Centerboard in heavy weather - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-27-2013 Thread Starter
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Centerboard in heavy weather

What do people do with their centerboards when the going gets rough?

I wonder if in heavy weather, I should lower down the centerboard (I have a '77 Tartan 34C) on any point of sail and when using any kind of storm tactic?

When beating into the wind on my boat the lowered CB greatly reduces weather helm and makes steering straight much much easier. In fact, I can just lock the wheel and the boat stays on course w/o AP.
On a recent E->W Gulf Stream crossing with moderate SW winds on a broad reach the rolling seemed markedly reduced with the CB down.

Also, in breaking waves, my thinking goes, the CB might reduce the chances of rolling after broaching. It many also reduce the chances of broaching in the first place?

This makes me think that it may be a good idea as a rule to always keep the board down in heavy weather.
However, I am worried about the loadings on the CB in these cases. The CB I have is a comparatively light fiberglass structure on a SS pivoting mechanism that extends the boat's draft from 4' to 8'. I wonder if lateral loads could develop that, for example to the lower tip of the board, could create enough leverage to break it?

Thomas

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post #2 of 10 Old 04-27-2013
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Re: Centerboard in heavy weather

We not only use our board underway, we also use it at anchor. It reduces rolling and sailing on the anchor, making it much more comfortable.
One thing I have learned on this boat about the board is that it can be down any amount, not just all the way up or down. We use it about 2/3 of the way down most of the time, under sail or at anchor, which reduces the "banging" to zero. Rarely do we sail with it all the way down; mostly down wind in heavy weather, to give us more stability and control, and all the way up when anchoring or in docking situations.
I believe your boat is designed to use the board whenever you wish; I doubt you could do any damage if you don't run aground.
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-27-2013
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Re: Centerboard in heavy weather

On lightweight centerboarders ... for upwind, keep the board down 'until' you are HEELING over too much, then start to retract the board a bit which will allow the boat to more easily skid instead of heeling over ... bring the board up until you begin to have noticeable helm pressure that cant be offset by maximizing/changing sail 'shape' (via halyard tension, etc.) to control the adverse helm, then a little deeper with the board for 'stability'.
On a centerboarder, my preference is to be skidding slightly than broaching or 'tripping over the board' when it gets 'violent'.
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-27-2013
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Centerboard in heavy weather

Ours is a Benrteau with lifting keel, and the heavier the weather the more likely I am to keep it down all the way. Besides better pointing, it makes the boat that much stiffer. I don't see a downside unless the water is under 7 feet, since the draft goes from 7 feet to 3.
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-27-2013
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Re: Centerboard in heavy weather

On the Mac26X, CB half way down is about right for weather helm.
The more you raise it, the more the center of effort moves back and the less you get.
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-29-2013 Thread Starter
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Centerboard in heavy weather

Thanks. That's good advice. I'll try to see if the board down reduces rolling at anchor in my case.

Thomas

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New York City
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-29-2013
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Re: Centerboard in heavy weather

Is there a mechanism for locking the C/B in place?
In the event of a knock down or worse, pitch poling the C/B is free to swing around in it's slot, possibly creating a serious hull leak.
If it is lockable then hopefully no worries about this.

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post #8 of 10 Old 04-29-2013
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Re: Centerboard in heavy weather

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Originally Posted by CalebD View Post
Is there a mechanism for locking the C/B in place?
In the event of a knock down or worse, pitch poling the C/B is free to swing around in it's slot, possibly creating a serious hull leak.
If it is lockable then hopefully no worries about this.
At one time I was looking to see if something like that ever happened to a CB boat but have not found any instances of a CB punching a hole in a boat during a rollover. Maybe it is just a theoretical possibility. Some CB designs do have a locking mechanism - I think Tartan 34 is one of them. Bummer if you run aground with a CB locked in place - much greater chance of doing some damage.
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-29-2013
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Re: Centerboard in heavy weather

I "hove to" in a Gulf Stream storm for two days with the board up. That allowed the boat to slide to leeward which helped flatten the sea. The drift took us south, the Gulf Stream north, we stayed in the same spot! In normal sailing and motoring I keep the board down a little as it helps the autopilot to track.

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post #10 of 10 Old 04-29-2013
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Re: Centerboard in heavy weather

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalebD View Post
Is there a mechanism for locking the C/B in place?
In the event of a knock down or worse, pitch poling the C/B is free to swing around in it's slot, possibly creating a serious hull leak.
If it is lockable then hopefully no worries about this.
The CB on the T34C is controlled by a continuous cable that moves it both up, and down. That makes the board "locked" into whatever position you put it in.

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