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I am very new to sailing. I have only sailed Hobie Cats. But I am going to buy a West Wight Potter and my question is this: How does one tack properly? I fear that I could dismast the boat in a hard tack. When turning, does the boom swing hard over? Or is it like the Hobie, a dead calm, then manually throw the boom over? I dont want to hurt the boat or get stranded. Thank you.
 

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Keylargo,
Please read and memorize 2 basic "how to sail" books. Your library should have them. You will be able to tack quite easily then. I feel a sailor must know the basics. Reading the books is not enough as you must master them.
Most tacking is done to windward with the boom sheeted in; one goes on a beat; pushes the tiller over to make the boat come through the wind while releasing the jib sheet and then when on the oppossite tack sheet in the jib. So when tacking to windward the boom is already all the way in and it does not need to be released or pulled in more. The jib has to be released and pulled in on the other side however. Tacking into the wind is called "coming about". It would be almost impossible to damage a sailboat coming about even if every thing was done wrong.
One can tack downwind which is called "gybing". While on a run the boat is turned slowly downwind and when one is dead downwind the main is pulled in to center, the boat is turned a little more and the boom swings over at which point the mainsheet is released and then eased out. Gybing corrrectly requires skill in operating the boat and sails and you must know where the wind is blowing from. Gybing should be practiced in light wind. If the gybe is done wrong things can break. Always remmember that even when running you can round up into the wind and come about then ease off back onto a run. This is very often done when it gets windy.
Please memorize a couple books and practice every time you are outside to figure out which way the wind is blowing from. There are flags, trees, dust, the boat on a mooring and finally feel. This wind thing is the hardest because it cannot be learned from a book. You must be constantly aware of the wind and learn to find its direction by feel on your face, arms, hands, neck. Happy sailing. Fran
 

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i would say something sarcastic, but i dont know anything either. i have carefully watched the booms, tho and i suggest taking or keeping a low profile.
 

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Yeah, I agree. Certainly if you''re gybing and whether accidentally or intentionally and that horizontal spar comes flying across and hits you in the head you''ll then know why it''s called the "boom" !
 

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I am also new to sailing and am trying to figure out what to do with my Traveler when tacking or Jibing. The Traveler is not controlled by a line. It is set manually with two pegs. I have a 31'' Allman with a 56'' mast and roller furling.
 

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Date: Apr. 06 2001 11:36 AM
Author: kgannett1
I am also new to sailing and am trying to figure out what to do with my Traveler when tacking or Jibing. The Traveler is not controlled by a line. It is set manually with two pegs. I have a 31'' Allman with a 56'' mast and roller furling.
 

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Well the first step is to install traveller control lines. Trying to adjust a traveler with pins can be dangerous as you are restraining the whole weight of the mainsail while you make the adjustment. To tack or jibe without control lines the traveler should be centered so that it can''t slam across the boat. Depending on wind strength, after the tack, in light to moderate winds,the traveller car should be brought to windward of the center of the boat. In heavier air it should be dropped to leeward.

Jeff
 

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Taking another tack.... just as a suggestion, but if you''re more used to sailing in Hobies, you may be dissapointed by the performance of a West Wight Potter. A Hobie Cat in 10 knots of wind will easily go 8 or more knots through the water. A WWP in the same breeze will seem VERY slow in comparison.
 

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Thanks for responding. When centering the Traveler prior to tacking should you also center the mainsail as well by tightening up the main sheet?
--Also--
What is the purpose of placing the traveler windward or leeward as per current air?
 

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First of all, you should not necessarily tighten the mainsheet. Centering the traveler will not center the mainsail but will actually leave the boom to slightly to leeward. This slightly eased mainsail position will help with acceleration out of the tack and will reduce the likelihood of a knockdown if you turn too far through the turn.

As to the placing the traveler windward or leeward per the wind speed, in light air you want more twist in your sails up wind becase the air speed is faster higher up and so the sail up high is sailing in different wind than the sail down low. In lighter winds the traveller should be well to windward and the boom should be on the centerline of the boat.
In heavier air the sail should be bladed out and so the traveler should be carried well to leeward and a lot of mainsheet, outhaul and halyard tension to flatten the sail.

I suggest that you might look for a book with a chapter or two on sail trim. I am not putting you down here (we all had to start somewhere) but these are hard concepts to explain over the internet.
Good luck
Jeff
 

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One thing I found was that if you come about too quickly, you are likely to go over (in something like a Laser). I was tipping over all day in one (light winds) until somebody told me to slow it down. I followed their advice and had no problem getting situated and balanced in the tack. Before then, I had a knot on my head and a bloody elbow from that nasty boom.
 

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Hi Jeff.

People over 50, should keep the keyboard moving slowly.

Now this link may help the new fellows willing to read sail trim in the net.

Regards.

Fernando
<a href="http://www.uksailmakers.com/encyclopedia.html#1"> http://www.uksailmakers.com/encyclopedia.html#1 </a>
 

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not to try to simplify things - because sail trim really does take a lot of study and practice to get it right... but you typically tack while beating to windward... therefore your mainsheet should be left alone since your new attack angle will be 90 degrees or less (depending on boat design) from your original course. Your traveller position will depend primarily on wind strength... I don''t center the traveller before tacking - especially in light air... by doing so, you lose boat speed by reducing your angle of attack before the tack. I simply reposition the traveller after I complete the tack.
 

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I need a little advice on tacking. Irecently purchased a Helson 22 with no sailing experience. I''ve been out about 7 or 8 times and i feel I''m finally getting the hang of it.However, I cant seem to figure out after a tack and the jib is reset on the opposite side the boat seems to continue to turn in new direction eventhough I center the helm. What am I doing wrong? While in a tack I am supposed to release the jib sheets right? I have been sailing on a very small lake with light to moderate winds.
 

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I am not sure that I completely understand your question. If I understand it correctly, when you tack the boat swings through the wind and continues to swing past the point that you want to stop swinging even though you are centering the helm.

There are a few posibilies here. First of all boats develop momentum in a turn that tries to continue the turn. You actually must turn the helm slightly past center and in order to stop this momentum and reverse the helm slightly in advance of when you want to stop the swing.

Then the jib may be hanging up on the shrouds. This backwinds the jib and pulls the bow off to leeward.

Another posibility is that you are losing to much speed in the tack. When a boat, especially a centerboard boat is going slowly the keel can stall out allowing the bow to pay off a little.

While the problem can be a fault of the design, rig tune or sail trim, more likely than not it is a matter of getting the feel of when to reverse the helm and how much to reverse it.

Jeff
 

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I agree, Deb. It has to be one of two things:
1) the jib is allowed to back-fill too long (as soon as it helps push the bows across the wind, slack that sheet), or, more likely,
2) you''re assuming that centering the tiller once the main sets is sufficient to start off on your new point of sail. But there is always a slight delay, esp. in light air when boatspeed is low, when the keel "digs in," and you begin to accelerate on your new tack. During that moment, the bow can travel a great deal. In my 22ft. boat, pushing the tiller away (downwind) immediately after the main fills ensures that it''s the stern that will slip downwind instead of the bows, preserving my new heading. It''s normal, esp. in a small boat in light air or when you lose your boatspeed through your tack. (Remember, you have quite a bit less friction between keel and water than you do between tire and asphalt, and this is the moment of least fluid pressure on the keel. There is going to be some slip). It''s normal: keep practicing!
 
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