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Old 25-10-2012, 14:52   #1
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Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Folks,
apologies for molesting you with a beginnerīs question, but I really need some help with what is a very basic maneuver. Basically my job is the pointing the boat into the wind, while the skipper hauls down the mainsail. I have no problem with this when I am in charge of doing the whole maneuver on my own, meaning I set the outboard speed and the time it takes me to complete the process.
Today we had

1. relatively high waves for a river, a foot and a half maybe,
2. 12 knots steady wind
3. the buoy showing me the current hitting the boat head on
4. and (a conjecture on my part) a cross current from the starboard side due to a rising river.

Skipper pointed the boat into the wind,set the throttle at about 1 third if not less, left me to scramble in place and proceeded to haul down the main. The process was erratic. Even with full rudder to port the boat was not returning into the wind without a lot of effort. I increased speed and with that I slowly corrected course.

Am I wrong in thinking that the only problem was that the boat did not have enough acceleration/lost too much speed in the "handover", and even more as the sail was dropping or am I not taking something else in account.
Skipper categorically insists that the only problem is that I am not steering "right", that it was all I had to do to keep the boat on course, that I did not need to touch the outboard control as he had given me the correct acceleration for the conditions (about a third of capacity) .

Apologies. I am aware that this is light years away from a "cruising"issue for old hands, but a beginner sailor's problem.
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Old 25-10-2012, 15:33   #2
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Keeping in the irons with a cross current is hard, and with a wind running you're right: if you don't have enough way and don't move fast enough the sail can catch wind and you'll be beam to, then running or whatever.

My advice, for whatever it's worth:
- Make your move quick. The less time you spent dorking around the less time there is for the wind to catch the sail.
- If you know there is going to be screwed up conditions, drop the sails when you have more runway. Don't do the whole "we'll douse two minutes before the dock".
- Reef the sail earlier in the day. Makes dousing faster and there's a lot less sail to work with.

"Too much canvas up" doesn't just mean when sailing, in my mind.
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Old 25-10-2012, 15:43   #3
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

The wind will push the bow to leeward if you do not have enough way on to make the rudder effective. Increasing throttle on the engine will usually allow you to head up. Once bow is into the wind the pressure on either side is eqaulized and you can reduce the throttle a bit. Just be atentive as the further the boat is pushed off the wind, the more engine power required to get the bow back into the wind. Probably would be a good idea to take a greater part in piloting the boat. Next time you go out, practice steering the boat to a variety of headings and wind points and play with the engine throttle as you change headings. Try and pick days when the conditions are challenging to practice.

Because I am much stronger than my wife, I do the fun things like haul in the anchor, lower the sails, etc. while she drove the boat. In fact I almost was never at the tiller because the self steering steered if we were/are sailing. Good division of labor.
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Old 25-10-2012, 15:50   #4
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Maybe this is a needless added point, but can assume that the mainsheet was released and slack?
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Old 25-10-2012, 15:53   #5
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Thank you Rebel Heart and Roverhi. That has really helped a lot and has restored my confidence a little. What I need to do is brush up on my sailing latin too as I have almost exclusively spoken sailing in Spanish .
Thanks again.
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Old 25-10-2012, 16:08   #6
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

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Maybe this is a needless added point, but can assume that the mainsheet was released and slack?
Yes,you assume correctly. It was
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Old 25-10-2012, 16:16   #7
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

The boat does NOT need to point into the wind, only the boom...As soon as the main STARTS to luff, drag it down, quickly...
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Old 25-10-2012, 16:50   #8
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Thank you RT.
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Old 25-10-2012, 17:01   #9
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Bienvenida Adax.

Proxima del Rio de la Plata. En Buenos Aires o Montevideo?

Creo que habla sailing ingles perfecto.
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Old 25-10-2012, 17:08   #10
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Hola Skipmac,

Muchas gracias.
on the Buenos Aires side, but to make things even more mixed, I am originally from Germany. So I speak a little sailing latin in every language, something like jack of all trades master of none. I am trying to concentrate on Spanish as I am still planning to get my coastal skipper licence. One day...
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Old 25-10-2012, 17:20   #11
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

When my GF/firstmate and I first bought our boat this was always an issue, this thread makes me laugh actually.

I used to steer the boat into the wind, then quickly hand the wheel over to her, and run up on deck to haul the main down. The problem was she never knew where the rudder was because I didn't have the boat lined up for long enough. I would throw her to the wheel too early and we'd lose power and blow off again.

I'd blame her and she'd blame me.

....but i had to face it, it was the skippers fault.......i finally figure it out
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Old 25-10-2012, 17:26   #12
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Not to be judgemental but if a maneuver does not come out as planned it is the skippers fault, always.

Sounds like your skipper doesn't listen.

With wind and cross current you need enough power to steer. It is fundamental and says something about the skippers experience level.
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Old 25-10-2012, 17:42   #13
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

ADAX you might want to search for the thread called HAND SIGNALs. It mostly applies to anchoring, but saves a lot of yelling in any situation. The other thing is that a throttle setting that is good if everything is going correctly will be way less than needed to get the boat back on course if things go even a little bit wrong. Instead of changing positions at the last moment, get the Captain to give you the helm earlier and let him go to the mast and give you hand signals(including throttle changes) to get you onto the best course for dropping the sail, or whatever else needs to be done. TRY IT YOU WILL LIKE IT._____Grant.
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Old 25-10-2012, 17:42   #14
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Not to be judgemental but if a maneuver does not come out as planned it is the skippers fault, always.
Agreed. This is something to learn in preparation for skippering your own vessel some day. Learning the ropes is the easy part; learning how to teach crew to do the tasks assigned to them is what takes the greatest skill.
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Old 25-10-2012, 17:56   #15
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Re: Dumb question regarding hauling the mainsail

Adax, I have found that just a quick burst of power will pull the boat back onto course and then if you keep it dead into the wind you may be okay, or you may have to add a little throttle to keep enough way on to give your rudder enough bite to keep you on course. A lot depends on how the outboard is mounted. If it is in a well in front of the rudder then a quick burst should bring your bow right over. If it is mounted on the stern beside the rudder, then you will probably have to increase speed.
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