Re: Slowing down in increasing winds



When it comes to heavy weather tactics, my first rule is to take no advice from anyone who hasn't been there and done that, preferably on a boat very similar to mine.

I think you you'll get some awesome advice here from people who have spent time in weather way, way rougher than I ever want to...

As the wind picks up, I just reef deeper and deeper.  Maybe it comes from sailing in San Francisco for so long, but strong winds never really worried me.  It was always just the size of the waves that drove my concerns.  35 knots? No problem... just keep sailing!

Eventually, waves get so big that making progress in any direction except downwind gets dangerous.  Once you start to lose control of the the boat as it surfs down big waves, or the waves start to break in ways that are dangerous, it is time to go straight to the series drogue.  There are people here who have been there, done that, and know of what they speak.

My opinion:  Skip all the old fashioned ideas of dragging warps with fenders, anchors, tires, etc, etc.  Those are tactics from 75 years ago, suited for boats of that vintage.  When I have talked to people who have actually tried such things in modern boats in conditions that were really serious, they were always way less than impressed with the result.

My experience runs up to 45 knots for days crossing the North Pacific on a boat significantly smaller than a SM, although similar is general design.  Deeply reefed jib, and reefed mizzen, furled main, and the boat did fine.  One you get used to it, it is a wild ride :)  I always reefed based on boat speed.  Keeping the boat under control was the key.

So many of the storm tactics you read about are based on the premise of having a large crew who can hand steer for hours and hours.  Having a way of "stopping" when the boat gets out of control, like a series drogue, is the key to cruising safety in big weather.

Bill Kinney
SM160, Harmonie
Governors Harbour, Eleuthera, Bahamas

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