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Traveler

May 17, 2004
2,000
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
It sure has been a tough year for every aspect of our lives, including sailing - remember how some of you couldn't even get into your marina, but life now is pretty much back to normal - in Tucson, AZ anyway.

For month and months in the early parts of last year, understandably, I never heard from a fellow sailor. Sail trim was the last thing on the minds of sailors but that's now changing as things get back to normal. Recently, I spoke to a FL sailor. He wanted to master the TRAVELER. Normally, I don't discuss one specific control because ALL the sail trim controls for the main and jib have to work together and be properly set for the wind speed and point of sail or the boat doesn't go anywhere but I was SO happy to talk to a sailor that I decided to discuss the traveler. When I was part of Catalina 30 crew that raced in their national regattas my responsibility was the traveler.

I first asked if he knew WHAT the traveler was adjusting - he didn't. In my opinion, if you want to know how any devise works you should first understand what's it's doing. The traveler adjusts the ANGLE OF ATTACK. He asked what's angle of attack? In this case I violated my rule and I told him he didn't need to know -- in simple terms it's the angle between the reference line (chord line) and the oncoming air flow. I hate scientific explanations but what you're doing with the traveler is "turning the wind" to offset a pressure differential on the sail. It's the FLOW/PRESSURE OF AIR. On the leeward side you have high speed flow/low pressure and on the windward low speed/high pressure. These force, which are also present on the rudder and keel, produce SUCTION which cause the boat to move forward. You INCREASE the angle of attack by moving the traveler toward the center of the boat. As you do that you're increasing power and lift/drag -- I don't want to get into lift/drag. The same thing happens when you move the jib fairleads inboard. The reverse is also true - to DECREASE power and lift ease the traveler away from the center line. With most boats you don't want to go past the center line but with the C30 going a bit beyond the center line gave me a bit more speed..

With most sail trim controls, when you adjust them the shape of the sail changes but not with the traveler. I've uses this example many times to describe the action of the traveler. Picture your screen door with a pin in the outside corner that rides in a groove in the floor. When you open and close your screen door does the shape of the screen change? It doesn't and neither does the shape of the sail EXCEPT on the curved track traveler on my C30, which I replaced with a straight track.

So, now that you know what the traveler does, and to stimulate topic discussion, how do you use it effectively? If you were overpowered? Turning a mark or tacking?

.
 
Jan 19, 2010
9,797
Hunter 26 Charleston
Thanks Don

Helpful post. I think I figured out how to use the Traveler by trial -error-&-observation. Your description makes sense but it was (is) not how I thought of it. I tend to use this approach... If the wind is in front of the beam, I loosen the vang and move the traveler to windward. How much?! The more forward the wind, and/or stronger the wind, the more to windward I move the traveler and the closer to centerline I try to get the boom after I let out the sheet. Specifics seem to vary by boat so I will play with it and set my own marks for when to adjust and when to reef etc. For example, on my Hunter 26, if I were pointing high in a stiff breeze of 18 - 25 and I wanted to stand on my feet and make the best time possible, I would move the traveler slightly to windward and then release the sheet until the boom was a smidge leeward past centerline and the tell tails told me to stop. That would keep the bottom of my sail full with enough twist at the top to keep me from heeling too much.

It also seems to me that the stronger the wind, the more you want to shift the traveler to windward before you do this process.
 
May 17, 2004
2,000
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
Thanks Don

, I loosen the vang and move the traveler to windward.

Rgranger: The key word is VANG or it could have been mainsheet or outhaul. It's the problem I, or anyone, have when we try to focus on explaining one particular sail trim control and why I hate to do it because they are all interdependent to each other. Otherwise it's like slamming the stick shift on a sports car into 2nd gear, flooring the accelerator and they applying the emergency brake!!

Suppose I encounter a strong puff - here's what I do and why I like the traveler. When the puff hits and the boat starts to heel I drop the traveler slowly until the boat gets back on it's feet. Most sailors prefer to use the mainsheet. When the puff passes I merely move the traveler back to it's original position and sail merrily on my way. The beauty of it I didn't change the shape of the sail as would have happened had I messed with the mainsheet and would have had to mess with it to get back to the original shape.

