Learning In The Wind

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by Sailkb, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Sailkb

    Sailkb Member

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    I took my first sailing lesson last June and had a great time on my newly aquired sunfish last summer. As I was learning, I tried to stay away from the excessively windy days, i.e. 15mph+. I actually posted one experience I had on a very windy day where I failed to get out of the dock. This year I am itching to tackle windy days. I'm in Kansas. If I wait for the wind to die down, it will be mid June before I can get out again. I am talking about winds of at least 15, more like 20mph. My question is, what are the safety issues out there? Part of me says the worst thing that can happen is capsize. But I suppose there are issues such as flying booms or running into rocks, etc. that a newby might be more subject to. I just think it would be a blast to sail a run or a beat in 20mph. Or am I looking for nothing but trouble until I have sailed another season or so? Will take any advice.
     
  2. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    eh there's pros and cons. sailing in 15-20 mph wind is a blast, but is a workout too and tough on the boat. my lower boom has a nice curve in it from sailing in heavy winds. doesn't bother me too much though.

    capsizing isn't that bad, I think it's kinda fun. you just hang on the daggerboard till it pops back up.

    the biggest hazard for a newer sailor i think is the boom swinging around and capsizing. always turn towards upwind, and both of these become manageable.

    sailing is something that you can only learn by doing it. I say go for it. If it's like inland texas at all, go in the mid afternoon when the wind is lighter. don't get discouraged. launching is probably the toughtest part. if i remember correctly you had issues getting away from the dock? launch from the downwind side of the dock, or if you can, wade in and launch from a beach or the shore.
     
  3. tag

    tag my2fish

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    depending on how much you want to learn, there are ways to de-power the Sunfish, which would help make it a bit easier to sail in heavier winds. I can't say I have ever tried it myself, but there is a lot of information on the Jens rig and the "gust-adjust" if you're curious.

    from the FAQ on the Sunfish class site: what to do when the wind increases?

    and here's a 10 minute video on the gust-adjust set-up:
     
  4. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Remember to right your Sunfish, you must put your whole weight on your daggerboard...

    I prefer those days that aren't such a challenge—plus, the water here is 50 degrees today!

    Sometimes, you can a great deal on a Minifish sail—which would reduce the sail area somewhat—making the Sunfish more controllable under conditions that could result in a cold and unwanted dunking.
     
  5. Sailkb

    Sailkb Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Yes, my concern is getting away from the dock and on my way, and the unwanted boom swings. What complicates things is my lake is rather small and quite shifty winds. I might be better off at a bigger lake where the wind might be more steady. I have checked out the jens-adjust setup but it may be a little sophisticated for me right now. What I really need is the seasoned people to come guide me through a windy day, but the members at my local club stay away from heavy wind. As you've mentioned, too much work. Thanks again for the tips.
     
  6. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    There are several threads related to safety on this Forum with good tips that relate to your situation. Please use the Search function to find them.

    As far as the boat holding up, the Sunfish is a sturdy little thing. I have read about people breaking the mast in heavy winds though. But since you will be sailing on a small lake, I suppose that you wouldn't be in real personal danger since the wind would ultimately push your incapacitated fish to a leeward shore.
    Take a paddle along to have some control in an emergency.
    Leave a 'flight' plan with your family or a friend so that they can search for you in case you haven't come home at a certain time. And wear a PFD!

    :eek: I have been hit by the boom a few times :eek: . Therefore, try to remember to duck when tacking or jibing.
     
  7. thomaswilliam222

    thomaswilliam222 New Member

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    I took my sailing in Auckland last month with my friends, It was an very difficult experience where we got stuck by heavy winds which made us difficult to saild the way. I cannot forget that incident and experience.
     
  8. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Yup...most recently, that was me. An unnecessary $50 expense was in shipping an "oversized" item. :mad:

    Since masts also "go missing", I had a friend pick up four of 'em in his neighborhood for resale (without shipping fees) within my "Sunfish community". (Twenty-footers, which the vendor cut in half at no charge). :)
     
  9. signal charlie

    signal charlie Active Member Staff Member

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    I have seen one guy put the boat in with the sail DOWN and he paddled out away from the dock, raised the sail, and off he went. I am curious what kind of skill that took, I have never tried it.
     
