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Old 05-01-2016, 04:57   #61
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
ER9

First - let me say that I'm answering (and did so earlier) your question as you asked it "what should I do when a strong gust heels me over to the point that is not acceptable (spill your wine LOL)"
I noted earlier that I turn downwind and there are lots of very good reasons to do this - As Dockhead noted, going downwind takes a Force or two off the wind you are experiencing and gives you time to get yourself together.

One other reason to go downwind is that if you are already heeled, then turning upwind will cause you to heel more and your rudder will lose bite - even to the point of coming out of the water and you've lost control entirely.

Dumping the traveler, easing the mainsheet etc etc are all well and good, but let's face it - the scenario you described had you with a glass of wine in one hand and a sudden gust hits you. You're a cruiser, not a racer with a full crew ready to jump and initiate dumping, new sail trim etc.

What needs to be done, needs to be done by the helmsman. So you're back to "turn upwind or turn downwind?" Reefing, trimming etc can be done later.

I'm with Dockhead - turning downwind (assuming you have searoom) is easier and puts you in less danger of losing control of the boat.

Of course - your last posts are now asking for advice in conditions up to hurricaine - In conditions like that (say force 9 or 10) you should be reefed so far down that even heavy gusts won't bother you too much (nor will you have a glass of wine in your hand - unless you are a much better sailor than I am )
I would like to add to this that those of us advocating turning downwind, are not saying this can be done as a substitute for depowering the sail plan. On the contrary! You can't just turn your way out of an overpowering situation in either direction -- the first thing to do is not to turn at all, but to get power out of the sails, and there are plenty of ways to do it without a full crew. How best to do it depends on your rig and boat and point of sail, and there is usually a fairly long list of different things to do. The easiest and most drastic measure is what all of us learned as kids sailing dinghys -- blow the sheets. This will damage the sails on a big cruising boat in a big blow, but in a real emergency it should always be one arrow in your quiver.

Another quick, drastic measure but which is less likely to damage anything, when sailing upwind, and which requires no effort at all and no help from crew, is just to come about without tacking the headsail, so you end up hove to on the other tack. In a real emergency -- say I had been sailing in 10 knots of wind under all plain sail and got hit by a wall of 40 knot wind -- that's what I do (and that phenomenon actually exists, which I would never have believed if I hadn't experienced it myself).


Other measures, and not a complete list:

* Put the traveler down to feather the mainsail into the wind.

* Upwind, put on MORE vang and outhaul to flatten the sail, if the sail is not too baggy. And ease the sheet to feather the sail.

* Downwind, blowing the vang might take the power right out of the mainsail.

* On a reach, ease the sheet. If necessary, ease it right up to where it starts to flutter. This will feather it and depower it.

* Ease the headsail sheet, but beware on some points of sail with certain sail trim this can increase power, rather than reducing it. But if so, then just keep easing it until it is just starting to flap, and it should be depowered on any point of sail other than downwind.


Turning downwind should be done together with easing the sheets and changing the sail trim to suit the new point of sail. You cannot -- for reasons others stated above -- just leave the sheets alone and turn downwind. As you do so, as Carsten described above, the apparent wind eases and you become less overpowered and you will gain stability enough to take more permanent measures like reefing the sails.


And of course shorten sail as soon as you can. With roller furling headsails, it's quick and easy and it might not take more time than turning downwind and retrimming.

Some boats with modern underbodies which are not very sensitive to fore-aft balance of the sail plan, will sail ok with either main or headsail completely taken away. My boat is one of these (took me years to figure that out, however). So if I'm hit by a wall of wind or a violent squall, I might just roll in the headsail completely before doing anything else, and sail on main alone. Then start turning downwind and retrimming.

If you have a full batten main, you might not be able to reef downwind -- which is something to think about. In such a case you might not have any choice but to head up so you can get a reef in. With in-mast furling, you will not generally have this problem -- such sails can be reefed even with the sail on the shrouds. But before turning upwind in an overpowered situation, I think I would be furling the headsail completely first, before changing course.

