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Old 13-10-2015, 09:45   #16
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

Having raced boats in the 80's and from good advice from a displacement hull designer, 15-17 degrees heel is optimum. Agee with other comments posted. My good friend who designed many displacement hull sailng vessels advised me that with most mono hulls once over 17 degrees you lose speed.

LOL re the Admiral's built in alarm, true that too.

Different hulls will perform diffently but a good general rule of thumb says reduce sail if over 17 degrees for optimum speed & control.
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Old 13-10-2015, 10:03   #17
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

Sounds about normal. Next time you get heeled to far, try putting a reef in the main, the boat will move fast and be flatter.
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Old 13-10-2015, 10:05   #18
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

As others have said, the "best" angle of heal is that at which the boat sails best in the giving wind and sea conditions. So what does it mean that a boat is "sailing her best"?

Assuming fairly "flat" water, it reduces to this: She is sailing her best when she is making her maximum speed through the water. However, every displacement hull has a "hull speed", the maximum speed at which the hull is capable of being driven through the water. So that sets an upper limit to how much power it is useful to apply (through the drive of the sails). If you apply more power than required to achieve hull speed, the boat will simply heel more, begin to labour and generally become uncomfortable and unruly.

The amount of power generated at any given wind speed is a function, among other things, of sail area presented to the wind, and "trim", i.e. how you handle your sheets.

Of these two, the one most instantly controllable is trim. If you are "overpressed" (heeling "too much") ease sheets and the boat will heel less. In practice, you ease sheets till the luff of the sail collapses, then you "trim up" the sheets until the luff just fills again. Generally, that simple procedure will maximize speed while minimizing heel in the given conditions.

The second method of reducing power is to reduce sail area, i.e. to "reef". This is what you do once you are at hull speed and you cannot reduce heel by "luffing and trimming". Once you've "geared down" by reefing, the above rule holds: ease till you luff, then trim till the luff fills.

When the seas come up and you have the wind aft of the beam, the game changes entirely. Sailing "up hill" is the easy bit. It is also, paradoxically, the bit that evokes atavistic fears in those who do not understand the basic principles. "Downhill" is the bit that is far more likely to bite you on the butt, although to those who are not familiar with the principles, it doesn't feel so.

So best to learn the principles, then go out an practice. Many times. In increasingly stronger winds.

Happy experimenting :-)!

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Old 13-10-2015, 10:09   #19
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

hmmm . . let me give a somewhat more direct answer . . .15 degrees is (almost) never too much heel. . . .its pretty normal for most (monohull) sail boats when powered up.

30 degrees is 'too much' for most modern designs but was not uncommon on the older narrower designs.
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Old 13-10-2015, 10:11   #20
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

Its not too hard to tell where the best heeling is if you have a visual description of your boat and the keel. The largest near flat section should be in the water. If you boat is hard chined and the flatted part is all across the bottom, you want to be sailing straight up. If you have a gentle rounded bowl hull, then you want to be over as far as flatness prevails. The biggest heels come from boats where they are basically "V" shaped, and they need to get far over to get to the flattest part of the hull.

Its actually a lot more complicated than that, but that is a general idea. So when you see a boat way over it likely has a deep heavy keel and a "V" shaped hull.
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Old 13-10-2015, 10:12   #21
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
hmmm . . let me give a somewhat more direct answer . . .15 degrees is (almost) never too much heel. . . .its pretty normal for most (monohull) sail boats when powered up.
.
Yes...on a rounded bowl shaped hull, and on a deep "V" shaped hull. 15 degrees is too much on a flat hard chined hull.

Sail boat data doesn't show the shape of your hull but at a 10 foot beam for and almost full 3500 lb ballast keel, I'm betting your could get away with 15-20 degrees without a problem. But unless you are into excessive excitement you will be happier not to exceed 5-10 degrees in your first year as a sailor.
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Old 13-10-2015, 10:12   #22
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

You know when you are heeled over too far when you can stand straight up from your leeward cockpit winches. We did that once in our big heavy ketch when a squall "snuck up" on us when were doing a friendly "race" with our buddies from one island to another. The decks were awash. Needless to say we were pretty excited and glad that the boom did not drag in the water. I would say we were heeled over to far. After that we paid more attention to squall lines, we reefed earlier, and made sure we stayed upright.

