Gybing Anarchy

Got scared last night. Wind built up to 25-30 knots with Sparrow holding full main and jib. The boat gets on an edge where if it rolls too far downwind, she crash gybes and if she rolls too far upwind she broaches. I cranked up the autopilot gain and watched for a few minutes. Yup, scary stuff. I didn’t know if the autopilot and rudder could take the physics of it all. We weren’t going all that fast: 11-14 knots, but maybe it was the darkness and lumpy seas that contributed to my fear. Anyway, I reefed the main and jib. Watched for a while and things were much more stable with speed at 9-10 and the wind dropped down to 22 knots.

With that I hit the bunk for a bout of sleep, awoke at dawn and before I had my morning coffee, Sparrow got blasted with 40 knots again. Crash gybe ensued. After untangling that mess, I put another reef in and did my first chicken gybe. It was blowing 30 and my balls just aren’t big enough to do a high speed gybe in 30 knots, even with 2 reefs in the main.

That’s why they call it a chicken gybe.

(For those not familiar with the term, a chicken gybe is when you tack around into the wind instead of actually gybing.)

Anyway a bit messy this morning, but we are learning.

3 thoughts on “Gybing Anarchy

  1. One of the Best things about sailing is that you never learn it all. The worst thing about you story is you did not have your morning coffee yet. I appreciate your honest assessment and actions of your sailing experience.


  2. Whitall…tough. my 2 cents on the nke. in 25 knots, TW or compass mode. if you go to high on the gain, the pilot won’t be able to keep up. too much work. Try gain at 7 but increase the rudder coefficient (RC). Rule of thumbs is 1.5 x speed. so try around 15-20. Also, never leave the counter rudder on auto and if it is windy, increase it 2-3. If seas are rough, you should also increase the wind damping. Try small numbers at first. Also, don’t increase all settings to max because the pilot won’t steer as well.

    Best to you man!



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