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Old 22-10-2009, 02:52   #1
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Heavy Weather Advice - Beneteau 473

Good day all, I'm new on the forum, but have dropped in frequently in the past.
Up to recently, I sailed a Colvic Sailor 26', mainly in the Irish Sea, but have just spent my life savings on a Beneteau 473, and would appreciate any advise from anyone with the same or similar type boat

My profession is Master Mariner and am skipper of ocean going tugs, and have been for 18 years, and worked at sea for a total of 32 years. This has taught me that the sea needs to be treated with respect and not to overly rely on weather forecasts. Presently I am working out of Aberdeen, engaged in moving oil rigs, and most of you will appreciate that the weather up in the North Sea is not too clever.

The boat I have purchased is not fitted with storm jib or trysail, nor is there any drag device. The mainsail is single line reefing with two reefs.
There is also a furling staysail, but not rigged.

I dont intend to go looking for bad weather, and will gladly run away bravely from a storm, but on the other hand, if I get caught out, I want to be prepared, so looking at the following options

Storm Jib: One option is the type that can be rigged on the rolled genoa, which are very expensive, plus the rolled genoa is not going to help airflow. I have thought about rigging an inner forestay at the same point at which the staysail could be rigged. This could be left attached to the shroud plates when not is use, and then attached to the deck forestay fitting when needed, and then using a conventional hanked on storm jib, with a suitable long tack pennent.

Trysail: Instead of purchasing a trysail, I have thought about having a sailmaker inserting some cringles in the main to allow a third deep reef to be made. I foresee that trying to rig a trysail would not be easy, short or singled handed.

Parachute sea anchor or drogue over the stern. I would imagine that with a fin keel, the boat would yaw a great deal to a sea anchor, but having never used one, this is just a guess. Would a couple of smaller drogues in series over the stern be a better option. How does the 473 or similar cruising boat cope with a heavy stern sea??

Any advise from someone expereienced with this type of boat would be appreciated. I have read through most of the posts debating drogues v. para's, and there seems to be no defined answer, and is probably left to personal preference
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Old 22-10-2009, 03:07   #2
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If you go for a trysail, set it on a separate track to the main. That way, you can hank it on in a neat stow if you think you will need it before the weather gets too bad. Also, you won't be fighting to get the main off and bagged when the conditions are already horrible.
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Old 22-10-2009, 03:12   #3
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Parachute anchors go off the bow of the boat. A drogue goes off the back. The new technology parachute anchor that goes off the bow awill hold you fixed and fine. Theres no real argument about it these days.

Just roll your Genoa up till you have the appropriate amount of sail out. If thats too much and you wanted to put up a storm jiob you couldn't anyway at that wind speed. Storm Jibs, again, are old technology usefull for the days before a furling genoa.

The staysail. I dont see why you have one if you don't have a cutter rig. Perhaps you could get one. They are fun and you can roll up the genoa and keep a smidgen of staysail out.

A trysail as you rightly suggest is bloody useless unless you have a crew or its set up specifically held at the base of the mast on its own track.

A third reef is an option, but may be cheaper would be to just string the 3rd reef as the second, giving a deep second reef. Again, who wants to stuff around trying to get the 3rd reef on the cringle in 40kts when you can do it all from the cockpit?

If you are cruising then the winds over 30 kts are of no value to you so you can depower by having larger reefs and mostly furled genoa.

if you are worried about embayment then you need to keep your engine happy but your sails will suffice.

A shortened main and staysail should let you very happily hove to.




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Old 22-10-2009, 03:30   #4
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If you go for an inner staysail, remember that it must go to the mast at a point where the shrouds exert a counter tension and will keep the stay and luff of the staysail taut. In my experience a genoa, rolled to the size of a small jib is pretty much useless with the wind forward of the beam and, should the reefing line break, you could be in real trouble. Also, a heavily rolled genoa and a heavily reefed main will bring the centre of effort of the sails a long way forward and possibly give you lee helm. Small, well set sails are better than partially rolled ones.

But then I have limited experience of dancing about on the deck of light displacement boats in survival conditions.
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Old 22-10-2009, 03:54   #5
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But then I have limited experience of dancing about on the deck of light displacement boats in survival conditions.
Its exactly the same as a heavy displacement boat... you don't want to be there!

