Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 11-29-2015, 10:31 PM   #1
Guru
 
AusCan's Avatar
 
City: Adelaide
Country: Australia
Vessel Name: Kokanee
Vessel Model: Cuddles 30 Pilot House Motor Sailer
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,096
A few lessons learned on a motorsailer

I was planning on doing a 3-4 day singlehanded cruise to one of my favourite spots - Kangaroo Island as a break-in run for the new engine. The initial weather prediction was for increasing winds over the next few days but nothing severe.

On the first day I motored south into light variable winds and a 3-4 foot swell and spent the night at a small marina on the mainland.

The next mornings weather update included a high wind warning later in the day with wind rising to 30 knots that evening. I reviewed the situation and reluctantly decided not to make the crossing and to cut the trip short.

Heading back north, there was no sign of the high winds, just a light northerly at less than 10 knots. The swell was coming from the west, so I decided to raise the sails to steady out the rolling motion. The wind was barely able to fill the sails but it still steadied the boat nicely with the sails pulled tight.

I was thinking that I might reef the main at the first sign of any change and then ... I got a sign. I could see increased swell ahead. Within a few seconds, WHAM! - We were hit by a BIG westerly gust on the beam which almost knocked over the boat.

I was at the pilothouse helm, and the wheel was closer then the mainsheet, so I used that to bring her around pointed into the wind with the sails still pulled tight. The wind was increasing, looking like well over 40 knots with plenty of spray coming off the swell. I was sh**ting myself, as I tried to set the AP to hold into the gusting wind, allowing me to take a few steps to the cockpit to let out tension off the main and jib sheets. The old trusty Autohelm 4000 did the job, and I loosened the sheets a bit, so Otto didn't have to work as hard. A small sigh of relief.

I then prepared to climb out on the foredeck as all running lines are controlled from the base of the mast. Again - my butt was at a high pucker factor as I made my way around the pilothouse trusting my safety line to hold on to me should a large swell come over the bow. Luckily - no green water but plenty of spray. I was drenched almost immediately. Looking at bedlam on the deck, with the sails flapping out of control and the club-footed boom swinging wildly, I began to have second thoughts. I released the jib halyard but it wasn't coming down without me hanging off it, and I wasn't game to go near the raging club foot. Then I looked at the main. Rather than trying to reef (or drop) the mainsail without a topping lift, I decided to just scandalise the gaff, and get back to the helm before Otto decided this is too much to handle.

Back in the pilothouse, catching my breath, I could see the wind was dropping slightly. I tightened up the sheets a bit to reduce the flogging and wait things out, When down to about 25 knots I was confident enough to drop the sails without putting myself at too much risk.

30 minutes after it all started, the wind was down to 10 knots again. It took another hour before I was game to raise the sails again, (yes - reefed this time).

I made it safely home with no damage done, but plenty of lessons learned.
__________________
Advertisement

AusCan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2015, 11:19 PM   #2
Guru
 
cardude01's Avatar
 
City: Victoria TX
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Bijou
Vessel Model: 2008 Island Packet steadysailer
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,178
Holy crap! That sounded pretty gnarly. I've always thought it would be great to be able to motorsail, but I'm not really a sailor so this story was pretty sobering. Sounds like you handled it well.

So what's the lesson? Don't tighten the sail up so much?

Are sudden gusts like that normal in your area? It wasn't a thunderstorm?
__________________

cardude01 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2015, 12:24 AM   #3
Guru
 
AusCan's Avatar
 
City: Adelaide
Country: Australia
Vessel Name: Kokanee
Vessel Model: Cuddles 30 Pilot House Motor Sailer
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,096
No, cardude - There was no thunderstorm; no clouds; just two weather systems colliding. We get some interesting weather down here. And the weather prediction isn't great outside of the metropolitan areas.

The main lesson was the classic "Reef Early" which I ignored. The other big one is "Be Prepared" which I was in most aspects, but I am also now planning a few improvements for better sail control from the pilothouse. I need to be able to dump the sails from the pilothouse. Your furling jib allows that. Do you have a furling main as well?

