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LITTLE TO NO WIND

May 17, 2004
2,021
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
Hope all you sailors are staying safe and Covid free.

Years ago, during a cruise to Australia and NZ, I met a SAIL TRIM FORUM lister in Auckland and we've kept in touch over the years. I think the Aussie's and the NZ folks are the best and most hospitable folks I've ever meet. A couple of days ago we were chatting about getting a boat moving in little to zero air.

Imagine you're closehauled and a few miles from your marina and the wind dies completely or to a whisper. One option is to start your motor but suppose your boat doesn't have one or your motor is not functioning. I'm a firm believer in always having a "sailing backup plan" - whether I need it or not.

Suppose, in these conditions, you knew how to get 1 or 2 knots out of the boat - you'd be home in a couple of hours. If you can get the boat moving forward, even a small bit, it's mass tends to keep it going even if only for a short distance at a time.

Knowing what you have to overcome to get the boat moving is the first step in solving the problem. The main problem is FRICTIONAL DRAG. Every square foot of the hull that's in contact with the water is slowing the boat down.The first step is to get all the weight on the leeward or low side and HEEL THE BOAT. Some additional hull will be in the water (mostly topside) but because the hull is rounded much more hull area will be out of the water. The less wetted surface equals REDUCED DRAG. Heeling also creates weather helm and the skipper, using a very light touch, can feel it in the rudder - it's LIFT.

Next, instead of letting the boom flop around and knocking what little breeze there is out of the sail, keep the boom on the leeward side.

Everyone on the boat should stay as low as possible to reduce windage. The skipper need to keep his head up a bit looking for dark patches on the water, which indicate a breeze. How many times in these conditions have you seen crew members standing at the bow or mast - they're adding to the problem. Unnecessary crew movement should be ZERO. Any sheet sail trim adjustment to the main or jib should be done with only the winch handle and ONE CLICK AT A TIME. Jerking the main or jib sheet will disturb any air flow you've captured.

If your direction to the marina is downwind does the procedure change? Not much but there are some additional things you can do. Heeling will help but this time heel to weather and place the boom to the weather side. The reason is that places the mainsail higher off the surface of the WATER. Wind velocity increases with every foot of altitude above the water surface -- the wind velocity is 60% greater at the top of a 30' mast than it is at deck level.

PUMPING the mainsail can get the boat moving. Grab the mainsheet or the boom and pull it as hard and fast as you can toward the center of the boat. Then let the mainsail out slowly and do it again -- and AGAIN until the boat starts to move forward. ROLLING the boat is another thing to try. If you have tiller steering SCULLING will also help to get the boat moving.

When you think about it, the above suggestions are just things most sailors would think of if they put their mind to it. Maybe some of you have other suggestions that might work.
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,411
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
I have used all of these maneuvers to get my Hobie Cat 16 and wind surfer back to my launch when the wind died.
 

RussC

.
Sep 11, 2015
1,519
Merit 22- Oregon lakes
@Don Guillette said " Some additional hull will be in the water (mostly topside) but because the hull is rounded much more hull area will be out of the water. The less wetted surface equals REDUCED DRAG. Heeling also creates<>"

help me understand how this can be. my brain tells me that a given weight displaces a given amount of water. regardless of changing the shape due to healing. the width of the wetted area may well decrease, but the length of the wetted area increases with increased heeling. what happened to "sail flat - sail fast?"
 
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May 17, 2004
2,021
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
help me understand how this can be. my brain tells me that a given weight displaces a given amount of water. regardless of changing the shape due to healing. the width of the wetted area may well decrease, but the length of the wetted area increases with increased heeling. what happened to "sail flat - sail fast?"

Nothing happens to "sail flat -sail fast" except there's next to zero wind to propel the boat. Try what I'm telling you and see if it works.
[/QUOTE]
 
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Jan 19, 2010
929
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
I am hard pressed to think of a boat that when heeled doesn't increase it's water line. The wet waterline from stem to stern along the boot top is static. When heeled, this water line becomes a parabola and increases as the boat heels...
 
