Hugely frustrating experience, what went wrong?

Cdubb

New Member
Thread starter #1
I took my fish out for the third time ever two days ago and I had the most frustrating experience I've ever had on the water. I'll do my best to describe what was going on so a maybe a more experienced fish sailor can tell me what went wrong so I can not have this happen again.

So at the lake I sail on there was a constant 10-15 mph wind, the strongest I've had a sunfish in yet, it wasn't super favorable for launch from my dock. None the less I got it out and started running a tack, starboard close hauled, close to the wind and was making headway with it at a fair speed. I went to make a tack to port so I could run beam reach but as soon as I turned to port and went into that moment of being in irons I was pushed back to the postion I was in before the tack and was going straight sideways with a sail full of wind. Since I still had wind I tried turning her out from the wind a little bit to get some momentum back but it kept going sideways no matter how I trimmed the sail or what I did with the rudder, I wasn't in control and I couldn't figure out why , it was like I had no steering. The rudder was all the way down as was the daggerboard. I was in this postion for a few minutes trying everything I could think of when a friend on a pontoon nearby recognized my boat and my predicament and came to help. He tossed me a rope and we got the nose turned after that I was fine (other than hugely embarrassed and frustrated). I know if you get into irons real bad on a Hobie if you can get it to go backwards you and jibe out of it but I couldn't get my fish to do anything but go sideways. What the hell happened?
 
#2
One trick I have used often when in irons and being pushed backward, is to push the boom to one side and the tiller to the opposite side.
I would guess if you are being blown sideways, let the main out and then bring it in to catch just enough wind to make some headway but not enough to get blown sideways. Maybe even turn downwind till you get headway and then bring in the sheet as you turn upwind.
 
#4
Shifts happen. I am guessing that when you tacked, you got a major windshift and got caught in irons (i.e. bow into the wind but no boat speed to allow you to steer out.) Here is one way to get the boat back on course: Sit on the starboard side, push the tiller all the way to port. The boat will go backwards and the bow will start t0 fall off to port. Then reach over, grab the boom and pull it to starboard (past the centerline of the boat) while at the same time bring your tiller to starboard. The boat should fall off on starboard tack. Reverse the directions if you want/need to fall off on port tack. If it doesn't work, repeat the procedure.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
#5
I'll add to what Stache and Alan said. Once you sail backwards and get the boat on one tack or another, the best point of sail to get flow re-established over the daggerboard is a broad reach. So, as you are still sort of in irons but at least on one tack, raise the daggerboard all the way while holding the boom in your hand to catch some wind.

The boat will pivot around the rudder and the bow will bear way off. Keep the daggerboard all the way up until you are on a broad reach. When you are on a broad reach completely let go of the sail and sink your daggerboard all the way down. Keep the sail completely sheeted out.

Then slowly sheet in, catching just enough wind in the leach in order to get just a bit of flow over the daggerboard. Keep the rudder centered, ie, not in a turn. Eventually you will get enough speed for the flow to become re-attached to both the rudder and daggerboard. At that point you can sheet in enough to fully fill the sail and you'll be off on your way.

The key is to bear off all the way to a broach reach in the beginning before you sink your daggerboard again.

- Andy
 
Last edited:

Cdubb

New Member
Thread starter #6
Sounds like I was on the right track by grabbing the boom And pushing into the wind past the center line, I didn't hold it there real long because the boat didn't seem to react much. After seeing all the replies, what may have doomed that attempt was while I had my rudder turned the right way get out of it I was moving it back and forth rapidly like a flipper, trying to coax the nose over. I don't think there was a wind shift, it seemed to have constant direction. Lifting the daggerboard makes a lot of sense as well, give it one pivot point to go on. I left the daggerboard fully buried for the entire duration of this.
 

Cdubb

New Member
Thread starter #7
One thing I think that hurts me a bit in a sunfish is all my prior experience with sailing is on a Hobie 16 and all the verbal advice, tips and tricks I know (outside what I've read on here) is from my dad who is a seasoned H16/H14 sailor. I am trying to run courses on a Sunfish like I'm on a Hobie and I think it's biting me at times. I'm assuming there's things you would do on one but not the other(?).
 
