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post #1 of 10 Old 08-15-2012 Thread Starter
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Trouble tacking

Just started sailing. I have a columbia 23T with a shoal keel. I took her out for the first time and was sailing just fine for the first couple of hours. The wind started picking up and then I found I could not tack. I would get close then the boat would start moving leeward and try to jibe. Tried several times but could not tack. I know my mainsail is stretched quite a bit (ordering new one). Don't know if that is a factor. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 10 Old 08-16-2012
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Trouble tacking

You need some speed and you need to tack sharply in heavier wind. Don't cut too close to the wind and lose speed before tacking. Sail her steadily then push the tiller all the way quickly and shell go through the tack. Also learn how to backwind the jib by not releasing it immediately.
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Last edited by asdf38; 08-16-2012 at 12:56 PM.
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post #3 of 10 Old 08-16-2012
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Re: Trouble tacking

You don't say what sails you were flying, so I'll assume, for the sake of this discussion, that you were flying a mainsail and a big genoa, around 130-150%.

First, the sails must be raised reasonably well, with no big wrinkles along the luff or foot of the sails. Then, before you start to tack, you need to get the boat sailing closehauled; that is, it should be sailing as close to the wind as possible, without pinching. When the genoa is trimmed properly for a closehauled course, the leech of the jib should be trimmed in until it is about 6" from the spreader tip. If the sails are properly trimmed and the boat is sailing on a closehauled course, then all you have to do is put the helm over, and release the working jibsheet when it stops driving, and then haul in the lazy sheet and trim it for the new course. If you try to tack from a course that is less than closehauled, then the sails luff and stop driving the boat before you can steer her bow across the eye of the wind, and she will fall back onto the old course. You have to begin the tack from a closehauled course, so that she will have enough boatspeed to carry her all the way through the tack.
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post #4 of 10 Old 08-16-2012
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Re: Trouble tacking

How's your tiller pressure just before you try to tack? If you have to pull it a couple of inches or more to windward of amidships to maintain a steady course, then of course that's (1) weather helm (your bow wants to head up toward the weather) and tacking should be easy.

(2) neutral helm? Do what you're advised in the above posts--get speed up, make sure you're up at close-hauled, and away you go, she should tack.

But what you're describing sounds like (3) lee helm (bow wants to bear off, you're having to push the tiller to leeward of midships just to keep her headed straight). That's really going to be hard to tack with, especially with a shallow keel, as the boat not only wants to turn to leeward (towards a jibe as you say), it's also sliding to leeward since the keel isn't that deep. Reasons? well, basically the center of effort (the central average pushing point of wind on your sails) is forward of the boat's center of lateral resistance (aka pivot point). Why? Maybe you have too much jib, not enough main (or a blown-out or improperly tensioned main that lacks much power compared to the jib). Or, maybe you've let that main out to keep the boat on her feet in a breeze to the point where it's mostly luffing, with a large overlapping jib still trimmed in hard, that would also give you "too much jib", which will resist, rather than promote, your attempt to head her up into the brisk wind you describe.

If your sails are wonderful and properly trimmed and you still have lee helm, then something's kinda wrong. You may have to rake your mast farther aft in order to move the sail area/CE aft.

Or wait for that new mainsail, it, along with more tiller time, may solve your problem without messing with rigging and mast position. Meantime, find an old salt and let him/her try to tack her. That will tell you more than we who are at keyboards.

Anyway, good luck, keep asking questions, and welcome to sailing.

Last edited by nolatom; 08-16-2012 at 01:08 PM.
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post #5 of 10 Old 08-16-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Trouble tacking

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I am running a Jib and not a genoa plus the mainsail. I will be back out sailing Friday and will pay special attention to the sail trim and the tiller. I did notice that I could not sail as close to the wind as on the boat I learned to sail on (Rhodes 22 - of course still learning). Will also try to hook-up with an old salt to have him go out with me. I also do backfill the jib before releasing it so I don't think that was the problem. Once again thanks and I'll let everyone know how it works out.
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post #6 of 10 Old 08-16-2012
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Re: Trouble tacking

Nolaton... that was the best response ever

RNV5157... I hope you don't mean you are running JUST with the Jib...won't be able to tack on that, period...Jib only = Downwind only.... Lee Helm (case 3 above) if you even attempt to turn up wind a bit, let alone tack

Most probably: You DO have a Genoa (people will call all heasails "Jib"), i.e. does it extend PAST the mast? that is not a pure Jib... and you DON'T have the Mainsail working hard enough (either because you have it too loose, or godforbid, not raised)...

Tighten the Mainsail (that will force the boat TO wind), get speed, push hard on tiller until bow passes the wind

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post #7 of 10 Old 08-16-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Trouble tacking

Yes I do have my mainsail up and my jib does not extend past the mast. I think my problem is mostly with my mainsail trim and the fact that it is very stretched out. But since I'm essentially a rookie I am considering and will check out all of the great suggestions I am getting.
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post #8 of 10 Old 08-17-2012
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Re: Trouble tacking

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Originally Posted by asdf38 View Post
Also learn how to backwind the jib by not releasing it immediately.
On any conventional monohull, you shouldn't need to do this.
If you do backwind the jib, only do it if it's a non-overlapping headsail. Otherwise it's a good way to punch a hole in the sail.

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post #9 of 10 Old 08-17-2012
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Re: Trouble tacking

the columbia 23T is a very shoal draft boat and does not tack well. in high winds it is hard to get it to sail good to weather (close hauled) it wants to slide sideways so you find your self sailing more on a reach to keep the boat moving. to tack you need to keep speed. in high winds you will need to tack quickly with a the boat moving. a lot like tacking a CAT. some times you will have to use a little backwind of the jib to help get it around. the bagy main is also a problem because it is draging you sideways and you can't sail as close to the wind as you should be when the wind pick up.

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post #10 of 10 Old 08-20-2012
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Re: Trouble tacking

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Originally Posted by RNV5157 View Post
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I am running a Jib and not a genoa plus the mainsail. I will be back out sailing Friday and will pay special attention to the sail trim and the tiller. I did notice that I could not sail as close to the wind as on the boat I learned to sail on (Rhodes 22 - of course still learning). Will also try to hook-up with an old salt to have him go out with me. I also do backfill the jib before releasing it so I don't think that was the problem. Once again thanks and I'll let everyone know how it works out.
I confused... IF you can get the JIB BACK FILLED then you're TACKED or soon will be...
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