Too Close to the Wind

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Pompey, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. Pompey
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Pompey Junior Member

    I have a wonderful pocket cruiser, which I trail and sail on the Solent. At 15ft she can be sailed with a crew or launched and sailed solo. There is one thing that would make such an improvement... in light winds, she wont sail as close to the wind as the boats passing me and that is a big drawback with the tides of the Solent. As soon as I try to match the course of passing boats, she just flaps and stalls. She is quite light and high in the water, which may be a factor. I was wondering if there is some major or minor adjustment I can make to improve her sailing better into the wind. For instance, I only have a jib and don't have a genoa, would that help to get closer to the wind? Sail areas on attachment if that helps. Would altering the position of the main sheet on the boom or the transom help?
    Any ideas would be appreciated.
    Thanks
     

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  2. messabout
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Pompey; Your question has many potential answers. The pictures you have posted shows the boat moving through the water. Estimating boom angle, it seems that you might be on a close reach. The leech of the main is very loose (baggy). That is not going to work very well for windward work. I see no signs of a boom vang (some call it a kicking strap). The vang pulls the boom down such that the clew end of the sail is hauled downward which in turn tightens the leech making it straighter. Also the picture shows the jib near the cabin sides and there seems to be no way to sheet the jib in without interference from the cabin. You may be able to raise the jib, up the forestay, in such a way as to relieve that problem. Jib sheeting angle is critical to windward performance. The leech of the main also must be essentially straight and not falling off to leeward as in the picture.

    Those are just the most visable problems that will keep the boat from being weatherly. There are many more possibilities too. One of them is that the sails may be poorly cut or simply worn to the extent that they have lost the critical shape that they need.

    I am confident that there are many experienced sailors in your area that would be helpful. Those sailors could see first hand what the problems might be and advise you accordingly. There are some sailmakers who will go for a brief sail with you. They would be able to identify any problems right away.

    The ultimate, and most unwelcome possibility is that the boat is designed or laid out in such a way as to be a poor windward sailor. Let us hope that is not the case.
     
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  3. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Pompey,

    You can try all the ideas of yours and those mentioned by messabout but one thing remains clear. The windage of the boat plus crew is very high compared to the small sail area. This alone will prevent this little boat from ever being a close winded or fast sailer to windward. Sorry to relate but inescapable. The best solution is to accept your nice little boat for what it is and enjoy it. If you want to move to a fast boat, time on the water and close observation of other boats will show you what characteristics are required to get there.
     
  4. Pompey
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    Pompey Junior Member

    Thanks for response, guys. Good feedback. Will add a strop to the bottom of the jib to lift it more clear of the cabin and see if that helps and I must admit, Messabout, I don't ever tighten the vang, so will try that as well. Tom you are right about enjoying her as she is and we're not in a hurry - it would just be nice to go past those buoys that taunt you when you try to beat the tide... you know what I mean. Will pay keen attention to how the others are rigged as they pass me. Any other advice will be most welcome.
     
  5. kenJ
    Joined: Jul 2005
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    kenJ Senior Member

    sail trim

    you may benefit from some sail trim training. There is a pretty good on line forum on sail trim. visit www.sailboatowners.com then select forums from the menu line, then expert forums, then sail trim.

    The first step I see is to add tell tales to the sails to help you get the trim right.
     
  6. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    With a cabin well forward and very high relative to the boat size, I can't imagine the windward preformance would be very impressive. We all would love to have a nice big cabin, but there are a lot of 27 ft boats out there that you can't stand up in, and not just because of aesthetics.
    A high cabin hurts windward performance and sails on its mooring.
    All reasons to pay attention to sailing techniques. Telltales will help, and so will sailing full and by, not pinching up to the wind too much.
    Do not steer the boat as close to the wind as possible; instead open up the sails and sail about10 degrees off the wind. You will find that you're already sailing that track because of excessive leeway; by steering a bit off the wind your sails will create more drive and your lift will increase relative to drag. You'll make better progress to windward that way.
     
  7. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    The sails are telling you they need help so that’s the first place to concentrate your efforts on; all the advice above sounds good. With that done the boat should at least point at a respectable angle off wind with well-behaved sails. Although wind on the cabin is going to prevent screaming upwind performance there’s more to be had.

