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Old 04-07-2011, 15:52   #1
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Heeling and New Sailor

Hello all, I recently got my keelboat certification on a Catalina 22. Just yesterday I took out a Hunter 180 on my own for the first time with a friend. Everything went well but a few times we started to heel a little too much for my taste. I was able to keep her under control and not tip over but, and maybe it's this rookies perception, it seemed like it would if I didn't act quickly. Winds were good from 5-10 MPH and I had the main and jib up.

My question is what is the best course of action if this happens again? It happens so quickly...let the main out, head up or bear away? Thanks!
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Old 04-07-2011, 15:59   #2
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

Get a catamaran
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Old 04-07-2011, 17:02   #3
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

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Hello all, I recently got my keelboat certification on a Catalina 22. Just yesterday I took out a Hunter 180 on my own for the first time with a friend. Everything went well but a few times we started to heel a little too much for my taste. I was able to keep her under control and not tip over but, and maybe it's this rookies perception, it seemed like it would if I didn't act quickly. Winds were good from 5-10 MPH and I had the main and jib up.

My question is what is the best course of action if this happens again? It happens so quickly...let the main out, head up or bear away? Thanks!
Hi NavyPT, and welcome to CF.

In most situations just let out the main. Rounding up into the wind will also do it, but depending on where the wind is coming from heeling may get worse before it gets better.

It's particularly interesting that you have a keelboat certificate but found you havd a problem with this. Sounds as though the training/course may have been a bit of a waste of money...

Any comment on the training?
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Old 04-07-2011, 17:29   #4
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

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Get a catamaran
LMAO!!!

Seriously, the quickest way is to dump some wind from the main by letting the boom out. If you round up everytime it get's uncomfortable then you'll end up way off course.

Watch for the squals coming over the water and get ready to let the mainsheet out a bit. If it keeps happening, it's time to put a reef or two in.
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Old 04-07-2011, 17:32   #5
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

Thanks VirtualVagabond for the welcome. The two boats, the Capri 22 and the Hunter 180, handle much differently. During the sailing course we would get the Capri's rails wet and it felt quite right, but the Hunter 180 felt more like it went from flat to almost capsizing-no in between. Again, I chalk it up to lack of experience. Overall, I say the course was well worth the money. I learned quite a bit!
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Old 04-07-2011, 17:40   #6
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

A boat with a keel or keel/center board will not tip over just by the force of the wind. You don't want to sail so overpowered you are dragging the spreaders in the water but the boat will survive if you do nothing in almost all circumstances. Out in the open ocean with large seas, a keel boat can be rolled by a breaking wave or pitch poling but your talking near hurricane conditions for it to get so dangerous. In 5 to 10 knots of wind, there are precious few keel boats that will heel enough to make anyone nervous. When I was a kid, used to take my Sailfish out in storms and see how long I could sail with close to a ninety degree heel without dumping the boat. Got pretty good at syanding on the side of the hull with the rudder and center board out of the water and steering by moving forward and aft. Hellishly inefficient way to sail but it was fun.

Practice reefing the main and furling or handing and downsizing the jib so it comes easily to you in moderate conditions. After you've mastered that, go sailing in 20k plus winds to see what heeling is all about. Even in high winds, the boat shouldn't be carrying so much sail that it heals much more than 20 degrees and less if it's a flat bottomed fin keeler.

In the future, head up and slip the main in a gust in a keel boat. Reef and reduce headsail if the wind stays strong. If you are sailing a catamaran, you want to do the opposite and head off the wind in gusts. I'd stick to one type of boat till you are more experienced, however.
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Old 04-07-2011, 17:53   #7
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

Most traditional sail boats can handle quite a bit of heel under most conditions if you are not overpowering them. However, heeling is just something you have to get used to, and one gets used to it gradually in stages. Adopt the amount of heel you are comfortable with, then begin pushing the envelope, so to speak, allowing a bit more and getting used to that. Once you see nothing bad has happened, make that the next stage in your comfort level. Sailing with an experienced hand will help you know when to stop and ease up.
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Old 04-07-2011, 18:33   #8
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

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LMAO!!!

Seriously, the quickest way is to dump some wind from the main by letting the boom out. If you round up everytime it get's uncomfortable then you'll end up way off course.

Watch for the squals coming over the water and get ready to let the mainsheet out a bit. If it keeps happening, it's time to put a reef or two in.
When you say squalls do you mean cats paws? And won't most boats weathercock when overpowered due to excess weather helm?
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Old 04-07-2011, 18:37   #9
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

Er, if 'cats paws' means gusts of air moving over the surface or the water, then yes!
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Old 04-07-2011, 18:43   #10
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

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Er, if 'cats paws' means gusts of air moving over the surface or the water, then yes!
That would be it. Makes the surface of the water look kind of wrinkly.
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Old 04-07-2011, 18:44   #11
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

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Hi NavyPT, and welcome to CF.

Sounds as though the training/course may have been a bit of a waste of money...

Any comment on the training?
If I may chime in.

Your basic keelboat/ ASA 100 is a two day 16 hour course. Not much direction if you think about it considering how much can go bad FAST on a sailboat. They have a basic curriculum which I am sure covers heeling. Depending on the class location & class teaching environment, heeling may be expounded upon to different degrees.

I don't see how any basic keelboat class can be a waste of money.

Good luck NavyPT!
Each time you go out you will expand your knowledge & comfort zone.
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Old 04-07-2011, 18:45   #12
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

Thats the one, as soon as they get near, let the main out a bit and you should stay in better control.
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Old 04-07-2011, 18:53   #13
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

While you are getting some experience in sailing overall and in sailing different boats you should go out with some one who is familiar with the model you are on, at least for the first time. Some boats are more tender than others, some are more susceptible to weather helm, different underbodies, rudders, keels, all produce different performance.
If it's a "quickie", a short puff that heels you over, head up a little bit to pinch the wind; if it's longer term, reef...

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Old 04-07-2011, 18:55   #14
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

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Old 04-07-2011, 19:59   #15
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Re: Heeling and new sailor

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Hunter 180 felt more like it went from flat to almost capsizing-no in between. !
I don't know what a Hunter 180 is in length, but small boats need a constant hand on the sheets, both main and genoa.

When I say hand on the sheets, some will never even cleat the sheet off but have it so they can contantly ease it out or bring it in to adjust for each puff or lull in the wind.




Have fun with it
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