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Old 13-08-2012, 07:33   #1
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Downwind Sailing Ocean

Hi Folks, greetings from germany . I have a question regarding a practical system for downwind sailing.

I have a 44 feet sailing boat with following system installed from the old owner:

2 long carbon whisker poles attached at the mast
1 heavy genoa with approx 600 sqf
1 reacher , lightwind genoa with maybe 700 sqf with snuffer
1 stay sail with 180 sgf
1 genoa 3 with 300 sqf.

I am confused what will be the best setup for a atlantic crossing and a safe one for a crew of 2.

above 25 knots the 600 sqf genoa is quite big already if not going dead down wind. at 5-15 knots it is a little small to push the boat.

i could try to sail passat sail style with genoa plus the reacher on 2 whisker poles. I think this was the old idea from the 80ties when the boat was built. But this will let the problem that i have to use a furled genoa if the wind get strong, and if really strong i only could furl the genoa complete an use the small stay sail. Add. handling of two whiskerpoles is also not that safe or easy.

My idea was to use better a big 120 sqm Asail ( gennnaker, blister ) and the genoa 3 on the furler plus the staysail. The big genoa will be completly removed for the crossing and can be used later

What do you think........on the other hand i have the a.m sails already and A sail need another 2500 uds or if i take a parasailor 2 it will cost 5000 USD . Not easy...

If the wing ist strong i feel much better with the genoa on the furler even if the boat is not that fast anymore because the 600 sqf are really big for normal winches ( no electric)


Thanks for real experience info
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Old 13-08-2012, 07:45   #2
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Re: downwind sailing ocean

What do I think?

I think you need more experience with YOUR boat and YOUR equipment..

Think of the ease or lack thereof in reducing sail when the wind pipes up FROM BEHIND!

In order to reduce sail area

Can you turn into the wind and swells, do you want to? DO YOU HAVE TO?
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Old 15-08-2012, 22:39   #3
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

Since you havent gotten much of a reasponce to this question I will give you my opinion which is just what you pay for it. I did about 30,000 miles in sail boats and my favorite course was DDW(dead down wind). I never used the 2 poles that I had onboard, but always used a poled out jib and a prevented(sometimes reefed) main. I had read that using twin downwind jibs caused lots of rolling, and I believed it and found that a main and jib did not cause excesive rolling. I always had good passages and I think that with the newer types of downwind sails that are available now I could have done better. As as been stated, get out there and do it in your boat and you will learn._____Grant.
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Old 16-08-2012, 00:44   #4
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

I will add my endorsement to simply using a poled out genoa and a prevented mainsail for sailing very deep angles. We have done many thousands of miles thus rigged. Nowadays we also add a solent jib flown to leeward with no pole when it goes light.

I keep reading that this setup is bad somehow... will cause unbearable rolling, the chance of gybing is too great, it is slower than gybing back and forth at 130 or 140 degrees apparent, and so on. Well, it has worked for a great many miles, and I really don't care what the "experts" say.

This method costs little in the way of gear, can be handled by a solo sailor (Ann and I can each handle this arrangement by ourselves and do so now on a 46 foot boat with a big rig).

I wouldn't presume to tell someone how to sail their own boat, but this has worked for us, just as it has for Grant in the above post. YMMV.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 16-08-2012, 01:14   #5
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

Hi Jim and Grant, thanks for your info which is duly noted. I will go the same way because although some expert telling me to handle a 1400 sqf spinnaker or Asymetrical is a easy job i experienced some unpleasant moments when the wind picks up and something went wrong with snuffer bag or roller furler on other boats...... Although i am sailing 30 years already i never had long DDW trips of hours or days or overnight so this i will learn next year when we start from germany and will go down to the MED.
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Old 16-08-2012, 02:54   #6
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

with the type of rig that you describe it is also advantagous to leave the poles "set" ie having them rigged with an uphaul,and a fore and aft downhaul, this way reeffing or changing sails becomes easy,as you dont have your pole flying about during sail changes,once sufficient sail is set the pole can be adjusted.
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Old 16-08-2012, 17:29   #7
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

Flying Free-luff sails (Spi or A-sails) is not to be taken lightly when singlehanded or shorthanded offshore (or inshore, for that matter) - I personally can't see any merit in them other than when racing.

