#84: How to Rig Your Boat for Heavy Weather Sailing

Even after crossing the Atlantic, I still believe some of the worst wind and sea state I have faced has been in the Gulf of Mexico.  As Phillip and I prepare to sail across it to Cuba this winter, we want to be ready for whatever the Gulf may dish out.  That means heavy weather sail planning in the form of a strong, small storm sail, a third reef in the main, a back-up genoa, and a convertible inner forestay.  Follow along as we rig our Niagara out for heavy weather offshore sailing.  Only 28 days to go!

5 thoughts on “#84: How to Rig Your Boat for Heavy Weather Sailing

  • Hi Annie, Sorry for the absence. lots going on.
    You are doing it right. I used to own a 1970 Bristol 29 that I did some very serious sailing on the Great Lakes. Let me tell you these are not lakes but inland seas. I had my Bristol set up with hank on head sails, removable inner fore-stay for the storm head sail that I had backed up with running back-stays, and I had a very well made heavy main that was triple Stitched, reinforced reef grommets and no battens (Low aspect main with a long boom, did not need the extra area as this only made me reef sooner) This also allowed me to drop the main on a run. I had boom gallows.
    My working jib had a row of reef points in it as well. I had netting on the bow to help contain the head sail when I dropped it and permanent lines to tie it down when I needed. i used a poor man’s furler… a permanent down haul line attached to the jib halyard. This worked wonders. as without it the wind would take the sail back up the stay.
    Any how, this setup served me well and I used it so many times. I had sailed in winds of up to 50 mph and 12 foot seas on Lake Huron. I was told by others who knew better that I would not need this arrangement on the great lakes. Wrong! I served me very well. My standard practice when a thunderstorm approached, with the first Squall line, would be to drop the jib, secure it. double reef the main and haul it in hard to windward a bit and tie the tiller down to leeward. The first winds would hit hard and we would heal over and then she would head up into the wind so beautifully and just sit there. I did not have to touch a thing. Just sat there and watched everything to be sure. When it passed I would let the main down, untie the helm and raise the jib. Like nothing ever happened.
    Oh the memories I had with that wonderful little boat that could.
    God I wish I was going to Cuba, it has always been my dream. That is on my list
    SV Isla Azul

    • Hey Rick! No worries. I know you’ve been busy too. So interesting to hear this very well-thought-out heavy weather set-up. Thanks for sharing. It is always best to have the rigging and gear in place and if you don’t need it, you don’t need it. But when you do! You’ll be darn glad you rigged it up in advance. Thanks for sharing this. I can hear the passion in your voice when you reminisce!

  • Enjoy your videos! Will see you in Marina Hemingway on 1/15. Meet for dinner at Laurel Restaurant.

    SV Azora

    • Hey there Tom. Thank you! Sadly, we won’t be in Cuba that long. Our permit only allows 14 days beginning Dec. 16th. But sure would be fun to meet up with you down there! We can’t wait to see what it looks like.

Leave a Reply