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Old 23-11-2009, 17:23   #1
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Second Day Sailing - Now, a Bunch of Questions

Okay I spent most of the day today out on the boat. Had a blast overall. But now that I had some time in open water to maneuver (sp?) I have a couple of question how to avoid getting stuck in irons? (not sure that's the right term) anyway wind was out of the north sailing NW tried to swing the bow to NE but got stuck half way, due N, the only way I got out was to swing the bow back to NW through W,S,E and finally NE. basically a big arc. Second while I was tacking there seemed to be about 60 to 90 compass degrees that I couldn't sail into the wind is that about normal? Or do I just need a lot more practice? Well it was a pretty good day, I came back alive after my first day sailing in the Gulf of Mexico wind was only about 5 knots but okay for a first open water sail. Thanks in advance for the feedback.
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Old 23-11-2009, 17:33   #2
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Yep! That's normal. You have to do a full tack (90º) while the boat is still moving, and then pinch up to where the foresail starts to luff at the leading edge then back off.

The stronger the wind the closer into the wind you can sail, up to a point, but never directly into the wind unless you have one of those windmill boats.
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Old 23-11-2009, 17:41   #3
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Your boat is especially susceptible to going into irons because of its light weight, which makes it harder to carry through a tack, and because of its tiller, which tempts newbies to try to tack the thing too fast.

Think about your tiller as a brake. The more you use it, the slower you go. The more drastically you move it, the faster you stop.

Next time you're out, concentrate on the pace of your tacks. You'll probably gain a great deal by slowing down the speed with which the bow moves through the wind. Ultimately, it means you'll carry more speed through the tack.
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Old 23-11-2009, 17:57   #4
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When the winds are light it helps to leave the foresail cleated as you go through the wind and let the wind catch it on the back side. That will help the bow pass through the wind. Also, as delmarrey mentions, the more speed you can muster before the tack the easier it will be. Too much rudder can act as a break and slow you down but too little and your speed will drop off before you pass through the wind.

But a day spent in irons on the boat is still better than a day at work.
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Old 23-11-2009, 18:07   #5
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Thanks, I'll give that a try. I hadn't even thought of the braking effect of the tiller.
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Old 23-11-2009, 18:10   #6
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Oh well, I have just been using the main sail, figuring it would probably be easy learn with the main then adding the jib after a few time with just the main. Maybe next time I will host the jib as well. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 23-11-2009, 18:28   #7
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You have about 45 degrees on either side of the wind where you can't sail. It is known -- obviously -- as the no sail zone. Depending on the boat it may be a few degrees more or less.

Put another way, the closest you can get to the wind is about 45 degrees. That is, if the wind is coming from the north (0 degrees), the best you can manage is 045 on one tack and 315 on the other.

When you try to tack, the bow has to swing 90 degrees.

Actually, your mileage may vary. Some folks can do it in 80; Connemara needs about 100. But the new mainsail for next season will improve matters, I'm sure.


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Old 23-11-2009, 19:31   #8
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Tacking with mainsail only in light wind can be problematic as the center of effort of the sails (mainsail) is behind or only slightly ahead of the center of resistance, (centerboard or keel). This means that when the wind does catch in the sail, it is trying to push the bow back into the wind again, effectively stalling the tack.

With the jib ahead of the mast, and well ahead of the ceenterboard or keel, this helps to pull the bow over as you pass through the wind and making the tack easier.
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Old 23-11-2009, 20:04   #9
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Quote:
Maybe next time I will host the jib as well. Thanks for the advice.
It will help. Some boats only handle 100 degrees on a good day. Try to get boat speed up before the tack so you can swing the bow across. Backwind the the jib to help push you. Working with both sails will help you get better faster. If the boat heels too much then reefing it called for. Some days a single sail works fine but in normal situations both are required.

If overall you are having a blast, I would say it won't ever get better than that. You will get better but a blast is by definition - a blast on anyones scale. Having more is the real idea. Sailing is mostly about showing up - a lot!
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Old 25-11-2009, 08:06   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmarcet View Post
<snip>the only way I got out was to swing the bow back to NW through W,S,E and finally NE. basically a big arc.
Unable to tack the boat you fell off the wind, probably due to zero boat speed, the boat continued south, then gybed and as boat speed built you were able to head up on course.