But the other comments were good. It depends on your boat, and your comfort level and skill level. But, in my experience, "most" boats do better at 15 or less. Anything more can be uncomfortable and you really won't be going too much faster, if not going slower, than at a lower angle of heel. Others will feel differently. It is up to you. And - important - there is no "chicken" out there. Only the ones who make it back and those who don't.

Reef early and reef often.
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Old 13-10-2015, 10:48   #23
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

"... so I'm wondering if there is a normal, sorta, degree of heel?"

Clearly it depends on what you and your crew are comfortable with. If putting the tow rail in the water is fun and manageable then go for it.

Every boat is different and it depends on what you're looking for: speed; control; or speed with control.

My experience has been the optimum is somewhere around 15-20 degrees of heel depending on the boat.

One measure to consider is how much weather helm you experience. If you need to turn the wheel more than 45 degrees from center to keep the boat sailing a straight course then you might want to depower the sails a little bit, and if you have to turn it all the way to the stop and stand on a leeward spoke with both feet to keep the boat from rounding up, then you really should back off - unless of course you enjoy that kind of thing in which case knock yourself out.

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Old 13-10-2015, 10:53   #24
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

On my old Mac 25, the squarish hull generated good speed at around 25-30 degrees. "Riding the rails" was something like 35-40 degrees and as I remember, it would round up and point into the wind somewhere just beyond that.

Because the guy that sold me the boat new said it was all normal sailing (no internet back then to check his "facts"), we quickly got used to almost standing on the opposite cockpit seats. Lots of fun and easy to control.

15 degrees is pretty mild (IMO). Let your crew know up front that a sailboat is designed to heel to the gunnels and to enjoy the ride!
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Old 13-10-2015, 10:55   #25
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

The correct degree of heel if the comfortable one. Yes, your hull and rig performs best at a particular angle, but if it make you nervous, ease the main, and let the boat stand up a bit. We all learn through experience, and the more you sail, the more you press the boat (and crew), the more confident you'll be, and the sooner you'll find the heel angle(s) where the boat and happiest - and fastest.

As for your "alarm", hand her the main sheet, then the traveler, and let her learn that heel is easily controllable. And, once that is under control, speed and point quickly follow.
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Old 13-10-2015, 10:57   #26
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Wink Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

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Originally Posted by zedpassway View Post
1:00 is 15 degrees, so I try to sail no more than 12:30.
1:00 is 30 degrees. Think about it: 3:00 is definitely 90 degrees, or 360/12=30.
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Old 13-10-2015, 11:02   #27
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

I have a Bristol 27 which has an 8' beam. With the wind is around 19 knots plus even when reefed in protected waters with small waves it will heel maybe 25 degrees plus

but then all is good. She's good and steady at that point

I paid $2,000 for this boat so when I first bought it I'd push it hard whenever I could to see if it would hold together so to speak especially when close to land where I could get ashore on my kayak if no other way

Here's an early wind test:

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Old 13-10-2015, 11:14   #28
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience.
With more practice and experience it seems my comfort zone will steadily increase and I'll begin practicing reefing the main to make sure I can do it quickly when the need arises.
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Old 13-10-2015, 11:27   #29
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

I find that my own estimate of heel angle is always excessive. A Lev-O-Gage has turned out to be tremendously useful. I found that what seemed like 45 degrees is actually 30.

I aim to limit heel to 30 degrees. That means sailing mostly at 20-25 outside of gusts, allowing for a little more heel in the gusts.

A lot of people seem to have maximum sail up outside of the gusts. So in the gusts the boat is hard to control, develops lots of leeway, and slows down. I overtake those folks a lot.
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Old 13-10-2015, 11:27   #30
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Re: What is considered a normal degree of heeling?

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Originally Posted by chadc View Post
I'm a newbie sailor having recently purchases a 79 Watkins 27 and hadn't tried out using full sails until this weekend, I had just been cruising a long using the genoa, so I was cruising along at 5 knots with around 8 degrees of heel with both the main and genoa up in about 8 knots of wind, according to the windy phone app, and then the wind picked up and as soon as it did the boat heeled over to 15 degrees and picked up speed to 6.5 knots so needless to say with me being inexperienced this kind of freaked me out so I pulled in the genoa and just kept the main up and cruised along at 3.5-4 knots. Afterwards I felt like I should have just kept going and that is exactly what should have happened when the wind picked up, so I'm wondering if there is a normal, sorta, degree of heel?
My reaction to your post, and the lack of experience revealed therin, is probably a very predictable one to hear from an instructor : please, please take a course, it could save your life!
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