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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #11  
Old 02-24-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

As always from this gaggle, good advise.

Sail upwind (and/or up-current) away from the dock if possible. It's easier to get back if you are sailing with the wind and current.
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  #12  
Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

Part of the problem that you experienced comes from the physics of sails and a sail boat. The force that the wind provides to the sail is focused on a point of the sail called the Center of Effort, or CE for short. Here is a pic (not mine - used without permission - from paddlin.com - I acknowledge rights to whomever posted it) that illustrates the point well;


On a boat, like yours, with a Jib and a Main, the two centers of effort should work together to bring the CE near the center of the boat. Trimming the sails so that the CE allows the boat to sail on a particular heading is called balance. Here is another pic (same disclaimers - this from answers.com) that shows how the two combine;


... and a great image of "balance" here (from catamaranvega.com);


So, with you only flying the jib, you had the center of effort too far forward to allow the boat to head more closely to the wind (called pointing). Think of a windsurfer where you hold the sail toward the bow of the board; what happens?... That's right, the boat sails down wind.

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  #13  
Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post

PS - It looks like you were gybing (turning the stern through the wind) - not tacking (turning the bow through the wind). Be aware of the difference when you do get that main up.
I am always told this and I have one problem. When you gybe you are making a tack(Changed direction of vessel in relationship to your sails). wouldn't be easier to say you are coming about or Helms alee. Why am I not tacking when I gybe???
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Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lapworth View Post
I am always told this and I have one problem. When you gybe you are making a tack(Changed direction of vessel in relationship to your sails). wouldn't be easier to say you are coming about or Helms alee. Why am I not tacking when I gybe???
Dude, you're getting way too technical for me. All I know is that I keep them very separate in my mind. The reason is this:

If I happen to do an "accidental tack" in big wind - I'm hove to.
If I happen to do an "accidental gybe" in big wind - my rig is in the water.

Apart from that, handling the sails for each maneuver is very different. So I think it's always a good reminder to the crew to call tack/gybe vs. coming about. Otherwise you end up with the genny wrapped around the forestay.
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  #15  
Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

In addition to raising the main, one trick you'll want to learn is how to sail to a particular point. You'll need to adjust the angle of the boat, and the trim on the sails, to be able to get back to the dock. You were partly fighting "leeway", the tendency of the wind to push the boat sideways. If you only sail with the wind essentially at 90 degrees to the boat's heading, you'll never get back to the dock because the wind will always be pushing you sideways.
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  #16  
Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

Quote:
Why am I not tacking when I gybe???
'Cause that's the terminology. When crossing the wind while going to windward, it's a tack. When crossing the wind while going downwind, it's a gybe. The differentiation and a thorough understanding of the relative wind direction and it's effects can be the difference between killing someone (being hit with the boom during an unplanned gybe) or a bonk (being hit with the boom while tacking).

If you tell me "prepare to tack", I know instantly which direction you're going to turn and what to expect from the wind and sails. Tell me "prepare to gybe", and I'll expect something entirely different and I will prepare the boat differently. The terms have meaning and are not interchangeable.

IMO, "Helms alee" is an archaic term and should only be used on a boat with a tiller, if then.
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  #17  
Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

First, thanks for the great advice so far. I'm excited to be a part of this community!

I'm starting to understand some of my mistakes. First, every time I tried to point slightly upwind, the sails would start to luff. So we eased the jib instead of sheeting in. When we eased, the jib would catch the wind and push us hard lee.

I also was not very smart about how we had everything set up on the boat. We had the main down, but still attached and lashed to the boom with a single tie. The result is the boom and the sail were basically sitting on our lap and we had to maneuver under and around it the whole time. Not being comfortable in the boat eroded our confidence in what we were doing.

The CE, or center of effort makes perfect sense. I suspected that that was the problem when I was on the water, but did not know how to put it into words. So how do I find a good CE with only the mainsail up?

Also, when sailing into the wind I need to sheet in. I know it depends on the angle, but how parallel can the boom be in relation to the axis of the boat?

I'm going to look for some little 2hp motors, and I have a friend that may give me an electric motor.

I did not say this in the OP, but when sailing and paddling both failed, I figured I would try with the mainsail. My wife and this point pretty much hit her breaking point, and started to panic a bit. So I raised the mainsail, but as I realized later I missed a pulley, and could not control the boom. So the net effect was to push us about a mile downwind.

That is when I admitted defeat and flagged down a passing boater.

I think my next plan is to leave my wife with the trailer, and if I can’t manage to get upwind I will have her meet me at a different ramp downwind. I'm going to only use the mainsail, and concentrate learning how to tack slightly upwind sailing across the lake on each tack. That way I don’t have to make many short tacks at steeper angles into the wind. Once I get that down hopefully I will have a motor and some skills and she will get back on the boat with me!

