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Question on wind gusts


Herschel Payne
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I was sailing my Weekender the other day and wind really picked up in a hurry gusting from all directions. Normally in a strong blast I just let go of everything and the boat turns into the wind, however, this did not happen this time as the wind was from every direction and dipped my rail well into the water. I was surprised I didn't capsize.

What is the proper procedure for handling this type of situation. Thanks in advance for your replys.

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Yes I have been in a similar situation in my Weekender though you didn't mention confused seas in your scenario. My procedure: doused the sails and fired up the outboard. Since then I put in a reef in the main and jib (lately I made a roller furler of the jib) and reduce sail when I expect to be overpowered.

Rolando

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I dipped the rail a couple of times in my Weekender. I'm more of a flat water type of guy, so I can't say I enjoyed it! I always found sailing in a local lake the most challenging because the winds would swirl down different canyons and blast you from different directions. I always thought those guys sailing lakes in the midwest should have an ocean put in near them.

You can dump a lot of wind by releasing the peak halyard and letting the main sheet go. I had reef points on my Weekender but never really used them. The boat doesn't have a lot of canvas to begin with, so if it was too hairy for my liking I usually did what maligno does: douse the sails and fire up the "iron ginny".

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It's likely you where sailing at such an angle of heel, that your rudder was mostly exposed and the tip was in turbulent water, making it useless.

Gaffers need to be reefed early, because the alternative is a hard mouth beast, that can get out of control quickly. If you have any thoughts about building wind strengths, you probably should been putting in a reef. Weekender needs to stay "on her feet" to remain in good control. If permitted to heel excessively, you'll loose steerage (as you found) and the situation after this can become precarious fast.

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I've been sailing in the harbor where there is a whole lot more room for the wind to get going and have noticed that what Paul says is true. If I get hit with a strong gust I sheet out right away and work to keep her as upright as possible. I noticed that the rudder gets pretty tough to hold on to if she is heeling a lot. The biggest problem I am having with the gusts these days is they don't last long enough to give me a chance to adjust and balance everything before they are gone. If I get a chance, I can get some pretty good speed out of my weekender.

I have a question though. How do you tell whether you are side slipping or not. I have been able to set a course and hold it for 3 or 4 miles, and with the normal handling gusts and regular sailing stuff, I have not had any trouble holding a straight course. I look behind me to see if the flat water of my wake is curved, but with steady wind it is straight as an arrow. Are there any other clues I should be looking at?

Al Stead

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Okay. But I'm a scientific minded kind of guy. I want to be able to measure and manipulate the things I don't understand. Just assuming that something is happening doesn't satisfy me. How do I go about measuring the amount of leeway I'm making on a broad reach in a stiff wind like the time I made a straight course down the harbor? Also, what is the problem with making leeway if you get where you want to go easily? The worst thing I can think of off hand is the tendency to yaw as a result of correcting for the slippage and maintaining a straight line.

I think there must be a way to measure the phenomenon. Maybe a GPS.

Al

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On a broad reach you are not slipping much to leeward, even in a Weekender. But going to weather, or even a close reach I bet you lose a fair bit to leeward. Compare your compass course to GPS course. This will show exactly how much you are losing (assuming there are no currents to further confuse things)

As to the problem with leeway the biggest one is getting to some where that is dead to weather of you, or nearly so. Not only do you have to tack, but you are losing more ground to leeway. If you are out day sailing to no where and back, then maybe you don't care at all.

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Leeward slip on a Weekender is the lack of sufficient lateral plane and in this particular case, efficient lateral area. The long shallow appendage does very poorly to weather, with the result being a marked amount of skid. If Weekender was fitted with better shaped and positioned appendages, she'd improve windward progress by several degrees. This is most notable when sailing with other, similarly sized craft which have fixed or adjustable appendages. Simply put, they'll crush a Weekender progressively getting better as the wind comes forward of her beam. Better VMG across 40% of the available points of sail is a significant advantage. There are ways to measure the amount of skid, but I'm not convinced it's especially important without the wish to change it. So what if you're skidding off at 15 degrees, it is what it is. Rigging up a simple, clamp on leeboard would dramatically show you how much you are losing. Sailing with it down, then the same course with it removed. An easier method to explain and expose this aspect would be, to sail a centerboard boat and only lower the board enough to make some windward ability possible. While sailing lower the board and watch how many degrees the bow swings up, while still making effective progress to windward. The results will be dramatic in most cases.

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It would be an interesting test. I always thought the Weekender sailed much better than seemed possible based on its often maligned design (something you don't realize until you actually sail one). I had people tell me that without a centerboard, there is no way it would be able to make way at all. What isn't often remembered is that the original Weekender had a jack-knife centerboard. When Peter Stevenson removed it on his own boat, the very same boat sailed just as well with no difference in pointing ability and no increase in slippage.

I remember an article about a boat by Bolger that featured a centerboard at the bow, an unusual design. The large "forefoot" with the board down was balanced by a deep aspect rudder. The Bolger article, with its emphasis on the "new math" of the forefoot and deep aspect rudder, related Bolger's assertion that you didn't need to follow traditional rules to get a well sailing boat. When you moved the centerboard forward, it didn't need to be as deep. And that, combined with a deep and narrow rudder, balanced the boat nicely. I wondered if that provided some of the answer to the Weekender's unusual sailing characteristics. The Weekender has a deep forefoot measuring 12 - 14" at the bow, and a deep aspect rudder.

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