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Old 16-07-2019, 12:01   #1
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Options to minimize heeling?

Hi everyone (this may be a silly / newb question, so apologies in advance.)

My wife and I have taken our 101 and 103 classes and are enjoying sailing about this summer, learning and gaining experience on the water. We've had some great instructors who have a ton of experience, which has really helped answer some questions that don't always come up online.

The biggest sticking point we've run into is upwind sailing. I have some experience in dinghy's doing some bay sailing, but my wife had never done any sailing in the middle of Ohio and is still concerned about the boat heeling over on an upwind course. The minute water starts hitting the leeward lifelines, she's asking whoever is piloting at the time to come upwind and trim the boat out. I'm sure that as we gain more experience on the water, some of this fear will subside, and we can always just not sail quite as efficiently upwind; when it's just the two of us, we're not in any rush.

The question is - as we look to potentially buying something in 2 years, are there design points that will minimize this, or sail more efficiently flatter? Does a deep, fin keel sail flatter than a shoal keeled boat, all else equal, or a ketch rig flatter than a sloop rig? Is there something in the boat design that would indicate a flatter ride? (Other than buying a boat with a second hull attached to the first )

Thanks!
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Old 16-07-2019, 12:10   #2
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

a beamier hull will be more resistant to heeling initially. A narrow hull will be more resistant ultimately ( which may be at 30 to 40 degrees). For any given hull design, the way you reduce heel is to 1) flatten sails to reduce power 2) introduce more twist in sails to spill wind off the top 3) drop the traveler or ease sheets ( works in gusts) 4) reef the mainsail first, then possibly smaller headsail or roll it up a bit. My wife has the same issue, and I usually reef early when i'm with her. There is no loss of manhood from reefing early, and besides its your boat. you can do what you want!
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Old 16-07-2019, 12:18   #3
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

My wife has the exact same reaction and so we ended up buying a "stiffer" boat. The "stiffer" the boat, the more it resists heeling. A boat that's "tender", means it heels over easily.

We learned to sail on a 2000-something Hunter 33 which was SUPER tender. My wife almost gave up. Then we sailed on some "stiffer" boats and she was much happier.

The stiffness of a boat depends on a variety of factors, but one of the big ones is the ballast ratio (how much ballast vs how much total displacement). In general, a higher ballast ratio will give you a stiffer boat.
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Old 16-07-2019, 12:27   #4
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

Maybe buy a catamaran if that is an option.
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Old 16-07-2019, 12:29   #5
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

Thank you both, that's great to know - Peregrine, we were in the same boat and are struggling with a very similar experience for our 103 class!

I have absolutely no problem with early reefing, especially since neither of us are experts; I love the peace and quiet, so I'm not in any hurry to get anywhere as it is! As we look at other boat options and the whole range of older, available hulls out there, I'm looking at characteristics that can help us eliminate some and focus on others.

CP - it may come to that, but at the moment I'm still holding out hope that there's a monohull that works for the both of us!
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Old 16-07-2019, 12:37   #6
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

Most boats are less efficient when healed over to the point that the lifelines are getting wet anyway. you may feel faster, and your speed may in fact be higher, but your VMG upwind will almost certainly be lower. Excessive heel tends to make the boat slide sideways, this is not fast when your course is to weather.
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Old 16-07-2019, 12:52   #7
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

Yeah, us too. ASA 101-103 was on that Hunter.

Not sure what size boat you're thinking of getting, but in general, larger, heavier boats have less "scary" movements. Everything is smoother and slower... which is the good news if you've got a timid crew and the bad news if there's not a lot of wind.

We opted for a cruising ketch that's a bit on the heavy side, but not a full-keel monster, and we are very happy with our decision.
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Old 16-07-2019, 13:23   #8
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
Most boats are less efficient when healed over to the point that the lifelines are getting wet anyway. you may feel faster, and your speed may in fact be higher, but your VMG upwind will almost certainly be lower. Excessive heel tends to make the boat slide sideways, this is not fast when your course is to weather.
This. If you're heeling over to the point that the lifelines are in the water, you're NOT actually making most efficient progress. Reducing (and flattening) sail to keep the keel more down and the sail more up will make things more comfortable and faster too, most likely. If you only have a big genoa... look into getting a smaller foresail or roller furling to reduce it. A lot of people only set up the first reef on their mainsail... but you should definitely set up two at least. I had a sailmaker put a third reef in my last main... and it was awesome. There were a lot of days I was the only one on the lake, but I was still sailing in comfort and safety.

Beyond that... would it help to take her out with someone she respects as very experienced... so she can get a better feel for what's actually a problem and what's totally fine?

Beamier boats will have more initial stability - they'll resist heeling over at low wind speeds... but make sure she understands that often initial stability and secondary stability have an inverse relationship... if that 'stiff' boat ever does get pushed on it's side... it's less likely to stand back up than one that felt rocky at first.

Maybe most important... (after reducing sail. That's the quick fix) - be honest with yourselves about what your personal envelope is. You may just need to skip sailing on days where you know the wind gusts aren't going to make it fun for her. Over time as she learns to trust the boat (and as you both learn to trust your skills and instincts) that envelope should expand, but at first... keeping her out of situations where she's going to be too terrified to have fun is probably your best bet.
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Old 16-07-2019, 13:38   #9
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

Had a girlfriend once who panicked every time heel angle went beyond 15 degrees, haven't missed her.

As others have said sailing at a heel angle much beyond 20 degrees is not good for speed and really really hurts performance in initially stiff boats. It's also very uncomfortable living in a boat at sea heeled near 30 degrees. Set the boat up to be easy to reef preferably from the cockpit that way you won't be tempted to carry too much sail hoping that the winds will decrease. Having a boat that is easy to reef and shake the reef out will mean you will reef quicker and add sail faster keeping her and you happier. Sometimes you have to trade the need for speed with marital bliss. Have had that discussion with my wife a few times and she doesn't panic when the boat heals, just likes to sail with a bit more comfort than me.
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Old 16-07-2019, 13:45   #10
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

1. reduce sail to reduce heeling .. or change your heading.
2. your wife will eventually enjoy sailing into the wind
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Old 16-07-2019, 14:18   #11
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

What others have said, reefing and flattening the sails will help. But if your sails are tired no amount of flattening will help, sails with the draft aft, heel not drive the boat.
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Old 16-07-2019, 20:42   #12
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

Flat is fast. Too much heel means your rudder is angled to and tends to stall (become les efficient). You may also have to "carry" a b(3-4 degrees) of rudder to sail straight, which means drag.

Before you reduce sail, try letting the traveler down, easing the main sheet a bit, or both to reduce heel.
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Old 16-07-2019, 20:44   #13
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

Easy interface the main is sometimes referred to as a "fisherman's reef". Your hands are full with another task but you're heeling too much so you simply ease the main sheet a bit.
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Old 16-07-2019, 20:47   #14
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

traveler down, ease main, reef
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Old 16-07-2019, 21:38   #15
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Re: Options to minimize heeling?

^^ this.

FWIW, I did the ASA courses on a Hunter 28, and it healed pretty easily, and had a lot of weather helm.

Look for a stiffer boat and inquire on how it sails. Our current boat has never even been close to putting a rail in the water, not to mention a lifeline. And I’ve had it out in a stiff breeze with the 155 Genoa and full main pushing it pretty hard. It’s pretty easy to control the heel and balance with sail trim.
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