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Old 04-10-2017, 15:47   #16
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

You can cross with whatever sails you happen to have.

It is nice to have kites if you like sailing with kites. Such sails may make the time of the passage shorter. Not everyone is interested in going faster.

It is nice to have an extra long pole if you like sailing wing and wing. Some boats (mostly pre-Bavaria era hulls) roll abominably wing and wing. Avoid.

It is nice to have two such poles if you like sailing under two jibs.

Etc.

Sail choice is not bloody important. I would far more concentrate on making the sails strong, easy to quickly reef down and (unless you have all new sails) being able to repair them effectively.

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Old 04-10-2017, 20:47   #17
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Most of my longer passages were close reaching, & under just one sail, a working or storm jib, or a triple reefed main. Me heading off on a week or more long passage seemed to be a signal for it to start blowing.

I did thousands of miles with a polled out old No2 genoa, & full main on coastal passages, or between islands, particularly in the doldrums, my favourite way of covering miles.

I carried 2 spinnakers for 53,000 miles, & probably did no more than a couple of thousands of miles with them up. Like starting long passages, throwing a kite up in light conditions usually brought in the wind with in a few hours.

I did develop a way of getting a kite down in stronger winds, when caught single handed. I would undo the knot in the bitter end of the brace, & the halliard, then let both go simultaneously. The kite would float fairly gently out to leeward, behind the main. & slowly collapse into the water out abeam of the boat.

With the kite gone the boat would slow dramatically, allowing you to sail past the thing, & it to swing around behind you, towed by the sheet. You could now quietly pull the thing aboard, dropping it in the cockpit. The sodden mass would sit there quietly until you wanted to move it.

It did mean you needed an expanse of fresh water some time to wash it, or to hang it up the mast in the rain to wash the salt out, but at least it was down without danger to the crew, or itself.
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Old 04-10-2017, 23:26   #18
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Sailmakers needles, sailmakers palm, speedy stitcher, waxed thread, hammer, small nails, piece of wood, adhesive backed sail cloth, adhesive backed ripstop nylon, duct tape, and the knowledge how to use them are helpful to have on any ocean crossing.
You forgot the chewing gum.
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Old 08-10-2017, 21:23   #19
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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You do not want to be flying a spinnaker or cruising chute downwind westbound in the Atlantic. Especially an a shorthanded situation. The weather changes quickly and with little warning. The wind is usually too strong for such dainty sails. Wrestling these headsails down in a squall is a nightmare. Your configuration should be easily reefed or doused.

Never, ever fly them at night.
Excuse me? Have you watch any videos of the ARC or for that matter, anyone cruising east to west? Almost everyone uses a down wind sail in the trades. In the North Atlantic you might be right but the Atlantic is a big ocean.
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Old 09-10-2017, 00:01   #20
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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Excuse me? Have you watch any videos of the ARC or for that matter, anyone cruising east to west? Almost everyone uses a down wind sail in the trades. In the North Atlantic you might be right but the Atlantic is a big ocean.
I have crossed east to west at least four times and always had rough conditions and squalls.

You are always in the North Atlantic on the usual course. The North Atlantic simply means that you are north of the equator.

I don't know what videos you are watching but let's talk about some past history of the ARC. Not too long ago a skipper went overboard in rough weather and drowned while being dragged alongside his boat because his inexperienced crew (his own brother) did not know how to stop the boat. Then there was the boat that lost it's rudder in heavy weather and due to the conditions could not rig a tow, although many tried. The boat, Northern Light washed up in Barbados a few months latter. Luckily there were other boats nearby to take them off.

Both of these incidents happened in years when I did the same crossing and I listened to them unfold while I was a few hundred miles away.

It has been said that the Canaries to Caribbean run is the roughest passage there is - If you can do that you can do any normal passage.

After 130,000 miles and 19 years of cruising that has been my experience.
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Old 09-10-2017, 07:03   #21
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Thank you!
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Old 09-10-2017, 14:15   #22
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

we crossed from cape verde to the west indies last november. We generally sailed with our 105% genua poled out and our mainsail.

