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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 06-30-2005
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shane1974 is on a distinguished road
Heeling

Hi I am new to sailing and have just prchased a 28ft custom built huon pine sloop. being me I sometimes think that the best way to learn something is to get out there and do it, however when I went out the other day (first time) I was sailing down wind ok but when I turned to come back up stream the boat started to heel quite a bit so I turn the boat back down wind to stand it back up. My question is, is it hard to tip a yacht this size over.
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Old 06-30-2005
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Irwin32 is on a distinguished road
Heeling

Just getting out there has its merits, but you should do some reading.

Typically, a 28 footer should be hard to "tip" over. However, many factors do come into play and a blanket rule is impossible. Some boats heel quite easily (called tender), yet once in the groove are quite solid. If your boat is of narrow beam it will heel easily. If it is well designed it will "stiffen up" once in the groove.

Tender boats need to reef their mains early and shorten head sail as well. This does not make them unseaworthy, one just has to learn how to handle the idiosycrasies of these designs.

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Old 07-01-2005
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JeffC_ is on a distinguished road
Heeling

Congratulations on the purchase of your new boat, and welcome into the sailing fraternity, Shane.

Sailing upwind will always involve a bit of heel, as your boat strikes a balance point between the force of the wind that wants to roll it onto its side, and the weight of the keel, called ballast, that wants to "right" your craft to a completely vertical position. (Those little dinghy sailors zipping around you must use their own bodyweight as the ballast to counter the heeling force, so you will see them always on the upwind side of their craft when sailing to weather; you have a big heavy keel to do the job). The closer to the wind you sail, the greater the heeling motion will be. This is quite normal, up to a point.

Most boats only sail well with up to ten degrees or so of heeling motion. Beyond that, the aero- and hydro-dynamic efficiency of your craft falls off for several reasons, and produces a few tell-tale symptoms, e.g., increased <em>weather helm</em> (the increased pull at the tiller/wheel that must be countered to remain on your desired course); the resultant tendency for your craft to <em>round up</em> into the wind, then bear away again, leaving a "scalloped" wake; a loss of speed; and a general feeling of loss of control over the boat. A sailing craft in this condition is said to be <em>overpowered</em>: the amount of driving force must be reduced to regain control and let the boat sail "on her feet" once more.

Most boats have sail controls that are designed to de-power the sail plan, among them the <em>boom vang</em> and <em>clew outhaul</em> which, when tightened, will flatten the mainsail, reducing the lift it generates; the <em>traveller</em>, which will allow the boom to be positioned so as to spill excess wind out of the sail; and a <em>reefing system</em> which will allow a reduction in the total sail area and therefore reduce drive.

When these controls are used properly and judiciously, control is regained and the symptom of excessive heel disappears. You also look as if you know what you''re doing, because, well, you do.

Since you''re a hands-on learner (as I am), I''d encourage you to stop by a local Barnes N'' Noble, and pick up one of the many excellent primers on sailing that will explain the basic physics involved and good sail handling techniques in detail (and with diagrams!). I cut my nautical teeth on Bob Bond''s <em>Handbook of Sailing</em>, but there are several other equally good, easy-to-read volumes on the shelf right next to it. I can''t think of a better investment for you at this point. Read, read, let the light go on, then get out there and put theory into practice.

Fair Winds,
Jeff
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Old 07-02-2005
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Jonathan316 is on a distinguished road
Heeling

Killer answer Jeff. Way to go!

Jonathan
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Old 09-07-2005
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Denr is an unknown quantity at this point
Heeling

almost correct jeffc, the boom vang is not to be used up wind to flatten or depower the main, forces are too great, it should only be used off the wind. Other than that, nice response.
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Old 11-06-2005
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paulchristi is on a distinguished road
Heeling

A simple answer is that if your boat is a well-designed keelboat, it''s nearly impossible to tip over (of course, this answer doesn''t apply to dinghies). Heeling reduces the sail area that is exposed to the wind...the farther that you heel over, the reduction in sail area reduces the heeling force. In other words, the more that you heel, the harder the wind has to work to try to tip you over.

So, to tip over a sailboat (knockdown), something unusual has to happen such as being overpowered and hit by a tremendous gust at the same time you are cresting a wave. All of the above are in your control, so in general you''d have to either try to force a knockdown or be sailing in conditions that are significantly worse than your abilities.

Paul Christiansen
Hammond, Oregon
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Old 11-07-2005
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locrian13 is on a distinguished road
Heeling

I, too, will echo the congratulations of others. You''ve received some great responses. I just wanted to add that if you find Bond''s ''Handbook'' difficult to read, you might try Doris Colgate''s ''Sailing: A Woman''s Guide''. Your gender matters not--this is a good book about the basics of sailing.

I think it may because I don''t think spatially at all (I didn''t do very well in Physics!), but Bond''s book was tough for me to understand. Now that I''ve been sailing a little while, I might pick it up again to see if things make a little more sense. Anyway, I did enjoy Colgate''s book as it made more sense to my female brain, and I thought it did a good job of covering the basics.
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Old 11-14-2005
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Cjboeke is on a distinguished road
Heeling

Shane,
Great advice above, my .0002 boat bucks would be to thumb though some sailing books at B&N, or some other bookstore known for variety. When you find one written in a way that interests you, grab that one.
In addition, don''t wait too long to start diving into navigation, coast guard regulations, boat repair, etc. You may not plan on making major repairs to your boat; but, personaly, the warm fuzzy providing by learning how to fix that whatchamacallit on the doohickey provided a boost of confidence in the water. Finally, ditch the forems (although great) every once and a while, and log some blue time.
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Old 02-18-2006
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chrondi is an unknown quantity at this point
As far as heeling is concerned, what was not stated in previous answers is that in most cruising boats, when sailing close-hauled (i.e. close to windward) or even reaching with excessive canvas and hence your angle of heel grows and nears 20°, the hull design makes the vessel turn head to wind, thus depowering the sails and straightening the boat. Unfortunately, this way you may be protected from a possible knock-down, but it becomes extremely difficult to steer a course when the boat develops such a big weather helm. In such circumstances, there is no other solution but REEF. It is the hull design, not the weather force, that tells you when to reduce sail!
Fair winds to everybody
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