Apr 16, 2017
841
Federation NCC-1701 Riverside
@Don Guillette said " Some additional hull will be in the water (mostly topside) but because the hull is rounded much more hull area will be out of the water. The less wetted surface equals REDUCED DRAG. Heeling also creates<>"

help me understand how this can be. my brain tells me that a given weight displaces a given amount of water. regardless of changing the shape due to healing. the width of the wetted area may well decrease, but the length of the wetted area increases with increased heeling. what happened to "sail flat - sail fast?"
Yeah, that's kinda of a myth unless you can get appendages out or a really fat stern out. Thats like saying if you flip an iceberg sideways it will cross the ocean more quickly. Google Sketup will show there not much if any advantage for simple boats healing for less surface area.

Thats right along side the myth picture of sail balance by showing a sailboat's starboard profile the way 5 year olds draw sailboats.

This looks like a good thread. Looking forward to these tips as i gave up carrying a motor. I tried pumping the sails to reach a sandbar the other day, but my technique was not smooth. I was trying to roll tack, but with guest on board it doesnt work right so it looked like i was strangling my boom. Really need to get the boom close to the water and the boat about to flip before plunging to the other side and getting the boom forced across. Im in a small boat obviously and pack a folding oar.
 
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Joe

.
Jun 1, 2004
7,390
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
On a small boat, leave about two inches of center board down and get the mainsail tilted up higher by heeling the boat to WINDWARD. Common strategy. Beach cat version of this, when sailing off wind is called "the wild thing"
On a keel boat.......move crew forward to get stern up to reduce drag. Then...no crew movement unless ordered by the skipper. Get rid of the big ass genoa and raise the jib.... or better yet a tall staysail... This is a narrow sail with a wire luff. Trim it fairly flat but let the luff sag a bit. Get the main flat also... outhaul on, a little twist... use vang if needed to keep the boom from bouncing. The object is to get what airflow you have to stay attached to the sail. A large powered up (round) genoa will not allow this. Use little or no rudder. Some heel to windward might help if it can be done without too much activity...but keeping the stern up is more important. If the boat wants to heel to leeward.... you're sailing... change your tactics.
 
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srimes

.
Jun 9, 2020
209
Macgregor 26D Brookings
Yeah, that's kinda of a myth unless you can get appendages out or a really fat stern out. Thats like saying if you flip an iceberg sideways it will cross the ocean more quickly. Google Sketup will show there not much if any advantage for simple boats healing for less surface area.

Thats right along side the myth picture of sail balance by showing a sailboat's starboard profile the way 5 year olds draw sailboats.

This looks like a good thread. Looking forward to these tips as i gave up carrying a motor. I tried pumping the sails to reach a sandbar the other day, but my technique was not smooth. I was trying to roll tack, but with guest on board it doesnt work right so it looked like i was strangling my boom. Really need to get the boom close to the water and the boat about to flip before plunging to the other side and getting the boom forced across. Im in a small boat obviously and pack a folding oar.
The change in surface area will depend on the hull shape and how much heel is induced. An extreme example is your classic aluminum canoe: flat bottom, no rocker, tumblehome and pointy ends. Lightly loaded and flat it has shallow draft and a lot of surface area. Tip it 45 degrees and it'll have a someone round bottom, deeper draft, narrower waterline beam, shorter waterline as the ends come out of the water, and much less wetted surface area.

A wide beam, relatively flat bottom sportboat will be similar, minus the dramatic waterline length change. Your classic IOR design increases waterline when heeled, so it may actually increase wetted surface.

My guess is that it won't heel enough to make much surface-area difference on a heavy boat, and the main benefit is in helping to keep the sails full.
 

RussC

.
Sep 11, 2015
1,519
Merit 22- Oregon lakes
My guess is that it won't heel enough to make much surface-area difference on a heavy boat, and the main benefit is in helping to keep the sails full.
That makes logical sense. thank you. "Try what I'm telling you and see if it works" doesn't, and I don't. ;)
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,389
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
The four of us left Dunkirk, NY, crossing Lake Erie to Port Colburn on our friends’ Hunter 30. The prevailing SW winds tools is more than halfway across the lake. Then, about 12 miles from “the Port,” the wind disappeared. Nothing. Total calm. Then it became clear that we could not start the engine, despite our best efforts. 12 miles is a long way to pump the main, or scull the rudder. After some thought, Larry got the electric motor and battery he uses to drive his onflatable dinghy. We lashed it to the stern and got it going.

