I Love Classes That Make You Think! Part II

We left the previous installment of I Love Classes That Make You Think! wondering how long one needs to run the motor in order to recharge batteries that have been in use while at anchor.  That actually brings up a whole other topic.  Calculating electrical consumption, battery capacities, and battery charging.  Sadly, I’m not enough of an expert to turn this into a true technical discussion, so this tip includes a few assumptions and is more of a layperson’s guide to battery usage and charging while at anchor and on charter.

Personally, I believe the first things you need to know are how many batteries, what are their sizes, and how is the system set up.  The only way to get this information on a charter is to ask the charter company.  Then, double check what you have been told.  In Part I, we ended the tip while on a 42′ Catalina during a two week charter in the Sea of Cortez.  Let’s continue that discussion and see if we can approximate how long per day to run the motor in order to charge batteries back to a usable state.

A pretty common set up on this boat is three batteries.  Two set up as two separate house banks, and one as the starter and windlass bank.  Because the starter/windlass battery isn’t used much and should charge back up pretty quickly we won’t worry about it.  The house bank(s) on the other hand are well used while at anchor.  Every boat potentially has different batteries.  In this case lets assume there are two Group 8D AGM batteries rated at 225 amp hours, giving a total of 450 amps of capacity.  Unfortunately, you should never go below 50% of maximum charge, so you have about 225 amp available to you.  We have a starting point.  Now for consumption.

Here are some common devices and their consumption requirements while at anchor for 24 hours:

  • Anchor light … 0.8 Amps … 12 hours per day … 9.6 Daily amp-hours
  • Cabin Fan (two of them) … 0.2 Amps each … 6 hours each per day … 2.4 amp-hours
  • Cabin Light (three) … 2.1 Amps each … 4 hours each per day … 25.2 amp hours
  • Fresh water pump … 6 Amps … 5 min per day … .5 amp-hours
  • Refrigerator … 5 Amps … 12 hours per day … 60 amp-hours
  • Music player … 1 Amp … 6 hours per day … 6 amp-hours
  • Monitoring a SSB … 2.5 Amps … 1 hour per day … 2.5 amp-hours

This a pretty much a bare minimum while sitting at anchor, and so far we are at 106.2 amp-hours.  Let’s assume you do some sailing during the day.  You only run the motor for a few minutes to get out of the anchorage and back, sailing for 6 hours.

  • Depth sounder … 0.2 Amps … 6 hours per day … 1.2 Daily amp-hours
  • GPS … 0.5 Amps … 6 hours per day … 3 Daily amp-hours
  • Chart Plotter … 1 Amps … 6 hours per day … 6 Daily amp-hours
  • Radar … 4 Amps … 6 hours per day … 24 Daily amp-hours
  • Speed sensor … 0.1 Amps … 6 hours per day … 0.6 Daily amp-hours
  • Wind indicator … 0.8 Amps … 6 hours per day … 4.8 Daily amp-hours

This is another 39.6 amp-hours, making our total so far 145.8.

Now let’s add in a few luxury items.

  • TV … 3.5 Amps … 2 hours per day … 7 Daily amp-hours
  • Electric Head … 40 Amps … .3 hours per day … 12 Daily amp-hours
  • Microwave … 100 Amps … 6 minutes per day … 10 Daily amp-hours
  • Cell Phone … 2 Amps … 4 hours per day … 8 Daily amp-hours

Another 37 amp-hours, for a total of 182.8 amp-hours consumed over a 24 hour period.  This is well within our usable 225 Amp battery capacity!

Now all we have to do is charge the battery back up.  Based on our scenario, you are at about a little over 50% charge.  If you have an alternator rated at 120 Amp, that is the most output you are going to get.  With an alternator the maximum output is only achieved when the alternator is turning about 4,000 to 6,000 PPM.  If you are idling the motor at 700 RPM, the alternator is probably turning about 1,400 RPM, so you aren’t getting the full 120 amps.  At idle you might only be getting 40 to 80 Amps output from the alternator.  Let’s assume 60 amps.  You will get that output until the battery is about 75% charged.  After using 182.0 Amps of 450 total, it you will need to “add” back about 70 Amps to get to 75%.  Charging at 60 Amps, 70 minutes will get you there.  Now for the challenge.  At 75% capacity, the regulator is going to choke back the flow to the battery to the point it will take about 3 more hours to reach a full charge.  I think we have an answer.  To replace the 182 Amps used over 24 hours is going to require about 4 hours of charging.

