Cruisers Forum
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 03-07-2021, 20:36   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Sparrows Point Maryland USA
Boat: 1968 Columbia 36
Posts: 53
Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Bit of a story, and looking for some feedback and suggestions on how I could have handled things differently. I know some mistake I made, and in the end it was my fault, but I want to learn as much as I can from this so I come to the hive mind.

So I continue shaking down my new to me last fall Columbia 36. Today's plan was to leave home marina and sail about 30nm, anchor out overnight to watch some fireworks from the boat on anchor. Things did NOT go according to plan.

On board I actually had crew of myself, the better half and teenager who were on board for what was supposed to be their first overnight at anchor. Cruising on upper Chesapeake bad were where heading across the bay westerly over to Rock Hall. Forecast was for 10 knots of breeze building to 12-14, which was upper end of my range to sail without a reef in. Beautiful sail 3/4 of way across bay downwind with wind 120deg off port. It was great sail, but winds had built to about 15-16 true 9-10 apparent. First mistake, I should have reefed. My rule for right now is 12 knots first reef, but the downwind and reduced apparent wind and desire to 'rush' to get to anchor to go swimming and I didn't reef. First big mistake, if everything had went according to plan it would have been fine. I thought about reefing (which of course means I should have reefed). I needed to do a gybe to setup for run into inlet. I had teenager on the wheel, I sheeted in the main and proceed to have teenager start the gybe.

This was second mistake! Teenager on helm has limited helming experience and was going to be her first gybe.... The main sail was not the problem, the jib was. I am still not 100% sure what went wrong. Teenager over steered the gybe, and I assume I mistimed releasing and pulling in jib on other side. Result... Jib sail wrapped around furler, and one of jib sheets wrapped itself around the anchor on the bow, shifting it fouling the furling line. Sail was flogging like crazy and tangled pretty badly, I was going to have to go forward to straighten out. Main sail still sheeted center (assuming this was correct) wind 120deg from starboard. I go forward and untangle the jib sheet but don't notice anchor shifting had fouled furling line. Anchor was tied down and couldn't shift more so I left it shifted to sort out after I got everything else straightened out.

Mistake #3, or really really bad timing When I went forward wind was still about 14knts, as I was up there and about 3 minutes in the worse gybe of my life, a guest hit. Well more of a wind shift. Wind went to 25 knots and stayed there.... I got back to the cockpit and crew was noticeably upset and were very much in panic mode. I took over helm, jib is still flogging like crazy but I got it pulled over to correct side at least. Immediately started to attempt to furl in the jib to discover the fouled furling line. Wind is shifting directions jib is flogging worse and teenager is in a bit of a panic.

Mistake #4, I decide best and quickest solution is to get this boat dead into the wind and all pressure off the sails Before turning wind is still around 25knts, in the total of 5-7 minutes into this the bay has gone from a rolly 1.5 to 2 foot seas to 4-5 foot seas of sharp chop. I am getting a little frazled too, not so much by conditions I still have control and worse case I damage the flogging jib. So I make a hard turn thru 120 to get wind on the nose.
Mistake #5 and the one that caused the damage I fired up the engine ready for power head into wind. BUT, I don't ease the main sail before I start the turn. The stressing teenager had me in fix this quick mode and I missed it. So as I turn thru I am beam to 25knts, in 5 foot steep chop with a tighly centered full main sail........We put the rail in the water but that wasn't the problem. As we pulled thru wind dead on beam the rig vibrates loudly, but quiets down as I complete the turn. Jib is flogging again like crazy but now at least boat is dead into wind and sails while still up are depowered.

Took another 5 minutes to get the jib fully furled, I kick the autopilot on to keep us dead into wind and take a minute to gather myself and settle the crew. After everyone settled down I went to mast and dropped the main. Wind stayed 25-30knts for another 15 minutes then dropped back down and seas calmed back down to 2-3 feet another 5 minutes latter.

The damage? Port spreader (single spreader rig and they are wood) is broken but not completely. It actually looks like it came out of the socket slid forward and somehow wedged itself back into the socket somewhat. I assume the wood spreader broke moved. I didn't take pictures, but it is not fully seated in the socket and is forward somehow shifted forward about and inch. I assume it broke in socket and somehow what was left shifted and then jammed itself half back into socket. On and I lost my hat..... Crew was not thrilled. We motored back across the bay and pulled back into slip under blue skies and 2 (yes that's right a whole 2knts of breeze). Buttoned up the boat and got the crew home. I will go back down in next couple days and do a more though inspection.

