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Discussion Starter #1
I have a problem with too much "book learning" and not enough practical experience. My husband and I just bought a Hunter 26 with water ballast last year and we sail the Chesapeake (or, a small part of it at the moment). My problem is that I know darn well that water ballast cannot possibly provide good ultimate stability because it''s located so high in the boat compared to a "real keel." Therefore, as soon as the boat really starts to heel (say more than 10 degrees), I''ve got an adrenaline rush and I''m letting the main out just as fast as I can, or worse yet, furling the jib altogether and sailing under main alone. I need to get over this because I know I''m sacrificing speed and performance. Yet, put me on a Beneteau 505 (BVI charter) with a couple tons of iron under the water and I could care less.

Does anyone out there have a realistic idea of what it takes to knock down a water-ballasted boat? If anyone has actually experienced it, I''d love to know the conditions you were in and what happened afterward. Or, if my paranoia is justified, that news would be just as welcome.
 

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I''d be worried too those boats are not put together very good. Why don''t you have your husband buy a real boat with a keel and a quality name on it. GOOD LUCK AND VERY FAIR WINDS
 

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I don''t know why some people equate pocket cruisers and trailer sailers with poor construction,as in the reply you received.
I am very happy sailing my 20 O''Day in most conditions which send the fainter hearts to their moorings.
I have learned through experience and talking to other light boat sailors that they perform better if sailed rather upright. I limit my heeling to 15 or so degrees. I change to a smaller jib and do not cleat the main sheet but as you have written use it to adjust the power.
You will also find that the fishermans reef is useful. That is a tight jib that backwinds the luffing main.
As you are I was very worried about a knock down and I spent a lot of time in harbor sailing until I got the feel for how much performance to expect from my boat. My boat is much older and has no added flotation so a knock down would be much more serious for me.
Lighten up, go slow, you may want to buy a smaller jib for those 20+ knot days, and do not listen to those who cannot sail well enough to cope with anything other than the Queen Mary...
Jeffrey
 

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There is nothing wrong with a trailer sailer in fact I had one for several years and enjoyed the excape it allowed. We were able to get away from the normal area we sailed our big boat in and find hidden lakes in the mountains an prairies of this great country. the trailable was a Tanzer 22 which we found to be quite well built and stable to sail and Ifeel I can make an educated statement as I owned a boat yard in the PNW for 25 years thanks and great trailing
 

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I''m just jumping in here because I was attracted to the subject title "heeling paranoid" as that fits me to a "T". I am new to this site and am looking to find others who are in the same boat, so to speak and see how others are coping, overcoming this very real fear. Heeling just doesn''t feel good to me, it makes me think we are going to go over on our side. When we are out and heeling, I see other boats in the same position and I tell myself "see they are OK" but I DON''T LIKE the feeling. I wish I felt safer, it JUST doesn''t FEEL safe. This is not rational I know, but the fear is real to me and I would like to talk to others who have experienced this when they started sailing. Thanks.
 

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I see that this is a common experience with new sailors. Whatever the conditions of weather or boat attitude you need to feel that you are in control otherwise the experience is less than pleasant.
I learned a long time ago that you need to steer your own course. Don''t be too concerned about what other boats are doing. Do what is comfortable for you.
Sailing your boat more upright and comfortable is Ok. In fact the more you heel the less sail area is presented to the wind and the less efficient your boat will sail. The more you heel the more power you are losing. You might think of it as your boat depowering itself.
Go slow and stay within your comfort zone. Good sailors are the one who can control their boats within that zone.Good sailors depower by reefing or changing to smaller sails BEFORE they are needed.This is what sailing is all about, adjusting the sails to provide the right amount of power for your boat and the conditions.
As you gain experience and confidence your comfort zone will grow.
So relax and enjoy. Isn''t that the reason we sail?
Jeffrey
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Jeffrey, thanks for your very helpful note. This makes perfect sense to me. I am aware that heeling too much actually slows you down. I guess I see other boats plowing along with a rail practically in the water and somehow think I should be doing the same. I''ll take your advice and do what feels comfortable for ME.

