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Old 27-01-2010, 09:46   #16
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First of all, it sounds like a great days sailing where you got good experience and nothing worse happened than some water dripping through the hatches. One of the great things about a ketch, is all the options you have for adding or reducing sail. The more you try the different combinations, the more you will learn what works for your particular ketch. On my boat, I can handle 25 knots going to weather with full sails, but with a reef in the main, I lose very little speed, flatten out, have an easier helm, and don't have to hang on during the bigger gusts.
I would agree that single handed daysailing in 25 knots with slab reefing, I wouldn't be bothered with tying the sail up with reef knots. As long as the foot is flat I'd be happy.
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Old 27-01-2010, 10:56   #17
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From all I've read and not much experience:
If you reef and the boat doesn't slow down you reefed too late and probably need to reef again.
Be aware of which angle you are sailing, you might well be comfy as you are but if you turned to hard into wind [or straight down wind] (man over board) would the boat still handle easily.
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Old 27-01-2010, 11:15   #18
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@Tareua: yes, ketches are lovely. Remember that it is the heeling that makes sailboats round up, not the wind speed or balance of the sails (the heeling is such a big factor that you can take it as the only reason for a rule of thumb).

@Eleven: you are right, but during a MOB you don't care about comfort or even rig damage so it is not wise to shorten sail on a downwind passage just to be prepared for a MOB situation. Remember that more time spent at a passage also means more squalls, more freak waves and more risks. Sail the boat defensively but decisively and when someone goes MOB, ignore sails flapping themselves to death and just get the h@! back to the lost crew member! It is nice and good to practice MOB maneuvers without using the engine, but practice it with the engine too and if it gives you better times to retrieve the person/object, use the fastest technique you master, no matter what. Keep an eye on the prop and dragging lines and full attention when the MOB comes close to the prop.

ciao!
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Old 27-01-2010, 11:36   #19
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Jedi, here in the Puget Sound the small craft warnings come out at about 8 knots, so it's been awhile since I worried too much about rounding up. I don't heel much without there first being wind, so it's kind of a chicken vs. egg thing, but I know what you mean. Particularly in my racing days, the race would start as a drifter and a front would occasionally come thru with wind to 25 and you'd think a typhoon had hit the fleet. Skittish boats packed together with crews not used to being over canvassed made for a lot of good stories later.
Speaking of stories, I like yours about the reef at dinner time. I have been the wet cushion guy, and it is waaay better being the rested guy who gets to enjoy his food.
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Old 27-01-2010, 12:24   #20
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How a boat balances with various sail configurations is entirely dependent on how the boat reacts. It has nothing to do with how the racers do it on their boat or reefing from the front to the back. Reefing order is all about your boat and your experience.

I've had two boats that demanded to have the main reefed first. If I didn't get mainsail area reduced, the boats were in danger of losing control or unable to maintain a heading in gusts. On one of these, I normally dropped the main entirely and kept the 150 Genoa up to 20 mph winds. Changing out to the working jib and leaving the main cost big time in boat speed and still left the boat on the edge, usually the wrong edge, of control. On my current boat, I have to get a reef in the main to be able to maintain a heading in gusts. Boat doesn't go crazy like the previous one, just needs a reduced main to have full heading control. On this boat, the reefing order with increasing winds is, 1st reef in the main, reduce jib size, 2nd reef in main, reduce headsail further. Haven't had the good fortune to need to go to the 3rd reef point or the storm jib yet.
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Old 27-01-2010, 14:41   #21
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@Tareua: I think most of us have been the wet cushion guy ;-) I wish I could say that was the worst that happened to me, but I've had much more water than just wet cushions!

@roverhi: let's say I don't think you are right... would you be willing to do a little experiment? If so, next time the wind pipes up, fall off a bit to a beam reach and completely furl away the genoa. Feel the boat and next drop the main and unfurl the genoa. If you try I am convinced that you will find a relation between heel and course stability which is much more defined than between the change in sail plans and course stability. The trouble is that less sail usually means less heel and there is some effect of the sail plan too so it can get very confusing... but if you concentrate on the heel angle and it's effect on the tendency to round up or not, it will make things clear.

Most people think that more jib means the bow gets pushed away from the wind. So, that can be tested too: furl the genoa halfway in and reef the main a bit. Now sail a steady course around a beam reach. Get a feel for the boat or better, read the rudder angle. Now, let someone unfurl the genoa. I bet ya that the boat will need more counter rudder instead of less, the simple reason being that the boat heels more with the full genoa.

