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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-18-2013 09:23 AM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Edit: I just noticed you are sailing a dinghy, that may not have a foresail, so this could all be academic. In that case, the single sail is generally placed to allow for the balance alone and there is no jib car.
Good explanation, Minnie.. but my bad too for not noticing the boat.. looks like a Topper dinghy which is pretty laser-like so main only (unless it's the Catamaran).. also explains the 'jib-like' telltale arrangement on a 'mainsail'...

So Mike disregard the jib chat until you get a boat with one!!
09-18-2013 05:16 AM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...


The jib car is the block that the line coming from the foresail passes through to redirect toward the cockpit. It's placement will affect the angle at which that line pulls on the foresail. The further forward, the more it pulls down on the sail. The further aft, the more it pulls across. On some boats, this car is adjustable underway, on some it is set once.

As for heavy helm, Faster is referring to heavy weather helm. Meaning the boat wants to turn toward the wind. This is generally good, but the boat sails best with a modest amount of weather helm. Think of your boat essentially pivoting side to side on its keel. Since the main sail is furthest aft, wind pushes the aft away and, therefore, the bow pivots toward the wind. The opposite is generally true for the foresail. When flying both sails, these are trimmed to be in balance with a modest amount of weather helm. Without a foresail, you'll get more 'heavier' weather helm.

Heavy weather helm is inefficient because you have to deflect the rudder more to overcome it, which creates more drag and slows you down. It can also be exhausting over a long period to hold the helm with excess pressure against it.

Edit: I just noticed you are sailing a dinghy, that may not have a foresail, so this could all be academic. In that case, the single sail is generally placed to allow for the balance alone and there is no jib car.
09-18-2013 04:59 AM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...


Thanks for your explanation. However, being the new guy, I don't understand some of your terminology:

"Jib cars not set properly" I am only using a mainsail now, no jib yet. But what the heck is a jib car, and how does one set it properly?
Could you explain what you mean by the term 'heavy helm'?
09-18-2013 12:02 AM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Main telltales are usually on the trailing edge ( leech) and if they are "flying" you're getting a clean exit flow off the main- the most useful data, unlike on a headsail the telltales either side let you "see" the attached laminar flow and let's you know when the angle of attack matches the trim setting.. Here if both tells are streaming aft it means you have the correct trim for the apparent wind angle, usually the optimum setting.

To take that one step further, all telltale sets (top to bottom) should fly similarly, if they don't its an indication that your jib cars are not properly set. If the upper set breaks early on a luff, move lead forward.

If you're sailing mainsail only, heavy helm is going to be a problem often...
09-17-2013 11:16 PM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Ok, next question: can I assume that if the telltales on both sides of the main are pointing towards the stern of the boat that I have the sail correctly trimmed and am going as fast as I can at that time?
09-16-2013 07:12 AM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

A good sailor will always question whether they are making their best speed for given conditions. Generally the more data you acquire the more likely you'll be able to answer that question for yourself.

Sounds like you are well on your way.
09-16-2013 04:44 AM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Thanks to all for the help and awesome information...even if I don't understand much of the terminology. After a couple of months of sailing, I feel like I am starting to understand my area. I also think that I need one more thing to focus on while sailing:

It seems that for the most part I always feel like I could be going faster than I really am. I guess that's natural; wondering what I'm doing wrong and what I would be doing if there was an instructor with me at that moment. But, I'm not interested in setting any speed records, so if I end up where I want to be, then it takes as long as it takes.
09-12-2013 04:06 PM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Specific locations have definite, predictable wind patterns. That's what makes local knowledge so important. Land masses and cooling/heating patterns, mountains and valleys, and predominant weather systems all add up to predictable patterns. People who work outdoors usually internalize weather knowledge from dealing with it daily over long periods of time. Commercial fishermen, rangers, etc. usually have an uncanny ability to predict wind and weather because they know their micro-climate. As a new sailor, you'll eventually get to know your predominant wind patterns.
09-12-2013 02:11 PM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

The original question was can I count on the wind being the same for a couple of hours? Well in a micro sense no. Just try standing to the side of smokey fire and watch how it swirls and gusts.
In a wider sense it will stay much the same unless there is a reason for it to change. Look at a chart with isobars and learn the wind systems associated with the patterns and how they move. You probably won't get much change in a short time unless a front is coming through, or a low is expected. Where you will get change is through land and sea breezes. AS the land heats up the air rises and wind comes in from the sea to replace it. Later the opposite occurs. Often there is a prevailing wind and the sea breeze changes it. So it may be very light in the morning and build through the day then die. That will be influenced by cloud. To learn the patterns learn the things influencing it and observe what happens. It can also pay to watch the higher level clouds direction and speed. It can be light particularly when you are in the shelter of land, but the clouds above start moving faster. Then when you go home and out of the shelter of land you find the wind and sea are much higher than you thought. You need to anticipate this by knowing what is expected and observing what is actually happening. Usually forecasts are general not specific or accurate to the hour.
09-12-2013 01:34 PM
Re: Wind Direction Question from Noob...

Sounds like you're describing extreme weather helm.. sailing mainsail only will make that worse.. with a headsail up the center of effort of the rig moves forward, reducing the tendency of the boat to want to spin up to weather, needing less 'rudder' to keep it going straight. A rudder angle of more than 5-10 degrees is just acting like a brake, so the sails should be trimmed/set/used to keep the rudder angle within limits.

It wouldn't take much of a difference in apparent wind angle between your port and stbd legs to make a fair difference in helm balance.
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