The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Let’s Go Sailing!


OK, enough with all this talk of motorboats, let’s go sailing in a bit of breeze on Morgan’s Cloud. We made the video below a few days ago in a solid Force 7 blow (near gale, 28-33 knots).

John With Egg On Face

By the way, look for a timely reminder from Phyllis at the halfway mark in the video—I’m suitably ashamed of myself.

Environment Canada With Egg On Face

Also listen for the weather forecast wind speed at the time we were shooting and then compare it to the windspeed indicator (left-most gauge).

As I always say, “a weather forecast is only the most likely of several possible scenarios“. Or as Phyllis likes to put it, “It’s a forecast, not a prophesy”.

This is a good example of why (even if you are only out for a 25 mile daysail as we were) it’s so important to have your boat rigged to snug down easily and to have the required manoeuvers well practiced.

Please view the video and then scroll down for some more notes.

I have imbedded the video below, but you can also watch it in a larger version here.


We had two of our three deep reefs in when we took the footage. We had started out that morning with one reef and progressed to three reefs a bit after the video ended, when the wind started gusting to 35 knots.

These reductions are easy to do using our downwind reefing technique, and I didn’t even get wet. This is the key to safely handling a boat the size of Morgan’s Cloud with just two people: reef early and often. The boat’s design makes this work well since she is so easily driven that even after putting in the third reef we were still doing 8 to 9 knots.


You will also note that we didn’t tie the reef points in and that the bunt of the sail is nicely retained by our lazyjack system. If we were going to be out for the night we would have tied the points in and rigged a safety strop.

A Proper Preventer

Also, note that we have our end boom preventer rigged even though we were planning to be at anchor in a couple of hours. In this kind of breeze this is the only safe option for boom control.

It’s Great To Be Back

This was our first sail in any significant breeze after my rehab from my broken leg and it was great to find that everything still worked well, boat and crew.

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Svein Lamark

Hi MC! Nice to see you out there again!
By some mistake I have anticipated that MC is a small boat. Now I can see that it is rather big. This explains better to me many of your comments in the past.
And Phyllis is damned cool.
I hope your leg can take the swell.


Congrats on getting back under sail!
I’ve envisioned the stainless hoop at the aft end of MC’s cockpit as her boom gallows/crutch, but am struck now by how much lower than the bimini it is. Am I mistaken? Or does an additional piece mount on those short posts to reach boom height?


beautiful sailing!! more videos and commentary please – this is wonderful stuff to actually show your teachings in practice.

It was hard to tell, but it looked like you might have had, what – about 1/3 of the genoa rolled up? might be wrong. curious as to the choice of headsail in this situation.

I was out for a wee romp on Friday in 24-28 true as well, ended up with a similarly reefed down condition… but I was running a full staysail in front – admittedly I was trying to make it to weather for much of the day.

now I am definitely putting in lazyjacks. the bunt of our sail was flopping around and bugging me until i finally tied in a few reef points.



Marc Dacey

John, I have found very much the same with my similar sail plan with the wind aft of the beam. I am getting closer to having a new main cut; may I ask what percentage of total sail area is reduced by each of your reefs (if known, or just approximately). I was considering a 15% first reef, and a 50% second, with no third reef, but perhaps a trysail. Clearly, you find three reefs a better number of “gears”.

And yes, the sound of chastisement for failing to clip in is not unfamiliar!

Marc Dacey

OK, thanks for the advice. I’m cutter-rigged and will have a reef in the staysail, a relatively (as I understand it) uncommon option. That’s why I was thinking of two reefs instead of three in the main. Perhaps 25% and 60%. I’l talk to my sailmaker and other owners of relatively heavy displacement motorsailers for ideas/experiences.


Hi John,
Great video!!! On June 28 of this year I was involved in a motor cycle accident that shattered my right ankle. Currently going through PT and it’s coming along. We had big plans of painting the whole boat and heading south by Sept. 1st but that didn’t happen. My wife has been overwealmed by this whole ordeal and seeing your video just now has really cheered her up! Reading about your recovery and eventual return to sailing has helped us to cope. We haven’t been out since last November and I think we’re going stir crazy. But thank you again for the video and it’s nice seeing your safety practices in action. It would be great to see more video demonstrations on your sailing technics in the future.

Thanks again, S/V Golden Echo


Very refreshing video and article!

Thank you very much

Rick Salsman

Morgans Cloud and crew, Looking Good!

Ernie Reuter

Oh my gosh…..what a great video. This gets my adrenaline going……thanks John and Phyllis
SV Iemanja……soon to leave Lake Champlain ( 3 weeks!)

Scott Flanders

Of course under power we have a couple similar systems. A couple months ago we had similar conditions. Instead of a lazy jack system we have a lazybutt person on watch. To prevent rock n’ roll they have to get off their lazybutt and give the stabilizer knobs a twist. So that’s our preventer. Because the breeze was off the stern quarter we increased the throttle to keep more water flow past the full length keel and the stabilizer fins. The speed was from the mid 8’s to the upper 9’s. But those speeds are rare.

Fuel mileage exceeded 4nm/USG. Also rare.

We all see the same things. So it’s all good.


Wilson Fitt

Hi John, Phyllis

As you know, I was a few miles behind you the same afternoon, slightly harder on the wind. And there was plenty of it! What surprises me is how the video flattens out the waves in the same way that photos seem to do. They were pretty big with lots of breaking crests, one of which caught me neatly down the back of my neck. That will teach me to leave my hood down.

It was the sort of sailing that is great fun for a few hours as long as all goes well, but with an unforgiving rocky shore close under our lee could lead to trouble if anything went wrong.