Looking back to Part I.  Remember to add 4 hours of engine time to your fuel calculations.  At .55 GPH, that’s 2.2 gallons of fuel per day.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

I Love Classes That Make You Think! Part I

Today is Thursday and I have a bareboat class going as I write this. Class started Sunday and will continue next Saturday and Sunday. Last night I received an email from one of the students with a list of questions she had come to mind over the past few days. Each and every question was really good. Some were easy and are already in the lesson plan for the next two class days.  Others made me think.  The two questions that made me think the most are “What is the fuel burn rate to operation for the boat we will be taking?” and “How do you figure the estimated amps used vs. battery capacity and charging.”  My answers in the email; as to the first question, 3/4 to 1 gallon per hour; with the second question I tried a delaying action by saying “This answer is too long for an email.  We can talk about it in class.”  For 9 out of 10 people, these answers would have been good enough.  Not this time.  I was quite impressed when I got the next email asking for more in-depth information.  That’s how “a captain” approaches things.  So, for you captains out there, here is a more complete explanation.

Fuel Burn Rate:  Unless you happen to be in Death Valley, running out a gas in a car isn’t much more than inconvenient.  Running out of fuel in a boat puts the boat and everyone on board at risk.  Unfortunately, without an accurate fuel flow meter (not something most boats have) how much fuel you are using is a question that is always going to be a best guess.

In looking at the engine manual for a 50 horsepower motor found in many Catalina 42’s, fuel consumption rates are listed as varying from .55 to 1.3 gallons per hour.  A number of variables enter into the calculation.  Propeller pitch, revolutions per minute, wind, current, and waves are all factors.  Even the condition of the bottom is a major factor, meaning the same boat in the same relative conditions may consume more fuel per hour if the bottom hasn’t been cleaned in three months.  Over time, experience with a specific boat is going to give you a good idea of the normal fuel consumption for that boat.  For example, I crewed on a trip from Cabo San Lucas to San Francisco on a Catalina 42.  We found that we averaged .75 gallons per hour (GPH).  In that case, we were motor sailing close hauled at approximately 2700 RPM.  This was moving us nicely along at about 7 knots.  2700 PRM is a good cruising speed for that particular motor, so I would keep that part of the equation.  If you are not motor sailing, then add some consumption … how much I am not sure, however I would think .25 GPH might be a reasonable overestimation.  On that trip, we had some great conditions.  If things were a little “bumpier” maybe add another .25 GPH.  At this point, we are up to about 1.25 GPH, and I would be comfortable using that figure for most conditions on that specific boat.  Now, lets use that figure in something practical.  That same Catalina had a 48 gallon tank.  Always leave a reserve … in this case lets say 1/4 tank, or 12 gallons, giving us 36 gallons of usable fuel.  At 1.25 GPH, that allows motoring for 28.8 hours, at 7 knots a range of about 200 miles.

That works great if you are motoring straight through.  How about when you motor for a day, then sit at an anchorage for 3 or 4 days.  During the time in the anchorage you run the motor to charge batteries.  Maybe that’s where the .55 GPH comes in.  If so, don’t forget to count that time when figuring range.  So let’s say you anchor 8 days over a two week bareboat charter, running the motor 3 hours a day to charge your batteries (whether or not that’s enough is the topic of “Part II.”)  You just lost about 13 gallons of your 36 available gallons, meaning you only have about 23 gallons available to use.  A range of approximately 130 miles.

How does all this work in real life?  I love Mexico.  Chartering out of La Paz is outstanding.  A great plan is to go as far north as Agua Verde, about 100 miles away.  I hope you have good wind, because if not, given the above numbers you are going to be pretty much out of fuel about 70 miles short coming home.  I know, I know, that extra 12 gallons of reserve will get you 67 of those miles.  Close but no cigar.  You are still out of fuel.  And you are taking a chance on sucking all sorts of nasty stuff (like algae and water) off the bottom of the tank, clogging the fuel filters and possibly the injectors, meaning a sizable repair bill.

Even on a day sail all of this is good stuff to know.  Always check your fuel level.  I would recommend not trusting the gauge.  Always check the tank itself.  Know how much fuel you are starting with and an estimate of your hourly consumption.  I like to use 3/4 GPH for the Bronze diesel powered boats, 1 GPH for the Silver Fleet boats, and 1.25 GPH for Gold Fleet boats.