WE had very little wind and the trip took 3 weeks - many days we sailed with only our mainsail ujp and in the 3rd reef because the sail was flapping about so much.

We do ahve a big gennaker and we flew that a couple of times - but we never fly kites at night.

we are generally conservative with our sails as we double-hand, meaning we are effectively single-handing the boat. Trying to handle a kite single-handed can be difficult, even so at night (which is why we don't fly them at night)

You can make it across with nany types of sails - what you fly will depend on wind conditions and how big/experienced your crew (and you) are
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Old 09-10-2017, 17:54   #23
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

I will take on this one as I faced the same challenges and I got miraculously cured while living in NZ*.

"Sails flapping too much" is what you get when:

- you sail conservatively - you have too little sail up, the boat will slow and wallow, once she starts wallowing, she will shake all and any breeze off her canvas.

Solution: Hoist more, much lighter sail. Go faster. Point higher. A boat going faster is more stable. A boat more stable can keep up more sail, longer.

It is a bit of A leads to B which in turn leads to A. Once you start sailing conservatively (less sail area) you can stop sailing at all.

OR ELSE:

- your sails are not up to downwind work - this specifically implies sails, most often 100%+ rolling genoas, that came with the boat and are simply too heavy for their area (in downwind application, they are fine for upwind work).

The above will go unnoticed when you are beam reaching or close reaching BUT as soon as you bear off and start broad reaching or running, heavy 'cruising sails' are your worst enemy. They will not deliver on most downwind routes across oceans, except maybe the Indian and the Southern.

Solution: get the light sails out of the locker.

OR ELSE:

- your sails are too deep cut.

Solution - flatten the sails. Well cut mains can be made quite flat.

An extra tip - get a fully slatted main.

To sum it up:

For downwind running and broad reaching you may want to:

- keep as much sail as you can - this keeps the boat more stable,
- use the lightest sails you have - sails ridiculously light can do in light downwind conditions, (I use e.g. a Nacra kite on a 3t boat),
- when it gets truly tough, if you do not have light downwind sails, use smaller, flatter sails.

Yes. I know some of it sounds contradictory. But you want more than one trick in your bag. So I gave you some options to try out on your own boat and your own passages.

PS We actually keep the kite up thru the night quite often. If you get hit by a puff, bear off, hide the kite behind the main; if this is not enough, free the tack, pull in the sheet, it will stream.

A kite is unlikely to overpower a boat but a fully hoisted main will easily do. For you cannot stream your main unless you have a cat rig.

One must make up their mind: if we want to sail, or rather wait for better wind. ;-)

*PS Why cured in NZ: I witnessed downwind starts on the harbour in "horizontal" driven rain at what felt like over 30kts in puffs. All kites went up and no mast has broken, not even one boat broached. A boat needs to be driven much harder than you think, downwind, to get her going.

Cheers,
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Old 10-10-2017, 01:12   #24
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Thanks for the reply.

My research is showing that everybody is all over the map and that you can basically do it however you want.

My next question is if we are going to do a East to West transatlantic crossing on a Leopard 39 with a main and Genoa what conditions should we expect onboard? It sounds like since we have to sail off the wind instead of DDW it won’t be as comfortable. How often would we be gybing to stay on course, etc.

Is it crazy to do this with two sails and just a sail repair kit?
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Old 10-10-2017, 02:56   #25
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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Thanks for the reply.

My research is showing that everybody is all over the map and that you can basically do it however you want.

My next question is if we are going to do a East to West transatlantic crossing on a Leopard 39 with a main and Genoa what conditions should we expect onboard? It sounds like since we have to sail off the wind instead of DDW it won’t be as comfortable. How often would we be gybing to stay on course, etc.

Is it crazy to do this with two sails and just a sail repair kit?
When do you leave ? from where ? to where ? which route ?
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:26   #26
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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How often would we be gybing to stay on course
Completely up to you, but how about once a day when all the crew are available.


