How much is too much wind

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by creymartin, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. creymartin

    creymartin New Member

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    I thought last weekend would be the day I first tried sailing the Minifish

    I have LIMITED sailing experience (read a bunch about theory, sailed maybe four times in Hobie Cats and a Rumba)

    Athough not a lake, I will be sailing in an inlet of the North Shore of Long Island (Cold Spring Harbor). The only waves I have seen are those produced by cruising motorboats.

    Flags were flapping at good 20 knots last Sunday; it seemed impossible to me that the boat would not immediately capsize, so the lack of cojones postponed the outing.

    What would be the IDEAL wind speed to enjoy sailing in one of these? What would be the maximum that would make it impossible?
     
  2. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    Considering your situation, I would say 5-15 mph. Once you get more experience, you can test your skills at higher windspeeds. Sunfish that are in good shape can handle pretty 'stressful' situations (up to 30 mph, I think), but I don't know much about the capabilities of the Minifish. Use your judgment, and be on the safe side. Obviously, things tend to break at the more extreme windspeeds. And be extra conservative when venturing out all alone.
     
  3. Alan Glos

    Alan Glos Active Member

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    This may be a good time to mention wearing a Personal Flotation Device
    (PFD, life jacket) anytime sailing a small sailboat like the Sunfish or Minifish is a good idea. After a capsize, is is possible to get separated from your boat and the PFD takes a lot of the panic out of the picture especially if you are quite a way from shore in choppy, windy conditions.

    I agree that the Sunfish can safely handle up to 30 MPH winds - after that things start to bend and break and it becomes more of a survival contest rather than pleasure sailing. The Mini being smaller and a little less stable, 25 mph wind may be the top end.

    ...However, sailing a Sunfish on a broad reach in 35 mph steady wind is a fine madness and can be pulled off safely if you are experienced and keep your wits about you! God hates cowards and sometimes you have go for it.

    Alan Glos
    Cazenovia, NY
     
  4. Fred P

    Fred P Member

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    Flat water helps at any speed. You get smaller waves on a lake or very protected ocean harbor/inlet.
    When you're dealing with waves and high winds you
    need a lot of experience and guts!

    Fred
     
  5. creymartin

    creymartin New Member

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    Wouldn't dare otherwise

    An additional question comes to mind... is there any way to reduce sail if condition suddenly warrant it? Can the main sail be lowered safely once out there?
     
  6. isleofwightlen

    isleofwightlen Member

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    Just go sailing in a light breeze to start with ..... But remember , before you go , DO NOT eat two tins of baked beans , six fried eggs & a big bowl of rhubarb , or you'll get more wind than you can handle !
     
  7. Gail

    Gail 24186

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    You can lower the sail anytime, any where. The boat will be more unstable without the sail up. Absolutely have a knot in the end of the halyard so if you lose control and capsize with the sail down you won't have the very unfortunate experience of the halyard running out of the top of the mast and losing the mast. Also absolutely always have a knot (either overhand or figure-8) at the bitter end of the mainsheet to keep the boom and sail attached to the boat likewise. And, have some kind of daggerboard retaining device (I once posted a very cheap to make bungee-cord, clip to the ends of the splash rail, slide daggerboard down through retainer), so if you end up in a turtle the board will still be attached somehow to the boat. I use the bungee because it keeps tension on the board so it doesn't fall in the slot, rather it keeps the daggerboard sticking out of the bottom of the hull (now up into the air when turtled), to aid with a quicker recovery.

    If it's really blowing dogs off chains, consider putting in a reef before you leave shore. Ease the gaff-top uphaul. Pull the cunningham tight (the first hole on the luff above the tack, a small line with a tight bowline tied there, then lead the line through the tack grommet, racers then go to a clam cleat or you can tie it off there if you like). This will create a flap of sail cloth that will no longer be exposed for propelling the boat. Tighten the uphaul again. The top of the main will now be approximately 10-12" lower and you will have far less sail area.

    Also, I recommend the Sunfish Bible (available at Dealers and through the Sunfish Class web site) to learn how to use a Jens rig to depower and be able to handle winds up to 45 (personal experience) and maybe more.

    The comment about reaching in a big blow and it being an out of body type experience is right on!!

    You'll want to build up to it, though, as you'll hit a couple "chicken" points and will either learn to trim in hard to regain control of the boat or will wipe out (that is, capsize and get wet). The beauty of a "crash" in a Sunfish is about the worst that happens is you get wet and maybe get a bump in the head. Serious injuries are very, very rare! It's just plain a lot of fun.

    Good luck.
     
  8. Gail

    Gail 24186

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    Slightly off topic, but it's too awesome not to share. I was out on my "other boat" today, a Nelson/Marek 68, in Chicago. It was blowing 25-42 out of the southwest. Under main only we were cruising along at 12; under #3 only we were cruising along at 11+. We had many times of sustained 37+, not just
    "puffs." What an exhilerating ride! Didn't have a chance to get to a 'Fish before the squall line hit and the breezes dropped. :):p:D
     
  9. benEzra

    benEzra Stuck on land

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    Sunfish/Minifish are WAY more forgiving in high winds than Hobie Cats are, IMO. Hobie cats are high-strung beasts, AND you can't spill the sail nearly as easily on a Hobie Cat due to the mast stays (a Hobie Cat on a run or broad reach in a strong wind can be downright scary). Also, you can heel a 'fish 80 degrees or so and it will right itself as soon as you spill the sail, but a Hobie Cat under the same conditions might capsize or pitchpole without much warning.

    The other thing is, in a strong wind, you can get the 'fish up on plane if you're not too heavy, and that is an absolute blast.
     

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