Heavy Air

Art Porter

New Member
Finally got to try out my little sail. First time to get out this year when the wind was up. I love waves and heavy air. My wife asked if the wind was too high? My anwser was "Good". When I got back to the computer the report said twenty gusting to twenty seven but they missed some of the real good gusts.
My wind sail is about half the area of the normal main and I couldn't use it all much of the time. I was thinking of unfurling the gib a little bit. The first good gust said " I don't think so". Standing on the barney post with the table muscles tight is the name of the game. It's neat how that kind of wind melts the stress away. It's great.

Art, when you say you "couldn't use it all much of the time," were you referring to the new, smaller sail -- or to that was the problem with the main that led you to getting the smaller sail? Just wondering, if the former, what you did to reduce sail even further. Sounds like you had a blast in those heavier winds, and as I recall your new sail came at a very reasonable cost.

The gusts were high. Even with the small sail the end of the boom was in the water many times as I tried to dump part of the air.
To head down wind was to commit to using all of the little sail. I was not bold enough to head down wind that day.
The area of the C14 hull is large. There is a point at about thirty or thirty five that the area of the leaning hull is too much area exposed to the wind. I'm sure more ballast would help but all I had was me at less than two hundred. The only option than seems to be to steer into the wind.
I sure enjoy the heavy air but I do keep my life jacket laced up tight.
The new little sail was $85.00 from The Sail Exchange.
Wind speed and reef points

Art, I would think that once the boom is hitting the water, it gets a bit hard to spill any more air -- and I can see what you mean about that nice broad bottom just wanting to catch a lot of breeze once it's up.

Do you (or anyone else) have any tips for a neophyte sailor on guestimating wind speed, as opposed to buying one of the little gauges? A simple observational system would be reassuring. Winds on lakes here in the north woods can be quite variable and squirrely.

Would adding reef points to the regular main be more expensive/complicated than spending $85 for the smaller sail and having it at hand when the wind comes up?
I love to reef

Jeff, I would go for the reef points. I bought new sails a few years ago and the best thing was adding the ability to reef. Unless the air is light I always start out sailing with the main reefed. I have concluded that the 14.2 was designed for sailing in light to moderate air you would find on the coast on a sunny day. A nice steady wind that anyone can sail in. Us in-landers take whatever is dealt. Gusts, shifting winds, all those things that make sailing exciting. I believe my reef points are set at 2'-6". The most important thing that I have found about reefing the main is that it lowers the top of the sail as you decrease the amount of square footage. This really reduces the tendancy to get blown over in a gust. There have been times when I would go out reefed and then take them out and then have to reef again. It is so much easier to reef than to replace a sail when you are away from the shore.
Reefing & gageing wind

Jeff, I agree with THedstrom about reefing points on a new sail. When I buy a new sail it will have reefing points. My big main is the original 1991 sail. I decided that to add reefing to the old sail would not be smart.
Please don't hold me to my air speed guesses. I don't own a gage. I use the computer reports to base my guessing on. I plan to raise the small sail anytime I see white caps on the waves.

THedstrom, You mentioned reefing while away from shore. Do you do this when sailing alone? If so what is your procedure?
Jeff wanted to know how to guesstimate wind speed. Here is a basic one I use but others may differ.

Wind vanes will not show direction less than 3 knots

Wind can be felt on face, leaves
rustle and wind vane will show
direction. 4 to 6 knots

Wind will extend light flags and
crests begin to break 7 to 10 knots

Wind moves branches on trees
and white caps forming 11 to 16 knots

Trees starting to sway and spray
coming off white caps. 17 to 21 knots

I've never sailed in wind much stronger than 18 knots or so by this estimation and just to let you know, in last Saturday's C14 nationals we were getting white caps on the water and I heard the race committee say that we were getting sustained 15+ knot winds and we had two boats blow over!
How to reef away from shore

Since Art has asked, here is my procedure for reefing away from shore. First, if you note in my earlier post, I normally leave the shore reefed. So if I reef while away from shore, it means I was comfortable with the amount of wind where I took out the reef. So we are not talking about a big blow. I turn the boat into the wind. My jib is rolled. If you do not have a furler, I saw this really neet trick for pulling your jib down in a sailing mag a year or two ago. I would be glad to share that if anyone really cares. If I have a crew, she takes the tiller (I have 3 daughters so it is almost always a she!). If I don't have a crew, I secure the rudder amidships (Bungee cord from the barney post). I have set up something similar to the reefing system in the 14.2 handbook that you can purchase from the National Association. However, I have set up my jiffy reef so that one line controls both the reef points at the front and the back of the boom. It is secured on the boom close to the mast. (FYI- all the other reef ties are simply to keep the sail from flapping around and should not be used to carry a load from the sail.) So here we go. I turn the boat into the wind. Vang is loose. Mainsheet slack but not so loose that the boom is out of control. I lower the main to the point where the luff reef point is at the boom. I tighten the reefing line so that both reef ponts (luff and leech) are pulled tight against the boom. I tighten the main. I am ready to go. Since I am away from shore, I do not worry about the reef ties. I have learned from experience that any weather in which I think that I might have to reef, to reef before I leave shore. It is easier to take out the reef when the wind is not as strong as expected but very difficult to reef when the wind is really blowing.
Thanks THedstrom for the reefing procedure. The other day I got away from shore before I noticed the bottom plastic clip on my small sail was not in the groove of the mast. The noise of it slapping the mast was bad. I considerd going back to shore but insead decided to experiment. Some may think it was dumb luck but it worked. Alone and with nothing to secure the tiller I decided to see what the C14 would do if turned loose in winds of 15 to 20. On a port tack I raised the centerboard and the rudder and let the main sheet go while I lowered the main enough to fix the loose clip. The experience increased my respect for the C14 designers. The loose main sail bumping up against the shroud seemed to be enough to keep the boat on the port tack heading until the repair was made. I don't think that I want to recommend the procedure with only one trial but it worked once.

Just to make sure I fully understand.... you raised both the centerboard and the rudder all the way up? I've been wondering how to best keep the boat stable in higher winds if I need to go forward.

Jack Mc, thanks for the windspeed tips. These types of discussions really help, as finding small boat sailors in my area to ask isn't easy. If I wanted advice on musky fishing, that's another story. I did do a neck snap back around Labor Day when I saw a C14 behind a car going the other way (south) on the highway through town. I think it was perhaps only the second or third dinghy/daysailer being towed I saw all summer (and there are more than 1,000 lakes in our county).
I raised both the centerboard and the rudder all the way up. I will not say it is the best way. I have only done it once and that with a sail that is half the size of the standard C14 main sail. It worked well enough that I will experiment again if I'm alone and need to tend to the rigging, etc.
I am thinking that this worked for you because you did not have a jib up - which I assume is correct... If the jib is up then your boat would likely turn downwind, and your boom would go to the shroud, a bad thing. But I wonder if after turning into the wind, you could raise the rudder to keep the boat from turning back out into the wind, as opposed to just tying off the rudder(with no crew, my normal state of affairs).
I am going to do some experimenting with this when I have control, but in a heavier wind, and see how this goes.