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Thread: I need a rudder that won't drive me crazy Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
08-16-2010 05:56 PM
Daveinet I will look into fixing the rudder. Thanks for the term NACA. It is a good term to search on for usable profiles.

Had the boat out again yesterday under strong winds. Was too chicken to run the Hobie sail, so I flew the OEM sail and reefed. The boat was difficult to control. I sailed with just the main alone and also with main and jib. The boat wanted to turn down wind. Very difficult to come about. It would get almost straight into the wind and it would turn back down wind again. All the while the boat was still moving forward. Problem nearly the same with the jib up or down. I wonder if it was worse, because it was reefed. That should put the center of effort forward, I would think. The boat is supposed to be self righting, but was difficult to turn into the wind when laid over too far - a little scary. Dropping the main, and it still was hard to turn out of it.

Not sure what the wind speed was, but at the end, I dropped both sails in about the middle of the lake. The wind blew me to the dock at about a steady 2 knots with both sails DOWN. Crazy windy day.

Hopefully I can get out on a calmer day and use the Hobie sail again. It is just discouraging trying to sail the boat on the OEM main. The Hobie sail seems to act much more normal, so I feel much safer.
08-06-2010 06:37 PM
sailingdog If you replace the flat metal plate with a naca profile airfoil, it will work a lot better, and not stall nearly as easily...
08-06-2010 06:28 PM
Daveinet Just got back from a week of sailing. I have several conclusions. The biggest of which is the person who designed this boat, never sailed. Unless you are sailing down wind, the air off the jib blows the back side of the main. If you let it out farther, it flaps. Based on this, I moved the jib cars about 8 inches outward. The boat acts much better. I've confirmed with a knot stick proper jib trim and this position works much much better. It also helps the boat handle much better.
The rudder stalls easily, no solution yet, other than don't turn it more than about 10 or 15 degrees. Its not all bad, sailing into the wind as hard as I could, I had the rudder clamped dead straight. As the wind would shift, the boat would heel over and round up slightly. As it would level out, it would turn down wind. This meant the boat would track a course, self correcting a few degrees all by its self. I went for 1.5 miles - one side of the lake to the other without touching tiller. Who needs an autopilot? But I would much rather have a rudder that controls the boat. I don't like the feeling of not being in control. It makes it difficult to push the boat. You stay away from everything and everyone because you don't know if the boat is going to turn or have a mind of its own.
I did run the Hobie sail. Put it up the first day and never looked back. It sails better with the bigger sail - 30% bigger, but the boat is still slow. Even in moderate winds when I'm not even close to pushing hull speed, I watched a larger Hunter leave me like I was going backwards - about 3 times faster than I was going. I did get a chance to push the boat, ran with the stays in the water just for fun. Not sure it was going any faster than a more normal heeling. Didn't have the knot stick out that time. Had it out later and did confirm I was able to hit 5 knots for a short bit, which should be hull speed. It takes a really strong wind to get over about 3 - 3.5 knots. Makes for some very slow, hot days out on the lake. But better than being at work.
07-29-2010 01:47 PM
hellosailor Dave-
"Maybe the main is so " I hate to ask, but is the main so old that there is no resin coating left on it, and it feels as soft as a bedsheet?
It could just be so old and blown out (distorted) that it won't drive the boat properly no matter how it is trimmed. I know, sails cost money...but like fresh fruit & veggies, they are very much a consumable item.
07-29-2010 12:28 PM
Boom Vang?

More thoughts: This boat has no boom vang. The main sheet is attached to the middle of the boom so there is very little pulling the boom down. Something I had not earlier considered, as I was used to my HobieCat, which doesn't need a boom vang. The main sheet attaches near the rear of the boom and is easily held down. Anyway, I was watching the sail in the high winds, I had no twist in the sail and no way to get any twist. The sail was just one big sweeping scoop. Once I reefed the main, I had sail twist, things acted much better and even though the jib was down, I could point much better into the wind.

It just makes me think I should create a boom vang, rivet a stainless steel strap to the bottom of the boom and attach a pulley to it. I remember the Hobie would never really take off until I pulled the rear of the boom down with the main sheet. Maybe that is really the issue of the main having no power and the boat being so slow. Maybe the main is so cupped, it just knocks the boat over, rather than moving it forward no?
07-22-2010 02:43 PM
Daveinet You make a joke, but the funny thing is, I had passengers with me that didn't realize that. I never drempt someone had never thought through the function of how a rudder works. I asked for help on the tiller, so I could do something, but they kept turning the rudder the wrong way. I should have gone through a explanation of everything before we set out.

