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Old 23-05-2008, 06:08   #16
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Wow, this is great! Never before have I seen such helpful discussion without so much as a single negative post...I like it!
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Old 23-05-2008, 06:49   #17
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The search for deeper water would have been my main concern. A scrap of head sail to steady the boat. A scrap is easy to tack, and will keep you much more comfortable. One of the most important things in keeping a heading via compass.....LEFT IS LESS has always worked with new comers. For some it is disorienting to drive by compass. People become dyslexias, but LEFT IS LESS always works. Keeping a good heading is vital.

I know the winds keep changing, but so can your point of sail up til you are headed towards land, or a shoal. One of the most important things to remember about this experience....IS NOT TO FORGET IT. You got through it, and you are much smarter, and this will help keep you safer in future sails.

On another forum someone's quote is CALM SEAS DO NOT MAKE FOR A GOOD SAILOR. You got to get out in the thick of it to learn to be prepared.....Welcome home safely sailor...............
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Old 23-05-2008, 06:55   #18
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One last thought. I was leaving Puerta Vallarta, and headed for Cabo. We got into 24 hours of snot. After 18 hours my friend, and I were tired, and the seas got steeper. We had been powering, but as we came off the waves the wind would throw us down wind. You just hate to give up any ground made towards your destination.

I decided to go with it, and turned around with a scrap of headsail. We had 150 miles before we hit the mainland. The boat thanked me profusely. I also started the motor, and put it in reverse to slow down our forward progress
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Old 23-05-2008, 07:22   #19
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I would have set a storm jib and possibly a reefed main and tried to head away from land. You did well though as you could walk rather than swim home

I had a similar experience a couple of years ago. I think I'll post it in Silors Confessional.

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Old 23-05-2008, 07:33   #20
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Once again I thank you all for your responses. I believe the consensus is that what I did was adequate but would have been helped by the addition of a bit of canvas. As to what canvas, I'd be better off experimenting in some less stressful conditions such as 20 - 30 miles out with winds in perhaps the 30 knot range. My own inclination based upon my present experience is that a double reefed main would be my first choice.

One item I'm still not sure of is that when heaving to, which my full keel does very well, would I stay hove to with rapidly shifting wind direction?

I knew there was a reason for joining this forum.

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Old 23-05-2008, 08:33   #21
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In those conditions, I would not use my roller furling at all. The thought of that thing letting loose and trying to get it back in, in those conditions would not be worth the risk. I even tie a few sail ties around mine just so that it won't unfurl. A roller furling looses too much shape when deeply reefed, sets too high, (CE) and is not of the right gauge.

I imagine a reefed staysail would perform better, though, I have little experience with them, having sailed sloops. I'm guessing , The effort of a staysail would be lower and more centered.

Why shut the engine down, even if it's at idle. I want to know that I can apply power to alter course if necessary. When the wind is blowing like that, I think your engine noise is the least of your worries. The ability to use all the tools at your disposal is prudent imho.

In the storm that I described above, we travelled very little distance over ground, the basic stategy was just to hold ourselves into the wind. The boat never heeled.

I don't have a staysail. I don't like the idea of not having a storm jib, I've been seriously considering the Gale sail. It's one of the options I have with a roller furling. It seems to be a good compromise for, the time being. I'm not eager to install an inner forestay at the moment.

I've sailed for 36 hours downwind from the Cape Fear River to the St Johns River FL. in 22knot winds and 6-8 foot seas with just a tiny headsail rolled out, but the wind was constant in both velocity and direction, not veering or gusting, I could have probably flown my jockey shorts and made 5 knots.
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Old 23-05-2008, 08:43   #22
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My roller furling is let out by way of a winch when it is blowing. It is a dedicated winch. If the roller furling sail has foam built into the luff then it will still hold a decent shape. The staysail is a better option at times. More than once the staysail was the sail of choice, and at times it alone.
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Old 23-05-2008, 09:01   #23
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Yeah, I don't quite understand the roller furling comment either. I respect it, but in my experience, they work just fine if you have them properly rigged/tuned (many people don't).

I used it in 30 gusts to 40 yesterday and had absolutely no problem.
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Old 23-05-2008, 09:20   #24
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The only time I've had trouble with the RF is when the headstay was way too loose. This made furling a real female dog and didn't do anything for windward performance either.

However, on my cutter rig, if there is too much headsail flying my windward angles can deteriorate to non-existent. That is, I get to tack through 90 degrees instead of my normal 55 degrees. That's why when winds get above 25 or so I tend to roll it up and use the main with staysail. No real loss of speed, just better handling and angles.

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Old 23-05-2008, 09:28   #25
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It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarter-back but since you asked, the following are my thoughts. Firstly, however, as we live in the Sarasota area and have made the passage you describe, and are preparing to do so again shortly, I don’t understand a number of things:

“We'd left Key West the day before heading for Venice for an overnight stay before finishing in Tarpon Springs” and…“After a day and night of motoring on glassy seas, dawn found us about 6-7 miles off of Sarasota

Sarasota is 15+ miles (as the crow flies) past Venice inlet. On a CR38, I’m assuming you were motoring at probably 6.5 knots or so. How did you manage to miss Venice by 15 miles (2+ hours?). Frankly, Venice is one of the easiest inlets to traverse and had you followed your float plan, you might easily have been anchored at Higel Park and missed the excitement. Never-the-less…

“Water depths, if I recall were around 20-30 feet” . Within 6 miles of Big Pass, the water is still only 30-36 feet deep. The 10 fathom line doesn’t show up ‘till you’re about 12 miles off, but the 10 fathom curve is arguably where one should be for a north-south traverse of this coast except when entering or leaving a pass.

