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Old 11-08-2014, 15:28   #1
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Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

I have to spend a day in London on business in a couple of days, and I have a ticket out of Copenhagen. Unfortunately, my plan to get a couple hundred miles Southwest daysailing around the coast of Sweden has been interfered with by strong SW winds.

Today I left Kalmar trying to get some ways SSW, and the damned wind was -- SSW. And it was blowing 22-25 then 25 and above as the day went on.

It's hard to reach a destination dead upwind in these conditions.

The first thing I tried, just to set a baseline, was motoring dead upwind. This is useless over 20 knots -- 4 knots of boat speed using a lot of revs (2700 or so). Tons of green water over the bow. The next thing I tried was was jogging along motorsailing with staysail and reefed main, at a higher angle than usual (about 30 degree versus my usual 37 degrees AWA). This worked pretty well. I was undercanvassed but this allowed me to keep the boat upright (don't want oil starvation in the engine). I made 5 to 6 knots; VMG of about 4.5 or so, but with much less effort with the engine loping along at 2000. The seas were not high at all (they never are here in the Baltic), but vicious and steep. I got tons of green water on deck (even got through my dorades into the forecabin! ), and every time a big wave crashed on board, I would lose my momentum.

Then I tacked, and because the seas were not running in the same direction as the wind, I was able to sail pretty well. Shut off the engine and sailed at 7.5 knots.

My usual technique for making miles upwind in stronger weather is -- to simply avoid doing it. But I have no choice here -- I've got to get to within train distance of Copenhagen by Wednesday afternoon. Anyone have any other experience or technique to share? Tomorrow will be even stronger than today, and I really need to get at least 35 miles further -- and dead upwind
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Old 11-08-2014, 15:55   #2
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

You are doing better than me already. Just gut it out?
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Old 11-08-2014, 16:20   #3
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

Start real early, like the middle of the night.
Seemingly every time I want to go somewhere, it's upwind
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Old 11-08-2014, 16:33   #4
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

You (unfortunately) have all the correct answers in your post.

#1 don't motor directly into decent size waves - waste of time. You can motor directly into the wind if there is no fetch/waves.
#2 with waves do motor with mainsail up at shallow angle (22 degrees on Hawk is usually about optimal). Just slightly different than in your post . . . . I use more mainsail and no jib/staysail. I feather out the mainsail to the desired heel angle - which Yanmar suggests is under 15 degrees, which is more heel than I suspect you are using. Make the mainsail as flat as you can - pull in outhaul.
#3 sailing into waves you need to use more (sail) power (with resulting more heel) than you usually do to punch thru them. Once going down the uruagray coast we needed to make significant progress into 30kts (to get to harbour before a 55kt front came thru). We usually have a double reef in by 25kts (true) but needed full main to punch into this sea (25-30 degrees of heel). What is optimal here will depend a bit on your keel.
#4 I second the 'go at night' suggestion, because often the winds are less (because of land heating/cooling). That is a proven/usual option for instance going west in the beagle canal when there is often 30kt's westerly during the day but 5-10kts less at night.
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Old 11-08-2014, 16:36   #5
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

you never want to attempt the red sea 1400miles pretty much all to windward!
the last bit is the worst !
been down to 1.5 knots with the 150 hp at 2800 rpm in the straits of gubal!
main hard in with 2 reefs works well

hand steering will allow you to read the waves better,and not get stopped as often,(losing momentum),thats when you really appreciate a pilot house inside steering position!
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Old 11-08-2014, 16:38   #6
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

The forecasts I see don't have the winds shifing nor decreasing in strength until late Wednesday.
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Old 11-08-2014, 16:41   #7
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

Quote:
Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
You (unfortunately) have all the correct answers in your post.

#1 don't motor directly into decent size waves - waste of time. You can motor directly into the wind if there is no fetch/waves.
#2 with waves do motor with mainsail up at shallow angle (22 degrees on Hawk is usually about optimal). Just slightly different than in your post . . . . I use more mainsail and no jib/staysail. I feather out the mainsail to the desired heel angle - which Yanmar suggests is under 15 degrees, which is more heel than I suspect you are using. Make the mainsail as flat as you can - pull in outhaul.
#3 sailing into waves you need to use more (sail) power (with resulting more heel) than you usually do to punch thru them. Once going down the uruagray coast we needed to make significant progress into 30kts (to get to harbour before a 55kt front came thru). We usually have a double reef in by 25kts (true) but needed full main to punch into this sea (25-30 degrees of heel). What is optimal here will depend a bit on your keel.
#4 I second the 'go at night' suggestion, because often the winds are less (because of land heating/cooling). That is a proven/usual option for instance going west in the beagle canal when there is often 30kt's westerly during the day but 5-10kts less at night.
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Old 11-08-2014, 16:58   #8
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

This all sounds so familiar. Trying to get anywhere in the Great Lakes is similar especially if you are in the shallower parts. Short steep seas - not overly high by mid-ocean standards making forward progress difficult. I found that motor sailing off the wind with much shortened canvas works rather well. The reefed sails keep the boat relatively flat so as to prevent oil starvation in the motor and the drive from the prop helps keep her in the wind even with the sails not in the best shape due to the reefing (especially with the roller reefed headsail).

