How to compensate for too much room for maneuver?


You have leeway in your Sweden 390. What can you do to correct your course? James Stevens answers your seamanship questions

How to compensate for too much room for maneuver?

James Stevens answers your seamanship questions


Mike is the skipper of Main light, a Sweden Yachts 390, an 11.8m fin keel yacht.

He left Falmouth in October with three crew members, with the aim of meeting in the Caribbean for Christmas.

The yacht is well equipped for ocean cruising and has a full wardrobe including a storm jib and test sail.

It is off Portugal about 60 miles north of Lisbon and about 15 miles offshore.

The weather deteriorated for most of the day, with clouds building up and the wind cooling off. They have reduced the sail to the storm.

Credit: Maxine Heath

It is currently West Force 8 and the heading is south.

It will soon be dark and Mike is worried about the night ahead and the possibility of the wind continuing to cool.

He was hoping to sail to one of the marinas in southern Portugal, but calling at a port of refuge now seems preferable.

Unfortunately Mike does not have detailed maps or pilotage information for this part of the coast and as all ports appear to be open to the west, he believes a marina near Lisbon would be the best option. safe.

He looks anxiously at the track on the ground, it is about 160 ° True, which means that if he continues on this road, he will not be able to cross the promontory of Cabo da Roca north of Lisbon; 8 miles from this headland is a traffic separation system.

What should Mike do?

James Stevens responds:

This is a serious situation because Main light clearly has a lot of leeway.

Each wave knocks the bow out of the wind and this effect is increased by the jib.

My point of view is that Mike should adjust the test sail before it gets dark.

When the mainsail is folded up, the door on the mast rail should be above the sliders for inserting the test sail slides.

Traditionally, the test sails are covered up to the quarters but I prefer to tie the clew of the test sail to the boom.

It is more difficult to set up, but it allows the sail to be laid flat and it is easier to relax the sheet in very heavy gusts.

Continued below …

Obviously, the crew must take all normal precautions when working on deck in heavy weather.

James stevens

James Stevens, author of the Yachtmaster Handbook, spent 10 of his 23 years at the RYA as the Yachtmaster Training Officer and Chief Examiner

Having some sail power further aft should do Main light point better.

The sailboat will still have room, but being able to steer more into the wind will hopefully allow it to cross the point.

If they are lucky, the low will move north and bring the wind further back.

If they are unlucky and the wind chills, Mike must do all he can to get out of the water, including using the engine to help him.

If the wind drops, he’ll have to make the depressing decision to head north.

If he can access accurate weather information for the next 12 hours, it will be much easier to plan the tactics. They are going to have a restless night.

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