“Just about dawn we started to pick up local weather on the VHF and we caught the word "severe". A very short time later there was enough light to see the blackest wall of weather it has ever been my misfortune to see - dead ahead.”

NWS Radio Transmits from Venice on 162.4 MHz with an effective service radius of 40 miles (or more with a good VHF). That service area ranges from Captiva to the south to Egmont Key and beyond to the north. From the description of your yacht, I suspect your fixed mountVHF is capable of receiving NOAA Severe Weather Alerts unless it is very old or you did not enable the scan function. In the event of severe weather--including sever squall lines--the NOAA transmits alerts on all channels covering the effected area. If one’s radio is programmed to scan the weather channels, it will lock onto the alert and give off a very objectionable 1050 Hz warning tone and subsequent weather notice. With that you would have received a weather warning much in advance of coming in contact with the system itself. I suspect you may also have a radar. Unless it is very old it is surely capable of detecting rain squalls and will do so very far off with a big, nasty, system, even with radar of limited range. A normal radar watch at 15 minute intervals would have revealed that system well in advance and may have allowed you to head off to avoid it. If it were an unaviodable line squall coming out of the northwest, which I suspect, with radar you would have been able to find the narrowest hole to head for and punch through.

“Sail covers were off” but I assume the main was flaked and tied down and the headsail furled. We occasionally see other sailing yachts underway in light to no air with all sails furled and flaked although I don’t understand the rationale. If the main is uncovered, its being exposed to sunlight anyway so it might as well be doing something useful, like stabilizing the boat. A sailing yacht under power in light to no air is much more comfortable under power with the main up and hard sheeted with the traveler hauled out-board. The yacht’s forward motion creates an apparent wind that stabilizes the sail which keeps the boat from rolling around so much, particularly here where one is routinely subjected to the wakes of power-boats passing near-by at speed. And, with the sail up, one can quickly drop down to the 1st or 2nd reef with the approach of a squall line, which will allow the boat to weather the system-which are generally pretty shallow-on this coast.

“I turned to head back south but in a few minutes we went from dead calm to 30 knots. Thirty quickly grew to 40 - 45 with long gusty periods of around 50-55 knots. .... For the next two and half hours I motored, trying to keep our bow into the wind. Wind direction kept changing.”

The wind in squalls develops in a number of ways. You have the forward advance of the squall which creates an apparent wind—frequently in the 20 knt. range here. Within the system you also have periodic down bursts from the cells making up the squall line which blast down to the sea’s surface and radiate out in all directions from but tending to curve around the cell, due to coriolis effects. With the squall’s movement, the apparent winds on the east side of a north-westly approaching cell were additive (hence the “go left” axiom). A 30 knot down burst, coupled with a 20 knt speed of advance—bingo, 50 knot winds. Unfortunately, by continuing to try to keep your bow into the wind, you were powering around in circles within the squall line and prolonging your suffering. “Later when I looked at the GPS track we were doing circles within circles.” As the cell passed over you, and you came closer to its center, the radius of the winds around the center of the cell shrank—you were spiraling toward its center.

“Even trying as hard as I could to keep into the wind, the rails were rolling regularly into the water.” Without the stabilizing effect of some sail, in gusts and steep choppy seas, a sailing yacht will roll her guts out as her keel fights to keep her up-right and the buoyancy of her hull fights to match the water plane.

Given your relative proximity to shore (6 miles ain’t much) and assuming you did not have radio to learn of the squall, or radar to find a narrow band to head for, with an on-shore line of approach, your best course of action would have been to head off, toward deeper water, at an angle to the direction from which the squall was approaching—e.g. in a north-westerly, to punch through a shallow squall line, go west-north-west, or to “ride out” a deep squall, go west-south-west. (If you had the time, getting some sail up, at least to the 2nd reef would have been wise, to stabilize the yacht and, in case you lost power—which could easily have happened due to sediment in the fuel tank being agitated by the yacht’s violent motion—leading to a clogged fuel filter.) In either case, doing so would have gotten you into deeper water, generally lessened the apparent wind somewhat and, even without sail, the pressure of the winds on your rig, alone, would have stabilized the yacht modestly—less rolling—and you would have spent far less time suffering through the storm as it passed over you. If the line of approach was from shoreward—i.e. from the northeast, east or southeast, you could have either turned down to angle across the line of the storms approach to seaward or simply laid a-hull on the off-shore tack across the line of approach with your helm to lee-ward. Your furled up jib would have been acting in your favor. In either case you would have been blown to sea-ward—into deeper water—and still been exposed for less time.