Be safe out there.  As a friend of mine likes to say, there are three types of sailors.  Beginning sailors … paranoid sailors … and retired sailors.  A little paranoia regarding fuel consumption is not a bad thing.

Posted in Skipper's Tip | 5 Comments

Brandy’s Chartering Tips – We forgot the bucket!!!

Sure, we never forget the big things, like food, snorkel gear, charcoal, sunscreen…. but what about the little things can be impossible to find once you leave port?

If you are like Brandy, you prefer a clean boat. After partying into the night at anchor, you will have a messy boat in the morning. We like to start our day by getting up and scrubbing the cockpit & deck areas. This isn’t an easy task if you forgot some of the small things, like a bucket (with attached line!) and a scrub-brush-on-a-stick! Learn from our mistakes; here’s a short list of items you may want to check on before you leave port on your next charter:

  • Bucket (with line)
  • Scrub brush (on a stick)
  • Oars for your dinghy….. (don’t ask)
  • Extra fuel for your outboard
  • Jugs that can be used to move water from one tank to another or retrieve water from shore if there is no easy fill-up hose
  • A good, sharp knife
  • Extra line – for tying stuff, hanging stuff, you name it! Find some small diameter line and take it with you, it will come in handy
  • An ice chest (most charter companies will loan or rent you one) as full of extra ice as you can pack it
  • Make sure some of your water supply is in large jugs, not just small water bottles. These can be filled with water from the tanks and put in the freezer to make more ice! (There never seems to be enough of an ice supply on a charter)
  • A small, sealed first aid kit can come in handy for the entire trip – one will most likely be provided on the boat
  • Small, waterproof containers that can be worn around your neck come in very handy for stowing cash and cards when swimming or dinghy-ing to shore. A slightly larger waterproof container to carry cameras, phones, etc. in while using the dinghy can save your electronics
  • Speaking of electronics – extra batteries… and don’t forget the car chargers – we’ve never been on a charter boat without DC outlets
  • Clothespins for hanging and drying stuff

There are a host of other things that you may end up wishing you remembered, but those small items listed above almost always turn out to be invaluable!

Posted in Chartering | Tagged | 1 Comment

How Fast is TOO FAST! In a Fairway?

I wish this was an easy answer. It would be nice to be able to say; “Just set your speed at X knots and everything will work out great.” Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes I think fairway speed, as the old cliche goes, “is more art than science.”

I do know this, if you are pushing a bow wave, you are way too fast. From the office, I see it all the time, and cringe. One small hiccup and … ouch.

Your wake starts as a small ripple coming off the transom. As you move faster, the wake moves forward along the hull. As it moves forward, it gets bigger. As you are motoring down the fairway, check your wake. If it has moved as far as amidships, slow down! Look at the boats in slips beside you. If they are moving past quickly, slow down.

Which brings up the other side of the question. How fast is too slow. You have to be going fast enough to have good rudder authority. You have to have enough speed to hold your location in the fairway? You have to have enough speed to make a safe turn into your slip. The only way to figure out if you have the right speed is to try it out ahead of time in a similar but safe area.

Docking into an upwind slip generally requires a bit more speed than a downwind slip because you must have enough rudder authority to get the bow up into the wind. Try this before going into the fairway. Find a nice safe place to test conditions. For example, if you plan to dock in a slip in the “Silver Fleet” upwind row, try turning into the wind in the open area of the marina well to windward of any slips and/or boats. Using the buoys in the marina as reference points will help you gauge your speed. How much speed does it take to have good control of your turn? Any slower is too slow … any faster is probably too fast.

Remember.  No two dockings are the same.  Review your L.O.T. every time you bring a boat in.  Fairway speed is one element of Transition.

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Planning for Currents

Are you ever curious about what is happening, current wise, at any given time and location on the bay?  There is a great tool on pages 48 through 60 of the Tide & Current Tables.  To use it, you need four pieces of information:

  1. The current velocity in knots of the maximum flood or ebb
  2. The time before or after the maximum flood or ebb
  3. The Factor for Correcting Speeds found in the table on page 48
  4. Speed in Knots taken from the appropriate chart found on pages 49 through 60

Here is an example:

You plan to leave Marina Bay at about 11:00 on Thursday December 18, and sail to Angel Island.  What currents can you expect as you are crossing from the Potrero Reach to Angel Island?

A maximum ebb of 4.3 knots is predicted to occur at 13:07 at the Golden Gate on Thursday December 18, 2014.  Which means your crossing will take place approximately 2 hours before max ebb.

