Originally Posted by fish300
Thanks for your replies, this helps me a lot. My lack of experience (and terminology) is giving me some problems understanding what you said though. You said to ease the traveler instead of the sheet, would't this do the same thing? Wouldn't easing the traveler or the sheet just control how far the boom can swing?
Not quite the same thing. Easing the traveler while keeping the mainsheet taut means you still have a nice "flat" main since the sheet is pulling almost straight down when you sheet in close-hauled. So it enables you to pull down on the boom/mainsail without pulling it so far "in" towards the centerline of the boat that you "catch too much wind" and heel too much when it's windy (and have to keep easing the sheet out, in, then out, etc--tiring and inefficient). Yeah you may still have to ease the sheet too in the big puffs even with traveler out, but not nearly as often. And if you're still overpowered, it's time to reef the main (though many dinghies aren't rigged for reefing) or think about heading home.
A vang *can* do the same thing upwind as a traveler, but much less efficiently since it is forward on the boom and has less downward leverage than a traveler, which is farther aft or indeed maybe at the end of the boom.
But a traveler only works when the boom is above the traveler, or nearly so, not when the boom gets out past the leeward rail. While a tight vang pulls the boom end down all the time.