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Old 20-06-2016, 20:04   #1
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What to do in Strong Winds

Recently I was sailing on a J24 with one other person and we had our mainsail and jib up. The wind was about 14 knots when we started out and I was at the helm and he was on the sheets. All was going well and then along came a squall. The wind went from 14 knots up to 27 knots and we became very overpowered. We were between a beam reach and a run when the squall hit us and it started to overpower us so we beared off to a run.

My question is what should you do in this instance when you are on a run, you have too much sail up, and you cant head up because you would be putting yourself in danger of a knockdown?
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Old 21-06-2016, 02:31   #2
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

Ha, J24 are pretty hard to hold on their feet without a rail full of crew in a decent breeze. Obvously max backstay, cunninham, outhaul and kicker is the first thing. Id then run off, blanket the jib, sheet it in tight and blow its halyard. Hopefully you have the jib up, not the genoa. With luck it will mostly end up on the foredeck, and come most of the way down. It will flap, but at least the power will be out of the sail.

Then you can assess where you are at. With two crew weight should be aft, mainsheet right out. The boat will be planing nicely, and safe enough as long as the helmsman is good and the forehatch and cockpit lockers are secured. But you need to work out what is to leeward and where you need to get to.

You should be able to come up and work across the wind, and even make some ground to windward with just the main. I wouldnt send someone to the bow to secure the headsail while screaming downwind. Get a few ties ready, luff up and feather the main while you lash down the jib, or remove the genoa and stuff it below.

Without any reefs, topping lifts, and a luff groove getting the main down would be interesting, and commiting, as in its going to be hard to raise again if you need it.
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Old 21-06-2016, 03:59   #3
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

Trust Snowpetrel's advice over mine.

However, if it had been me, I would have come up as high as I could go, easing the main.

Pinching way up will slow you way down. Now, you have a moment to consider things.

If the jib must come down, tack and drop the thing when the boat comes head to wind, so you get it on deck.

No reefs available, okay, bear off under reduced total sail area, and wait till you can return to your desired direction under main alone. When that's too slow, on the wind, re-hoist the jib, or a smaller one, if available.

Don't panic, squalls are usually over in about 1/2 hr. As long as you have sea room, you are not really endangered, only surprised. If the wind's in the desired direction, go for it, use it.

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Old 21-06-2016, 04:48   #4
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

I think your method Ann would work pretty well too. If the boat wasn't already running, say the squall came on while you were going to windward or reaching that would be my approach. But its so hard to say for sure without actually being there and seeing the whole scenario.

The problem with those J24's is that they really struggle without rail meat. Normal crew is 5. So I would be a little worried that even with the main fully depowered, the flogging sail, and the headsail would still overpower her, especially if its the genoa. They also tend to carry lee helm.

But my J24 experiance is pretty limited. My brother has one and I occasionally race with him, I havent seen that much wind. Maybe 2o knots max.
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Old 21-06-2016, 05:48   #5
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

Age old debate isnt it, luff up through a squall or run off?

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Old 21-06-2016, 06:12   #6
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

Luffing up you get the wind out of the sail.
Thats my aim. Just like getting in reefs, it gets wind out of the sail. Running off puts more in.
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Old 21-06-2016, 08:08   #7
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

You just reef it downwingd on a J24. It is a small boat.

Do you have reef points on J24 main? I did not.

Drop the main, sail with jib only.

Rounding up not required.

BTW And do not ease all the halyard. You will blow it this way. 4 inches at a time or so. More when below spreaders.

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Old 21-06-2016, 09:02   #8
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

If you're going to have to go back upwind, you'll need a jib. In this case, a small one.
So to change it, as stated, blanket it with the main, then sheet it in 90% of the way. Thus, when you ease the halyard, most of it will stay on deck.
And, BTW, you're not going to be trying to go to windward during the change. But find a point of sail where the boat's stable & controlable under the main alone.
Then, once the big jib's down, send someone forward to swap it out.

Ah, and shut all of your hatches, tightly! Once the old jib's below. Preferably pinning the companionway closed. Not that in such wind, you're likely to broach. But... J24's are only positively stable to 90 deg. So if you do go over radically, be prepared to scramble over the windward side, & stand on the keel as needed. Just like on a racing dinghy. So that she doesn't turtle on you, nor take in any water via the hatches.

Then, for windward work, reef the main as needed. Or if truly necessary, drop it. And play the sheet & traveler all the time, keeping her as powered up as you can. Including as much crew on the rail as possible, so as to minimize your leeway. Since, in a breeze, little boats have a tougher time going to weather (making VMG). Thus, every little bit of extra power helps. Plus J24's don't exactly have state of the art keel shapes, nor foil sections.
Also, of course, pinch to windward, via the helm, whenever you can. Both in lifts in general, as well as in the puffs.

