In Irons

Thread starter #1
would someone out there please explain to me the science of being"in irons". It seems a little strange to me that you can have a full sail and be sailing backwards!!!
 
#2
Sailing backwards to get out of irons is the sailing version of a 3-point turn. If your sail and bow are straight into the wind, and you have no forward momentum left (dead in the water), you are in irons. You need your boat to turn away from the wind, so you can sheet back in, and start going forward again, right? And if you don't have a paddle (or small outboard), you can't go forward to steer yourself sideways against the wind. You must therefore go backwards first to get your boat pointed correctly. If the wind is strong enough, it could simply blow your craft back, while you "steer it" backwards into the right orientation. You might want to leave your mainsheet alone until you're a fair piece off the wind; if you try to sheet in and take off too soon, you'll find yourself in the same predicament.
If there's precious little wind, you can either do some artful sculling and slowly grunt your bow away from the wind, or grab the lower spar, force it away from irons so it fills, and you should be in reverse in no time. Once you've steered yourself into a decent direction, the boat will eventually start moving the way physics intended.

It works a bit better in low wind if you let yourself speed up a bit before making the turn. Unless you're racing, because this will put you further behind.

Next time you're out, play around with it for a while.

I also seem to remember a thread a while back where someone was fondly recalling steering backwards until landing on the beach. Haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like a hoot!
 
#4
In irons is basically when the boat/sail is headed directly into the wind. The sail flaps and does nothing. Pushing the boom out to one side or the other allows pressure (not lift) on the sail material and since it is off to one side creates force that cause the boat the go backwards but also to rotate around the mast due to the off center force. Sooner or later the boat will turn enough that you can resume "normal" sailing.
As for sailing backward; yup you can do it. It takes some fancy rudder control and effectively tacking/gybing (whatever you'd call it ) in reverse to keep a fairly straight course. I won a case of beer for making it just over 2 miles from out starting/finishing line after a race back to our beach. It wasn't/isn't fast but can be done.
 
#5
The sail provides lift only if its angle to the wind is correct. You can steer the boat only if you are moving and there is pressure on the rudder. If headed directly into the wind there is no lift and no motion and you're in irons because you can't steer the boat to get the sail angled to the wind. By going backward (which you will do automatically because of the wind) you can steer the boat and get the sail angled to the wind because of the slight pressure on the rudder. Even if you are moving backward (of forward) and don't turn the rudder you will not turn the boat regardless of speed. Does this help?

Fred
 
#6
In the original post it said "full sail". I think the point was made in the last few posts that you are in 'irons' when the boat is pointed into the wind, with equal wind on both sides of the sail, thus the sail 'flapping' and giving no 'lift'. To have a full sail and be going backwards is not in 'irons' but you would have a boat that would be very out of tune.
 
#7
As an aside...

I was first taught that, to get out of irons, I should push both the boom and the tiller away from me, which fills and backs the sail, while swinging the stern around to a broad reach heading with the sail fully eased. This was good advice and an easy position to sail out of.

A Laser sailor, however, saw me perform the push/push maneuver and asked why I didn't pull both the boom and the tiller toward me. I tried it, and instead of backing into a stopped position, I sailed forward out of head to wind.

Yet another one of the things I never would've figured out on my own...

Kevin
 
#8
I end up in irons when I drop the tiller half way through a tack, or lose the main sheet on a tack. The boat will head up into the wind every time -- the course of least resistance -- and leave you with no forward momentum. I learned the "backing out" teachnique of getting out of irons when I sailed Hobies. With all of the hull resistance, it is difficult to get a Hobie through a tack without backsheeting the jib. Fish don't have jibs, and very little hull resistance. As I said I usually don't get frozen in irons unless I lose the tiller or drop the main sheet. Then, I use the Hobie backing out technique. Let the wind blow you backwards, steering either to port or starboard, until the sail fills and begins to drive you foreward again. The discouraging thing is that the rest of the fleet sails merrily by you while you are trying to recover. Good luck! Bill H.
 
#9
I have found that that pulling the boom towards you while pulling the tiller towards you works well. Adding too, that half-sculling from midpoint to windward side helps to achieve the end result faster. Also as the boat starts to move, DONT let it heel over very much or it will want to round up again. Remember body steering....leaning in and aft = head up, leaning out and forward = falling off.
 
Thread starter #10
thanks scap14 for the information and thank you for undersanding my question correctly. In my very first sailing event, I never got across the starting line, because I had a full sail, not luffing, and sailing backwards!!!! May be the term In -Irons is the wrong term. but 30 knot gust finaly riped the mainsheet ot of my hand and the sail goosewinged and I couldn't figure how to get it back. With only 0ne hour of experince under my belt at the time, I thought I done fairly well, not dumping the boat!!!!
 
Thread starter #11
thanks scap14 for the information and thank you for undersanding my question correctly. In my very first sailing event, I never got across the starting line, because I had a full sail, not luffing, and sailing backwards!!!! May be the term In -Irons is the wrong term. but 30 knot gust finaly riped the mainsheet ot of my hand and the sail goosewinged and I couldn't figure how to get it back. With only 0ne hour of experince under my belt at the time, I thought I done fairly well, not dumping the boat!!!!
 
Thread starter #12
thanks scap14 for the information and thank you for undersanding my question correctly. In my very first sailing event, I never got across the starting line, because I had a full sail, not luffing, and sailing backwards!!!! May be the term In -Irons is the wrong term. but 30 knot gust finaly riped the mainsheet ot of my hand and the sail goosewinged and I couldn't figure how to get it back. With only 0ne hour of experince under my belt at the time, I thought I done fairly well, not dumping the boat!!!!
 
Thread starter #13
thanks to tim polaski on your coments on leaning and what it translates into. Very valuable information!!!Maybe thats what happend to me!!!
 
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