Trouble Tacking

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by drjay44, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. drjay44

    drjay44 Member

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    Forgive me but I am new to sailing. Trying to sort things out on my own rather than take formal lessons etc.

    If need be I will get instruction but frankly I am a bit hard headed and derive satisfaction from "figuring things out"

    If my terminology is wrong forgive me

    Anyway:

    Went sailing yesterday. Strong wind (for me) 10 MPH with gusts to 15-17. this is per accuweather.

    I was sailing upwind close hauled but not quite pinching. I was sailing on a starboard tack (wind coming from right). I wanted to switch to a port tack and on multiple occasions i gave it a try. First I gently used rudder but found myself in irons. After 10 minutes or so of the sail just flapping I was able to get back on starboard tack by rapidly moving the rudder left to right and trying to hold the lower spar(boom?) over to the side.

    Next try I attempted by moving rudder quickly instead of slowly, same result. third try I turned to somewhere between a beam reach and close hauled before turning via rudder figuring the momentum from this point of sail would help. Not really.

    Finally I was able to get on a port tack by doing what I can only describe because I don't know if it has a proper terminology.

    From my starboard tack i turned downwind and sort of made a big loop and came back on a tack on the port side. in other words I headed downwind to eventually go upwind on the opposite tack.

    Not a good method in a race.

    So what is the secret to tacking?

    Lastly, when heading downwind and wind is coming from the left should the boom be on the left side or the right? i imagine either would work and I'm pretty sure I did it both ways but in the confusion and wind I was just trying to keep afloat.

    On a good note I did not flip over and had a blast but felt like a fish out of water. No pun intended

    Thanks for the help
     
  2. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    This may be a bit below your level if you were out in 15-17 and stayed upright, but you might get some pointers https://www.sunfishclass.org/documents/learn_2_sail_in_3_days.pdf This video of a Laser tacking in heavy air may help too And here is a guy who demonstrates how to do everything wrong, from not knowing how to cleat a line to barely being able to sail

    By the way, what you did to turn is a jibe, or gybe.

    BB
     
  3. wjejr

    wjejr Member

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    Hi drjay44,

    Here are a few of things that work for me:

    1. As I start the tack, when the sail begins to luff, I release the main sheet a bit. I think I just hold onto the main sheet, and when I come inboard to cross the sheet just eases naturally. I then wait for the sail to fill, completing the tack. I am now "footing" and as the boat picks up speed I go back to close hauled with the sheet pulled in.

    2. I try and find a flat spot. If I smack the boat into a wave in the middle of a tack, the boat slows down, and I may not make it through the tack.

    3. I move the gooseneck on the lower boom so that more of the sail is forward which helps balance the boat. You can check this forum on what the distance is for heavy air. I usually have it around 17" back from the forward end of the boom, and move it back in high wind to around 20" - 22". There's not an exact science, there are other factors, but the general rule is move it back when it's windy.

    4. Before starting the tack, I make sure the boat is moving well.

    5. Others report pulling up the daggerboard in higher winds a few inches. You need to be sailing that way to begin with however, as there will be too much lateral force to pull the board up when you are close hauled.

    If I do end up in irons, I pull the daggerboard up, grab the boom and pull it towards me, push the tiller away and let the boat rotate around the rudder as it moves backward. Sometime I do just the opposite, but it's more awkward as I then have to move across the boat, since I am on the wrong side when the boat gets going.

    I hope that is helpful to you. Good luck.
     
  4. drjay44

    drjay44 Member

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    I appreciate the help. I have no clue how to sail properly but I am loving it.

    The jibe is the wrong way to change direction going upwind? You should always tack or are there situations when a tack will not work?

    I did not touch the daggerboard when I was in irons. Never thought about it . Probably would have helped if I pulled it up a bit.

    There was so much going on it just never occurred to me.

    Thankfully I was not in the position of the guy in the second video.
     
  5. Webfoot1

    Webfoot1 Active Member

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    I think you figured it out. Being that close-hauled in a Lanteen rig
    Sunfish only gives you the illusion of speed. You're going slow in
    a lightweight boat with little mass. All your energy bleeds off
    before completing the tack. You can back fall off from the wind
    as you did and get up some speed first or sail a broad-reach and
    tack a few more times which will actually get you to your destination
    faster. Lanteen rigs favor broad-reach over close-haul. Ha, you've
    just learned that the sailboat sometimes dictates where where going
    rather than where we want to go. You're also correct in trying
    to complete the tack as fast a possible, again, this is a boat
    with little mass and our store of kinetic energy is small.
     
  6. greenskeeper

    greenskeeper Member

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    Is your sail set up properly for the expect wind conditions?
     
  7. mixmkr

    mixmkr Active Member

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    fwiw...I'd put the daggerboard in and forget about it at this point and concentrate on other aspects of sailing, .... judging from reading your posts. Unless you have shallow areas, I'd think best to put it in and forget about it.
    Read up or spend an evening with YouTube and watch some basic tacking videos and learn JUST the basic stuff.... why a tack is different from a gybe, etc. Get some of the BASIC stuff out of the way...and it will go very quick... and you'll learning curve will go off the charts. But, you need to learn the "alphabet" of what you're doing first before you can "speak" sailing. It's easy...honest. 12 yr old kids scream around in Sunfish every summer day.
     
