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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #21  
Old 12-29-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giulietta
Trodzen,

I know exactly what you mean...it's all nice... on paper....again not easy and very unreliable, as seas and winds make it harder.

I stick with my rope mess thingy!! Besides without rudder, fast is the last I want to go anyway!!
Itís funny how we are all trapped within our own experience and education. I have used a drag, that is to say a bucket on a dock line, to steer a single engine powerboat that lost steering. A drag is fine and itís worth knowing about the technique because it might be appropriate one day. After all you might lose steering on a sailboat while motoring near shore. Of course on a powerboat with twin engines the loss of steering is a minor annoyance at worst.

But while under sail I think steering with balance and if absolutely necessary the smallest jury rudder possible might be a better choice then a drag. A drag doesnít lend itself to use during severe weather for one thing. The response time isnít adequate and the strain is significant when you are sailing with any reasonable speed. You also have a greater chance of problems popping up with a jury rig like a drag. You can expect problems ranging from the sea sweeping a crew member off the deck to fouling the gear because of the boats movement during a storm if you try to steer using something that requires an exposed crewmember and lots of line run all over the place.

On the other hand I have sailed warm and dry in the cabin during a storm while the boat sailed herself with the tiller tied and in fact she would sail just as well if the rudder was gone as long as the boat could sail a reasonable course using balance alone. The bottom line is there is more then one way to handle a problem but my experience is that planning ahead and selecting the simplest solution with the fewest chances of failure is the best way to go. And each boat is different so you need a plan that works with your boat, rig and gear. You also might consider things like this when you are selecting a boat. I am sailing to Greenland this summer and I picked a Tartan 34C because she is suitable for offshore work. Among other things she will sail herself without the need of a windvane system. This is handy if my windvane fails or the rudder decides to become argumentative.

And bad weather is not the time to start experimenting with something like this. Whatever method you select, practice it during the summer in nice warm calm weather. I have experience with sailing in bad weather and it is harder then you think. When things go bad you are probably worn out and not thinking straight so you make mistakes unless you have already thought out a plan and know where you put all the parts that are required to implement the plan.
All the best,
Robert Gainer
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  #22  
Old 12-30-2006
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Robert,

"I have used a drag, that is to say a bucket on a dock line, to steer a single engine powerboat that lost steering".

The drogue I mention is not a bucket, its a "macramť" (right word??) of tied rope, tied with two cables in a "V" shape, where the drogue stays in the corner of the "V".

The two ends of the "V" go, one to starbord and one to port. I wish I could draw it, because its hard to explain. Pass each thru a winch on each side of the boat, but its a single cable, and just use the ropes to steer. Please go out and try it, Leave at least 20 meters on each "V" leg. Remeber not all boats sail balanced like yours, and not all can balance it like you do. I would never use a bucket.
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  #23  
Old 12-30-2006
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Giulietta,
Although I have no idea what a "macrame" is >grin< ?
I understand exacly what your trying to discribe, this is the way I have pictured a drogue for stearing to work, using winches to turn port or starboard.
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Bill,

Please, look here for macramť, http://www.knotingwork.com/

I just don't know how to explain it. You tie a lot of knots into a big (size of a man) mess of knots so they don't un-tie in the water. Macramť was the word I could find to describe, sorry.
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Old 12-30-2006
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Little old ladies and the French do macrame. Sailors do "square-knotting".
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  #26  
Old 12-30-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giulietta
The drogue I mention is not a bucket, its a "macramť" (right word??) of tied rope, tied with two cables in a "V" shape, where the drogue stays in the corner of the "V".
I understand what you mean. Now it’s a case of different ships, different long splices. In the case of the powerboat a bucket was an instant solution and I needed a fast way to steer. As far as sailing offshore goes your method does work and it’s worthwhile describing it so people have the greatest range of options and ideas when they most need it.

But I stand by my advice which is based on my own experience offshore. If you can’t balance the boat then other ways such as your drag may be the only option but trying to learn to get the best out of your boat and learning to balance the boat is worthwhile and if you have a suitable boat and the skill then the safer, simpler way is avoiding lines with the chafe, exposed crew and other problems that come from towing things. Given a choice I will almost always pick the simplest most robust way to get the job done.

Please don’t take this as criticism because there is more then one way to get the job done and the skipper at the time is the one to decide on a course of action and what he decides to do is often part of an overall plan. I can easily see a set of circumstance where the skipper has decided on a choice of sails forced on him by gear breakage or damaged sails. Balancing the boat may not be an option and your method might be the best choice so it’s worth discussing and planning for.
All the best,
Robert Gainer

Last edited by Tartan34C; 12-30-2006 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 12-30-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tartan34C
But I stand by my advice which is based on my own experience offshore. If you canít balance the boat then other ways such as your drag may be the only option but trying to learn to get the best out of your boat and learning to balance the boat is worthwhile and if you have a suitable boat and the skill then the safer, simpler way is avoiding lines with the chafe, exposed crew and other problems that come from towing things. Given a choice I will almost always pick the simplest most robust way to get the job done.
Robert, please, by all means, tell us how it is done. I for one would really like to know. Even just the basics of how it is done would be helpful so that I could understand what you are talking about. I have heard this term "balanced boat" a number of times but never really understood what it means. I assume it means that the boat goes in a straight line and doesn't head up into the wind or fall off of it, but I don't know for sure. Someone earlier in this thread was, I think, trying to explain it to me but I didn't completely understand what was being said.

