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post #11 of 41 Old 07-25-2013
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

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Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
Just keep in mind that all wind prediction site forecasts are educated guesses of what might happen.
Yes, but "Passage Weather" is very good. Of course, just like the NWS, the shorter term the forecast, the better it is. Give it a try, if you haven't already done so.
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post #12 of 41 Old 07-25-2013
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Wind close to shore changes all the time. That is what makes dinghy sailing exciting. With time you will learn how to read the wind and respond to it properly. Just go out there and sail.

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post #13 of 41 Old 07-27-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Thanks for the responses. I figure that all I have to do is figure out the wind and viola! I'm a sailor! I mean, really, how hard can that be?
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post #14 of 41 Old 07-27-2013
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

There's wind forecasting and then there's being able to read the wind on the water. As a newbie myself, what helped me most was when someone explained the points of sail, then to think of your landscape as one big wind rose and your boat as the compass point. Zero degrees is whichever way the wind is blowing, 180 deg is DDW, 90 and 270 are beam reaches, etc. Then just adjust your "compass" accordingly.


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post #15 of 41 Old 07-28-2013
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

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Originally Posted by mike21070 View Post
I figure that all I have to do is figure out the wind and viola! I'm a sailor!
figuring out the wind may make you a sailor but figuring out viola?........dude, that's the stuff of legends

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post #16 of 41 Old 07-28-2013
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Two ideas for beginners.

Point your nose the direction you think the wind might be coming from. Move your head until you feel the breeze equally on each ear. Your nose is pointing into the wind.

Keep your sail setting simple. You only need four.
  1. If the wind is from the front of the boat pull the sails in till the boom is over the corner of the boat.
  2. If the wind is from the stern let the sails out all the way.
  3. If the wind is t-boning the boat set the sails half way.
  4. If the wind is coming from straight ahead and your sails are pulled in and you are not moving just wait a few moments till something moves and you can sail again.

To answer your question. Trust your senses, especially the wind on the ears trick. If it feels like the wind is changing direction a lot it just might be doing exactly that.

Another obvious thing is that in light wind when you can barely feel it you can generally assume that if your boom is off your port that the wind might be coming over your starboard side. There are exceptions of course, their always are, but most of the time this will be true.

Even thought I said to trust your senses, your senses will fool you in three ways. If you know about these effects you can go back to trusting your senses.
  • If the wind is forward of your beam your ears and nose wind direction finder will put the wind further forward than the true wind is. This makes sense because your forward motion is making some wind.
  • If you are sailing upwind the wind will feel stronger that it is.
  • If you are sailing downwind the wind will feel weaker than it is.

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It is a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.
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Last edited by davidpm; 07-28-2013 at 01:30 AM.
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post #17 of 41 Old 07-28-2013
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Speaking for Mountain lake sailors everywhere... There is ALSO a prevailing wind direction that exists for long periods of time (hours is pushing it) for mountain lakes.

What a lot of new sailors miss is wind is like water in a river... It gets eddys and currents in it, it doesn't like obstructions, and swirls around them, and over them, creating "oscillating" or "local changes of direction." The REALLY great sailors (of which I am not), learn where those "local changes" happen for a given direction, and exploit them to go the direction they want..... Lemme give you an example.

High shoreline (mountain, or cliff edge)... which has the wind COMING from that edge... as you get closer to it, winds ROLL down the edge, and stream along it. You can usually pick up a 90 degree shift closest to the edge (trick is sometimes its only a fraction of the power of the actual wind)... knowing whether the 90 degree change is a LIFT or a HEADER is the hard part (generally comes from the angle of the shoreline - which is NEVER perfectly straight, versus the angle of incidence of the wind that approaches it).

The other advice given here is very good. Know your points of sail, and how to rough-trim for them. Know that teltales and windexes sometimes will disagree, for 2 reasons, one that altitude can bring a change of prevailing direction, and low altitude disturbences (dirty wind) can cause the tales to be off.

Regardless of all above, your trim needs to be set for the winds you are experiencing NOW in the space you are at the time... Apparent wind is the only thing the throws most new sailors off... the effects of YOUR movement on the water creates an additional change in direction... the faster you go relative to the winds speed the more it changes it. Also as the winds come up, your own speed affects it less... which is why most sailors can do well with predicting wind direction when the winds are up... but struggle when the winds are VERY light.

Keep at it, and all these responses will make more sense. Have fun, and sounds like you are!

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post #18 of 41 Old 07-28-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

So, I went out today, but it was really windy. My little trolling motor was struggling to get me out far enough so I had time to hoist the mainsail. But as I was putting everything together, I have to admit I thought it was too windy for me. I checked before I left and the wind was about 17 knots....which leads me to my next question: Is 17 knots too high for a 16 foot dinghy? I admit that after floating out there contemplating whether to try to sail in this chop, I headed back to the marina.

When is it too windy for a small dinghy to sail?

Thanks for all the responses; it really does help...

Mike
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post #19 of 41 Old 07-28-2013
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

It dosen't matter what we think, it's what you thought, if you thought it was to windy, then it was. Step back alittle and go out when you are comfortable with the conditions, that maybe 10 knots or under, sail your brains out. soon you'll be out sailing in 10-15-20 knots

When is it too windy??, when your uncomfortable

Is 17 knots too high for a 16 foot dinghy? No

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Last edited by poopdeckpappy; 07-28-2013 at 01:44 PM.
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post #20 of 41 Old 07-29-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

I was just out a couple of days ago when the wind was around 12 knots, and it was perfect. Didn't think that 5 extra knots would be that much more, but it sure was.

Lesson learned: 17 is too high now, but I'll get there soon enough.

Thanks for the advice...

Mike
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