light wind sailing

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by tag, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. tag

    tag my2fish

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    I had a very frustrating few hours out on a lake yesterday - there was only very light bits and pieces of wind, and I probably shouldn't have even tried, but I pulled up to the ramp right as a catamaran was getting rigged up, and the sailing school right next to the launch ramp had 3 or 4 Interlake sailboats rigged and already sailing (attempting too anyway), so I rigged up and set out to give it a shot.

    so my question is this - there were times when the wind was very light, and I could tell that the boat was moving very slowly, but sideways - I couldn't get it to go forward!

    there were also times when I would be sailing (slowly), and I could not get the boat to sail straight if the rudder was held on a straight course. that is, I would have to hold the rudder out quite a bit just to keep the boat sailing straight.

    the lake was ridiculously full of weeds, so I know there were occasional weed clumps on the daggerboard and rudder, but I was pulling the board out randomly, and would pop the rudder up to clear it, so I don't think that was the entire problem.

    thoughts and suggestions? I adjusted the gooseneck back and forth a couple times, but it didn't seem to help too much.

    cheers,
    tag
     
  2. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    Daggerboard was down?

    Sit so the boat is heeled to leeward as though the wind were stronger than it really is and let the sail out some.



    Daggerboard was down?

    With the rudder held straight, was the boat falling off or pointing up?

    Anytime you need to steer very much off center to keep the boat on course you are introducing rudder drag (putting on the brakes). This is the situation excessive weather helm causes.

    Might you have been attempting to sail too close to the wind and without much forward motion you were being pushed to leeward? This would be exacerbated by sitting toward the back of the cockpit thereby lifting the bow.



    From a mid-point of around 19", sliding the boom back increases weather helm (boat wants to point into the wind ... light air balance is ~ 16" - 17), forward decreases weather helm, too far forward (>25") and boat wants to point away from the wind (lee helm - unstable).

    .
     
  3. tag

    tag my2fish

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    yeah, board was down - most of the way, anyway.

    Falling off.
    Wayne - there wasn't much wind at all, and it was so spotty at times, so I'm sure I was randomly pointing the wrong way, and could have been trying to sail to close to the wind. I moved my position all over the place - sitting in the middle, sitting on the back of the cockpit, sitting down in the cockpit.

    I don't have my boom marked off with inch marks yet, but I had probably started out in the 18 or 19" range. I had moved the boom back at one point quite a bit, probably setting the gooseneck at 14 or 15", and then later moved it back to the 18 or 19" range.

    anyway, thanks for all the help. I don't really want to re-create the problems, as I'd prefer to avoid sailing in that light of winds, but if it does come up again, it'll be nice to know how to adjust the rigging to get it to work at least a little better.

    cheers,
    tag
     
  4. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    I had to ask . . .



    I hate that. I switched away from using cassette tape for my wind indicator because it was so sensitive it would show there was wind when the wind wasn't sufficient enough to drive the boat.

    I now use fine strands of yarn. If the yarn stands out I can sail, if the yarn just hangs there I paddle or get out more sunscreen.

    How were all those other boats doing who were launching when you did?

    Sometimes I swear there's wind, but it must be going up and down only.

    The lower the wind the lower you have to head. Looking at a graph of sailing efficiency, from the upper end of close reaching into close hauled is the most inefficient point on the curve. In light air that becomes part of the "no sail" zone.

    [​IMG]



    Mastering light wind is a valuable skill.

    .
     
  5. tag

    tag my2fish

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    Where do you have the yarn set up for a wind indicator? I don't have any wind indicator(s) set up yet, and didn't get tell-tales (they were back-ordered and I never tried checking again), plus I swear someone on the Forum just said that telltales didn't work that well on a Sunfish... is that true?

    They seemed to be about the same (not much luck, just slowly drifting along). The cat was quitting right when I did. The sailing school boats were still out fiddling around - I guess they might know how the wind plays across the lake a little better, and where the weed beds are located to avoid.

