"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andre Gide

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sailing in Heavy Weather

I recently received from my netflix queue the video "Sailing in Heavy Weather" from the Better Sailing Series hosted by Mark Schrader. I have watched...actually I tried to watch some other sailing videos on Netflix but never got that far into them before turning them off. Either the sound of the wind howling in the microphone was so loud you couldn't understand the speaking, the video camera pointing one direction would be constantly showing nothing important, or the Miami Vice 80's haircut and outfits would drive me to turn it off. "Sailing in Heavy Weather" was mostly upto date and overall pretty well produced especially concerning the conditions.

There are quite a few good nuggets of information in the video but main points I learned for my beginning skill level is below;
  1. Practice reefing before you need to reef. During a 30 + knot gail is not when you want to be figuring things out.
  2. Practice often. Knowing how to reef is good but knowing how to reef very quicking is even better. It is quite difficult to keep enough slack in the sails by heading up in heavy weather to allow the sail to come down. The tension may only be off the sail for a minute before a wave or wind pushes the boat away from the wind direction putting tension back onto the sail.
  3. There are two ways to handle heavy seas, passively by battoning down the hatches and waiting it out underneath and actively by sailing. Todays modern boat designs generally do better by being actively sailed. After watching the video I still not totally sure what to do in a Coronoda 25. It is not a modern boat but I think I would be more comfortable trying to actively steer the boat but I doubt I could keep it up that long.  
  4. Reef early before the heaviest wind comes then test the balance of the boat to see how it handles. Many Captians get in trouble because they reef down too much and can't control the boat. Find the balance of power and heeling that allows the boat to be steered well by lettling out more cloth.
There was  a section on heaving to in the video that I think was done well but I will go into a deeper discussion on this in a later blog as setting your sails so that you make no very handy thing to be able to do.

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