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How to sail Away From A Dock (not a slip)

Discussion in 'Sail Trim with Don Guillette' started by Don Guillette, Sep 5, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Don Guillette

    Don Guillette

    Joined May 17, 2004
    1,858 posts, 32 likes
    Other Catalina 30
    US Tucson, AZ
    Moderator Brian D contacted me regarding this topic which is displayed on another forum. As a kid growing up & sailing on Narragansett Bay, RI, we sailed away from the dock all the time but that was a long time ago. Ever since I again got involved with sailing many years ago, I've never sailed away from a dock w/o a motor so I had to think about it.

    There are a number of things that go into the equation -- direction of the wind, strength of the wind, current, shape of the dock and how manageable the boat is. Depending on the wind conditions, the mainsail may or may not be the best choice. If the boat is pointed head to wind the mainsail would be OK. Same with the combination of main & Jib. If the boat is pointed head to wind just push off the bow and away you go.

    I think even if the boat is head to wind, the jib is a better choice because if you need to depower at any wind angle you can just cut the jib sheet loose. the jib can also be used to steer the boat. If the boat is pointed down wind, the main isn't much help and again the jib is a better choice.

    OK, suppose the wind is blowing across the boat toward the dock - how would you proceed? Suppose the current is flowing from bow to stern - that's too easy but how would you proceed?

    The answer to any of these question is NOT to start the engine. My friend, Joe from San Diego, already covered that a couple of time in the original topic. Sometimes sailors depend too much on their engine. There are all kinds of situation where your engine is disabled and all you've got is your sails. Sails are not a back up to the engine. sails are the main propulsion -- that's why the vessel is called a sailboat.
     


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  2. Apex

    Apex

    Joined Jun 19, 2013
    589 posts, 38 likes
    Oday 28
    US Muskegon
    it would seem a combination of sails and spring lines/bumpers can help you get to the apparent wind direction needed with the wind blowing you towards the dock. All you need is to push the bow off 45° and gain some headway for steerage.

    re: Aux engine on a sailboat: what if motorboats had auxiliary sails?
     


    Love and Luck likes this.
  3. John Tubb

    John Tubb

    Joined Feb 14, 2017
    352 posts, 50 likes
    O'Day 25
    US Huntsville, AL Guntersville, AL
    Following, I need to learn!
     


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  4. Parsons

    Parsons

    Joined Jul 12, 2011
    372 posts, 73 likes
    Catalina 36
    US Bay City, MI
    So if the wind were 90 degrees to the dock (say a starboard beam reach) that means that you still have room to play with to close hauled on the same starboard tack. If you had some current to help with turning the bow into the wind, or a long pole and low wind-speed to manually shove the bow to windward, you could pivot the boat to a close hauled position without sheeting in sails. Probably be wise to fender the stern next to the dock, if you cared about your boat finish. You could then sheet in and sail away from the dock. I'd not like to try a trick like that with anything larger or more expensive than a day sailor, however.
     


  5. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    3,411 posts, 283 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US Oceanside, Ca MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    I would think (JMHO) that in order to get in to a close hauled, one would need to pull in the sails. That would create a pressure that would not only propel one forward but also push one in the direction of the wind. So coming off the dock the boat would almost immediately start slipping to the lee of the dock. (Hope I explained that correctly).

    I would think that one would want not to be close hauled but hope to have the wind on the beam. When the boat is just starting to move there will be less pressure pushing on the sails and boat. With the wind on the beam, one would have more control over the shape of the sails.
     


  6. Love and Luck

    Love and Luck

    Joined Sep 25, 2016
    24 posts, 11 likes
    O'Day 22
    US Halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh Lake Arthur
    That's called a MacGregor.
     


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  7. 25yearslater

    25yearslater

    Joined Aug 20, 2010
    1,345 posts, 52 likes
    Oday 27
    US Oak Orchard
    There are a great deal of excellent generic techniques here. Let's remember we don't want to get Love and Luck in a predicament. His avatar indicates an Oday 22 of pre 1978 build which is equipped with the shoal draft keel. Roughly 1 foot of keel hangs underneath. Having owned and sailed a 78 model for some six years I am well versed on the nuances of this particular boat. Sailing 1/2 a mile from launch on the Genessee River to Lake Ontario was an excellent learning experience. It would take 6 to 8 successive tacks to reach open water. In short, the 22 will skid as the keel is primarily ballast rather than lateral resistance. This results in keeping the boat close reaching or close hauled most of the time. This in itself exacerbated the lateral movement. Even beam reaching did little to alleviate the leeway this model develops. There was close hauled/reach and broad reach/run. He is also dealing with a single fixed fairlead for his jib sheets which makes sail trimming somewhat limited also. Just a heads up to tailor our advise to his particular situation.
     