    Yeah, I know. and I agree it would help me to get more experience in the light winds - I just think this wasn't even light wind. It was no wind, with a few random wisps to get me excited and pissed off all at the same time!

    thanks again,
    tag
     
  6. Geophizz

    Geophizz Member

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    I use 8mm videotape (Cassettes are harder to come by), and it squeezed me by two Lasers in obscenely light winds yesterday. I was able to read some really subtle shifts and puffs that they missed. I set the sail to where it was supposed to be for that point of sail, and son of a gun, it worked! The rest of the time the tape was just mocking me, saying "There's wind here, look, I'm moving", while my sail hung like so much laundry.
     
  7. Geophizz

    Geophizz Member

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    I have tape set up on a 10" dowel taped to the top of the front spar. You have to be careful not to read too much into it though, because when I rely too much on it, I tend to over-trim which slows the boat down, especially in light air.

    When the air is really light, and I'm not racing, I usually do more swimming than sailing.
     
  8. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    I put mine on the spar ahead of the mast ... Wind Indicator

    I put telltales in line with the leech. Mine are about 1-1/2' - 2' back from the edge, some people go to mid-sail. Look at the second boat for the approximate vertical spacing.

    [​IMG]



    Sounds like it was just the day and not your sailing. Cats hate light wind. Sunfish can sail circles around them. :rolleyes:



    I believe that's what's called "a good day for canoeing".

    .
     
  9. Zeppo

    Zeppo Member

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    I assume you were on a lake, so current wouldn't be a factor. If your sail was full, indicating some wind, and you were sheeted in too far you would drift to leeward. Follow the old saying "When in doubt, let it out" in other words if your not sure of the wind direction, let the sail out until it starts to luff, then sheet in just until the luffing stops.
     
  10. 58984 EW

    58984 EW Member

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    Small nit. The gooseneck probably never wants to be farther back than 17 inches. IN a drifter like you had, you can move it up to 13 inches, or so. But this is a fine tune. The key, as others have noted is knowing where the wind is coming from (sometimes there is zero, but that's unusual) and not trying to sail too close to the wind. When there are dead spots on the water, try to keep quiet, and try to guess where the wind will come up next. That's about all you can do.
     
  11. tag

    tag my2fish

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    thanks all for your tips - will try to file them away in my head for the next light air day. I'll try to rig up a wind indicator like Wayne linked too as well.

    cheers,
    tag
     
  12. Petrel

    Petrel Member

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    Thanks for asking this question, Tag.

    I finally got my SF out on the water. I'd never sailed a SF before. I was sailing on a large pond and for the most part there was a decent breeze. Around 6 PM I hit some flat spots and, as with Tag's description, I could see I was "moving," but I couldn't get enough momentum to come about, so ended up jibing a lot in the faint winds. At other times, it seemed as though I was moving sideways and it reminded me of sailing a small cat dinghy in salt water when the wind and tide were at odds (the bathtub cat dinghy would go with the tide). For a while I wondered if the intra-hull area had taken on water. I had a 65 pound kid with me, sitting aft of the mast, and when we both moved to leeward it helped a bit. That pond has trees, houses and small peninsulas so the wind can be very uneven and flukey. I was amazed at the difference that 65 Lb. kid could make -- depending on where his CoG was!

    When we got the fair breeze, it was absolutely heavenly to sail the SF. I hadn't yet replaced the bailer, so only put a cork stopper in the hole, but that worked fine. Later, I tested the drain for the intra-hull space. No water at all. Most of the days this week have had a threat of T-storms popping up in the afternoon, so I've not been out again in the fish; but I am eager to do so again.

    Tag, was your lake a small one or with a lot of varied wind?
    Thanks to all the good suggestions and feedback on this thread. It's given me better understanding of how to cope when the wind goes soft.
     
