Sailing in Stronger Winds

Sail boarder on Lake Washington

We went out for a sail in somewhat stronger winds than we had before. Although it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, there were very few boats on the lake, not even power boats. There were, however, quite a few sail boarders. With the winds gusting past 10 knots, the sail boarders were almost literally flying over the water.

A San Juan 27 came by at one point, heading north up the lake.

Righting a capsized hobie cat 1

Righting a capsized hobie cat 2

Righting a capsized hobie cat 3

Righting a capsized hobie cat 1
Righting a capsized catamaran

A catamaran was planing at top speed. It tried to make a sharp tack at speed. As we watched, it rose on one pontoon and seemed frozen there for what seemed like a minute, before finally capsizing, tossing the three occupants into the water. We took these photos as they righted it and went back to having fun.

We got our boat up to 6 mph (5+ knots), about 2 mph faster than we had gone before. We managed to keep our speed up through most of our tacks.


Using the Loos Tension Gauge

After raising the mast, you need to adjust the tension on the shrouds. The Catalina 22 Manual has some rough guidelines for setting the tension, but the best way is to use a Loos Tension Gauge. This tension gauge requires no batteries and gives you a precise reading of the tension on the shrouds.

It is very important to get the tension right. If you do not, you could potentially break the mast in a heavy wind. See this video on what happens when you lose a shroud.

The instructions that came inside the box with the gauge are not very well written. It is difficult to make sense of them and read the gauge correctly. There are some better instructions on the outside of the box. Here are some new instructions written in plain English.

Check the shroud cable diameter
Hook the tension gauge around the shroud
Pull back the lanyard until the metal end is
lined up with the black line, then read
the scale next to the shroud. It reads 22, which
is 180 pounds and the turnbuckle needs to
be tightened.
  1. Determine the thickness of the shrouds. There are little indentations on the side of the gauge that help you do this, and that is all they are used for. Look on the underside for the captions. On our Catalina 22, the shrouds are 1/8" thick.
  2. Hook the bottom of the gauge around the shroud.
  3. Pull back on the string until the arrow at the top of the gauge is at the black line. Don't overextend it or you can damage the gauge.
  4. Read the scale where the center of the shroud crosses it.
  5. Compare the scale number to the chart on the side of the gauge (reproduced below). That is the tension on the shroud in pounds.
Shroud Width
Scale 3/32" 1/8" 5/32"
5 80
10 110
15 150 120
20 200 160
22 230 180
24 250 200
26 280 220
28 310 240
30 350 260
32 400 300 200
34 470 340 240
36 580 390 280
38 750 450 320
40 550 360
42 700 420
44 950 520
45 600
46 700
47 800
48 950

The tension you should use varies, but start by setting all the shrouds to an equal tension. For 1/8" shrouds on a Catalina 22, use about 250 pounds (the scale should read about 29). As you get more experienced, you can play with the tension to find what is right for your boat.


The Yacht Log Book

We have a written log, in addition to this web site. We went with the Yacht Log designed by Kenneth Mahler and published by Mystic Seaport Museum. A hard-bound book establishes that no pages have been added or removed. This book has columns for the kind of information that we want to keep and the title is very close to the domain name of our site.

We have anyone coming on board sign the guests page in the log. We adopted the policy Mahler suggests:

Experience dictates a simple rule regarding who should sign the guest page: if they are aboard for more than fifteen minutes, guests should be asked to sign the log, and they need do so only once a season. This excuses the brief visitor and avoids multiple signatures of the frequent visitor.

The bottom of each log page lists who was actually aboard that day. We have also adopted the policy that the first entry of each log entry lists the dates since the last entry in the log and appears similar to this:

At Dock. Wednesday 8/27 through Saturday 8/30 no activity.
We then proceed into the current day's activity. This means that every day is accounted for in the log. When the log page is recorded the captain signs the page at the bottom. As Chapman's Piloting says
This authenticated record may be needed in connection with an insurance claim, a law suit, or other investigation. If a boat owner can state under oath that it is his practice to keep a daily log and then present a signed entry for the day in question, he has gone a long way toward legally establishing the situation as seen by him. Be sure that you never make erasures in a log—if you need to correct an item, rule out the old material without making it illegible, and then write in the correct entry if there is space, or make reference to where it will be found elsewhere in the log. Initial the correction and add the date if it is made on a later day.

If you have any suggestions for maintaining a log, please add them to the comments below.


Sailing in the Shadow of Mount Rainier

We went out for a short sail with friends of our children. Each got a turn at the helm.

Sailing in the shadow of Mount Rainier
Sailing in the shadow of Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier was visible, or as we say in the Seattle area, "the mountain was out." On many days, there are clouds and you can't see the mountain. There are many other mountains in the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges visible from Seattle, but everyone knows you mean Mount Rainier when you say "the mountain."

Mount Rainier is the fifth tallest mountain in the continental United States, and is the 21th most prominent mountain in the world. This makes it dominate the skyline in the Seattle area when the mountain is out.


Dead in the Water

We tried to go out for a Labor Day sail. We got out and hoisted the sail, but there was no wind. It would sometimes kick up a little gust for a few seconds, but then back to nothing. There was a fair amount of wave action on the water, but it was not coming from the wind.

As we were attempting to hoist the mainsail, we managed to snag it and we had to repair a rip. Fortunately, we keep sail tape in the toolbox.

We dropped sail and motored up to the North end of the lake to pick up Greg's parents, hoping the wind would pick up. After bringing them aboard, we headed back into the lake under motor. We raised the sails, but there just was not any wind. There is a name for a sailboat with no wind: a raft.

The motor safety interlock.

We decided to drop sail again and motor back. We ran into another problem...the motor would not start. The pull rope seemed to be jammed. No wind and no motor!

We popped the cover off the motor and took a look, which is when Sandi realized that there is a safety interlock that keeps from pulling the rope while the throttle is not fully at idle. The throttle was cranked up just enough to trigger the interlock. Just twisting the handle back to idle caused the problem to go away.

We kind of have an eclectic set of knowledge. Sandi sailed quite a bit, even sailing Catalina 22s a long time ago, but none of the boats she sailed had motors. The rest of the crew has limited boating knowledge, so we are still making a lot of small mistakes. We still do little things like sitting on the port jib lead when trying to pull on the starboard lead; the jib does not move much! Or forgetting to cleat the mainsail halyard after bringing the sails down, which allowed the slack halyard to get snagged on the mast steaming light. As we all get more experienced, we should reduce the number of these problems.

We dropped the parents off again and motored all the way back to the dock. A very frustrating day for sailing.