Sailing a Hobie 16
I learned to sail on a Hobie 14 then taught on a 16 the following two summers. Unfortunately that was 20 years ago and it was on a light wind shifty mountain lake.
I am going to be renting a H16 on Oahu in a few days, would like some pointers. The boat does not get rented out above 20 knots so huge winds are not a concern. Just want some pointer on sailing this boat in heavier winds. I will take any pointers I can though.
I can't remember how to tack it but remember it was a little different. Jam over the rudder or smooth tack? Back wind the jib or let it loose for the Tack?
I will be visiting friends on the island 2 couples with kids. Will the boat hold 8 people if 2 are small? Okay I know 8 is not possible. I used to have me and 3-4 kids which was a bit awkward but the lake was narrow and wind light. What is a reasonable sized crew on a H16 in good winds?
If you jam over the rudder you will stall the boat and blow the tack. Cats have two pivot points, not one, so you have to steer it through the tack where in a mono you would put the tiller hard over. Even then backwinding the jib is often needed, esp. if there is a lot of weight in the wrong part of the boat (which may well be true if you have a lot of inexperienced people on board).
If the wind is piping up and the seas are kicking up you will want your weight aft so you dont dig the bows into the back of a wave.
More than 3 on board is a progressivly bad idea.
I rented one in Oahu 25 years ago, an got yelled at for taking it too far. I felt I was fine, but I had one and been actively ocean sailing it for years. They hold you close to the beach, inside the reef.
Sheeting out a bit just as the boat comes through the wind really helps it get onto the next tack.
I agree with the previous posters that 3 is probably the most people you would want aboard - in light wind, having more weight aboard makes it harder to get the boat moving, and in a stronger breeze, it becomes an issue of balance and choreography to try to have the weight in right places and move about during tacks.
For tacking, as they said, you'll want to turn smoothly through the wind to maintain speed, and it usually helps to let the jib backwind to help push the bow(s) over.
Sounds like fun!
I owned and sailed an H16 for about 10 years before I got my Pearson 30. The wife wanted a more family freindly boat. Anyway taking the H16 takes some practice and coordination. Here is a good cheat sheet that will get you off to a decent start:
1) Fall off slightly to build speed
2) Have your crew position them selves in the center of the trampoline under the boom as far forward as you can get them
3) Put the helm to lee no more than 45 deg. Do this quickly but smoothly. You will get the feel after a few times.
4) Leave the jib backwinded until the main pops across. It will actually sound like a pop when the battens flex to the new leeward side.
5) After the main pops immediately let it out about 12-16 inches.
6) At the same time have your crew tack the jib. If they cannot tack the jib, do it yourself after you let the main out.
7) Fall off on the new tack a bit to gain speed
8) As you accelerate head back up on coarse and sheet in the main
9) When you are established on your new course set the jib
All this said, you will probably blow some tacks at first. With a practiced crew this is all done seamlessly in seconds. It can also be done well singlehanded. If you do blow the tack, you will probably start sailing backwards. You can use this to steer the bows in the correct direction and recover. If this doesn't work go back to your original tack and try again. Leave yourself plenty of room to tack in case you run into trouble. On a Hobie you will eat up the distance quickly.
The reason you want weight at the forward part of the tramp during a tack is two fold. If the winds are up you want the help holding the bows down so you don't blow over backwards off a wave. Also, the assymmetric hulls are bananna shaped and the center fo the curve is just about below the forward cross beam. Having weight here will make is easier for the hulls to pivot. If you don't have weight here the boat will try to pivot around the rudders and drag both hulls through the water. It is much more difficult to successfully tack when this happens.
Do not worry about capsizing an H16. If it is windy enough to capsize it is windy enough to help right the boat with only one person.
Go and have a blast!
Also consider jibing the boat instead of tacking through the wind. It may be a bit more dangerous but you will be able to reverse course quickly by jibing.
All above comments make good sense too.
Just a couple things to add. The 16 works best as a 1 or 2 person boat. The bows drag and it's hard to get the weight right with anything more than 3 - especially if everyone is ~200+ lbs. I bought an 18 for that reason. After sailing with some weight on the 16 and seeing it's performance drag SO much, I find the 18 much much better suited to carry the extra people and weight.
With that said, once you get the hang of it be sure to solo it yourself and have some fun at some point. The tacks require you to backwind the jib. I've never tried gybing the boat.
Nickmerc's advice is right on the money.
The problem with having too many on board in 15-20 knots, especially if they're inexperienced, is that your ability to control trim is compromised. For example, you could have the very odd experience of sinking the stern if you try to tack and miss it. I've seen it happen. The weight aft is fine on a reach, but when you come into the wind, the bows rise up as the boat slows, the wind gets under the tramp, and the boat rotates one way or the other into the capsize. On the other hand, if you gybe, and the crew doesn't move aft and to windward quickly enough, you can easily go over. On a screaming broad reach, just a bit too much weight too far forward and you can dig in the leeward hull and pitchpole. All great fun, if your crew doesn't mind getting wet! :D
Your crew needs to be agile and willing to follow instructions quickly to move their weight where it's needed. I sailed my Hobie 16 for over 25 years, and learned that the key to keeping it upright is having the weight in the right place at the right time.
Nothing to add except to say I miss my 16ft hobie ...
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