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Old 26-08-2009, 18:35   #1
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Greenhorn Needs Some Tips

I'm a total greenhorn that would really love to understand sailing. I understand the basics and I can sail my mothers little 17 ft Yellowboat in the lake . Not really sure if that's who makes it but that's the name on the back. The question I have is when sailing this boat if I get going to fast and shes up on her side she hits a point where she falls off meaning I can't steer her anymore until I let her level out. I'm wondering if its just to much wind for this boat or the rudder is to small. I was told I may be over powering the boat. I have sailed a 17 ft Boston Whaler being able to bury the gunwall in the water and not have this problem. Both boats being very similar in hull and cockpit style. Both boats have a keel that can be pulled up. So it kind of leads me back to the rudder. I want to know what you think and I look forward to your input. I know I'm going to be asked more details about the boat and I hope I can answer them. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Old 26-08-2009, 19:03   #2
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Every Boat is Different

Every boat is different. All will try to round up at some point or combination of heel and weather helm. I had a 28' S2, that at 20 degrees of heel, it was gonna round up, no matter what. It is a combination of rudder, keel, hull design, sail trim and other stuff. You just have to learn what the boat likes, and do it that way. Most boats actually sail faster a little flatter. Of course rail down seems neat, and fast, and fun. But is not usually the fastest point of sail.

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Old 26-08-2009, 19:10   #3
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Thanks so much for your prompt reply. This boat is or is very simular to a Catalina if that helps.
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Old 26-08-2009, 19:26   #4
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I like to bury the rails sometimes too. It looks cool and feels cool. However as Nice N Easy says all boats are different.

As the boat heels over the angle of the rudder to the water changes dramatically. Most boats will go to weather when overpowered so you add opposite rudder which, because of the heel, starts to become bottom rudder. At some point you run out of rudder and the boat rounds up.

To go faster in this case you have to sail flatter or you have to balance the sails better.

Rudder is bad because it adds drag. On the race boat when beating we try to get the rudder centered and in powerful conditions we steer with the main sail traveller.

First we shape the sails for the conditions. In strong conditions this means flattening the sails. Then we set the jib and it pretty much stay fixed. The main comes on hard and in gusts we play the traveller to maintain course. Very little rudder input. We work the traveller continuously.

As conditions strengthen more the traveller can reach its maximum down travel. Then you are left with no choice but to main sheet out or the boat will round up.

When we are fully powered the helmsmen actually cannot steer the boat down as there is not enough rudder authority. When we have to duck a boat the mainsheeter actually has to sheet out aggressively and momentarily to let the bow come down.

To improve your boat in strong conditions, not knowing what controls your have on board, I would suggest you try the folowing:

1 - Main sail halyard as tight as you can get it.
2 - Main outhaul very tight.
3 - If you have a traveller, main sheet hard and vang hard. Trim with traveller and be prepared to loose the mainsheet in gusty conditions
4 - If you have an adjustable backstay the backstay should probably be coming on strong.
5 - If you have a main cunningham it should be on hard as well.

All these things will flatten the mainsail and take power out of it. The boat only can go so fast without planing so excess power from the wind needs to be gotten rid of.

The idea is to take the power of the wind and transfer it to the water via the sails, boat and keel. The other way I mentioned is to sail flatter.

This entails getting a fat crewperson or 2 to hike out. Take a look at race boats and notice all the people on the rail. When the boat is flatter the keel is more effective at transfering the power of thboat to the water. There is also less side slip meaning you are going more towards your destination and finally you are not "spilling" as much air out of the heeled over sails.

Flatter is generally faster in strong conditions.
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Old 26-08-2009, 20:22   #5
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In simple terms the boat becomes more hard to control the more heeled over you are. It sounds to me like you have a fairly simple boat so I am going to assume you only have a main sheet and maybe a jib sheet. The absolute most simple way to assure that you maintain steerage is that when you start to heel excessively just let out the main sheet a bit.

In addition to what the prior posters have suggested, and I feel like they might be getting a bit heady for you, another method to level out the boat is reefing. Reefing is reducing the sail area that you are using.

Again I am assuming your boat is so simple that you do not have a mainsail that you can reef. What you can do is go out and find a boat who's mainsail is smaller than yours, you can purchase said mainsail and break it out on days when you know it is going to be windy. That way there is less sail area for the wind to hit and push you over with.

Good luck and have fun!

PS for learning more about sailing this is the ultimate sight.
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