As with all the crew positions on the boat the traveler (outhaul & vang) person can really help the driver once he gets in tune with him. I loved sailing with Max Munger. He's been around the Catalina 30 fleet association forever. I got to know what he wanted without him telling me BUT many times I wondered " Max, what in the hell are you doing". I did keep it to myself because he was always right. On pre race set up I'd think that Max you've gone to far and we'll never get back in time but we were always 1st across the line. Frankly, I really didn't like racing that much. I'm more of a cruiser but I sure like the C30 nationals sailing with Max.
 
Jan 19, 2010
9,797
Hunter 26 Charleston
Hmmm

I'm not sure if we are both talking apples or not. I think of the vang as mostly a down wind control and if I am pointing at all, I loosen it.

I use the outhaul a lot and have mine run from the gooseneck to a turning block at the base of the mast, out to a deck organizer and then back to the cockpit through a clutch... I had to add a second set of deck organizers and I also added three more clutches to the standard two that comes with the H26... makes for easy adjustment but to my mind it is a stiff/light breeze binary sort of control without a lot of nuance. Tighten the outhaul in a strong breeze, slack in a light breeze unless I am running then it is always slacked some. And I move the traveler to windward a tad anytime the wind is in front of the beam.... loosen the vang and then I let the main out with the sheet until the tell tales stream. The stock H26 controls only included an outhaul, sheet and vang. I added the traveler to mine and it is a rudamentary traveler (but it helps a lot)... see pic. I purchased the track on eBay for a few buck. The genoa has only a turning block and no cars... it is rather inboard so the H26 can point well enough but on a run you have to use the pole to get the sail's clew out. I don't have mine set up with a spinnaker.

traveler2.jpg
Traveler1.jpg
traveler3.jpg
 
May 17, 2004
2,000
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
Hmmm

I'm not sure if we are both talking apples or not. I think of the vang as mostly a down wind control and if I am pointing at all, I loosen it.

The vang is much more than a down wind control. With each of my SAIL TRIM CHARTS I include a QUICK REFERENCE, which displays ALL of the sail trim controls for the main and jib and indicates which control adjusts either draft depth, draft position, twist or angle of attack and additionally tells you which way to push/pull each control to get the adjustment your seeking.

The VANG is the primary control to adjust TWIST. So, when you loosen it you're inducing twist and spilling air (power) out of the top 1/2 of your mainsail. Loosen the vang and you depower the sail. Additionally, when you loosen/tighten the vang you're also moving the draft position on the mainsail,

The OUTHAUL is the primary control to adjust DRAFT DEPTH. It's your accelerator. A flat sail does not develop any power. As you adjust the outhaul to induce a "belly" you're powering up the sail. Additionally, when you adjust the outhaul you're also messing with draft position.

Inboard/outbaord tracks - inboard for closehaul and outboard for all other points of sail.

So, for example, if a sailor in a given situation decided to flatten the main with the outhaul and loose the vang (inducing twist) the boat would almost stop sailing.

It's difficult to explain all the sail trim control function in the short space here. My book THE SAIL TRIM USERS GUIDE tells a sailor everything they need to know about ALL the sail trim controls for the main and jib. Each control has it's own section. Additionally, there is a sequence to sail trim adjustment so that the controls are not working against each other. The book is the WHY of sail trim. WHY a sailor makes an adjustment is EVERYTHING other wise he's just guessing at the adjustment.
 
May 17, 2004
2,000
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
The original concept of the SAIL TRIM FORUM was that it was designed for beginner sailors and that idea has continued through the years to this day. The problem has been that newbies are reluctant to ask questions for a number of reasons. I've told beginners that I've NEVER seen any question ridiculed or laughed at - it's the beauty of the forum and there is no forum like it on all of the internet. I explained there is a wealth of great information on the forum from a lot of folks who really know their onions about sail trim and are more than willing to share. I share what I know because I don't want beginner sailors going through what I went through to learn how to sail a silly sailboat!!

Anyway, yesterday I received a Email from a newbie asking me to describe the tacking sequence of the TRAVELER ONLY (I'll get into the jib sequence in a later topic) from start to finish. I advised the newbie to ask the forum. He didn't want to for fear that it would be regarded as a silly question so I told him I'd submit it for him and let's see what we get from experienced sailors. I also advised him that probably 50% of the sailors worldwide don't take advantage of the value of the traveler during a tack. The newbie has trouble turning the boat and the reason is the mainsail is like a gigantic barn door that fights against the boat during a turn - it wants to keep the boat going in a straight direction.

So, assume the boat is sailing in light air (around 5 knots) and the boat driver calls for a tack. What does the driver do and what steps before, during and after does the traveler trimmer take?
 
