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Old 24-06-2010, 21:09   #1
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What to Do when Heeling Too Much

Hi everyone-
Maybe this is a dumb question to ask here...
I just finished a beginner sailing course and couldn't believe how much fun it is an what I've been missing out on all these years.

During the course, there were a few instances where the boat heeled more than any beginner could be comfortable with. While somewhat freaking out, I steered it into the wind, hoping to slow it down by going into the irons. Instructor told me this is not right, that I should have fallen off. About 30 minutes later, boat heeled quiet a bit and decided to indeed fall off as instructed. But again, instructor told me this isn't right, explaining that since the sails would be perpendicular to the wind, it'd heel even further. I grilled him with questions about this afterward as I was now very confused, but he kept jumping back and forth.
I'm going back next week for practice and will ask other instructors, but couldn't wait... What's the right answer? When heeling too much, do you fall off or steer into the wind? Does it matter whether one is hauled or reaching?

Thanks!
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Old 24-06-2010, 21:15   #2
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Check out the thread entitled "On the verge of flipping a cruising cat" ( or something like that) it has a lot of discussion on that subject.
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Old 24-06-2010, 21:17   #3
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when you're close hauled, you head up a little bit (it's called pinching), when off the wind you bear off. Bearing off puts the force that is heeling the boat towards the bow (not too many boats are capable of flipping end over end without massive persuasion).
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Old 24-06-2010, 21:20   #4
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Monohull, usually you turn into the wind. Multihull, it depends on point of sail.

I've had both kinds.

Welcome to the forum. You have come to the right place for good answers.
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Old 24-06-2010, 21:30   #5
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Thank you for the replies- I was afraid I'd be asking too much of a beginner question to experienced captains. So it sounds like it does matter which point of sail I'm on. If I'm close hauled, I head into the win a bit (to slow the boat down in the 'no sail' zone). If I'm on a reach, I fall off (from close reach to beam, or beam to broad). Is this correct?

I searched and found "On the verge of flipping a cruising cat", but found it too technical and complicated for my level to understand anything... I need to read up some more before I get to your levels.
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Old 24-06-2010, 21:34   #6
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The simplest way to decrease the heeling is letting out the main slightly and slowly. That means you loosen your main sheet so that the boom moves away from the center of the boat. Do this slowly and you will see that the boat will straighten up. Next you can let the jib out a little bit if you are going close hauled.

Try it and let us know if this works for you.
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Old 24-06-2010, 21:38   #7
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Never a problem in a power boat. But then they are trying to eliminate petroleum so we may all need to learn that stuff eventually,
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Old 24-06-2010, 21:38   #8
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msoneji-
Yes, letting out the main sail was another thing we worked on. But don't understand how to flatten the boat by steering into or away from the wind as the instructor mentioned...
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Old 24-06-2010, 21:52   #9
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First of all, you're instinct is right to get the boat flatter. Most modern boats go slower when healed more than about 15 degrees - and your keel or centerboard is less effective causing you to slide downwind. Sharp turns tip a boat more (just like they tip a car in a sharp turn)

In a small puff, gently heading up about 10 degrees is is a great way to point a little higher and keep the boat flat. That's because the faster wind causes the wind on your boat to change direction a little (called apparent wind). Heading up a little actually keeps your sails at the same angle to the apparent wind. (you have to remember to head down a bit when the puff passes because the apparent wind will move forward again)

BUT - if you simply have too much wind you need to reduce sail.

In a larger boat you can reef. Many new (and not so new) sailors wait much to long to reef. It's faster, safer, and more comfortable to reef. I probably sail half the time with a reef in my main.

In any size boat you can let the mainsail out some by either moving the traveler farther to leeward (if you have a traveler) or by just letting the mainsheet out about three feet (the amount depends on the boat and rig but we're not talking inches). Racers constantly adjust the mainsail as their apparent wind fluctuates.

Welcome to sailing!

