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  #1  
Old 09-20-2013
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Stopping your boat

I'm new to sailing and have been taught a few ways to stop a sailboat, they all seem to work fine. But I'm curious to hear opinions of more experienced skippers.

• Turn upwind, luff the sails
• Backwind the jib to heave-to
• When in doubt, let it out? Let out the main and let the weather helm do its thing?

Or something else?

Ideally I'm looking for two things.

• The first method I want to know is the fastest way to stop the boat under sail, for when I am still the skipper. My first guess is tacking into a heave-to.

• The second method I want to know is the easiest way to stop the boat under sail, for when I have a guest aboard and need to teach them in a single sentence what to do with the boat if I go overboard. Something simple and easy to remember even if you've never done it. I normally assume just letting go of all controls would be the way to go.

Thanks!
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

If you want to stop dead in the water, whatever you decide to do, don't forget to drop the sails or you'll just start sailing again. At least bare poles will slow you down more.
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

fastest way to stop is to first turn the bow into the wind and then let the sheets out. do not let your sails down or you will loose control of the boat. sails luffing into the wind will slow the boat quite fast. if your boat will heave to it will slow the boat but every boat is a little different and some will not heave to very well.
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

And practice quick anchoring. The above methods slow you way down, but if you have a problem in a tight space you may need to stop completely. It's saved my bacon more than once.

No, I do not mean anchoring as a means of stopping while moving at any significant pace.
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattt View Post
• The first method I want to know is the fastest way to stop the boat under sail, for when I am still the skipper. My first guess is tacking into a heave-to.
I suppose the first part of this answer should point out that there is absolutely no way to stop a boat, aside from tying it to shore. Bare poles, heave-to, head into the irons, will all leave some movement. In fact, in each, you are arguably in less control of your boat than if you kept it moving in most circumstances. Therefore, your choice is probably going to differ, depending on why you want to stop. Do you need a break and have a lot of leeway, then heave-to. Is there something you're afraid you will contact, then you shouldn't stop, you should maneuver in another direction and stay in control of the ship. When you're the skipper, you never get the option to fold and throw your hands in the air.

Quote:
• The second method I want to know is the easiest way to stop the boat under sail, for when I have a guest aboard and need to teach them in a single sentence what to do with the boat if I go overboard. Something simple and easy to remember even if you've never done it. I normally assume just letting go of all controls would be the way to go.
This the bad news. Seasoned sailors have a tough time stopping a boat under sail and returning for a MOB. There is no single sentence that is going to effectively instruct a guest to pull this off. You should practice it yourself, in the event they fall over. Nevertheless, the first move is to turn into the wind. A non-sailor probably won't really know which direction that is, as obvious as it may be to you. Drop the sails, turn on the motor, get back to the victim and get them aboard....... ain't going to happen. Of course, a sailor may use the quick stop or figure eight method of returning to the victim, but if you're alone, the odds are very high that you will lose sight of them and have trouble even re-locating the MOB.

You're much better off understanding you'll need to self rescue. Always wear a pfd that will keep your head above water, even if you were knocked unconscious while going overboard. Have a PLB and/or waterproof radio clipped to it, so you can directly call for help. The portable vhf radios that have integrated gps are terrific. Water temps are a critical issue, depending on where you are, you don't necessarily have time to wait for someone to figure it out. They never will anyway.
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

This is also a problem for racing sailboats approaching the line early. In addition to heading up and easing/releasing the sheets, you can also forcefully steer the boat in an "S" pattern - like a snake's movement, alternately turning left and right, to slow the boat down; the boat will cover more distance and diminish its momentum.
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdqaltair View Post
And practice quick anchoring. The above methods slow you way down, but if you have a problem in a tight space you may need to stop completely. It's saved my bacon more than once.

No, I do not mean anchoring as a means of stopping while moving at any significant pace.
Absolutely. Always have a small anchor ready to grab at a moment's notice. Preferably, it should be one light enough so you can actually heave it a few feet in the right direction. Something like a standard Danforth or even better an aluminum Fortress. I also have stopped what could have been bad situations by quick anchoring.
The captain, (or anyone else) going overboard an important issue. I always show people how to start the engine and use the VHF radio and a few simple steps to follow. Newbies won't remember a lot so, #1- Keep your eyes on the person in the water. #2- Quickly release the sheets and let the boat luff. #3- Hit the GPS MOB button ASAP twice to create a waypoint. Also show them how to retrieve that waypoint so it can be conveyed via radio. At least your position is recorded so that if the ones on board lose sight and don't know how to navigate back to perform a MOB search then CG or helpers later have a starting point. It's really easy to lose track of someone in the water.
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Last edited by smurphny; 09-20-2013 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

Reminds me of the time I sailed back into the harbor and my slip. Downwind for final leg into slip. I had rigged an anchor at the stern and tied it off. Threw it out as I approached slip and when the bow contacted the pier I still had 5ft of anchor line on the boat! OOps! Livin' and learnin'...
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

Turn into the wind and let the sails luff.
For the inexperienced do the same and free all halyards.

On a race course, yell "I have no insurance" loudly- it makes other races steer clear.
sailak and mattt like this.
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Old 09-20-2013
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Re: Stopping your boat

Thre is lots of MOB BS. I think the best thing if one is on deck and sees the person go overboard is to as the OP says, STOP the boat.

Hit the MOB button, have crew keep eye on MOB
Turn the boat up into the wind and let the sails flap, let the sheets go a bit.
WAIT till the boat actually stops! (or as you go forward it may start up again!)
Furl your sails.
Physically CHECK for LINES in the water
Start Engine.
Hopefully the MOB has swum up to the boat by this time. I would have!

My belief is, if the MOB is seen going overboard, then there is a real chance of very quick recovery if the boat is stopped as fast as possilb.

I think its a great, easy exercise to do any time you are sailing. Hit your watch and time yourself to see how long it takes you to fully stop the boat.

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