A place to discuss best practices and techniques for boat handling.

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Postby Scott Mason » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:07 pm

First, thanks Mike, Seamanship is a great idea for a subforum.

I'm such a newbie sailor that I could start a hundred threads with questions as my ratio of time building the boat to time sailing is way too high.

I've been spoiled as my usual sail involves only a couple tacks. Winds are typically north or south so usually I can reach east -west for 5 or 6 miles tack once and then sail home. If I need to gybe I usually "chicken gybe" (head upwind tack thru the wind and then bear off on the new downwind direction) as I'm never in such a hurry that I mind the added turn. I do this as my gybes tend to feel out of control, boat heels sharply and does a quick "swooping" turn so that I end up on a reach or even head up rather than running. But it seems that if I am ever to be a "real" sailor then I should learn to do controlled gybes. Any tips that folks can offer would be welcomed. Here are the topics/questions I'm working on with my CY (lugsail main and sprit mizzen):

1) Mizzen - I have been leaving it set and not touching it throughout the gybe

2) Main - I sheet it in as I turn thru the wind and then try to let it out in a controlled fashion as it fills on the other tack - it seems like the speed at which I let it out is probably a big factor - I've been doing it rather quickly thinking it would ease the power but Im not sure about this now

3) Main reef - another theory I have is that I have been carrying too much sail and I get away with it sailing across or into the wind because I can head up,luff, spill wind etc as needed but once I start running then sail acts more in drag mode (rather than lift) and I can no longer spill the excess wind. Does this make sense?

4) Rudder - My survival instinct is to head up when the boat feels overpowered or heels too much. So when the boat starts the "swooping" turn I head up. But I think this only exarcebates the turn and the heel. It feels against my survival instinct, but should I counter this swoop by turning downwind more?

5) Centerboard - I have a bad habit of forgetting to put it down and then putting it down and not touching it again. So I have not been lifting it when sailing downwind. I was under the understanding that the purpose of lifting it is to increase speed. But is this part of my problem?

6) Main balance? - Is this too much weather helm? Do I need to shift the main? Forward?

7) Practice! - I now vow to practice in light wind every chance that I get.

Scott Mason
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Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2003 10:00 pm
Location: Kalispell, Montana

Re: Gybing/Jibeing

Postby Tom McCann » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:21 am

Well, by now, you've probably figured all this out. But here's my experiences...

I find that if the boat is sailing well under whatever amount of main I have out, then the jibe is not really very thrilling. Like you, I do a controlled jibe (unless I've been drinking). I try not to let the sail out very fast when it comes over, mainly because of the strain on the mast and rig when it hits the end of the mainsheet. I like that to be gentle.

Centerboard - Like you, I forget / don't bother / get all couch-potatoish about the CB. BUT, it has two salutory effects when raised: (1) your boat will go faster, adn you'll get there quicker (assuming your course is dead downwind). If you're going anywhere other than dead downwind, I think you have have it halfway down, to help with steering.
The second effect of having it all the way up is that your boat won't heel over as badly in the jibe it just sort of slips sideways across the water until you get yourself organized and on course. Definitely the right approach if you're in heavy winds.

The mizzen - I had no idea how much power that little booger adds until it accidentally jibed one day when I was running wing-on-wing. It was pretty breezy, and I was getting near the end of a fairly short lake. Not a good time to add extra thrills to your voyage. As per usual, I had ignored the centerboard, so all of a sudden I was in the big swooping turn you mentioned. The good news is that the CY is so seaworthy that it saved me from a capsize. And, I was able to recover quickly enough to wave to people on the beach, just like I had planned it that way all along. I haven't rigged any jibe preventers yet, but I'll consider it next time I've got a long downhill run and decide to make coffee or prepare hors douvres or something. If you're not going to be completely attentive, probably best just to wrap up the mizzen and let the main do all the work.
Tom McCann
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Re: Gybing/Jibeing

Postby James McMullen » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:39 pm

If you're not going to be completely attentive, probably best just to wrap up the mizzen and let the main do all the work.

I very strongly disagree with this sentiment! With the mizzen up you can heave-to at a moment's notice. If a squall or a williwaw hits you, you can let go the mainsheet and your boat will take care of itself with that mizzen. With the mizzen up, the boat will automatically head up into the wind if you drop something or your tiller breaks or if even if you fall overboard or something. You don't want anything to do with lee helm ever in a small, open boat like a CY. You also don't want to not be paying attention. But if you're not able to be paying full attention then the proper thing to do is Don't cleat off your mainsheet, but rather hold it in your hand.

The only known time that a CY has capsized in earnest was when Dale Davenport had furled his mizzen, and the boat tripped from an uncontrollable gybe. That mizzen is your best friend. Use it!
Good decisions are gained with experience, which is gained through bad decisions. . . . . .
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James McMullen
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Re: Gybing/Jibeing

Postby Scott Mason » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:50 am

I agree, I love the mizzen and so would not be inclined to strike it unless I had the alternate mast step for the main only, which I don't. But the reason that folks are tempted to strike the mizzen is that with the design reefing system it is not easy to reef. I had a thread on this earlier and if I can find it I will bump it to the top again.
Scott Mason
Posts: 351
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2003 10:00 pm
Location: Kalispell, Montana

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