Heavy weather sailing – wind

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.

AirBorn7

Sage 17 AIR BORN sailing with a single reefed main and storm jib – winds blowing 25-30 knots!

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!

cody on the columbia river

SageCat sailing with a single reefed 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!

Anchoring

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’.

happy_sailor

Sage 17 AIR BORN ‘on the hook’ in Blind Bay, Shaw Island, San Juan Islands, Salish Sea, Washington State.

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.

– Dave

Busy at Sage Marine!

We are busy busy and even busier here at Sage Marine! Some photos of owners and their new Sage 17’s Sage 15s and SageCats –

 

We also had a great time at the Annapolis Sailboat Show –

annapolis 17

Looking ahead we are making plans for a big announcements on a boat & events for this upcoming first quarter of 2018. Watch this space!

One week until the 2017 October Annapolis show!

Starting on 5 October Sage Marine will be at our usual place, Land Sites 80 & 81, at the Annapolis Sailboat Show.  The show runs until 9 October 2017.

Sage Marine Annapolis Show location

A Sage 17 and SageCat will be attending.  Let us know if you wish to see the boats!

Following the show, 10 & 11 October, by appointment, there will be SageCat demo sails.  If you want to sail a SageCat let us know by sending an email to info@sagemarine.com

See all’ya’all in Annapolis!

Fall is coming and that means the Annapolis Sailboat Show!

We will be in our usual location of land sites 80 & 81 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show 5-9 October ’17. Come and see a SageCat and Sage 17!

Sage Marine Annapolis Show location
Following the show a SageCat will be available for demonstration sailing the 10th and 11th of October 2017.  Please call, 800-621-1065, or email info@sagemarine.com to schedule an appointment.

Busy boat shop and June plans

We have been very busy these past few months causing us to be slow in updating this BLOG and our forum; BUT over the past months there have been MANY posts on our Facebook and Instagram feeds (LOTS of pictures on Instagram).  There are also updates on our Twitter account.  For day-to-day Sage Marine activities these ‘social medial sites’ are a great way for you to see what we are up to.

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So what have we been busy with? Boat building and boat fixing!  New Sage 15s and SageCats are going out the door every couple of weeks in addition to Sage 17s.

In addition to building new boats we are are busy helping folks get their older boats ready for the sailing season …

… including assisting a Race to Alaska team preparing their Jerry Montgomery design for the run north from Port Townsend to Ketchikan.

This week Dave, the one typing this post, will be putting together a prototype Sage 15/SageCat electrical system.  Follow along as the system goes into the boat and the testing happens during the Puget Sound June Cruise.

This upcoming month, June 2017, Dave will be on the road and showing a SageCat on the Sage Marine West Coast Tour.  I you would like to see the boat please let us know (info@sagemarine.com & 800-621-1065).

I will be updating the social media feeds during my travels. Besides general SageCat showing I will also be taking a multi-day cruise around Northern Puget Sound.  My crew during the trip, and copilot while driving, will be the sailing & road tripping cat Momma Kitty.

momma kitty after R2AK crossing 2015

Momma Kitty in the cabin of Sage 17 001 AIR BORN after crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the first leg of the 2015 Race to Alaska.

 

SageCat on Lake Pleasant in the rain

Wrinkleboat Ran-Tan videos

Here are four videos taken during the 2017 Wrinkleboat Ran-Tan on Lake Pleasant, AZ

First video taken the Thursday before the Ran-Tan officially began.  Warm, sunny and wind 3-5 kts.  Great winter sailing day!  (Please excuse the quality of this as was recorded originally as LIVE video on Sage Marine’s Facebook page.)

 

This video was recorded a couple hours after the above.  It is in HD so much better quality than the Facebook LIVE recording above.  Both the SageCat and Sage 17 sailed north and around Horse Island in 3-8kts of wind.

 

This update reviews the morning racing on Saturday 17 February 2017 and includes a tour of the Sage 15 cabin (same interior as the SageCat) – (This video was originally a Facebook LIVE broadcast so please excuse the image quality.)

 

Video taken before the final race of the 2017 Winkleboat Ran-Tan on Lake Pleasant, AZ, Sunday 19 February 2017. Rain, wind, rain, wind and more rain!  It is blowing 12-15kts and Sage 15 sloop ASOLARE is hove to as the video is shot. You can see the ‘slick’ of water coming off the keel and hull to the right of Dave’s head (left video frame) – (This was originally recorded as a Facebook LIVE feed so please excuse the image quality.)

 

The BLOG post linked below for Ran-tan results –

https://sagemarineblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/2017-wrinkleboat-ran-tan-results/

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