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Ken Barnes Solo CircumnavigationTed Lavino01-04-07  02:52 pm
StormSail ClubDavid Sheriff10 11-19-07  11:31 am
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David Sheriff
Board Administrator
Username: admin

Post Number: 126
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Thursday, December 06, 2007 - 08:35 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Excellent discussion! The swell model really answers my question on wave height.

Regarding steering, I have found the same "anticipatory" movement of the helm to counteract swells pushing the quarter to be of great use when flying a spinnaker. The one year I did Ensenada, I got complements from the crew that they had to do a lot less trimming to keep the boat under control because I managed to steer a straighter course. Surfing with a spinnaker makes the boat really twitchy. I think of it as steering from my butt, because its the change in vertical acceleration (pitch) that signaled me to spin the wheel, not waiting until the boat actually started to yaw.

I have always wondered if the drag from the rudder when steering like this (its really working) slows the boat a little or if it's compensated by keeping the sails optimum. I expect it's a question sharp racing teams can answer. I can still hear old Schoonmaker yelling at his wife (at the helm) "quit wiggling!!" At least that's what I think he said. He wanted her to steer really straight so the boat's wake made a straight line. A very competitive racer in his day and the maker of Campbells Sloop's sail set when she first got the boat, one rare afternoon he was showing Susie and I some fine points on how to trim a jib. It was the first time anyone showed me how to look at the "slot" between the jib and the main. The way he hollered at his wife I understand why he no longer races. Really competitive sailing does not bring out the most agreeable traits in all skippers. She ignored his tantrum as all long-married couples learn to do.

I was really, really lucky to get the opportunity. A few hours with a master is worth years of figuring it out yourself through experience.

Marc Hughston
Username: hughston

Post Number: 620
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, December 05, 2007 - 09:59 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Below David asks about why the sea state in the video I posted below does not correspond with Beaufort at 40+ knots. A big part of the answer is the narrow but significant lee provided by Santa Cruz and the other Northern Channel Islands, as seen in the swell model in the picture below:

Swell Model

Notice how the swell height decreases, the closer you get to the North Side of Santa Cruz. And, West of the islands tonight, the swell is 12-14 feet.

Here's the link to the Swell Model

Marc Hughston
Username: hughston

Post Number: 617
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 08:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Jerome, who made the post below, was the First Mate on the trip and a damn good one at that. He's the guy steering in the video. One of the reasons you don't see the boat yawing wildly and rolling rail-to-rail is his helmsmanship.

Just a couple other notes: the headsail was way over-trimmed for our very deep broad reach, and that reduced power and kept things more moderate - in the video you can see that it is trimmed in as if on a close reach; When we jibed the headsail there was no flogging at all - we allowed the headsail to backwind as we transitioned from port to starboard tack, and then simultaneously eased the old working stbd sheet as we ground in the new working port sheet (this was the corner where we'd blown-up a headsail due to flogging in similar conditions many years earlier with Mark Howe); You may notice a sheet running across the cockpit over the table from the stbd primary winch to the port winch - this is how we overcame the failure of the stbd winch that would unwind itself under heavy load. In the J24 racing world they cross-sheet like this as a matter of course in order to trim from the windward side. In our case it was the perfect solution to a failed winch.

Jerome Carman
New member
Username: natty_brew

Post Number: 1
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 03:07 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi folks,

I was crew with Marc on the North Channel Islands trip. To roll the jib we certainly kept it full to keep it from flogging itself to shreds, but Marc tried to keep it backwinded to make rolling it up a bit easier. We motored downwind through the whole process to reduce apparent wind as he said.

In terms of the sea conditions, the video definitely flattens out the detail. But the seas certainly did not correspond to the Beaufort scale for that wind speed. As others have said this is likely because it was just not blowing that hard long enough for the seas to build. In addition this was not a low pressure driven wind (i.e. we were not in a storm). I'm not sure but I wonder if a low pressure storm will tend to toss around the seas more. I think possibly what may have caused the strong winds was a strong low pressure inland (east of California) while at the same time there was a strong high pressure over Utah generating our Santa Ana conditions.

I thought the conditions were very interesting as two extremes were happening during this time. One we had a day of 30-35 knots of wind through the channel, and another day of 35-40. At the same time there were strong Santa Ana conditions inland, and by the last day of our trip the Santa Ana winds had dominated offshore and killed much of the wind we were experiencing. All the while the temperature and pressure were high and steady, and the skies were clear. Fall is a significant time of change for us as the semi-permanent Pacific high begins to weaken for the winter contributing to the crazy weather we experienced.


