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Old 27-04-2008, 16:32   #1
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What to do when overpowered?

We were out off Point Loma yesterday and a steady 15->20 knot wind. Blasting (for us!) along at 7->8 knots on staysail, double reefed main and double reefed 130 headsail. This was probably a little too much sail for the conditions (we were heeling a little too much) but without the headsail we were not making as much progress to windward.

Then the wind increased. I didn't take a reading and the numbers don't really matter as our relatively shallow draft boat added a few more degrees heel, slowed down and, dare I say it, started feeling a little out of control... releasing the main until it was luffing didn't make much difference.

So we dropped the headsail sharpish, leaving it flogging. I tried rolling it in but to no avail. We headed up some more and I was able to get the sail to roll in, all be it with a great amount of difficulty. During this time the sheets were all over the place, luckily away from the boat and I could hear my sailing intructor tutting in the back of my mind.

Once the headsail was back in things returned to order, though just flying the staysail and double reefed main we probably still had 30 degrees heel until we got back under the shadow of Point Loma.

Other than the fact that the 130 was the wrong sail to have for the conditions what would other people have done to regain control when the wind gets too much?
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Old 27-04-2008, 16:45   #2
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A lot of people will probably have a lot of great armchair opinions, but from what I see, you did everything correctly.

Extreme gusts happen. Unexpected weather hitting your sailplan happens.

You were already doing well to be reefed, but I guess you may have had a little too much headsail out for the conditions (did it want to turn away from the wind - lee helm?)

You also (maybe instinctively) did the right thing with the headsail. You rolled it up. Now you know (as everyone does once they have the experience) that you can't roll up a headsail under full load in windy conditions. You have to let some wind out by heaing up a bit and/or loosening the sheet until there is a little bit of flapping going on.

The secret to a good roll (I'm sure you got this too) is to keep some tension on the sheet while you are hauling in the furling line - but not too much tension so you can't roll it up. It can't be fully loaded with the wind.

All you can do to regain control is reduce sail area and/or depending on the point of sail, head up or ease sheets or something. Usually you can do the heading up or the easing of sheets first, to put out the fire, then plan the sail area reduction (rolling up your headsail, reefing (good to do early), taking down sails, etc...

Do you have a gauge to tell you your heel angle? Cuz 30 deg is pretty heeled over and is not a very efficient way to sail. Were you really close hauled with the double reefed main and staysail to be heeled that much? Choosing another point of sail (if possible) can help in that situation.

All in all, I don't think you did anything wrong here. You just got surprised and probably a little nervous. You managed the sails, you got back ok, you learned more about your boat than you knew before you went out.
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Old 27-04-2008, 17:23   #3
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30 degrees is me using the footwell to not slide across the boat and the Admiral hanging onto the dodger. Its also the boat slipping sideways at 6+ knots rather than the 7+ it was doing in slightly lighter winds earlier with just the staysail and doubly reefed main. We could have dropped off a little but I was trying to hit the channel on a single beat though perhaps if we had dropped off we would have ended up sailing a similar course faster.

Definately a good learning experience. No-one got hurt and nothing was damaged. In fact it was all fun except a 2 minute period that was just a little too much but resolved itself reasonably easily.

I think that I went wrong in my order of doing things. As you say "Usually you can do the heading up or the easing of sheets first" but being pig headed I wanted to maintain course and reduce sail. Got suprised by the fact that letting the jib sheet go didn't allow me to roll it in and that the jib sheet turned into an unguided missile.

I think our yankee has less area than the double reefed genoa but haven't flown it yet. The staysail and reefed main has too much weather helm and definately needs something to balance it. With the reefed genoa I think the helm was almost neutral. We'll have to experiment. Shucks!
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Old 27-04-2008, 17:32   #4
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another thing you can do is called pinching the boat. You take the boat closer to the wind so that the inside tell tales are all flying real high and then try and keep the boat there. It is really difficult to keep the boat there but it works well when you have short term gusts. It depowers the entire sail plan but requires alot of concentration.
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Old 27-04-2008, 17:49   #5
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overpowered

recently read a good article about a cruiser who has gone to a yankee sail reather than the genoa and maintains aalmost the same speed with alot less heal .iam looking to get into more soloing this year and intend to reef early and am going with a working jib for ease of tacking until i get the hang of it .trick with the catamarans is to luff in the gusts and fall of for the runs which allows you to stay on course .
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Old 27-04-2008, 18:02   #6
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Tom,

I have been through a fire drill or two with flogging sails as the wind built up. Nothing like those "learning experiences" to build character!

What I found works is this--get luff pads or a luff rope sewn into your roller furling genoa. Mine's a 110%. Before the luff pads, when I'd reef it way in, the shape was very baggy and it gave the boat a horrible weather helm (in spite of being a headsail). Rolled in all the way, the deeply reefed main and staysail alone didn't have enough power to punch through the waves.

With the luff pads, I can roll in the gennie in so that it just overlaps the staysail stay, and it stays flat as a board. With a triple reefed main and full staysail, that's my "Spitfire Rig", and it performs beautifully in 28-35 kt winds. The rolled up but still flat luff-padded genoa provides the drive to punch through the chop, and the boat doesn't heel past 15-20 degrees.

Another point.