I agree with all those who say that a prevented main* and poled-out headsail is a great option, even midocean. If the sails are well trimmed (pole right length and height, mainsail nicely cut and boom pulled down by a powerful vang), rolling is NOT generally a problem.

If the genoa is the same size (within say 10%) as the main, and the above conditions are met (and the pole is strong enough) this can be the most stable setup of all.

For instance, if you've already gained enough experience in less challenging situations, set up as above (under full main), you should have a fighting chance of being able to hand steer DDW through limited duration squalls with gusts approaching 40 knots true (this is NOT a recommendation: do not PLAN to do this: it's a coping strategy if cornered by circumstances changing too rapidly !).

Provided also that the hull has good lines, the vessel is not too heavy laden, and the rudder is deep and efficient.

Handling the genoa is definitely safer with the recommendation from at least one previous post that the pole is set up independently of the sail, with its own topping lift, foreguy and afterguy.

Not many people know that, provided you're not already overcanvassed, you can even heave to (not as a heavy weather tactic, but in order to deal with a 'situation' - gear failure, problem down below, injury ..... without doing anything to a poled out headsail. (Assuming the pole is of the strength it should be, for you to be potentially using it singlehanded in the first place).

You can also do this, if the pilot or self steering has failed, and you need to (say) put a reef in the main. (except for those boom furling systems which will cannot be reefed with the boom well out - these are not a good choice for single-handing)

To do this: Gybe the main to the same side as the headsail, leaving the mainsheet long enough that the sail is at least as far out as the headsail, harden the preventer (it won't work if you omit this step) then come gently up in to the wind. Leave the wheel lashed hard to weather (ie, trying to round the boat up.)

Those who have done some windsurfing can think of this as analagous to a two-masted windsurfer, preparing to get underway but prior to sheeting in. The windsurfer will remain stable in this situation indefinitely, as will a 'proper' sailing vessel.

Contrary to what you would imagine, the sails cannot flog. Flogging requires that the clew has some freedom to move side-to-side. In the situation described, both clews are held solid, relative to the boat.

Rolling, because of being beam-on to the seas, is also not the problem you might expect, unless you're in a boat which is really beamy at the waterline. The sails in this configuration are still surprisingly resistant to being rolled to windward, and the boat will maintain a very constant heading - generally yawing less than the 'backed headsail' hove-to option.

*(using a system where you can safely ease the main across into a gybe - if the boom is not strong enough to do this easily with a siderail vang, you'll should think about a combination of a classical end-boom preventer and a mid-boom brake)

NOTE: I have responded as though you were singlehanding, because realistically, with a crew of two, you will be handling the boat singlehanded virtually all the time, and even in emergencies, you can't rely on the other person being fully functional. It can be stressful travelling as two, if both parties are not confident on their own.
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Old 16-08-2012, 18:25   #8
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

Ahh the heck with special sail and such for direct downwind sailin !! just bear off a little and things get so much easier!! LOL things don't bounce around and ya can even stay in the bunk and sleep !! WOW how great is That !! I found out years ago a couple of days longer on a passage, don't mean a heck of a lot compared to the comfort of my crew and my boat !! Ive broken more gear trying to save a little time going down wind cus it was blowing right where I want to go !! Give me the comfort of never sailin right down wind !! If I HAVE to to get in a harbor or such I will use my genny and my main it maynot be as fast as other setups but is easier to handle for a man and wife !! Just my 2 cents
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Old 16-08-2012, 21:42   #9
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

I agree with bobconnie about NOT going directly ddw. But I usually find that the boat sails faster reaching than running so I doubt that you lose any time. And it is surely more comfortable!
I crossed the Indian Ocean and Atlantic on my circumnavigation with my main and genoa to leeward and my Yankee poled out to forward weather on a very broad reach. Ballanced very nicely & kept the boat moving well even in light airs.
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Old 16-08-2012, 23:33   #10
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

With our old rig on the colvin, "junk rig" we sailed just fine off the wind on a reach! much faster the ddw!! anytime! I only hope the new to us boat with a staysail ketch will do as well !! I believe it will ! but I have a lot more experince with a schooner rig !
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Old 17-08-2012, 01:32   #11
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

G'Day all,

I've been thinking about the differing experiences reported here and in other similar threads, and have come to the conclusion that those differences really depend on the boat that is involved.

