Quote: "First thing I need to do is install the windvane
that came with the boat
. Hopefully it will be different when there is more wind
, but today when we tried to tack, the headsail wouldn't make it past the intermediate forestay, so we had to go forward to help it. So the vane will help me be able to do that by myself.
Also I learned that i am not the best at judging wind direction, even though it is probably harder in light winds, I can see that be dangerous if I ever want to sail downwind."
As a former sailing instructor, let me begin by saying that you are obviously on the right track :-)
But please be careful that you don't draw wrong conclusions from what you, or other inexperienced people, observe. Your difficulty in coming about will NOT be solved
by installing a wind vane
. But there are two kinds of vanes: a wind vane
at the top of the mast
to show you the direction of the wind, and a "steering vane" that will steer the boat for you. I take it that you are NOT talking about the latter.
Installing a vane at the top of the mast
will not solve the failure to come about.
You solve that problem by learning
what the cause of it is, and what to do about it :-) Failure to come about is ALWAYS the consequence of LACK OF SPEED. So how do you make the boat go faster when there is "little wind" as you describe?
The answer is two-fold: 1) IF you can make the boat go faster by getting your SAIL TRIM right, she is likely to "come over stays" because both her additional inertia and the greater effect of the rudder
at greater speed will drive her "through stays" (to use the old expression). 2) if your trim is right, and she just won't go any faster, then you simply turn the other way. Making, say, a 260º turn to port will bring you to exactly the same heading as making a 100º turn to starboard. Doing the latter is called, "gybing" (as you probably already know). An older, and better, term you will hear experienced sailors using is "wearing". "Wearing" means "turning the long way about". "Gybing" is the act of bringing the boom over on the new side in a controlled fashion, so you can actually "gybe" without "wearing" :-). For your present purposes you can use the terms interchangeably. Because wearing means bringing the wind, such as it is, in from the stern, it requires handling the sails
just so. We can return to that. Just learn from your first time out that it is NOT a vane you need to get, but understanding :-)
Many, many small boats that have "intermediate forestays" require somebody to go forward to "sort out the mess" when sailing in conditions of very low wind. When the wind is stronger, it will do the work
for you as long as you "fall off" a little upon coming through the wind, i.e. you turn away from the wind a little. You can always correct your heading once the sails are on "the new side" and correctly trimmed.
Remember also that there are TWO wind directions, the "true wind" and the "apparent wind". When the boat is NOT moving, what you feel on your face is the "true wind". As the boat picks up speed what you feel on your face is the "apparent wind". Once you are moving the true wind is pretty much irrelevant. You trim to the apparent wind. Tie a bit of wool to a shroud
or a stanchion and it will always show you the direction of the apparent wind. So will the wind vane at the top of your mast - if you have one - but I find that the wool on the shroud
works works a lot better, particularly in low wind when the boat is rolling on a swell because it is not affected by the swing of the top of the mast.
So that will solve your difficulty in "judging wind direction".
Play around with those things next time you go out. See how that goes. After that we can talk about handling the boat under power. As you've learned, it is NOT like driving a car :-)!