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Bimini & Weather Helm

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Dec 29, 2010
67
Hunter 25.5 Point Venture, TX
I sail my Hunter 25.5 on Lake Travis in Austin, TX. It can get brutally hot here in the simmer, so recently I added a small bimini. The 25.5 has a fairly low boom and I like to have the option of standing when at the helm, so the bimini is rigged high (> 6' off the cockpit sole) and aft of the boom.

Yesterday (the 4th of July) we went for a morning sail with the new bimini. As usual on Lake Travis the wind was highly variable ... and very gusty. We opted for main (no reef) and jib. In that configuration I find the 25.5 very well balanced ... picking up only moderate weather helm in gusts when on the wind. But yesterday (in the gusts) the weather helm seemed more pronounced than usual. There are many possible explanations ... including the possibility that the gusts were stronger than usual. But it occurred to me that perhaps the increase in weather helm was an unwanted side effect of the bimini.

My question: Is this a typical? In gusts (> 20 knots) can a bimini increase weather helm on small boats with fin keels?

Seems like it might ... because the bimini would tend to move the center of effort aft ... an effect exacerbated by heeling in a gust. Anyone else ever notice this effect?
 
May 24, 2004
6,077
CC 30 South Florida
Bimini tops do not have a shape that would induce "lift" so the effect of them on boat handling should be insignificant. I would attribuate the experienced weather helm to the variable gusts in direction and speed.
 

Quoddy

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Apr 1, 2009
241
Hunter 260 Maine
Windage aft

In practical terms I have no idea the amount of effect the bimini has.
It seems to me, anything that increases windage aft could act like the tail of a weather vane and help to push you around. When heeled it could act sort of like a small stalled sail.
 
Nov 8, 2009
537
Hunter 386LE San Fancisco
My Hunter 386 with a bimini does not seem to impact boat handling performance even in high winds and gusts. We use it to minimize sun exposure.
 
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