If the centerboard...and that's basically what a swing keel is...wasn't all the way down, the center of lateral resistance would have shifted aft slightly, leading to lee helm... and making it harder for the boat to tack or point up, since the center of effort was forward of the center of lateral resistance. When you lost the mainsail, the center of effort shifted even farther forward, and made the lee helm problem even worse... making it even more difficult for you to control the boat and keep it pointed up.
In general, you want to keep the COE and the CLR relatively close to one another, with the CLR slightly ahead of the COE..so you have a tiny bit of weather helm. Having weather helm means that if you let the tiller and sheets go... the boat will slowly round up and end up head to wind. Having lee helm is dangerous, especially if you're singlehanding, since if you let the tiller and sheets go, the boat will turn down and end up running before the wind. If you fall off the boat when single-handing, you can see how it would be easier to catch a boat that rounds up and drifts slightly, rather than one running before the wind. BTW, if you're singlehanding—DON'T FALL OFF THE DAMN BOAT.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.
Last edited by sailingdog; 11-24-2007 at 10:22 AM.