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Disaster Strikes; Mayhem ensues

Jan 8, 2015
345
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Seahorse Kerr Reservoir
I went out the other day for a single handed sail to get accustomed to dealing with higher winds.
When my sail slugs failed due to UV fatigue, I tried to handle the situation with out panic.
My intent is to learn from my mistakes so I will be better prepared when I get started on my blue water adventure.
Upon reviewing the video, I noticed several things I could have handled differently. Some of them I have pointed out in the narrative.
I am posting this here for you all to critique and point out what I might have missed.

(Go ahead and be brutal, I have broad shoulders)

One thing I am interested in is how you might have regained control of the boat without the use of an autopilot?
 
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Likes: Rick D
Jan 11, 2014
4,784
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Oh, we've all had those days.....

It looks like the port genoa sheet is hung up on something. Clearing it would have made everything go more smoothly. If the sheet is hung up, and it will from time to time, clear it before trying to tack or you just get into a more challenging situation as you now know. It looks like there was a hockle in the sheet and it got caught in the turning block.

Get rid of that fancy shock cord sail tie. Get some simple nylon webbing ties. When you decide to take down the main, just blow the halyard and let it drop. Once you are back at the dock to you can dry the sail out. With the sail down, disconnect the halyard from the sail gather it up and secure it however you can. It won't be pretty but who cares?

Remember if you let all the sheets go, main and genoa, the sails will flog and make a s***load of noise, but the boat will stop. That will give you some time to sort things out.

Finally, before you start the motor make sure you have all the lines back on board and nothing is going to foul the prop.

BTW, about that PFD. :)
 
Jan 1, 2006
4,482
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Good video! It isn't often that you can watch someone work through a problem start to finish.
So, what's wrong with blood on the sail?
My main suggestion would be if you decide you need to get a sail down, get it down! Don't worry about the niceties such as flaking or rigging the bungie chord system. Everyone should have a couple of long sail ties handy. You can use them to coral the sail and regain control of the boat.
This is another example of the fallacy that halyards brought back to cockpit are safe. If those halyards were at the mast you could release and control the drop while gathering sail material without the danger of the swinging boom. You could go in circles all day. You ended up taking the sail down at the mast anyway. Going back and forth between the deck and the halyard stopper in the cockpit is way more dangerous.
 
Jan 5, 2017
1,514
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
:plus: on the PFD and safety harness. Good video. Not one of those things you think about or practise for. I guess we'll all learn a little something here.
 
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Likes: Will Gilmore

Kermit

.
Jul 31, 2010
5,384
AquaCat 12.5 17342 Wateree Lake, SC
I don’t see a problem at all here. Looks to me like you just invented the loose-luffed sail. I mean, why should the foot get all the love?
 
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Likes: Will Gilmore
Oct 26, 2008
4,293
Starwind 27 Barnegat, NJ
I think you did a good job. Dave is absolutely right, where is your pfd. I'm usually the last person to point this out, but you are sailing in cold weather and cold water. Sailing on a reservoir with a ton of boats around in the summertime is one thing. You can tread water for a long time waiting for somebody to notice you. In the winter, there's nobody around and your strength disappears rapidly. An inflatable gives you a much better chance at survival.
Without autohelm, I have my wheel controlled with a bungee just about all the time. At low rpm, the boat moves in one direction pretty well when I leave the helm.
I've never experienced all the sail slugs failing instantaneously. I've had 2 fail on one windy afternoon. I agree, those white nylon slugs are no good. I've upgraded when I need to replace.
I'm going to agree with Andrew that the halyard jamming on the clutch is a problem when I go forward to flake the mainsail when I take it down. But I still bring the halyard back to the cockpit. I just try to lay out the halyard so it doesn't jamb.
 
Oct 24, 2010
2,123
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
When I had no autopilot, I always kept a tiller tamer handy. Even if it's just a piece of line, and practice when you don't need it.

Ken
 

DannyS

.
May 27, 2004
906
Oday 35 Bayfield, Wi
Yup, we've all had those days, or we will someday. A couple of things I noticed on first look, when trying to roll in the headsail, especially when it's really windy, I bear away and run downwind in order to roll it up. The sail doesn't flog this way and you won't be fighting it or get a super tight furl that can cause you to run out of furling line. I sail solo a lot and on very cold Lake Superior and I still like my halyards on the mast. This way I can slowly bring the sail down in a controlled manner and gather it at the same time. It's bee said several times before, but I don't leave the slip solo without my PFD AND my handheld radio in the pocket of my PFD.
 
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Likes: dziedzicmj
Jan 22, 2008
264
Islander Freeport, 41 Ketch Longmont, CO
In general a good job, As all mentioned, PFD !!

You actually weren't that over powered even for single handed, I never saw the rail in the water.

