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Old 27-08-2010, 19:54   #1
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Handling Issue - From a Newbie on a Day Charter

Ok, so I'm wondering what I did wrong, or what was going on.

Today, wife and I (newly ASA 101/103 sailors) took our first day charter out. It went ok, 15 knot winds on a 25' catalina.

We're still really trying to learn alot, but an odd thing happened, and I'm wondering what could have caused it.


As we sailed closed hauled on a port tack, our boat would push to the starboard. No matter, how far over I pushed the tiller, it would not head back up into the wind. It kept pushing me towards a reach, and away from my destination. I ended up having to jibe around. What could this be?
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Old 27-08-2010, 20:01   #2
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Too much headsail will give you lee helm, which is what you got. Shorten the jib until the boat steers properly.
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Old 27-08-2010, 20:05   #3
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Agreed. Sounds like you had too much sail forward. If you weren't quite up to reefing the sail, you could have also let the sheet out somewhat to depower it. That would probably have helped, also. Hang in there, the more time spent on the water, the more you learn and some things can only be learned by actually getting out there and trying it (kind of like riding a bike). You'll figure out what works and what doesn't.
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Old 27-08-2010, 20:19   #4
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Thanks... the mainsail was reefed, but we never pulled in the jib. Makes total sense now that I'm sitting at my laptop. Never really crossed my mind when the boat was heeling sharp and turning away from where we wanted to go. Glad we survived the day, and we'll be getting back on the bike soon and hopefully more often.

This boat was completely opposite than our training boat. Training boat had a wind guage, furlers(sp?) on the main and jib, depth gauge, inboard motor and a wheel.

This boat was an outboard, tiller, only a jib furler, just a wind vane atop the mast, and no electronics. Wish I had learned on one of these because I felt like I had no idea how to really know the wind and points of sail great, and was initially struggling to learn a whole new kind of sailing.
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Old 27-08-2010, 20:46   #5
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Turn off every instrument you have. Put light stuff (I use old cassette tape) on the stays. Forget everyhing they taught you in "big boat" school. Go sail the little boat until you get it, and you will. When you "get" the little boat, go bigger, not before.
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Old 27-08-2010, 21:02   #6
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Amen Drew. This is exactly what we were talking about with our charter check out guy, Chuck, today (who I have to say was so generous and patient with us). I haven't had a class with Charleston Sailing School, but I will say all my interactions with Chuck and Will have been great.

Not knocking our first course instructor from elsewhere, but that 37' Beneteau with all the gadgets probably didn't do us any favors in the basic learning department.

Though the big boat and gadgets sure were comfortable for sleeping quarters, and a fun first experience.

Our small boat, small budget plans basically require us to know how to work the small boats. Now I'm thinking about buying a small hobie or building a plywood sailor or something to get some more sailing basics down on the local lakes before delving into anything more expensive.
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Old 27-08-2010, 21:06   #7
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Another good "drill" is to set up on a close reach with the sails trimmed.

With proper trim there should be practically no load on the tiller. If the boat is tending to lee, haul in the main sheet. If weathering ease the main sheet.

- practice making small adjustments only to the main to "steer" the boat. Try not to trim the jib at this time. You should be able to get to the point where you can make 10-15 degree heading adjustments with sail alone and hands off tiller for a good minute at a time. You are trying to learn how the main affects weather and lee helm.

- Do the same thing with the jib

- Later try different points of sail including close hauled

- Later (depending on conditions available) try it with reefs in and out, genny furled or not

Some courses require learning how to steer the boat with sails only. I can make heading changes but I can't really "drive" the boat without tiller. Although the skills above are very important.

When you get on a new boat take a look at the sail plan. Is the main bigger than the genny? is the genny bigger than the main. Which sail will be more influential on power? Which sails likely to have more influence on lee and weather helm?

I sail on some bigger race boats with big sail plans. On the boat I sail as the main trimmer I work very closely with the skipper. In most upwind conditions he cannot "steer" the boat beyond a few degrees. The sails are too powerful.

