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Old 15-08-2020, 16:24   #1
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Bow wants to point downwind

This may be a dumb question, but is it weird/why does my boat insist on throwing its head downwind under bare poles. Growing up with small lakeboats, my understanding was that the windage aft and shape of the hull would cause a boat to want to sit head to wind, drifting slowly backwards. My hunter 410 does just the opposite. This is especially noticeable when anchoring or picking up a mooring, when you want the boat head to wind and sitting still for a few moments while you deal with stuff on the bow.

This morning I picked up a mooring ball: Came up from leeward, bow into the wind just balanced, inching forward nice and slow. Let the boat coast up to the ball, ran forward and picked up the pendant. By the time I had everything cleated and happy, the boat had spun about 130 degrees, the bow was racing to lee. The pendant took the tension and the boat made a wild slewing motion to force the head back up into the wind as I settled onto the mooring. Not a massive deal or too dangerous, but super annoying and probably funny looking for the neighbors.

So the question is: is this common behavior, or is my boat weird? Or am I doing something stupid to cause this behavior? Or do all boats sit this way when left alone, and my memories of lakeboats sitting nicely head-to-wind are totally imagined?

I have a ton of windage aft - solar panels, dinghy on davits, probably laundry hanging out to dry... It feels so unlikely that the bow should want to fall to lee faster than the stern, but this appears to be the case...

I have a 1998 Hunter 410 with the shoal keel (5.5')...
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Old 15-08-2020, 16:49   #2
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Re: Bow wants to point downwind

Unless you have headway, in strong winds the bow will be pushed downwind. When I pick up my mooring the bow slightly drifts downwind and then comes back up once the line becomes taut, the bow dances less once I attach the other side of the bridle. I think you need the bow anchored for it to point into the wind.
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Old 15-08-2020, 17:00   #3
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Re: Bow wants to point downwind

Looking at a yacht sideways, most of the hull that is below the water will be behind the mast and the bow will have little draft in the water. So with any wind the bow will tend to blow down wind pivoting around the keel. Some yachts may reach equilibrium with the wind slightly on the stern quarter.
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Old 15-08-2020, 17:27   #4
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Re: Bow wants to point downwind

Huh, so this is normal and expected behavior. My expectations were just way off! Now I know, so thanks!

I'm sure the big swing on the mooring ball would be less extreme if I wasn't single-handing. I have to drive a little past the ball to give myself extra time to walk forward and get things sorted, so it takes longer for the bridle to take the strain when I first hook on. This then allows a bigger turn downwind than other boats I see with crews...

I'll just have to stop worrying about it
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Old 15-08-2020, 18:58   #5
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Re: Bow wants to point downwind

For modern type boats such as yours...

Furled genoas have lots of windage. High freeboard forward has lots of windage. Shallow forefoots (forefeet?) have little yaw resistance.

The aft parts of t he boat have high windage too, but they have more boat in the water, and in particular the rudder... and the rudder sure doesn't want to go sideways.

Result? the bow will blow off downwind... one of the reasons that bow thrusters are so popular these days.

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Old 15-08-2020, 19:15   #6
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Re: Bow wants to point downwind

Yes, boats fall off to leeward and lie beam too. Next time, after youre moored; look at the wheel. Is it hard over? I would think the stern way as you fell back on the mooring helped her swing so far over.
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Old 15-08-2020, 19:45   #7
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Re: Bow wants to point downwind

Most boats I have been on, if they are drifting, drift sideways to the wind. Mine does. Certainly when we drop anchor and are waiting for the boat to fetch up against the rode, we turn sideways to the wind. It takes careful helming and engine to keep the bow into the wind. This happens fairly quickly.

So, if you are single handing and trying to pick up a mooring try this:
Run a long painter from the bow along the sheer outside of the lifelines. Pull up to the mooring keeping enough way on to keep steerage. Bring the ball and its pennant right to the side of the boat where your painter lies. Then snag the pennant with your boat hook and attach it to the long painter.

Then you wait for the boat to drift back and turn into the wind, You can adjust the length of the painter easier and attach the bridle at your leisure.

Just make sure if you overshoot that you have the engine in neutral.
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Old 16-08-2020, 08:34   #8
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Re: Bow wants to point downwind

There may be several things at play here. First, of course, windage and freeboard of the boat. So, with alot of equipment on the stern, the wind will push the bow down. The second thing to consider is current. My boat is basically a full keel, if I am coming to an unfamiliar mooring, I usually stop the boat well shy of the mooring for a short time to see the effect of current and wind at that location. Then, I approach the same way as was stated above for a single-hander. I put a long line from the bow of the boat, outside along the edge to the cockpit. Pull up the boat heading into the wind/current slowly until the ball is right outside the cockpit and put her in neutral, then grab the mooring with the boathook. I have a lot of drifting of the boat time to secure that line. St. Augustine is always a tricky mooring because of current plus wind.
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