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Old 18-08-2016, 16:53   #1
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Exclamation Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

I recently bought my first boat, a Hunter 386 (2002 38' sloop) and am noticing that I'm averaging about 3.5 knots when cruising. For me, and from what I've read, this seems quite slow, even for a sailboat.

Now the winds haven't been always perfect but let's say in 10 knots of apparent wind on a good reach, I'll average about 4.5 knots (5.5 on 15 knots of wind). Close hauled, we're looking at about 3.5 (4.5 on 15 knots of wind) and running (without a spinnaker but goose winged) about 4 (5.5 on 15 knots of wind). Haven't tried with a spinnaker yet so not sure about that speed.

Is this normal for a boat this size? Or maybe the Hunter series? I hear others in similar sized boats average about 5 knots so am wondering what I could be doing wrong. I'm sailing in the Mediterranean if that helps.
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Old 18-08-2016, 17:09   #2
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

How are you measuring speed? And no I do not feel it is normal for a Hunter 386 to go that slow (I've never been on a 386 but if I adjust from my experience with my 410 using 15 year old sails it seems slow).
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Old 18-08-2016, 17:12   #3
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

How are you trimming your sails? Where is the speed coming from? Are you dragging a bucket?

Those speeds are low for my boat, and it's not a modern design like yours!!


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Old 18-08-2016, 17:12   #4
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

From my GPS. The ST60 was taken by the last owner, even though he left the speed transducer, so I don't know speed through water yet (ordered a replacement arriving in a few weeks). But these observations on the GPS are over several weeks of sailing and there's little tide in the Med to counter or increase the speed.
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Old 18-08-2016, 17:16   #5
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
How are you trimming your sails?
Telltales seem fine when I set them. The headsail seems to only be a 100% or 110% Genoa, don't know if this affects anything. Probably my trim isn't perfect but I've fiddled a lot and can never break +0.5 knots difference even when I feel I've got it just right.
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Old 18-08-2016, 17:22   #6
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

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Are you dragging a bucket?
Hmm, well I am dragging a small dinghy occasionally. But I haven't noticed much of a difference either way. Maybe a few fractions of a knot.
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Old 18-08-2016, 17:33   #7
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

No, that's definitely slow, even with poorly trimmed sails. Though it wouldn't hurt to take a more experienced sailor out with you to get a live opinion on your boat's speed, as well as some trimming tips.
Otherwise, there are a huge number of things which influence speed, but they'd all have to be gone haywire to cause big issues.
Still:
- How smooth is your boat's bottom?
- Is the bottom clean? Meaning within the last 2 weeks especially.
- How old are the sails?
- What kind of prop do you have? As if it's something like a fixed 3-bladed one, that really hurts speed.
- Do you have a huge amount of gear onboard? As obviously excess weight hurts performance.

There are a 1,001 more questions which could be asked, but the above are some of the big ones. And without more info it's tough to diagnose things.

That said, look at the asked bits above, & other than that, go out for a sail. Once you get onto a point of sail you like, let out both sails until they start to luff. Then trim them in until they stop luffing, starting ith the jib first. And after that, tune the position of the jib leads, & the main traveler. Your speed should go up a fair bit via doing all of the above. As your trim will pretty much be optimized, but for the smaller things like fine tuning halyard tension.

PS: To tune the position of the jib leads, you adjust the car forward or aft until all of the telltales on the jib's luff are breaking at the same time.
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Old 18-08-2016, 17:50   #8
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

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Originally Posted by ryall View Post
Telltales seem fine when I set them. The headsail seems to only be a 100% or 110% Genoa, don't know if this affects anything. Probably my trim isn't perfect but I've fiddled a lot and can never break +0.5 knots difference even when I feel I've got it just right.
Most of the power in a Hunter B&R rig is in the mainsail. On my 410 I can do 5 knots on a reach in 10 knot wind on just the mainsail. But I'm not dragging my dinghy and have a folding prop with a clean bottom. If you aren't letting your main out enough, dragging a dinghy, maybe are locking your prop, and have some bottom fouling; I could see you having a speed problem as you posted.