I am so glad that I recently set up safety lines on deck. Something you don't think about too much until you really need them.

I'm not an overly experienced sailer either. This latest trip really scared the crap out of me, but after reflecting on it I am now more confident of my own skills, and especially the boat's capabilities. She was laid over perhaps 60 degrees and she sprung back up, without taking on water. No damage, just a big mess in the cabins a with few cupboards emptying their contents. And a bit more respect for the wind and the sea.
AusCan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2015, 08:07 AM   #4
Guru
 
cardude01's Avatar
 
City: Victoria TX
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Bijou
Vessel Model: 2008 Island Packet steadysailer
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,178
I don't have any sails. Have thought about adding them.

A 60 degree roll sounds like a definite "oh s&@t" moment for sure.
cardude01 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2015, 04:16 PM   #5
omc
Senior Member
 
omc's Avatar
 
City: Antibes
Country: France
Vessel Name: LUTIN
Vessel Model: Grand Banks 42' Motor Yacht
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 480
Very interesting

Quote:
Originally Posted by AusCan View Post
I was planning on doing a 3-4 day singlehanded cruise to one of my favourite spots - Kangaroo Island as a break-in run for the new engine. The initial weather prediction was for increasing winds over the next few days but nothing severe.

On the first day I motored south into light variable winds and a 3-4 foot swell and spent the night at a small marina on the mainland.

The next mornings weather update included a high wind warning later in the day with wind rising to 30 knots that evening. I reviewed the situation and reluctantly decided not to make the crossing and to cut the trip short.

Heading back north, there was no sign of the high winds, just a light northerly at less than 10 knots. The swell was coming from the west, so I decided to raise the sails to steady out the rolling motion. The wind was barely able to fill the sails but it still steadied the boat nicely with the sails pulled tight.

I was thinking that I might reef the main at the first sign of any change and then ... I got a sign. I could see increased swell ahead. Within a few seconds, WHAM! - We were hit by a BIG westerly gust on the beam which almost knocked over the boat.

I was at the pilothouse helm, and the wheel was closer then the mainsheet, so I used that to bring her around pointed into the wind with the sails still pulled tight. The wind was increasing, looking like well over 40 knots with plenty of spray coming off the swell. I was sh**ting myself, as I tried to set the AP to hold into the gusting wind, allowing me to take a few steps to the cockpit to let out tension off the main and jib sheets. The old trusty Autohelm 4000 did the job, and I loosened the sheets a bit, so Otto didn't have to work as hard. A small sigh of relief.

I then prepared to climb out on the foredeck as all running lines are controlled from the base of the mast. Again - my butt was at a high pucker factor as I made my way around the pilothouse trusting my safety line to hold on to me should a large swell come over the bow. Luckily - no green water but plenty of spray. I was drenched almost immediately. Looking at bedlam on the deck, with the sails flapping out of control and the club-footed boom swinging wildly, I began to have second thoughts. I released the jib halyard but it wasn't coming down without me hanging off it, and I wasn't game to go near the raging club foot. Then I looked at the main. Rather than trying to reef (or drop) the mainsail without a topping lift, I decided to just scandalise the gaff, and get back to the helm before Otto decided this is too much to handle.

Back in the pilothouse, catching my breath, I could see the wind was dropping slightly. I tightened up the sheets a bit to reduce the flogging and wait things out, When down to about 25 knots I was confident enough to drop the sails without putting myself at too much risk.

30 minutes after it all started, the wind was down to 10 knots again. It took another hour before I was game to raise the sails again, (yes - reefed this time).

I made it safely home with no damage done, but plenty of lessons learned.
Very interesting story, thank you for sharing. Glad you are safe, and your boat is so good.

Beside my trawler, I do some sailboat once on a while. I have never regretted to reef early, I have regretted deciding not to !
__________________
Olivier
omc is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:37 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2006 - 2012