As you see, there are a myriad of parameters. I hope we've given you some different ideas, and what works best on your particular boat might not even be among those described in this thread. There's no substitute for getting out and trying all kinds of different things yourself.
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Old 05-01-2016, 05:33   #62
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

Er9, another thing that I don't think has been mentioned is preparation. There's a few sayings that apply to sailing and one I like is the 6 P's , prior preparation prevents piss poor performance. That applies to everything from passage planning to sail handling. Most conditions can be forecast, whether it's 2 days ahead or 2 minutes. Some techniques we use include, weather forecasts for longer range forecasting, cloud and temperature for more immediate forecasts, keeping an eye on other yachts to windward, as well as the sky and water surface for even shorter forecasts, watching radar and AIS for squalls and other yachts boat speed and course, which can also indicate the kind of weather they may be getting ahead. In the video I posted earlier, it wasn't a surprise to be experiencing more wind. We forecast it and prepared ahead of time, with an action plan on how to deal with it that was flexible dependant on the actual conditions. It's pretty rare to be hit by a gust of any consequence that you don't see on the water at least 30 seconds before it hits, unless sailing at night when you would normally have reduced sail to cover those gusts. So watch the water along with the other signals mentioned above and in many cases you will have reacted to the conditions before the wine and guests spill..
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Old 05-01-2016, 05:55   #63
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Going UP WIND in a fine hull with a fine high wind sail is quite an adventure in what can be done with the right boat, without reefing. I think this thing is only learn'able to the ones who started very early, in a very flippy boat. Likely this skill is not easily applicable on a heavier keel boat (much as I am sure I have seen huge light racers sailed this way).

If the boat accelerates easily and if the skipper is sufficiently apt and concentrated, it is actually possible to sail the boat 'just on the edge of' the wind: if you head up too much too early, the boat will slow down and you will have to bear off just when the puff is at its strongest and this will end up the whole exercise.

In extremely squally conditions, this cannot be done, but if the wind is just high and somewhat puffy, one can sail upwind with what apparently seems 'too much sail' for the day.

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Originally Posted by er9 View Post
thank you....when i say de-power the main. all we are doing is releasing the traveller and letting the main out further to leeward to dump more wind. this is usually our first response as it sits the boat upright quickly and is much easier as the traveller on her boat is in the cockpit. this is done with mainsail full up, no reef.

second thing we do is loosen the genoa as much as we need to or can before it looses power to dump a bit more wind.

third thing we just have started playing with is furling in the genoa a bit to reduce the amount of sail out as this is pretty easy to do as well while underway. at least for us at our experience level. we do not know sail trim yet, or how to trim a sail to change its shape if that would also be useful.
I think you're doing great.... Lots of info on trim theory and sail shape can be found... fairly easy stuff for the basics=75%!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic Charm View Post
I haven't read all of this thread, just skipped through. But I must say, I'm really surprised by those who turn in to wind. I physically can't do that. My darling won't let me. It's even difficult to turn down wind, but not impossible as it is to turn into the wind. When I get hit by a gust she leans over and maintains her course.

I can't say I'm experienced enough to add a lot, but I certainly know the force needed for me to turn up into wind

So, the answer must clearly depend on the vessel.
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Old 05-01-2016, 05:56   #64
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

I'd also like to say...

What a fantastic thread....
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Old 05-01-2016, 06:35   #65
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

If you got too much weather helm, you got no choice; same with excessive lee helm. Good idea to adjust your rigging to reduce either situation. Usually a moderate weather helm is just right. Weight distribution also affects helm as well as mast rake.

If you are underway with autopilots, a bit of weather helm is absolutely essential so you do not jib and break something or someone. Otherwise, just ignore the gusts and enjoy running your rails deep underwater.

We could never get our yamaha 33 to even get its rails wet in 45 knots winds. It spilled the wind and would just bounce along at about 35 degrees. Each boat is truly different as stated above so get to know your boat.
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Old 05-01-2016, 07:21   #66
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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thank you....when i say de-power the main. all we are doing is releasing the traveller and letting the main out further to leeward to dump more wind. this is usually our first response as it sits the boat upright quickly and is much easier as the traveller on her boat is in the cockpit. this is done with mainsail full up, no reef.

second thing we do is loosen the genoa as much as we need to or can before it looses power to dump a bit more wind.

third thing we just have started playing with is furling in the genoa a bit to reduce the amount of sail out as this is pretty easy to do as well while underway. at least for us at our experience level. we do not know sail trim yet, or how to trim a sail to change its shape if that would also be useful.
as i suspected. you are not depowering the sails with your actions. to depower means to flatten the sails to better perform in strong winds while beating to weather. letting them out effectively simply dumps wind. good that you reef the genoa before reefing the main as the boat will be better balanced.