Try sailing on just the mainsail and get a better feel of hold it affects your speed if in too tight.
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Old 18-08-2016, 17:52   #9
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
No, that's definitely slow, even with poorly trimmed sails. Though it wouldn't hurt to take a more experienced sailor out with you to get a live opinion on your boat's speed, as well as some trimming tips.
Otherwise, there are a huge number of things which influence speed, but they'd all have to be gone haywire to cause big issues. Still, how smooth is your boat's bottom? And is it clean? How old are the sails? What kind of prop do you have? As if it's something like a fixed 3-bladed one, that really hurts speed. Do you have a huge amount of gear onboard? As obviously excess weight hurts performance.


There are a 1,001 more questions which could be asked, but the above are some of the big ones. And without more info it's tough to diagnose things.


Look at the asked bits above, & other than that, go out for a sail. Once you get onto a point of sail you like, let out both sails until they start to luff. Then trim them in until they stop luffing, starting ith the jib first. And then, after that, tune the position of the jib leads, & the main traveler. Your speed should go up a fair bit via doing all of the above. As your trim will pretty much be optimized, but for the smaller things like fine tuning halyard tension.


PS: To tune the position of the jib leads, you adjust the car forward or aft until all of the telltales on the jib's luff are breaking at the same time.
The hull underside is a little green, but nothing overly excessive. Just a thinish film of growth which I plan to clean off on the next liftout. It was last cleaned about a year ago.

Sails are about 5-10 years old. The last owner had new ones made up, the originals are in the fore cabin.

Yes the prop is a fixed 3-blade, which I usually lock in position (reverse) when sailing after my instructor told me it could spin on its own and overheat the engine otherwise. I'm taking the boat out this winter to dry and work on some mechanics. I could replace the prop, buy what would you recommend to replace it? The lower the price, the better.

Average amount of gear on board I'd say. Much less than a full crew would add and it's just me and my girlfriend cruising.

As for trim, yeah I think I have my headsail set pretty well. I have a sail trim book which I'm reading. Mainsail I'm still a bit unpractised on but I usually get it trimmed nicely after a bit of trial and error.
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Old 18-08-2016, 17:57   #10
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
Most of the power in a Hunter B&R rig is in the mainsail. On my 410 I can do 5 knots on a reach in 10 knot wind on just the mainsail. But I'm not dragging my dinghy and have a folding prop with a clean bottom. If you aren't letting your main out enough, dragging a dinghy, maybe are locking your prop, and have some bottom fouling; I could see you having a speed problem as you posted.

Try sailing on just the mainsail and get a better feel of hold it affects your speed if in too tight.
Great advice, I'll try this tomorrow if I can. I'll lift the dinghy, free the prop and see what I can get on the mainsail on a reach. I was usually prioritising the headsail for trim, didn't know that the Hunter prefers the main. Makes sense though considering the size of it.

One problem I have is the main doesn't go out well because of the spreaders facing aft. Should I let the sail touch them or stop letting it out just before they touch?
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Old 18-08-2016, 18:14   #11
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

This is so far from what I would expect I have to ask, are you sure the GPS isn't reading VMG or speed to a mark? In 10kn I would expect at least 5.xkn.
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Old 18-08-2016, 18:28   #12
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

If the hull underside has a touch of green, the keel could have heavy layers of growth, especially with a year between cleanings in the warm Med with all the pollution and runoff boosting algae growth. A fixed prop could easily cost a half knot, not including whatever might be growing on it. Three blades...!!! Many Europeans worry about performance getting into and out of their slips, and are less concerned about how much drag that causes under sail. Locking the prop IS faster than letting it spin, but it may help to make sure that at least one blade is vertical, behind the keel or skeg, to reduce drag as much as possible. You will have to determine the position and mark the drive shaft so you can stop it in the right place.
All in all, lots to work on. Good excuse to go sailing!
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Old 18-08-2016, 18:31   #13
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

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The hull underside is a little green, but nothing overly excessive. Just a thinish film of growth which I plan to clean off on the next liftout. It was last cleaned about a year ago.
This is Majorly slow, especially in breezes under 15kts, & can easily cost you more than a knot of boat speed! Even two weeks growth of algae can cost you 1/2kt or more under some conditions. And heaven forbid if you have any hard growth or seaweed.

