Last month we posted about high wind sailing and reefing the Sage sailboats. Jerry Montgomery, the designer of the Sage 17 & Sage 15 and a guy of strong opinions, wanted to add this to the discussion –
The [Sage 15 and Sage 17] sails way better with a small jib and a reefed main. All boats of this type should have a storm jib – if the winds looks like it’s going to come up to 25 or so, put up the storm jib; you’ll be amazed at how little it slows the boat down to even in a 15 knot wind (unless you’re in a race!). You will seldom use [a storm jib], but it’s invaluable when you need it, and you’ll save a lot of wear and tear on the other sails. Storm jibs don’t cost much.
Once in Mexico I [Jerry] used the storm jib every and all day and had no trouble keeping up with the other boats. It was blowing 25 and 30 every day.
The first step is to make a plug from which the SageSport 160 mold will be made. These pictures show the hull being made in cedar strips over the form stations –
The last slat goes into the hull. This is called the ‘whiskey plank’ –
The hull shape is complete. Here you can see the plug and the prototype boats –
Once the strips were in place the boat was sanded smooth in preparation for a layer of fiberglass to cover and stabilize the shape –
We like to mix the traditional and the modern at Sage Marine. The Sage 17, Sage 15 and SageCat are a bit traditional and a bit modern. For the next boat we are at it again … the SageSport 160! What is this ‘SageSport’? Well –
Sage has taken the classic Robb White Sport Boat and mixed with some modern. SageSport 160 is made of a resin infused fiberglass, carbon fiber and kevlar hull that makes for a very light boat that is car toppable. We are trying for a standard boat weight of 50#. She can also be paddled, rowed (both with a fixed seat or a sliding seat) and, you guessed it, sailed.
A SageSport 160 is rated to use up to a 6HP outboard. The boat will plane at just over three knots (way before her hull speed). The boat is actually designed to plane … not an ‘apply horsepower until the boat goes fast’ design.
Our first prototype, a wooden strip-plank built, boat has been built and tested. So far we have taken the boat out in winds blowing up to 30 knots with seas about 2’. The boat motored at 9-10 knots at ½-throttle on a 6HP motor. Yes, she was planing in these conditions! Additionally the boat wasn’t squirrly and felt very stable.
SageSport 160 will have positive flotation and be available in a variety of colors.
More info to come!
Last week I made a new set of shrouds for a boat owner. As he de-rigged his sailboat for the winter he found some wires broken at the swage fitting.
Trailer sailors are great boats … one of many reasons it is easy to inspect the rigging each time the boat is put on/off the water as we rise/lower the mast.
For most of us in the northern parts of North America the cold weather has come in and the boat is settled on her trailer until the spring.
I encourage you to go out and check your boat’s rigging: wires have no broken strands or excessive rusting at swage fittings, fittings without rust or cracks, thimble eyes without rust/cracks, clevis pins present without rust/cracks; and all cotter keys are present and (you guessed it) without rust/cracks. If anything looks suspect replace it over the winter so when the spring comes the boat is ready to go.
A few weeks ago I posted about how quickly and easily the Sage 17, Sage 15 and SageCat mains can be reefed. To continue that theme here I’ll discuss ways to sail efficiently and more comfortably in heavy wind.
The Sages are very capable sailboats being excellent in light AND heavy winds. I have sailed all of the Sage boats in winds above 20 knots with gusts above 25. The highest winds I’ve sailed a Sage were in the mid-30 knot range in a SageCat & Sage 17.
On a Sage 17 the first thing to do is tighten the backstay adjuster. Besides lessening the boat’s heel you will also lessen the weather helm felt at the tiller. The S17 also allows you to depower & reduce the heeling by letting out, to leeward, the mainsheet traveler out to leeward.
Next is to adjust the outhaul on the main (this is true for the S17, Sage 15 and SageCat). By tightening the outhaul the foot of the main is pulled closer to the boom and the sail’s draft is reduced. As the sail has less power the boat heels less. Adjusting the main’s draft is the first thing to do on a Sage 15 sloop and SageCat (catboat).
After making the above adjustments you can also let out the sail. On the S17 & S15 as you let out the main also let out the jib … the two need to be in balance. Be sure to keep sail luffing to a minimum as it greatly shortens the life of the sail.
The Sage 15 is a three-stay rig and doesn’t have a backstay. Don’t be tempted to let the main luff. A little bit in the buffs is OK, and letting the sheet fly free in a strong gust is fine, but don’t allow much more than a quarter of the sail to continually luff. This is why:
As the Sage 15 have no backstay as the main luffs the mast bends forward causing the forestay to sag. This means the headsail balloons out, becoming fuller, and catching more wind. Allowing the sail to luff in a three-stay rig, and this is true for any three stay rig, not just the Sage 15, the boat will heel more! Yes MORE. The main sheet and the leech (aft edge of the main) are the backstay on a three-stay rig. Keep tension on the mainsheet! This is why, versus on the Sage 17, you need to reef sooner once you feel uncomfortable with the amount of heel.