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Is it crazy to do this with two sails and just a sail repair kit?
Yes, crazy because the cost of two spare second hand sails for a 40 ft yacht is probably less than the food and drinks bill for the crossing. Doesn't have to be anything special, the vikings did it with a bed sheet. However, if you badly damage the Genoa what are you going to fly either for the rest of the trip or the couple of days you spend sewing it up, if you can. You won't be sewing up a clew by hand.

Also why not have some fun sailing and playing around with different sail configurations. After all what else are you going to do each day for 3 weeks?

Were is the storm jib? trysail less useful but a storm jib essential.

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Old 10-10-2017, 04:35   #27
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Barneicle

I understand your point - but we were literally becalmed most of the time - our areometer showed less than 2 knots of wind.

We have no objection to driving our boat hard - we freequently do - but we simply don't fly our kites at night when we are alone in the cockpit - others do and that's great - for them.

we also found that if we got just a fair bit or wind, say 10-12+ knots - we made 7 knots through the water with our genua poled out.

conservative sailing? yes - but we weren't in any hurry. we'd rather enjoy the ride
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Old 10-10-2017, 06:18   #28
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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Barneicle

I understand your point - but we were literally becalmed most of the time - our areometer showed less than 2 knots of wind.

(...)
Ouch! Yep. That's when whatever sails you have they will only make noise and shake the rig. Book reading and coffee time - at times 24 hours long or so. At least it was for us.

Those ultra light days happen mostly when the systems roll over North of your track.

Interestingly, we had this situation at least 3 times back in 2003 (January crossing) but none at all in 2012 (December crossing).

Every time is different. I wonder what we might get this year. We intended to cross in October but I am sick and delayed.

Cheers,
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Old 10-10-2017, 06:40   #29
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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(...) It sounds like since we have to sail off the wind instead of DDW it won’t be as comfortable. How often would we be gybing to stay on course, etc.

Is it crazy to do this with two sails and just a sail repair kit?
It is not crazy, if the sails are in fine condition. You can glue them instead of making stitches. I glue ours anyways.

As for ziggy-zagging it downwind, there are two things you may consider-

1) The wind tends to change direction over a longer period (days) - it will veer or it will back. If you chose the right 'tack' up first, your course will curve inwards, but if you start on the wrong leg, it will curve a bit outwards, everyday. It is very easy to track this challenge, visually, from your breadcrumbs. If you find the wind change taking you in a curve bent away from your due course, gybe, for you may be on the wrong tack. To chose the initial 'right' tack, use VMG function on your gps.

2) You may want to apply the racing thinking: 'avoid being too far from the center line' . making very long tacks often does not pay, as a wind change at the end of a longer tack may put you on the 'wrong' tack for another 3 or 4 days. So basically make a series of (shorter) gybes. You may want to sync the gybe hours with your day schedule - gybe during day hours and when there are many hands around, etc. I can gybe a big cat alone but it is ever so reassuring when there is someone at hand who can unlock that sheet that got under that hatch. Back in 2003 we did with 5 tacks (genoa poled out and or main). Back in 2012 we did with 20+ (gennaker).

Overall, if you have gribs onboard and a routing softeware on your tablet, you can make safer and longer bets on your gybes. You will know in advance where the light patches are expected and how to negotiate them best. You may also intentionally get off the direct route - to chase better wind choices on the outskirts of the wind field.

My last comment is that maybe at times you will be doing 'crazy' things too - trimming or choosing gybes according to comfort rather than angle or speed. I am forced to do this often on our boat (26' mono) I bet a big cat is less vulnerable but still. At times swell and waves dictate your choices more than wind direction and its force.

Have fun. Make sure whatever wardrobe you have, it is in good condition. Two sails should suffice as it can be done with just one sail too, if slowly.

Of all my clients sailing cats the fastest and most comfortable passages were made by those flying symmetrical spinnakers (pole-less). Get a s/h kite if you do not have any.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 11-10-2017, 03:57   #30
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

We found a used Asym spinnaker in Almerimar!

This plus the advice you've all given should make for a better trip.
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