#8
Well a lot is the same. The main issue sounds to me like not being aggeressive enough at swinging the rudder to get through the turn before you lose steerage.

I also seem to have more trouble with losing headway in a tack in light wind, but getting the rudder over appx 40-45 deg deg right away tends to be the answer.

Too far and the rudder is a brake.

You can also "skull" the rudder, swinging it back and forth appx 30 deg each side and even hand wag the boom to get some forward momentum in extremely light wind.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#9
One thing I think that hurts me a bit in a sunfish is all my prior experience with sailing is on a Hobie 16 and all the verbal advice, tips and tricks I know (outside what I've read on here) is from my dad who is a seasoned H16/H14 sailor. I am trying to run courses on a Sunfish like I'm on a Hobie and I think it's biting me at times. I'm assuming there's things you would do on one but not the other(?).
I've owned and sailed a H16, H18, Tornado, and "Class A" catamaran. They all go into irons readily, so just "back the jib". ;) Capsizes are much more exciting with catamarans. :rolleyes: Cats also have a lot of sail area aloft, so I seldom jibed, unless the cat was going fast downwind. My Porpoise II "clonefish" was even more ready to go into irons. :confused:

Every time I launch, I'm drifting downwind with the mainsail down. When I'm clear of docks pilings, and other obstructions, I raise the main. The tiller is put over about 30º and, by pushing the boom away from me, the main is filled while backing—and I'm on my way. :)

Now I've got my three Sunfish all rigged the same, and, except for trying to tack with insufficient "way" :oops: the problem has gone away. Raising the clew by moving the gooseneck forward might help.
 
Last edited:

Webfoot1

Active Member
#10
Lateen rig will not sail as close to the wind as Cat rigged. You need to adjust by sailing several more points off
the wind and tacking more often. If you must sail this close hauled, before you tack bear off and gain some speed first
before tacking. Going sideways means you stalled out daggerboard due to lack of speed. Check you goose neck position
and see if it's adjusted for the days conditions, excessive rudder deflection close hauled will slow you down. Me thinks
if you were sailing a Butterfly it would probably mimic the sailing characteristics of your last boat more closely. Learning
to adjust to what a boat can and can't do is priceless knowledge.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
#11
Lanteen rig will not sail as close to the wind as Cat rigged. You need to adjust by sailing several more points off
.
I dont agree with you, the catamarans i have sailed are the contrary (probly its me) but i cant point as good as my sunfish or super snark. Dont even get me started on tacking!:p:p:p tacking on a cat takes its learning curve.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#12
I dont agree with you, the catamarans i have sailed are the contrary (probly its me) but i cant point as good as my sunfish or super snark. Dont even get me started on tacking!:p:p:p tacking on a cat takes its learning curve.
Webfoot isn't talking about catamarans; he is talking about boats that are cat rigged.

As an aside, years ago I rented a Sunfish. It was windy and I ended up in irons a lot. Couldn't believe that was happening because I had never encountered this on my own boat. Turns out that the gooseneck setting was very different on the rented boat.
I suggest you 'play' with that setting on your own fish (from about 14" in light breeze to over 20" in heavy air).
 
Last edited:

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#13
I dont agree with you, the catamarans i have sailed are the contrary (probly its me) but i cant point as good as my sunfish or super snark. Dont even get me started on tacking!:p:p:p tacking on a cat takes its learning curve.
Catamarans are funny that way. They don't "point" well to start with, and when they pick up speed, the "apparent wind" changes. When adjusting for that change, you're "pointing" even more poorly! Catamarans make up for their apparent poor pointing ability by simply being much faster than monohulls. :cool:
 

Cdubb

New Member
Thread starter #14
I finally had wind to work with today, nearly identical conditions to when I made the original post. I ended up in a similar spot once but I remembered what was said here and got out of it no problem, a little advice goes a long ways :). Thanks for the tips everyone! But as has been said I think some fine tuning is in order, after the thing had sat for 20-30 years before I got it out and sailed. I broke three of the sail rings near the top of the sail today for example so it showing its age a bit but I'm still very happy with it. I'm still learning the boat but it's so nice to decide to sail and in 10 minutes time I'm leaving the dock. Ya can't beat it! Thanks again everyone!
 
Top