Learn to heave too. This gives you complete control and basically a flogging main which can be lowered at your leisure. As others mentioned flaking is for pretty and final cleanup at the dock. Drop the sail, get it on deck and a couple of sail ties puts you in complete control, 2 minutes at most.

Otherwise,you did a nice job.
 
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Likes: justsomeguy
Jan 7, 2011
1,706
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
Looks like you made the best of a bad situation.

My priorities would be:
1) AP or some way to at least lock/hold the tiller / wheel
I can’t imaging single-handing anything larger than a dingy without a way to have her hold a course (or at least prevent the boat from going in circles).

2) Lazy Jacks
My 28- foot Hunter came with Lazy-Jacks and I loved,them. When I bought my 32-foot O’Day, she did not have Lazy Jacks. I realized pretty quickly I wanted/needed them. I can now drop the main in seconds, and keep the sail out of the water (and cockpit) until I have time to pretty things up.

Greg
 
Jan 8, 2015
345
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Seahorse Kerr Reservoir
It looks like there was a hockle in the sheet and it got caught in the turning block.
BTW, about that PFD. :)
Yes, that has been an ongoing issue with the sheets. I was told to not unwind the sheets from the winch but instead remove the handle and just pull straight up. I still haven't got that worked out.
 
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Likes: Will Gilmore
Jan 8, 2015
345
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Seahorse Kerr Reservoir
This is another example of the fallacy that halyards brought back to cockpit are safe. If those halyards were at the mast you could release and control the drop while gathering sail material without the danger of the swinging boom.
Yes, I had that belief as well. I still would if you hadn't directly pointed that out to me. Thanks
 
Jan 8, 2015
345
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Seahorse Kerr Reservoir
I don’t see a problem at all here. Looks to me like you just invented the loose-luffed sail. I mean, why should the foot get all the love?
I was really surprised just how much the sail still powered up with the luff completely seperated.
 
Jan 8, 2015
345
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Seahorse Kerr Reservoir
Dave is absolutely right, where is your pfd. I'm usually the last person to point this out, but you are sailing in cold weather and cold water. Sailing on a reservoir with a ton of boats around in the summertime is one thing. You can tread water for a long time waiting for somebody to notice you. In the winter, there's nobody around and your strength disappears rapidly. An inflatable gives you a much better chance at survival.
Thanks for being direct! I realize that I am not 10 foot tall and bullet proof anymore but spending my whole life on the water I felt completely comfortable in the cockpit with out a pfd. I had convinced myself that I would just be extra careful for the limited time I was out of the cockpit. Reading your comments then rewatching the video, I can see the error of my thinking. I now will get one of those inflatables for myself and crew.
 
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Likes: Alansails
Jan 8, 2015
345
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Seahorse Kerr Reservoir
When I had no autopilot, I always kept a tiller tamer handy. Even if it's just a piece of line, and practice when you don't need it. Ken
I do have a lock on the steering pedestal, However, that will only buy me very little time before the boat drifts off course anyway.
 
Jan 8, 2015
345
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Seahorse Kerr Reservoir
Learn to heave too. This gives you complete control and basically a flogging main which can be lowered at your leisure.
I have been able to heave too on my MacGregor quite sucessfully. This boat has a fin keel and a spade rudder and I haven't been able to get the boat to stop and go sideways like the Mac does. It still goes foward at at least three knots.
 

RussC

.
Sep 11, 2015
1,383
Merit 22- Oregon lakes
Not so bad really. If you don't have a tiller tamer or lock, get one! head into wind and get those sails down pronto. neatness doesn't count here. keep several sail ties on a hook placed on the back of the cabin ready for instant use.
Did the slugs domino break or did the sail rip at the bolt rope? it didn't appear overpowered enough to do either one :yikes:
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,293
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Well, stuff happens and you dealt with it. Only consequence was a scraped hand. As others have mentioned, some sail ties would be much quicker and less cumbersome to secure the main. When you get back to the dock you can tidy things. Definitely need to get the inflatable PFD on, especially in cold water & sailing alone. Recently went to a seminar emphasizing that in < 60 degree degree water, you are history after about five minutes w/o a pfd on. Finally, I noticed that when you were initially working on deck you always walked on the windward side of the sail/boom. If there is an accidental jibe when you're distracted, you could get knocked overboard or hit in the head. I was taught to walk the leeward side when possible. All in all you lived to sail another day and I have to admire your willingness to post the video asking for criticism!!
 
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Jan 8, 2015
345
MacGregor 26S, Goman Express 30 Seahorse Kerr Reservoir
Did the slugs domino break or did the sail rip at the bolt rope? it didn't appear overpowered enough to do either one :yikes:
The u shaped yoke broke away from the slides. (Every one broke at the same place so that there was only flat pieces of plastic left in the mast)