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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm looking for advice on the sequence of events (suggested standard operating procedure) for tacking and jibing a two person boat sailing solo. I'm sailing Hunter 140's right now at my local sailing club. In light winds, when the pressure is off, I have no problems, but in fresh winds I get sloppy, sometimes the turn goes well, sometimes not. I've been trial and error trying to work out the tack & jibe process that works best, but was hoping someone experienced could short cut the process for me. What is the right sequence of events for: turning the tiller, straightening the tiller, shifting sides(weight), trading tiller hands, ease jib and main, and trimming jib and main, etc? What other key rules of thumb need followed? Thanks!

3,589 Posts
The sequence of procedures used in tacking and gybing isn't set in stone. It depends to a large extent on how the boat is rigged and the type of boat. You have a limited amount of time to accomplish all the tasks necessary to tack the boat, so, your challenge is to figure out how to do all those things in the time available.

I suggest you begin to improve your procedures by analyzing each separate step of the whole process. Look for procedures that can be done either before you put the helm over, or after the boat is on the new course. For example, sometimes you can either leave the mainsheet traveler centered, so that you don't have to readjust it each time you tack. By doing so, the mainsail becomes self-tending. If you're racing and want to readjust the traveler, you can often make the new adjustment before you put the helm over. It's easier to readjust the traveler before the tack, (by easing it to leeward) than it is to pull the traveler up to windward after the tack.

On a keel boat, you can usually tail a jibsheet much faster if you're standing, rather than seated, because you have more room to swing your arms. If you reach out in front of you and pull the jibsheet as far behind you as possible on each stroke, you can pull in the jibsheet much faster, because you're tailing nearly twice as much line with each stroke.

5,979 Posts
I suspect this is not exactly what you need, but fun reading anyway. I have a full copy of a SOP of all maneuvers I keep on board for newbies (as fun you understand)

How to tack a multihull
(tacking means turning with the bow going through the wind, gybing is turning with the wind behind you)

Generally tacking a multihull is somewhat different. I leave instructions posted at my helm station in case I forget, the printable part of the step by step instructions is included below for your reading pleasure:
Steps to Tacking:

Decide if you really need to tack (try to stay away from hard objects or shallow (2 feet) depths). Check the speed log and/ or GPS to make sure you are actually moving in the water. Try to remember if you are anchored, if not anchored proceed, if anchored you probably don't need to tack after all.

Inform the Admiral that the position of the sun and direction of the wind may change momentarily, she might need to adjust her position for optimum suntan and or cooling.

Put down your drink, you may need both hands if something weird happens again.

Approach the helm, look up and forward to the jib and determine which way you will tack, (left or right). As a reminder a tack is turning away from the sail, gybing is turning towards the sail. If you need to gybe, turn to the ‘how to gybe page of this book.

Push the appropriate buttons on the Autopilot to start the tack.

Wait – Leer at the Admiral, maybe if she’s moving parts of her bikini might not be yet

Release the working jib from the self tailing winch, do not unwrap the line.

Wait – now is a good time to refill the Admiral’s foo-foo drink and replace the little umbrella in the glass if she lost it.

Wait – check the compass and make sure it is spinning around.

When (if) the bow crosses the wind the jib will flap louder than the music, this is your clue that you are about to back wind the jib and you should look towards the front of the boat.

At some point the main sail, and the boom will swing over from one side to the other with a loud crash. Don’t be alarmed and run away (again) - this is normal.

When the jib is back winded (see glossary if necessary), count to three, or four, slowly (use all the fingers on one hand).

Release the wraps on the winch so the jib sheet runs free.

Walk (do not run) over to the new working winch on the other side of the boat, put three wraps on the winch but do not tail (pull) the line.
Isn't it fun how sailors have fancy words for simple things?

Wait – now is a good time to replenish your sun screen.

Pull in the jib sheet to remove all slack, do not strain yourself as neither speed nor effort matter.

If the jib remains back winded you are ‘caught in irons’ and are possibly screwed. If anyone is watching, announce loudly that you have decided to take a break and are now 'hove to', release the main sheet a little bit and go back to your drink - it will still be where you left it.

If caught in irons, turn to the 'caught in irons' page of this manual and follow the instructions (Basically call TowboatUS, again).

If the jib is not back winded you are truly fortunate and have completed the hard part of the tack. Winch in the slack until at least one of the tell tales is fluttering in the breeze (sort of horizontal). You can winch until they all are horizontal if you want, doesn't matter too much but will look more sailor like.

Look up at the main and if the tell tales are not hanging limp you are done. If they are hanging limp pull in or let out on the mainsheet and observe the tell tales, play with it until at least one tell tale is fluttering.

Check the speed log and or GPS to make sure you are moving through the water. Give it a minute to settle down and start moving if needed.

Check the autopilot, if it is cycling insanely and beeping you probably can't make what it considers to be a good course, hit the standby button, wait a second and hit the auto button, it will now maintain your current course as the new course. You should probably look up to see if anything is in your way. If so blow the horn three times and flip this page to the 'Collision response directions' side and follow the instructions (basically call insurance company, again)

Go back to where you left your drink, it will still be there.

Admire the Admiral in her new position leeringly (if leeringly is not a word you know what I mean).

Ponder the joy of sailing until your next forced tack. Don’t forget to use sunscreen.

2,266 Posts
ease off to a run, face forward, crouch and steer with your knees. trim in main to close-reach angle.
Now move the tiller away from boom, while ducking and turning your back towards the new windward side as the boom comes over. shift sheet to fwd hand and tiller to aft hand. get your butt out onto the new rail, and QUICKLY midship your tiller and ease out the sheet a lot, soon as it tightens up on the new side.
Keep the bow downwind (or you'll round up and broach), no higher than a broad reach, and balance the boat out: if even keel, you're good. if heeling to leeward, ease sheet and bear off a little, hike out. if heeling to windward, do just the opposite. THe point is to keep "the boat under the mast", and avoid either the upwind broach or the downwind rejibe and death roll, with you on the wrong side and in the water on the latter event.

Once jibe's done and you're settled down, let off old jibsheet and bring in new one.

It's a balancing act, takes practice, but worth it.

I don't discuss my member
2,557 Posts
If the wind is calm enough to throw the boom over by hand, check that the boom isn't resting on the rigging first. Then grab the purchase and throw it to the other side as you steer DDW.

When it's honkin, heat it up a bit and really start flying. THen drive deep and sheet in quickly. As the boom comes over your head, pull the main sheet out of the cleat and smoke it until it comes close to the rigging. Don't let it hit. Now mess with your jib.
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