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Old 06-09-2013, 00:16   #31
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

This is a great topic.

I was also taught, decades ago, that on a cruiser with a motor you should hold the boat's head to the wind with the engine to unload the luff of the mainsail so you can pull it down.

I never liked doing it that way, because the sail luffs, sometimes violently, which is not good for it ("a flappy sail is not a happy sail").

Heaving to is the ideal way to unload the rig to do things like fix broken furling lines (thread out that recently), or reef. I think it's the standard way to put in or take out a reef in a boat with slab reefing, isn't it? I always did it that way.

My present boat has in-mast furling, and I started out putting her head to the wind to furl or unfurl the mainsail, but never liked all the flapping. A year or two ago I discovered how well the mainsail can be furled underway, just be slacking the outhaul (and not to the point of luffing the sail). So nowadays I don't put the boat's head to the wind -- to unfurl the sail, I just motor off on something like a close reach, and unfurl away. I might luff up just a bit to unload the sail to adjust the outhaul. Works great, and here's another advantage of in-mast furling which I did not understand the first couple of years I used it.

As to motoring as a sign of sailing incompetence -- naturally, who is not impressed when someone sails onto a tight berth, when everyone else is motoring? Or performs some other difficult maneuver under sail, when most people would put on the donk? I am. But I don't assume that because someone declines to do it that way, they are not capable of handling their boats under sail (although that might be the case, of course).

Logically, that means that performing complicated maneuvers under sail is some proof that a person is a good sailor, whereas not performing is no proof of anything. I have never felt the need to prove to strangers around that I am a good sailor, so I never let their presence influence my decision of whether to sail or motor in any given situation. In fact, to tell the truth, I have never concealed the fact that I am a mediocre sail trimmer and merely competent boat-handler, so I probably wouldn't have anything much to show off even if I were so inclined (anyway, if I ever do experience the juvenile urge to show off, I have a much better chance of impressing strangers with a complicated docking maneuver).

So like many cruisers, I don't even think about sailing on or off a dock (although I did it every day during the years I sailed a motorless day sailer), and I make no bones about motoring up or down a river or busy channel to get into or out of a port. In fact, I often motor all the way down the Solent to Hurst Castle when I am off on a long passage to Dartmouth (100 miles) or Weymouth (53 miles) and have rousted the crew out of their bunks at the crack of dawn (or before dawn) and thrown off the lines with no breakfast or shower, in order to get an early start. We use the hour or so of motoring to give everyone a chance to wake up and get themselves in order, drink some coffee and have a shower, while also charging the batteries, before they have to start pulling on ropes. I'm sure someone from time to time thinks, while sailing by: "Why is that idiot motoring in a perfectly good sailing wind; what a gin palace", but I really don't care.

On the other hand, it is really a thrill to do something under sail which pushes your abilities. I avoided being under sail in any kind of remotely close quarters situation the first few years I owned my present boat -- the thought of sudden maneuvers involving 25 tons of mass and a 1000+ square foot headsail scared me to death, and I avoided any risk of it. But over the years I have gradually become more confident, and this summer I negotiated first Poole Harbor under sail (not very challenging, but still) and finally the Hamble River, which was very challenging with tight bends, jibes and tacks, always in close quarters with dozens of other boats around, necessity to closely control speed to stay in the flow of traffic, etc. Ah, that was really fun.
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:22   #32
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
No, I won't try it in my marina, as they would make me move. It simply is not always the right, smart or safe thing to do. If you saw the entrance to my marina, sharp turns in a narrow channel because of seawall and fuel docks, I don't think you would either. It's one thing to develop a new skill. It's another to try to learn to tapdance in a minefield.
Dear Rakuflames,

Mate I'm not trying to be confrontational with my post, just trying to offer my limited experiences. It sounds to me like I wouldn't attempt it either. My tapdancing sucks by the way.
As I said in my post: "Occasionally I have maneuvered in harbour under sail BUT only when I have had NO OTHER CHOICE"

I also stated: "if you are confident that you can accomplish this in your home port then give it a shot"

Maybe I was too presumptuous with my post, if so I apologize. Perhaps I should have stated the obvious that one doesn't just decide to sail into harbour and then does it straight away. These skills need to be learnt slowly over time, step by step. Start with some maneuvering around empty mooring bouys where there is plenty of room and go from there.

As Dockhead states: "it is really a thrill to do something under sail which pushes your abilities" However naturally there is a time and a place for everything.

