Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad

Seven Heavy Weather Sailing Tips You Need to Know!

by Captain John Jamieson on 17 Jun 2011
"Maybe we should have taken down the spinnaker earlier... SW
Did you know there are five secret signs you can use to tell you when it's time to reef?

Do you know the one vital step you should take before tacking in high winds to prevent costly damage to your furling Genoa?

Here Captain John Jamieson shows you seven ways you can make coastal or offshore cruising more comfortable in heavy sailing weather.


1. Reef from the Upwind Side:
Make reefing easier when you keep the sailing crew on the high side at the mast for mainsail reefing and foredeck for changing out headsails. For mainsail reefing it's safer if you sail onto the tack that matches the side where your main halyard winch has been mounted.

For example, for a main halyard winch mounted on the starboard side of the mast, sail onto starboard tack before you send the crew forward. This makes lowering, hoisting and grinding easier with the mainsail out of the way.

Remind your crew to always clip on their safety tethers to the jackline on the high (windward) side of the boat. If they slip, the tether will take a strain and keep them aboard.


2. Fall Off the Wind to Furl a Genoa:
Use the mainsail to block the wind when you need to furl the Genoa. This relieves strain from the furling line to make it easier to roll the Genoa to the desired size. Fall off the wind, create a wind shadow, furl the Genoa, and then return to your original course. It takes just seconds and you will save your sailing crew effort and strain.


3. Use a Pendant on Headsails:
Have your sailmaker make up an 18 inches long wire-rope pendant that will raise the tack of your heavy weather sail above the deck. This helps prevent waves that break over the bow from straining sail fabric and thread. And, it provides sailing crew with better visibility beneath the foot of the sail.

Make up an eye in each end of the pendant with a stainless thimble inserted to protect the wire-rope from chafe. Shackle one end to a hole in the stem-head fitting or to a strong through-bolted eye strap if you use an inner forestay. Attach the other end to the tack of your staysail or storm sail. Hoist the sail and tension the luff.

Use the halyard to maintain good luff tension for maximum power to punch through a chop and speed on reaching points of sail.


4. Watch for These Five Reefing Signals:
Follow these five golden rules so that you know when to reef. Be the first one out there to take action. Tucking in a reef while heeled over with spray flying in your face can be tough on even the saltiest of sailing dogs.

Can you answer 'Yes!' to one or more of the questions below? If so, then it's time to tuck in a reef or two or three.

* Whitecaps to Windward?

Constant whitecaps tell you that a strong breeze has filled in and will continue for some time. Reef to add power to your boat sails and punch through those waves like a hot knife through butter.

* Gusts More Frequent?

How often do those gusts strike the sails and cause the boat to heel? An occasional gust might not be of much concern. But lots of gusts every minute mean you need to reduce sail to keep the boat on her feet.

* Helm Hard to Hold?

A balanced helm means being able to steer without strain with one hand. Lots of weather helm and 'white-knuckles' on the wheel or tiller indicates a boat out of harmony with wind and sea. Reef sails to the point that your boat can almost steer herself!

* Rail Digging In?

Each time your small cruising or racing sailboat digs the leeward rail into the water, you lose valuable speed. Extra friction and drag make you slow down. Keep the lee rail clear of the water for faster cruising passages.

* Crew Fatigued and Sick?

All evolutions take longer to complete in tough weather. A tired, sick crew can become an injured, battered crew. One crew member unable to stand watch increases the work load on all hands. Tuck in a reef and you will be rewarded with a boat that sails flatter, pounds and pitches less, and creates less fatigue on your sailing crew.

5. Furl All the Way Before Coming About:
On cutter-rigged cruising sailboats, furl the Genoa before you come about to prevent the Genoa from hanging up (getting snagged) on the inner forestay. Use this same strategy on sloops in higher sailing winds.

Furl the Genoa all the way, tack the boat, and then unfurl the Genoa once steadied up on the new tack. The wind will help unfurl the Genoa, the sail will flog less, and sail handling will be easier for short-handed crews.

6. Install Reef Points in a Headsail:
Save big money when you have your sailmaker install a single row of reef points in your hank-on staysail. This past fall, I helped deliver an Outbound 44 from Newport, Rhode Island to the Caribbean. The sailing skipper had installed a single row of reef points in the staysail. In extreme weather, we could reef the staysail instead of having to hank on a different sail. Use headsail reef points to gain the same advantage as two separate sails--at a fraction of the cost!

7. Rig Dual Preventers for Sailing Safety:
Multi-time circumnavigator Hal Roth was a firm proponent of dual preventers. This allowed him to sail onto broad reaches or run before the wind on either tack without the bother of re-rigging a single preventer after he changed tacks.