After a half hour, and a careful plotting exercise on our gps, I announced that in 32 hours, the lake currents would carry us over Niagra Falls. So we gave up, and called friend from Point Abino, who came with their motor boat to tow us to Port Colburn.

Sometimes, you just have to eat crow!
 
May 17, 2004
2,021
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
On a small boat, leave about two inches of center board down and get the mainsail tilted up higher by heeling the boat to WINDWARD.

Joe: Hope you're doing OK and avoiding the Covid down there in San Diego where it's a lot cooler than here in Tucson!!

When i was youngster growing up in RI we sailed Beetle Cats every day in the summer on Narragansett Bay. When we were caught in no wind or little wind situation, we used every trick we could think of, including fiddling with the centerboard, to get the boats going. The tricks were passed down to us from the older kids. We never thought about the scientific aspect of what we were doing - we just did what worked and we didn't care how or why it worked. In those days if I suggested that scientifically what we were doing to get the boat moving wouldn't/shouldn't work I've have been thrown overboard -- I sure miss the simpler old days!!

There is another caveat to this topic that I purposely left out of the opening because I wanted to see where the topic would go. I'll include it later.

David: Just thinking about the possibility of going over Niagra Falls in a 30' boat makes me sick to my stomach!!
 
Oct 1, 2007
1,723
Boston Whaler Super Sport Pt. Judith
... If you can get the boat moving forward, even a small bit, it's mass tends to keep it going even if only for a short distance at a time.....
Also, importantly, as you begin to move your apparent wind increases, hence the faster you go, the faster you go. And avoid tacking at all costs.
 
May 17, 2004
2,021
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
Also, importantly, as you begin to move your apparent wind increases, hence the faster you go, the faster you go. And avoid tacking at all costs.
Rick: Thank you for bringing up the apparent wind issue, which brings me to the caveat.

In the early 80's (1982) I got to meet Steve Colgate. We chatted about the difficulty of getting the boat moving in little to no air. Just so happened he was preparing a article for a magazine called "Learn To Sail" about the above subject. I took notes as fast as I could and after the meeting reviewed the conversation in my mind and added some items I missed. I kept those note all these years and sometimes use them in sail trim seminar presentations. The above topic consisted of those notes.

There are 3 sailing guys I've enjoyed talking to - Steve Colgate, Dennis Conner & Buddy Melges. They are the nicest, down to earth, caring folks in the sailing community I've ever run into. They're totally willing to share their knowledge - especially with newbies who they never looked down on. Over the years I've tried to model myself after them.

Rick: your comment regarding the apparent wind appears in the 2nd paragraph of Steve Colgate's article.
 
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Oct 1, 2007
1,723
Boston Whaler Super Sport Pt. Judith
Rick: Thank you for bringing up the apparent wind issue, which brings me to the caveat.

In the early 80's (1982) I got to meet Steve Colgate. We chatted about the difficulty of getting the boat moving in little to no air. Just so happened he was preparing a article for a magazine called "Learn To Sail" about the above subject. I took notes as fast as I could and after the meeting reviewed the conversation in my mind and added some items I missed. I kept those note all these years and sometimes use them in sail trim seminar presentations. The above topic consisted of those notes.

There are 3 sailing guys I've enjoyed talking to - Steve Colgate, Dennis Conner & Buddy Melges. They are the nicest, down to earth, caring folks in the sailing community I've ever run into. They're totally willing to share their knowledge - especially with newbies who they never looked down on. Over the years I've tried to model myself after them.

Rick: your comment regarding the apparent wind appears in the 2nd paragraph of Steve Colgate's article.
I used to subscribe to a flying magazine and right at the end they always had a column called "I Learned About Flying From This", and the author would relate something from his career where he learned something important.
Well, I learned about "...the faster you go...etc.." while racing Ensigns and seeing the "iron" of the fleet drop us like a no deposit bottle in light air. I would say "....how are they doing that?..." Eventually I learned they used the techniques you described, and they never tacked, building their apparent wind, until they found a puff....