Danny Blake

Hi John,Phyllis
I am a motorboater through and through, however this sailing clip really looks exciting, I think Scott Flanders is a little jealous too, 8 or 9 knots and no diesel burnt! I must give this sailing thing a go.
Danny Blake

John Pedersen

Hmm, as a multihuller, I’m afraid I find the clip rather off-putting, reminding me of the rolling of mono with the wind on the quarter, and about having to clip yourself on in the cockpit, and having to brace yourself into your seat, and there you are. I recently sailed on a 40 racing mono, and was reminded that you really didn’t move about the heeling and wobbling deck without good reason. Annoying rather than exciting, though it did sail amazingly close to the wind.

On my 30′ cat, in a force 7 with the wind on the quarter, I could put my cup of tea down anywhere and it would stay there. Up to 14 knots would be frequent and no problem at all on the Autohlem, and I could stand around in the cockpit if I wanted with my hands in my pockets. But I probably wouldn’t be standing in the cockpit, I’d be sitting in the bridgedeck on the sofa with a book, completely sheltered and comfortable, with a table for my tea and book, and able to keep a good lookout just turning my head. And I’m reminded how restful this is compared to being braced in the cockpit in a full set of waterproofs. And things rarely move on the cat – a week out into the Atlantic, I was disturbed by the sound of a crash and something rolling about on the galley floor. I went and found a wine bottle, which had simply been standing upright on the floor under the oven, and it had taken a week to find a motion strong enough to topple it. And on my whole crossing there were only a couple of times where things slid off the worktops, and that was when I screwed up and had ended up side on to the waves.

Not to say my boat is perfect by any means. Load carrying capacity to too limited, and it get scary when the the speedo goes beyond 14 knots (22 has been the max I’ve seen – there may have been higher speeds, but I wasn’t then looking at the instruments.) And despite the high speeds easily obtainable, there always seemed long periods sailing up the back of waves, and hence few days where I’d clock even 150 miles.

Though I certainly wouldn’t choose a cat for high latitudes (which is where I’d like to sail next) I sometimes wonder what a multi-hulled Adventure 40 would look like.

John Pedersen

Hmm, I see you’ve already discussed the possibilities for cats elsewhere… sorry to bring this up again!

John Pedersen


What I’d really like is a boat that has two hulls off the wind and at anchor and in the shallow water, and a single hull beating to windward and when I need to carry a load and in storms. But I suppose this is beyond what can be provided with your KISS principle.

I’m sorry you consider my claims to be beyond the laws of physics. I don’t mean to exaggerate. Pitching is only a problem on my cat going to windward in a short chop, though here’s a link to Richard Woods going to windward on the same model boat on his first trip, sailing at 7 knots into 24 knots of wind, as it happens, with a wine bottle on the floor: Not a lot of wind, but funny he uses the wine bottle as a measure of stability.

Rolling has been a problem just once, when the wind in an anchorage put the boat side on to the swell – very uncomfortable.

I think you might be forgetting an aspect of physics that affects the motion of multis much more than monos, and that is the rate of acceleration and deceleration. It’s not unusual for my speed to vary, wave to wave, between 14 knots and 4-5 knots, going downwind. When there’s a wave piling up at the stern, and it looks like your tea must surely spill in a moment, what happens is that the boat accelerates down the wave. When the cup is about to tip downhill, the boat underneath it accelerates and keeps it in it’s place. I think of it like plates on a waiter’s tray – when a waiter dashes about between tables, he tilts his tray so he can take the corners faster. It seems the plates ought to fall off, but they stay on the tray.

Watching a cat conform to the surface of the water in rough seas, you’d imagine stuff falling about. But unless you’re on it, it’s hard to appreciate what a difference the change in speed makes. The boat may tilt this way and that, but the over-riding impression is more of simply having a bumpy ride.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that. You’ve probably sailed a cat at some time, and I have no interest in trying to start a mono/multi debate. Horses for courses.



Great that you two are sailing again!
I really appreciate the short video. It puts so many of your articles in context; size, equipment, handling etc really falls into place when you see it in action.

Bill Attwood

Hi Marc.
Kinsa is slutter rigged with a demountable inner forestay which can be rigged in 2 positions, aft for storm jib, forrard for no. 2 genoa. The no. 2 genoa is hanked and has one reef, reducing area from 25 to 20 sq meters. The sheeting point is the same reefed and unreefed. I copied this idea from the Pardeys and am very happy with the result. I also like the additional security of a headsail without roller furling. I’ve never had a problem with my Profurl, but several friends have.
Hope this helps.
Yours aye,

Marc Dacey

Bill, I had a longer post but my Bell router decided to cack out. Briefly then, thanks for the information which I find helpful. Probably for similar reasons, I have a Profurl Yankee jib and a simple, very strong staysail hanked on to a stay, the plate of which is down in my anchor well, providing me a secure place to douse and raise within a set of strong pipe rails.


I’ve just joined up on your site. Very informative I must say. I notice in some much earlier posts you recommend the Hallett loft in Falmouth Maine. Are the sails in this video from Hallett?


In an exchange about a month ago on this thread you were discussing your mainsail plan and number of reefs. I’m looking at a new mainsail for a Cal 39 myself and would be interested in this as well, i.e. how many reefs and how much reduction on each. Thanks.

Marc Dacey

Thanks, John: Given the number of sea miles you and Phyllis have in high latitudes, I’m sure a discussion of “how many reefs and where to put them” would be of great edification to most, and certainly to me.

I have not heard the term “rocker” before, and while I can guess the meaning, I would like to hear your definition before I dig up one of my copies of “The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea”.

Marc Dacey

Thanks for the clarification, John. I thought that’s what you meant, but I sometimes forget that you once made sails and are perfectly right to use the sailmaker’s specialist language.