'84 Hunter 31 Close Hauling
I've had this boat about a year. We have a tough time getting to 45 degrees in a close haul. The boat sails smoothest at closer to 55 degrees, which is a problem on windy days. Anybody have ideas on what I might be doing wrong? I've had a few experienced sailors onboard with me at different times, and we can't seem to improve things.
Lots of things to check.
1. Where are you sailing. Current can make it so you will not get a 90% tack.
2. How are you calculating the 45? Lots of times folks will figure it off the apparent wind not the actual wind? 35 to 40 off apparent has been done.
3. How windy are the days. With the wind and seas up you will just not get as good a point as in the sweet spot for that boat.
4. Are the sails set OK. Luff tight, traveler set right, vang on, topping lift loose etc.
5. How new are the sails?
6. When was the hull last serviced?
7. Standing rigging tension and mast rake and bend etc.
8. Is the the foresail sheeted in tight enough
What happens when you pinch. Main luff or foresail luff. Assuming you should be sailing harder on the wind the luffing sail will give you a clue as to which one to start to trim.
Windward ability is dependent on just about everything.
I'm looking forward to reading what the "Nutters" recommend, I'm sure you will get a lot of good ideas. It is something we have all dealt with.
We are in SF Bay between GG and Alcatraz. Current can be a factor, but we try to account for that. I am measuring total heading difference and dividing by two. So for instance this weekend we were going from a heading of 160 to 270 and then back to 160. We were at slack condition, with winds 20+ mph with some higher gusts.
What I am suspecting is the mast is raked too far aft. When you look up at it, the rake is very significant, I estimate maybe 12 inches.
The mounted compass can be off a lot.
Also I like to check with a track from the gps
With wind that strong I have never been able to get a 90 degree tack. Of course I almost always have current.
When the wind is strong free-board and sideways slippage is worse.
Waves are a factor that can cause you to loose points too.
What condition are your sails?
How much were you healing. If more than a few degrees reefing will actually improve your pointing.
We were healing quite a bit, and in the past we typically sailed with a full main. Last weekend we were trying with a reefed mainsail, but that is when my steering went out. I will try that again next time out. The other thing I was going to try is to let the jib sheets fly. They are currently rigged in the side running blocks, which the previous owner did for high winds. I am thinking the angle this creates tends to pull the bow off the wind. As for the sails, they appear to be in good shape. Being a relatively new sailor, I am not sure what to look for there. The boat does not have a boom vang. Also, we have tried moving the traveler to lee, which helps reduce the healing affect, but doesn't seem to help us get closer to the wind.
When you think about it if you are healed your keel is not doing it's job as well as it could which is to keep the boat from sliding sideways through the water. It is effectively shorter that it should be. Every boat has a designed sweet spot and if you are over canvased for that boat you will not point as high as you could.
Letting the jib sheets fly will probably make it worse.
The jib does at least three things.
Not on your boat usually but on some race boats they use an in-hauler which is a line attached to the center of the active sheet and pulled a right angles to the sheet to force the clue inboard even more to get a couple more degrees of heading. Never let it fly.
Good sails will be stiff to the point of crackling. Old sails will be like a t-shirt.
The good sails if cut right will set with a more accurate air foil shape.
When you head up too much which sail luffs first and how much further do you have to head up to luff the other sail?
Also look at how your jib is rigged. You may have to move the turning block back to streach the foot of the jib to get it flat. You want your sails to both be as flat as you can get them in high wind. It may not be intuitive but loose for light wind tight for heavy wind.
The jib may size may have to be reduced by reefing or exchange.
We can try pulling the turning block back further. The jib is not as flat as I think you are suggesting we try.
Not sure I can answer the question of which sail luffs first when we are heading up, but trying to recall back I think it is usually the jib.
The jib is furling. We can shorten it up quite easily and we can try that. My assessment of the sails is that the main is probably average condition. It isn't a tee shirt, but it is not as stiff as newer sails I have seen. The jib itself is probably closer to the tee shirt you describe.
Let us know what you try and and how it works out.
Also make sure your for-stay back-stay are tensioned properly.
A sagging furler will cause you to fall off.
Apologies for adding this comment late. I owned an 84 Hunter 31 for several years in the early 90's and got to love it. It's a very dynamic boat and easy to overpower. Inefficient pointing is often a symptom of just this. In addition to Davidpm's excellent comments, I would add a couple of things: one, your headsail trim, a couple of points here, both involving playing around with snatch blocks. If you have a furling genoa, unless it's a new system you'll have luff shape problems when you reef, and that of course will make you hesitant to reduce sail, but there is a way to address that without buying a new furler. A sail maker can place grommets in the genoa foot which you can use to haul down the foot. Also, a light line can be clipped on to the clew, run center-aft as a Barber hauler (not to be over-used - keep an eye on the main to make sure you're not creating turbulance in the slot). Second, you've got to make sure the standing rig is tuned well. A lot of riggers don't understand the B&R rig and are hesitant to stiffen it properly - the shrouds and stays need to be tuned as if they were a musical instrument. Tuned and trimmed right your Hunter will be a rocket ship. What a great boat.
Sail SHAPE is probably the deal here... all of the above advice is sound, however, if you do it all perfectly, if the sails don't have the proper curve you can't pull over 45 degrees off wind.
I noted this when I got this capri (110 furler). I wound up purchasing a 2nd hand 155 mylar and my point came up nicely. Then I found the original number 110 jib as a 2nd hand replacement, and it also got me nearly there. So you may be doing everything correctly but if the sails aren't up to it, you may be stuck.
Furlers are designed for "ease of use" and convenience for cruising, so point and shape are LESS design criteria.
Another thing they tell you to do, is fall off, accelerate, then "pinch" the wind, if you trim in as you do it, you may be able to maintain speed, and grab that last 5-10 degrees.
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