You can’t avoid high winds if you’re going to be a bluewater sailor – squalls and even minor storms pop up unexpectedly. Heck – just last week a Tropical Storm unexpectedly popped up over the top of us and we had absolutely no warning. So…if you’re going to become a bluewater cruiser it’s important to know high wind sailing techniques.
Watch the video below for a brief introduction to how we handle big winds including how we reef, what we do to spill wind off the mainsail, and how we use our removable staysail. Once you’re done with the video, read more below for further details.
High Wind Sailing Techniques Video
When we get hit with heavy weather or high winds – say above 30 knots, we furl the headsail into the first or second reef. When the weather gets really bad and our headsail is too large for the conditions (even when reefed), we have the ability to furl in the headsail in completely, and then move a stay from the side of the boat up to the front so to use a staysail.
With our rigging configuration, we can essentially turn our boat into a cutter rig. A rig that has two headsails.
The staysail is a smaller sail and can handle heavier weather conditions.
Only if we know there’s going to be high winds, however, do we ever get our staysail out in preparation. Most of the time, if the wind starts blowing us over to a point where we’re not comfortable we release the main sheet and spill wind off the sail. By ‘spilling’ the wind we reduce the impact of the blow.
Often we don’t reduce our mainsail in squalls…we just spill when they hit us.
It works so well but it’s not a common technique that people mention so Simon and I thought we’d mention it.
Join Us To Learn How To Reef, Spill Wind & Fly a Staysail
|THE BRITICAN EXPERIENCE - A WEEK-LONG BLUEWATER CRUISING EXPERIENCE|
|During Merrill's Britican Experience he learned how to book out and into a different country, what it's like to fly a mainsail, genoa, and staysail, how to anchor, tie onto a mooring ball and dock up at a marina. And unfortunately/fortunately Merrill managed to experience what it was like to ride out a surprise tropical storm. If you'd like to experience what it's truly like to live and cruise on a bluewater sailboat, come join us for a week. Check out our availability here: Click here for more information.|
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