The Factor for Correcting Speeds table on page 48 indicates if the predicted current is between 4.3 and 4.7, you have a Factor of 1.0 to use as a multiplier in the next step.

Turning to the chart titled Two Hours Before Maximum Ebb at Golden Gate, you find a “Speed in Knots” of 1.6  The current you can expect during your crossing is 1.6 x 1.0, or approximately 1.6 knots, moving from right to left as you cross.  Put in other terms, during the 20 plus minutes it will take you to cross, expect to move over a half mile off of your course to the left of your destination.

Here is another thought.  About the time you can expect to arrive in Ayala Cove (One hour before max ebb) expect a 2.5 knot (look it up using the charts) current through Raccoon Straight.  A good piece of that ebb is going to get “caught” on the point of land on the West side of Ayala Cove, and swirl back under the docks from right to left as you approach the slips.  It’s going to be an interesting docking … be prepared for it.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Ballena Bay Yacht Club – By Marianne Wheeler

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to appreciate more and participate more in the many benefits and opportunities that our Tradewinds Sailing Club offers. In particular, I had the Ballena Bay Yacht Club Associate Membership in mind. Ever since Tradewinds connected us with BBYC, I have been receiving many invitations to events and activities, but never made time to actually go there.
Not wanting to miss out any longer, and having a free Saturday, I grabbed a friend and headed to the “Rules of the Nautical Road Seminar” scheduled for that day. It was held in the sunny and bright BBYC club house right on the water in Ballena Isle Marina, Alameda. A group of interested boaters with note pads, digital and old fashioned paper, had gathered around the coffee machine and sweet treats on a table. Soon, we were introduced to the presenter of the seminar, BBYC Vice Commodore Lu Abel, looking dapper wearing his Marine Signal Flags suspenders. He had the U.S. Power Squadron presentation set up on a lap top and led us through the first 38 Rules of Navigation as we watched colorful and accurate graphics on a screen. It was easy to listen to his explanations of the sometimes dry and convoluted official rules and he held our attention for almost 2 hours. Afterwards, a lively question and answer session followed. Lu was happy to share his knowledge and pointed out that there are many other Power Squadron topics for mariners available for us to learn from.
I was very happy to have participated in this important seminar to help everyone be safer on the water and know what the rules are. My friend and I received a very warm welcome from all at BBYC, especially from Commodore Rees, who said that BBYC loves the Tradewinds members that have visited so far, and enjoys working with Brandy and Matt to make it possible for us to be part of the club. She fondly remembered a whole bunch of our members with an instructor who recently came to Ballena Isle and had a wonderful time sailing over, relaxing at the dock, and sharing sea stories at the bar.
BBYC certainly offers a lot. Every month of the year, several invitations arrive in my mail box. In January alone, there was a fresh Crab Feed, an Evening in Paris get- together, and the R of the R seminar. Then, it’s watching the Super Bowl with cold beer and popcorn, a Chili Cook Off, a culinary treat with a Taste of Greece, and just in time for Valentine’s Day, a Sweethearts Dinner. The club is open daily for Happy Hour, where we can enjoy a beverage and chat with old (and young) salts. We are invited to Cruise-outs to explore new places in the Bay, or Cruise-ins from other yacht clubs for merriment and camaraderie, or to the Race Program to test our sailing skills. And not to forget, BBYC belongs to the Pacific-Club Yachting Association (PICYA) which allows members to receive reciprocal privileges in many Northern California yacht clubs.
So much fun, so much to do! This will be one New Year’s resolution I can stick to all year long.
Thanks, TWSC and BBYC,
Marianne Wheeler
Tradewinds Instructor since 2002

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Skipper’s Tip – Corrosion & Equipment Failure

It has been said around Tradewinds that there are many things on a boat that can be fixed with liberal application of fresh water. Here are a few of our favorite examples of why that is true – please consider them next time you put a boat away:

1. Windlasses – we are often called upon to repair a non-functioning windlass. The solution 90% of the time is to dis-assemble, clean, grease, and reassemble it. What we find is salt – lots and lots of salt crusting the base and the making the moving parts not want to move so well. Our research (speaking to members) shows that the windlasses are rarely used – people anchor on our boats occasionally, but not often. Almost every time you sail, salt water is coming over the bow, washing the fore-deck, and sloshing over and around the windlass. Don’t forget to open the locker (whether you anchored during your trip or not) and rinse with fresh water – that way next time you do want (or need) to anchor, that windlass will do it’s job for you.

