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Trailer sailer - in big seas


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I've been pondering. 🤔

I've read a lot about drogues and other options when running before large seas. As someone who only tootles about in the Hauraki Gulf, I've not experienced these conditions - I avoid them like the plague. Or the pandemic.

However these sort safety procedures apply to keel boats.

Does the same principle apply to trailer sailers? Your average Noelex 22 or any of the myriad of other designs in NZ?

Obvious answer is to not go out in those conditions BUT, in NZ, we have very changeable weather and it can get gnarly very quickly.

 

What say you experienced sailors?

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A few comments

Luckily the Gulf waters are generally flat - think chop rather than swell. So getting pooped / rolled won't happen. In any boat if you are heading downwind just a small or partly rolled jib will be safe. You won't need a drogue. 

A Noelex 22 is one of the safest boats in a breeze in NZ. It will go upwind in 30 knots without a reef.

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You can very easily get rolled in the Hauraki Gulf. As always get good weather reports and don't take risks you aren't capable of handling. Make sure your stormboards are in, all hatches dogged down, secured everything, are clipped on, wearing your life jacket and have a saftey knife attached to yourself. It's fundamental that you learn how to heave-to. And take two or three forms of communication.

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Generally drogues don't even get mentioned till we are talking serious offshore so in your position I wouldn't panic. But continue to sail sensibly and safely.

Should you one day get caught out you should be fine running under bare poles and even have decent steerage to get into some shelter. The principle is the same, slow down.

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Ta for the thoughts. I should mention that I don't have a trailer sailer. I did years ago, then for 10 years a keeler which I sold a few months ago. So I was just curious given that a keeler has that large heavy beast underneath it and trailer sailers don't. Hence the question as to how a trailer sailer would react to a drogue or lines chucked off the stern.

And I've been in seas on the northern side of Rangitoto in a 40' keeler that were not nice. In a trailer sailer those conditions would have been dangerous. I've sailed from Kawau back to Westhaven in conditions that started as benign, end up running with a handkerchief of a jib in nasty steep seas. Forecasts were all for no more than 15 knots. Sometimes you get caught out even with the best of planning. In a keeler, all good. In a trailer sailer, not so much. 

Agree with all the comments re hatches/boards in/life jackets/heaving to etc. Those are basics (although not everyone knows that).

I'm a cautious sailer, I don't take undue  risks (anyone who sails with me will be nodding there heads now 🙂).

Dtwo - when I had the trailer sailer I kept it in a lock up at westhaven with the rig up. That lock up went to make way for bloody campervans for the rugby world cup when we held it here a few years ago (but that's another story/moan).

One day I watched a trailer sailer 'launched' down the ramp still with the trailer firmly strapped to it. Trailer had jumped off the towball. Carnage as it careered down the ramp side swiping boats either side of it. Not sure what the result was but I don't think it would have sailed well to windward. 🤪

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51 minutes ago, Terry B said:

 I've sailed from Kawau back to Westhaven in conditions that started as benign, end up running with a handkerchief of a jib in nasty steep seas. Forecasts were all for no more than 15 knots. Sometimes you get caught out even with the best of planning. In a keeler, all good. In a trailer sailer, not so much. 

I'm a cautious sailer, I don't take undue  risks (anyone who sails with me will be nodding there heads now 🙂).

I ran back to sandspit from kawau in Cyclone Henry in a 15' trailer sailer with only a reefed jib. 
 

In many ways the trailer yacht is safer than a keelboat. You don't have to get caught out. You head for safety and trail home. You have shallow draft and can tuck in close, tie to a tree if you wish. 
 

 

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Definitely true that sitting out some of those summer storms on the beach of a sheltered cove would be preferable to hanging off two anchors wondering whether your windex will self destruct.

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Since people are comparing notes...

In the mid '90s I did the RYC Sailor's Spring Regatta.

A mate and I did it in a Hartley 16.

That was the year that Innismara lost a crewman, the race was abandoned, and the CG had to rescue crazy numbers of boats. 

Being a tiny boat, with a handheld VHF, we didn't hear the abandonment call, so just kept racing. 

From memory the gusts were the high side of 60knots. We couldn't even make out north head, so after Islington just edged around Rangitoto until we guessed we could lay Bean, then a couple more tacks and we were home safe.

Moving on...

While you're right that some trailer yacht designs don't have the ballast ratio of a keelboat, the rigs etc are a lot lighter too.

All TY designs have to undergo a pull down test, and are classed as A,B or C respectively.

Noelex, Elliott etc which are A rated are basically keelboats from a stability perspective. Their ballast is mostly in the centreboard, which must be locked down. My centreboard is about 190kg, from a total boat weight of around 750kg.

C rated designs should be kept in sheltered waters really, as they rely on form stability and crew weight, often with no ballast.

As Jono said earlier, a Noelex 22 will claw upwind with full rig in well over 30 knots without much effort. My old Noelex had a storm jib, which I think we used twice, but didn't need to. We still ran kites in that breeze too, as did all the other Noelexes.

 

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