We did have fun before we realized we could not get upwind. It was very exhilarating! Thanks again for all of your comments

EDIT: Also changed my profile. If anyone is in central Texas let me know!

Last edited by ROTCatCU; 02-25-2013 at 11:04 AM.
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  #18  
Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

Texas has a very active sailing community. I'd bet you can grab some time on someone else's boat without too much effort. That's a great way to get a feel for what to do.

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that you shouldn't go out on your boat until you've done the above. I'm all for "hands-on" playing, and even failing (I've done/do my fair share of it!). But that's not always the most efficient way to learn, especially with your (now slightly distrustful) wife watching (not that I'VE ever been in that situation ).

Regarding your question about sail trim, that's the key to the whole game here. If you let the sail out too far, it will flog/flap around, and the sail can't create an efficient airfoil. To oversimplify, you can imagine that you're creating "bumps" in the air that reduce the forward motion of the boat. Sheeting the sail in too tight will cause inefficiencies too, and will tend to make the boat heel (lean) because of the forces the wind is exerting. Too much heel, and the boat goes over. It doesn't happen as often when under a headsail alone, but...

Also, remember that while your goal when out "playing" may be to make the boat go as fast as it can (or at least as fast as you are comfortable), when it's time to come home, your goal is to sail back to the dock. The sail trim for those two purposes will likely be very different, and the boat likely won't move anywhere near as fast on the way home as it did when you were out playing. That's both OK and normal.

When we took our lessons my wife and I went out with the old sailor, rather than the young kid instructor, because the kid was more interested in going fast. I told our instructor that I wanted to focus on learning how to sail to a point - speed meant nothing to me if I couldn't get back to the dock.

You might want to consider picking up Sailing for Dummies or another such book, and you should check out the Articles section here on Sailnet, too. There's a lot of good information there.

Most importantly, don't give up, and keep coming back and asking questions. The folks here are very patient (well, most of them), and are great sources of information.
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  #19  
Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ROTCatCU View Post
First, thanks for the great advice so far. I'm excited to be a part of this community!
Stick around. You'll find that we each have personalities: some that you will like, or will drive you nutz.

Quote:
I'm starting to understand some of my mistakes.
Some of us are always trying to understand our mistakes... that's part of the fun of sailing. Post here often, and people will point out mistakes that you didn't even know that you made.

Quote:
...The result is the boom and the sail were basically sitting on our lap and we had to maneuver under and around it the whole time. Not being comfortable in the boat eroded our confidence in what we were doing.
That does not sound like fun to me... It would be a pity if you or she gave up after one bad outing. Think of sailing like snow or water skiing. The first time is not very fun, and you fall more than you ski. However, after a while it becomes second nature. With some of us, it becomes an obsession.

Quote:
The CE, or center of effort makes perfect sense. I suspected that that was the problem when I was on the water, but did not know how to put it into words. So how do I find a good CE with only the mainsail up?
You can not! If the boat was designed to have two sails, then it will only be balanced with two sails. With the jib alone, the CE will be too far forward, and the bow will get pushed leeward. With the main alone, the CE will be too far aft, and the stern will get pushed leeward (called "rounding up"). If you round up a lot, again the wind will push you leeward. Neither of these are fun, or effective at getting you where you want, or need, to go.

I will suggest that you and she take a lesson in sailing on a larger boat. You'll get more out of a 1 day lesson than you think. Also, it should not be too expensive (it will certainly be cheaper than a motor), and you will learn the basics. You could also find someone to take you or her out in your boat (it looks a little too cozy for three), and learn the basics of your particular vessel.

Quote:
...We did have fun before we realized we could not get upwind. It was very exhilarating!
The fun only increases as you feel more comfortable with the boat!
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Last edited by eherlihy; 02-25-2013 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 02-25-2013
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Re: First time on the water today, I could use some advice!

no "years of experience" here but, I totally understand what you are saying about a small motor. many here will tell you it can actually be a hindrance etc, however if you want your wife to sail with you, you have to concede to her wishes to some extent.
I took my wife out on a small boat without an engine on it. (rental) we had no trouble sailing, or bringing it back in but she was never "at ease" because of fear of being stranded.
I purchased a first boat recently and ensured it had an engine with it. Suddenly she can't wait to go out on the boat, because she knows the engine is there if we need it.
I want her to go sailing with me so I give in to her concerns, a minor concession in my mind.

BTW I did take the ASA 101 class and was very glad I did. It is pricey (and I'm not one to spend $ on lessons for anything) but very well worth it. It shortens the learning curve dramatically.
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