Lessons learned. Reef, damn it just put in the damn reef. Granted would have been over powered even with one reef but would have been better. If I had been out solo I would have reefed. Actually had a similar situation out solo two weeks ago without the extreme guest, and reefed early to two reefs and was fine. But I had crew and pushed the envelope because I was rushing. I know better, and now I really really know better.

My real point of self doubt is the decision to make the turn. After the failed gybe and fouled sheet and then fouled furling line, and my thought was the only sure fired way to stabilize everything and avoid another problem furling the jib was to make the turn. I think I would have been fine if I just released the main sheet. But what was other option vs turning. If I didn't turn into the wind I would have been going forward again to un-fowl the furling line with a paniced crew at the helm with sails flogging like crazy. It probably would have worked, but if would have stressed the already stressed crew further. I am confident that I can solo the boat in the conditions I saw today, but the crew is very green and I tried to include them and use them and teach them only to have it go so wrong.

Ok, let me have it internet. What else should I have done differently.
Fishzine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 20:54   #2
Registered User
 
Fore and Aft's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Gympie
Boat: Volkscruiser
Posts: 1,968
Exclamation Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Fushzine stuff happens on the water, no one was hurt so why worry.
I would be more worried about getting your crew back onboard again. Hopefully they come back for another go.
We certainly need more teenagers afloat.
Cheers
Fore and Aft is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 21:22   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: New Zealand
Boat: 50 Bavaria
Posts: 1,808
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Yes, if you get back to harbour with the same number of boats and crew as you set off then that counts as a good sailing day to me.

My only real surprise in your story (you have already recognised the need to reef *before* it's necessary) is that you turned up into the wind when the wind was already more than what you were happy with. I try to avoid this at all costs -- indeed I usually turn dead downwind if things are getting hairy because the decrease in general stress levels of going with the wind instead of into it can make all the difference to crew morale and the feeling that you have time to consider solutions. Either that or heaving to, but it sounds like you weren't in a situation to be able to do that easily.

In 25kts from astern, can you let out as much sheet as possible and reef the main? It's handy if you can.
Tillsbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 21:54   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Sparrows Point Maryland USA
Boat: 1968 Columbia 36
Posts: 53
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Couple things to add. First I have a bad habit of calling any size headsail a jib, it is a genoa, It is a big genoa, I haven't measured it but I think around 130 to 140 percent... Also, I have practiced reefing downwind and it is actually my preferred method of reefing vs turning into wind. Boat is easy to reef at about 120 degrees, if I had just reefed before the gybe everything would have likely been fine. Normally I reef the genoa on the roller then deal with the main which requires me to be at the mast. I didn't really think about reefing the main and and then dealing with the genoa, but it certainly could have been an option. This event has made me think about how to handle a headsail that has a problem with the roller furling and probably something I should practice in way more mild conditions.

My thought process was that having already been forward once to untangle sheet and then finding the reefing line is tangled I was faced with two bad choices. Go forward again and untangle reefing line (in conditions that kept increasing) and hope that was last problem, leaving stressed crew outside of their comfort level and skill level to helm the overpowered boat in shifty winds that kept flogging the genoa. Or make one big move to get head into wind which had a certainty of getting the boat depowered. I chose to make the turn, I think it was a good call except the damn part of not easing or straight up releasing the main sheet, I just don't know that it was the right call.

And yes, all safe (not counting the boat which can be fixed but is going to ground me till I can get it fixed) is a good thing!!
Fishzine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 22:05   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: San Diego
Boat: 1979 CHB 41 Trawler
Posts: 102
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Our old First 405 had a 120 genoa which was a PITA to manage because of a baby stay. Like you I was effectively singlehanded due to inexperienced crew and small children. After a few scary moments I learned to furl it up (partially or fully) quickly going downwind by blanketing it with the main whenever anything got hairy. With the jib out of the way, everything gets pretty straightforward.

Gybing in more than light winds can be pretty scary for inexperienced crew, as can the sound of a flogging sail. I'd often either "chicken gybe" (head up through a tack and back down) or furl the genoa before a gybe to keep things under control.

After everything was pear shaped, I agree with the above comment that setting a course on the AP for a broad reach would be better than heading to wind (assuming you had the leeway). The Genoa would be flogging less, apparent wind would be down, you're not heading into the chop, and you could settle down the crew and go forward to free up the mess.

I feel for you; I think we've all been there. Hope your crew isn't too spooked. Talking through what happened in detail with them & trying to get them engaged in the discussion on what could have been done better might help.

