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greendane

Sailing a Catch Ketch with one mast NOT in the center position

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Hi all--for the next few months until I have my new masts, I only have one. I sailed it (my CS17) last year in the center position and it worked fine. I've generally run with the mizzen sail only, though I have laced on the main a couple of times. The main sail encroaches on visibility and the sprit-boom swings just at eye level.  I am curious though (and new to sailing--this is the only boat I've ever sailed), if I put the single mast and sail in the bow, how would the boat behave? More or less likely to heel or capsize? Always wanting to turn so I'd be fighting with the tiller? I really don't understand the dynamics and prefer to get some theory and feedback before doing any trial and error. Thanks. 

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You'd do the opposite of weather-vaning. Your boat would have a persistent and probably dangerous lee helm. If you were only trying to head downwind, it'd be perfect!

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Much better off with your only sail in the mizzen step.

I don't use the middle mast step anymore after getting hit in the eye once by the end of the boom.  I prefer to sail mizzen only (when necessary) in the mizzen step and the center board slightly pulled up to balance the helm.  This worked well several times for making a mostly downwind run in heavy weather back to a boat ramp.  Things are completely under control with this arrangement and you can just enjoy the sleigh ride.

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Randy- IMHO the mizzen only thing works for you because the bare main mast is up for balance. Why don't you try the mizzen in the middle mast step? it seems from Greendane's post that the mizzen sprit is higher.

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I have used the mizzen in the middle several times.  That arrangement works fine except for the boom in the face problem and that other problem about me being lazy.  Mizzen only in its regular step works fine.  The naked main mast might be doing something thing but I believe the key is to retract the centerboard to balance the helm.  

Thrillsbe has the right idea - go play with it and see which arrangement you prefer.  

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I have some experience with sailing mizzen only in the standard position. I found it worked quite well even upwind provided you started on a reach. It is near impossible to get the boat through a tack but the 3 point turn method works if you have the sea room. Sheet the mizzen in just a bit at first then let it out to get the boat moving but not force it to round up. As boat speed increases and you gain way you can counter the weather helm with the rudder and work your way up to full speed. If you accidentally head up too far, the sail force will take over and you'll have to sheet out quick to bear away without giving up speed then work your way back up. It's possible to sail almost as close to the wind as usual and actually quite fast with the main mast down due to the reduced drag from having only one mast. We sailed the last few miles of the EC 2014 with mizzen only and no main after we pulled the main mast down by snagging the spinnaker halyard on a channel marker at speed. We also sailed Southern Skimmer back to CP1 in this years EC 2017 after breaking the main mast above the tabernacle due to damage from corrosion around a reinforcing sleeve. 

 

I've got an album  (https://goo.gl/photos/fnuakeC91F2AbnZL8)  I made a few years back of reefing setups for my CS 17 with has only sleeved sails and single reef positions. In one of the photos I was running in sheltered flat water in about 20-25knots (my best guess) and up on plane with reefed mizzen only.That was a fun ride. 

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I gave myself a good scare this weekend. And learned a few adrenaline enforced lessons. Account of novice below...

 

I opened my windy app and it was a buggy so I figured I'd just read live conditions when I got to the ramp. (Lesson 1: sort out the forecast first.) There was a stiff breeze but generally speaking, if there aren't white caps and the waves aren't really rocking, I'm pretty safe (only sailing with the one sail in the middle position mind you).

 

Started off fine and fun. Got some spray as I was close hauled heading out. Moving faster than I've ever gone and kept my hand on the sheet the whole time to be ready for any gusts. I got out a little over a 1/2 mile and things picked up. I tried tacking but the head wind wouldn't let me get around until the 3rd try. (I'd just stall in irons). I wasn't comfortable moving to a reach > and turning through run/gibe in those conditions. (Would appreciate any wisdom here. It wasn't a lack of speed. The wind just stopped me dead in my tracks.)

 

So after the third (and successful) tack attempt, I turned to a broad reach and I was on a plane off and on. Definitely the fastest I've ever gone in my CY17. I'm guessing I was close to 8 knots on a plane and when surfing down the side of the waves. Part of it was good fun. But the wind was growing and the dock/ramp faces winward. The part that wasn't fun was when I had to turn on a run to get back to the dock as the wind picked up. (Maybe 20-25 knots if the post-mortem assessment on the Windy app is true).

 

The angle of the waves (no more than 2 ft I think) and the wind made it feel really unstable, even though I had the sail forward of the mast a bit. I was 300 yards out at this point. The ramp was really busy as everyone was getting off the water. I ended up using my motor (2hp Honda) to have more consistent speed. I unhooked the sheet and the sprit, let the sail flog (it was too precarious to wrap it). I pointed into the dock, found a hole between all the big boats, shut the motor at the right time and glided to the dock. I clung to the cleats, threw my fenders out (didn't have time for that earlier), tied off and called it a day. Counting my blessings with every step to my truck and trailer. I was rattled enough to forget to pull up the rudder and scuffed the bottom of it when I pulled the boat out. Bummed about that. 

