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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 07-19-2010
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Worst forecast, best lessons..

This past weekend's forecast for SE La. and the Lake was for a passing tropical wave to make it wet and stormy, 70% chance of tstorms Saturday afternoon, 60% Sunday.

I'm a cautious guy, especially with students, but to me, radar trumps forecast, at least short-term. Both days it showed bad weather just to the east and west, and north, but kind of an open 'trail' to the south where the systems were coming from.

Turns out that trail was *just* wide enough for us to get in two excellent lessons (these were folks with at least one prior lesson, so not totally new sailors).

Excellent because we had to actually use some of the drills in real-life and not just in theory. Like taking in and shaking out a reef, putting on lifejackets and foulies in a hurry, and feathering the boat upwind in 18-22 knot "dry (almost wet, but not quite) minimal squall" conditions. Also lots of weatherbird stuff, watching the clouds and reacting accordingly, dropping the traveler down, "rail meat" all to windward, that kind of stuff. And how to scramble quickly to the new windward side after a tack (lightweight boat), and get her moving again.

Then unreefing and beating home as the wind let up and sky brightened.

Somehow we were "in" (though just barely) with the weather Gods this weekend, I can't explain it but we were. Dontcha just love it when that happens? The students sure did, did a good job, and i think learned a lot.
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Old 07-19-2010
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Man - that sounds like a great day and an extremely valuable lesson for those guys. Nice work dude.

BTW - in learning the terminology better, what exactly is "feathering"? What I understand it to mean is what I also heard to be "pinching" - so I think I'm off.

I thought it was turning up into the wind after a tack just enough to slack the jib/genny to sheet it in more without having to winch it.
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Old 07-19-2010
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your last sentence describes one use for feathering, it makes the grinder's job much easier for a few seconds, before you have to foot off again to keep your speed up.

I was using it to mean the process if heading up in a fresh breeze while close-hauled just enough to lift the inside jib telltale slightly (or more) to keep the boat "on her feet" and not heeled too far, and then constantly making slight heading adjustments to keep the force felt by the sails, and the equilibrium of the boat, relatively constant despite variations in wind speed and angle, and avoid having to keep easing and trimming the main (and losing speed and heel angle) to assist this. I call it "keeping her right on the edge, with just the tiller".

And I was impressed with how well the students picked this up, in strong puffy air.

Maybe others can explain it better, but that's the best I can do.
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Cool - thanks nola.
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Feathering is more or less just pinching on purpose in heavy air - however due to higher breeze the foils won't stall as much/quickly so a "feathered" boat makes much less leeway than a "pinched" boat.
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