multihulls, it's often said that this tactic works better than pointing hard into the wind, which is one reason that a catamaran's lack of pointing ability is considered to be unimportant for many people.

Unfortunately, I've not yet had the opportunity to really test this theory in a meaningful way, and am not sure if it applies equally to fat-bottomed monos. Does this particular boat also have a high windage?

EDIT:
After reading the OP's last post, it seems this might have been what he was doing - ?
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Old 01-05-2013, 15:59   #25
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

Quote:
Originally Posted by GILow View Post
There are some terrific ideas here, thank you all.

Reading the suggestions overall it seems my mistake was I had put too much emphasis on the main, thinking it would give me better windward performance, next time it seems I should use less main and more jib.

Yes, to the suggestion of the engine except that I really, really, really do NOT love using engines in boats. I have always been a bit of a stickler for sailing when I can (and I would always use the engine if it was a matter of safety) but as soon as I start the engine all the fun of sailing goes for me. I just could not stomach the thought of pounding into waves for a few hours, hammering the boat and losing all that lovely grace that is a sailing vessel under sail. I'd rather spend another ten hours on the water improving my sailing technique, which can always do with some work.

On the other good points, I was making around 4 to 5 knots boat speed, except when a set of waves hit in which case, if the wind was not strong at the time, I practically came to a standstill. That happened every ten to fifteen minutes on both tacks, but probably worse on the port tack, something to do with the way the waves set in the Gulf as the wind was absolutely from the East and my course was due East.

Course change between tacks was around 110 degrees, maybe a bit more, I hate pinching (it makes for such horrid sailing). I had plenty of room to move so I was changing tack once each hour which was giving me enough time to get the sail set right(or so I thought) and make everything ship shape before setting the five alarms (course, depth, autopilot, radar proximity and time) and going back to bed.

Snowpetrel thank you for the really good point about the staysail. I keep forgetting it is there and it probably would have been perfect, having the centre of effort much further aft. I am going to wait for the next bit of decent wind forecast and get right out there and try it.

Thank you all again, I feel ready to try that particular challenge again with a fresh set of ideas.

i'm with you on the engine. USUALLY my happiest moment is when I turn the thing off, but I believe I would have cranked it up.

Now you've got my fingers itching for a staysail ... I guess I'd better knit some money!
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Old 01-05-2013, 16:02   #26
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

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Only over night? Luxury!

Maybe try fishing for a blue fin tuna?

Mark

You're LUCKY!

I once had to sail around the world in a bath tub with only an rotted shower curtain for a sail, sailing upwind and against the current the whole way. I had only the plankton that would wash over the sides to eat, and had to pay $20 a day the sea monster who was chasing me.
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Old 01-05-2013, 16:43   #27
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A staysail is not a great solution either because that big furled sail is still out there in the breeze. And I wouldn't be so sure moving the center of effort aft is a plus either. However a staysail is the popular solution...

I had a staysail when I first bought this boat. Tried it a few times. Was not impressed. Removed the entire thing. Too much drag all the time made me think my overall performance was far less. But now I don't have any good option for windward in a blow other than changing the headsail. But since I'm in paradise I just change my destination.

In a blow, reducing drag is paramount for windward progress. The forward thrust produced by sails is not great. It's all to easy to lose it in drag.
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Old 01-05-2013, 17:04   #28
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

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A staysail is not a great solution either because that big furled sail is still out there in the breeze. And I wouldn't be so sure moving the center of effort aft is a plus either. However a staysail is the popular solution...

I had a staysail when I first bought this boat. Tried it a few times. Was not impressed. Removed the entire thing. Too much drag all the time made me think my overall performance was far less. But now I don't have any good option for windward in a blow other than changing the headsail. But since I'm in paradise I just change my destination.

In a blow, reducing drag is paramount for windward progress. The forward thrust produced by sails is not great. It's all to easy to lose it in drag.

The other thing I've had my eye on is an ATN gale sail, which would keep th effort forward and in the right place, while securing my roller furler (Hood 810, which has a nasty habit of deploying itself. It can't do that with an ATN buckled on to it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 17:44   #29
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

Well, sounds like the staysail might work or might not.

I am certainly going to give it a try, and will post a thread on my observations of its performance compared to the partially furled jib. Yes, there's a bit of drag on the furled jib to consider also, but if you've seen a picture of my Swanson 42 you'd see that there is so much windage already it's hard to take that extra windage seriously, and at least it does seem to roll up suprisingly tightly.

Sadly I am dragging around a lot of "stuff" topsides, and the boat has a pretty serious freeboard, so windage will always be an issue for me. Hence I have read the thread on coming into a pen in a 30knot crosswind with great interest. At the moment my solution to that particular problem would be to use one of the spare guest marina pens at our club... but I don't think that really counts as a solution.

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Old 01-05-2013, 17:57   #30
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Re: Beating Home Alone and oh so Slow

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtM View Post
I'm going to assume that you didn't merely forget that you had a motor, and made a conscious choice to stay under sail.

Why not fall off the point and choose a course that would allow you to make better time overall by getting a better angle on the wind and perhaps on the waves?

I'm interested to hear the analysis of more experienced sailors on this. For multihulls, it's often said that this tactic works better than pointing hard into the wind, which is one reason that a catamaran's lack of pointing ability is considered to be unimportant for many people.

Unfortunately, I've not yet had the opportunity to really test this theory in a meaningful way, and am not sure if it applies equally to fat-bottomed monos. Does this particular boat also have a high windage?

EDIT:
After reading the OP's last post, it seems this might have been what he was doing - ?
Yes, to most things. I chose not to use the motor (Though I would have if I thought I was a hazard to myself or other users of the water, but on that particular night NOBODY was on the gulf except three moored tankers). I THOUGHT that was getting a good compromise between pointing and boat speed at the time, though now I am not so sure.

I've heard the argument before that a bit of racing is good for refining your sailing technique, and this is a case in point where I suspect a good racing sailor would have found the best compromise between pointing and speed through the water. How much of that is instinct vs experience I don't know.

And oh YES the Swanson does have high windage. Aside from the generous freeboard she also lugs around a load of crap hanging off the stern, plus all the lovely luxuries like lazy jacks and seriously heavy duty rigging, so my wind profile is more like a flybridge cruiser than a sailing boat.
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