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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 05-23-2004
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lee helm

• Length overall: 25''0"
• Waterline: 21'' 5"
• Beam: 8''
• Weight: 3750
• Ballast: 1250
• Draft (Deep keel): 4'' 7"

I was out on the water sat 3 miles out when the wind changed from about about 10knts no white caps to about 18 to 20 with a few large gusts and lots of white caps and swells.

I was on a close reach tack but I was not making the headway I needed to get back to the marina. I tried to head up but boat would round to lee. The boat wanted to sail on a beam reach or broad reach, but this was the wrong way. I tried to come about but had a hard time getting the bow of the boat through the eye of the wind. Even when sailing on a beam reach I had to keep the tiller hard to the lee side.

I was not healing and reefing gave alittle more control but did not change the pushing to starboard (lee helm).

Was my main under powered and jib(100%) overpowered.

I finaly had to motor up wind to get home because tacking would have taken all night to get a mile.

Where did I go wrong. I have been in the position where boats round up when healing but I was to healing (much) and the boat was pushing to lee.

Thanks
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Old 05-24-2004
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lee helm

You left out some critical information such as what kind of boat, what sized jib (i.e. #1 genoa or 150% genoa) and whether you have a wheel or tiller. Normally lee helm is associated with carrying too large a genoa in relationship to the size of the mainsail, not enough mast rake, or poor boat design. There are few things more frustrating than sailing a boat with heavy lee helm in a strong wind.

Jeff
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Old 05-24-2004
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lee helm

jib 100%
tiller
rudder is not hung from transom
did reef
could I have changed the position of the genoa track

thanks
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Old 05-24-2004
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lee helm

You said "The boat wanted to sail on a beam reach or broad reach." A sailboat won''t sail close to the wind if the sails aren''t trimmed correctly for a beat to windward. If the sails are trimmed for a beam reach, the boat won''t sail any closer to the wind than a beam reach. If you want to sail close to the wind, especially in strong winds, you have to sheet the jib in very flat. People are often reluctant to put that much tension on the jib sheet in high winds for two reasons: (1) It makes the boat heel too much, and (2) they''re afraid they''ll rip or blow out the sail. If either is likely, then that tells you that your sails are too big for the windstrength. You need to reduce your sail area by raising a smaller jib and by reefing the mainsail. If you aren''t comfortable doing that, it might be easier to just lower all your sails and motor to shelter.

Watch a skilled sailor beating to windward. Compare the way (s)he trims the jib with the way you trim yours. On most 25'' cruiser/racers, the foot of the jib should follow approximately along the same shape as the curve of the hull-deck joint. The leech of the working jib should come within 3-6 inches of the mast spreader. As a general principle, the harder the wind is blowing, the more tension you have to apply to the jibsheet, and the closer the leech of the jib should be to the mast spreader.

If the sails are correctly trimmed in that way, and if you aren''t carrying too much sail area for the windstrength, the boat should be able to beat to windward, and it should be able to tack across the wind.
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Old 05-25-2004
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Sailormon, while I agree with you that beating in a strong wind, the sails (not just the jib) should be bladed out (halyards, main outhaul and sheets tightened, jib lead moved aft and traveller dropped to leeward) the original post described a boat that would not turn towards the wind and would not tack through the wind. In that case it might make sense to ease the jib so that it carried a bubble because it is the perhaps overly tight jib that is holding the boat to leeward.

Jeff
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Old 05-25-2004
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Jeff,

As you pointed out, it’s hard to answer questions like this, because there’s so much information that we don’t have. I agree that anything that detracts from boatspeed and pointing ability contributes to jrwright’s problem, including trimming the sails either too full or too flat.

While a boat is turning from one tack to the other, the sails are luffing and the boat is coasting. Therefore, when you start to tack, the boat has to have enough speed and momentum to carry it across the wind. If the boat loses its forward momentum before the bow crosses the wind, the boat will fall back onto its original course.

The most likely reasons why a boat won’t point or tack in strong winds are because the sails aren’t well-trimmed, and because of poor helmsmanship. If the sails aren’t well-trimmed, the boat won’t have enough speed to carry it through the tack. If poor sail trim prevents the boat from pointing as high as possible, the boat will have to coast through a wider arc in order to complete the tack, and that means the boat will have to coast a greater distance, with luffing sails, in order to cross the wind. In high winds, the waves smack against the bow and kill the boat’s momentum more quickly. The windage of the boat’s hull and fluttering sails also contributes to the boat’s loss of momentum. Therefore, to tack the boat successfully in those challenging conditions, you have to point as high as possible without pinching, keep the sails driving as long as possible, keep the speed up, and put the helm over smoothly and smartly, so that you force the bow to cross the wind before the boat loses all momentum. In moderate winds, you can get away with imprecise sail trim and helmsmanship, but in strong winds, you have to sail the boat much more efficiently, and there is much less margin for error.

If we could be on jrwright’s boat in these conditions, we could probably figure out the problem pretty quickly, but absent that, we have to guess. Although there are other possible causes, I’d bet the main reason why he is having trouble pointing and tacking in those conditions is because his jib is too full. His sail selection (100% jib and reefed mainsail) sounds OK to me, but if the jib is too full, that would seem to be the most likely cause of his problems (grossly excessive weather helm and won’t sail to windward and won’t tack across the wind). If the mainsail isn’t trimmed correctly, that could contribute to the excessive weather helm, but it wouldn’t cause the bow to bear off the wind. That’s why I am suspicious of jib fullness.
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Old 05-25-2004
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Sailormon6,

Now I see what you are thinking. Thank you for the explanation. You''re right the only sure answer is to get out there and see what is going on with our own eyes. I have a very different picture of what is happening than you are discribing but I can see from your explanation that my perception could be completely wrong.

Jeff
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