 

Several lessons there, and I am a willing student for any advice from you seasoned folks. 

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Thanks for sharing your experience, greendane.  You're ahead of me on that learning curve, so I can't offer any advice.  I'm also looking forward to input from others.  Congratulations on a successful heavy weather sail!

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Always amazes me how fast crap can happen even at 2 MPH. The guy who invents brakes for boats is going to make a killing. I will personally buy the first three sets that roll off the assembly line. After putting a 50 cal size hole into my 17' in similar circumstances to yours -by coming to a dead stop on a dock bolt - I make it a policy now to ALWAYS end the sailing part of the trip 200-300 yds off the dock. Luff up, roll up the sail(s) then row to the dock. No motor on my 17'. That flogging sail still generates a fair amount of power and unpredictability which is fine with room to play but can be a total mess near a dock. The repairs to my boat were not worth the bravado. PeterP

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@PeterP Yup. Next time I see the whitecaps coming, I'm firing up the motor, furling the sail and coming the rest of the way back by motor and calling it a day sooner rather than later. And doing better forecasting on the wind. (The forecast was there, I just didn't make the xtra effort to confirm it.) There's a good bit of respect to be had for the Puget Sound. While there is a lot of protection, there is also a lot of potential for crazy weather. This is an extreme example: 

 

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And for reference, this is a pretty good drone video showing the area I was at (and usually go to). 

 

 

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That second video looks fabulous.  I've had my share of video one. I'd like to haul my Petrel out there one day and kick around a bit. PeterP

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Sounds to me like you did ok.  I'm assuming you were mizzen only with the mizzen in it's regular position.

Regarding tacking - pulling the centerboard up to shift the center of lateral resistance forward may have helped, you can also "back" the mizzen when tacking and steer backwards with the rudder to complete the tack if you end up in irons.  Just remember backing the mizzen is opposite of the way we back our mainsails and sloops back their jibs.  You may also have discovered that a chop really kills the forward momentum of these relatively light boats.

I'd don't have a motor on my CS17 and typically sail back to and occasionally into the dock.  Often there is just one spot at the dock suitable for landing a sailboat but the power boaters have no idea you're aiming at it. Crowded lee shore ramps with a short dock are the worst and an appropriate to use a motor if you've got one. 

Laced sails can be difficult to raise but I have not had trouble taking them down.  Try dropping your sail while the mast is up to see if it works for you.  With the sail down, board down, and the motor running you're as maneuverable as anything on the water. 

In my case I drop all sail and steer the boat in with the oars or canoe paddle attempting to let the wind push me into position where I can catch the dock cleat with the stern line and stop the boat with a round buoy fender between the boat and the dock.  It is kind of an all or nothing situation and can be nerve racking.     

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This is an interesting topic.  I was able to sail on all points and tack readily in BRS Loon in both light and fairly strong wind.  I find that Lapwing is not nearly as cooperative but have not tried it enough to be certain of the reason.  It may be that the hard chine of Loon provided enough turning moment to aid the rudder and the round hull of Lapwing could not do that.

 

Note to Peter.  Sailboat brakes were first introduced in 1926 by Manfred Curry and were just as quickly ruled illegal by the racing authorities.  He had a flap on each side of the rudder that could be pulled down into a effective large vertical flat plate which caused all kinds of angst among his competitors.

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21 hours ago, Randy Jones said:

"I'm assuming you were mizzen only with the mizzen in it's regular position." 

 

 

@Randy JonesIf by regular you mean the center position, you're right. It wasn't in the third (aft) position. 

I went for another sail last night and was able to tack ok. The waves were a lot less so my momentum carried me around a little easier. Still pretty slow to come about though. I'm sure with both sails it would do what it's supposed to. I'm also pretty sure that if I was a more experienced sailor I'd have less issues. 

 

I don't have a halyard on my laced sails so I typically just furl them to "take them down". In the conditions I've been in single-handed, I am pretty uneasy moving forward to fiddle with just about anything (I didn't even like flipping out the fender on that side.) I also have an odd mast repair where I essentially wrapped a 1/2" thick box around a spot in the wood (hollow square) mast that was de-laminating. That box, though tapered, presents a hang-up point for raising and lowering. I've thought about trying this to see if it would help. But I wonder if under pressure I could get it to come down easily or not. 

 

image108.jpg

 

 

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I don't think you need to double the lines.  I tie the line in a loop thru the peak grommet which keeps the peak from pulling too far away from the mast.  From there that same line runs down and across the back of the mast into grommets.  The line does not circle around the mast and the peak loop is large enough to allow the whole thing to slip down.  I will try and post a photo.

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If it were me, I'd make (not buy) a handful of identical soft shackles, to act as rings.  Then, I'd only have a halyard and a downhaul.  If you've never made them before, they're easy.  I can send you the link.

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59790230183ab_paloozalacing2.thumb.jpg.a7bfc8a9c122af4c695db62c7a6e6ff6.jpg If you look closely at how the lacing goes into and out of the third and fourth eyes from the top of the sail you'll notice the lacing does not spiral around the mast.   

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