Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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If it was a bent rudder or keel, it would manifest itself while motoring, not just while sailing. The OP described the helm as heavy, but didn't mention it pulling one way or another.

This pretty well eliminates the possibility that it's an underwater control surface causing it to turn.

That leaves rig as the logical cause of the problem. Lots of new boat owners make errors in trim while they get to know the boat. Even experienced sailors will take some time to get their rig figured out. Especially if it has a few idiosyncrasies, anda lot of older boats do.
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post #12 of 19 Old 09-02-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

I'm going with what others have pointed out. Start with the basics.
Get ahold of a loos gauge and maybe even start by removing the jib (if you have roller furling).
Take some of the tension out of the rig and center the mast.
Tune everything to specs then go out sailing and look straight up the mast on each tack, see what's is happening. Boats are not symmetrical, you may need to adjust on one tack or the other to keep the mast straight.
There is loads of info on rig tuning... Here is one... C&C Yachts - C&C Photo Album & Resource Center - tuning tips - tuning the mast

One oddball question... is it possible you have some crazy growth on the bottom that is on one side but not on the other? Either way, a good bottom cleaning wouldn't hurt

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post #13 of 19 Old 09-02-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

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Originally Posted by RobGallagher View Post
I'm going with what others have pointed out. Start with the basics.
Get ahold of a loos gauge and maybe even start by removing the jib (if you have roller furling).
Take some of the tension out of the rig and center the mast.
Tune everything to specs then go out sailing and look straight up the mast on each tack, see what's is happening. Boats are not symmetrical, you may need to adjust on one tack or the other to keep the mast straight.
There is loads of info on rig tuning... Here is one... C&C Yachts - C&C Photo Album & Resource Center - tuning tips - tuning the mast

One oddball question... is it possible you have some crazy growth on the bottom that is on one side but not on the other? Either way, a good bottom cleaning wouldn't hurt
Actually this case I would not start with the wires. Having weather healm on one tack and lee helm on the other is most likely a mast placement issue. If I had to guess I would bet the bottom of the mast is off center, pulling the entire rig out of alignment. So I would start there, confirm that the mast but is in the center of the boat, then do the same with the partners. Only once those are set and confirmed would I move on to trying to tune the wires.
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post #14 of 19 Old 09-02-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Agree with Stumble.

A too loose cap shroud on one side or a 'failing' chain plate on one side can do this.

Many of the smaller and older Sabers had their propshaft set at an offset angle to the boat's centerline. Such would cause 'heavy helm' when motoring.
Many boats when under power will normally have a 'heavy helm' to one side due to 'torque' from the prop. Duch boats with 'right handed' props will usually alway be in a slight turn to PORT when going forward and the wheel/tiller has to be held at some angle to compensate.
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post #15 of 19 Old 09-02-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Hey Rich,

Having had a Sabre 28 with offset prop for 20 years I can tell you that it did not have a heavy helm. The prop offset counteracts the torque of the prop and there is no helm. Additionally the rudder does not flutter at all. The boat backs straight with no prop walk which is disconcerting for those who are used to a boat pulling in one direction in reverse.

The mast on the S28 is deck stepped. The mast step fitting is fixed with a male protrusion. The mast butt has has a plug with female casting. No way to get that wrong and I would be amazed if wrong from the factory. Possibility that mast is severely out of tune or bent.
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post #16 of 19 Old 09-02-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

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Originally Posted by Sanduskysailor View Post
Hey Rich,

The mast on the S28 is deck stepped. The mast step fitting is fixed with a male protrusion. The mast butt has has a plug with female casting. No way to get that wrong and I would be amazed if wrong from the factory. Possibility that mast is severely out of tune or bent.
Actually it is pretty common for mast steps to be mounted in the wrong place. In fact it is so common that unless you have had it professionally confirmed, which includes shooting a laser down the middle of the boat I would bet money that it isn't. And it really doesn't take much to knock a boat all out of whack. Deck steps are better in this regard because the entire mast gets carried just slightly to one side or the other, while on a keel step a slight allignment issue is magnified by the partners.

Think of it this way, if you have a mast that is 60' above the deck and 6' below the deck, and the mast at the partners is perfectly centered. But the mast base is 1/2" out of center, the top of the mast will be 5 inches off. If you fail to fix the base and tune the mast so it is centered (by measuring chainplate to chainplate with a halyard) you will actually induce a serious bend into mast.

Even a .1" misalignment of the base ends up with the mast 1" off center.

Now if the base is 1/2" off center, and the partners are 1/2" off center the other way the top of the mast is 10 inches off center. The problems compound.

And always remember that the partners themselves are not necessarily centered. On some molds it is pretty common for the mast to be closer to one edge than the other. The old J-35 mold for instance requires the mast to be about 3/8" closer to the edge of the port partner than the starboard, while the new deck mold is the exact opposite.

Some yards are better than others of course, but frankly I have seen high end builders with all sorts of stuff out of allignment. Which is why the first thing a race boat does when it's new is break out the tape measure, templates, and the laser strait edge and start measuring stuff.

Finding keels bolted on off center is actually pretty common (+\- 2" isn't unusual), rudders mis-mounted by an inch are common, gudgeons that don't line up with the center line is almost assumed. Rudder posts that aren't verticle... Now on most boats what happens is all the slight imperfections add up to close to neutral so they even each other out. But sometimes you get a boat where they all wind up on the wrong side and you have a problem child that never really feels right. Until you fix it all.

In this case... I still bet the mast is out of whack.

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post #17 of 19 Old 09-03-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Phew! a lot of information here. I will try to answer as many questions as I can:

- We have a standard 2 bladed, non-feathering, no-folding prop that is offset (exits to the left of the rudder). This was my initial thought on what might causing the odd behavior, but I do not think it would be enough drag to cause what I am experiencing.
- The tiller DOES pull to one side when motoring (I believe it pull to port, but don't hold me to that). The effect is pretty immediate when the boat starts moving.
- There is evidence of what the surveyor called a lite grounding. There are a few scrapes of lead taken off to leading edge corner of the keel.
- The surveyor did not notice the rudder being bent, or the keel being off-center/bent. The rudder was incredibly dry... almost amazingly so.
- The previous owner put the boat through a MAJOR refit over 2 years at Great Island Boat Yard in Harpswell ME. While it is possible that the boat yard put the mast step in the wrong place I highly doubt it given the quality of the work and caliber of their customers. Luckily the previous owner had all the work done because there is no chance I would have been able to afford it. All of the hardware was re-anodized so the mast step was certainly removed from the deck. All of the chain-plates were replaced so it possible, although unlikely, that were in the wrong place.
- There is no chance of growth, especially on the port side as that is the side we tie up on.
- The rig is almost certainly out of tune. Do any of you have suggestions on good books/articles/etc. on rig tuning? Would my best bet be to find a professional?

I live within easy sailing distance of Sabre so I think my next step might be contacting them. Maybe it is something they could look at and give me some suggestions.
I have been talking with the previous owner, whom I trust, and he said this wasn't an issue for him two years ago when the boat was last in the water.

Thanks, All!

- Sam
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post #18 of 19 Old 09-03-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

With the confirmation that the boat was surveyed and the keel and rudder examined, it looks more and more like something with the rig. Time to follow the suggestions you got about checking to see if the mast is centered, etc.

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post #19 of 19 Old 09-03-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Get a long measuring tape, attach to main halyard, hoist it fully and measure to each toe rail at shrouds. I bet it is off by quite a bit and that is where I would start. Until you know the masthead is dead center everything else is a waste of time. The tape won't stretch like a halyard and you can get better idea of where you stand.


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