Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 19 Old 08-31-2016 Thread Starter
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Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Hi, all.

I recently purchased a Sabre 28 MKII and have noticed a bit of odd behavior: When I am on a port tack I have a fair amount of weather helm, but when I am on starboard tack I have lee helm. Does anyone know what might cause this, or if this a known characteristic of the Sabre 28s? I have also noticed that the tiller feels heavy when motoring. I am worried that the tiller may be bent or, even worse, the keel.

Thanks so much,
Sam
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post #2 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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Hmmmm, just brainstorming here. Does the Sabre 28 have that off center Drive Shaft and prop that other Sabre models have? Does it have the same type of prop that came on the boat?

Sail trim can affect helm. Does the boat have the original sail configuration or has a previous owner changed the size of the sails, the mast, or the boom, or the configuration in any way?

Can you correct the weather helm and lee helm by reducing either the main or jib?

Do you experience it in all levels of wind?

I would think that it would be hard to bend the keel without there being leaks.

If the rudder was bent you would still correct for that with the wheel. The only thing that would change would be the point on the wheel that would be the center and cause the boat to go straight.

I am no marine engineer so that is the limit of my thoughts on the subject. But I am very interested to hear what other, more experienced and knowledgeable people, have the say and to learn what you find out.
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post #3 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

How is your mainsheet set up. Is it on a traveler, and if so, is the block off set to either port or starboard? If you don't have a traveler, is the main sheet centered? It sounds more like a sail trim issue than some kind of bent keel. I'm guessing that sail trim issue has to do with how your mainsheet is configured.

I have a strange no traveler set up, with a block kind of out board on either side, and I do need to adjust my main sheet every time after tacking

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post #4 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Having lee helm on one tack and weather on the other is unusual. Have you checked to see if the mast is centered in the boat? You can use a halyard to do that by pulling it tight at the port and stbd shroud bases and seeing if they measure the same. And the suggestion about checking that the traveler is on center is a good one.

As to the tiller being heavy when motoring, if its OK when sailing, then it's most likely not bent or anything like that.
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post #5 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Bent rudder effect would vary with speed. Depending on the bend it might require quite a bit of effort to hold it to maintain a straight course and it would be worse at higher speed.
Yes that could be seen as what you describe as lee helm on one tack and weather helm on the other... but you would also notice needing to hold the helm always to the same side, regardless of tacking, reaching or running.

Bent tiller would be visible and mainly a cosmetic issue.
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post #6 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

It's been our experience that many boats are better on one tack than the other, remember that the molds were likely hand built, and anything may not be symmetric. But going all the way from weather helm on one to lee on the other is more than I've seen. Here's the potential easy fixes:

- The mast is not centered port/starboard - you can check this with a halyard and adjust your stays
- The weight is not distributed evenly port/starboard - is the thing listing, are there tanks on one side empty and other full, have you got heavy stuff on one side not the other.
- You are trimmed funny. Traveller, jib leads, something different one side than the other. You are trimming the jib in to tight on one tack, and the main on the other. Jib trimmed in will tend towards lee helm (pulling the bow down wind), main trimmed in will tend towards weather helm (pulling the stern down wind).

Hard fixes:

- Rudder not in the middle, not shaped the same on both sides, bent shaft
- Keel not centered, bent, etc.
- Hull shape from the factory not symmetric
- Mast not in the middle of the deck

It is not unusual on any sailboat to feel some side pressure on the rudder from propeller rotation...so I wouldn't worry about that.

Try the easy fixes first Sabre's have a good reputation, I'd be surprised if this was a factory defect.
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post #7 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

I owned a Sabre 28-II for 20 years- great boat. Weather helm on one tack and lee helm on the other was never a problem so it is not an inherent problem with the design. As others have opined my guess is a bent rudder shaft. I know of at least one other S28 owner who had a bent rudder shaft. Good news is that the rudder is only held in with 2 bolts. Bad news is that access is through aft lazarette and is tight. Too tight for me but not for my wife. The bolts can be frozen and can be an absolute pain to get out the first time.
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post #8 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

I saw this thread and thought, "Man, how many people can possibly have bought a Sabre recently that had lee helm?"

I'm far too inexperienced and ignorant to be able to offer anything that these folks or Kyle and Tyler haven't already speculated on. Just wanted to pop in to say that I hope you get it straightened out (pun intended, of course), and hopefully it won't prove to be a heinously costly issue. Great to meet you last night, and good luck with the boat!

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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Rashly assuming you had a survey done before the purchase, and that the boat was hauled and you and the surveyor both looked under it, there were no damages or repairs seen on the keel or hull?

If it wasn't hauled, it should be, to confirm that. If it was surveyed and no problems mentioned, I'd put that last.

This could be a good time to get a rigging guide, either a book, some web printouts, or to visit a loft (Any chance the sails on your boat come from a loft that has a local branch? they'll gladly talk with you.) and pick up a 50-100' steel tape measure aka surveyor's tape. You should start an annual tradition of checking the entire rig to make sure it is centered, that the mast rake is correct, that everything is tuned properly. Not hard or expensive overall, and the performance differences can be huge.
Sometimes, you can even ask nicely and the loft will send someone out for a sail with you. One never knows.

Odds are that something is out of whack, but the best way to make sure you are fixing the problem (and not masking it or adding another one) is to start with the basics, make sure all the things that need to be aligned (mast & rigging) are, and only after you've eliminated all that stuff, to worry about hauling it and checking the bottom. Sabre (new or old) have a great reputation and unless someone seriously dented the boat, the keel will be properly aligned.

The rudder is something else again. Rudders have been known to fail from internal water damage and if that turns out to be involved, it can be a major project. Worry about that after you've done the easier stuff.
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post #10 of 19 Old 09-01-2016
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Re: Sabre 28 - lee helm on a starboard tack

Something is seriously wrong. It could be the rig (most likely and hopefully) is poorly tuned, the rudder is bent or attached off center, the keel is cockeyed. Or there is a serious sail trim imbalance, not just a little bit off but if this is it I would think it would be visible from a picture 200' away.

If I had to bet I think you mast tuning is all messed up, with the base off center, the partners off center, and the top way off center.
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