May 17, 2004
3,280
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
So, assume the boat is sailing in light air (around 5 knots) and the boat driver calls for a tack. What does the driver do and what steps before, during and after does the traveler trimmer take?
Going into the tack I would trim the main hard in conditions like that, by bringing the traveler up if that’s the preferred mainsail control for the boat. More main trim will increase weather helm which could make the round up easier with less rudder angle. After passing head to wind the traveler I’d bring the traveler close to centerline, in a good position to build speed on the new tack. As speed builds I’d point up and bring the traveler up to the normal upwind setting again.
 
Aug 2, 2010
418
J-Boat J/88 Cobourg
How about this for an easy explanation? When tightening the mainsheet a downward force is exerted on the boom which changes the shape of the sail by tightening the leech. There is a reasonably correct shape for leech for various angles and wind conditions and once we get there we can no longer pull on the main sheet without going past the proper shape. The traveler allows us to use pull the boom closer to the center line of the boat (for going upwind at closer angles to the wind) without changing the downforce on the boom. Most of the time upwind I want the boom to come up to the center line of the boat without drawing the leech bar tight and the traveler lets me do this by coming to windward of the center line.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,840
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
When sailing in light wind I wouldn't have the traveler above mid ships at any time. Too much risk of stalling. So it would be below midline to start. As the traveler trimmer I wouldn't do much. I would set the existing leeward traveler line so that the traveler would slide to the corresponding position on the new tack. If there were more wind the idea of trimming the traveler up to steer the sail plan upwind, and. therefore using less rudder is a good idea. But ultimately it won't be enough to get the boat into the eye of the wind and stalling the boat going into a tack will be slow. In light wind the helmsman should foot a bit to build up speed and then carve a turn trying not to stall the rudder. The traveler trim should be to drop it a smidge as the helm is footing and then move to the correct position for boat trim. The corresponding position on the new tack would be for footing a bit to help the helmsman gain speed. As boat speed comes up the traveler could be brought up a smidge but not above midline.
 
May 17, 2004
2,000
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
As boat speed comes up the traveler could be brought up a smidge but not above midline.
shermandr: I agree with the concept of not going past the centerline of the boat with the boom. As I mentioned I'm a cruiser and not a racer but years ago at a Catalina 30 National Regatta in Santa Cruz, CA an odd thing happened. The way it worked at the national events I attended was the local fleet gave us the crappiest boat they could find and Santa Cruz was no exception. The C30 had a curved track traveler, no vang and the fairleads were frozen in place (the C30 in San Diego had a ripped jib and we had to go to WM for repair tape!!). Anyway, It's blowing like stink (over 20 knots) - to these Santa Cruz guys that's a calm day as they're used to that stuff. We're cruising to an easy 1st, when out of a cloud bank on the final leg a C30 is on us. It reminded me of the scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" when chased by the posse and Sundance says "who are those guys" - I later wrote an article for the Catalina Mainsheet magazine with that title about that race. We're neck and neck and you could step across each boat, almost like NASCAR and "rubbing paint".

Now to the point of the center line. Our boat driver says to me "do something to get a pinch more speed" - like what!! I said if I mess with this thing chances are very good that the result will be very bad. He said do it anyway so I did and moved the traveler so the boom was just past the center line and the boat picked up speed - slightly. We crossed the finish line second but it was a photo finish - our bow was between his bow and mast, that's how close it was.

I think what happened was when I moved the traveler/boom past the center line the traveler car on a curved track is going downhill (acting like a vang) and that served to take what little twist that was left out of the main.

Of all the national events I attended (Long Beach, San Francisco, San Diego) Santa Cruz was the best. Not only the regatta but the whole event. They treated us like celebrities, even local newspaper coverage, BUT they could have done better on the boat assignment!!
 
Nov 23, 2020
18
Hunter 45DS Seattle
Hello all -- I really appreciate this forum but will admit to two things: I am a newbie and I think my brain turned to mush somewhere mid-thread. I spent 3 yrs single handing a Hunter 35 on Puget Sound and have now "graduated" with my partner to a Hunter 45DS. With just under a thousand feet of sail area, she feels big and we both are overwhelmed. The jib and its cars we are figuring out but the main is like black magic and twist is something I think folks talk about just as a joke (kidding -- I know it is realy, I just cannot "see" it yet).

