A few legitimate sailboat questions... - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 34 Old 12-19-2015 Thread Starter
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A few legitimate sailboat questions...

Hi all,

First off let me say what an awesome resource this website is. I hope someday to be able to ask fewer questions and provide more answers!

In the meantime... I've got a few questions.

Background- my wife and I bought a 1985 Hunter 34 in April of this year, moved aboard in May, played around the twin cities for the summer season, motored over 1700 miles down the Mississippi river, and are currently having a blast getting more experience with trips on lake Ponchartrain and beyond under sail.

My first question has to do with the jib sheets on the roller furling headsail. When trying to trim the genoa with the two speed self tailing winches it seems to take an excessive amount of force. As in, it feels like you need to be Hercules to trim the sail. Normal procedure for us is to take two wraps around the winch and then seat the line into the self tailing groove. It seems to help to only take one turn around the winch (I'm not sure if that is generally acceptable or not). It also seems to help to not use the self tailing action of the winch (defeats the purpose). The lines are at least 1/2" maybe even 5/8" and probably nearing the end of useful life. Is it possible the line is oversized creating problems? Is there a different technique we could try? How big of a difference would new lines make?

Question two has to do with downwind sailing. Our boat seems very fast upwind all the way down to a beam reach but gets slower as we start to head downwind. The H34 has a decent sweep to the spreaders so that limits how much we can ease the main sheet (barely knew what that meant back in May!). We've tried wing and wing dead downwind (with a preventer rigged) with limited success. On a broad reach neither of the sails seem to fill fully to give us any sort of speed. Do we need an additional sail? Would it make sense to use main only or Genoa only? Are we missing something obvious? Is this particular to Hunter boats?

Thanks!!
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post #2 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

Hi Effit. you should be putting 3 to 4 wraps on the winch drum so the drum can do the work for you. you know that the winch has two speed ranges because the handle winds it in going either direction. one way is high speed and the other low speed. if you only use one wrap and then the self tailer you are letting the line slip on the drum and only using the tailer to pull the line in. using the tailer only when under high load will put a lot of load on the stripper arm which causes very high friction and add a lot of load on the handle.
the 34 is not a speedy boat down wind but may be best sailed on a broad reach and jibed down wind in a zig zag course as you do going up wind. in light air keeping the sails full is the most important. as the wind builds your course can be sailed deeper down wind as the apparent wind changes. I would suggest you get a dingy sailing book and learn a little more about apparent wind and how to use it.
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Last edited by overbored; 12-20-2015 at 01:04 AM.
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post #3 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

What size are your winches??? Would expect a Lewmar 44 or equivalent would be about right for your boat. Had 40 equivalents on our 35' boat and switched to next size up and it made winching in the jib way more pleasant.

You should have at least 3 turns and preferably 4 on a winch when you are cranking it. Like to have two turns when rapid tailing by hand. Two turns gives enough grip on the winch so you can easily add extra turns when the line comes under tension. The number of turns shouldn't have an effect on the force required to crank a winch, just to keep line from slipping.

Personally like 7/16" line for a boat our size for a combination of ease on the hands and bulk. 3/8" is plenty strong but too hard on my hands to grip. 1/2" has a nice 'Hand' but it too bulky and takes up too much space.

You should get best speed on a reach. The propulsive force from the sails is actually suction created by windspeed differential between the front and back surface. The interaction between the foresail and the main in the slot between the two accentuates this pressure/speed differential and driving force of the sails. This is the case for all points of sail except DDW. There it's primarily the wind pushing the sails. DDW, sail area is the primary speed determinant which is where big square foot spinnakers really shine. So yes, bigger sails may help but primarily when sailing well off the wind. Sailing just under main or jib is almost always slower than having both sails set. You didn't mention the size of your headsail which I assume is roller furling. If it is too small for average conditions your speed will suffer. If the genoa is too large, it will not reef down well under strong wind conditions. For most boats in general conditions, a 135% is an optimal size. If you are sailing in SF Bay's blustery conditions, a 110-120% would be a better choice. Sailing in light air Long Island Sound a 150% might be your choice. In any case, a lightweight asymmetric spinnaker or code zero would be a good additional sail for light air and/or reaching conditions.
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post #4 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post

The number of turns shouldn't have an effect on the force required to crank a winch, just to keep line from slipping.
if this was the case then explain why does a winch need a drum and not only the self tailer
the number of turns has a big effect on the force required that is why you need a drum with 4 turns of the line on it.