As I reported, we have done lots of near DDW miles utilizing a poled out genoa and prevented main. Our boat is pretty easily driven (big rig, low wetted area, light weight etc) so that the above sail plan gets us up to hull speed (circa 9 knots) in something like 16-18 knots true, which is pretty common fare in the SE trades. That leaves us with something like 10 knots apparent. For us to gain a whole lot of speed we would need to reach up to perhaps 140 or even 130 degrees apparent which takes one a long way off course, and generates a lot more work for a short handed crew. I guess that I should mention that we would still carry the pole at those angles... works well on this boat. So, gybing is a lot of work and does not fit in with our somewhat lazy cruise mode sailing. Additionally, our fairly flat bottomed hull shape seems to resist rolling reasonably well when sailing deep, possibly aided by the fact that our swept-back spreaders keep the mains'l from being eased way out. Incidentally, in much lighter airs we would (if feeling energetic) set our big kite, and with that, reaching up really does great things... and it's fun!

I can easily imagine that things are different on other design boats... say a more traditional shape with fairly slack bilges, lots of displacement, smaller SA and so on. Here a similar wind would likely generate less boat speed, the hull shape would be more prone to rolling and the sailplan (being fully wung out) providing less roll damping. I can then imagine that reaching up would truly make life better, with better VMG and less discomfort.

So, after all this thought, I've decided that we are all sorta correct when we describe what works well for us, but that it does not always extrapolate to other folks boats very well.

Cheers,

Jim

PS I noticed that when I wrote "SA colon D" the program substituted a smiley face... how quaint!
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Old 17-08-2012, 01:52   #12
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

Jim Cate's last post pretty much sums it up I think. I sail an old, S&S, ex race boat with exagerated tumblehome and it rolls a lot going downwind with a poled out genoa - the pole and the boom alternate going in the water and my forearms get real tired from just hanging on. Other boats behave more kindly.
Also, you have to have a steering system that can handle the combination of sails you are using - some combinations can round up quickly in gusts, for example.
Just get out there CFR and see what works for you. Good luck and happy cruising.
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Old 17-08-2012, 02:01   #13
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

From my rear mast cat the stay sail was really useful, set opposite to the other two it took wind spilling forward from the main to keep it filled, and passed that on to the genoa, keeping that filled, in lighter airs particularly when the genoa would collapse and refill with a bit of a bang each time. (Perhaps poles help that?).
If this is your preferred passage plan then consider getting a smaller main made, short on the boom, tall on the mast (long aspect ratio) to reduce yawing, keep the drive forward for stability and tracking, and it makes a really good storm sail on a reach (STORMS ARE NEVER FROM A FAVOURABLE DIRECTION). And in squalls and down draughts being across the wind for a while will help while you get some area off her. Running downwind with following breakers can work well once things are slowed down a bit but mono's do tend to broach forcefully, unexpectedly.
And I do hope you intend maintaining a watch for weather/shipping.
Leaving a boat running down wind is fine for square riggers.
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Old 17-08-2012, 02:50   #14
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

perfect advise , thanks a lot for very valuable information. i will go a just try all the mentioned ideas. i also like the idea to reduce sail of the genoa by furling it in even when poled out. my poles are both fixed at the mast with railcars but good idea to set a complete set of up/downpulls and for and aft guys. at least i will preare the necessry system for it. normally i used only up/down pull and the sheet but i agree it will be a more satble set up with for and aft guys.
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Old 17-08-2012, 02:59   #15
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Re: Downwind Sailing Ocean

CFR, just read back to you OP. Not sure where the long downwind runs are going to come from, English Channel SW winds, west coast France SWerlies.
For info / passage planning Cowes, North coast of Isle of White has very good facilties for bigger yachts, nice shopping, Shephards Marina being the one on the west shore, after the ferry terminals. Overnighting to nights can be a good idea, showers, shopping and a chance to sleep soundly and review the next phase. Fuel nearby. For a longer break and refresh there's the Folly Inn, upstream. Drinking and dining, good pontoons.
Cowes is an easy entry and not a big diversion though there is BIG traffic, heading up to Southampton and into Portsmouth of course. Portsmouth traffic (naval) and the commercial ships run at 18kts, difficult to judge by eye, they do creep up on you very quickly. Keeping watch astern is a habit quickly learned.
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