My question for this thread is this; does anyone have a recommendation for a step-by-step, do, a, then b, then c approach? Lori/I have been comfy at <10 kts w/jib + main but at that speed it feels like messing with the vang or the traveler doesn't produce much effect. We are trying to learn a step-by-step approach that would help (e.g., get your telltales flying correctly then mess w/the vang depending on conditions, then set your traveler, or outhaul, etc.). Perhaps trying to boil it down to rules misses the point -- a perspective I am increasingly coming to believe is the case.

Is this really ALL about shaping the sail to the conditions using our four primary controls (sheet, vang, traveler, and outhaul)? Asking for a friend. ;)

Sean
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,714
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
My question for this thread is this; does anyone have a recommendation for a step-by-step, do, a, then b, then c approach?
Absolutely.

Your very host on this thread, Don Guilette, has written a most excellent guide that does exactly what you're asking for. You aren't the first, nor would be the last! :)

The book is the very best I have ever read and is the least expensive investment you can make to answer your sail trim questions, and in the way you asked for it. I've read all the rest, this one is excellent.

 
May 17, 2004
2,000
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
Thank you! Book is purchased and on the way. :)
Stu: As always thanks for the plug.

Seamadian: You're not alone, as Stu pointed out. There was no one more confused about sail trim than me. In fact, I never thought I'd get it UNTIL I ran into a instructor who showed me the basics of actually WHAT I was adjusting and which controls were adjusting each element. Thank you for purchasing my book. The book tells you WHY you're adjusting a particular sail trim control. The WHY of sail trim is everything otherwise a sailor is just guessing at what they are adjusting. After digesting the book, you now need the SAIL TRIM CHART. It provides you with the adjustment of each sail trim control for the main and jib for each point of sail and wind condition. It provides trim sequences and a bunch of other stuff.

How the CHART/BOOK came about might be of interest to some. There are 8 primary mainsail sail trim controls and 6 jib sail trim controls. The settings for each must work together and the setting are different for each point of sail and wind condition. I couldn't remember all this stuff so I made a chart. More years ago than either I or Stu can remember, there was Catalina Owners Forum, of which we were members, and one day a member asked a sail trim question and I and others answered it. I also casually mentioned I had a SAIL TRIM CHART. Within 2 weeks I received over 75 requests for a copy of the chart. I knew I had something but there was only one problem - only I could read it!!. It had arrows and stuff all over it. A friend developed the original and later I had it professionally done by a company in Phoenix. Next sailors came to me and said we know WHAT to do but not WHY - hence the book.

Next was how to sell it. No company would sell either product because it had no sales track record - how was I to obtain a track record if no one would sell the products? All I got was NO. At the same time SAILBOATOWNERS.COM was starting up and I called Bly Berkin, expecting another NO but she said YES - I almost fell over!! That started a great relationship with Bly & Phil and together we've sold over 20,000 of these product worldwide to sailors in every country except Russia & China - don't know what it is with those two countries.
 
Nov 23, 2020
18
Hunter 45DS Seattle
Hello Don -- SO, I actually did this in reverse. I found the charts some time ago and have been working on applying them without really knowing the "why" of the guidance (in fact, I did this on Saturday w/winds around 5.5 kts which moved us along at between 3-4 kts. It's really good to hear the story and how you have built a following!

TBH, I am struggling to "get" sail twist and "see" how the sails are performing which, I think, is really step-one. I paused when you wrote 8 main and 6 jib controls. I think I may have -1 on each because both are furled (roller furler forward and main/in-mast furling) so I am betting that one of the controls for each is the halyard (?)

My sense is that I need to be aboard with someone who can help educate my eye to things.

One final point: we have a Hunter 45 with just under 1k sail area. In winds under 10 kts experimenting is fun/easy. Over 10 kts I am just hanging on for dear life. I suspect that time/experience will shift that but at the moment my focus is on a) how to get the most from light wind, and b) how to depower/get the least in stronger winds.

MANY thanks,
Sean
 
May 17, 2004
2,000
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
Hello Don -- SO, I actually did this in reverse. I found the charts some time ago and have been working on applying them without really knowing the "why" of the guidance (in fact, I did this on Saturday w/winds around 5.5 kts which moved us along at between 3-4 kts. It's really good to hear the story and how you have built a following!

TBH, I am struggling to "get" sail twist and "see" how the sails are performing which, I think, is really step-one. I paused when you wrote 8 main and 6 jib controls. I think I may have -1 on each because both are furled (roller furler forward and main/in-mast furling) so I am betting that one of the controls for each is the halyard (?)

