20 Gusting to 30!

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by Whitecap, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Whitecap

    Whitecap Member

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    So I'm a Texan; and its 90 degrees here on the first day of spring. It is very routine to get big puffs and 20 degree wind shifts with little notice here. (Im a military/airline pilot by trade and live close to the old base I used to fly out of). Now that it's Spring, the winds will be picking up for the next few months. Today was the start: (here is the metar from Naval Air Station Fort Worth JRB)

    So far this year, Ive been been out sailing about five times with great success - lots of challenge, relaxation, and peace with my marriage to the wind. As many of you know, I am a beginning sailor and have about 20, 2-3 hour sailing trips under my belt. I have gotten familar with the predictiable wind shifts on my lake due to the terrain, local obstacles, etc. , and have grown quite comfortable on my Sunfish. In the past, have been able to handle 18 kts gusting to 25 (it kicked my ass and was a lot of work; but great fun). I managed to survive it, and learned a ton on how to manupiluate the sails, spilling the excess wind out of them, and riding that exciting line between beautiful control, and that amazing speed (which I always loved in my former days).

    With todays winds, I stood on my dock, chomping at the bit to get in my Sunfish and give it a go - then the older, more cautious, pilot in me spoke up, and told me to use my head, grab a beer, and sit this one out. 20 kts gusting to 30 - thats a lot of blow (even in a 150,000 lb airplane - let alone my little boat).

    So now that my beer is empty, sitting on my deck, overlooking my dock and countless whitecaps, I want to ask: Would you experienced sailing masters go out with these winds? Is there a huge difference between a 25 knot gust and a 30 knot (34 MPH) gust? (Save me the cheap 5 knot answer, humor please :)). Can this boat be productive and safe in these winds with the right sailor at the helm?

    Im looking forward to the responses from you guys.

    Warm (very warm) regards from Texas,

    PS- Thank you to all who helped me restore my old 1968 Sunfish (that had ten holes in it!), sailing has had a profound impact on my life. Ill be grateful to you all for a long time.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  2. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    "Warm is good", but 30-knot gusts is another way to see if anything else needs replacing on your boat! :p
  3. mixmkr

    mixmkr Active Member

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    On a keel boat with some experience would be exhilarating. Probably good to just toss one back, enjoy the day, and wax the fish.
  4. tag

    tag my2fish

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    You might look into how to set up the Jens rig to depower the sail. There are plenty of posts on it - I've never used it, but I thought the point of the Jens rig was to depower the sail in heavy winds.

  5. Webfoot1

    Webfoot1 Active Member

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    Flying and Sailing are the same 'seat-of-the-pants' aerodynamic thing so if you're a pilot
    you already have a strong intuitive grasp of sailing. The Sunfish is the 'no-cost' way to
    enjoy flying. Double up and sail with two people for really heavy winds, the extra
    counter-weight really helps. Your optimum heal angle should not exceed 15 degrees for
    best performance.
  6. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    I think that you made the correct decision to stay in, especially since you wrote that your sailing experience is still limited. Anything above 20 mph or so requires a lot of experience and your own safety is at risk as well. And even very experienced Sunfishers won't go out when the wind gets close to 30 mph.
    Finally, as L & V Winds indicates, things can break, even on a Sunfish...
  7. Steve2000

    Steve2000 New Member

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    The problem with taking a passenger to help control excessive healing on exceptionally windy days is that the mast step tube is not really structured for the forces that may be encountered. Mast failure at deck level is also common.

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