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  8. Daveinet

    Daveinet

    Joined Sep 20, 2014
    659 posts, 58 likes
    Rob Legg RL24
    US Chain O'Lakes
    The solution is simple - sail a HobieCat. Its funny, but I have very heavily imprinted on my brain the number of times I left the shore sailing up wind. Before boarding the boat, I always was holding the boat from going forward, never sideways. Slip never seemed to be an issue. Sometimes is was difficult to hold the boat back, so others could board. But again, the boat always wanted to move directly forward. Interestingly, that was a boat I never feared getting blown into a leeward shore.

    I think the most realistic way to approach this issue is to find a buoy some place and practice. We can talk about how to leave the dock cleanly, but the biggest issue is always going to be acceleration. Can your boat accelerate from a dead stop into a headwind? How much headwind? The only way to really find out is to sail off a solid object in the middle of the lake and find out. Once the boat is moving, you can steer and all is well. One could probably practice of anchor, but that may be harder to judge how much slip you had from your original location. Maybe anchor your dingy and sail off that a few times. Its also a good practice to return to the dingy. Sometimes you don't end up exactly where you were aiming.

    On Edit: I did have one time with my old boat that the motor would not start. I gave up, put both sails up. Untied the boat and gave it a big push as I stepped in. Yanked the main sheet in and started steering. Then grabbed the jib sheet and pull it in. Really didn't have too much trouble, even though that particular boat didn't sail all that well.
     


    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
  9. Ned Ludd

    Ned Ludd

    Joined Apr 4, 2016
    168 posts, 56 likes
    Newport 28
    US Oregon Richardson Marina
    If you have the dock to yourself: Hoist headsail but do not sheet in, walk boat down dock as fast as you can to gain steerage way, step aboard grab tiller and point towards a reach and sheet in. Did this all the time in an O'day Javelin.
    If there is a boat in front of you have a beer till they leave and proceed with above :D
     


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  10. dziedzicmj

    dziedzicmj

    Joined Aug 13, 2012
    332 posts, 29 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Ottawa,ON Ottawa
    Actually, in the old days, this is exactly what was used. The only difference is that for a bigger boat, you could not just push it forward to gain speed and momentum; you had to use a long spring line from the stern and use it to move the boat (often with the help of a capstan, windlass etc.). As she gained some speed (and steerage), you could trim the sails and sail off.
     


  11. SG

    SG

    Joined Feb 11, 2017
    421 posts, 44 likes
    J/Boat J/160
    US Annapolis
    Challenge of raising the main would seem to me to have a lot to do with the success or efficacy of this approach.
     


  12. Daveinet

    Daveinet

    Joined Sep 20, 2014
    659 posts, 58 likes
    Rob Legg RL24
    US Chain O'Lakes
    It just seems insane to me to raise the head sail first. At the point when you need the greatest control over steerage, you are grossly missbalancing the boat. Maybe my paradigm is skewed by my previous boat that always wanted to turn down wind, but to me, when the boat is barely moving, there is not enough water moving over the rudder to be able to steer, boat balance seems to be a critical factor.
    While I've not tried it, it seems like the wisest thing to do would be to raise the main reefed. This may give you better balance, and greater control over the power. The limitation is how much windage does the boat have compared to the amount of sail you have up. Do you have enough sail to move the boat forward, compared to the wind pushing against the side of the boat. If so, then limiting your power, but yet being able to fully trim the main in so it works efficiently seems like the best bet.
     


  13. Ned Ludd

    Ned Ludd

    Joined Apr 4, 2016
    168 posts, 56 likes
    Newport 28
    US Oregon Richardson Marina
    It depends on the type of boat.
     


  14. Daveinet

    Daveinet

    Joined Sep 20, 2014
    659 posts, 58 likes
    Rob Legg RL24
    US Chain O'Lakes
    Cat Rig? Unless you have a monster overlapping genoa, the center of effort is till going to be pretty far in front of the keel. A genoa is probably not the best choice due to its size. A perfectly balanced boat is going to accelerate faster and be more maneuverable than any other setup.
     


  15. SG

    SG

    Joined Feb 11, 2017
    421 posts, 44 likes
    J/Boat J/160
    US Annapolis
    You are trying to sail AWAY from a dock. I assume the issue isn't to sail out of a slip between piles. ;^)))
     


  16. Don Guillette

    Don Guillette

    Joined May 17, 2004
    1,858 posts, 32 likes
    Other Catalina 30
    US Tucson, AZ
    The point of this discussion is for sailors to think about the situation and determine what works best for their boat. If the jib doesn't work then use the main or use your engine.
     



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