Ask ten people what a sailor is and you will get ten different definitions as we all participate in a sport where we seek different experiences and rewards.

For me if I can finish a sail having learnt, enjoyed, challenged and (hopefully) accomplished something and where the crew feel the same and they would sail with me again then I have had a good day.
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:33   #33
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

I grew up sailing in New England, mostly on a 25-foot gaff-rigged sloop with no motor. Drop sail landings were the standard practice. In moderate winds, both sails were dropped right after grabbing the mooring. On heavy wind days, the main would get dropped first, then it would be necessary to fight very heavy lee helm with just the jib up while approaching the mooring.

On that boat, it was possible to sail with the tiller between my legs while bringing down the main. The luff of the gaff rig sail was always within reach while I had control of the rudder, right up until I had the gaff in my hands.

I would rig a line from the bow cleat, outside of all other rigging, & bring it back to the cockpit before approaching the mooring. I would grab the mooring line with a boat hook from the cockpit, tie it to the bow line quickly with a sheet bend, then drop the sails while the boat settled back on the bow line. After the sails were down, I'd go forward, retrieve the bow line & tie the mooring line off directly to the bow cleat.

The method shown in the video seems a useful additional method to learn. I can see that it would be advantageous to use on several different types of boats. It's good to have this extra tool in my bag of tricks.

Thank you for posting.
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:17   #34
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pirate Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

We never thought much about sailing in and out of the slips in both King Harbor and Marina Del Rey out in SoCal. No engine, no choice. Even back in the day, those were crowded marinas. YMMV.

I've told this before but it's a good one: After a big race with a ringer helmsman on our Evelyn 32, we sailed into Ft Lauderdale YC, round a corner or two, headed up away from the slip, and gently sailed backwards into the slip. The owner was jumping up and down but the ringer just smiled at him. Ringer drank free that night.

This kind of ability has to be learned and practiced. I'm very new to operating a diesel, and particularly in reverse! That's what I'm working on. I got the windy part under control more or less.

Thanks to the OP for a nice presentation.
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:50   #35
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pirate Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

When I reef the main either hove to or on an upwind tack I use a combination of the mainsheet and topping lift to control the boom height and the amount of whip.. and lock the slide central.. once hove to and settled... I go forward and drop to the required reef.. hook on and re-tension the foot before tying off the cringles..
I find this sail belly aids the rudder/AP in keeping her tracking favourably... and another bonus is the fixed boom to fall against if you lose your balance... great safety rail...
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:09   #36
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

Comment about heaving to on jib alone.... On my boat this can not be done. For example with all sails down and wheel turned to force the bow into the wind, results in lying ahull. You are beam to the wind and waves which is not a good position to be in with large waves. Now if you have the backwinded jib up you are futher off the wind and I'm not really sure how long the backwinded jib will remain back winded.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:23   #37
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pirate Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

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Originally Posted by lancelot9898 View Post
Comment about heaving to on jib alone.... On my boat this can not be done. For example with all sails down and wheel turned to force the bow into the wind, results in lying ahull. You are beam to the wind and waves which is not a good position to be in with large waves. Now if you have the backwinded jib up you are futher off the wind and I'm not really sure how long the backwinded jib will remain back winded.
Try putting more belly into the backed jib.. if its set to tight it'll knock you off the wind... you need it to be powering to aid the rudder with some forward movement.. also smaller is better... try it furled to different sizes and different amounts of belly to get you forereaching slightly... and out of laying a-hull..
Playtime...
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:09   #38
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

Thank you, Cpt Pat, for an excellent post!

My husband and I are total newbs and have sailed exactly once on our new-to-us boat, and one can read alot of books about sailing, but until you see the basics in practice, it is hard to understand -- especially when all the terminology is new, too!

And all the comments to the OP help to round out and give depth to the topic as a whole. I will be studying the thread to try to figure out how our boat behaves.

Great job, all, keep it coming
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:39   #39
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

This will not work on many modern hulls with a fin keel. Their bows get blown away. Their spreaders are swept. The main hangs when eased.

The alternative is to sail fast upwind with jib only while easing the mainsheet and adjusting the main. Some boats will sail pretty stable upwind course on jib and with the tiller locked. If she bears off while taking in a reef, you may be able to use the speed momentum to tack across the wind and finish your reefin' job while the main flogs.

