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Sailing to windward in the weekender


markfitz
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OK, I have a dumb newbie question that I *think* I I maybe know the answer to, but I'm going to ask anyway.

First, the background: On our last sail, it was beautiful on the way out, with wind from the SSW at maybe 6 knots. We had a leisurely sail to the other side of lake -- tacked a few times without issue, and we moving along at between 4-5 knots. About 3/4 of the way there, the wind started picking up, and we turned around to head back. Judging by the many, many whitecaps, the wind was probably up to 12 or 13 knots about 10 minutes later, and the marina we needed to get back to was due south. I don't think the direction of the wind had changed much. If anything, maybe it changed to be slightly more SW.

Now, here's where my terminology fails me, so please bear with me. When we tried to point SE, we beat the hell out of the boat and had the top rail a little closer to the water than I would generally like to see it, being a big chicken and all. When we pointed the boat a little more due South, it successfully slowed us down a bit, but the mainsail had a very weird shape to it. Like it was an "S" -- and it was flapping pretty good. We were able to keep it there and make pretty decent speed (about 4 knots) considering the pounding (and man did it pound. I think we need some sandbags in the forward hatch) but the sail flapped the whole way, no matter what we did to the jib. The only way we could get it to stop slapping against the standing rigging was to go way faster than we were comfortable going, heeled over way more than we were comfortable heeling.

I did try to research it a bit using google, but most of what I read dealt with larger boats and it sounded like sailing windward in rough water isn't fun no matter what size boat you have. I guess my question is, is the Weekender particularly bad at sailing windward? I mean, it was fun and all, but since we're still learning what the boat "feels like," I figured I'd run it by you all. Thanks, as always for your collective experience!

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Your "S" shaped sail was luffing or stalling, which is simply that you where sailing too high for the sheet angle you'd set. If the sail is flapping, you should do everything to avoid this as it will tear apart your sails pretty quickly. This said, in winds you're a little uncomfortable with, you can sail with the main stalled slightly, which will take some drive out of the rig, easing the amount of heel and reducing speed. This is something you'll need to practice, because you have to tend the sheets or boat's course to keep the sail partly stalled or it will flog (flap).

The Weekend goes to windward as well as it can, considering the limitations of her rig and appendages. Simply put, the rig and appendages aren't well suited for up wind work, but she does go up wind, just not as well as other boats with different rigs and appendages.

The beating your boat took is a combination of several factors; the boats shape (flat bottomed), the rig, the appendages and generally heading up wind in stiff winds. All boats "beat" to windward with some violence (hence the name). It's the nature of this point of sail, but some boats just do it better, because of their shape. Flat bottom boats tend to "pound" a bit going up wind, which can be somewhat softened with trim angles. Moving forward in the cockpit of a Weekender can shift enough weight to get her bow down a bit. This will help. Some folks use sand bags an other weights forward, though I wouldn't, as it hurts preformance in other areas. The best thing you can do is bear off a little, short tack if you have to, but try to keep the boat upright and moving well, rather than attempting to get the very last degree of pointing ability out of her.

Gaff rigged boats need to be reefed early, more so than other rigs. Learning to recognize the wind strengths the boat likes, is an important part of learning about your little boat. Had the main been reefed, your boat would have stood up, probably have gone faster, but with much better control and comfort. These are all things you'll learn as your skills develop. As a rule, if you're thinking about maybe putting in a reef, well then you've probably waited too long already. This is typical on gaffers, especially if you've been sailing off the wind and then change course up wind. It seems like the wind has suddenly doubled in stiffness, but in fact you've just been fooled by the off wind sailing you just finished.

Lastly, you're sailing a boat with a13' waterline, which is a small boat. It's light and it doesn't take much to knock her around a little. She's small enough that waves hitting the bow will knock her off course, so when in these conditions, you have to "take care of her". What this means is, don't force her up hard on the wind, but take a slightly "eased" course. This means you'll have to tack more, but you'll be more comfortable and the boat will like you better too.

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Excellent, thank you for taking the time to write that. I was contemplating bringing our sail somewhere to have reef points added, so that's good to know. The lake we sail on is notorious for changing wind conditions, both in direction and strength. The water on the way back was rougher than I've ever been out on it, even in a motor boat, and it makes sense that we were pointing a bit too directly at our destination because we wanted off the water. we were definitely getting knocked off course by the waves too. Every time I got splashed we'd be pointing in a different direction! Thanks again.

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The Weekender does pound quite a bit in chop. I think Paul has a great description of why from a technical standpoint (I always learn a few things reading his posts!) It's a fun boat, and pretty capable in flat water, but I was always uncomfortable when things got a little rough.

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Thanks Ray. I am thinking maybe the boat upholstery place near me might be able to do it. I was also toying with figuring out a way to drop the mainsail and the jib from inside the cockpit. Some kind of fairlead and a cam cleat on the cabin roof or something….

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Cheek block on the mast with a wedge behind it to angle the lead to a fairlead on the cabin top and a cam cleat works nicely for Main.

For Jib you also might need a jib downhaul line running from head down mast to blcok on bowsprit and line led aft to fairlead and cleat.

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