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Old 24-02-2011, 19:55   #1
JRM
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Sailing Backwards Upwind ?! Oops . . .

My captain at work always says, "It's not what you don't know that gets you. It's what you know for certain that turns out not to be so." How true.

A few days ago I pulled the engine out of my boat in preparation for installing an electric drive. We were at the pier, and the opportunity came up for some discount work in the yard, if we went immediately. Well, the Harbor Patrol was busy, so they couldn't give us a tow. I figured that it is, in fact, a sailboat; I should just sail it in to the travel lift.

A quick word about the lift. It's at the far western end of the harbor, which runs east to west. We have a reliable wind from due west, which puts the travel lift directly upwind. It also has a rather narrow approach, with one good bottleneck just to make it more interesting.

The guy with me had never sailed on my boat before, although he has a similar one. Mine is set up for singlehanding, with everything led back and in clutches. I told him to wait on the casting off until I got the maincover off, as I have lazyjacks, and with all the velcro and snaps it is literally a five minute job to get the thing off. Well, we got lost in translation, and he thought I said cast off. We unrolled the genny to get some steerage while I tried to hurry with that stupid cover. By the time I got it off, and the main up, we had lost a ton of ground.

We finally got everything set and started the upwind trudge. It was a serious tackathon, and at points I barely had enough room to get up enough momentum for another tack. We started to draw a crowd. We managed the bottleneck rather well, and the harbor patrol guys came over to watch, with huge grins. This should have been a sign.

At any rate, I was getting set up for my last two tacks, which would take me right into the lift. We were pretty much in speaking range of the travel lift operator, who looked down and said, "you know... you have to back that thing in." Well, I didn't. What I thought I knew turned out not to be so. Luckily, the mirthful harbor patrol boat was gracious enough to push us back into the lift.

JRM
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Old 24-02-2011, 19:58   #2
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.


- Points for engineless sailing

What kind of an electric motor are you installing?
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Old 24-02-2011, 20:45   #3
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

Thanks for that JRM. Beautiful punch line!
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Old 24-02-2011, 21:55   #4
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

back in to a Travel Lift?

That fellow was messing with you.

No wonder the Harbor Patrol was laughing.
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Old 24-02-2011, 21:57   #5
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brak View Post

- Points for engineless sailing

What kind of an electric motor are you installing?
It's a Propulsion Marine 5KW system. But that's a whole different topic, and I've taken a ton of photos and video so far. Hopefully this weekend I'll get a chance to put it up on the blog for people to follow.

Check out www.electricboatdesign.com for some info on the drive system. Electric isn't for everyone, but I think the technology has hit a breakover point and it's really going to take off.

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Old 24-02-2011, 21:59   #6
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
back in to a Travel Lift?

That fellow was messing with you.

No wonder the Harbor Patrol was laughing.
Bash, don't know where you have been, but here in Oz most travel lifts require entering backward if you don't want to drop your forestay. If the lift is really big relative to your boat size then it isn't required.

And for the OP, talk to some yawl enthusiasts -- they're always talking about sailing their boats backward... maybe the real hotshots can do it upwind!!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 24-02-2011, 22:02   #7
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

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back in to a Travel Lift?

That fellow was messing with you.

No wonder the Harbor Patrol was laughing.
For whatever reason I don't know, the yard I use normally has you back in. I found out why on my last haul out. My engine wasn't functional so they said go ahead bring it in bow first. They started to raise it carefully because they were watching the forestay. It was going to hit the crossbeam that ties the travel lift together. I had to take off the forestay to get hauled that way. Apparently the other side is open and the bow would stick out more that way if I had gone in the proper way.

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Old 24-02-2011, 22:20   #8
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

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Bash, don't know where you have been, but here in Oz most travel lifts require entering backward if you don't want to drop your forestay. If the lift is really big relative to your boat size then it isn't required.
Interesting. I've gone into travel lifts dozens of times, and have never once backed it.
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Old 28-02-2011, 06:23   #9
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

We have to back into travel lifts, or remove two forestays. That is with a fairly low rig, does not seem unusual to me. Cranes are a different matter, with a sort of heartstopping fly through the air.
We have sailed backwards, it seems distinctly odd I must say.
Fair Winds
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Old 28-02-2011, 06:34   #10
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

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Interesting. I've gone into travel lifts dozens of times, and have never once backed it.
Ditto.
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Old 28-02-2011, 06:46   #11
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pirate Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
Interesting. I've gone into travel lifts dozens of times, and have never once backed it.
Your fortunate then Bash... I've always had to reverse in when the sticks up else the forestays batters the cross member...
Must confess I'da loved to have watched the boat below get launched... special new style 'Lift'... or a beginner...
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Old 28-02-2011, 07:28   #12
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

When I haul for the season my yard tends to have us back in. He likes to do that for better placement in the yard. For a haul and hang he doesn't see to have much of a preference, unless there is interference issues.
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Old 28-02-2011, 08:50   #13
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

I watched a boat being hauled on tracks out of Bras D'Or in Nova Scotia a couple of years back. Seemed a bit of a trick positioning it over the car and took a little longer then what I experienced with a lift. I've heard the lifts can do serious damage if not positioned correctly. I have a drawing and a couple of stickers that give the correct location for the straps on my boat so I guess as long as they hit it right I'm OK.

Is there anything other then the extra time involved that makes a lift better? Tracks seem to be going out of usage.
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Old 28-02-2011, 09:09   #14
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

Quote:
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Interesting. I've gone into travel lifts dozens of times, and have never once backed it.
There's only one yard in the galveston area that has such a small antique lift that you either need to back in or drop the forestay. Everyone else has larger lifts and charges accordingly
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Old 28-02-2011, 09:30   #15
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Re: sailing backwards upwind? oops.

Could I suggest another way to do it?
Sail up to the travellift dock with a long line from the stern ready at the bow.Hand the operator the line then let the wind turn the boat around after you drop the sails.
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