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Old 01-31-2004
JeffC_ JeffC_ is offline
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looking for help up wind

For clarity, when the original poster says <em>she will not jib </em>[sic], I think we can take it to mean with such poor windward performance on the starboard tack, she will not <em>tack</em>, not that she will not gybe.
I owned a small, deck-stepped trailer-sailer, and found that inattention to my tired and stretched standing rigging tension had a significant effect on my boat''s pointing ability when on different tacks, to the point that my boat behaved in the same mysterious way you are describing.
Since this is a deck-stepped mast, my first guess is that the starboard shrouds are allowing the mast to fall off too far to leeward when on a starboard tack. You admit that most of the standing rigging is loose, but are hesitant to snug any wire.<P>Wire stretches over time. Visual judgments ("all the turnbuckles are twisted down halfway to create even tension") can result in a mast that is not perfectly perpendicular to the athwarthips deckline, simply because the length of the shrouds is no longer equal due to wire stretch. Looking solely at turnbuckle adjustments won''t tell you how off center the masthead is.<P>Wire can sometimes stretch to the point that it lengthens more than the adjustment range of the turnbuckle, so that even when twisted down until the threads touch each other inside the barrel, you still have slack rigging. The answer is to shorten the wire so that <u>when the boat is perfectly level</u> the shroud can just be attached comfortably to a completely backed off turnbuckle, thereby giving you the maximum tightening range as you snug the buckle down. The turnbuckle should have wire retainers that prevent the barrel from slowly backing off and loosening the rigging while underway (check the turnbuckles of other boats in your marina so see what they look like and how they attack to the turnbuckle barrel and thread to stop rotation). Re-splicing wire for a boat this size is relatively simple with a bit of education and the proper tools. If the rigging is very old or shows signs of excessive wear (frayed strands, a lot of corrosion, etc.), consider replacing all standing rigging. It''s cheap insurance against a dismasting caused by old rigging. Penny wise, pound foolish…<P>
If your boat is launched from a trailer:<P>Most folks step their masts on the trailer before launching. If so, it''s very easy for the port and starboard upper and lower (if any) shrouds to be adjusted unevenly, esp. if the boat is sitting at a slight angle when on the trailer. A difference in trailer tire pressure, a gently sloping parking lot, a big guy''s weight compressing only one trailer leaf spring, uneven trailer supports or just sliding the boat up on the trailer while heeled can list the boat over enough that adjusting shrouds on the trailer by feel can result in unequal adjustment). After you get the mast sttepped, walk back 100'' or so and look at your boat on the trailer stern-on: compare the level of the boat to the horizon and the angle of the mast to both the boat and to the horizon. You may discover that you could not honestly say that everything is at either 0° or 90°. And all the standing rigging should be re-adjusted after launching, even if everything looked good on the trailer.<P>When finally underway, try making your way up to those loose starboard turnbuckles and giving all the lowers and uppers a snug while you''re on the port tack and they''re dancing loose above the leeward deck (clip yourself in first!), if there is enough adjustment left on them. If not, they definitely need to be shortened or replaced altogether. Normally they will be somewhat loose while to leeward becasue they aren''t "working" at the moment, but they should not be so loose that you can hear the hardware clinking and clanking across swells, and the outer shrouds shouldn''t be so slack that they are swinging around. Adjustment can be done at the dock, b/c your bodyweight will heel you over a bit and slacken the wire of the side you are on, but the effect will be more pronounced if you let the wind do it for you while underway.<P>I''m guessing the reason that there is no turnbuckle on the backstay is that the mast is designed to be attached to the tabernacle with the masthead hanging over the transom and then raised forward. But you certainly have a turnbuckle on the forestay to adjust fore-and-aft tension once the mast is stepped, and out of the factory, the backstay was certainly snugger than it is today. You say the backstay is loose: is that with the forestay tightened all the way down? I wouldn''t be afraid to return the backstay/forestay tension to its design limit. Since this boat has no backstay adjustment, if the backstay and forestay have stretched, the forstay turnbuckle has had to compensate for both stretches, and the mast will be slowly pulled forward from perpendicular over time, which will compromise upwind sailing performance on both tacks. I''d at least add a turnbuckle to the backstay (don''t forget to shorten the backstay to compensate for the extra length of the turnbuckle) to pull the mast back to perpendicular, and would consider the cost of a backstay tensioner (in place of that new turnbuckle) to quickly adjust rigging tension for better upwind and downwind performance. On a boat this size, get the lever-operated model, not the wheel-screw operated model. But this is a minor detail; I''m sure you''d be happy to restore the orignal performance.<P>Unless the rudder or its hardware (pintles and gudgeons) has been damaged somehow, it should be fine. And if it were the swingkeel, performance would be affected on both tacks, now wouldn''t it, so I don''t think this is the problem.<P>The way the boat is loaded can have an effect on both apparent rigging tension (boat is launched and heeling slightly at the dock due to unequal weight distribution), but on small trailerable boats this is usually not significant and can be "shaken out" with underway rigging re-adjustments described above. More noticeable is how the weight of fuel, water, ice chest, ground tackle and a big outboard motor all on the port side can can affect heeling, and therefore performance, on the starboard tack (wind crossing the boat from the starboard side), when all that weight is low and not counteracting heel like it is on the port tack when it is high. A little thought about how you''re distributing the overall weight could be insightful.<P>
Hope this is helpful. I think you just have tired, loose wire which is affecting mast geometry.

Jeff C
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