Not quite what you wanted I expect.

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Second while I was tacking there seemed to be about 60 to 90 compass degrees that I couldn't sail into the wind is that about normal?
Differbt boats will vary on their ability to point into the wind. The main sail properly trimmed and shaped helps a great deal, as does a clean hull and good boat speed.

You were in very light winds with no jib up. Not pointing better is a result of lower boat speed. I don't know the Mac 21 at all and don't know what to expect in its ability to point - probably not an America's Cup boat but I expect 40-45 degrees off the wind should be easily doable. In general, faster boat, cleaner hull and properly trimmed main help pointing.

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Or do I just need a lot more practice?
Now that's a good reason to sail!

The getting caught in irons this day is largely about momentum and low boat speed. You coudn't have been doing more than 3 knots without a jib up.

One thing to think about. When beating into the wind there is not a lot to do with the main. It should be set similarly on either tack. Unless you are using a traveller system in which case you can set the traveller after you're established on the new tack.

Single handed, especially on a smaller boat like this, you should be tending the jib on the tacks. Backwinding the jib is one technique but you shouldn't have to do that. Prepare the new sheet on the winch, release the old working sheet as soon as the jib luffs and sheet on the new side quickly as soon as the boat goes head through wind. (If you come out of the tack with very little boat speed be prepared to loose the jib. A sheeted jib and no boat speed can result in falling off on the new side and gybing as you described.)

In light conditions it is tempting to pinch too much while trying to reach a mark. Pinching will result in the boat slowing down. Practice saililng close hauled in varying wind and watch carefully your boat speed as you come close to the wind - helps to have a handheld gps or speed log. Particularly in lower wind you may have to fall off to increase boat speed and sacrifice pointing. If you don't start the tack with sufficient boat speed you will get stalled in irons or come out on the new tack with zero boat speed and with the sails sheeted you could simply fall off badly on the new tack as the wind catches the sails.

Very light wind saililng separates the sailors from the drivers.

In other words keep practicing!

(and have fun!)
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Old 25-11-2009, 08:45   #11
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I seriously think that much of my problems lay in my inexperience and that fact that I was only using the main sail. Now from what others have posted here I think the next time I get out on the boat I will attempt to use the jib. And the wind WAS pretty light. The boat felt okay in 5 knot winds with 2-3 foot seas. It felt okay enough for me to attempt 10 knot winds and maybe 2-4 foot seas. With no jib I think the highest speed I saw on my handheld GPS was right around 2 MPH(not sure if I can change the readouts to knots, I am thinking probably not). I think the next time I might have a chance to take it out again will be this coming Sunday, I was thinking of a Thanksgiving sail, but the weather looks like it might be a bit too much for my little boat, 20 knot winds with 5-7 foot seas. That sounds kind of risky in such a small boat.
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Old 25-11-2009, 08:53   #12
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Do yourself a favor. Pick up a copy of:



Available on-line or at Borders or any of the big book sellers. This is a good reference and self teaching guide.
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Old 25-11-2009, 08:59   #13
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I figured that there was a dummies book for sailing, many books have been recommended for me, I think one could start a small library of sailing books if they wanted to. I do need something, and the dummy books are pretty easy for the average person to understand, much of them are written for a complete newbie, hey that's me. Maybe I should stop at the local books a million and check out their selection.
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Old 25-11-2009, 10:40   #14
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Enjoy the experience. The first time you're out in puffy weather and the boat heels quickly you'll get scared and round up. Trust me, we all did. It's normal. Once ya get comfortable with heeling, you'll ease the sheet and keep on trucking with a big old grin on your face. It just gets better and better...
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Old 25-11-2009, 12:41   #15
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Tack from close hauled. Ease after tack, get speed, go on course. In strong wind and big seas it may be necessary to build up a lot of speed to tack without getting into the irons.

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