I was sure I wasn't the only person to have figured that out. I know I ain't that smart. I have met folks who eschew the cast iron genny thingie and have watched them sail at 6kts (mostly up, down and sideways) for hours. I know one gentleman in particular sailed like that all the time until he started taking on paying daysail passengers. He was perfectly content to do this. But, then, he really had no place he needed to be. That makes things a bit different.
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Old 11-08-2014, 19:01   #9
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

I can only think of one other thing that might help, Dockhead. If this is a region affected by big tides, use the water going in the direction you want to go to help you along. If you're willing to sail on both the favored and the unfavored tacks, turn off the motor and just sail it. Good luck.

Ann
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Old 12-08-2014, 02:43   #10
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
I can only think of one other thing that might help, Dockhead. If this is a region affected by big tides, use the water going in the direction you want to go to help you along. If you're willing to sail on both the favored and the unfavored tacks, turn off the motor and just sail it. Good luck.

Ann
Couple things about that:

1. No tidal currents in the Baltic.

2. You don't want to use this technique in tidal areas like the Channel, not at all! Why not? Because when you are going upwind on a fair tide, you have wind-over-tide! You lose a lot more from the square waves than you gain from the fair tide! Don't ask me how I know this! On the contrary, in a good blow, like we often get in the Channel, you want a foul tide, because it smooths out the seas. It is then easier to make forward progress, and you generally (wind over 20 knots) gain more than you lose from the tidal stream.
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Old 12-08-2014, 02:46   #11
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

Quote:
Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
You (unfortunately) have all the correct answers in your post.

#1 don't motor directly into decent size waves - waste of time. You can motor directly into the wind if there is no fetch/waves.
#2 with waves do motor with mainsail up at shallow angle (22 degrees on Hawk is usually about optimal). Just slightly different than in your post . . . . I use more mainsail and no jib/staysail. I feather out the mainsail to the desired heel angle - which Yanmar suggests is under 15 degrees, which is more heel than I suspect you are using. Make the mainsail as flat as you can - pull in outhaul.
#3 sailing into waves you need to use more (sail) power (with resulting more heel) than you usually do to punch thru them. Once going down the uruagray coast we needed to make significant progress into 30kts (to get to harbour before a 55kt front came thru). We usually have a double reef in by 25kts (true) but needed full main to punch into this sea (25-30 degrees of heel). What is optimal here will depend a bit on your keel.
#4 I second the 'go at night' suggestion, because often the winds are less (because of land heating/cooling). That is a proven/usual option for instance going west in the beagle canal when there is often 30kt's westerly during the day but 5-10kts less at night.
Very useful, thanks!

Unfortunately, since I had hoped there might be some new secret, that's more or less what I do. After a certain sea state, you can't do much but sail hard, because you need more power than the engine can provide. At some point it becomes impossible to make progress upwind in any way which I know. Which is why lee shores are dangerous.
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Old 12-08-2014, 03:33   #12
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

Dockheada

Sailing these waters, I'm afraid I'm in agreement with everyone lese here - you're doing about all you can do (aren't these really steep Baltic waves just fun? The danish expression when sailing up into them is "pounding pilings" (translation), which expresses the feeling adequately.

Go at night. Looking at the forecast, the winds will not drop much, but the gusts will be almost non-existent tonight. So winds of 10-15 knots with few gusts.

good luck
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Old 12-08-2014, 03:43   #13
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

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Dockheada

Sailing these waters, I'm afraid I'm in agreement with everyone lese here - you're doing about all you can do (aren't these really steep Baltic waves just fun? The danish expression when sailing up into them is "pounding pilings" (translation), which expresses the feeling adequately.

Go at night. Looking at the forecast, the winds will not drop much, but the gusts will be almost non-existent tonight. So winds of 10-15 knots with few gusts.

good luck
For the conditions, that sounds like an excellent forecast: go for it, Dockhead, and best of good fortune to you. If your backstay can be tightened a bit for hard on the wind, that may help,too.

I'm pretty sure you *know* all this stuff, but if you can put yourself in *experiment* frame of mind, maybe you'll find a way to get in the groove. I'm not such a good sailor as that, seems to me like there's always a favored tack, and then it's back to arithmetic!

Good sailing to you,

A.
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Old 12-08-2014, 04:29   #14
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

Perhaps a little bit late - but you can catch a direct train to Copenhagen airport from Kalmar, Karlskoroner or basically anywhere along the south Swedish coast. (Including Ystad).

I was caught in the exact same wind, except I was coming more from the north, Hallands Vadero, trying to make it to the top of Zealland. It wasn't fun, especially in my lil' 24 footer. A small consolation is that the girlfriend handled it much better than I could have hoped, with high spirits the whole time!
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Old 12-08-2014, 05:49   #15
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Re: Making Progress Upwind in Strong Conditions

My trick is a small, flat, high aspect, foresail plus engine.

You have already tried this and it seems to work for you too.

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