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sailguy40 02-07-2010 12:15 AM

Just a question for experienced sailors
 
Say you are out in a bay or lake several miles and the wind dies down to nearly nothing, do you motor all the way back at this point? I am wondering how much wind a sailboat actually needs to keep moving along without motoring? For example, a 25ft sailboat which I have and have not sailed it yet. Also, it seems to me that if both a mainsail and jib are up the sailboat will move along faster because two sails are up and going, am I correct?

Zanshin 02-07-2010 02:47 AM

Your speed in the boat is not only affected by the wind speed but also its direction. Running straight downwind is going to be slow, no matter how much sail you put up you will never reach windspeed. On a broad reach you can go faster than the true wind.
The answer to your question is relative to the amount of hurry you are in. I've found that if my speed goes below about 2-3knots I now turn on the engine and motorsail, but that is personal preference. When crossing an ocean the amount of fuel is limited, so sailboats stuck in the doldrums with nary a breath of wind for days upon end sometimes don't have the fuel reserves to turn on the engine but must sit out the still air.

Sailormon6 02-07-2010 03:02 AM

As long as there is any reasonably discernible movement of air, a sailboat can sail. In light air, the boat might not be going very fast, but it can sail. The decision as to when you should continue sailing and when you should give it up and start the motor is primarily governed by your own time parameters, i.e., how much time are you willing to spend in travelling a short distance? Sailing in light air is a special skill that many sailors have not yet learned. but people who know how to sail in light air enjoy it for the challenge.

Generally, a sloop is designed to sail most quickly and efficiently with both sails. However, depending on the conditions, it might sail to your satisfaction with only one sail. In a strong wind, it might actually sail better with only one sail. In that case, using both sails might overpower the boat and make it difficult to control.

sailingdog 02-07-2010 08:45 AM

Another consideration to keep in mind is current. If you sail on salt water, the tidal currents can determine whether sailing is feasible or not. If you have an outgoing tidal current of 3 knots and only a 4 knot sea breeze, chances are pretty good you won't be sailing back...

nickmerc 02-07-2010 11:20 AM

It also depends on your sail inventory. If you have sails made of lighter material you will have an easier time sailing in very light air since the sail will take on a better shape sooner than a heavier material.

One other big issue for me on a lake or bay is the power boats. They are a huge PITA when the try to help by slowing down as they go by. It just makes thier wake bigger if they come off of planing. Whatever headway you are making will be ruined by a few wakes. Plus it beats your rigging and sails up.

I enjoy light air sailing. As mentioned above it is a skill most sailors have not honed. The skills also transfer to heavier winds as you can gain more speed by knowing how to trim sails and balance your boat.
________
Ocean View Condos

jrd22 02-07-2010 11:20 AM

You are correct about both sails moving the boat more effectively than just one in light winds. As you do more sailing you will determine your own "iron jenny" rule, most people tend to fire up the engine if boat speed drops below 2- 3 knots or so. Drifting along on a sunny day with no wind, just waiting for a little breeze can be pretty nice though if you don't have time constraints.

jaschrumpf 02-07-2010 02:50 PM

I follow the wisdom of the skipper who taught my ASA 103 course: "I refuse to wallow."

degreeoff 02-07-2010 03:47 PM

I have no issues just making 2-3 knots.....less than that is bad......Also I find the crew tend to not like the "wallowing....;-P"

jackdale 02-07-2010 09:43 PM

So far everyone is right. Point of sail, sail inventory, etc. all make a difference. So does the type of the boat. A big, heavy full-keel boat will not the make the same light air speed as a light fin-keel race boat.

Cal28 02-08-2010 12:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 567836)
Another consideration to keep in mind is current. If you sail on salt water, the tidal currents can determine whether sailing is feasible or not. If you have an outgoing tidal current of 3 knots and only a 4 knot sea breeze, chances are pretty good you won't be sailing back...

Feeling very good .. aware that in some measure I am learning ..

I read down this post .. and wanted to add tidal currents .. before I saw that sailingdog had already talked about this ... as I spent close to 7 hours on San Francisco Bay today .. some of it (but not much) wallowing .. most of it sailing .. abit of it .. trying to sail back just as sailingdog described .. sitting on my Cal 28 at the moment .. reviewing the lessons I learned today ..

I would like to recommend that you get a copy of David Seidman's book, The Complete Sailor .. I've read it cover to cover now 3 times .. and continue to learn .. and am just starting to understand ..


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