Ballast

Moderator: GreenLake

Ballast

Postby tomodda » Mon Nov 25, 2019 7:11 pm

Question for the old-timers.... I'm trying to go and enjoy our last few days of sailing here in the North Carolina Piedmont. I go lake-sailing, so gusty winds are the rule. It'll go from a manageable 12mph to 20+ and whitecaps in a flash - and then back again, of course. With a crew, that's no problem, ease-hike-trim. But I'm often single-handing and it gets a bit much for me - ease both main and jibsheets, hike out as much as I can, trim both again, rinse, repeat. I can do it, but I get tired, I'm no longer a young and sprightly 45-year old. Would ballast help me? Two sandbags in the bilges, one on each side of the centerboard?

To give you some weights, I weigh in at 250lbs (113kg) and 6foot-2inches (187cm). A bag of sand is 50lbs (22kg), if needed I could put two a side (200lb total), and/or get gravel bags if I want the weight to be more compact. Of course, I can always try it and see, but does anyone have any experience with using ballast?

Some notes - I'm sailing for my own enjoyment, not racing. Right now, I'm dealing with the wind by sailing on main alone. Tacking is a pain... doable but I miss stays at least every 4th or 5th tack. For next year, I'll get some reefpoints sewn into my sail. I have none now, so I depower by flattening the sail and twisting it off. However, as this is a gusty wind, as soon as I set up for 20 knots, I'm back to 12ish.... My vang setup is pretty easy to adjust and I'm re-rigging my outhaul to make it easier than it is now. Still, I could really use something to help me settle the boat down in the gusts when I'm singlehanding. My usual crew keeps telling me about something called "work" that is keeping him too busy to sail with me. :(

Thanks in advance for any pointers!

Tom
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Re: Ballast

Postby GreenLake » Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:10 am

Tom, I would say from my experience, ballast helps. But it has to be substantial, especially as its center of mass would be on the centerline of the boat. I used to sail with two large lead-acid batteries. I always thought that they were providing some ballast, but if I'm honest, the effect wasn't "in your face".

However, I've also sailed on a DS2 in the Texas 200 some years back;with water, provisions and equipment for two people for 6 days, now that was some serious ballast. Much of that event tends to be downwind, so you don't notice the wind (or the weight) as much, but we had one day sailing down the Corpus Christi channel, pretty much close hauled in strong winds that was fluctuating noticeably. I don't think we had a reef in that day, and we had the jib set, which was fine on the approach but once we turned upwind into the channel, I did need to play the main. The other person on board, John Alesch, was crewing on that stretch; he was a big guy, and not given to any hiking. I picture him sitting facing back, resting against the cuddy doors (that was his usual position when he was not at the helm).

However, with the combined weight, the DS was feeling more like a small keelboat and I sailed it like one (maintaining a constant angle of heel)

You probably don't need to get to that extreme; you may be looking mostly at some way to slow down the reaction of the boat so that you can trim more deliberately. I would try this with about 200lbs and go up from there. The boat alone has about 600lbs on centerline, not counting your own off-center mass. If you want to have any noticeable effect, your ballast will have to get up to some reasonable fraction of total weight.

Let us know how it goes.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Ballast

Postby jalmeida51 » Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:33 am

Hi Tom, How are you going to secure the sand bags? I sailed a Rhodes 19 C/B and I installed about 200 lbs. of lead under the floor. boards on the center of the C/B. 100 lbs. per side. It helped some, but the big difference was it gave me more time to react to a wind gust. I bought the lead bars from a metal recycler up in Tampa. Each lead bar was 25 lbs. Was it worth it, I don't know?
On my DaySailer1 I had to replace the C/B due to wear of pivot hole and wear on the handle. The board I bought was about 30 lbs. heavier than the old board. The new board helped some for sailing in gusty winds. What really helps me is having 2 sets of reef points. 1 set at about 20% the other at about 40%. Being 73 I don't hike out and I keep my rear end inside of the boat.
Happy Sailing, John
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Re: Ballast

Postby tomodda » Fri Nov 29, 2019 10:23 pm

John:

Yeah, I was thinking about that myself.. how to keep sandbags in place? My boat has raised hull stiffeners, running parallel to the centerboard about 18 inches off the centerline, that should hold the sandbags for anything except extreme angles. The whole point of the sandbags is to avoid extreme angles.. so that might do the trick. Otherwise, my next idea is to bring my crew along and have him hold the sandbags in place. Of course, that also obviates the need for sandbags! So, for now, I dunno. There aren't that many "good" days left in the season, I won't worry about it for now and just go sailing.

Anyway, if/when the sailing bug really bites me badly in February or so, I'll just head down your way for a week. My little brother lives in Miami and I can work from anywhere. Tempting! :)

Tom
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Re: Ballast

Postby GreenLake » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:22 am

Could strap them to the compression post / bottom of mast. As you say, only a problem for extreme angles (and those would be an issue only after you are dragging a rail through the water, before that, I think the boat would be too level for them to move). Probably worth securing them anyway, because if you do get into an extreme situation, you shouldn't have to fight shifted ballast (crew is easier to reposition :) )
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Ballast

Postby jalmeida51 » Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:03 am

Hi Tom, You could put the sand bags in the stringers laying up against the c/b trunk like you suggested. Secure them with a strap around the c/b trunk to hold them in place. Or you could use a piece of heavy shock cord. If you like the added weight I would replace the sand bags with lead bars. Better looking, takes up less space. weight is lower and the bars might not slide out of the stringers.
Another way is to buy used scuba diver weight belts. Connect the belts around The c/b trunk. You could unstrap them when you don't need the weight.
Hope you can get in some more sailing but as you said there is Florida. John
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Re: Ballast

Postby GreenLake » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:48 pm

Once you go with scuba weights, why not wear them? That gets them off-center where their weight is more effective. . . (would need a quick-release in case you go over). But not sure it would have the same effect of quieting down the boat; it should make your own positioning more effective.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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