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Old 05-07-2020, 16:31   #1
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Oops

I returned from a trip up North the other day, and wanted to recount something stupid I did while solo sailing in a stiff breeze with 4 foot chop.

I was heading North with the wind behind me, both sails up, making good time, and approaching my turn into a small town to anchor for the night.

The roller furling on the front was easy to pull in (love this roller furling), but then I was left with the Main, that was powering the boat, and I needed to depower it.

I started the motor, and set the course straight ahead, no great speed, just enough to move the boat forward, and then I pulled the mainsail to center, and dropped it.

This seemed to work for about 10 seconds until the boat lost speed suddenly and turned sharply to starboard, where I was left floundering as it heeled over and the 4 foot waves hit it sideways.

I managed to muscle the rudder back up and gave the engine more power and we were good after that, but it was obvious that I did this completely wrong.

I think if I had applied more power to the motor, and then locked the rudder straight using my tiller pilot, that would have prevented this sudden turn to starboard.

What is the proper way to transition from sails to motor in a strong downwind with 4 ft chop?
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Old 05-07-2020, 17:05   #2
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Re: Oops

Normally take the main down while headed up wind. If you are big and heavy with autopilot and sufficient speed you can cheat. Lots of bad stuff can happen on a 26 ft lightweight while headed down. At low speed you may be forced 90 into the wind while the main appears to be mostly released.
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Old 05-07-2020, 17:18   #3
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Re: Oops

Unless you have sufficient power and direction the wind will get your bow, pretty quickly especially in a chop. Can you scandalize your main by dropping it halfway by releasing the halyard from the cockpit?
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Old 05-07-2020, 17:24   #4
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Re: Oops

What worked well for me in this situation is: heave to, drop the jib (mine was hanked on), then drop the main. I hove to in six foot waves on the same boat; it was always easy to do and stopped boat’s motion almost completely. Highly recommended.
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Old 05-07-2020, 18:01   #5
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Re: Oops

Motor into the wind to drop the main. Sure, there are ways to cheat but those are best left till you have more experience. Make sure you have enough way to maintain heading despite the wind and waves. Once the main is secured, turn back to your destination
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Old 05-07-2020, 18:07   #6
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Re: Oops

I like to leave the main up for boat control and stability, then motor into the wind at the last minute inside harbor.
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Old 05-07-2020, 20:17   #7
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Re: Oops

Great advise, thank you all. I think I was just trying to shorten the procedure and avoid turning into the wind before dropping main, which was my main mistake.

That idea about heaving-to looks interesting, I will have to practice that next time I am out.
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Old 05-07-2020, 21:17   #8
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Re: Oops

A downwind drop is a tricky maneuver with a good helmsman in seas that bumpy, or at least a good autopilot that can steer to the wind if you are single-handing and in a boat that doesn't rock much. Otherwise turn into the wind.
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Old 07-07-2020, 05:00   #9
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Re: Oops

On my old MacGregor, I would always head into the wind and tie the tiller off there while I dropped the main. There was a few times when conditions were bad enough and I dropped anchor, which pretty much guaranteed I'd be held into the wind.
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