Screaming Fun


Had a super fast beat up Howe Sound north of Bowen and all the way to Keats Island.

The wind was funneling up Collingwood Channel, and with a reef in the main and the new 100% jib from North Sails, Madsu was flying.  Check that starboard side window and you can see the base of the stanchion awash on the lee side.

I’ve been playing with sail combinations since I got the new 60% and 100% jibs, and with the wind at around 18+ knots, this combination (single reef, 100% jib) was perfect.  Madsu was heeled about 25% and pushing to 35% in the puffs, but the helm felt just right and I screamed with delight when the GPS was showing consistent 6.4 and 6.5 knots SMG.

Madsu’s no rocket sled, but I did manage to (almost) keep up with a couple of 30 footers ahead of me (you can see them just ahead).   Ok, I didn’t keep up, but I didn’t get my clock cleaned either 😉

It wasn’t as windy or as rough as last week’s trip up the same bit of Howe Sound.  Highly recommend it for a good workout and some nice little surprises in the wind department.

It’s really tough to pull the Nikon out when I’m solo and beating into a breeze.  I keep the D70 in a waterproof bag just inside at the base the companionway, and I have slide forward enough to reach in an get it.  By the time I get to it, things have settle down considerably.  Maybe I’ll have to start shooting more with the waterproof pentax.


New Sails Pay Off


We had a crazy ride up Howe Sound from the northern tip of Bowen to Keats Island.

The wind was a gusty 25+ knots on the nose – I had a deep reef in Madsu’s main and my new 60% North Sails jib up.

Fantastic combination – we ploughed through the waves at a steady 5.5  knots, heeled at about 25 degrees or so.

It was a wet ride, with spray well into the cockpit as we pounded through the steep waves.

I loved the feel of the boat riding through the rough stuff – she was working but under control and seemed ready to scream along for days – comfortable and in the slot.  Loads of fun in brilliant sunshine.

I didn’t get the camera out until we were approaching Keats – I’d pulled one of the reefs out of the main by that point and the wind and particularly the waves had let up considerably.


When to Reef


One of the search terms I’m seeing here pretty regularly is ‘when to reef Catalina 22’.

There’s really no magic answer to this, but the boat will give you clear signals if you know how to read them.

The most obvious is excessive heel.  Madsu seems to have a sweet spot at around 20° of heel.  Up until that point, the boat is running efficiently.  Once she starts to heel more than that, potential speed decreases, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.  Keep in mind that Madsu is an older model Catalina 22 – narrower in the beam than MKII models.  She’s also a swing keel.

If you have a knot meter or GPS on the boat, you can easily see the results of reefing. Putting that reef in the main decreases heel and weather helm, and the boat actually goes faster than when it was on its ear.

Just when you’ll hit that spot on your Catalina 22 depends on your sail inventory, condition of your sails, and your trim.  Flattening the main and moving the centre of effort forward as the wind pipes up is the first thing to do.

Since I sail alone a lot, I tend to reef early, particularly when it comes to deciding whether to change head sails.

Reefing the main should be easy.  Heave to and practice it.

There’s nothing more satisfying than popping a reef in, flattening out the boat, then sailing past someone who’s heeled over like crazy.  Not that I’m competitive or anything.


Sail Changes and Reefs


It really was a day packed with sail changes and reefs.

When I headed out at 9:30 (when I took this picture) there was a light wind from the North, just enough to keep Madsu moving at 2 knots.  The forecast was for 20-30 knots from the south by noon.  I put some BB King on the MP3 player and sat back and enjoyed the air.

Right on track with the Environment Canada forecast, the wind shifted to a southerly inflow around 11:30.

After beating for 2 hours, I now found myself having to beat again to head back the way I came.

No complaints though.

The wind built steadily, so I reefed the main.  Next I had to douse the 150 in favour of my bagged out #2 jib.

I made a quick half tack and dropped the jib on the bouncing foredeck, bagged it, and hoisted the #2.  It’s beat up and tired – it came with the boat, and aside from looking a lot like a pillow case when I hoist it, it was never cut correctly for the boat.  Still,  we managed  a lumpy 4 knots or so to weather in a wet wind-over-tide chop.  I can’t wait for the 2 new head sails I have coming from North Sails.

By the time I got back to where I’d come from, it really was time to dump the #2 for the #3,  but I decided to call it a day, taking a few minutes (and tacks) to play in the gusts rolling off the headlands.

Besides, I was hungry.  It was 2:00 and I’d been so busy sailing I hadn’t had any lunch.

Now there’s a west coast complaint for you –  “I was too busy sailing to eat my lunch”.  Awww.




With a reef in the main and my bagged-out jib, Madsu doing a respectable 5 knots to weather.

It was such a lovely day, I just kept going out into the Straight about 5 miles before turning back.