Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Orleans
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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 02:08 PM.