Edit: you'll note that I now own a trawler! So maybe don't listen to me!
Junglebike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 22:17   #6
Registered User
 
Island Time O25's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 2,924
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Since you're out on a leisurely day sail and not racing why not use a 90% or 100% jib instead of 130/140%? I found this was the solution to sailing with a nonsailors crew. Easier to tack, to reef, etc. At the expense of losing only 1kn or so.

Mine is a 40 year old 36', about 17,000# displ, 19,000-20,000# fully loaded. I don' t even think of reefing until it gets over 12-15kn, more like 16-18k. That's where 100% or lesser jib and a blade style main do their best work.
Island Time O25 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 22:44   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Sparrows Point Maryland USA
Boat: 1968 Columbia 36
Posts: 53
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Quote:
Originally Posted by Junglebike View Post
After a few scary moments I learned to furl it up (partially or fully) quickly going downwind by blanketing it with the main whenever anything got hairy.
This does bring up an interesting alternative I certainly didn't consider in the moment. I never release the main out once things went sideways. I wanted to get the genoa cleared, and then I went right to trying to get it reefed. So main tightly sheeted to centerline during the gybe, I never released it out to complete gybing the main. The downside of letting the main out at that point is I am adding power when I am clearly overpowered. But, with the main still tightly sheeted the headsail, where all the problems were was in clear air adding the the problems.
Fishzine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 22:50   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Sparrows Point Maryland USA
Boat: 1968 Columbia 36
Posts: 53
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Quote:
Originally Posted by Island Time O25 View Post
Since you're out on a leisurely day sail and not racing why not use a 90% or 100% jib instead of 130/140%? I found this was the solution to sailing with a nonsailors crew. Easier to tack, to reef, etc. At the expense of losing only 1kn or so.

Mine is a 40 year old 36', about 17,000# displ, 19,000-20,000# fully loaded. I don' t even think of reefing until it gets over 12-15kn, more like 16-18k. That's where 100% or lesser jib and a blade style main do their best work.
The short answer is, I am working with the two good sails that came with the boat. I agree my headsail is too big for my liking, I would have never bought one this big, but it is what came with the boat when I got her late last fall (never even got sails up last year) so really only have spring season so far and trying to work with what I have before I decide I need something different. But a smaller headsail is a strong consideration.
Fishzine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 22:51   #9
Moderator
 
JPA Cate's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: aboard, cruising in Australia
Boat: Sayer 46' Solent rig sloop
Posts: 25,009
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

First off, it was just bad luck that the gust hit when it was going to be most inconvenient--this is Murphy at his best.

Good on first lesson, relative to what you would face as soon as you turn up. Always follow that simple arithmetic in your head, and you would have been sure to reef soon, the numbers would have told you so. You would then have reefed before you started the gybe and been more under control as you came onto the new course.

On the timing of the release of the headsail... Well, two things come to my mind. The first is that you could have rolled up 3 or 4 turns on the sail as you approached the DDW condition. The second is that on our boat, we would release the headsail after the wind had it backed from what it had been, so the new wind would help it blow through, while we sheet in as fast as we can. With our Solent rig, we have to roll up the headsail for either tacking or gybing.

Plan on being before handed, and once you know what your next move is going to be, then you talk the crew through it ahead of time. The girl on the helm should have been told what to expect. If the passenger had known when to release the heads'l, you could have stayed in the cockpit and talked each of them through it.

The suggestion to resume your old course would have made some sense, too. Another option would have been to heave to, come up overpowered as you were and flop over with the jib backed. [This would have been very exciting for them, lots of heel before you get close to the wind. However, hove to, you could then reef just loafing along, and decide how best to sail to where you wanted. You're very lucky to not have had a line go overboard and not notice it before you started your engine. Now you're going to have the talk about when things look bad, but aren't very. And, just my opinion, you shouldn't have taken the helm from her, but talked her through what the new plan was, and talked her through executing it. You want to build her confidence. But, I wasn't there, and perhaps your choice was best for you at the time.

Too bad you took them back, the evening would have made a nice time to talk things over. See what they learned and you learned: share.

About the furling line fouling the anchor, again, bad luck, but partly due, imo, to not reefing that large headsail up some before making the turn. Things that flog do snag on other things, and that's normal for flogging, as is the possibility of things being damaged from shaking so much. 20/20 hindsight, of course, but better to have cleared the foul before completing the turn. Chalk it up to a learning event. The tricky part is that I think you did underestimate the need to teach newbie crew, or accept singlehanding, and for that you needed to have had your lesson two weeks before! kinda not fair, eh?

Don't flog yourself about this, we all make mistakes, and often, it's under pressure.