David Sheriff
Board Administrator
Username: admin

Post Number: 125
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 10:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Rousmaniere (in The Annapolis Book. . .) says that it takes a while after a wind shift or significant change in wind speed for the "new sea" to align with the wind.

When you ran downwind to furl the jib did you completely release the sheets and roll in the flogging sail? Or did you try to keep it a little full so it wouldn't flog too much, but making it much harder to furl?

I've had to run La Mouette with a lot less headsail. Maybe only 3-4 feet unfurled in 20 knots with a reefed main travelled down and spilling as much air as possible. Of course, I was not close to a run, more of a beam reach. But that little bit of headsail helped balance the rig.

I've also found it helpful, as I think I learned from Rousmaniere, to pinch purposefully when on a close reach. You don't want to get backwinded, but it really depowers the rig, particularly if you have too much sail out. You can keep the sails from flogging and still move forward, but the extreme heel goes away.

Ted Lavino
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 52
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 11:07 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Reminds me of many trips coming back into the San Francisco bay from outside the gate. There is a bar on either side of the shipping channel that can be very challenging to cross, particularly when there is a strong ebb current exiting the bay working against the NW winds.

What seemed to work best was to roundly bring the help to starboard on the first hint of the swell lifting your quarter, anticipating the quarter being pushed to starboard. If one waited too long the rudder didn't have enough power to overcome the building port-turning tendency, and you just wind up stalling the rudder in the process, making the situation that much worse.

Marc Hughston
Username: hughston

Post Number: 616
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 10:00 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Oh and the steering. Biggest challenge was dealing with the rollers that would come up from over your left shoulder. You really had to work hard to "steer ahead of the boat" and begin correcting even before the wave could push your stern around and induce a big right-hand roll. I think the best successes here came from feeling the wave with your feet.

Marc Hughston
Username: hughston

Post Number: 615
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 09:46 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

It's true the video flattens out the appearance of the waves, and that combined with the wide angle lens and my elevated position makes it look tame for 40 knots. We were talking about wave height on the boat and figure we mostly had 6-8 footers, with the occasional 10 footer rolling under us.

At that point you see in the video it was about 1500, and we'd had wind building above 30 since about noon. The rest of the afternoon it stayed about 39-43, and once it hit 45. One very noticeable aspect of the waves that doesn't show up in the video is that they looked blown-flat - hard to explain that look but that's how I'd describe it. I think it just hadn't been blowing long enough for the seas to really build.

We were almost on a dead-run, and I have to say we would have had a hard time surviving if we had to reach up much to clear Santa Cruz. Once we rounded the East end after a careful jibe, we tried to head for Smugglers on a beam reach and with just that little scrap of headsail, the angle of heel was so extreme we just had to run off to ease the pressure on the rig.

To make furling the headsail easier I fired up the engine and ran downwind with 2800 rpm to reduce the apparent wind, and it still took 4 people on the furling line to get it in. When we headed back into the wind for the anchorage at Smugglers, it was hard to make better than 2.5 knots even at 2800 rpm.

David Sheriff
Board Administrator
Username: admin

Post Number: 124
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 11:54 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I've looked at the video about a dozen times now and the sea conditions do not seem to correspond to the Beaufort reported appearance for steady 40 knot winds. The waves do not look 18 feet high. There is occasional blowing foam but not many breaking crests or spindrift. I accept your speed measurement. Is the difference in wave behavior due to the shelter of the islands? Did the wind come up very suddenly and there is not enough fetch to build big waves? Or does the video just not capture the detail?

David Sheriff
Board Administrator
Username: admin

Post Number: 122
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 10:59 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Wow. Looks like the boat was a little squirrelly and took quite a bit of steering. Did it want to head up or backwind and was that the nature of the point of sail or the seas?

Marc Hughston
Username: hughston

Post Number: 614
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 10:59 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi Sailors,

In early October I completed a five-day Northern Channel Islands trip with winds in the 30s for two days, and on one of those days sailing downwind from San Miguel to Santa Cruz, we had steady 40 not winds peaking at 45 true. We stowed the main and had a scrap of headsail pulling us along at a steady 9-10 knots of boatspeed. Our record that day, on the Catalina 42 Betty, was 13 knots of boatspeed. Check out the 1.5 minute video below.

video/x-ms-wmvNCI Video
OCC NCI 10-07 Short_256.wmv (2950.3 k)

Post here if you want to ask questions or discuss conditions we had and choices we made and why.