2. High hardware – OK, it’s not the highest hardware on a boat, but there are plenty  of blocks, bails, lines, and miscellaneous parts that are attached to the bottom of the boom or near the boom on the mast. These get covered in a nice layer of salty air and spray when you sail. Imagine how well they get rinsed if the mainsail cover is already on when you spray down the boat – not so much! Don’t forget to look a little higher and get these spots rinsed before putting on covers. This goes for binnacles as well.

3. Zippers – The mainsail cover and binnacle covers are typically inside when you sail and don’t receive spray, but the same cannot be said for the dodger and bimini hardware. We find that in particular, the inside of the dodger zippers is not getting rinsed and corrodes faster that the outside. Be sure to get that hose in the cockpit and up under the dodger panels, soaking the zippers well. Don’t forget clutches, fair-leads, and other hardware that is under the dodger.

Sure, it’s great to wash down the boat for the sake of cleanliness, but don’t forget it’s also an important part of boat maintenance. Getting the salt out of all of the parts is critical to their long life. Any hardware, stanchions, lifelines, running rigging, standing rigging, anything that gets exposed to the salty spray of the bay, needs the liberal application of fresh water after every single sail to keep it in good operating condition.

Posted in Skipper's Tip | Tagged , | Leave a comment


Tradewinds instructor Dan Seifers asked me the other day why we say “Roger” on the radio to confirm we’ve received a message. Why Roger, and not Reginald, or for that matter, Hermione?
If you go cruising you’ll probably want to learn the phonetic alphabet so you can spell your boat name and perhaps your HAM call sign in a way that can be understood in foreign ports. I can still quickly rattle off “kilo-golf-six-echo-uniform-delta,” sometimes involuntarily at inappropriate moments. However, even if you memorize this way of spelling things, you won’t find any “Roger” among the Mikes, Juliets, and Charlies. But this wasn’t always the case.
“Roger” is a holdover from the phonetic alphabet used by the Royal Air Force and the US Air Force prior to 1956, at which time he was replaced by “Romeo” to represent the letter “R.” In addition to changing “Roger” to “Romeo,” “Able” was replaced by “Alpha,” “Baker” was replaced by “Bravo,” and “Easy” was replaced by “Echo.” There were some additional changes due to fuzzy comprehension by speakers of Texan, Bostonian, Bronxish, Liverpudlian, and other languages, until the alphabet was adopted internationally. The current phonetic alphabet with “Romeo” was adopted by the International Commission for Air Navigation in 1956, by the International Telecommunication Union in 1959, and then by the International Maritime Organization in 1965.
During WWII, the phonetic “Roger” was used to indicate R for “Received” in radio usage. Apparently no one wished to change it to “Romeo” after combat ended and the alphabet changed, with the result that what we have today is a small tribute to the Second World War. So when you say “Roger,” remember those heroes of Normandy and Okinawa, the Po Valley, and the Ardennes Forest.

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Speaking of Depths…

We are often asked, “Is the depth instrument on this boat set to the depth of water or depth below keel?”

This is a question we will not likely answer. The answer is most likely, “Neither!” and I’ll explain why:

There is a setting in most depth instruments called ‘offset’. Anyone or their guests can easily change this setting with a few button presses. This is the part that makes us reluctant to answer the above question. What if we answered it and we were wrong – and that caused you to run aground? Unless you know all of the details about the specific boat you are on (Depth of the sounder, depth of the keel) AND how to check or change the offset, there is only one way to be sure about the depth reading that you are seeing on your instruments. That method involves using a lead-line or another means of measuring the water depth and comparing it to what your sounder reads.

We are going to help with this by doing one of two things this year: Either equipping TW boats with lead-lines or painting actual depths on some of the pilings around where our boats enter and exit D-dock. I prefer the second option for business reasons, but the first would help you wherever you happened to be on a boat, so both are under consideration. If we were to paint depth markings on a piling, you could compare water depth on the markings as you pass the piling to that of your sounder and  would then know your offset.

Now on to the good stuff: How does it work?

Check out the diagram:

depth sounder

A Typical Depth Sounder Configuration

As you can see, the sounder is about 2′ below the water-line on this boat, so:

If the ‘offset’ in the depth instrument settings is set to ‘0’ (this is most often how you will find them and why I said earlier the answer to the question is most likely, “Neither!”), the instrument reads 8′. 8′ is not the depth of the water, nor is it the depth below the keel!

