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It seems presumptuous of me to sit in front of a laptop computer in the warm, dry cabin of my yacht Whisper while I'm tied up at a friend's dock in Maryland trying to write about heavy-weather sailing. Certainly being exposed to a storm out on the ocean puts the skipper and his crew in another world. The sailing conditions may be nasty, there may be problems with the boat, sea room may be doubtful, and the crew may be nervous and not feeling too well.

In the part of the book that we're about to look at, I will discuss four longstanding, traditional schemes to deal with bad weather sailing that I call onboard control methods.

1. Close-reefing the sails up to Force 6 (22 to 27 knots).

3. Lying a-hull up to Force 8 (34 to 40 knots), depending on sea conditions.

4. Running off up to Force 9 (41 to 47 knots), with concern about sea room.

These four sailing maneuvers can all be accomplished on board a sailboat, some— depending on how the running rigging is set up—without leaving the cockpit. You need no extra gear, but planning and practice will make these maneuvers quicker and easier, with less wear on the sails and the crew.

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