Ted Lavino
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 10
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 - 11:50 am:   Edit Post Print Post

For those who are interested, Arnstein moderates a Yahoo group Called San Francisco Sailing where most of these posts from him originate. He really knows his stuff-In 1999 I was privileged meet during my first US Sailing Coastal Passagemaking practical off of San Francisco-he was striking for the skipper level while I was striking for the crew level. He's now one of CN's top offshore instructors and also works with the Maritime Institute.


You can sign up for emails of individual posts or receive a digest as well as contribute to the discussion as the spirit moves.

David Sheriff
Board Administrator
Username: admin

Post Number: 72
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 - 10:39 am:   Edit Post Print Post

This is fascinating stuff, Ted. Please continue with more in this vein. Those of us who sail in the winter may never encounter what Mustad sees, but every bit of information helps.

Ted Lavino
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 9
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, December 24, 2006 - 11:58 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, a followup from Arnstein:

>>>>Can you clarify how your weather router was able to help on your delivery to the San Juans. If it is the seas (and not the winds) that pose the threat, and if the seas were already over 40', how could the weather router help you find a good window? I would guess that it would take more than reduced winds to make the passage viable. Can
the weather router help with sea state?<<<<

The numbers I speak of were representative of the extremes we saw while holed up in Coos Bay. The 46' seas were reported by WX fax in an area just NW of Cape Flattery. The wind speeds of F-12 were
reported several times in areas spanning Cape Blanco to Flattery.

These extra-tropical low pressure systems of hurricane strength (950-980 mb lows, if I remember correctly) moved through quickly one after another following the jet stream. It was just our luck that the steering winds of the jet stream (5,640 meter line) meandered between an area from Nor Cal to Washington during this early part of November.

The distance between Coos Bay and Cape Flattery is about 300nm (or two days underway). There were times when the weather looked great at Coos Bay but was vicious near Cape Flattery and vice versa. There was also no guarantee that we could harbor hop up the coast either. The probability was high that if we left the relative safety of Coos
Bay that we would not be able to make port again in any harbor heading north until after we turned the corner. That's part of the problem when heading north this time of year.

We needed two good days of motor-sailing. This meant no more than a 20-foot swell with a height to length ratio of less than 1:35 (12+
sec period) and sustained wind speeds less than 25 knots (wind wave height 6-8 feet). This was my safety factor based on crew experience and the fact that I had a new under equipped boat with a very vulnerable steering system (re: somewhat funky emergency tiller and steering system that was nearly impossible to repair underway in
heavy weather due to limited access and exterior opening lazerettes that drained into the bilge that had a very wak dewatering system -- lose steering, lose the boat!).

My guru weather router was looking at the same internet information I was looking at. However, he added the multi-dimensional aspect to weather interpretation and forecasting that I lacked. Most GO; NO-GO decisions were black and white. Some were a little gray. And not only must the weather be right but the currents must be right also.
We needed to leave on a good flood and arrive for our turn at Cape Flattery on another flood. (BTW, heavy rain run off meant that floods were nearly non-existent.)

As it turned out we finally found two-excellent days of weather lining up right after a nasty storm passed through the previous night. We requested a USCG surfboat escort to take us out as waves were breaking on either side of the bar entrance. The swell was running at 18+ feet and nearly closed down the Coos Bay bar. Once out
we were stuck offshore because the large swell had closed down all harbor bars along the coast. The weather quickly turned bad behind us (Coos Bay) and cleared ahead of us the next day (Cape Flattery). It was all or nothing from that point forward...

Perhaps that is what the catamaran delivery crew felt as well. Or perhaps they just didn't have (or make) enough time to adequately prepare and plan for there passage north. This decision to make it
all in one go was perhaps their greatest mistake. At Cape Blanco, with F-12 conditions, their options became limited to 1) keep going, 2) head out, 3) heave-to under sea-anchor (if they had one), or 4) turn back. With southerlies, a large sea and an unfriendly coast to starboard the skipper made the only choice he could...run with it. All safe ports were probably closed to them.

A tragic circumstance indeed.

BTW, It will be interesting to find out what heavy weather equipment this boat had if any?

Ted Lavino
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 8
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Saturday, December 23, 2006 - 11:01 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, a post from my friend Arnstein Mustad, one of the top instructors at Club Nautique in San Francisco:

Lat38 reports that a delivery crew of three was tragically lost off the Oregon coast while delivering a 44 foot Catamaran ("Cat Shot")
from South Africa to Seattle on or about Dec. 11th. Evidently the boat was being delivered for the Seattle boat show.

