Single Handed Sailing

Moderator: GreenLake

Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby talbot » Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:28 pm

Regarding sailing in Eugene, OR:
The main venue is Fern Ridge Lake, by the airport. Just a muddy flood control lake, but very popular and often used for national races. Fairly predictable north wind in summer, Olympic circle race course, three marinas, and a big campground for visitors.

The main catch is that it's seasonal, drained in October so that it can catch the winter rains. Because the lake is rain-dependent, it also had below average water levels during this year's west coast drought. (Not much of a problem for Day Sailers, but the keel boaters whine about it incessantly.)

If you are travelling through the area with a boat in tow and are willing to take a side trip, a couple of hours east or west gets you to some beautiful locations at the coast and in the Cascades. Yaquina Bay at Newport is probably the best known, but Winchester Bay to the south is better sailing. Waldo Lake, at about 5400', is the best sailing in the mountains. We're thinking about it for next week, if it hasn't started to snow up there. Waldo, by the way, is semi-wilderness, and gas motors are prohibited. Electrics OK.
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby GreenLake » Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:45 pm

+1 on heaving to.

As TIm writes, normally the main is just loose and does not contribute. However, you can use the main to adjust the drift angle. By not leaving the main sheet fully slack, the boat will add a bit more forward speed, but without necessarily starting to sail, which it would do if you sheeted in fully. Why would you want to alter the angle of drift, you ask? Well, you can use controlled drift to approach some spot that's nearly downwind (some 60 degree angle) with very low speeds. I've experimented with using this method to park between two boats on a dock that was downwind from us. Difficult to do under sail without crashing into either dock or one of the boats, because you are too likely to build up unwanted speed. I found that you definitely want to practice that, because predicting the angle of drift won't come naturally. In the end, we were off a bit, but close, and needed only a slight pull on the main to scoot into the gap. As we were nearly stopped when we did that, we didn't build up too much speed.

When hove to, it is possible to pull the main in far enough (briefly) to reach the end of the boom for repairs, adjustments, whatever, without immediately starting to sail. I had an unfortunate encounter with an anchor on another boat which resulted in the sail being ripped out at the clew. Hove to, I was able to fit the reefline (this was for a race, so the reefline was stowed on the boom, but not run through the cringle yet) and we reefed away the damaged part of the sail. The race was over, but we could sail home and didn't have to paddle upwind for a mile....
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby Tipster1 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:31 am

I’m trying to imagine under what circumstances I might be trailering a boat from the east coast, over the Rockies, to Eugene, OR. It's pretty unlikely. Bay and river sailing can be challenging. I’ve been on a friend’s J-27 on the Hudson River and the currents and tides add a whole new dimension.

Heaving to sounds like a nice project for next spring. One thing I don’t quite picture is what happens if you’re hove to, pointing just off the wind, and the wind shifts suddenly enough to power the other side of the jib? I imagine a quick 270.
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby talbot » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:11 am

Well, the "you" in this case is addressed to the whole community.

In the situation you describe, you would gybe, and yes, it would be dramatic. Heaving to probably isn't a good idea in strong gusty winds that are shifting rapidly. Another situation where it can be uncomfortable is in big waves or swells that are perpendicular to the wind direction. The boat is more or less across the waves, so it can roll quite a bit.
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby Tipster1 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 4:39 pm

Thanks, Cpn T. You confirmed my suspicion. I only imagine heaving to for a leisurely lunch on a light air day. No beers. No naps.
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby talbot » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:03 pm

Hang on, don't misunderstand me. Heaving to is a great technique. The strength of the wind is not the issue. It's the variability of the wind and its effect on seas if it blows over a long fetch. And it's not like you always get to choose. As KC or Greenlake pointed out, one reason to heave to is reefing, which you would only do in a strong wind.

Early in this thread we were discussing raising sail while underway, which actually is pretty easy. On the other hand, reefing after the wind is already too strong to handle can be both difficult and dangerous. There are other threads on the topic, but the point here is that heaving to is one of several techniques for minimizing the risk.
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby GreenLake » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:27 pm

Tipster1 wrote:Thanks, Cpn T. You confirmed my suspicion. I only imagine heaving to for a leisurely lunch on a light air day. No beers. No naps.