  13. tag

    tag my2fish

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    Petrel - it is decent sized, I guess - but is really just a dammed up river, so width varies quite a bit, and there are random little islands here and there as well. The wind tends to vary a lot over by those islands, and I guess somewhat out in the open areas as well.

    I couldn't have said it better - this post (and the rest of the forum) help me learn more each day. Thanks to all who contribute.

    cheers,
    tag
     
  14. LAuman

    LAuman Member

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    The d'board is a foil and it requires flow to generate the necessary side force (lift). If it's moving sidewise with no fore and aft flow, it will stall; have pressure on the leeward face and eddies (unproductive energy dissipation) on the windward. . . and will just drift sidewise.
    You would need to fall off or otherwise pick up a little speed, then you can head up again with flow. Trouble is, the rudder (It's also a flow-requirng foil.) depends on the d'board for leverage, and it doesn't work well, either, unless you jerk it (scull).
     
  15. ylojelo

    ylojelo Member

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    as an easy wind indicator, would it be OK to just attach yarn or cassette tape to the top point of the upper spar?
     
  16. Webfoot

    Webfoot New Member

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    The pretty must sums up the answer. Just like a aircraft wing, the slower you go, the higher the Angle-Of-Attack the centerboard with demand. This gives you a 'Crab Angle' as the bow will be pointed up to 15 degrees from the direction of travel. After 15 degrees the Centerboard will be fully stalled. A true Airfoil shaped centerboard such as the Fantastic Plastic Racing Board will generate lift at a lower angle of attack than a stock wooded board. One solution would be to change the Aspect Ratio with a longer board, however, there is a Law Of Diminishing Returns involved. Catamarans will always coast along in the light winds leaving the Sun Fish far behind. As for not getting a steady wind, the Sunfish is not really good in this respect being a Board-Boat, makes for a lot of work with all the constant adjustment.
     
  17. 58984 EW

    58984 EW Member

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    In reading this thread again, I suspect that the weeds were a bigger factor than you think. Even a little bit of weed on a board when sailing in less-than-optimum conditions will make it harder to get the proper flow. That's causes boats to go sideways.
     
  18. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    That does not work very well. Gets tied around the end cap, outhaul, etc. BB
     
  19. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    1) For light (and variable) wind sailing, this is absolutely the best tip I've seen. :)

    2) Any weeds dragging on the daggerboard will foil you. :p

    3) The other tip is one of my own design, because cassette tapes are getting rare. (And contain iron!) :D

    Pull a strip of plastic from a damaged plastic tarp. Cut it so that the first part is about 8". Attach a small weight—a paper clip will do—then attach another 8" strip to the other end of the weight and tie a feather to the end of that. Attach this device to the point where the two spars come together.

    Length is important for efficiency. Adjust the overall length so the feather doesn't touch the deck, as any splash will cause the feather to stick to the deck.

    To adjust for "apparent wind", steer so that the feather is somewhat "behind" the boom. (In the lee of the boom). Confirm with tell-tales, if possible.

    If the feather doesn't move, there's no wind to drive the boat; however, if the feather is indicating any direction at all, you can get confirmation of that same direction from the feeling of wind on your face and body. The feather is a faster and a "ready" indicator, and may only be off a tiny bit, due to some "curling" of wind about the bow. Because it's at eye-level, I use it every minute I'm out there.

    Any feather will do, but a breast-feather is symmetrical and the most sensitive.

    I sail on a big lake, and typically start-out on mornings when there is no wind whatsoever. The wind always "comes up" at 8:00-AM EST. :p

    Just yesterday, in an undetectable breeze, I answered my neighbor's voiced opinion that there was no wind with:
    In less than ten minutes, I'd traveled out of sight (behind an island) with barely a ripple seen on the lake. :D

    Lake sailing is very challenging: watch the weather. ;)
     
  20. ylojelo

    ylojelo Member

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    do you have a photo of that?
     

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