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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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  #1  
Old 11-08-2011
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Best way to switch sides

There seems to be a bunch of new folks on this board so I would like to mention an old trick that "everyone" knows.

When switching sides on a small boat with a tiller like a Catalina 22 or 25 the most common technique is to slide forward a little, and stay facing forward and try to pass the tiller from one hand to the other behind you while switching your butt from one side to the other.
In ideal conditions this can work OK but often it fails.

Try this:
In this example I'm going from port to starboard.
Face forward right hand on tiller.
Switch grip so your holding the tiller like it was an ax handle.
Swing your but around so you are facing the stern and you are leaning your back to the front of the boat and holding the tiller with one or two hands like a bat.
Keep swinging your butt until you land on the starboard side and and switch to the standard grip with your left hand.

There are several advantages to this maneuver.
1. The handle can not get hung up behind you.
2. The tension between leaning forward and holding the tiller creates stability.
3. If you find that the boat is healed and the starboard side is uphill you can use your left hand to grab whatever is handy on the starboard side to haul yourself up there.

Try it and after a couple of practice runs you will find it just feels like you have more control.

Last edited by davidpm; 11-08-2011 at 12:51 AM.
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Old 11-08-2011
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Great advice David.

I sail a Catailina 22 and when tacking I still use my technique from my dinghy sailing days. When it's time to go about say I'm going from port to starboard. I'll put the tiller in my right hand and slide forward. I stand up somewhat while keeping my head low and turn and face the stern. While facing the stern I switch hands and sit down on the starboard side and finish sheeting the main and jib.
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Old 11-08-2011
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The rotate facing aft technique is counterintuitive at first, but results in smoother tacks.
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Old 11-08-2011
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Agreed. Another method I use, if I really want to keep facing forward, or if I have a sheet in one hand and don't want to step over it, is to lift the tiller and duck underneath.

I think there's an instinct that you have to be facing forward all the time. I sometimes encourage my trimmer to sit facing aft. It's a lot easier to grind and tail that way, I find. And you don't always need to constantly stare at the jib to trim it; the helmsman can ask for more or less trim if necessary.
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Old 11-09-2011
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I could never get used to it, and I don't want to be looking aft during a tack.
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Old 11-09-2011
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You take your eyes off your sails, your course, and your crew during a critical maneuver.
No thank you.
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Old 11-09-2011
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When sailing with crew I do as AdamLein suggest and lift the tiller handle, move to other side and lower tiller handle back down.

When sailing alone I use three bungee cords wrapping one bungee around the tiller once and attaching one to each side from the tiller to the stern rail. This allows me to set the tiller and stand beside it. When ready to tack I have a sheet in each hand and just lean into the tiller to turn adjusting sheets accordingly.

The bungees also work as a cheap tiller tender allowing me to move around freely once course is set.
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Old 11-09-2011
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I always turn, facing aft, and switch sides quickly, passing the tiller from one hand to the other.

As far as taking your eyes off of things during a critical maneuver....well, it literally takes me 1 second or less to make the switch. Not a factor.

If I was ever in a situation where a 1 second (or less) loss of forward vision could cause a problem....I'd just complete the tack, trim up....then switch sides when it's safe to do so. I do prefer to sail on the high side since I can see better and pull the tiller to me rather than push it away, but I can sail from either side.
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Old 11-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zz4gta View Post
You take your eyes off your sails, your course, and your crew during a critical maneuver.
No thank you.
I'm rarely in a situation where a tack is a "critical maneuver". Even when it felt "critical" (crossing situation, shoaling bottom, something like that), it never felt like I had to keep an eye on the sails and crew and course continuously. I'm not sure that's even possible.

In any case
- I trust my crew to do their jobs or communicate with me when they can't.
- There's lots of other input from the sails besides visual (listen for luffing, watch the sheets).
- My boat rarely moves more than 10 ft/sec, so while switching sides using any method, the boat will probably not move more than one boatlength.

I guess if we're talking about a race where boats are packed in close, I could see it being dangerous to face aft while tacking. But actually I think that more serious than facing aft is the possibility of momentarily being disoriented. Imagine I'm on the port tack, we tack, and as I turn right and aft to switch to the other side I see another boat coming up fast over my right shoulder and we're tacking into his path. It might not be obvious in a split second what I need to do to avoid a collision (answer: should not have tacked in the first place), plus now I'm delayed if I have to reorient myself (he was over my right shoulder before but now he's over my left shoulder). You get the idea.

But this is a situation I'm very rarely in.
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Old 11-09-2011
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Can't wait to try all suggestions this weekend.
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