i can see that you don't understand sail trim yet which is what prompted my question. read again my method in the post to depower the main. you're on the right track by easing the sheet but then instead of easing the traveler to leeward, move it to windward. i realize this may seem counterintuitive to someone not familiar with aspects of sail trim but with the main sheet eased and the boom pulled to the center of the boat you will twist the leach which depowers the upper portion of the sail, reducing heel and weather helm, while keeping the lower portion driving at a higher point having the same effect of reefing the main only much faster. by releasing the traveler to leeward all you've accomplished is a temporary fix while flogging the sail and lessening it's life.
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Old 05-01-2016, 07:39   #67
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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Neither way is the "safer" way to turn. When hit by a gust it is the BOAT'S instinct to round up and you will momentarily heel more before luffing and losing speed. As Jim says there is probably a good deal of weather helm to turn downwind against. Ease off the mainsheet. Then reef.
ease the main sheet and move the traveler to weather and there'll be no need to reef.
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Old 05-01-2016, 10:28   #68
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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ease the main sheet and move the traveler to weather and there'll be no need to reef.
Well, that depends on many things, doesn't it?

I read the original question to be about sailing along nicely and then you are hit by a brief gust or wind shift. This happens a lot when sailing in San Francisco, when you sail by places like "The Slot" or "Hurricane Gulch". Sailing up here in the Pacific Northwest, the wind can get quite squirrely as the wind funnels through and twists around the small islands. These gusts often last less than a minute, and can come from oddball directions. Even in the open ocean, the increased wind from a tropical squall will usually be coming from a different direction than the prevailing wind.

In these cases, I generally pinch into the wind, but not so far as to violently flog the sails. If possible we trim and perhaps reef the sails, but that depends on the crew and the duration of the gust. VALIS is a monohull.

A tropical squall (and other squalls?) can give you doubled windspeeds, and depending on how they approach you (and how you sail) they can last for minutes or hours. The seas underneath the squall can be much bigger than on the surrounding water, because the squall is moving in the same direction as the waves (approximately), and so the waves get a chance to build up. There is usually a big patch of calm air behind the squall. Fortunately, you can usually see the squalls coming, which gives you time to reef or otherwise prepare. Squall tactics depend on your boat -- some boats are fast enough to stay in the squall and they take advantage of the high wind to go really fast. Other boats may see the squall approaching and pre-position themselves to avoid the quadrant with the strongest wind. For my boat, I have developed what I call the "sitting duck" strategy. We reef if we have to and otherwise hang on.

Another case is when the wind has steadily increased to where we need to reef the sails. I try to maintain my course, but if the wind and seas get too big I eventually have to heave-to or turn downwind. I've never used a drogue or parachute sea-anchor "in anger", but these are my ultimate options. Books have been written about storm sailing, and you will see many different tactics being advocated. What works for one type of boat may not work for another. What looks simple in theory may turn out to be difficult and dangerous in practice. This is a complicated subject and I won't pretend to be an expert.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:20   #69
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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Well, that depends on many things, doesn't it?

I read the original question to be about sailing along nicely and then you are hit by a brief gust or wind shift. This happens a lot when sailing in San Francisco, when you sail by places like "The Slot" or "Hurricane Gulch". Sailing up here in the Pacific Northwest, the wind can get quite squirrely as the wind funnels through and twists around the small islands. These gusts often last less than a minute, and can come from oddball directions. Even in the open ocean, the increased wind from a tropical squall will usually be coming from a different direction than the prevailing wind.

In these cases, I generally pinch into the wind, but not so far as to violently flog the sails. If possible we trim and perhaps reef the sails, but that depends on the crew and the duration of the gust. VALIS is a monohull.

A tropical squall (and other squalls?) can give you doubled windspeeds, and depending on how they approach you (and how you sail) they can last for minutes or hours. The seas underneath the squall can be much bigger than on the surrounding water, because the squall is moving in the same direction as the waves (approximately), and so the waves get a chance to build up. There is usually a big patch of calm air behind the squall. Fortunately, you can usually see the squalls coming, which gives you time to reef or otherwise prepare. Squall tactics depend on your boat -- some boats are fast enough to stay in the squall and they take advantage of the high wind to go really fast. Other boats may see the squall approaching and pre-position themselves to avoid the quadrant with the strongest wind. For my boat, I have developed what I call the "sitting duck" strategy. We reef if we have to and otherwise hang on.