Another thing … with a poorly shaped headsail the boat loses speed, drive (ability to power through the waves, and doesn’t go to weather as well (ie, more leeway).
So, on the S15 reef before you are luffing the main!
Next, on all the Sages, you need to put in a reef when the boat is still overpowered. In general if you are luffing more a ¼ of the main (or more) in the puffs you should reef. The other ‘sailor’s rule’ is if you think about reefing you have waiting to long.
After putting in a reef the above discussed sail trimming methods still hold true. But if the boat is still uncomfortable the next step depends on the boat sailed –
On a Sage 15 and SageCat the next step is to put in a second reef (all Sage 15s & SageCats come standard with a double reef main).
Video of an SageCat owner reefing his boat –
When sailing a Sage 17 you need to evaluate the headsail v. wind strength. In general the first step is to reef the main. If you have a larger headsail up, like the 150% or 130% genoa, dropping the sail is the best step (all S17s come standard with a jib downhaul so no need for you to go forward). The Sage 17 sails very well under main alone.
For example if sailing a S17 with the 150% genoa and the wind comes up I would reef the main. If still uncomfortable my next step would be to lower the jib and decide if I wish to change the headsail. If sailing a S17 with the lapper or working jib I would tie a second reef in the main before lowering the headsail.
For better overall sailing performance it is better to go to a smaller jib than reefing the main. The example above outlines a compromise if you are out on the water and don’t wish to conduct a headsail change.
On a Sage 17 you can also de-power the headsail by by moving the jib sheet lead blocks aft. This reduce the sail’s draft down low, flattening the foot, and lets the head of the sail twist off a bit.
For others’ perspectives on this here are two recent articles on heavy weather sailing published in the October 2017 issue of Spinsheet magazine –
Following the above you will find your heavy weather sailing a much more enjoyable experience (and maybe even fun!).
NOTE: The above discusses only the wind speed component of heavy weather sailing. A second and very important ‘second half’ of high wind sailing is the water’s sea state – the height of and if the waves are breaking. Sea state is actually the greater safety concern when the wind speed increases. I’ll discuss waves in another post. Until then remember – the captain is ultimately responsible for the safety of the boat, passengers and crew. If the captain isn’t sure about ‘going out’ then DON’T!
I just love going for a cruise and finding a quiet cove away from all the other boats. These are one of many moments where a small trailer sailor like the Sage 17, Sage 15 and SageCat do what other boats can’t. Gunkholing requires an anchor. Here I’ll discuss how I store, launch and retrieve an anchor on a Sage.
When cruising I carry two anchors on the boat. Each set of ground tackle is in an anchor bag and has 200’ of rode (rope) and 10’ of chain. In addition I also carry an extra 200’ of rode. The anchors, their rodes & chains & bags and the spare rode fit easily in the Sage 17, 15 or SageCat cockpit lockers. My usual practice is to keep the ground tackle in the starboard cockpit locker.
When I come into an anchorage I take out the anchor I’ll be using and set it and its bag of chain & rode on the cockpit floor. Once the anchoring location I like is found I lower the anchor off the aft starboard over the cleat. Why here? Well this keeps the rode away from the outboard’s prop and single handing keeps me at the helm v. going forward to the bow.
I use the motor to set the anchor and tie off the rode to the aft starboard cleat. Now, this is important, it is not safe to anchor off the transom. Why? If the sea comes up the waves crashing into the transom can also fill the cockpit! There are also higher stresses put on the boat and anchor as the waves hit the transom. Finally … it is really uncomfortable!
After watching how the boat swings and assuring the anchor is set, leaving the rode tied to the starboard stern cleat, I go forward with the anchor bag and rode and tie to the bow cleat. For added safety I tie the bitter end of the rode around one of the bow pulpit stanchions. I then return to the cockpit and release the rode at the stern cleat (adding about 15-20’ of scope to my anchor set).
The boat will now swing bow to the wind and all is ready for a wonderful evening ‘on the hook’.
When i’m ready to retrieve the anchor I go forward and retrieve the rode from the bow cleat and re-secure to the starboard stern cleat. I then pull the anchor rode into the cockpit floor until the rode is almost vertical. I now get the boat ready to leave (ie, take off the sail covers, lay out the sheets, collect the anchor bag from the bow, start the outboard, etc). As the boat rocks it will loosen the anchor making it much easier to raise … especially if it was very well set it deep sticky mud!
I raise the anchor and lay it and the rode on the cockpit sole to drain excess water. Once I have left the anchorage I then stow the anchor, chain, rode & bag back into the starboard cockpit locker.
As part of a longer video of me cruising on a Sage 17 you can watch me using the above system. Here is a link –
SKIP AHEAD to to 5 minutes, if the link above doesn’t do that automatically, to see the anchoring system being used!
Let me know what you think.