Spun Yarn: Insights into becoming a better C14 sailor // Heavy Weather Sailing

Discussion in 'Capri/Catalina 14 Talk' started by Bradley, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. Bradley

    Bradley Administrator Staff Member

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    Spin a Yarn: Today, this expression means to tell a story, much of which may be out of fantasy. The expression originated from the stories sailors would tell while making spun-yarn or doing other repetitious chores. The stories in this thread will help you to better sail your C14 and possibly learn a new trick that could have you rounding the mark a little faster. These articles have been published in the past by Catalina Yachts in their main sheet magazine but are now available on our website for free! Feel free to discuss the articles. A new thread will be created for each article posted to the site. The first article will follow this message!
     
  2. Bradley

    Bradley Administrator Staff Member

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    Heavy Weather Sailing

    The Capri 14.2 is a very lightweight dinghy, somewhat over-canvassed, designed for the mellow waters of Southern California. Sailing one in winds over 15 knots can be fun, but also tricky, especially if sailing solo. We’ll start with ways to reduce sail:

    • Mainsail only - The easiest way to reduce sail area is to simply sail with just the mainsail. The boat sails very nicely with main only, and shows a surprising turn of speed. It’s especially useful when sailing solo, as there are no jib sheets to deal with. But once you cross the 15 knot threshold, it’s not a good technique, as it becomes harder and harder to tack, and above 17-18 knots it’s virtually impossible. So we recommend this only up to about 12 knots of wind.

    • Jib only - This is for “survival sailing,” with winds above 17-18 knots. The boat sails lousy with jib only, but it will get you home.

    • Jib roller furling - This is an excellent method for quick and easy sail reduction. You can roll the jib in or out to any amount while underway, and with the jib rolled up completely you’ve reduced total sail area about 42 percent. (Or if just a corner is left showing it makes it easier to tack in the knarly stuff.) The hardware for the roller furling conversion costs roughly $200 and can be obtained from Catalina Yachts (818-884-7700, ask for Parts). It’s very simple to install. The only drawback is it’s not so good for racing. Some racers have set up their roller furling hardware to be easily removed and converted back to the normal configuration.

    • Mainsail reefing - There’s an article on this subject in the Capri 14.2 Handbook. By reefing this way, the mainsail area is reduced about 35 percent, which equates to about a 23 percent reduction in total sail area. (Note if both jib furling and mainsail reefing is used, the total footage would be reduced a whopping 65 percent.) Another advantage of reefing the mainsail is that the sail is lowered about 3 feet, which means less sail area aloft, thus the boat won’t heel as much.

    But the downside to mainsail reefing is it’s very hard to do while underway, and darn near impossible if single-handed. Thus you need to decide before leaving the dock whether to reef or not. The cost isn’t high. A reasonable guesstimate is about $100 for a sailmaker to add the reef points. And the added hardware is a trivial expense, possibly $20. Another advantage is the reef points will have minimum effect on the mainsail as far as the racing performance is concerned.

    Now let’s examine boat handling techniques in heavy air:

    • Keep the boat on its feet. Keel boats like to be heeled. Capri 14.2s don’t. Try to keep the heel angle to no more than 10 degrees when beating to weather. Hike out, ease the sheets, ask for divine guidance, whatever, but avoid large heeling angles. The reason is that when the boat heels, the force vector from the sails will try to turn the boat upwind. And trying to stop a round-up with rudder won’t be as effective as you might expect because most of the rudder will be out of the water. A round-up in a puff can happen in a heartbeat, and if the boat flops onto the opposite tack the backwinded jib can capsize you.

    • Use the mainsheet. Think of it as a safety valve. The skipper should always have his hand on the sheet, ready to ease it instantly. When it’s really heavy going, don’t cleat the sheet, just hang on to it. (This builds arm muscles and is also character-building.) In a puff, ease the mainsail enough to keep the boat on its feet. But unless you have Governor Arnold of Caliifornia as a crew, it’s useless to expect the crew to be sheeting the jib in and out. Rely on fast work with the main sheet instead.

    • Boat handling and adjustments: It helps to minimize weather helm in these conditions. As you know (or should know) the normal sitting position is well forward. (Use the hiking stick!) The crew should be sitting forward of the jib sheet car, and the skipper just aft of it. In strong wind, it will reduce weather helm if you shift your weight aft a few inches. By the same token, raising the centerboard 2-3 inches will swing the board aft a few degrees, also reducing weather helm.

    • Tacking procedure: Here’s the procedure my crew and I use while tacking in heavy air. We start as we’re hiked out on the rail. I call “Ready about,” as I ease the mainsheet a few inches. This lets the main luff and thus unloads the boat. This allows my crew to come off the rail and stand up, allowing her (or him) to get leverage on the jib sheet. As soon as she uncleats, I call “Helm’s alee,” and tack. As the boat swings through the eye of the wind, I check the slack jib sheet (she’s busy!), prepared to clear it instantly. If it’s tangled I can flip it loose or abort the tack. But if it’s running clear I can continue the tack. (This is important, because if the jib sheet hangs up and you continue the tack, backwinding the jib, you’re gonna swim.) Once the tack is complete, we scramble onto the rail and sheet back in.