Another case is when the wind has steadily increased to where we need to reef the sails. I try to maintain my course, but if the wind and seas get too big I eventually have to heave-to or turn downwind. I've never used a drogue or parachute sea-anchor "in anger", but these are my ultimate options. Books have been written about storm sailing, and you will see many different tactics being advocated. What works for one type of boat may not work for another. What looks simple in theory may turn out to be difficult and dangerous in practice. This is a complicated subject and I won't pretend to be an expert.
sure, everything depends on many things. i've raced in sf bay and am well aware that gusts can come from nowhere but think of the original question er9 asked. he's sailing along happy as can be and gets knocked. he's worried about which way to turn to get the boat standing up again but turning isn't his solution. the solution is to depower, in this case the main, and the easiest and fastest way to accomplish that is by twisting the leach in the manner that i have suggested. remember, he was hit by the occasional gust. his not in sf where knockdowns are anything but occasional. hell, rare was the day we ever left the dock for a race with the number one on deck even thinking we might actually hoist the sucker.

my point being that by twisting the leach he might just save himself having to go to the trouble of reefing. or in your case on the blustery bay, may save you from having to tuck in that second reef.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:25   #70
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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sure, everything depends on many things. i've raced in sf bay and am well aware that gusts can come from nowhere but think of the original question er9 asked. he's sailing along happy as can be and gets knocked. he's worried about which way to turn to get the boat standing up again but turning isn't his solution. the solution is to depower, in this case the main, and the easiest and fastest way to accomplish that is by twisting the leach in the manner that i have suggested. remember, he was hit by the occasional gust. his not in sf where knockdowns are anything but occasional. hell, rare was the day we ever left the dock for a race with the number one on deck even thinking we might actually hoist the sucker.

my point being that by twisting the leach he might just save himself having to go to the trouble of reefing. or in your case on the blustery bay, may save you from having to tuck in that second reef.

This is a valuable suggestion for boats with baggy sails. We used to do this with the old sails and it works well. If your main can be flattened to the point where it starts to "go to sleep", however, then flattening and feathering can be a better option, as the sail will have less drag, and you can get more usable power out of it like that, than with the leech twisted off.
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Old 05-01-2016, 20:35   #71
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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as i suspected. you are not depowering the sails with your actions. to depower means to flatten the sails to better perform in strong winds while beating to weather. letting them out effectively simply dumps wind. good that you reef the genoa before reefing the main as the boat will be better balanced.

i can see that you don't understand sail trim yet which is what prompted my question. read again my method in the post to depower the main. you're on the right track by easing the sheet but then instead of easing the traveler to leeward, move it to windward. i realize this may seem counterintuitive to someone not familiar with aspects of sail trim but with the main sheet eased and the boom pulled to the center of the boat you will twist the leach which depowers the upper portion of the sail, reducing heel and weather helm, while keeping the lower portion driving at a higher point having the same effect of reefing the main only much faster. by releasing the traveler to leeward all you've accomplished is a temporary fix while flogging the sail and lessening it's life.
thank you very interesting. i had no idea as we are still playing with the basics. it will be a lot of fun playing with this on our next sail. i really apprecaite everyone's input so far....much thanks jrbogie....i wish i had discovered sailing 20 years ago...
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Old 06-01-2016, 06:39   #72
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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thank you very interesting. i had no idea as we are still playing with the basics. it will be a lot of fun playing with this on our next sail. i really apprecaite everyone's input so far....much thanks jrbogie....i wish i had discovered sailing 20 years ago...
my pleasure. when you go out in a 15 or 20 kt blow begin with the setup i suggested and if you find your heeling moment acceptable you can always lower the traveler from it's windward position and retrim the main. think of it as starting out with a reefed main and then shaking out the reef if conditions permit. difference being that you cannot shake out a reefed main in small increments as you can with untwisting the leach. good luck.

as an aside, i've been sailing far more than the twenty years you wish about and i learn something new every time i leave the slip. when my learning stops, that's when i'll start to worry.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:13   #73
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

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iv'e only been sailing for about a year and a half. i learned on 22ft catalinas and have been sailing a 30' ranger most weekends for past year. its a friends boat so most sails are social get togethers. once in a while me and friend (owner of boat) actually get to go out and practice techniques, not often enough though.