Lat38 says they were in SF before shoving off for a direct course to Cape Flattery. I wonder if they were behind a self-imposed schedule.

As a fairly busy delivery skipper myself I believe I can relate to their situation and the potential dangers they faced. At the risk of being judgmental I'll keep it to general facts.

First of all delivering boats is not really cruising. There's little 'romance' or time to absorb the local flavor. These guys were
coming from a great distance away and were nearly within reach of their destination. There was probably some self-imposed urgency to get it done, clean up and go home. Three guys on board a boat can only bond so much...

Coming from South Africa they were probably feeling confident in their abilities. They've had the opportunity to dial the boat in, get their line and sail handling in order, sort out crew experience issues (one crew was apparently an inexperienced truck driver), deal with minor emergencies and sail through some gales. The skipper, I imagine, felt secure about the risks he was taking sailing the Northeast Pacific in December.

This brings me to my next point. It may have been easy for this skipper to underestimate the weather conditions off the Pacific coast. Few foreign sailors understand that the world's biggest seas
and most treacherous coastal conditions occur in the northeast Pacific between San Francisco to Cape Flattery, and up to Alaska. On average you'll find the largest seas in the world up there. Force 11-12 storms of cold dense air are common and cover huge areas causing enormous fetch that pounds the coastline and closes down harbor bar
entries. Heck, I recently saw this storm created swell in central Baja Mexico.

The advantage of sailing on the west coast is that weather seldom surprises. A skipper should be able to see a storm coming from far away giving precious days to decide what to do. Finding safe harbor along the Oregon and Washington coast has less to do with wind than with waves. A certain angle or swell height can make all the difference between this port and that one. A skipper needs to have about three "plan B's". On my recent delivery in mid-November of a Tayana 52 between SF and San Juan Island we were holed up for 10-days in Coos Bay due to poor weather conditions, i.e., F-12 winds, 46' seas, etc. The weather was so bad that I enlisted my comrade weather router to help me identify and confirm the proper weather window (we
only needed two good days). I would not go unless we both agreed...this helped me take time pressure out of the decision making process.

One could argue about sailing catamarans in heavy weather but it's usually the big steep seas that do the real damage. The cat was obviously capsized as evidenced by the one tether tied to the sail
drive. One thing to note is that they had not staged their EPIRB in their crash bag. It had been left in its holder below decks. Of course no one could know whether it would have made any difference but I always suggest staging a water tight crash bag, with internal flotation and long lanyard attached, within easy reach of the companion way. In it should be everything you need to survive less the life raft and Gumby suits. (I call it a "Crash Bag" because that's usually the catastrophic event that sinks you.)

This storm also claimed the lives of four local fishermen around the same time. They were trying to cross the Rouge River bar and were caught in the rough surf. And of course you've heard about the mountaineers on Mt. Hood.

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 427
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 04:45 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, an interesting article regarding rogue waves at sea:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/science/11wave.html?_r=1&ei=5090&en=d5cdc1c&or ef=slogin

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 291
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 08:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A portion of the December 2005 issue of Cruising World addresses the issue of Safety At Sea and provides insightful information about various types of sea drogues, their deployment, strengths, limitations, etc. The end of each article includes a section detailing first hand experiences from individual skippers on how they arrived at their successful boat/drogue combinations with do's and don'ts.


Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 290
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 08:35 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings, another reply by my friend Arnstein Mustad, one of Club Nautique's offshore instructors:

I've deployed drogue devices a dozen times or more but only once for real. My thoughts for deploying a drogue are based on type of vessel and conditions. Traditional full keel boats want to continue on course and are less inclined to carving down the face of waves at anything but a perpendicular angle. In that case a double ender works well to break the fast moving waves astern.

A long keel (or 3/4 keel), skeg hung rudder type underside will tend to adopt the same characteristic as a full keel but without the natural stability that a full keel provides. Moderate to heavy cruisers with a long keel and square stern tend to take on the poor behavior characteristics of both modern and traditional designs.
Like my boat (Tayana 48) she'll want to drive a straight course inline with the wave direction, much like a traditional full keel.
Because of her wide square aft sections she won't take too kindly to a fast moving quartering sea, like more modern design fin keel/spade rudder boats.

