(This gives you an idea of the conditions)
Jeff’s thoughts on the thrilling sailing we had yesterday evening:
We set out to sail this evening having seen the forecasted winds to be 15-20 knots. When we got out into the lake, we pretty much got what we expected. The wind might have been as strong as 25 knots. We had 5 foot waves crashing aboard, generally choppy waters and lots of swells. Plenty of boats on the water. Initially had issue putting up the sails with just two of us onboard; the main sail looked funny, and once the jib went up, the wind picked us up and we had to sail. Even the motor couldn’t fight the direction the wind wanted to take us.
It was a north wind. When we went to put the jib us we steered into the wind, but because of the strength of the wind and the rocking of the waves it was hard to keep us dead in irons; the bow kept trying to point port or starboard. Before we could pull the jib halyard completely up, the wind caught the jib, pushed us into a starboard tack point of sail. We were close to land with the shore on our port side, and we were trying to tack back into the wind firstly so we could correct the jib and then to sail away on a port tack. But even with the motor on we did not have enough power to tack. So instead of fighting the wind we jibed 270 degrees into a beam reach sailing east away from shore. Then we tacked into the wind to correct the jib. Then we went into hove to and reefed the main. We were probably overpowered with the jib up but it was exhilirating – we were heeling quite a bit, with the leeward deck lapping water quite a few times.
On our approach back to harbor, there were quite a few boats entering an exiting at the same time. Bigger boats coming in faster than us. I knew I had to steer south of the harbor mouth to give us time to lower the jib as I pointed north into the wind. That part was fine. But even with just the mainsail still up the strength of the wind was still causing the boat to heel and I couldn’t point into the wind because boats were coming in that way. So I had to bear away, let the mainsheets out, and told P to come back to the cockpit and nevermind if the jib falls overboard. Would rather that then have her fall over, cuz even with the mainsheets out a momentary gust could still rock the boat.
1. Probably could have sailed without jib, esp with just 2 ppl in strong wind
2. If we still want to raise jib, raise it farther out in the water in such windy conditions
3. I should’ve let go of mainsheet faster after we had the jib down on return, to keep our boat from tilting as much as I tried to steer into harbor. Boats were going in and out, lots to keep an eye on
4. Could have used a couple extra hands on deck in such conditions
5. We still had fun – and we had the boat under control and remained calm. 🙂