The helm on a J24, under "ideal" circumstances, & proper trim, should feel dead, especially to weather. With utterly zero weather or lee helm. Meaning NO helm feedback at all.
And when it's breezy, you can have some weather helm. It'll help give you a bit more lift to windward. But with the foil sections on those rudders, & their being transom hung, sometimes they lose their grip a bit more often than other designs.
Plus, properly done, it's easy to steer one as much or more via main trim & weight placement, as it is with the rudder.
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Old 21-06-2016, 09:37   #9
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

I must be missing something! What's wrong with ease the jib sheet to depower it, come to a broad reach or better, then drop the jib, stow it and sail on? Unless a lee shore issue I see no reason for running in a wind that is past your comfort level.
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Old 21-06-2016, 10:08   #10
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Trust Snowpetrel's advice over mine.

However, if it had been me, I would have come up as high as I could go, easing the main.

Pinching way up will slow you way down. Now, you have a moment to consider things.

If the jib must come down, tack and drop the thing when the boat comes head to wind, so you get it on deck.

No reefs available, okay, bear off under reduced total sail area, and wait till you can return to your desired direction under main alone. When that's too slow, on the wind, re-hoist the jib, or a smaller one, if available.

Don't panic, squalls are usually over in about 1/2 hr. As long as you have sea room, you are not really endangered, only surprised. If the wind's in the desired direction, go for it, use it.

Ann


The OP has gotten some great advice from some very experienced sailors! Good stuff, up above!

Just want to add a bit here:

And if you have sea room, are exhausted or too stressed (Surprised, adrenaline rushed) by a near knockdown, consider heaving to, to catch your breath, settle the nerves, put the boat in order (close hatches, etc.) and consider your options and the weather, whether it is worsening or going to blow over quickly.
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Old 21-06-2016, 10:22   #11
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

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Originally Posted by Dave22q View Post
I must be missing something! What's wrong with ease the jib sheet to depower it, come to a broad reach or better, then drop the jib, stow it and sail on? Unless a lee shore issue I see no reason for running in a wind that is past your comfort level.
J24's are not real stable boats. Only to 90 deg. And with that, it makes them poor at both going to weather, & handling heavy conditions.
So you have to "pretend" that you're on a dinghy, albeit a sinkable one.
Plus which, they get pushed around by waves pretty easily. Enough so that the crew has little input on whether or not the boat's tacking at times; desired or not!

And every few years, there's a major J24 regatta where the fleet gets nailed by a squall, & several boats go down (sink). Due to these handling hiccups.


PS: To the OP. There are a Huge amount of tuning, trimming, & sailing guides available, gratis, on these boats. As they're one of the biggest 1-Design classes out there. So the quality of info on sailing them's quite high.
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Old 21-06-2016, 11:13   #12
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

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Originally Posted by Dave22q View Post
I must be missing something! What's wrong with ease the jib sheet to depower it, come to a broad reach or better, then drop the jib, stow it and sail on? Unless a lee shore issue I see no reason for running in a wind that is past your comfort level.
Yup and the other danger of running is an uncontrolled jibe, breaking something, broaching, and sinking.
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Old 21-06-2016, 12:47   #13
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pirate Re: What to do in Strong Winds

When I get hit by a squall and I'm singlehandling I just do what you did and run with it till it passes. If it looks like its going to last too long for my crossing then I furl the shadowed genie to a yankee or equivalent and then turn to the wind and drop a reef or two to the main. That's at a 40 plus knts of maelstrom. Otherwise I hold on to my binnacle and hope to make it another day LOL.
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Old 21-06-2016, 15:33   #14
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

No reefs on a standard J24, and even if it does have one almost certainly there are no pendants rigged. The smallest headsail is still a fairly big 100% jib. Hanked on so its very easy to drop. The halyard is on the port side of the cockpit. No full length battens so the main flogs mercilessly if its dumped.

They do plane reasonably well downwind, especially with a light crew. So running off will drop the apparent, and stabilise things. Once its under control you can send the crew off the rail to dump the jib halyard. With it sheeted in. Because the boat is upright and the jib is in the mains lee it will mostly blow down. If you are trying to pinch her to windward and get pinned down the wind will blow the jib up and you will have to claw it down. Unfortunately you really need the crew on the rail, not the bow... and there is not much space on a J24 foredeck at 50 degrees of heel.

Deal with the jib first, its easy. The main is a prick of a thing, and there is a fair chance most of it will end up over the side. Not a big deal if the boat is stopped, but if the jibs still driving her things get messy.

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Old 21-06-2016, 17:48   #15
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Re: What to do in Strong Winds

Thanks everyone for all the great responses. It's great to be able to post a question and get so many replies. I love seeing the different answers come through as to what you would have done if it were you in that situation as-well.

What we ended up doing (correct or not) was going on a run, dropping the jib first, and then proceeding to drop the main and motor back to port. With only two on deck in overpowering winds even the smallest task was difficult. The jib came down fairly easily and this helped depower the boat. Taking the main down going downwind was a challenge but we got it done, tied it down with a few sail ties, and then were out of trouble.
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