My sense is that I need to be aboard with someone who can help educate my eye to things.

One final point: we have a Hunter 45 with just under 1k sail area. In winds under 10 kts experimenting is fun/easy. Over 10 kts I am just hanging on for dear life. I suspect that time/experience will shift that but at the moment my focus is on a) how to get the most from light wind, and b) how to depower/get the least in stronger winds.

MANY thanks,
Sean
Sean: Yup, I know the feeling and it's really a trip when the boat responds to the correct sail trim set up. I could feel "through my feet" when the boat was talking to me and telling me I had it right.

10 knots plus doesn't sound like a lot of wind but it is and a 45' boat is a handful to deal with in those conditions when sailing single handed. When you purchased the chart was a "quick reference" included? Yes, having someone on board who can show you what's happening when you push or pull a particular sail trim control is a game changer because once you actually see draft depth, draft position, twist and angle of attack in motion you won't forget it.

If a sailor can sail in "light air" he can sail in anything. He's reacting to increases and decrease of what little wind there is.

The ability to "depower" the boat is very important. My problem was when the boat the boat started to get away from me and slip out from under me I didn't know what to do to stop the situation and get the boat under control. One easy and quick solution is to drop the traveler and let out the jib sheet.

That's the last resort BUT before that you can use TWIST in the main and jib. I'm not on your boat but let's try to visualize it as if I was but in front of your computer. Put your right hand in front of you as if to salute. Now turn the top of your fingers to the right. What is happening with the main and jib is the top is opening up and spilling air (power). Your quick reference will tell you which controls to use for each sail. In addition and at the same time, you want to reduce DRAFT DEPTH (belly) or flatten the sail. Extend your right hand as if to shake hands (DRAFT DEPTH). That's a flat main and jib with no power. Now start to cup your hand -- your foot is on the accelerator as you do so. To depower power just do the opposite and flatten the sail using the controls outlined in your quick reference.

My wife and I like your fine city and we hope to visit there this summer and also see Vancouver. We've been reluctant recently because it's shame to see on the news what's happening to it. If I was on you boat, in 20 minutes I could clear up a lot of your problem. In the meantime, the FIRST chapter of the book is EVERYTHING and I caution readers not proceed without a good understanding because sail trim will never make any sense.
 
Aug 2, 2010
418
J-Boat J/88 Cobourg
Other than being overpowered, what reason would there be for the boom to be below centerline close hauled? It has been our practice to work out desired twist before the race (W-L) starts and then use the traveler to bring the boom up to centerline as speed builds and then to leave it there unless overpowered. I see on YouTube lots of boats presumably close hauled in what looks like light to medium winds with the boom probably 5 degrees or more below centerline.
Unless they are reaching, why would this be so?
 
May 17, 2004
2,000
Other Catalina 30 Tucson, AZ
Other than being overpowered, what reason would there be for the boom to be below centerline close hauled? It has been our practice to work out desired twist before the race (W-L) starts and then use the traveler to bring the boom up to centerline as speed builds and then to leave it there unless overpowered. I see on YouTube lots of boats presumably close hauled in what looks like light to medium winds with the boom probably 5 degrees or more below centerline.
Unless they are reaching, why would this be so?
danstanford: I have no idea why they would do that. Even if they set the mainsail trim to compensate for the reduced angle of attack I think they'd be better served to almost center the boom and adjust their trim accordingly. Over the years I've seen a lot of stuff both on the water, and on youtube that doesn't make sense to me. In the cases where I could directly ask the sailor why he set his boat up that way for a given point of sail and wind condition the answer many times didn't make any sense to me. There was one answer that did make sense - the sailor told me he didn't know why he set up the way he did!! In other words, he was just guessing.

When I was conducting sail trim seminars (4 hours or 1 hour mini's) I had a number of sailboat advertising pictures that I collected. A lot of them look photogenic but that's about it. After the class I asked the students to tell me what was wrong with the trim and how they'd correct it. I don't take a lot of what I see as gospel.

Here's a classic example. When I was researching my book, The Sail Trim Users Guide, I came across an sail trim article in a sailing magazine which didn't seem correct to me. A few days later I found an article on the same subject by Buddy Melges. Every concept in my book was tested on my Catalina 30 to be sure it worked. Which article do you think was correct? - Buddy Melges!!
 
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