Sailing in heavy winds can help you cover many cruising miles. Not only does it help you cover lots of water in short amounts of time, but it is also fun and exciting — and a good challenge as well. You are harnessing the infinite power of the wind, taking control of the rough waves, while staying in control and at the same time, sailing safely and well. Here are some tips for sailing in rough waters.
One of the challenges of sailing in rough weather is depowering enough to remain in control of the ship — not too much of course, but just enough to battle the big waves that come with high winds while maintaining a good speed. And of course, the slower that you go, the longer it will take you to ultimately reach your destination — and this is something that is a given.
Techniques included in depowering are reducing the ‘angle of attack,’ increasing or decreasing the twist, and flattening the sails. There are just a few of the steps of dealing with increasing wind power. When these methods aren’t doing enough, you should take up stronger more efficient methods to maintain safety and speed. Additionally, the larger waves that tend to accompany higher winds pose just as much as a problem as the winds do. Waves make everything difficult, like depowering and navigating. Sailing ‘underpowered’ in waves can be dangerous and frustrating, as it makes it harder to maintain control. The biggest part of the challenge lies in keeping an adequate amount of power to get you through the waves — while simultaneously staying in control. Not to mention, pounding while upwind against an ever-growing angry sea can also prove dangerous. The constant violent motion can endanger gear and anyone on the ship.
However, there is a variety of ways to stop the heavy pounding. One thing that you can do is add what sailors call “twist” to the trim for a wider steering. What adding twist to the trim does is it allows you to steer around bigger waves without too much resistance. After this, the next step would to be changing your speed. For instance, sailing faster might allow you to coast through the big waves easier — essentially smoothing out the ride. Then, you can ease the sails, and optionally, bear off a few degrees.
Of course, you can always just simply slow down. If your sailboat is flying off the waves like there is no tomorrow, all you have to do is shorten the sale and reduce speeds. This will most likely keep the boat in the water. As previously mentioned, slowing down even a little bit can dramatically increase the pleasure being derived, by increasing comfort and smoothness. However, slowing down is not always the solution that you are looking to find. Depending on the waves and speeds of the wind, you may just want to speed up so that you can easily soar through the waves. It all depends on the desired outcome of the ride and how fast you are trying to go. Read more in here for tips for sailing in rough water.