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Old 14-02-2011, 17:46   #1
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Rookie Questions

Hello all!

I'm a complete newbie looking for answers to a couple of questions. The sum total of my sailing experience is an ASA course in November 2009 where the winds rarely picked up enough to allow us to sail without the motor on - so you can imagine how useful that wasn't - and a couple of cruises with my family (wife + 3 kids) in January of last year and again this year. The net is that I really really don't know what I'm doing and would very much appreciate any enlightenment that you folks could shine my way.

My questions are as follows:

1. When sailing a typical charter sloop (43' - 47' beneteau monohull with jib rather than genoa), what wind strength would you consider strong enough to require a reef? Or alternatively can you judge by the amount of heel / difficulty of holding a course?

The question stems from one day on the most recent cruise where winds were forecast at 17-22 knots. Initially this seemed manageable although I did have to ease the mainsail to keep the heel reasonable and once or twice struggled to keep the boat from heading up into the wind. However we then hit a squall (not sure what the wind speed was) which put the boat right over on its side, headed us straight up into the wind within a second or two (I might as well not have even been holding the wheel for all I was able to stop it) and tore the jib from top to bottom and left a small tear in the mainsail as well. Since this happened when we were within 200 yards of a rocky lee shore I have concluded that it's not something I especially want to repeat. In case you're interested my not-so-salty response was to start screaming orders to ensure that my entire crew realized that panic was in order :-), then dive headlong for the engine start switch!

Should I have reefed in 17-22 knot winds in the first place, or just when a squall showed up on the horizon? And what wind speed would typically require a reef?

2. When sailing downwind "wing on wing", I found that I could not keep the jib from doing a lot of flapping and even backing from time to time. This largely seemed to result from the rolling and yawing caused by the swell which was probably about 5' and at a 3/4 angle to the boat. I tried sailing slightly by the lee but even that didn't seem to help much. Is this something that's unavoidable, or should I be able to keep the jib nicely filled? If so, any tips?

3. Above a certain speed (about 5 knots) I found that I could feel the whole boat vibrating or shuddering (that's the best way I can think of to describe it). Is that normal, or indicative of me not setting the sails correctly, or some other error?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
David
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Old 14-02-2011, 17:56   #2
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Before anyone else says it, the rule of thumb, if you have to ask if it's time to reef then it is.

From your description, it was certainly time. If you are having trouble controlling the boat, you are past time.
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Old 14-02-2011, 17:59   #3
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1. reef when overloaded, preferably before you get overloaded, (guess 15 knots upwind, 20 knots downwind or thereabouts),

2. wing and wing when rolly will not work, you can improve things by poling out the clew with a spinnaker pole though, use the preventer on main, too (will not improve wing and wing but do use one),

3. can be an issue with the prop turning (you feel turbulent flow on the rudder foil), with slack steering equipment, a part of the sail flapping and the vibration transfered via the rigging/hull, etc..

b.
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Old 14-02-2011, 17:59   #4
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RebelY,

Hi and welcome, I cannot answer for your particular boat but what I do is when I find i'm consistantly heeling past say around 30 degrees I reef. Also if I hear on the weather radio or if I see signs of a storm I reef ahead of time. This seems to work well for me, my biggest issues are when the wind is funneled by land masses, Ive been caught by a couple of those.
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Old 14-02-2011, 18:05   #5
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. In case you're interested my not-so-salty response was to start screaming orders to ensure that my entire crew realized that panic was in order :-), then dive headlong for the engine start switch!
LOL........Welcome aboard. i am sure you will get plenty of advise on CF.
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Old 14-02-2011, 18:12   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RebelY View Post
Hello all!


My questions are as follows:

1. When sailing a typical charter sloop (43' - 47' beneteau monohull with jib rather than genoa), what wind strength would you consider strong enough to require a reef? Or alternatively can you judge by the amount of heel / difficulty of holding a course?
It varies according to boat and rig. Our boat is fine under all plain sail up to 20 knots or so. Above that, one starts to think about reefing.