You could find the same thing during a calm. Lower all sails and go slowly on the engine. Put the engine in neutral to eliminate any prop effects and lock the rudder so that you go straight. Now, move all people aboard to the toe-rail on one side and see if you go straight or not. You will most likely make a turn towards the high side of the boat. If not, you need more people or you have the ultimate hull shape ;-)

Dinghy sailors learn this quickly because hanging over the side or getting into the trapeze makes the boat suddenly fall off and shoot away in full plane. They need to be level to go into plane (to get the flat surface on the water) which exaggerates the effect. When they heel excessively just before that moment, the boat is completely out of steering control and will round up no matter what you do. I once broke my tiller (I sailed a Laser) trying to fall off during a gust. Also, a competition-grade gybe is always preceded by a negative heel (heeling the wrong way) This steers the stern through the wind and gets the end of the boom up so that it comes over quicker and prevents the sheet from wrapping around the stern. You learn this quickly when sailing a dinghy because you can't sail it with 20+ knots of wind when you don't know it. That is why dinghy sailors become great yacht sailors later on ;-))

But I am serious... the bigger the boat, the less effect but it is still there and it gets very noticeable when the wind pipes up. This is also related to the many sailors who prefer the old full keel designs over modern designs, claiming the old designs sail better because of their full keel. That isn't true... they sail better because these boats are much narrower than most modern designs. A narrow beam-to-length ratio brings the hull shape closer to that of a floating pipe with closed & pointed ends which is the only hull that doesn't change it's shape of the underwater part under heel. A narrow boat also keeps the rudder in the water better. So yes, these boats sail better than the beamy modern designs but it is their better balanced hull shape.

I just got the urge to delete this message and replace it with just one short paragraph... but I'll just add it here:

Considering that the architects and builders put the mast in the correct position and created a balanced sail plan for your boat, the whole balance while underway is defined by the underwater hull shape. The more symmetrical that is, the more balanced. As all boats' underwater hull shapes are symmetrical when upright and become more and more asymmetric when heel increases, limiting heel is the single most important thing to do when the boat starts to round up. Changing fore/aft sail ratio's is more like fine tuning.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 27-01-2010, 15:12   #22
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Excellent posts, Nick. Thank you. I'm in agreement.

I might add, however, that reefing the main first many times is more effective at lowering the center of effort than does roller reefing the 120-140 jib, so heeling is more quickly reduced by reefing the main first.

I have a boat of moderate beam and moderate B/D ratio, but has a bit more canvass than normal for a boat of its ilk, so we get to reef early when the sailing gets good. Having experimented, reefing the main first works best for us, and I think that relates to the lowering of the center of effort more than anything else. The jib is a 140 monster hung off a short bowsprit.

* * *

I have never been a wet cushion kid of guy. One of my faults, I suppose. To me, it's a contest of who has the most fun. Of course, fun is subject to differing interpretations. But with my interpretation, I always seem to win the contest. He who makes the rules . . . .

But I did start out dinghy sailing.

(PS Highracer is a specific type of recumbent bicycle. Has nothing to do with sailing.)
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Old 27-01-2010, 15:41   #23
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Ok just woke up and thanks muchly for all the info and replies. And in reply to a few questions and a bit of additional info.

The boat has a reefing system where i lower the main, and then tie 4 points (3 of them with ropes hanging through the sails) to the boom. Not sure what that is called sorry. The spreader wire that hangs from main mast to ground is set pretty close to the center of the boat which means it's less then a 90 degree angle, ie if i have the main at 90 degrees then the spreader wire would be at about 75-80? meaning the sail shape of the main goes like a M when running with the wind. Which is what was happening when i had the reef in. About half the sail was full with wind and curving out till it got to the spreader wire(more U shaped) then next half was another U (though not as full with wind). I read somewhere to be careful not putting too much pressure on the spreaders when sailing downwind. Though i was on a bream reach for most of the time and the actual angle of the boom was 45 degrees. I'm thinking i probably didn't have the reefing points tied down correctly which made the sail shape a bit wonky. Will definately learn the square knot and bowlines.

Also, I should have mentioned that at the moment even though i'm sailing a ketch I only have a jib and the main sails up. Need to put the mizzen and genoa up but a few people mentioned learning to sail with only a couple of sails up so there is less to worry about. Definitely need too at least get the mizzen up soon though.


I didn't notice too much weather helm... but er.. I was sailing under autopilot most of the time. ^^. Just figured out the autopilot a while ago so i've been mainly sailing with autopilot then spending my time trying to adjust sail shape or enjoying the scenery.

ps:- And yep i'm slowly adjusting to the cruising life, was a computer nerd till recently so it's a bit of a lifestyle change^^, still, not trying to go fast in my boat at all. Ie Dont' think i'll be racing anyone around the bay anytime soon(though i am still a young whippersnapper...) and i'll definitely be reefing at night when cruising (though only been doing daysails so far). Main reason i didn't' batten down the hatches yesterday was because it was a spur of the moment decision to leave anchorage (ie twas getting a bit rolly in the morning and i decided to quickly get everything ready and head out, hatches were forgotten in the haste) + wind forecast so even once i remembered (after leaving the anchorage) i elected to stay in the cockpit. SHould have gone below to get everything secured, ah well definitely next time.
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Old 27-01-2010, 15:45   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiracer View Post
The jib is a 140 monster hung off a short bowsprit.
Very minor point of clarification: "E" and "J" measure exactly the same on my boat.
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