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Old 18-10-2009, 16:17   #1
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Question Do I Have Enough Wind Speed?

Can anyone tell me what is the optimal wind speed range in mph to sail a 14' sloop? Today started at 1 mph and got up to gusts of 22 mph. I've never sailed a small boat before and without a motor, i don't want to be stuck in the middle of the lake, or capsized because of forceful winds.

Appreciate any comments on the above.

Thanks
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Old 18-10-2009, 16:23   #2
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Need to know more about your boat before commenting on "optimal wind speed".

But in general you should be prepared to reduce sail when the wind increases, and to find a way to get your boat back to its "home" when there is no wind.
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Old 18-10-2009, 17:17   #3
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You don't want to be out in an unfamiler small boat in 22 mph.
But also 'gusts' may just be one 15 second puff, so you need to have a look at the real weather.

On a lake try for a day where it will be 10 to 15 kts and, hopefully a work to windward from the starting point so you can drift back home.

Dinghys are great fun and can take a fair bit of bashing about so go for the sail and have fun.
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Old 18-10-2009, 17:23   #4
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my boat

My boat is a 14' Vagabond. 110sq ft of sail area. Not sure what else you would need to know about the boat.

At this point, im not looking to race, just looking to find out what is the least amount of wind speed needed to even get her going and what is too much and i should stay at home.

Thanks for all your comments!
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Old 18-10-2009, 19:11   #5
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Your tastes will change on the 'optimal wind speed for sailing' your 14' Vagabond in as you get to know it better in different conditions with different crew aboard.
For when the wind dies bring along a canoe paddle or an oar or two so you can paddle home.
When the wind is between 5 - 10 knots you should be able to sail comfortably with any landlubber. As the wind increases above that (15+) your boat should be able to get up on a plane and give you quite a ride on a beam or broad reach which might scare the uninitiated but thrill you and any crew with experience. As the wind gets to be about 20 knots and higher it can take a lot of effort for the crew (you & ???) to keep the boat from getting rounded up, or worse, knocked down.
You need to be able to get comfortable with dealing with strong gusts on a racing dinghy like that. Some of the same steps you would do on a bigger boat also apply: release traveler and/or mainsheet, head up, keep sails as flat as possible, and finally reduce sail. Reducing sail on your boat might entail lowering the jib unless you have reef points in your main sail, in which case you reef the main.
Your boat can even be sailed with 'bare poles' in crazy winds but since it is a center board model is more likely to get knocked down since there is no heavy keel/ballast at the bottom.
As you gain comfort in varying conditions you will know how much wind you want and when there is just too little wind to keep your interest. Your boat should sail just fine in < 5 knots of wind but it just will not be fast.
Once you get your hull planing I suspect that you will be looking to do this more and more.
The only really important part is to keep the boat from going over in the first place and lowering all sail if a wild thunderstorm or local weather event blows in unexpectedly. Having a small anchor aboard is not a bad idea if you have to keep yourself from getting blown somewhere you do not want to be.
Good luck and enjoy.

I have a 14' day sailor (still) and a 19' Lightning which is also a planing hull design.
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Old 18-10-2009, 19:17   #6
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optimal wind speed on that boat, as with most dinks, depends upon how much you weigh. If you're a big guy your optimal wind speed is higher than if you're a lightweight.

That boat wants to be kept flat. A big part of keeping it flat is skill, but the other part is your weight. Optimal wind speed will be the highest wind in which you can sail and still keep the boat flat.
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Old 18-10-2009, 19:51   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinghy101 View Post
My boat is a 14' Vagabond. 110sq ft of sail area. Not sure what else you would need to know about the boat.

At this point, im not looking to race, just looking to find out what is the least amount of wind speed needed to even get her going and what is too much and i should stay at home.

Thanks for all your comments!
Like this one?

Vagabond 14 sailboat for sale

If you have the same boat, I don't see any sail controls other than halyards and sheets. This means you can't "depower" in windy conditions by changing the shape of your sails... making them "flatter".

As has been pointed out, you want to sail the boat flat by putting yourself and your crew on the weather rail. You can also "feather" the boat by sailing closer to the wind... this has the effect of reducing the wind pressure on the sails so the boat is less likely to be overpowered. But it's a tricky thing to do, especially in shifty winds, so you want to try it first when you are fully in control just to see how it works. If you feather up too much you risk getting the jib backwinded which would be a real problem unless you release the jib sheet.