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post #5 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

The number of turns around the drum will not change mechanical advantage . . . Just add friction to avoid slippage . . The rest is gear ratios and handle length . . .
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post #6 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

Hey, congrats on the new to you boat! First, 1/2" and 5/8" lines are much more different in size than the eighth inch implies. 5/8" would be unusually large for a 34ft boat, possibly even too large for the self-tailer on your winch. What kind of jib tracks and blocks do you have? Are they adjustable? Could be set at a bad angle?

Our boat sails faster upwind and on beam than downwind, as well. Not uncommon at all. Of course, apparent wind drops off and the boat isn't as stable, so it feels slower, even when it isn't. That may be subjective.

My suggestion is to drop the main completely, the next time you are on a deep broad reach and work on jib/genoa sailshape alone first. Your main could be blocking your foresail, so when you start putting it back in, try reefing it, even in light winds. If you're flying a large genoa downwind, in light winds, you might have to reef a bit in (counter-intuitive) because it's too heavy to fill in the light air. Too large (read too heavy) a jib sheet is also bad for downwind, as it weighs down the clew. These are why whisker poles are often used, but don't rush out for one yet. Try flying just the foresail and see how you do.

Good luck and have fun tuning into the nuances of your new boat. They all have their own.


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post #7 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

Your winches are too small.


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post #8 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

On a Hunter 34 dead down wind doesn't work well with the B&R rig . What I do is sail a very broad reach & jibe to correct course when needed. If I can't because of channel restrictions or other reasons, These are the sail combinations I use ; light wind head sail pole out on whisker pole main on opposite side resting on the spreaders leach line tight preventer holding the boom (only light winds)Depending on exact point of sail some times you can only use the head sail and can't get the main out far enough. In stronger wind I will center the main to help reduce roll & chafe with the head sail polled out. A lot of times it feels like you aren't moving because you don't feel the wind but these boats do move well in light wind and the gps will say 4 knots or better .
Just tried an asymmetrical spinnaker this last year with mixed results (still need to figure out what way it works well with this boat)
st 40 winches 3 wraps works for me (clean & lube winches)

Last edited by cruisingdream; 12-20-2015 at 08:58 AM. Reason: whinches
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post #9 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

Size of lines Ė Always use the recommended size of lines. Oversized lines donít run freely through the blocks, create friction, are stronger than necessary, are too heavy, and cost a lot more. I have 7/16Ē jib sheets and mainsheet on my 35í boat. If the line is hard on your hands, wear gloves. Gloves are absolutely essential safety gear, especially on a bigger boat. A line suddenly pulled through your hand by a gybe can send you to the emergency room.

Use of winches Ė The harder the wind is blowing, the more you need to use the mechanical advantage that is provided by your winches. In extremely light air, Iíll use one or two wraps on the winch and no winch handle. In moderate winds, Iíll use 2 wraps. As the wind strength increases, Iíll increase the number of wraps. I have used up to 5 wraps. I usually only put 2 wraps on the winch before a tack, and then add more wraps as needed after the tack is complete. More than 2 wraps before a tack creates an increased risk of the line overriding itself. I generally put the winch handle in the winch before a tack. Use the high speed, low powered gear until it gets hard to turn the crank, and then switch to the high power, low speed gear.

Wing and wing Ė In a deep broad reach, the jib is blanketed by the mainsail. If youíre broad reaching, and the jib collapses, steer up a bit, until the jib starts to fill. If you want to sail dead downwind, or nearly so, the only way to do that efficiently (with jib and main) is wing and wing. The easiest way to do it is by setting a whisker or spinnaker pole, to hold the jib out and keep it from collapsing. In all but the lightest of winds, you can sail wing and wing without a whisker pole, but it takes good sail trimming and constant focus by the helmsman, to avoid a gybe. If the jib alternately fills and collapses, try trimming it in more. The reason why it collapses is usually because the excess wind filling the jib is overflowing the leech of the sail. If you trim it in a little more, it wonít spill over the leech of the sail.
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post #10 of 34 Old 12-20-2015
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Re: A few legitimate sailboat questions...

Quite simply, when you are going to windward, the boat's forward speed increases the apparent wind speed on the sails. Going down wind does exactly the opposite, your boat speed decreases the apparent wind, so you must sail slower. Fact of sailing, so don't stress about it. As mentioned, you can tack down wind just as you do going to windward and keep the boat going faster and more comfortable and this also keeps the sails off your shrouds.

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