Please, if you have what you consider a better way, do tell ...
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  #28  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wind_magic
I have heard this term "balanced boat" a number of times but never really understood what it means. I assume it means that the boat goes in a straight line and doesn't head up into the wind or fall off of it, but I don't know for sure. Someone earlier in this thread was, I think, trying to explain it to me but I didn't completely understand what was being said.
As you said a balanced boat is a boat that doesnít have any tendency to take off on her own and change course unexpectedly. A lot of things need to be in place if you want to succeed at this. First the rig and boat need to work together. The shape of the boat itself is important because as the boat heels its center of lateral resistance will change if the boat changes trim. So a modern boat with a wide transom and the center of buoyancy more then 54% of the waterline aft and a fin keel and spade rudder will be almost imposable to make balanced under anything but the calmest conditions. As the boat heals the stern raises and pushes the bow done and the center of area in the sailplan moves relative to the center of lateral resistance. The boat will wander as she rolls because of this. Itís hard on a windvane system or helmsmen.

An older design such as one designed under the CCA rule tend to have longer ends then a modern boat and more importantly the distribution of volume under the waterline is more even forward and aft with the center of buoyancy closer to amidships. As this boat rolls she will not change trim so you donít need rudder input to go straight while rolling. If you need to keep adjusting the rudder while sailing you will never be able to sail just by balancing the boat. Try this with your boat, go out on a gusty day and if you need to add much rudder as the boat heals in a gust then you will have trouble getting her to selfsteer without a windvane or the use of the rudder. If you want to be on the safe side and avoid having someone outside during bad weather playing with lines and jury-rigs to steer after you have rudder problems because your boat doesnít steer straight by herself you might want to consider a different boat. I donít like double-enders but that hull form is the most balanced and its one of the reasons the type got its reputation for safety offshore. No mater what else happened you could at least depend on keeping control of a double ender and thatís one of the reasons the shape was used as a sailing lifeboat in the north sea.

Your choice of sails is just as important. If you are using a large overlapping Genoa there is no change of forces in the rig as you start to turn until the boat has changed course beyond the recovery point. But if you have a 110% jib and set up the trim correctly you will have very large changes in force with small changes in course. The boat will be able to correct the course before the turn gets away from you. You should also note that the CCA style of boat has a larger main and smaller fortriangle then a modern boat. This makes your choice of sails a little more difficult on a modern boat to get the same balance as on the older style of boat especially with the difference between the semi full keel in the older boat and the fin in the newer boats. The longer ends in the older boat also move the center of effort of the headsail farther forward relative to the end of the waterline then the modern boat.

But how do you really do it? It varies quite a bit boat to boat so you need to experiment on your own boat but the short answer is simple. Let me oversimplify it a bit just to make it easy to understand. Close hauled and reaching are similar in setup with the difference being just one of degree. After you trim the boat and sails on reach so the rudder has just a small bit of weather helm you can then trim the headsail in a little more and trim the main out a little bit and then tie off the tiller. If the boat wanders off the wind the main becomes more effective and the headsail less so and the boat rounds up to the course. If the boat wanders towards the wind then the headsail is now trimmed better and the main loses drive because it's grossly under trimmed so the boat falls off to the course. In either case the boat sails a course of gentle s turns each way but averaging a better course then you would after a few hours at the helm. The amount of over or under trim is greater for reaching then close hauled and in fact I found that if the conditions were right the boat would go to windward by herself trimmed very closely to what you would consider proper.

If you are doing this because you lost the rudder everything is the same except the slight weather helm part. The boat will wander more without having some weather helm to start with but it works just the same otherwise.

I hope this makes sense to you but if I didnít explain it in a way that you understand just ask and I will try to do a better job. Also you can point to a lot of other factors that have some affect on steering such as the shape of the leading edge of the keel and the presence of a centerboard but this is a quick overview and I hope it will get you started in the right direction so you can experiment with your own boat.
All the best,
Robert Gainer
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Tartan I agree with you except on this:

"So a modern boat with a wide transom and the center of buoyancy more then 54% of the waterline aft and a fin keel and spade rudder will be almost imposable to make balanced under anything but the calmest conditions."

Mine does sail balanced, any wind and seas, and I have a 4.40 meter beam, a pointy bow, a spade rudder, a rectangular fin keel with torpedoe, gigantic mast, extra extra sail area and straight bow!! Yet, I can do it, as I have...

Why??? because I trim the boat to teach all the friends that keep coming over, to make them more at ease.
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Old 12-30-2006
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Very good explanation Mr. Tartan on balancing the helm, very good....
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