Planing or surfing downwind on a F33 cat jetch

Boat handling, ideas, questions...

Planing or surfing downwind on a F33 cat jetch

Postby whimsy » Wed Jun 22, 2016 10:09 am

I just had a heck of a sail yesterday. In the Intra Coastal Waterway, an area that was pretty straight, and not *too* narrow or shallow, between Wrightsville Beach, and the New River Inlet. I started out motoring to get through the first two opening bridges quickly and predictably, but turned around after my second bridge and raised the main before turning downwind and sailing. I had my full 500 square foot junk main up, and it was blowing 10~15kt true, mostly ~150 degrees off the wind, sometimes dead downwind. I was sailing fast enough to not bother with my mizzen, averaging about my motoring speed of around 6kt.

While I waited for the Surf City bridge for half an hour motoring into the wind (hard to slow down when dead downwind under sail!), winds had built to 15~20kt true, so I reefed one panel of my main. It is still bigger than the stock mainsail of a Freedom 33, however. I motorsailed through the bridge (I was wanting to make that extra knot since traffic is waiting, and the bridge tender had the nerve to tell me I wasn’t supposed to sail through the bridge!?!?!)

Then I killed the engine, and my fantastic sail continued. I was soon going as fast as I had been under full sail, wind was the same direction, and building. Soon my knot meter (not well calibrated; I think it underfeeds by almost a knot) was telling me that I was going over 6kt, getting close to 7kt.

As the wind started building to 25kt, I started to notice that when it gusted or built up a bit, things felt different. It felt like Flutterby was climbing up onto her bow wave, although I’ve not done that on a sailboat (keelboat anyhow) before. The waterline at the transom got up almost to the top of the tiller arm scupper, although water didn’t splash up through the grate. I saw speeds (on my poorly calibrated and likely underreading knot meter) climb up to 8.0kt occasionally and was spending a lot of time up over 7.5kt. This was very narrow and thus protected waters, with at most 1-2 foot chop, so I cannot imagine that there were any waves big enough for Flutterby to surf down.

Is this normal sailing when the wind gets up like this? (Perhaps a little higher with standard sails, or perhaps with both sails up; I’ve got extra sail area, even with one panel reefed) I'm pretty sure I remember somebody mentions a really fast reaching passage on an F33 here or in the yahoo group.

I’m also wondering if I should worry about my main mast in these conditions? I did see it flexing some, as the sail twisted and moved a bit.
s/v Flutterby, Freedom 33 cat ketch, now junk rigged
whimsy
 
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Re: Planing or surfing downwind on a F33 cat jetch

Postby marno » Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:55 pm

I have a 39 Express and while heading for Panama, about 200 miles off the coast of Colombia in a large following swell, we were steering with the wind vane. Everything went quiet while I was on watch and I looked up and found that the GPS showed around 18 knots as we surfed down the waves. The main mast does flex, but nothing really out of the ordinary.
Marno

F39 Express
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Re: Planing or surfing downwind on a F33 cat jetch

Postby whimsy » Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:11 pm

Well, I had another day of doing something similar. This time it was in Bogue Sound, approaching Morehead City, and the winds were a bit lighter (at least at first!), so I was sailing with full sails up, both main and mizzen. It was fun and comfortable in 15 knots. As the wind built, and I got a bit more exposure to waves, I started feeling a bit out of control, and started reducing sail.

This time I only hit speeds of 7~7.5 on my (dubious) knotmeter, but I did feel the way the boat was moving through the water start to change again. I also noticed that I hardly slowed down as I reduced sail, so perhaps this hull only gets to the semi-planing stage without a wave to surf down....or a tolerance for feeling less in control than I currently have!
s/v Flutterby, Freedom 33 cat ketch, now junk rigged
whimsy
 
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