If the ‘offset’ is -4, (8′ minus 4′), the instrument reads 4′, or depth below keel.

If the offset is +2, (8′ plus 2′), the instrument reads 10′, or depth of water.

Now on to the next question we are asked during this conversation, “What setting do you prefer?”

Most people I have this conversation with answer with something along the lines of, “I want it set to depth below keel so that I don’t have to do any math – I just know how much water is between the bottom of my keel and the earth!”

At first glance, this would seem the simplest method. If that’s what works for you, great – as long as it keeps you out of the mud!

My personal preference is depth of water, and this comes from personal experience navigating in waters that I am unfamiliar with. As an example, in the Grenadines or around the islands of Tahiti, there are plenty of reefs which you would like to navigate around. These pop up very quickly from a safe depth to almost no depth at all, making them very dangerous. They are well marked on the charts and on the chart-plotters. Imagine I am picking my way through a passage where there are visible reefs on one side, scattered invisible reefs on the other, and the water is so clear that it is almost impossible to tell if the rocks you are looking at over the bow are 15′ down or 3′ down under the water. My main concern when picking my way through is to know at all times exactly where I am in comparison to my chart. In order to know this I use the visual marks around me to determine where believe I am on the paper chart (always folded to show my current area and held in one hand) while repeatedly scanning my chart plotter and depth meter to make sure that all three match. If all three sources match, I am comfortable that I am navigating safely and am not going to run aground on a bunch of jagged rocks and coral!

What does this have to do with the offset? Easy: If I am set to depth of water, the reading on my depth meter matches exactly with the reading on my chart plotter and the reading on my paper chart without having the do any conversions except for current tide. If I were set to depth below keel, I’d have to check the chart, add in the tide, and then add in the difference between the bottom of my keel and where my sounder is mounted to know if my three reference points all match! It’s not a lot of math, but enough that it will tire the brain when you are navigating in unknown waters and constantly comparing your three sources of information. Most places we travel, I already have to do the conversion from meters to feet in order to form a good mental picture of what’s actually under the boat, since the charts, plotters, and depth meters all use the metric system!

I hope this helps keep you out of the mud and off of the rocks!

-Matt K

Posted in Chartering, General, Skipper's Tip | Tagged | 9 Comments

Skipper’s Tip – Light Air Sail Trim

When I go sailing the San Francisco Bay in the light winter winds, I get so excited because I get to make adjustment to the sails and improve the boat’s speed. I have always liked to tinker with the sails and see if the boat speed can be better. I like the flat water with 5 to 15 kts of breeze.  It can be fun to max out the boat speed while sailing by others who seem to be standing still. I get to use my light air tricks and skills that I learned when I used to sail on the lakes up north. This is a great time for you to try some different sail trim techniques.

Here is what I do in light air.   Let’s talk about sails and how they are cut. They are cut to be on boats healed over to about 15 to 25 degrees depending on the boat when you are going to weather. First, sit and move your body weight to the leeward side so the sails can hang from the mast at about a heel of 15 degrees. Second, I ease the sheets of the jib out and move the jib fairlead or jib blocks forward a couple of notches until I have a full draft at the bottom of the jib sail. Next, I fall off a few degrees from close haul to create more boat speed and  increase apparent wind speed. Most sailors over-tighten the jib. Slow and easy is the light air sailor. When in doubt, let out slowly and then trim in, “when in doubt let out”, the old saying goes. Do this with a mind set of “an inch at a time.”

Now the main sail.   Raise the main halyard with the idea of having it loose to maybe a wrinkle or two in the luff. You can tighten it as the wind increases. Secondly, I would loosen the out haul an inch or two to give it a fuller draft. I personally like to move the traveler to windward a little bit and leave the main sheet a little longer. When the wind increases I move down and tighten the main sheet. I do not use the boom vang in light air until I get up to hull speed of the boat I am sailing.  This usually takes 8 to 14 kts of wind speed. Remember, we are going for increasing apparent wind speed so we can come to a true close haul. As I increase speed I start to put back all my adjustments to meet the new wind conditions and heel of the boat.

One more secret is that I feel the speed of the boat thru the hull and over the years I have trusted that feeling of when she was fast. When you feel it, you will know that you have maxed her speed out for the conditions you are sailing.

Go out and try some of these tricks and your skills will improve. Enjoy the sail and have a great time. It beats mowing the lawn any day.

Butch Florey

Posted in Skipper's Tip | Tagged | 1 Comment