To highlandman, you may have hit on some things. I don't know that I ever turned the rudder fully flat, but did get it on a 45 degree angle. The rudder is flat - a piece of flat aluminum stock, so that may explain some things. In higher winds, the boat moved fast enough, of course it would turn before you go the rudder turned very far, but in light winds, what you are saying certainly makes sense.

Along with the jib, yes, the jib was cupped - meaning angled in towards the center of the boat. I found I had to let it out a long way to get control, which of course then it depowered. It seemed to cup a lot. This gives me some things to play with next time - things that I didn't sense were right, but needed more supporting argument to make a change. I may be able to drop a pulley on the shroud. That would put the jib sheet to the outer edge of the boat.

Thanks for the input.
07-22-2010 02:02 PM
Originally Posted by Daveinet View Post
I have no idea why this boat has a rudder. It doesn't work. There were times that I had the rudder turned as far as it would go one direction, and the boat would just turn in the opposite direction.
Now I am no expert, and I learned on a C&C with a wheel, but isn't that what a tiller is supposed to do?
07-22-2010 01:22 PM
highlandman Is that a flat plate rudder (the part actually in the water)?
Reminds me of an old Ted Williams Jetwind I have (Sunfish knockoff). The thin flat rudder blade is notorious to stall at surprisingly low angles. The farther you turn the rudder the less turning effect the thing has. Especially bad in light air/slow boat speeds; she takes a very light and patient hand on the tiller. Try keeping tiller angle under 10 degrees from center (except in mid-tack) and see what happens.

Not all factory-original designs are optimal, you might be better off with a homebrew blade of the same side view shape but a little more thickness and rounded edges (like a Sunfish), or even a foil shape (like a Laser).

Another thing - I can't tell from the photo, but if your jib sheet leads are WAY off forward and inboard to the point where the jib leech (trailing edge) actually hooks, you're doomed -- you'll go off to leeward like a folded-paper toy boat. And your main is fairly high-aspect compared to the jib, it will be easy to overtrim it and stall it, making it ineffective compared to the jib. All of which also gets worser in lighter air.

Or I could be completely wrong. We're all trying to be helpful but without actually sailing her we're taking (hopefully educated) stabs in the dark.
07-20-2010 12:02 AM
Daveinet Center board was down, although when I first started, I forgot about it. It really didn't make much difference, as this boat also has a stub keel. Actually I think that is one of the problems. The keel is kind of fat and blunt. There is another forum dedicated to this brand. There has been mention that the boat is a pig (their choice of words). I don't think I'm hitting haul speed. While it has been many years, I learned to sail on a Interlake and a Javelin, both boats having similar haul speeds to this boat. I just don't remember them being so sluggish or unresponsive.
07-17-2010 10:38 AM
hellosailor "Out today with what had to be 20 mph winds. The boat is still pretty slow and poor steering. Wind was too intense for"
Well, try to "divide and conquer". That's the only way you can beat something that's more powerful than you are, like a boat.
First off, as you noticed, 20mph is just too miuch for the boat. Heck, even keelboats 30' long benefit from reefing well before 20 knots and not being familiar with your boat, I'd have to ask just how effective your reefing options are to begin with.

"The boat does not seem to steer into the wind very well, ...the boat is so slow...Are some boats just like that?"

Some boats are simply unbalanced pigs, yes. If your boat is an "1981 AFC T for Two Made by American Fiberglass Company " there are some photos at AFC T for Two sailboat for sale which show one. As someone else asked, what about your centerboard? Is it locked down (LOCKED down) and is the correct original centerboard there at all? That would be critical to proper upwind operation.

Have you been able to locate any other owners (past or present) on the web, who might have some insight into what is normal for the boat? A 17' boat, even at its best, will probably have a maximum hull speed around 5 knots--so don't expect lightning fast speeds from this boat.

If there are any dinghy racing programs in your area, even though they will be very different from what you are sailing, you might be able to ask one of the instructors or more experienced sailors to come out and take a ride with you, and share their hands-on insight. Most sailors will be glad to come along and help, for the price of a coke or beer.
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