In 'survival conditions' its best to be below with a nice book, making small smells, and enquiring if the weather has passed....
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Old 22-10-2009, 04:04   #6
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We experienced stormy weather (up to 45 knots) crossing the Atlantic, North Sea, Baltic, Med and are very happy with a storm jib set on our cutter rig and triple reefed main - works very well for our medium displacement 40 ft boat. Our strategy is: keep on sailing heading around 60/65 degrees. As soon as we are aware of some nasty weather will come within the next few hours, we roll in the genua / hook on the storm jib / triple reefing the main and put on diving googles.
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Old 22-10-2009, 04:34   #7
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Thanks for the inputs, should have said that the boat is cutter rigged, with the attachment point of the staysail just below the forestay, so no need for additinal backstays. The staysail is a furling type. Having never used a staysail set up, I was not sure what the issues are when trying to tack the main genoa, does it slide through the gap easily enough, or does it need some help. I will be sailing short or singled handed. The staysail is currently sitting in the sail shed
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Old 22-10-2009, 04:48   #8
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I brought a 473 across Biscay a couple of months ago - like yours it only had 2 reefing points - it really needed a third and I advised the owner to get it put in for the future.

Use the furler to reef the Genoa. Best if you get a padded luff on it so as to get a better sail shape when rolled. In heavy weather probably best to furl genoa completely and sail with staysail.

Getting a genoa tacked can be difficult with cutter rig if the slot is small, it often helps to partially furl it first, tack and then unfurl it again.
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Old 22-10-2009, 05:05   #9
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Thanks Ed, I think that will be the option to try, I'll get a deep reef put in the main, then will try it out. I'll be sailing the boat from Ipswich to Liverpool in January, should be a good time to see how she handles in heavy weather
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Old 22-10-2009, 05:56   #10
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I have delivered this type of boat through some bad weather and I second Ed's view, third reef in the main , forget about trysail. If you have a furling inner forestay get the staysail cut for heavy weather, because normally you never use the inner stay in this type of boat.

My experience is that the 473 is a good sea boat she'll see you fine
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Old 22-10-2009, 06:19   #11
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English Channel and Irish Sea in January - Brrrrr, make sure you have your thermal underwear!
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Old 22-10-2009, 07:15   #12
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Thanks Ed, I think that will be the option to try, I'll get a deep reef put in the main, then will try it out. I'll be sailing the boat from Ipswich to Liverpool in January, should be a good time to see how she handles in heavy weather
I think you have gotten some good advice. Get a third reef and have the staysail cut for heavy weather (clew up a bit and sized for 35-40kts).

You will then have a couple upwind options. You can forereach with just the main up 3 rd reef. You can heave-to with the main up and staysail backed. You can close reach with just the staysail. All three are good options when the wind is forward, and just depend on how fast you want to be going and if you need to make progress upwind or just hold station.

The area you are in is not so good for para-anchors off the bow. There are lots of hard bits around, quite a bit of traffic and pretty good currents. So I would not bother with that kit.

For downwind, you will drop the main (boat better balanced and easier to steer with just headsails downwind), and progressively roll up the genoa, until it is a bout half way, and then switch to the staysail. That boat has a flat bottom and broad stern and will like to surf in heavy conditions. That's fine if you have the crew to hand steer, and you will not be so far from a safe harbour, so you will not have to hand steer for all that long; but if you are going to be short handed and using the autopilot the surfing could create some problems/round-ups. You could avoid this by using a drogue. A single element drogue would be fine for your area (And be easier to recover than a multi element), it will keep the stern into the waves and make the steering easier.

Have fun. I love the south and west coast of ireland, and the outer Hebrides are pretty nice also - just a terrific cruising ground.
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Old 22-10-2009, 08:36   #13
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As others have said the staysail on the inner forestay is a nice bit of kit. Not sure if the rig will require runners, maybe talk to Bene about that?

We use our staysail upwind in 35+ knots and downwind in the 45+ knot breezes, works a treat.
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Old 23-10-2009, 01:32   #14
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I put a removable inner forestay and runners on my boat and it's probably the best upgrade I've done.

I rig it when I'm going offshore and typically in anything over 20kts the genoa goes in and the staysail goes up, especially at night. The difference to speed is minimal, the difference in comfort, peace of mind and ease of control is huge.

I don't have experience of the 473, but I do race on a Beneteau 50 regularly. Offshore, we have stopped looking up - too scarey - the mast constanly pumps and wriggles to an alarming degree - inner forestay & runners would help this.
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Old 23-10-2009, 05:03   #15
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Go to Yahoo Groups and do a search for Beneteau473. They have a site there and have a fine group of fellows that have first hand experience with your particular boat.

Yahoo! Groups: Search Results
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