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  8. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    Agree with mixmkr on everything he said. And I'll emphasize that the last thing you need to be doing While tacking is adjusting your daggerboard!
     
  9. drjay44

    drjay44 Member

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    If you mean the gooseneck, no.

    If you are referring to stuff like downhaul etc, no.

    I have a simple sailboat and am not sure how to adjust for what conditions. I do know (I believe) that in heavier air the sail should be hoisted a bit lower i.e. brass ring is lower on mast.

    Really new at all this.

    Another reply references gooseneck at 20 in vs 17 in. Does this small difference really matter to somebody who is not racing ? I am not looking to get an extra .5 kts speed. just looking to enjoy.
     
  10. drjay44

    drjay44 Member

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    Thanks. Just watched a video of a roll tack. I have lots to learn
     
  11. signal charlie

    signal charlie Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    Skipper looks for a flat spot, because as mentioned above, if you tack right into a the face of a wave the boat will stop. So look for a good spot, fall OFF a few degrees to speed up, then tack quickly. Don't push the rudder past 45 degrees or that will stall the boat as well. For our setup that means the leading end of the tiller will be close to the edge of the boat.

    K&A
     
  12. drjay44

    drjay44 Member

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    Well I believe I made a couple of mistakes firstly I did not pay attention to the waves this because I was just trying to sail and believe me they were lots of waves I know I smacked into quite a few because the water came over the bow secondly unlike the suggestion to not go past 45 degrees when I attempted to tack I pushed the tiller as far as I possibly could and I may have stalled
     
  13. Dickhogg

    Dickhogg New Member

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    In big ships I believe this is called 'wearing'. Square rigged ships are hard to tack in many conditions and so it is common to do a 270(ish) instead. Dingy sailors sometimes do the opposite to this and go all the way round through the wind to avoid a sketchy jibe. a "cowards jibe" if you will. My point being that although you are struggling with your tack you are at least getting plenty of jibes in, something that gives many beginners the fear.
     
  14. drjay44

    drjay44 Member

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    I appreciate the reply let me ask you a question when sailing downwind on say Broad reach it would seem to me that the boom can be oriented in one of two ways the back of the boom on the starboard side of the stern or the back of the boom on the port side of the stern in other words the boom is angled across the hull
    does it matter whether you angle it from left to right or right to left and does that depend on whether you're sailing downwind to the right or the left I hope this is making sense
     
  15. Webfoot1

    Webfoot1 Active Member

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    Well that's a big clue to what's happening. You need to learn how to trim
    the sail. Don't bother where the boom is, look at the trailing edge of the sail.
    Let the sail out till the trailing edge starts to luff then pull the sail in a bit till
    it stops luffing. You're looking for the point where the sail is set for best aerodynamic
    efficiency. You will always be playing with this as there is no "set it and forget it"
    on this type of boat.
     
  16. Dickhogg

    Dickhogg New Member

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    Erm. If you were dead downwind the boom can be on either side. If you were just slightly off dead downwind (a training run) it is still possible to have the boom either side, however the chances of an accidental jibe increase the further off downwind you go the more it makes sense for the boom to be on the leeward side of the boat. By the time you are on a broad reach there is only one side that it can be on. ....unless you are talking about sailing by the lee, which is a whole other kettle of fish and something I don't know much about. People were talking about it in a recent thread hear though.
     
  17. drjay44

    drjay44 Member

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    This is getting really deep I have a lot to learn I better hit Youtube and Barnes and Noble
     
  18. Charles Howard

    Charles Howard Member

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  19. Eddie_E

    Eddie_E Member

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    All the info is on youtube, it's just listed under Laser sailing tips in most of what you're looking for.

    As for the tack VS gybe issue, my personal opinion is that it's better to gybe when sailing in 5~9 mph wind for exactly the reason you mentioned in your first post. A gybe is powered all the way through a turn. In 10~12 mph I tend to bear off a little to build speed then tack. Turn like you mean it, but not enough to stall the rudder. This just takes practice and there is no magic book needed. Gybes also work in 10~12 mph, but the boom is going to come over hard and this is where the boom originally got it's name. Although this type of gybe works well for removing an annoying guest from your boat, most people sheet in hard then ease a lot if they have a ratchet block only. If you run a swivel cam cleat then you can grab the main sheet (rope) just under the boom and pull hard then release as the boom goes over to slow the hit. This allows you to keep the rope cleated at a mild trim setting.
    In winds over 17 mph I always tack and never gybe unless I am forced to in a race. the proper term for gybing in 17+ winds is "swimming" which leads us to the other youtube search you need. Laser Capsize drill.

    The gooseneck adjustment isn't a big deal if you're in the 19~20" range. If you have the low wind setting around 17" and the wind cranks up, you will have to wrestle the tiller with the rudder half stalled and get way back in the cockpit. You might have enough pressure to snap the tiller off, but even if you don't, dragging the rudder sideways doesn't help your speed.
     
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  20. drjay44

    drjay44 Member

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