Otherwise what you have to do when there is too much wind is drop either the mainsail, or jib, or both. Learn to sail the boat with only one sail up and under bare poles... see what works best in different wind conditions.

In general, until you become more familiar with the boat, I would agree that you want to stay ashore when the wind is above 20 knots. Maybe even 15 knots.

You could add some sail controls like a vang and a main cunningham to flatten the main. Not too hard to do if you know what you're doing, but if it were me, I'd rather sail a Laser which is a single sail boat that has the sail controls (vang, outhaul, cunningham) you need to really learn how to sail small boats.

If there are any Lasers where you sail, try to take a look at one out on the water to see what I mean.

The boat in the link uses a small outboard, I noted. Probably 2 or 4hp. But you can actually move your boat a pretty good distance when there is no wind without an outboard... but that would take a while to explain. One easy alternative to an outboard is a canoe paddle! Just have to stow it somewhere secure.

And of course if there are any other Vagabond sailors where you are, pick their brains.
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Old 18-10-2009, 19:53   #8
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What Bash just mentioned is quite important which is why it might be good to try and find someone (with some heft) who will enjoy the experience of having you as his/her skipper. To that end you will want to go out in lighter winds (< 12 - 15) to gain some proficiency before you invite people on board with the intention of using them as jib sheet tenders and rail meat.
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Old 19-10-2009, 05:10   #9
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As others have said a lot depends on your experience.

I would stick to 20-25 mph max until you find someone to do some capsize drills with you. You should know how to right the dinghy if it goes over.

You can also get some tips on how to depower your sails.

As a rule of thumb if you start to see the beginning of white caps on the lake you should consider staying on land for now until you build confidence and skills.

If you get stuck out as the weather builds consider dropping the main or if this is not possible on the water drop the jib.
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Old 19-10-2009, 08:04   #10
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I too have a Vagabond 14 and I can vouch that the wisdom offered in previous posts is spot on. Although there is no heavy keel to keep the boat upright it is not as tender as some other small dinks. I purchased this boat because it was stable enough for me to introduce my non-sailing wife and three kids to the joys of sailing, without having to worry about sailing on the edge.

I'm a large guy with enough rail meat to keep the boat under control under full sail up to about 20 kts. But I usually draw the line there since I'm not a fan or "righting exercises". I consider 5 to 15 knts to be my ideal range on our small local lake. I don't have a motor on my boat for several reasons so if the wind is above 15, it can make a controlled return to the boat ramp interesting. I've had to practice "touch and go's" on several occasions until I had an approach I felt comfortable with.

I hope you enjoy your Vagabond as much as I enjoy mine.
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Old 19-10-2009, 17:55   #11
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Its really great to get such kind people to offer truly sound advice. What a great community i've plunked down into.

Thanks for sharing all your knowledge.
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Old 20-10-2009, 01:56   #12
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Aloha Dinghy,
Most dinghies without vangs and bendy masts are made to sail in very light 2-3 nmph to about 15. When you see white caps come up while you are out on the water that's about 10-12 nmph and when there are whitecaps all over all the time that's about 15. When you see whitecaps all over its time to head for shore. Your boat will move you in very light winds which are indicated by ripples on the water. To tell how much wind you have just look around at the trees and any smoke stacks around.
Good luck and have a great time in your Vagabond.
regards,
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Old 20-10-2009, 07:54   #13
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Glad you weighed in John. You are definitely one of our more knowledgeable dinghy sailors.

in order to not confuse Dinghy101 I assumed he phrased his question in statute MPH.

John's 15 knots is 17mph.

I reckon persistent white caps is closer to 20 knots or 23 mph. Either way we all agree at this point you should avoid white cap conditions.
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Old 20-10-2009, 17:23   #14
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Strangely, i learned to sail on a 44ft beneteau. I've got the too much wind factor down pretty well, and more so now that i've read everyone's comments. But now that i'm trying to sail single handed on a smaller boat, i wasn't sure how little wind would still push the boat around.

Your last entry was very helpful as was everyone else who responded. I feel good about y'alls answers enough to end the thread unless people enjoy commenting.

I enjoy reading, so that works out.

Cheers.
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