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Old 11-11-2007, 19:28   #1
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AIR How light is to light to sail in?

I was wondering what everyone thought is to light of air to sail in.

I know that the size and type of boat matters. I was wanting to go sailing tomorrow but the winds will be at 5mph max. I have been out in light air and it wasnt to great but Im not sure if it was maybe 1mph? or 3? So I was wondering if you think that a macgregor 25 would be a decent sailor in 5mph winds?
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Old 11-11-2007, 19:42   #2
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Grab yourself a drifter sail. I really wish people cared as much about "light weather sailing" as they do "heavy weather sailing". Being able to make your boat unstoppable (stolen term from the Pardeys) is really important, and keeps your fuel (and therefore engine maintenance) bills lower.

The boat matters, but the sails matter just as much if not more. When you're in the <5knots range, you need light air gear, like a drifter. You can't get too close to the wind with it (45-50 degrees is absolutely the top end), but it's great.

One of the other nice things about light air sailing is that it's a really peaceful way to sail. You can usually keep the jib sheet in your hand, and glide along in a nice peaceful world, while everyone else is raising the iron jib.
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Old 11-11-2007, 19:58   #3
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It really will depend on your boat & your sails. My boat is relatively lightweight with relatively large sail area and I have the option of using light-air sails, and I can sail quite ok in 5 knots of breeze. If you have a heavy boat with heavy sails, you might be struggling. Remember, in light air, everything needs to be loose: minimum halyard tension, minimum outhaul, no leech tension, don't sheet in too hard. Keep crew weight to leeward as well, to keep the boat heeled
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Old 11-11-2007, 20:37   #4
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5 knots should be plenty. Everything takes a little longer to happen in light air, so your movements should be a little slower. Adjust your sails gradually, avoid sudden tiller movement, pay attention to all the little details and it may surprise you how much speed you can build up.
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Old 11-11-2007, 20:52   #5
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Tides and/or currents can take some of the fun out of it.
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Old 11-11-2007, 21:44   #6
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5 knots in a heavy displacement boat, with a swell, and with regular sails, is pretty uncomfortable. You really need to go with lighter air sails. You wouldn't use your regular stuff in heavy weather, so there's no reason to imagine it's going to work really well in <5 knots.
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Old 12-11-2007, 00:57   #7
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I like 5 in a lightweight boat. Anytime there are ripples on the water is fine with me. I once crewed on a heavily built 3 masted schooner with high weight sails that didn't like anything less than white caps. It just would not move very well.
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Old 12-11-2007, 12:49   #8
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My boat is a lot like Weyalan's above and I could spill out a story about how I had to sail in the fog, but I won't go into it.

A McGregor will probably sail just like any other trailerable boat in light air, which is OK if you can get all the sail up.

The problem with a McG is they have a lot of free board and you'll go to weather (loose ground) on a reach or closehaul. But before the wind you'll be OK.

The best thing is to just get out there and do it so that you'll know your boat even better for all conditions.

Or that day you can use the power option.
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Old 12-11-2007, 13:30   #9
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Bring plenty of beer!
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Old 12-11-2007, 17:20   #10
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Remember, boats don't sail on "the speed of the wind". They use "Apparent" wind. That's the wind that you are experiencing on the deck of the boat while it is under way.

If you are going 4 kts, upwind, in a 5kt breeze, your boat is actually sailing on about 8.5kts of wind. However, when it's time to go home and you are sailing downwind, You may well be doing 2kts or less in 3kts of apparent wind.

Your best day's sail may be to try to keep the breeze just before the beam on your way out and maybe you'll have the wind on the beam on your way home. Check with some locals and see if the wind doesn't shift in your area, in the afternoon.

Day sailing can best be done by knowing your area well. At any rate, I agree with others. It will be a fun day for spinakker sailing.

BTW, never sail straight down wind in light air. You will find a much nicer and faster sail, with more apparent wind speed, on a broad reach, jibing your way to the mark.
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Old 12-11-2007, 17:53   #11
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5mph is light wind. But if yer not in a hurry it's can be enough. Connemara (Mirage 27) can usually manage a couple of knots SOG in 5 knots of wind. Not much fun, but if the sun is shining and the water is blue, who cares?
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Old 12-11-2007, 17:59   #12
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Bring the cheese and crackers and do some reaching. Enjoy the day, they'll be other days to go condo jumping.
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Old 12-11-2007, 19:50   #13
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Best thing about light air sailing is your beer wont blow or slide off the deck. 5 knots is perfect for that. Go do it!

Cheers!
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Old 12-11-2007, 19:55   #14
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And it's a great wind to take someone out who's not too sure about all that heeling and bouncing.
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Old 13-11-2007, 10:00   #15
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Well, my boat's a little ol' Hobie, so this probably isn't a fair comparison. But she's a real pleasure to sail in as little as 2 or 3 knots of wind. Having over 200 s.f. of sail on a vessel of about 600 lbs (including crew and beer cooler) will do that for you. Yes, it's still slow, but it's so smooth and quiet, the challenge is to avoid falling asleep in the sun (and then being surprised by a sudden gust!). I've spent many hours ghosting around on the Hobie in light winds, with cold beer and warm sun. Just thinking about it is making me want to go sailing...
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