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Old 24-05-2019, 13:48   #1
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Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

I just bought a wheel steering 1981 Cascade 27 and I am having a steering issue. Seemingly at random the boat will lose ability to turn off the wind to the point where it will force me to tack. it seems to happen more often the more wind there is (around 20 knots) but has also happened in lighter air. It seems to happen more when I am pointed further up wind but has happened closer to beam reach as well, has happened on port and starboard tacks, have also had plenty of 2-3 miles tacks where it doesnt happen at all. Every thing with steering is completely normal while pointed anywhere from beam reach to dead downwind and also functions completely normal while motoring. Keep in mind I am moving along nicely around 4-5 knots when this is happening so it isnt an issue of not enough water moving past thge rudder. This is the 5th monohull I have had around this size and I have never experienced anything like this. In an unrelated event my rudder has been destroyed(buoy drug in 30 knots onshore wind with -2 foot tide in the puget sound) and before I rebuild it im wondering if i need to make any changes to size or shape. Ill include a picture of the rudder dimentions. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 24-05-2019, 13:52   #2
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

Here are the rudder dimentions
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Old 24-05-2019, 14:00   #3
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

Smaller sailboats when overly heeled (big ones might too, but it's easier with a sub 30 ft) and unbalanced (sail wise) will turn with winds in excess of 20kts towards the wind. As the boat heels, the rudder looses contact with the water. The lifting function of the sails will make the boat head upwind. It's the mixture of this two effects that has you pointing at the wind and unable to avoid it. Solution is not to do a bigger rudder, just balance your boat better. Sail size, sail trim (as in traveller position if you have one, vang, etc) will all help to have a well balanced boat that you can control in high winds. Try: smaller headsail, reefed main, let the traveler go open (let the main spill).
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Old 24-05-2019, 14:16   #4
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

That makes sense but it doesn’t explain how it happens in light wind around 10 knots. The 20 knot days I have been reefed traveler down and pointed high enough that there was no excessive heeling.
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Old 24-05-2019, 14:20   #5
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

So Iíd want to know the condition of the sails, how they were trimmed, how the rigging is tuned and whether the mast has the correct rake, if any. Then Iíd ask how the boat was loaded. By the sound of what you are saying there is no obvious reason for this erratic behavior. I am also curious about the sea state when it happens and any possible currents in the area.
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Old 24-05-2019, 14:29   #6
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

Sounds like weather helm.

Weather helm is the tendency of sailing vessels to turn towards the source of wind, creating an unbalanced helm that requires pulling the tiller to windward in order to counteract the effect.

Gaucho's recommendations are spot on if that is the issue. Try easing the main the moment you sense such and see if that causes your boat to stay on track. If your steering regains control it is an indication your powering the main too much.

It happens to one of my boats when I get hit by a gust or just burdening it too much in high winds, sometimes I can't hold steering and the rudder will begin to cavitate because of having too harsh an angle of attack, and she'll just round up until the sails begin to luff.

When that happens the boat is telling you its beyond time to reef. The boat is basically self regulating itself by heading into the wind.
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Old 24-05-2019, 14:36   #7
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

The back stay is set up to be adjustable but the running rigging for is missing I have enough stuff to set something up for it to put more rake in the mast , as it is now it has just a little bit of rake seems similar to the other boats I have experience with. As far as sail trim I am doing the same thing I have been doing for years with a variety of similar boats in the same spot on Puget Sound with very similar conditions it seems the only variable is this boat. As far as boat loading Do you mean where passengers are sitting?
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Old 24-05-2019, 14:39   #8
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

That makes sense for high wind days but this has also happened in 10 knots . The most wind I have taken her in was around 20 and I had main reefed traveler down and I was pointed very close to the wind . Was not exsessively heeling
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Old 24-05-2019, 14:45   #9
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

Also keep in mind each day I have been out I have had tacks where everything functions correctly and tacks where I have this issue once or twice all while wind conditions, sea state, passenger load, and sail trim were consistent
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Old 24-05-2019, 15:10   #10
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

Typically the backstay tensioner is to pull the top of the mast back to tighten the headsail luff as Iím sure you know, but if the mast itself is raked more than it is supposed to youíll get more weather helm. Are the sails old and blown out perhaps? The rudder, you rebuilt it, is the rudder post the same diameter? Is there slip in it? (Thatís a long shot there) And you can rule out currents in your area? How is the boat loaded? I.e. is there a lot chain and/or big anchor in the bow? Or weight in the stern? And the rigging is tuned up?
its very curious given what you have described!
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Old 24-05-2019, 15:18   #11
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

It's not rocket science

Your main sail is in too tight. That's it.

If I don't have an engine which I didn't on my sailboats for the first 15 years sailing them if I needed to turn into the wind I simply sheeted in the main
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Old 24-05-2019, 15:25   #12
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

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Typically the backstay tensioner is to pull the top of the mast back to tighten the headsail luff as Iím sure you know, but if the mast itself is raked more than it is supposed to youíll get more weather helm. Are the sails old and blown out perhaps? The rudder, you rebuilt it, is the rudder post the same diameter? Is there slip in it? (Thatís a long shot there) And you can rule out currents in your area? How is the boat loaded? I.e. is there a lot chain and/or big anchor in the bow? Or weight in the stern? And the rigging is tuned up?
its very curious given what you have described!
I will give it another look next time I go out to the boat , the times I have looked up the mast it seemed to have very small amount of rake. would it be worthwhile to loosen back stay a bit and take all rake out of mast? sails are in ok shape. The rudder hasn't been rebuilt yet these problems are all from before my little buoy dragging ordeal. very little current in this part of the sound. I have the same Anchor and chain I had in the front of my last boat (1978 hunter 27). does tuning the rig just mean making sure each shroud and stay are to spec using a tension gauge? I have not done that
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Old 24-05-2019, 15:29   #13
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
It's not rocket science

Your main sail is in too tight. That's it.

If I don't have an engine which I didn't on my sailboats for the first 15 years sailing them if I needed to turn into the wind I simply sheeted in the main
we have experimented with sail trim endlessly, easing the main sheet was the very first thing that happened. this also happens in light wind
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Old 24-05-2019, 16:03   #14
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

Optimally you should find out what the rake if any there should be ! Then start with the lower stays 1st, sight up the mast to make sure you are straight, front to back, and side to side ! Then work your uppers, the same ! How much tension is a question I still have, though when the boat went in l;ast yr, and the rig was set up, the yard really put pressure on the rig ! More than we ever had ! That being said, the boat never sailed as nice before that, it just scared the hell out of me ! There was no looseness on leeward side when sailing at all ! The mast also seamed to be raked fwd some what. This was on out GulfStar 37 ! Note this was also with 39 yr old sails !
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Old 24-05-2019, 16:20   #15
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Re: Why is my boat pointing into the wind?

Take somebody with you who understand how to trim sails. I doubt the boat is haunted which leaves us with only one other possibility.
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