  10. baseman

    baseman On the Water

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    At the lake where I race, I have no choice but to paddle away from the ramp and raise the sail in open water. There is a private dock right next to the ramp and the wind direction (and room) prohibit raising the sail at the ramp. It's not difficult to raise the sail on the water, but it helps if you're fairly agile.
    I'm small (my boat weighs more than I do) so I can get around the boat easily.
    Don't forget to put a stop knot in your main sheet. :)
     
  11. signal charlie

    signal charlie Active Member Staff Member

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    My wife says she has done it and wouldn't (again), esp in high winds. Takes some upper body strength and coordination to duck the flapping sail/spar.

    Our general rule for sailing has been 1 foot of boat per knot of wind :)
     
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  12. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    The Jens/Gust Adjust is of more help to advanced sailors while racing. It is not going to help learn in windy conditions - itll probably make it even harder as you deal with the rigging of it. Don't worry too much about breaking the mast - that usually happens when the mast has had a lot of salt-water usage, or is really old - and it is still a rare event. And on the odd chance it does break, you can still easily get back to shore - just put what is left of the mast in the step, hoist the sail and go!! You might need to adjust the postion of the halyard on the boom, but breaking a mast really is not that big of a deal.

    There is only one way to learn to sail in heavy air, but if you are concerned about it, you should pick lower wind days to get more comfortable before going out in a blow. BB
     
  13. Sailkb

    Sailkb Member

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    Paddling out is an intriguing idea. My dock is close enough to the shore that in a 20mph wind, I could be blown to shore before I could get pointed correctly to manage the boat. I wonder if, in very high wind, it would work to paddle out and place the boat sideways to the wind and push the boom out windward before raising the sail. That would keep the boom and sail out of your way while raising the sail. I think it would have to be quick action, but seems it might work.
     
  14. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    I think you mean push the boom to leeward. If you push it to windward you will have big time trouble!
     
  15. brianZ71

    brianZ71 Member

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    I have used my daggerboard as a paddle to get out a bit before raising my sail. It's not pretty or graceful, but it works.

    If the wind always blows straight toward your dock, pull the boat out to the end of the dock, raise the sail while you're tied to the dock or with your butt on the dock and feet holding the boat if possible. Then get in, push off the dock so your boat is perpendicular to the wind direction, quickly sheet in and point a little upwind and away you go.
     
  16. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    For a Sunfish, that means you'll see whitecaps on the water—which is great sailing. When the wind blows the whitecaps off the waves, you've got your hands full! :oops:

    Place the boom on your shoulder when you pull on the halyard, then sail to the lee of shore or an island to secure it exactly where you need it. :cool:

    This season, I expect to move the halyard cleat to the deck about a foot behind—and through—the splashguard, like Phantom has done. :rolleyes:

    My broken mast "went oval" when it folded—no chance for emergency use—no chance to lower the sail. Halyard and mainsheet tangled, then sank with the mast. Fortunately, I had just reached knee-deep shallows, and was holding onto the bow handle for dear life.

    As the winds slowly abated, I had to tie up to the windward side of the dock—where the Sunfish hull was pressed against the pilings, as though on hinges. It took the punishment of the waves—and did so without damage. We may have experienced a microburst of 60-MPH+ winds! :eek:
     
  17. baseman

    baseman On the Water

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    I installed a mast cleat last year. It makes it much easier to secure the halyard while on the water.
     
  18. tag

    tag my2fish

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    I also installed a mast cleat, and I really like it for the most part.
    I installed it at about the max height allowed per the Sunfish class (48").

    My only complaint with it that high, is that if you are off the boat (in the water swimming/wading along the side of the Sunfish), it is very difficult to reach high enough to un-cleat the halyard to lower the sail.

    Cheers,
    Tag
     
  19. Sailkb

    Sailkb Member

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    Still learning the terms..... I knew I had a 50% chance of getting it right. Batting .500 in some sports is pretty good, but probably not so good in sailing. :rolleyes:
     
  20. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Depending on your circumstances, something to consider is to sail under a "bare pole".

    While directly upwind of my destination on an otherwise sunny day, the wind suddenly doubled in strength :eek: . I pulled into a tiny beach and took a one-hour nap on board, but the wind was still overwhelming for an essentially straight-downwind return :confused: . Dropping the sail completely, I used just the windage of the mast—and my ample self—to "sail" to my destination. :cool: With the board down, it was surprising to see just how much control there was. Approaching the dock, there was no wiggle-room, but I still managed to look like a champ! :)
     

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