The question you asked, and your subsequent conclusion rather reminds me of a cross examination: could there be a case which ... where the attorney forces the witness to state something that goes against the body of their experience, just because there might be some extreme situation.

In practice: the wind would be nearly perpendicular to the (backed) jib. That means you'd need a windshift of around 60 degrees to get it to blow on the nose, and perhaps something like 90 degrees to get it to fill the jib from the other direction. Could such a wind-shift happen? Is it particularly likely?

The main is usually not sheeted in, so it weathervanes. In a big wind shift, in one direction it's free to follow and while a huge shift could move it to the other side of the centerline, this would be different from a gybe, in that the main could track the change in direction gradually with not sudden "flip". In a shift in the other direction, the main might reach full extension at which point, initially the wind strikes it with a shallow angle of attack. This would accelerate the DS, and since the tiller is pushed hard to lee, the effect is that the boat as a whole would track the wind shift by turning upwind.

Should a wind shift be so massive as to effectively "slam" from a new direction 90 or 180 degrees different from before without transition, yeah, you might be in trouble, but not in any worse trouble than were you actively sailing the boat.

My conclusion would be to avoid heaving to (or sailing) on the leeward side of high bluffs or steep hills. The gusts created by vortices of wind falling down the leeward side would be the kind that seemingly strike from any direction. Sailing in those conditions can be challenging, and I would avoid such areas on principle.

This wikipedia article has a nice diagram:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaving_to

Onward to the issue of waves. There are a number of reasons why I would expect some dampening of the rolling motion (compared to a boat drifting without sails). We know that close hauled, the sail plan actually dampens roll movements (it's stabilizing) and I would not be surprised to learn that a similar effect also happens when hove to. The drift while hove to is usually in the direction of the waves (more or less) and there is apparently an effect on the wave having to build while traveling in the "wake" of a hove to boat that acts to interfere with wave action. Given a light boat like the DS, this may only affect short steep waves, but I've not tried heaving to in chop often enough to have clear experience.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby talbot » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:40 pm

Oh, yeah. Come about. Not gybe. I knew that.
That information should have been a little more forward in my brain, because one way of teaching heaving-to is to tell the student to simply come about without releasing the jib.
I can only plead ignorance, because I've never actually had a 90-degree shift while hove to. I'll stick with the part about it being dramatic, particularly if you were hove-to for reefing and the wind shifted while you were standing by the boom. That would be YouTube material.
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby Tipster1 » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:47 am

Ah hah! Wikipedia diagram clarified things a lot. Thanks, GL. I was picturing being much closer to the wind when heaving to. ("Hove to" ? ) Yes, it would have to be a huge wind shift which would put you onto different tack, leading shortly there after to surprise jibe.

Back in lake sailing days I remember beating up into the wind and getting headed while just relaxing leading to unplanned tacks. Annoying on boat. Sailing back-winded on windsurfer is a trick.
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Re: Single Handed Sailing

Postby GreenLake » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:43 pm

Heaving to = the process
Hove to = the state of being

A boat that is hove to is stable, that is, it's balanced in a way that will mean it returns to the same state after a wave or a windshift disturbed it. Like balancing a marble at the bottom of a bowl. Heading into the wind, on the other hand, is like balancing that same marble on an upturned bowl. At the slightest disturbance the boat will pick a side. (Although, when you want it to pick a side, it may make you wait a bit, just as it's possible to balance something temporarily).

Being stable, doesn't mean that there's nothing that could get the boat out of a hove-to state. In other words, the bowl isn't infinitely deep and a sufficient disturbance may push it over the edge. I suspect that this disturbance has to be quite significant; larger boats (with keels) use heaving to to weather wind and waves.

So, for your next picnic, putting in or shaking out a reef, go try it. (It'll need some practice, because the DS reacts so quickly and it's easy to "overshoot".)
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