Great sail, great gale, a little carnage and lessons learned

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by CharlieCobra, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. CharlieCobra
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 13
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    Location: Anacortes WA

    CharlieCobra Junior Member

    So, after checking four different weather sites for the forecast, one of my Son's and I, set off for a brisk sail. We get out about noon in 10-12 knots and are making 6.5 knots under Genoa and main at about 45* from apparent. We stay on a single tack for three hours until we come to the San Juan channel. All of the forecasts had called for the wind to clock around from the SSE to the West and increase to 15-20 knots as the cold front came through. After discussing whether to continue on to Friday Harbor or head back to Skyline, we decided that since we only had two hours of light and it looked like rain on the horizon, we'd head home.

    The wind had dropped off a bit and was clocking around so we figured we'd fly the chute for a bit. I was forward and had finished rigging it up and was ready to launch it when the wind picked up to about 12-15, so it felt. We had put the wind at about 150* and I started to deploy when a big puff hit. Instantly the chute started to open fast and yank on the scoop line hard! I let it go as it was gonna yank me off the boat and the chute popped open. Instantly we were knocked flat with the boom and spreader in the drink as she leapt forward under the pressure. I stepped from the deck to the staysail boom and glanced back to see Jay, looking like the black guy in the old Charley Chaplin movies, still on the low side trying to steer. I was amazed that even though we were over flat, no water was coming into the cockpit or the companionway. The boat stood back up as she rounded up and kinda stalled to windward. She started falling back off so I blew the spin halyard to keep us from getting knocked down again and told Jay to keep us pinned to windward.

    I went forward and unhooked the downhaul while Jay grabbed the head of the chute and then we blew the sheet so we could fish it out. In the meantime, the wind was now up to 30+ and the waves where building while it was pouring rain. After about 10 minutes, we got the chute aboard and chunked it down below to sort out later. We were still pinned about 50* off the wind and couldn't come up so I let out about 8' of the furler line figuring to get a bit of headsail up so we could drop the main. Well, that didn't work as advertised and the Genny just started flogging itself to pieces instead of catching wind so we could come up. We refurled it, started the motor and turned up to drop the main.

    Once the main was down, I had Jay take the helm and turn us downwind while I got the Staysail up. After it was up and drawing hard, we shut the engine off and blasted along on a Broad Reach at 7.5 knots with only the little 150 sq ft. Staysail up. I took the helm as Jay turned on the lights and settled in for the ride back. After a bit the wind was up to what felt and sounded like 40 with gust to 50+ and the seas built to 6-8 or so as we ran away from the Eastern entrance to the San Juan de Fuca towards Fidalgo. I showed Jay how to steer on a run in quartering and following seas and let him at it. What a sight to see another of my boys at the helm in heavy weather having a blast! You couldn't peel the grin off his face. So after covering the 15 miles in 2.5 hours, we came to more sheltered waters before the marina and switched again. I put us in the Lee of an island while Jay doused and tied off the Staysail. After hunting around a bit, we made the entrance, motored nicely to the slip and made a perfect landing.

    Sunday, I went out to survey the carnage. The chute was fine and we hoisted, dried, untangled and rescooped it. The Genoa had parts of the sunbrella come loose and shred but no damage to the sail so it off to the loft for that one. The Portside king post stanchion came out of the deck as we docked and on inspection, it appears that the screws pulled out. I'll be through bolting all of them now. Lessons learned? Don't believe the weather guys. I checked NOAA after I got home and found Gale Warnings posted along with wind readings of 43 gusting to 53, right where we were sailing. Lesson two, get a wind speed indicator, even a handheld one because ya damned sure don't wanna launch a kite in that again. Lesson three, don't be such a hardcore sailor that ya don't use a perfectly good engine to head into the wind to either reef or douse the main. A lesson used from the last time? Changing headsails in a blow is much easier and safer downwind. Last but not least, don't fear the knockdown, at least not on this boat. That doesn't mean ya go looking for it but have faith in the design of the boat, it works.

