GALE

Cathy at the Helm
Cathy, Derek and Chris in a Blow




        My kids and I were anchored in Gore Bay, 24 miles west of Little Current, when I suggested to them that we sail to an anchorage, the Benjammins, 13 miles to the northeast. I listened to the marine weather forecast on the VHF and they announced a SW gale warning for later that morning. A gale has winds of 34 - 47 knots, I suggested to them that maybe we should weigh anchor the next day instead. They would not have any of that, secretly I felt the same way.

        We unfurled the genoa headsail by half and sailed at good speed up the 2 mile length of Gore Bay.When we reached the expanse of the North Channel the wind was really strong and the waves were starting to develop character. After we set our course to the NE, the wind was behind us and Cathy volunteered to take the helm. I'm glad I did'nt have the mainsail up as we would have been overpowered and would have been susceptible to a dangerous gybe. My wind speed indicator showed 35 knots gusting to 42 , with our downwind boatspeed of 6 - 8 knots the true wind wind speed was in excess of 40 knots.

        The waves were getting higher but the boat surfed down the rollers and up the crest of the next one with ease, providing us with an exhilarating and exciting adventure. Chris took over the helm from Cathy and we later anchored without incident at the Benjammin Islands. We all agreed that was some sail.

        Lesson learned: In strengthening winds, sailing downwind, the mainsail is nearly impossible to reef, sailing with a roller furled headsail, only, is the best option.
 
 


Cathy Has Control





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Created 3 April 2002 by Mark Smith
Last Updated on 27 December 2010