Set up a preventer to port and starboard the next time you go coastal or offshore sailing. You will save time and effort, plus boost your sailing safety with this simple technique.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Follow these seven sailing tips to increase your sailing safety when you encounter heavy weather sailing. Keep your boat balanced and powerful, and your sailing crew more comfortable--wherever in the world you choose to cruise!

Captain John teaches sailing skippers the skills they need for safer sailing anywhere in the world. As a SkipperTips member, you will receive fresh articles, videos, and newsletters in your inbox every week, along with access to live discussion forums and one-on-one coaching. Visit his website at www.skippertips.com.

NaiadMackay BoatsPredictWind.com 2014

Related Articles

A Few Rays - When you think of sunscreen as a filter....
If a sunscreen is a filter of UV rays, how much is enough? If a sunscreen is a filter of UV rays, how much is enough? Where the skin is exposed and a sunscreen is working for you, it is filtering UV rays. Some of those rays always get through. The percentage of the high energy UVB rays (said to cause sunburn) that get through to cells in the skin can be determined by the claimed SPF of the product you are using.
Posted today at 10:26 am
Boat International partners with NZ Millennium Cup 2018
Boat International partners with NZ Millennium Cup 2018 to celebrate superyacht regatta’s tenth anniversary Boat International Media, the global authority on superyachts and the luxury lifestyle that goes with them, has today announced that it will be partnering with the NZ Millennium Cup superyacht regatta, to be held in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands in January 2018.
Posted on 22 Apr
A Few Rays - What is Broad Spectrum Protection?
What is Broad Spectrum sunscreen? Ultraviolet rays only make up a small proportion of all of the sun’s rays. What is Broad Spectrum sunscreen? Ultraviolet rays (UVA, UVB and UVC) only make up a small proportion of all of the sun’s rays. UVA and UVB sun-rays are however the biggest contributors to skin damage from sun.
Posted on 19 Apr
Coast Guard urges boating safety common sense
Coast Guard reminds mariners that as the air temperature is warming the water temperatures are still dangerously cold The Coast Guard is reminding mariners Friday that as the air temperature is warming the water temperatures are still dangerously cold. With the rise in air temperature, the number of boaters, paddle craft users, and water enthusiasts taking to water activities also rises.
Posted on 15 Apr
A very difficult day - Got fuel to Cape Town
Well after my dismasting I have spent the last two days motoring North towards Cape Town trying to collect myself Well after my dismasting I have spent the last two days motoring North towards Cape Town trying to collect myself and to intercept Hong Kong container ship M/V Far Eastern Mercury who had been diverted by Maritime Rescue Coordination Center Cape Town (MRCC Cape Town) when I had issued a Pan-Pan during my dismasting.
Posted on 8 Apr
Lisa Blair heads to Cape Town under motor following dismasting
A PAN PAN was called at 0300 (AET) / 1900 (SAST) signalling an urgent threat to her safety and this remains in place. Lisa Blair has assessed the damage to her yacht, Climate Action Now, after being dismasted 895 nm south of Cape Town in 40 knot winds and seven metre swells early in the morning of April 4, 2017. She made a PAN PAN call over the radio at approximately 0300 (AET) / 1900 (SAST) signalling an urgent threat to her safety and this remains in place.
Posted on 4 Apr
A Few Rays- Calculate how long your sunscreen lasts.
Confused by SPF's? It’s easy to calculate how long you will be protected by using the following process. Exposure to the sun is a serious issue for all those who venture on the water. Confused by SPF's? It’s easy to calculate how long you will be protected by using the following process.
Posted on 2 Apr
Coast Guard joins Arctic stakeholders in historic forum
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft joined leaders representing eight coast guards of Arctic nations U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft joined leaders representing eight coast guards of Arctic nations in signing a joint statement Friday. The statement adopts doctrine, tactics, procedures and information-sharing protocols for emergency maritime response and combined operations in the Arctic. The Arctic Coast Guard Forum is an operationally-focused, consensus-based organisation...
Posted on 24 Mar
Coast Guard Foundation announces tribute in New Orleans
Coast Guard Foundation announced that its Tribute to the Coast Guard District will be held at the National WW II Museum The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that its annual Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District will be held at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana on Friday, March 10, 2017.
Posted on 7 Mar
Coast Guard Foundation announces Scholarship Season now open
The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization, announced that it has kicked off its 2017 scholarship season. he Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that it has kicked off its 2017 scholarship season. Accepting applications from March 1st through April 15th, children of enlisted Coast Guard members may apply for annual scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Posted on 28 Feb