I like your boat. And I like your video.

THX for sharing.

BTW Today in Sweden only the older marinas are like you said, the newer ones are like anywhere else - you often need an engine to get in and out ;-(

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Old 06-09-2013, 08:45   #40
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

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Originally Posted by lancelot9898 View Post
On my boat this can not be done. For example with all sails down and wheel turned to force the bow into the wind, results in lying ahull.
When you are lying a-hull your rudder is stalled. You need the jib or the main up and it works with both, too.
I have never seen a boat that would not heave to. There my be one but I have not seen it yet. Sometimes there is a slight fore reaching issue but for this purpose that doesn't matter, sail handling, I mean.
This is one of those things that takes a long time to describe but can be demonstrated in 5 minutes. I have had many a free beer won betting on this. I heave to when reefing too late and single handed. Striking the Main is a natural while hove to. For those with dodgers this puts the boom where it can be reached easily from the side deck.
This is a great topic.
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:54   #41
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Great thread, gonna give that a try.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post

Maybe there aren't as many sailboats per capita in Sweden as there are here, .
Actually I recall reading somewhere that Sweden has the most sailboats per capita than any other country on earth.
New Zealand came a close second.

Looking on Google Earth, the Swedish archipelago looks like sailing heaven.
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:57   #42
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

Thanks Boatman61, I'll try putting more belly into that headsail even though the yankee(it's cutter rigged) is small and not much belly is possible. Rolling that headsail up and going with just the staysail is possible, but it is on a cub boom and backwinding it needs more attention plus not sure if enough belly can be put in it by slacking the outhaul. With just the yankee flying(not backwinded), I can forereach with the rudder hard alea and it will not tack through the wind.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:16   #43
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pirate Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

Hahahahaaa... know Poole Harbour well... gets more interesting sailing round the Islands between the withy poles... but your size I would not try it with less than a rising spring tide..
Raku... there are times when sailing into a berth is your only choice... as I found when a sunken mooring bent my shaft and I had to sail back to Oriental from Taylors Creek and into the Sailcraft slip up a creek...
Limited funds and a very friendly B'yard made it a no brainer to sail 7hrs up the ICW.
Similar when taking a boat into Viviero, Spain... then again this year into Bezerte, Tunisia... none were easy peasy efforts... fuel problems.. whatever... control of the boat at slow speeds in tight confines is a very great asset in the repitoire...
The biggest danger are the helpful folk on the dock/slip hauling you round before you've dropped your sail... result wind catches sail and she surges forward... this happened in Bezerte where the bow roller rubbed along the dock when the bow got hauled to stbd bringing the wind into the main before I could drop it... till then it was feathering beautifully... over enthusiastic helper
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:53   #44
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

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Originally Posted by Cpt Pat View Post
Always have, at least as a backup, the skill to maneuver safely without the Iron Sail. Never go anyplace you can't get out of with sail alone - or at least stop by throwing out the anchor.



I think this is the absolutely most excellent advice for all the newbies, and the people who haven't haven't practiced their skills, because as Boatman 61 points out, *stuff* happens, and you never know when you need the skills. Another example: The engine oil alarm comes on just after you drop your hook. You are anchored deep in a bay, with a mud bank behind you about 2 boat lengths and a coral reef ahead, maybe 6-8 boatlengths. The nearest "help" is about 20 mi. away. Examination finds all the oil that had been in the engine is now in the bilge, and we did not have any engine oil with us! (Ooops!) A hose had chafed through, unnoticed by us. The next day, we put up the staysail and the main, sailed the hook out, and went back to town. No biggy, but this occurred in a foreign country where we don't speak the language very well, and were glad that it all had worked out okay. CptPat said to not go somewhere you couldn't sail out of--and this kind of situation is one reason why he's right.

Boatie, who has heaps of experience in many different kinds of sailboats also wrote, "control of the boat at slow speeds in tight confines is a very great asset in the repertoire.."

There are well founded reasons why the people with the sea miles keep making these statements. Please heed them.

Ann
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Old 06-09-2013, 10:12   #45
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Re: Taking in the mainsail without an engine

Nice job !
Your boat balances well with the small headsail etc. Some boats with fin keels and large headsails and high aspect rigs would spend more time trying to heave to.... than just doing it with the motor.
Are you sure about the 20 knot s of wind? I know video makes things look tamer, but I dont see a white cap in sight... or a 5 foot swell..?
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