Susieq, I know just how you feel. My first experience on a sailboat was a nightmare. I had no idea sailboats heeled and no one told me it would happen. The sails went up, the boat went over, and I was terrified, which instantly manifested itself as seasickness. I was the color of a hospital bedsheet. The skipper smiled and said we''d be fine as long as no one pressed the "keel-falls-off button." Then, after a sensible discussion of the physics of the situation (knowledge is power), I got behind the wheel for the first time. I was hooked and never left the helm for eight days. I think the mind''s instinct for self-preservation will always send us that micro-second of doubt when the floating platform that keeps us from drowning tilts and drops out from under us. I remind myself of the physics and let logic prevail. My logical mind tells my instinctive mind to put a sock in it and sail the darn boat. I know the situation will improve as I get more experience. Just stay away from that button!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Jeffrey,

One more question if you look at this string again. Spent the last hour trying to visualize the fisherman''s reef. Are you saying that you have a tight jib with the main eased out, essentially sailing almost under jib alone without dousing the main?

Assuming I''ve got it right, sounds very cool. Will try it next outing. Would this sail position be a good one for reefing the main?

Regards,
Susan
 

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Susan, you''ve got it. And no you would not want to try to reef your main. You will see this when you try this "reefing" sail set.
Enjoy.
Jeffrey
 

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Thanks Jeffrey for validating my position. Was out Friday night for a sail and it was not my cup of tea as it was windy, so there was heeling. My beau kept the boat fairly even but there were jabs at me for being a sissy, too bad too sad. Out on Sunday, there was very little wind and the boat was even and it was lovely. My kind of sail. That is MY comfort zone.I need positive experiences out there to get use to it and at MY speed. Rome wasn''t built in a day. Thanks again for your imput really appreciate it.
 

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I had to look at this thread since my gf has some degree of heeling paranoia - oh, by the way, we own a Catalina 30. First of all, boats like Catalinas, Hunters, Beneteaus, etc. do best when sailed "on their feet" - meaning 10 degs of heel is perfect and 15 is OK. Anything more, and you''re uncomfortable and not sailing as efficiently as you could be. As for the fisherman''s reef - it''s a short term solution that I may use if the wind comes up as I''m coming back into the harbor (as it often does in So. Cal.) - but it''s not the best solution if you are going to keep sailing for awhile. If that''s the case, learn to reef your main and furl your jib partway. And I''m not sure about your water-ballast Hunter, but I''d have to have my spreaders well into the water before I begin to worry about capsizing. That''s what all that weight in the keel is for. Hunter should be able to give you a graph showing the righting angles for your boat - that may make you less concerned.
 

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I also own a catalina 30 in S.Cal (my first keelboat) and I too got nervous when the heeling got over 15%. But over the past 2 years of sailing with my 21 yr old son (who is fearless as all 21 yr olds are) I have gotten more used to the healing. We have even dipped a rail now & then with puffs. The real key is learning correct sail trim and balancing the helm. When everything is balanced heeling feels natural. If you''re not balanced and fighting weather helm then it can be a struggle both mentally and physically. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Strangely enough, weather helm is a topic that generates a great deal of discussion and attention in sail trim articles, but a balanced helm just does not seem to be a problem for me to achieve on our boat. On the other hand, I''ve never sailed long enough at a steep angle of heel to say what happens beyond 10 degrees. The previous owner tells me that the boat will round up before it will tip over. Could anyone explain to me why this should be so? Thanks
 

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A boat with weather helm will round up by itself after it heels over enough to get the rudder out of the water. The centerboard or keel are still in the water and provide a pivot point. Heeling increases weather helm which make the boat want to head up.
 

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hi susieq, I too am new to this site, and to sailing, i just got a 16 ft. precision, and i love it. at first when it would heel it scared me, since i had no experience in sailing , and ive had no instructions i read everything i could find about sailing and ive sailed it now about 10 times , im learning, and now when it heels im not quite so scared. my big question is can i learn to sail on my own?
 

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Ahoy, Snorkey! Everyone has this problem when they start out. There are a couple of simple drills that will bring that home to you and a technique that works for beginners
to help them learn how to trim sails for optimum angle to the wind. I believe these will be very helpful to you at your stage. Refer to my comments under "Learning To Sail", "Sail Trim For Beginners". These drills and this trim technique helped me immediately to get control of a dinghy that was trying to eat me when I first started out. Good luck!
 

