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Old 07-08-2010, 18:56   #1
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Dowsing Your Main on a Run

Say it is blowing 20 to 25 and you are on a deep reach or run and suddenly it kicks up to 30 to 35. You need to reef down big time so you decide to dowse your main completely and sail under reefed genny. So you need to head up get the sail down, right? But now you have a flogging mess on the foredeck that is threatening to back and heave the boat too uncontrolably in a huge chop. You fire up the engine to keep the bow into the wind but you have a genny sheet in the water and it stalls the engine. Your wife panics and decides to leave you and your boat sinks.

what is the proper way to do this to avoid this sloppy mess? Do you sheet the main in hard while on a run dealing with the extreme weather helm, and dowse that way? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
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Old 07-08-2010, 19:24   #2
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You'll wish you have a low friction mainsail track, for starters. Also, you'll wish you'd bought that lighter boat and kept her light so that your apparent wind is less than 20.

I'd try the wind at 130-140 apparent. Over sheet the main a bit. A little vang. Pull it down. Sometimes they get winched down using the luff reefing lines.

Motoring into the wind? No.

The person on the helm must do super human steering during the operation to prevent bad stuff.

Some boats may like a reefed main better than a reefed genoa. Often easier to put reefs in than douse the main completely.

Good question. It's a tough moment that you describe.
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Old 07-08-2010, 19:33   #3
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Not sure I completely understand the situation but at first glance it looks like heaving to would be an option.
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Old 07-08-2010, 20:49   #4
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The term "reef early", probably comes to mind.Lazyjacks are handy,they help me do it solo,with the help of the AP.Whole process takes less than 2 minutes at the mast,sometimes a little wet and bumpy,then I'm off and running again.
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Old 07-08-2010, 21:06   #5
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The decision to take in a reef is usually made too late! I like the idea of heaving to in order to put the reef in the main. Then, after getting under way again, roll up some of the genny using the reefed main as a 'wind shadow'.
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Old 07-08-2010, 21:48   #6
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Heaving to with a Genoa in 35 knots may destroy some rigging. Plus be quite exciting to turn out of. The side loads of being hove to with a genoa and main up in 35 knots are rude. Better to be flying along downwind. Put in two reefs and be dome with it.
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Old 07-08-2010, 21:49   #7
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First things first. See that no one gets hurt or falls overboard. Stay in the cockpit if at all possible - especially if it's just you and your wife onboard. No engine - just another thing to cause problems.

Second. Don't jibe. That could add "lose your mast" to your worries. Come up a little to a broad reach. If the sails start to luff some, it's good.

Third. I assume the genoa is on a furler. Roll it up. All the way. This isn't a race. Going slow is fine. The boat will steer fine . Keep some tension on the sheet to keep things from wrapping.

Fourth. Go to a beam or close reach and put a big luff in the main. Let the boat slow down. If you had a preventer on the boom, release it (hopefully you can do this from the cockpit). If you have to leave the cockpit wear a harness.

It should be now quite easy to put a reef in the main. Resume a broad reach course. Tack down wind if necessary (and don't be embarrassed to tack instead of jibe).

Leave the genoa rolled up until the boat is going slower than you'd like and your wife starts to look like she'll go sailing with you next time.

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Old 07-08-2010, 21:56   #8
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Practice, practice, practice w/o the wife until you get it right. Then take'r out.

When the wind gets above 20 then it's time to get DEAD serious, play time is over and the work begins. And experience will be your only friend if there are no other experienced sailors aboard.

One thing I've learned is to use my foresail for sailing and the main as the accelerator with the inclinometer as the speedometer. If the boat heals over too far with the sails all tight then I ease off on the main. If still too much healing then it's time to reef the foresail. If that doesn't do it then it's time to reef the main. And keep on working the sails down until all is under control.

inclinometer, inclinometer, when it's too much reef down.

Down wind is another story.
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Old 07-08-2010, 22:13   #9
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Hmmm. I'd never sail under foresail only in a blow. Maybe when it's light and the main misbehaves. Foresail only removes too many options from the table and is destabilizing.

Maybe the divergence in opinions here is from racing light boats vs. chunder beasts.

I'd roll up the headsail all the way somewhere between the second and third reefs. The rolled up genoa is enough drag by itself. I want to be able to sail out of a situation. (Like fish on! or a reef) Flying foresail only is hobbling the girl. With the main you can turn every direction, stop, crawl upwind, whatever. Genoa only has SundaySailor written all over it.
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Old 07-08-2010, 22:14   #10
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I have to agree that heaving to with a full genoa might be a problem and on second thought I'd roll up the genoa by a third or more first and then heave to in order to reef the main. I use a 135 Genoa. A larger sail might possibly offer a greater challenge. The low friction track is also a good idea and I currently have one on order just to make this kind of job an easier one.
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Old 07-08-2010, 22:20   #11
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as the wind increases:
- reduce the genoa to a working jib
wind increases more..
- put a reef in the main
more wind!
- put another reef in the main
even stronger winds
- put up a storm jib
wind continues to build
- put a third reef in the main
even more!
- put up a tri-sail
wind builds ever stronger

take up golf!
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Old 07-08-2010, 22:21   #12
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Can one reef the main while hove to? I would think you'd sail out of the heave-to, with a dramatic gybe.

I always reef while sailing. I try to not even flog the main. Just slightly eased as it eases plenty on it's own when the halyard is eased. Flogging just tangles the leech reef lines.

Don't underestimate how mush sailing fast unloads the sails making everything easier. The magic of square-law loads.
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Old 07-08-2010, 22:25   #13
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20-25 I would have a reef in already. 35 knot wind generates some nasty seas; I wouldn't want to be on a run with that as the sea state builds. No way in hell would there be a genoa anywhere in sight at 35 knots. Ditto for the engine. Reefed main, furled yankee around 20 knots, keep reefing and maybe drop a reef in the staysail. I hate sailing overpowered. No fun.
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Old 07-08-2010, 22:57   #14
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We where out in 20 knts and it built to 30-35knts on a broad reach yesterday full main and number 3 jib, 5 miles offshore 2 -3 metre swell with sea on top.

With the factional rig we come up into the wind get the main off the spreaders and reef on real issues put in 2 reefs (lazy jacks).

Have reefed her heave-too as well all centres around the conditions.
We sail 2 handed reefing early is easier not as much fun.

Just have to get out and try things out to suit your boat.
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Old 07-08-2010, 23:05   #15
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The last time I had full canvas up in 25 knots I was on a beam reach and broached a 32' Ericson when it gusted to 28. No fun, not safe, stuff went flying everywhere in the cabin and I was standing on a stanchion until it righted.

Different boats, different strokes. I'm getting soft in my old age.
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