trailer launching - Sail question

Moderator: GreenLake

Re: trailer launching - Sail question

Postby GreenLake » Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:27 pm

There is no question that any attempt at sailing off the dock should be done with both sails -- only exception might be if the wind is totally from behind so that the jib would pull you in the desired direction. The DS cannot really be sailed under jib alone. (And also, if you are planning to heave to, the wind will have to be offshore so that you have the sea room to raise the main). The only time I've sailed off a beach without both sails raised is when it's a beach, so I have to be nose in, and the wind is such that it would drive the boat back into the beach before I can turn.

Having a flogging jib can be unnerving. You don't write what the strength of the wind was. Were there little white caps all over the place? That would be more than you might want to attempt without a bit of experience. If there weren't any white caps, that means either the bay was so narrow they couldn't form, or more likely that the wind was well below 15 knots (except for isolated gusts).

After this experience, you probably plan on putting stopper knots in your jib sheets - I actually tie mine together (but that works best only for "non-captive" cleats).

The key to having a good time on the water if the winds are a bit stronger is to work on your response to gusts. And, perhaps if you don't have that already, set up a strong boom vang.

With the vang tight, the mast bends and flattens the main. Outhaul out, cunningham if you have it, tight, otherwise halyard really tight. Then, when the gust hits you can let the main out just a bit and also head up into the wind a bit more (feather the boat). Both actions depower the rig. You would want to sit out and hike (same for your crew) to keep the boat level: ease-hike-trim is the motto, where "trim" refers to trimming in the main once your boat has accelerated to the gust.

I find the DS a handful when singlehanding in anything past 14 knots. Part of the reason is that I don't like to hike all that vigorously when I'm by myself; exception would be if I'm on a really well-populated lake, say as part of an evening regatta. But up to about there, I can usually manage fine; even if I spill power much earlier than I would with a crew.

PS: hope your father is fine. Not the kind of call I would want to get when struggling with getting the boat off the water.

That said, when gusts are much stronger than the prevailing wind, you're not looking at a relaxed sail. You'll have to be on your toes and change trim constantly between the lulls and gusts. It can be exciting, especially if you can translate the gusts into acceleration, but it will be work.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: trailer launching - Sail question

Postby bilbo » Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:37 pm

Ok both sails it is. There were no whitecaps, just ripples. The closest airport stated winds were 13 kt with gusts to 19 kt. The gusts were brutal. I tried to lean and hike but just couldn’t get in sync.

The other times I’ve sailed tied a knot at the end of all the sheets before I launched the boat, but spaced it out today. Won’t do that again! I was surprised at the amount of racket that thing made.

I will have to look into the boom vang. I’ve read a lot here about it; might be a good winter project. Speaking of outhaul, mine was old and rotted so I’m making a new one. I did my first eye splice since the Boy Scout days this evening. I don’t remember this much finger and knuckle pain!

It wasn’t my father but my wife’s. Either way, no good. He’s lucky, it happened while in a Dr. appointment and he was taken care of quickly. He got to go home after some electrical resetting of his heart.
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Re: trailer launching - Sail question

Postby GreenLake » Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:36 pm

First, glad your father-in-law was taken care of so promptly.

Responding to gusts takes a bit of practice. And sometimes the up and down in wind speed seems to be more pronounced than other times.

Wind can be pretty local, so accurately reading the water surface (or flags on land) will tell you more than readings from (not so) nearby weather stations. There are also small portable wind meters, they make good Christmas presents. If you use something like that for a bit and compare to the wave state, you'll soon train yourself to see the wind on the water.

You should get to the point where you can see gusts blowing towards you, so you can anticipate them.

My first response to a gust would be to let the boat round up a little while I let out the mainsheet a bit. That's pretty instantaneous: letting up on the tiller a bit and letting out some mainsheet. I don't cleat the mainsheet for that reason, but have installed a ratchet block (I prefer the Ronstan 55 on its automatic setting).

Next comes hiking out and finally trimming in the main again. At that point the gust may be getting close to it's peak or already past it.

When the gust drops, I start heading lower and further trimming the main.

(Very occasionally there seem to be gusts that come from the 'wrong' direction: they come with a wind shift that requires you to steer down a bit - otherwise you luff your sails. If that happens, it's normally the case for all of them).
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: trailer launching - Sail question

Postby GreenLake » Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:47 pm

At 13kt sustained I wold have expected to see an occasional white cap (especially if you had frequent gusts to 19). Except on a very small lake because takes about a mile or two of fetch for whitecaps to form. That makes it likely that the actual wind on the water was a bit less than what the airport measured on top of some pole.

Now, with wind from 4-5 o'clock, you can't raise your main at the dock if your bow is at 12 - not unless you turn your boat to point into the wind (bow at 6). That requires you to sail a U-turn as you leave the dock. If you have enough space (a width of 3-4 boat lengths should be fine) that's no problem. Otherwise you can keep the stern tied loosely and see whether you can get a start by having the bow blown around to where it starts the turn and then cast loose.

The advantage of raising both sails is also you can run your mental checklist to make sure the boat is set up w/o having to leave stuff for "later".
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: trailer launching - Sail question

Postby bilbo » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:06 pm

It is a pretty small lake, only about 1 mile by maybe 1/4 mile, with kind of a pinch in the middle on each of the long shores. So maybe you’re right there’s just not enough room for them to form. There are trees and houses along the shoreline sheltering it too.

After I pulled the boat out and was de-rigging it I looked out and Possibly could see the gusts flying across. There were pockets of 100ft or so circles of finer ripples. The water looked dull there, and they kind of randomly zigzagged across the lake.

Thank you for the guidance and help with my probably dumb questions. I look forward to feeling like I’m somewhat in control, not just along for the ride some day!
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Re: trailer launching - Sail question

Postby GreenLake » Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:53 pm

Good observation, that's what gusts look like: patches of darker water that tend to move towards you if you are looking towards the wind. They should have a semicircular front. True circles only when you have gusts that are falling vertically. I saw those in a bay created by a crater once, where the wind fell down from the crater walls.

Any "half-open" barrier like a tree-line or a built-up area will slow the wind significantly, while a bluff or wall may have the wind merely "climbing" over the barrier and dropping down on the far side.

The shinier the water seems, the slower the wind. At some speeds the gusts look mostly darker, but a slower speeds the water in the lulls may still look "shiny" despite the waves. Hard to be sure, but i suspect actual winds were below 13 kt in the lulls.

When you have no wind, the water is a mirror. 2-4 knots or so, it starts having some waves, but they are very "glassy". From about 6 they become progressively more like wavelets and from 11, some few of them start breaking (whitecaps) and by 15 those are really everywhere. By 20 you would get something that feels like "waves", at least when sailing your DS. But for each wind speed, you need to get progressively longer areas of "fetch" for the maximum wave height for the wind condition to evolve.

For an extreme example of that look at a puddle the next time you have a real storm. The first inch or so, to windward, is totally flat! And of course, a puddle never gets to whitecaps.

Incidentally, as a one of my wise and experienced fellow sailors likes to quote "there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers". So, keep on asking, and keep on sailing.

Also, like somebody who fell off a horse, it's good to get "in the saddle again" as soon as possible so the memories of some successful sail could be uppermost.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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