Gusty Sailing

We went sailing with Alistego yesterday and I thought I might share a few things with our regulars here. The day was in many ways typical for us here in Western Canada. The wind was averaging around 10 kts, which was fine but was gusting (I mean sudden, hairy, immediate, gusts) to 20-25 kts or so. Add to that our usual confused seas of short steep waves coming from all directions (seemingly) and you can get a rough, uncomfortable day of sailing in anything smaller than a keel boat. Other than the wind and waves, it was a warm sunny day.

After motoring out of the marina a reasonable distance we raised the mizzen and killed the outboard. After going forward I had the full jib flying just in time to feel the first of the big gusts of the afternoon. Wanting to see what the wind was going to do before deciding on how much mainsail we wanted to put up we set out on just mizzen and jib.

Off we went, bouncing across the waves having a fine time with lots of splashing and spray flying through the air. Some times the waves met us on the beam and sometimes on the bow, giving us some very interesting sea states to adapt to. Barb is very experienced sailing on the Great Lakes, but there was no rhyme or reason to these wave patterns. According to the GPS we were going between 3 to 4 kts, so we decided to have a relaxing sail under m and j rather than take a chance on the fluky winds and unpredictable gusts (meaning that we could find no agreement on how many reefs to run with) ;0)

Once again, we proved the boat's inability to tack (in most conditions) without a mainsail, but we did discover that she gybes beautifully and in a very controlled manner if the crew doesn't mind going the long way around for a "tack". Secondly we confirmed again that she will not sail very close to the wind under m and j, especially so if the waves are pushing the bow away from the wind. We proved this all afternoon and had several "discussions" on which line to take to our destination. The final revelation of the afternoon was that an Eun Mara under just mizzen and jib WILL tack reliably provided she has around 3 knots of headway before coming about and there are very small or no waves present at all. I believe this proves that the seas are the real culprit here.

The boat still gets tons of attention every time we take her out. A few times now, youngsters have called her a "Pirate Ship". A bystander walked up to us and asked: "Is that made of real wood?" While sailing, a small biplane kept flying by until finally, it came by us very low (est 300 feet) at which time we waved and were rewarded with much wing wagging. Finally as we were bouncing along at 4.6 knots (I love my GPS) I looked over to see a local sailor (in a 30-ish foot C&C cruiser) passing upwind of us allowing me to get some very nice photos of his sails backlit by the sun.

Dale Hymanyk 2022