If the boat is trying to round up or you are heeling excessively, you have too much sail up. That's the simple answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RebelY View Post
In case you're interested my not-so-salty response was to start screaming orders to ensure that my entire crew realized that panic was in order :-), then dive headlong for the engine start switch!
That would be SOP for experienced sailors, too. Keep up the good work.


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Originally Posted by RebelY View Post
2. When sailing downwind "wing on wing", I found that I could not keep the jib from doing a lot of flapping and even backing from time to time. This largely seemed to result from the rolling and yawing caused by the swell which was probably about 5' and at a 3/4 angle to the boat. I tried sailing slightly by the lee but even that didn't seem to help much. Is this something that's unavoidable, or should I be able to keep the jib nicely filled? If so, any tips?
The mainsail with properly rigged preventer will tolerate sailing by the lee better than the headsail. So it sounds like you had your rig backwards. When sailing wing on wing, keep the main on the windward side and steer carefully -- no less than 10 or more than say 20 degrees off a dead run. Any less than 10 degrees and your headsail will start to give you problems. Any more than 20 -- 25 -- and the main will start to misbehave despite the preventer. Wing on wing is a diffcult configuration and a certain amount of flapping and backing is pretty much par for the course. Don't let it make you nervous.
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Old 14-02-2011, 18:16   #7
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If you're sailing along, and at any time the sails are flogging (fluttering, vibrating, flappint, etc.....)enough to make the boat vibrate, you're not trimmed correctly. Most often I see this on the jib, usually the car being put in the wrong spot.
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Old 14-02-2011, 18:19   #8
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Reefing is kind of cool, the more experienced you are the more likely you will do it earlier.
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Old 14-02-2011, 18:32   #9
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Wow - thanks for all the quick and helpful responses.

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
If you're sailing along, and at any time the sails are flogging (fluttering, vibrating, flappint, etc.....)enough to make the boat vibrate, you're not trimmed correctly. Most often I see this on the jib, usually the car being put in the wrong spot.
When the boat was vibrating the sails weren't flogging - actually they were nicely filled, but once we got over a certain speed the boat just started to shudder. It wasn't a violent shuddering more of a "straining" kind of feeling. Actually the first time it happened I thought must have left the engine on (I hadn't though) because that's exactly what it felt like...

David
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Old 14-02-2011, 18:34   #10
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Another thing to remember.... don't sail so close to shore... unless no other choice and if you do, watch out for acceleration zones if the winds coming of the land... which it sounds like it was.
Better to reef early than late... a flappy sails an unhappy sail
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Old 14-02-2011, 18:39   #11
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That would be SOP for experienced sailors, too. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the info. Screaming "We're all going to die" (accompanied by broad grins) seems to have become the family rallying cry - at least when dad is at the helm :-)

David
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Old 14-02-2011, 18:48   #12
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When the boat was vibrating the sails weren't flogging - actually they were nicely filled, but once we got over a certain speed the boat just started to shudder. It wasn't a violent shuddering more of a "straining" kind of feeling.
Only other thing I've got is the prop, if you don't put the transmission in reverse while you're sailing the prop will turn, without the engine running you'll feel the vibrations a lot more.
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Old 14-02-2011, 19:05   #13
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Only other thing I've got is the prop, if you don't put the transmission in reverse while you're sailing the prop will turn, without the engine running you'll feel the vibrations a lot more.
So I should put the engine in reverse? Didn't realize that. Do I just move the lever back into reverse without having started the engine?

Thanks,
David
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Old 14-02-2011, 19:07   #14
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That's it, you never put it in the direction of travel without the engine running, but opposite will stop the prop and get rid of some of the vibes or sounds.

I should add a disclaimer that there are a handfull of transmissions that this doesn't work with, but they're not typically found on charter boats
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Old 16-02-2011, 11:19   #15
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Another possibility

The vibration could also be caused by the shrouds on the leeward side of the boat. They are usually slack when the boat is pressed and can vibrate. Depending on how things are set up, the vibration could reverberate through the boat.
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