Sunday, October 4, 2009

28 Knots, Safe and Warm

This evening, we sat in the cockpit, safe and warm, and watched (over the breakwater - it was high tide) a boat trying to take down his sails in 28 knots of wind. We know what he was going thru.

We last experienced it in the Strait of Georgia, on our way to Desolation Sound. We were sailing downwind under the mainsail, with a building wind. When it became apparent that we had too much sail up because Eolian wanted to broach after crossing each wave crest, we were faced with a dilemma: how do you take down the sail? It is full of wind and pulling the boat at more than 7 knots. There is no way to pull it down in those conditions. And working on the deck is dangerous because of the motion of the boat in those seas. We had jacklines strung bow to stern, but no one wants to have to depend on them - that would be a disaster layered on a problem. We had to turn the boat around so that the sail would empty. So, I started the engine in order to make the turn as fast as possible, and tried to time things to minimize the roll as we spun around in the trough between two waves. There was a cacophony of crashing sounds from down below, but Jane, on the cabin top was getting the sail down, finally.

After rigging more appropriate sail (the staysail), we surveyed the damage below. Lots of stuff was on the cabin sole - all the bookshelves had unloaded, despite their searails. The garbage can had tipped over. Cushions were everywhere. Dishes had escaped the cupboards. Nothing serious, but the boat was a mess.

We learned our lesson: never carry the main downwind beyond the point where turning upwind is easy.

And that boat out beyond the breakwater? I'm sure that he is still picking things up and straightening his cabin.

And we opened another beer and saluted him.


audeojude said...

Mr. and Mrs. Salnik
I have read your blog in searching for information on downeaster yachts. I have very much enjoyed reading about your refit and sailing experiences. My wife and I have recently acquired a DE38. We noted that the websites that used to have information on these boats have gone away.

I have built a new downeaster community website at and am putting up as much information as I can find about these boats. I wanted to ask you if I could copy relevant information from your website to there? Also to ask if you could link from your website to there so that other people that find your site can find

We would love it if you could post some articles on the site about your experiences sailing your boat. :) Your knowledge would be greatly appreciated both by current owners and new owners to come.
Scott & Zsanic Carle
DE 38 sv Valkyr

bob said...

(response follows via email)

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