In really heavy winds, it's very difficult to roll in the genoa, and releasing the sheets all the way to try to do it can result in destructive flogging (shredded sheets, shredded clews, etc.). In that situation, a solution is to turn downwind and run off, so the main can blanket the genoa. Rolling it in is a snap.
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Old 27-04-2008, 18:15   #7
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In really heavy winds, it's very difficult to roll in the genoa, and releasing the sheets all the way to try to do it can result in destructive flogging (shredded sheets, shredded clews, etc.). In that situation, a solution is to turn downwind and run off, so the main can blanket the genoa. Rolling it in is a snap.
Hud gives very good advice. Try it next time it has always worked for me.
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Old 27-04-2008, 18:28   #8
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get luff pads or a luff rope sewn into your roller furling genoa.
I agree: luff padding helps a lot

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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
In really heavy winds, it's very difficult to roll in the genoa, and releasing the sheets all the way to try to do it can result in destructive flogging (shredded sheets, shredded clews, etc.).
Again, I agree--I have experienced a shredded clew first hand. Also make sure you use knots (or, even better, a splice) to attach sheets to the clew, rather than a snap shackle, which can open.

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In that situation, a solution is to turn downwind and run off, so the main can blanket the genoa. Rolling it in is a snap.
Just be careful of accidental jibes when running down wind in a fresh breeze and seas. Under these conditions you need a preventer, a boom brake, or a very good helmsperson.
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Old 28-04-2008, 03:06   #9
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I have a fully battened main on my cat, and use a 2 point strategy. First is let out the mainsheet just enough to maintain some drive in the sail, if I need more depowering I loose off about 2-3 feet of main halyard. This opens the top of the sail, without the flogging, as the battens stabilise the whole thing.

No sails flogging, and alot more manageable boat until I can depower the genoa by luffing up a bit, or else shadowing it with the main.

Regards

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Old 28-04-2008, 04:32   #10
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I cannot improve on the advice Hud gave you
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Old 28-04-2008, 04:34   #11
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Reef early is the best strategy for increasing wind conditions. Obviously your boat speed will suffer from lots of reasons, choppy seas, poor sail shape of reefed sails. I think you can take out some of the heel by pointing closer to the wind. This will luff the sails a bit, slow the boat down, but defeat the excessive heel. Reefed head sails need a different fair lead for proper trim as well so you probably have to move the lead as you roll in the head sail. This is tough in a pitching boat on a heeled deck with oodles of sheet tension.

If you have sea room and time, you can fall off to a flatter point of sail.

When I have to do sail work in high winds I run off and deal with it in a flatter calmer situation and then head up into the hell. Since I single / short hand mostly, I will also use the iron genny to power thru some tacks in steep seas. The autopilot simply cannot get the helm hard over to make a quick tack so iron genny helps her!
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Old 28-04-2008, 05:00   #12
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Again, I agree--I have experienced a shredded clew first hand. Also make sure you use knots (or, even better, a splice) to attach sheets to the clew, rather than a snap shackle, which can open.

One thing *never* to use (which my previous owner did) is a snap shackle that doesn't stay closed. He used one with spring that holds it shut.

Needless to say, it would open and clip onto the forestay, inner forestay, etc... and hang the 110 up everywhere. Very bad, but I didn't buy the boat because it had been sailed a lot.
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Old 28-04-2008, 06:09   #13
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I agree with all above particularly have soft attachments to your sheets at the sail end. A wonderful stainless quick release fitting seriously hurts if it hits you.. That is one of the problems with the way some factory set ups are with furlers. A hanked on fore sail with a down haul puts the whole lot on the deck in seconds. A BIG untidy mess but you can >>to be blunt " sit on it. Of course you have to go up forward. Having dealt with both I am setting up a non sectioned fore sail, roller furler. ie ..that is one that revolves around its own removable stay. No alluminium section. It means you cant use it as a patrial reefing mechanism. But you can roll the sail away., and if nessesary get rid of it all together. Huge advantage is that just like with a normal (seems old fashion) you can drop the halyard and be done with it. Stow the whole lot down below. (means shove the crap through the companion way while yelling). Result huge reduction in windage. , no jambed furler or sheets. There is some brilliant sheet to sail quick knots.
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Old 28-04-2008, 07:52   #14
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Things to do to depower short of changing sails.

1. Move the genoa car back a bit to allow some wind to spill out of the leech of the sail. Use the leech line to prent excessive fluttering.

2. Flatten the main as much as you can. Backstay tension, outhaul, cunningham, and maybe even some vang. The vang may help keep the sail flat even when you ease off on the sheet to reduce helm. Nothing wrong with trimming the main such that there is the "speed bubble" for the first 1/3 of it after the mast.

3. Pinch up. You can find a groove where you significantly depower everything while still making good way.

4. Get a roller furling jib. Reducing jib area is about twice as effective (in our boat at least) in depowering. When we do this, we have to run the genoa sheet inside the shrouds to get the car forward enough for decent trim. We just run the lazy sheet inside, then switch tension from one to the other. For us, this is the absolute best as the other items usually end up being merely delaying the inevitable.
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Old 28-04-2008, 08:04   #15
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Or get an unstayed ballestrom rig and weather cock the lot,
Robert
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