I'm mostly the one at the helm as she controls sails. we are getting pretty good at most condition under 20kt winds in protected bay. i would like to do more sailing further out in the ocean but one thing i still dont understand that effect my confidence a bit is which way is the best way to turn when you find yourself overpowered, heeling at 30deg or more in heavier winds than expected or in sudden gusts.

we know how to de-power the main and furl in the jib and we usually do, especially on social sails when its uncomfortable for guests to heel more than 20deg. but every once in a while though we get in conditions where we get hit by sudden gusts in already strongish winds and the boat heels over dramatically, past 30deg (for us 35+ degree of heel is very uncomfortable). my question is if on a close haul or when heading into wind, is it safer to suddenly turn upwind or downwind if i want to de-power the sails quickly? if sailing downwind....which is better? assuming strong winds and small (under 3ft swells) for simplicity of answer.


i usually turn upwind instinctively but i'm not sure thats correct. it definately heels way more it seems when turning into the wind as opposed to turning off the wind. i think i understand a little about broaching and i assume broaching happens when turning off the wind. even though it seems to heel less when turning off the wind i would not want to poop a sailboat by doing this.

i realize i probably could never broach her sailboat or knock it over, even if i tried in the conditions we sail in but i'm thinking further out. if i was on my own boat (which i hope to have soon) much further out, maybe single handed in much more serious conditions which is a safer tactic?
You've had many interesting and helpful answers but most of them failed to address your question, which was; while sailing close-hauled, should I "suddenly" turn upwind or downwind when overpowered by a gust when sailing in brisk conditions?
Firstly, your boat will sail more efficiently when sailed flat, i.e. about 5deg of heel. You recognise the existence of "already strongish conditions". You should take this as an indication that it is time to put in a reef. If you do so you will find that instead of staggering along "on her ear", your boat will actually go faster when reefed.
Having said that, your instinct, to turn upwind,( "luff up"), is correct, because, in fact, not having eased the main sheet ("dump the main"), you will not be able to turn downwind ("bear away"), because your mainsail won't let you. Try it. Put the helm hard over. You'll find the boat holding its course and creating a huge amount of drag around the stalled rudder.
If you do manage to make the boat turn away from the wind with the main still "pinned in", you'll find that the angle of heel increases dramatically, to the point where the wind just spills off the top of the sail. The keel and rudder, tilted in the opposite direction, lose their grip on the water, introducing a sideways component to the boat's track and a loss of authority for the rudder, a "broach". At this point, if the boat still has momentum, the now assymetric shape of the underwater profile, with increased curvature on the leeward side, will naturally make the bow swing to windward.
If you happen to be sailing downwind when a gust strikes, it will have much less effect.
It's important to sail with a balanced sailplan that induces a small degree "of weather helm" i.e. a tendency to turn gently to windward if you take your hand off the tiller/wheel. If left to itself the boat will luff up and tack, then bear away and gybe, sailing slowly in a circle.You will appreciate this if you fall overboard while on your solo voyage to Hawaii. There is nothing more disconcerting than treading water while watching your boat sail away into the sunset
In your practice sessions, you can have fun experimenting with the effects of sail trim and heel on the course; with the boat sailing in a straight line, on a Close Reach (between Close-Hauled and Beam Reach), tie the tiller/wheel, (in a manner that can be instantly released!). Ease off the jib sheet completely - see what happens. Then sheet in the mainsail -see what happens. Try it with the mainsheet eased off completely and the jib sheeted normally, then sheet the jib in tight. Yes, you can actually steer the boat with the sails alone, and if you have enough crew on board to heel the boat significantly to leeward as you free the jib and sheet in the main, you can actually tack without touching the helm. Have fun!
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Old 09-01-2016, 01:37   #74
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Re: Which is a safer direction to head/turn when overpowered?

Rustic Charm,

If you didn't just read all the pertinant parts of Spirit of Glenans' post, go back and re-read them. If you travel the main down, or ease the main sheet, you should be able to come up. With proper trim, you can feather it way closer to the eye of the wind than you normally sail.

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