Ann
__________________
Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
JPA Cate is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 23:51   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 488
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Not exactly sailing advice, although it translates well to sailing.

In my last job, a great instructor once asked me what my emergency procedure for a particular emergency was. I quickly rattled off the boldface (memory items) and was pleased with myself.

He said ‘the very first thing you should do is slow down, take a breath, and analyze the situation. There are very few things that will kill you immediately, but fast hands coupled with looking through the so-called ‘soda straw’ can do just that.’

In other words, take the time to stop, take a breath, and look at what is REALLY going on. Those deep breaths and that conscious ‘slow down’ will pull you out of that tunnel vision, and will help you make a logical decision and follow-on action. There are very few things that need to be done no-kidding NOW.

Wooden spreaders though? Hopefully someone makes some aluminum replacements...
C420sailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 23:51   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Boat: Swarbrick S-80
Posts: 574
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Agree with the comments above, but Id just like to observe that reefing the main when the wind gets to 15 knots is pretty conservative.
ChrisJHC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 00:29   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Ireland
Posts: 69
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

I like to use the priority list from aviation. Aviate, navigate and communicate in that order. For us, sail the boat, then navigate, then communicate or fix the problem.
My priority in that situation would have been sail the boat so get the boat stable and safe. You were downwind so autopilot on with 120 or 150 true wind angle. Settle the crew. Check if you have enough sea room then sort the genoa.
I don't like the idea of getting the motor on (and dropping sails) and going head to wind to fix a problem. Makes the boat unstable, increases app wind and let's the crew know there's a problem.
If you don't mind me saying sounds like you got a bit overwhelmed because you were essentially single handing whilst trying to look after a green crew. I would recommend practising triangle sailing. There's a game called Tack, Tack, Gybe.
Throw a fender in the water and sail back to it. Have one of your crew pick a 3 manoeuvres. Eg tack tack gybe, gybe tack tack, tack tack tack etc. I teach sailing and I tell boat owners to practice that regularly until they find it really boring. If you can do it in the dark in a blow without getting stressed then you don't need to practice anymore.
Also, practise upwind reefing. It will be another tool in your tool box to get you out of trouble.
Hanksy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 06:08   #13
Registered User
 
chris mac's Avatar

Join Date: May 2015
Location: edmonton alberta
Boat: 1992 lagoon 42 tpi
Posts: 1,494
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Lots of good advice above, so I will offer a different viewpoint.
The best way to become a better sailor is 2 steps...
1 Practice, lots of practice. Slowly pushing your tolerances.
2 Ask questions to yourself and others to improve your understanding of things that went wrong, and what went right.
So basically, exactly what you are doing. Keep at it and enjoy the journey.
chris mac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 06:27   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Fiji Airways/ Lake Ontario
Boat: Legend 37.5, 1968 Alcort Sunfish, Avon 310
Posts: 2,532
Images: 11
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Good lesson, wasnt it!!?? All said though you passed. Anyone can handle one crisis. But as you saw they cascade and when it hits three simultaneous crises is where most people fail.

The story was ho hum till the wrapped around the anchor part, then it got my attention! Good example why I cringe at those who advocate 1st time sailors buying large expensive boats.

Hope somebody continues to post on this thread at least every six months so new people see it. Good lesson. My failure to reef early resulted in a busted knee 2.5 hours from port.
Tetepare is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 07:01   #15
Registered User

Join Date: May 2011
Location: Lake Ont
Posts: 8,278
Re: Cascading mistakes turned it to a bad day

Thanks for sharing the story.

One year, we were just flying and surfing along on a 2 to 3 hour sustained broad reach, no reefs - a glorious ride home after an adventurous 3 days cruising to Pelee Island and Put-In Bay on L Erie. 2 identical boats, neck and neck the whole way. One of the best long sails ever.

As we approach Leamington, it's time to enter the small harbour and get a slip. As we round up... all hell breaks loose. Because, of course, the engine behind our great reach was 20+ kt of wind, and we should have reefed before starting manoevres.

Moral - super easy to forget the actual windspeed when broad-reaching or running. Always be conscious of it, especially when about to change the point of sail.

I also like the advice to be more conservative and cautious with new or green crew. Go for the smaller sails and the early reef; and it becomes a safer platform for your crew to practice and get confident on. When they start asking you for more sail, mission accomplished.
Lake-Effect is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
mistakes

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Crappy Day............ turned great! Old Snipe General Sailing Forum 12 30-09-2014 08:30
Bad Bad Day casual Monohull Sailboats 118 03-03-2014 20:21

Advertise Here


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 15:46.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.