    Jay's impression of the day? He couldn't think of anywhere else or anything he'd rather be doing than sailing in those conditions. I've gotta agree.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. lazeyjack

    lazeyjack Guest

    I,m puzzled, why would you need a wind speed inst. to tell if it was time to shorten sail?
    Another thing is , if you sail a lot , you can see the weather chnging, if you expect a front and all goes still then the weather is going to change and very fast
    But you got tested, was fun was it not? got the heart pounding
    One thing about testing times at sea is, they bind people, you either end up as good friends or the opposite
    My advice is this, in olden days people did not have weather access, that made them seaman, because they observed the weather
    If you observed the sky, the clouds during all this, you will be ready next time eh
    You wrote this to invite comment:))
     
  3. artemis
    Joined: Oct 2004
    Posts: 410
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    Location: USA

    artemis Steamboater

    Ah, yes. Home. Nothing more relaxing than the area from Point Hudson to the west side of Whidbey Island with a fair breeze and the sea a little lumpy. Got caught out in that a couple of times. 3-4 knot breeze and calm seas. An hour later it's blowing 45-50 knots with 10 ft. waves and the tops blowin' off 'em. Learned to listen to the NOAA marine weather channel out of Seattle or look at the flags at Pt. Hudson. Local weather forecasters are lousy. If you weren't born and raised in Puget Sound country, you have no business trying to predict the weather there. :)
     
  4. CharlieCobra
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 13
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    Location: Anacortes WA

    CharlieCobra Junior Member

    The sea lied to me and I listened, my bad. She then smacked me upside the head to refresh my memory. The wind certainly didn't feel that strong when I started the hoist. Boy was I mistaken. The wind hadn't dropped completely, just a couple of knots and the sudden shift/puff was not expected. It was fun and it re-enforced my growing faith in this boat. It was nice to see her stay dry even on her side. Another thing used was the Pardey method of heaving to. While we still had too much canvas up, we were able to point about 50* off the wind, sheet out a bit and maintain position and heading while we got the chute out of the drink and squared the boat away. It made for a smooth, easy ride. Yes, I wrote this to invite comment and yes, other than her slapping me once and again, I think I enjoy the sea very much.
     
  5. CharlieCobra
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Anacortes WA

    CharlieCobra Junior Member

    artemis, three times they've blown the forecast since I got Oh Joy in Sept. Ya figure I'd learn by now. 20 knot max my %^%^&.
     
  6. lazeyjack

    lazeyjack Guest

    be careful always run with preventer on, specially if shift is forecast and all goes quiet, , better still a boom brake
     
  7. CharlieCobra
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Anacortes WA

    CharlieCobra Junior Member

    Good call.
     
  8. charmc
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    Location: FL, USA

    charmc Senior Member

    This year's Fastnet race was typically rough, with something like 75% of entrants DNF due to gear breakages caused by the conditions.
    "On board the Sigma 38, Persephone of London was a family affair with four of the eight crew Goodhew family members, and only three crew over 20 years old. The Goodhews included Oliver, 15 – possibly the youngest crew member in this year’s Fastnet – Tim, 17 and parents, Karen and Nigel. While they had done the Eddystone Race, this was their first go at a Rolex Fastnet Race, and they did well, winning IRC Class 3A, and the Hobbs Bowl for 1st Sigma 38."

    Coming through rough weather as a parent and child is one of life's great experiences.

    But lazeyjack's right: screw the weather guys; watch the sky!
     
  9. CharlieCobra
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 13
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    Location: Anacortes WA

    CharlieCobra Junior Member

    No doubt.
     

  10. Kay9
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Central Coast Oregon US.

    Kay9 1600T Master

    Anybody can put a sail up. A sailor knows when to take one down.

    and

    If in doubt reef.
     
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