N’any case, you survived, the yacht was undamaged, you have a hell of a story to tell over a yacht-club bar; and, it has given everyone food for thought, particularly me (as I prepare to head off for Key West and the Dry Tortugas with a 5’ tall 105# wife and two children aboard a 42’ former racing yacht)

Cheers,

s/v HyLyte
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Old 23-05-2008, 09:54   #26
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I would have heaved to, and sat back and enjoyed the ride. You aparentlly haven't heaved to in that boat. If so, I'm sure you would have done it. I have had to heave to at least 8 times, and believe me it's a Godsend. Cuts your speed to maybe 2-3 kts, and it's amazing how comfortible the ride can be. A few times we broke out some drinks and snacks, until the weather passed.

The first time sailing offshore as a crew member. The only sailing experience I had was on a 14' boat!
We were headed south from Newport, RI, in a Catalina 27, and the weather turn to crap. The weather report after giving the wave height, always ended with "and building" Key words "and building" We had35 - 45 kts of wind and seas 10 - 15'. I didn't know about heaving to, and I guess the skipper didn't either. We reefed the sails and kept going.
I got sea sick and went below. If you are familiar with a catalina 27 you will appreciate this. While I was below, we were heeled over so far, that all of the cabin ports were underwater! I kept thinking to myself, Lets eee, tyhe keel weighs.....
Anyhow after while luffing to put the deep reef in the main, the jib flogged so much, it ripped the clew out. We then motored it towards shore, and made a safe inlet into Guilford, CT.
What a ride.
Now if we had a little knowledge, and knew hot to heave to.....
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Old 23-05-2008, 10:34   #27
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We were headed south from Newport, RI, in a Catalina 27, and the weather turn to crap. The weather report after giving the wave height, always ended with "and building" Key words "and building" We had35 - 45 kts of wind and seas 10 - 15'. I didn't know about heaving to, and I guess the skipper didn't either. We reefed the sails and kept going.
I got sea sick and went below.

ha ha ha... I can relate to the sea sickness there.

The waters off Newport are some of the nastiest in the entire East Coast for seasickness. Looking forward to *really* testing out the catamaran motion once we are in them.
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Old 24-05-2008, 06:54   #28
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Hi Cabo,

My roller furling jib is brand new, with a foam pad in the luff and a properly tensioned forestay. I love it. But couldn't see myself flying it in those conditions.


In your senario, you experienced 30 to 55 knot winds. 55 knots is " Storm" force . I don't even like the thought of having the mainsail tied to the boom and uncovered. I think it should have been up and a double reef set and hauled in. A third reef if you had one might have been appropriate.

Engine on.

If the a tank has a lot of sediment in it, and stalls in a seaway, I'd want to have it flushed out.

On land, that velocity of wind would up-root trees.

Given the menacing sky you described ( squall line ), and the fact that you had a daysailor as crew, you were left to hand steer the boat yourself ( which you did ) or heave-to imho.
Where was your mate while you were steering?

Not knowing what velocity winds, the storm would be bringing with it, I would set Storm sails. A roller reefing jib is not a storm sail. The reefed staysail may have been ok, but I'm not looking for alot of speed here , just stability and control.
You didn't want to go to the beach.

You looked up and saw the storm coming. At that point, I suspect you barely had enough time to secure the boat. Close hatches, don lifejackets, foul weather gear, thether, stow loose items etc. Pumping the head dry,bilge, closing seacocks, close the companionway, and set the proper sails.


If the wind turns out to be less strong it's a lot easier to let out more sail than to try to hand steer and reef. I am of the mindset, that if you think you need to shorten sail, you probably do.

As far as what you could have done before the storm hit, like monitoring radar, or listening to weather reports all good advice Once it's upon you, however, you can only deal with the conditions you are in, not where you wish you were. Heaving-to with a deeply reefed mainsail, and a reefed staysail may have worked for your vessel.
Next time you're out on a windy day, I'd practice heaving-to and see how she handles.
I suspect she'd do ok.

Sulli, the winds decribed by Cabo were gusting to 55 not 40...he would have been way overpowered with a jib out imho.

I'm wondering if anyone out there has used a " Gale Sail" and can report on it's performance?

Tempest
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Old 24-05-2008, 08:18   #29
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Hi, this is YOGAO posting as TabbyCat since I cannot seem to get my login to work on this PC.

Cabo, you have received lots of good advice here, I would like to also recommend that your daysailing mate needs to be able to assist you in the future. If your mate doesn't want to learn from you (for whatever reason), have her sign up for some lessons. Make sure you positively reinforce her learning by sharing the duties that you normally assume as the captain. This will give her the confidence to jump in and help in all types of weather and may make your sailing experiences more enjoyable.

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Old 24-05-2008, 08:28   #30
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If I was unable to make any sensible progress in my desired direction of travel I would have headed for deeper water to both lessen the wave effect for comfort and also to give a bit more searoom in case the engine decided to stop being nice...and would have added at least a scrap of mainsail for a steadying effect as soon as I could.

And then I would have put the Kettle on for a cup of tea

Be very useful next time if the Missus could at least hold a course - even if due to conditions not a precise one.....to free you up for any deck work / sail handling / Navigation required.
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