On a crossing situation if he needs to fall to lee and duck a boat I must ease the main traveler or he cannot. At the top mark he could not bear away and round the mark unless I eased the main sail.

Final thought, if you are doing all the right things to eliminate weather and lee helm and you still have the tiller over hard to control the boat, it is definitely time to think about not only reefing but how you are reefed.

Double reefing the main without taking power out of the genny will most likely result in lee helm. You need to depower the genny. Easing sheets is the first thought but that could result in a flogging genny. OK for a very short time (minutes) but long term will destroy the sail.

Many boats have adjustable genny cars. Cars forward aft will result in the genny twisting off more at the top spilling air and depowering. finally there are gennys with reef points and there are furling genny's.

(edit - fixed my car error - thanks Jim)

On our boat we furl the genny to 100% around 15-20kts. take teh first main reef at about 20kts. Above 25kts we furl the genny to about 60-80%. We've penetrated prettty big thunderstorms and so far have not had the second main reef in up to around 35g45kts although we have furled the genny in completely at times.

It is important to understand how your boat will respond to helm with all these different reefing options.
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Old 27-08-2010, 21:14   #8
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Here's a couple of shots of our little boat showing just how much genny we have compared to the main and how influential it can be over the handling of the boat.

The first shot is all 150% out. The rest of the shots are about 100-110%

When you are getting water on the decks and you are close to hull speed you have plenty of sail out.
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Old 28-08-2010, 04:44   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Many boats have adjustable genny cars. Cars forward will result in the genny twisting off more at the top spilling air and depowering.
.

G'Day Ex... think that you might have this backwards... otherwise pretty good advice

Cheers,

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Old 30-08-2010, 03:29   #10
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G'Day Ex... think that you might have this backwards... otherwise pretty good advice

Cheers,

Jim
Absolutely correct.

That's why I am such a lousy armchair sailor. I do it on the boat without thinking. I think about it in front of the PC and get it backwards...

Either that or it explains why I capsize the boat all the time...
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Old 23-09-2010, 17:34   #11
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Dirty bottom?

We see a similar problem towards the end of the season on boats that dfon't get a regular scrubbing.
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Old 23-09-2010, 17:56   #12
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Reefing the mainsail created an unbalanced rig. For most boats, it's best to first replace the genoa with a smaller jib. If still over-powered, then start reefing the main. Be sure to check out the sail inventory before taking out a boat. You don't want your only foresail to be a large genoa, regardless of the winds when leaving the dock.

My pocket cutter (has two jibs) permitted easy sail reductions. First to come down was the flying (most forward) jib, and then if needed, jiffy-reefed the main. Once double-reefed on the main, the staysail jib would be taken down if still over-powered. All super-easy because all halyards, downhalls, the reefing lines were accessible in the cockpit.
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Old 23-09-2010, 18:24   #13
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was the boat a swing keel Cat 25? If the keel is not all the way down the boat won't point.
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Old 23-09-2010, 18:48   #14
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15 knots in a catalina 25 is almost time to think about reefing.

If the Jib was larger than 100% and not reduced with the main reefed, the jib was overpowering it.

The sailing school I went to uses these boats for the first ASA class, and uses them for some week night racing, and just about all my sailing experience has been on them. I've had them overpowered and not steering before when the wind starts to get up above 15 knots.

They are great boats to learn on.
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Old 23-09-2010, 19:18   #15
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Wannago,

The main was reefed in once, but the jib was out 100%. probably for us newbies, we should have brought in the main some more.

We tried rolling it in at one point, but lacked the skills we needed to do it properly.

NormanMartin,
The swing keel issue is a great point. I'm really not sure about the keel, though I thought it was fixed, I never went below deck to see.

It was definitely pushing to the side in the stronger winds as if the keel wasn't doing it's job. In fact, that was what I said while I was on the boat , is it that if felt like I had no keel.

All in all, we made it back safely, learned somethings about sailing and about ourselves (mainly that we need more practice).

The check-out guy was impressed that we recognized our limits, and didn't push ourselves into anything stupid, for what that is worth.
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