Handling Gusts

A place to discuss best practices and techniques for boat handling.

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Handling Gusts

Postby Tink » Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:04 am

I recently had the good fortune of surviving a 2hour upwind slog. I was lucky in having an experience sailing buddy with me so we were able to share the workload. I was also lucky in having the tide on our side so we made steady progress. We had the occasional wave over the bow so bailing was a constant requirement. On occasions we hove to and I was quite suprised at how well the mizzen worked.


My favorite weather site forecast 17knots winds but reported 22 knots after the event. Obvioulsy I can't rely on forecasts any more. Any comments or advice on how to prepare and deal with these conditions?
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Re: Handling Gusts

Postby gazzer » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:18 am

Hi Tink.

Sounds like you got the old adrenaline flowing! You mention on your site that the mast was bending like a banana. Would you provide some details about its construction and what wood you used. Being able to flex without failure is great, but sometimes a spar can take a permanent set. Did you notice anything like this?


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Re: Handling Gusts

Postby Mike » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:58 pm

This item really leads back to knowing when to reef. If you think you should reef, then you really should, right now, not a bit later.

At the 2009 SRR, I was sailing with Joel Page on his CY, Selkie. Just before lunch time, we were heading for the beach with the wind off our port quarter. Joel was starting to talk about reefing but with the wind astern we "thought" that we should be okay. Conditions were probably close to what Tink is describing.

I happened to look up at the top of the foremast and was alarmed to discover that the top two feet were bending forward to an alarming degree. After some discussion, we decided to chance leaving the sail fully set. We both agreed that we were really risking the mast at that point.

The wind continued to rise and the SRR committee opted to cancel the afternoon sailing event. After the lunch break, we reefed both the main and mizzen sail and continued to sail. Selkie handled beautifully on all points of sail with reefs in. Going upwind, we got some splash but didn't take any sizeable amount of water aboard.
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Re: Handling Gusts

Postby James McMullen » Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:16 pm

I know some of y'all probably think I'm crazy, but for me, my happy place only really comes in to focus after the second reef. I love blustery sailing, and these boats are ever so well suited to these conditions!

If you practice your reefing regulary and add all of the tips for making it simple like marking your halliards to cleat off at the proper hoists, using snapshackles and cheek blocks and cleats for quick and secure tack and clew hook-ups and outhaul tensioning, and even color-coding the ends of your reefing nettles to make sure you're tying the right bit to the right bit--well there's no eason you can't still be out there enjoying sailing when all of the unprepared sailors are having to run for cover. One of the best things you can do to make your heavier wind sailing more controllable is make your downhaul and your outhaul tensioning lines easy to adjust on the fly. I use Stay-Set X and cam cleats for this stuff, non-traditional though it may be. In a big blow, the difference in pointing ability between a tight, controlled sail and a loose, baggy shapeless one is very pronounced.
Good decisions are gained with experience, which is gained through bad decisions. . . . . .
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