    I would add one suggestion; the vang may need a little help from the mainsheet. If so is there anything you can do to make the sheet pull down more vertically when close hauled? Unless it causes serious wrinkles to form in the sail anything to flatten the sail is worth a try.

    If that’s not enough, what would be left after that? Increase the thrust and reduce the drag ...

    Once sails are trimmed and working well, more thrust requires more sail area. I don’t see any reefing points so the sail is probably the smallest offered for that boat if there was a choice. If the yard is able to be raised higher up the mast than the sail allows that would be a clue as to the ability to carry more sail. Problem is, sails are expensive.

    That leaves the underwater situation. Check for weed and have a look at the wake next time out; if the boat has serious leeway, water noise or suchlike it may be worth a haul-out and cleaning. While you do that an examination of center/daggerboard and rudder may reveal unsuspected problems ... and poorly executed repair, bad board/hull fit, square edges ...

    You mentioned that she is quite light and high in the water, but I doubt if ballast would help, if you were thinking of that. However there may be one more thing you can help your boat with, which is the balance. If the tiller is well off center then rudder drag will increase. Adjusting sail trim or even moving some hardware to shift a sail’s position may be needed to correct this. A little weather helm is considered desirable (and safer) but not too much force should be needed to maintain course. With a little weather helm the rudder is helping the board to counter wind thrust to leeward, with lee helm they are working against each other which again increases drag.
     
  8. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Pompey,

    Silly question. Does you boat have a daggerboard or a keel ?
     
  9. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    I think Terry and Fanie may be on to something: what does the underwater part of the boat look like?
     
  10. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    I love this forum. So much to learn.
     
  11. Pompey
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    Pompey Junior Member

    Hi all - yes this is a great forum for ideas and thanks for your input. Regarding the keel it has a lifting keel made of galvanised iron which winds up and down on a wooden spool. I must admit, as it is a trailer sailer, I have never actually seen the keel, just felt it as it 'clunks' down. You will see from the attached spec, the draft keel up is 10" and down 42" so the keel is 32" deep and taking the length from the diagram scale, it looks to be 22". Does this give any clues?
     

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  12. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Everything looks pretty standard with what appears to be adaquate lateral area for the centerboard.
    I think that the addition of a genoa jib would help immensly in light air going to windward. Otherwise, a bigger mainsail on a bigger rig (expensive) and a double set of reef points on the main. My own fifteen footer carries 185 sq ft between main and regular jib and while my boat isat least 1300 lbs trailer weight, it's a lot more than the 114 sq ft you carry.
    I think you're a bit undercanvassed and 140-50 woud be more in line. Reef points can always shorten the rig, especially efficient with a gunter, where the yard drops, cutting down windage aloft
     
  13. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Seems likely the plate is just that, flat, which would be less efficient than a nicely profiled daggerboard, but there's not much you can do about that as far as I can see and at least it's providing a nice bit of ballast. Is there any way you can verify it's going all the way down and not hitting something it shouldn't?

    Getting back to the sails, according to your sketch the sail area is down a bit from spec and you illustrated a straight leach. If that is correct you have a slightly smaller sail with some area missing up top where the wind is stronger.

    You seem more concerned with inability to sail close to the wind than lack of speed. The increased windspeed at height shifts the apparent wind direction further out so the sail top needs a bit of twist but if it's overdone it will spill wind. Anything you do to flatten the sail should improve matters.
     
  14. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Just flat is going to make one huge difference imo. It is supposed to work like a wing that sucks the board to wind. The size does look ok though.
     

  15. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    There are plenty of dinghy classes around that still have flat boards. Enterprises, for instance, which go upwind well enough. Its just a tad less efficient... To a large extent I think its just a feature of the boat, but mainsail trim and kicking strap is enormously important to the upwind capability of any sailing craft rigged in this sort of manner. I'd concentrate on trim and technique before looking to spend significant cash: in particular jib and main tell tales and leech streamers on the main, which can just be lengths of wool, plus some reading up on how to use them, would be my top recommendation.
     
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