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Old 24-06-2010, 22:08   #10
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Heading up into the wind will cause the sails to luff and therefore dump the force that is causing the heel. Letting the sails out will do the same thing. If you are sailing before the wind on a broad reach or a run there can be limmitations on how much letting out of the sails you can do and rounding up can cause the "car on two wheels" effect. It is on these "before the wind" points of sail that you may find yourself in situations that are difficult because 1) you don't realize the full force of the wind (you are moving with the wind so you don't feel it as much) 2) your boat doesn't heel as much until it is more severely overpowered by the wind (because it isn't as sideways to it) and 3) you adjust the sails further beyond the luffing point.

I don't know what you are sailing but it sounds like you were close hauled and your first reaction was the correct one in the event a reaction was needed. Head up to luff and keep from capsizing- as you might do in a gusty condition. However, if the conditions are such that you are wanting to heel less continually you are overpowered by the amount of sail, then shortenning sail by reefing or setting smaller or less sails might be in order. Some boats with masts that are designed to bend when sheeted tight flatten out the sail when they do so and therefore dump wind so traveler adjustment and sheeting angle becomes important when sailing to windward. There are also leach lines (ropes in the back eddge of the sail), "cunninghams" and other mainsail shape controling gizmos and there can be a slew of toys to control jib shape. Oh what fun!

But for the reaction..."when in doubt, let it out!"
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Old 24-06-2010, 23:51   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newinthewater View Post
msoneji-
Yes, letting out the main sail was another thing we worked on. But don't understand how to flatten the boat by steering into or away from the wind as the instructor mentioned...
I don't quite understand your instructor either

As others have mentioned the mainsheet is the Holy Grail.
You don't really want the course of the boat varying. You want to be (usually) going straight. So then all the controll of the boat is going to be in the sails. First and formost is the mainsail.
If you look at the way a dinghy sailor works his boat - Lets take a Laser for a good example - his mainsheet is always moving. In and out, in and out according to every little gust of wind that hits his boat.

You need to do the same

Every few seconds a different puff of wind or lull will hit you, watch for each. Obviously if you are sailing from a lull into a puff the boat will heel more. You can then decide to let out a bit of mainsheet, pull it in, or leave it alone and let the boat adjust.


See the photo below and see the guy has BOTH hands working that mainsheet! Its a great photo. He is concentrating on the puffs just ahead of his boat. He is not looking at his sail. Is he just about to pull in the main a bit? Or is he going to ease?

last point: don't worry about the boat heeling. Just learn about those gusts for now and learn the feel of the boat as it heels or flattens - its not going to tip over


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Old 24-06-2010, 23:58   #12
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Bigger keel!

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Old 25-06-2010, 15:37   #13
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It's possible that the angle of heel that was freaking you guys out wasn't really that bad. A lot of new sailors get really weirded out when the rail gets a little wet, which depending on the boat might not really be the end of the world. Every boat has an initial angle and a final angle; monohulls have a very large spread between the two, multi's not so much. The initial angle is when the boat is going to start to heel, and the final angle is when it's going to flip over.

The more the boat heels, the more gravity is wanting to pull the weight in the keel down, and the less power the wind has on the sail. As the sail becomes more horizontal, the wind has less leverage on it. Try blowing on a piece of paper perpendicular to your face, then angle the paper at 45 degrees. The angled paper is going to "spill" a lot more wind and your breath will exert much less force on the paper.

All that being said, if you're not having fun, put a reef in or adjust your point of sail. When it doubt, reef. It's a great skill to have as second nature.
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Old 25-06-2010, 16:02   #14
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Watch out when luffing up, I've seen several near misses when helmsmen turned into wind without checking they had space between them and the next boat!
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Old 25-06-2010, 16:09   #15
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don't judge the boat by how much it's heeling. judge by the amount of weather helm. some boats are faster when they heel, and some boats are faster flat. but no boat is fast when the helm is being overpowered.
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