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 Broaching a C250
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DavidCrosby
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168 Posts

Initially Posted - 10/10/2021 :  19:57:38  Show Profile  Visit DavidCrosby's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Had a fun sail today and just thought I would share.

Today was a fairly windy day for our C250ís. Wind speed was probably averaging about 15 mph with gusts into the 20ís. Some of the stronger gusts were probably 25.

My destination was downwind.

The biggest part of my sailing experience comes from many years of racing E-Scows. A 28í lightweight (965 lbs), flat bottomed boat with bilge boards and twin rudders and a lot of sail area. I absolutely loved sailing the E when the wind was howling. This boat would rocket along on a plane. If hit by a strong puff, simply bare away and run off. The E would track like a freight train on rails and rumble away downwind.

So, my natural tendency when broad reaching on my C250 and getting hit by a gust is to run off. Doing so works most of the time. Although, with a strong puff this results in being over powered followed by a broach. The stronger the puff, the more dramatic the broach.

Today while running downwind with one reef in the main and full 100% working jib, I got to thinking: Iíll sheet the main in hard on the center line and choke the airflow. It seemed to be working and the boat was feeling much more controllable in the puffs. I then decided to sheet the jib in hard. The boat was slowing down and feeling very much under control.

We eventually got hit with a quick wind shift and a much stronger gust. We were headed into an uncontrollable broach, I yelled for the main and jib sheets to be released. The pressure was so great, that the cleats were extremely difficult to release. Before managing to release the sheets, we laid the boat over on its side farther than I have ever heeled a C250. We were not far enough over to bring water on board over the cockpit coaming, but it was close.

Conclusion: Sheeting in sails tight while running dead downwind is good until it is not. Probably the best course of action is to tie in a second reef. Probably also don't sail dead downwind in a blow since luffing the sails is no longer an option.






David Crosby "Small World"
'02 C250 WK #614

Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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4865 Posts

Response Posted - 10/11/2021 :  06:30:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
David,
Wow! Interesting story.
So thereís no way to prevent the boat from rounding up? Thatís pretty unstable and since it happens sometimes and sometimes not in a big blow, it could be dangerous.
Now a C-250 is pretty tender I hear compared to a C-25, but due to a similar sail plan and boat length, a C-25 could be subject to the same forces.
Me personally, I have never had that happen and Iíve sailed wing-and-wing in some pretty breezy conditions.
Somehow Iíve always felt that point of sail second only to heaving-to as a respite from stronger winds with unpredictable gusts.
Iíll think again and prefer a broad reach instead of a run next time.
Thanks for your story.

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain ó Milford, CT
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Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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5627 Posts

Response Posted - 10/11/2021 :  08:57:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In essence, David's boat was overpowered, and what he did was to depower his mainsail by trimming it in to the centerline of the boat while running downwind. As he said in his conclusion, it worked until it didn't, and what he should have done is to steer to windward and tuck a reef in the mainsail.

Doing what he did worked to depower his mainsail, so, why was it wrong? It was wrong because sooner or later he would have to start to reach, instead of sailing downwind. As soon as the boat changed from downwind to a broad reach, both his mainsail and jib would power up rapidly, and, if the boat became overpowered and began to broach, there's nothing he could do to stop the broach. Ordinarily when you're overpowered you dump the mainsheet, and the boat stands up, but when you ease the overly sheeted mainsail when running downwind, easing the mainsheet increases the mainsail's power, and you can only dump it until it rests against the shrouds, and no more.

When you're running downwind, you can't take the mainsail down, and you can't tuck in a reef, so, by trimming the mainsail in to the centerline while running downwind, you have trapped yourself, because you can't start reaching without tempting a broach when you try to bear away to a reach.

A broach usually happens as a result of the boat being grossly overpowered. Whenever you're in danger of broaching while broad reaching or running, I think the best recourse is to let the jib fly. That will immediately relieve much of the overpowered condition. Then I'd [Edit] let the mainsheet out as far as possible, and then[/Edit] put the helm hard over and drive the boat to windward. Your goal is to get the pressure off both sails. That should get the boat under control. Then you should either furl or douse the jib. Next, trim the mainsail to get the boat sailing slowly under mainsail alone on a close reach at about a 50-60 deg angle to the apparent wind. Then you can start the engine and motor slowly to windward, which will enable you to either reef the mainsail or to take the sails down and motor to shelter. Broaches usually happen very quickly, so, when you see one coming, you have to react very fast.

Steve Milby C&C 35 Landfall ("Captiva Wind"); Cal 25 ("FahrvergnŁgen")
Past Commodore

Edited by - Steve Milby on 10/12/2021 16:41:05
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Voyager
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Response Posted - 10/11/2021 :  17:16:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Milby


Ö so, by trimming the mainsail in to the centerline while running downwind, you have trapped yourself, because you can't start reaching without tempting a broach when you try to bear away to a reachÖ. ÖWhenever you're in danger of broaching while broad reaching or running, I think the best recourse is to let the jib fly.



Wow Steve, I get it now! Scary stuff!

I donít think Iíve ever tried that move while running downwind. I usually take a reef whenever the wind is 15+ kts and unfurl the jib cautiously. Running wing-and-wing is usually reserved for 10kts or less.

Itís good to know what to expect in all eventualities. Coming about quickly and pinching upwind in a blow is always a good rule

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain ó Milford, CT
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
8763 Posts

Response Posted - 10/11/2021 :  22:07:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
First, love that E-scow! I never sailed on one, but watched races in Michigan, and sailed on a Y-Flyer, the E's little brother. I also witnessed a couple of dismastings of E's in heavy air... Since they are virtually all huge mainsails (tiny fractional jibs), surprises happen! I don't recall seeing one sailed with a reef--it seemed they were all sailed "to the edge" with a crew of four on the rail.

My personal mode was never on the edge... If my destination was downwind in heavy air, I'd leave the main furled, pull out my 130% genny, and push to close enough to hull speed. The main might have gotten me on plane to surpass that, but with all of the risks described above. However, the C-25 might be a little better for that than the C-250, with the mast further aft so a bigger foretriangle and a little better balance sailing on headsail alone. And I was never racing--at least not "officially". (One of my fondest memories was quietly creeping past a 50+' Swan with a uniformed crew that was suddenly making some adjustments... Nobody likes that!)

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, ex-OUPV,
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.

Edited by - Stinkpotter on 10/11/2021 22:24:15
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