Sails are about 5-10 years old. The last owner had new ones made up, the originals are in the fore cabin.
These may cost you a bit of speed, but likely aren't the big culprit at the moment.

Yes the prop is a fixed 3-blade, which I usually lock in position (reverse) when sailing after my instructor told me it could spin on its own and overheat the engine otherwise. I'm taking the boat out this winter to dry and work on some mechanics. I could replace the prop, buy what would you recommend to replace it? The lower the price, the better.
The 3-blade is costing you around a knot off speed, & again, hurts more in less wind. But it's literally like dragging a bucket around, speed wise.

You can do a search on props here on the forums, as well as on line. But some of the fav's are; Kiwiprop, Maxprop, Flex-o-fold, & feathering or folding props in general.
There are some of them whose thrust is equal to or more than most fixed props, even/especially in reverse. And there are lots of prop tests which will show you how well they rate vs. one another, & vs. fixed props.

Also, you can find most all of them fairly inexpensively, if you buy a used one. With many 2nd hand ones being reconditionable. Such as the Maxprop, which you can send to the factory to have it come back better than new. And it's one of the ones which by shifting your engine into reverse, will stop you right NOW.

On the freewheeling prop thing, you need to check with the manufacturer of your transmission in order to see what they want you to do with regards to locking the prop in place under sail or not. As with some transmissions, freewheeling the prop doesn't harm them, & with others, it's a bad idea. As with the engine off & the prop spinning, the transmissions internals don't get properly lubricated. Which can lead to it's early demise.

Average amount of gear on board I'd say. Much less than a full crew would add and it's just me and my girlfriend cruising.
This can hurt speed, but not to the degree you're speaking of. Though it's wise to offload Everything onboard at least once a year, if not more often. And then, after giving the boat a good cleaning, put back only what you need, & leave off a good bit of the "what if"/"maybe we'll use it" type gear.

As for trim, yeah I think I have my headsail set pretty well. I have a sail trim book which I'm reading. Mainsail I'm still a bit unpractised on but I usually get it trimmed nicely after a bit of trial and error.
There are a lot of variables that go into main trim, especially with your rig. But you'll pick up the finer points as you go. I'd first address the bigger issues above.

Also, try & find an area to sail where the winds are often consistent, as are the currents, & use this area to test out your boat's speed. As well as to calibrate any onboard instruments which you may have. Since with such a test course, you'll be removing as many environmental variables as you can that affect your speed, & can just concentrate on tuning up the boat, your trimming skills, or both.
And in addition to taking lots of notes on what you both try, & learn, starting now. "Borrow" some "coaches", & do some racing on other people's boats, in order to boost your learning speed, & gaining a few mates. Some of whom will likely be happy to coach you on your boat.
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Old 18-08-2016, 19:01   #14
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

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Originally Posted by psk125 View Post
If the hull underside has a touch of green, the keel could have heavy layers of growth, especially with a year between cleanings in the warm Med with all the pollution and runoff boosting algae growth. A fixed prop could easily cost a half knot, not including whatever might be growing on it. Three blades...!!! Many Europeans worry about performance getting into and out of their slips, and are less concerned about how much drag that causes under sail. Locking the prop IS faster than letting it spin, but it may help to make sure that at least one blade is vertical, behind the keel or skeg, to reduce drag as much as possible. You will have to determine the position and mark the drive shaft so you can stop it in the right place.
All in all, lots to work on. Good excuse to go sailing!
I do believe that this myth has been soundly debunked by a number of reputable sources !
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Old 18-08-2016, 19:59   #15
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Re: Boat Speed problems with my Hunter 386

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Locking the prop IS faster than letting it spin,
Grrrrrrh!

How many times do we see this misconception repeated.

Do a forum search on the subject.
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