A stable fin keel spade rudder configuration is probably the best vessel for a pro-active approach to handling storm conditions where huge seas require it. However, the cruiser of a fin keel boat will be paying a price the other 99.9999% of the time when sailing a stiff and twitchy boat in otherwise normal conditions.

My thinking in deploying a drogue:

* Am I over driving the waves and stuffing the bow (large waves)?
* Am I surfing uncontrollably?
* Am I yawing uncontrollably?
* Can I maintain this course for the duration of the storm?

If the answer to the first three is no then I would want to go faster. Speed is my friend when waves are moving through me at 20 to 30 knots. Speed allows me to control my boat's aspect to the seas and subtracts wind speed. Sailing fast downwind in 50 knots of breeze is a lot better than heaving to in giant/steep waves.

As far as drogues go I would suggest the "Jordan Series Cone" type.
This is a long line with multiple rip stop fabric cones attached, each one acting as a drag. This system is far superior to the single large cone system sold at West Marine because it spreads out the drag load and is more consistent.

Things to keep in mind when deploying a Jordan style drogue:

* Bridle needs to be adjustable (use strong fishplate)
* Length of line needs to be 2 wavelengths and out of step
* Chafe protection
* Deployment of the drogue in rough weather (at night)
* Strong deck fittings and or fairleads (perhaps primary winches)

If using the cheap store bought variety:

* Twist as drag device spins through the water (don't use 3-braided
* High quality swivels at the drogue and bridle ends
* Chain as weight near drag device
* Length of line very important (must be out of step)
* Retrieval

Of all of these factors I think having an adjustable bridle is probably the most difficult to achieve. I certainly would suggest practicing with your cruising crew (at least before the storm arrives).

If on the edge of needing a drogue (perhaps yawing excessively) then perhaps deploying just a warp is the best approach to regain control.

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 289
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Monday, January 16, 2006 - 11:29 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, a post to a list from San Francisco from a student at my alma mater up there that I thought would be interesting:

Your email struck my attention because you mention Moitessier. Personally, I'm obsessed with sailing in the Southern latitudes (roaring 40's, furious 50's, etc...) and I've read the same info by Moitessier, but in his other book, "Cape Horn- the Logical Route" when he and his wife returned to France via the Horn from Polynesia.

The Smeetons (with Tom Guzzwell aboard) mentioned the same heavy weather sailing technique in their book "Once is Enough", where they found out that sailing under bare poles hindered performance and was not recommended after their 2nd or 3rd failed attempts around the Horn.

Vito Dumas in his book, "Alone in the Roaring Forties", recounted his solo circumnavigation and how keeping way-on and not bare poles was essential to keeping control of his boat.

I believe the Pardeys make the same suggestions also, in their book "Storm Tactics"...

However, Dr. David Lewis of Australia, I believe recounted in his solo voyage to Antarctica (the first to do so) in his book "Ice Bird", was dismasted twice while running under bare poles alone...

In my personal experience (20 + years of solo sailing) nothing is more uncomfortable than being overtaken by a wave or swell without having way-on or steerage, and then pitching (possibly pitch-poling) and yawing as the wave passes beneath your stern and out past the bow...

The sea conditions and the condition and behavior/performance of your boat are probably going to dictate what course of action, you take in terms of sailing and surviving a voyage such a voyage.

In practice, I instinctially learned to sail down a passing wave or swell at a minor/acute angle, before having read these books. Because, it felt right in the helm and in the motion of the boat. This was learned on a bad day on San Francisco Bay in a small sailboat.

That's my 2 cents, but others in the group may have a different opinion.

Fair Winds,
-Joe Rodriguez

Ricky <beggar900@yahoo.com> wrote:
I'm fairly new to sailing, living at USF for the school semester - from Loyola University New Orleans (just became US sailing certified for BK and BC at Club Nautique and have two skipper charters under my belt) and I'm reading the book called "A Voyage for Madmen" about the Golden Globe Race. In the book, it talks about Bernard Moitessier in a storm passing cape Horn, and using the advice of a fellow sailor, he is running on bare-poles, with five long lines with ballast behind him in the water to slow him down. However, he was going so slow that he was having trouble steering and when he lost control he hit a huge wave at about 15-20 degrees angle, but the wind heeled his boat over and the wave passed underneath him. So he cut all the lines, gained speed and control, and about at the top of every wave, headed away about 15-20 degrees, heeled over "planning across the surface of each wave."

Was this a rare circumstance for this method?

Just wondering.

It's my first time out the gate and into the ocean tomorrow, going with the Club and more experienced sailors of course, haha, wish me luck

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