    • If you capsize: As the boat goes over, uncleat the mainsail, and if possible, the jib as well. Then scramble like mad onto the centerboard. With luck, you won’t turtle. (If you do, you’ll need help.) With both crew persons on the centerboard, you should be able to grab something in the cockpit to give you leverage so you can pull the boat back up. I saw one crew do this, and they were so quick they had the boat up and going again without getting wet!
    A masthead float is one way to prevent turtling after a capsze. Some people adapt a streamlined masthead float sold by Hobie Cats, but that involves making some adapter hardware.
    Another way is to buy a foam sleeve from Catalina that slips over the top of the mailsail. It works, even if a bit dorky-looking. it can be ordered from Catalina for $180. It’s called a Floation Panel, Part Number 15628. They’re made on order, so allow a few days.
    Lastly, and my prefererence, is to fill the mast with a can of the expanding foam used to weather-proof houses. Be careful - don’t overdo it! (See the next article below.)

    • Luffing up in the puffs. When beating to weather, watch for oncoming puffs. They’re easy to spot, as the little micro-ripples will darken the appearance of the water. This is a good job for the crew, to warn the skipper of each oncoming puff. When the puff hits, you can ease the boat to weather a few degrees, just enough to let the sails luff slightly. This will unload the boat and allow it to stay on its feet. But don’t oversteer! If you go too high, the boat can suddenly flip onto the opposite tack. Thus this technique is an advanced one and should be practiced in moderate, but puffy, conditions.
    It all sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it? But if you master these techniques, your confidence will grow and allow you to enjoy blasting along as the boat accelerates, screaming your head off from sheer excitement.

    Mast Floatation - (Editor’s note: Here’s a scary turtling story and how the owner solved the problem by using foam flotation in the mast.)

    I'd like to share a little info from my capsizing experience.
    My crew and I turtled my brand new 14.2 last April, two days after ice-out on our 2x4mile lake in Wentworth, NH. I don't need anymore lectures on dumb, I know the answer. I'm 61 years old, i.e., old enough to know better.

    The water was 40 F and no wet-suits. After turtling, one of us felt the boom under our feet and jumped off it to grab the centerboard, then pulled the other person up. We finally, after 2 or 3 minutes in the water, scrambled up onto the upside down hull. Fifty minutes later, after someone made a 911 call, we were rescued. How embarrassing.

    The mast had the foam plug but it did essentially nothing because it wasn't otherwise sealed. The boat was over in a very short time, just one quick movement, no momentary lull to grab the centerboard.

    Later that spring, my son, who captained the UCSD fleet for a year, and I experimented in shallow warm water. I filled the mast with
    a whole can of low expansion open cell and a bunch of DOW 'Great
    Stuff ''Big Gap Filler.” (The Catalina guy at Cat. Yachts in Australia suggested 3 feet of foam.)

    We found that the mast with the foam stays mostly above water for many seconds, very likely many minutes, though we didn't leave the boat on its side that long. There are still some leaks thru the foam at the wall (indicated by a small amount of water running out of the mast after being dunked) and into the holes where the stays are screwed.

    Once you get the mast to float it's no trouble to right the boat, plenty of time to come around from the other side and grab the centerboard. Ed, your advice on freeing the jib sheet (and of course the main) is right on and should be done before righting. I'm sure you would advise to head the bow into the wind before righting as well.

    We later got caught in whitecap wind-gusty weather and had to right it twice due to the jib sheet jamming. and the wind pushing it back over.

    Icely yours, Geoff Fernald. (Older before, wiser now.)
     
  3. VCMaine

    VCMaine New Member

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    Winter reading

    Boy, as a novice, Nashua NH-based trailer sailer, I'm finding this and other articles on this forum great winter reading. Please keep it coming. I acquired my 1983 14.2, ser. no. 8, in December, and am planning a spring launch. New wheels and tires for the trailer, and new lines for the boat. I have some sunfish time last summer, but as a relative novice, I'll be ordering the mast head float for sure, plugging the mast top and bottom, and sailing solo under just the main for awhile. I'm looking forward to a couple of practice upsets under controlled conditions before I get too far afield with a grandchild as crew. Happy New Year to all.
     
  4. bananabobs

    bananabobs New Member

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    Great points, well delivered! Should be required reading.
    I nominate this thread to be a sticky! (permanent)
    Thank you.
     
  5. emile

    emile New Member

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    Wheels?

    Where can I get new trailer wheels? Can I change them with the boat on the trailer?
     
  6. VCMaine

    VCMaine New Member

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    Trailer wheels

    I bought them from JC Whitney, tires mounted on wheels, ready to go. Just like changing a tire on a car, jack up one side and do it, then the other. Takes only minutes. And the new wheels and tires where an instant enhancement, visually, as well as a safer tow.
     

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