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Ahoy, sehopkins. The marine architect that designed your boat, the marine engineer that built it and the owners of the manufacturing company (who have the liability) know what they are doing. There is nothing wrong with your boat. The Hunter is a good boat. Water
ballast is a valid concept. Some ocean racers use it as does the U.S. Navy. You must use it in the conditions and in the way it was designed to be used.
If you were heeling in a power boat, that would be one thing, but a sail boat is designed to heel.
As regards knockdown, unless you are in severe conditions or are not making the necessary adjustments, you probably won''t have one.
Visualize with me for a moment in your minds eye. You are holding a toy sailboat in
front of you. You are looking at it beam on.
The main sail is running bow to stern on the center line of the boat. Now if you blow on it, the whole sail area is exposed to your breath and the boat starts turning down away from you. The farther it goes, however, the
less sail area you can see, the less area is exposed to be blown. Shortly, the pressure in this reduced exposed area of sail no longer is greater than the effects of ballast
which is resisting the heeling. The boat starts back up, or at worse remains at this point of balance between push and pull, between heeling and righting moments.
Now, the other way to reduce this exposed sail area is to let out the sheet. Visualize
the toy boat upright again just like it was.
Now you ease the sheet, letting the end of the boom go out away from you. The area of the sail that you can see gets narrower and narrower the farther out the boom goes so the
heeling pressure gets less and less.
Probably your heeling problem comes from having your sheets in too hard. Refer to the "Learning To Sail", "Sail Trim For Beginners" message board for a simple technique for sail trim and a couple of drills you can do on the water that will let you feel these effects.
Normally, you will control the angle of your sails to the wind and thus the pressure in them by playing your sheets when you are reaching because you want to stay on your rhumb line or bearing. You will control this angle on a beat with your rudder. On a beat, you will normally have your sheet cleated and
will sail a snake like course as you alternately turn your bow into (luff) the wind for freeing shifts, and away from the wind for headers (unless it is a large header
when you will tack). On a beat you are constantly trying to get up to weather.
The "fisherman''s reef" is simply letting your main sheet out, taking the wind out of the main (depowering). This is a quick and easy fix in a hard puff but is a temporary technique at best. It is better to luff, to
shoot up to wind in a hard puff to depower because it gets you farther up to weather.
Summary: When you get sailing, start with
your foresail. Ease it out just till the luff breaks (wind just gets behind the leading edge) then harden in just till the break disappears. Then do the same with the main. Now maintain that angle on a reach by playing your sheets and on a beat with your tiller.
Finally, when you can no longer control heeling by this method it is time to reduce sail. The force driving your boat will not change because large sail area in light wind = small sail area in hard wind.
Always visualize what you want to have before you start maneuvering. What do I want, what do I have, how do I go from one to
the other.
I hope this helps. It helped me immediately when I first got started to get control of a dinghy that was trying to eat me.

Regards,

dhd
 

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While I enjoy the feeling of a boat with her shoulder firmly planted into the sea, I can appreciate the fear of others who are less comfortable with heeling. My mother, a powerboater, still is uncomfortable when she comes out on my boat. On the other hand, my wife, a total landlubber until we met, took to it immediately and has never been nervous about heeling. She finds it unpleasant when we''re past 20 degrees (Ok, ok, I''ll reef!), but she''s aware of the physics involved and doesn''t fear capsize.

I''d be more nervous in coastal waters in a water-ballasted boat, but that''s probably unfounded. I have to imagine their range of positive stability is at least 90 degrees, but certainly less than a keelboat. I''d be more worried about large beam seas or broaching. I''ve never sailed a water-ballasted boat, but I''d have to imagine that they don''t stiffen up like a keelboat when "in the groove"; a theory supported by your claim of not being nervous when the chartered keelboat you were on heeled.

My boat is pretty tender initially and will go right down to 15-20 degrees without provocation, but once her shoulder''s firmly planted, she''s real stiff and just getting the rail wet takes considerable effort. I can''t even imagine capsizing in anything less than huge, breaking beam seas.

Bottom line is, I''d rather have a keel under me in coastal waters.
 

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Ahoy, all this said has anyone ever thought to try to knock her down or in other words try to flip the thing !! I don''t believe any large (over 20'') displacement vessel of a production type can be flipped except in a combination of wind and waves ( Ocean ). These vessels aren''t designed to go over !! If you can reach the point of no return and not break something or spill your wind in the process, your in a boat designed for speed and not safety. Get a different boat. As far a healing paranoia and reefing each captain has the responsibility to to keep the passengers safe and comfortable. Otherwise put the rail in the water and relax , the worst that could happen is you''ll get wet and have to swim home. Big Red 56
 

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thanks dhartdallas for your advice , i tryed the drill you mentioned, and i think after i use it a few times ill get the hang of it, it was a big help in trimming the sail. i have one other qusetion, i read somewhere that on a run the center board should be raised about 3/4 of the way up, is this true? and if so, can you explane why?i would be very gratful to if you can ...... fair winds and blue skys.......snoreky
 
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