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post #23 of Old 05-04-2010
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Once you do get out and about under auxiliary, I suggest that you practice maneuvering under sail. Start slowly and work your way up. So many are quick on the engine button these days.

With practice, you can accomplish most maneuvers under sail alone. Here's an article I wrote a while back that might help get you started (I'm a full time writer, published author). The more independent you become, the better sailor you will be. Good luck...

How to Stop on a Dime Without an Engine!

One of the common questions from newer sailors goes something like this "How do you stop the sailboat?" This one ability will place you in the top percentage of sailboat cruising skippers that understand how to stop their sailboat--without an engine!

Multi-time circumnavigator and sailor-supreme Hal Roth once stated "An engine does not substitute for seamanship under sail..." After all, just how were those unwieldy sailing ships from long ago able to thread their way through deadly shoals, approach an anchorage, or maneuver in battle--under sail alone?

Our modern Marconi (triangular) rigged sailing craft are much more maneuverable than the old square riggers. You will become the true master and commander of your small cruising sailboat when you practice maneuvers under sail alone. Begin with these three simple techniques, which will enable you to stop your sailboat under control every time.

1. Use the "Gears" of Close Reaching

No point of sail offers more control than the close reach in tight quarters maneuvering to:

* Approach a mooring buoy in a crowded harbor...
* Sail over to a pier smooth and easy...
* Pick up a fender that fell over the side...
* Sail up to that perfect anchoring spot you've picked out for the night.

How to Gear Shift Under Sail
Get onto a close reach with the bow pointed at the objective.
Use just the mainsheet and mainsail. Follow the table below:

If you want to:
Speed up-- pull in on the mainsheet
Slow down--ease off on the mainsheet
Stop the boat--slack the mainsheet to luff the mainsail

2. When in Doubt, Let It Out

We've all experienced those out-of-the-blue situations where we run out of ideas. Now what, skipper? Steal a secret from the dinghy sailing crowd. In an emergency, let it fly!

Ease the mainsheet out all the way. Take the jib or Genoa sheets off the winches and let them go. This spills all of the sailing wind from your sails and your boat will pivot her bow into the wind faster than you can blink an eye.

3. Push the Boom against the Wind

Have you ever watched small sailing dinghies approach a dock. Maybe the dinghy skipper needs to slow down right away. So he or she grabs the sailing boom and pushes it out against the wind. This technique--called "back-winding"--will stop a boat on a dime.

Back-wind your mainsail if you approach a dock with a bit too much speed. Grab the boom and push it out hard against the wind. It will stop your boat just like stomping on the brakes!


Put these three easy sailboat cruising techniques into play today. Pump up your sailing skipper-skills to new highs when you become the true master and commander over your small cruising sailboat.

Captain John

Last edited by skippertips; 05-04-2010 at 12:49 PM.
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