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P.S. There is one trick question.
This Sailing Blog is packed with hundreds of sailing tips, tricks and suggestions. NauticEd is an International Sailing School using advanced interactive eLearning sailing courses.
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I do this all the time, but I was out with a friend the other day and he was asking me to lead him through the details. I thought it was obvious but apparently not.
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So here is how to gybe a sailboat when you are operating single handed.
First realise this that when you gybe you are usually starting out on about 120 degs off the wind and you are going to gybe to the other side – again to about 120 degrees off the wind. Why 120 degrees – it’s because it is about the most efficient point to keep both sails full – any further down wind and you start to shadow the head sail with the mainsail. And besides if you have taken our Electronic Navigation course, you’ll know that 120 degrees is faster speed towards a downwind destination than aiming 180 right at it – why – that’s another topic covered in depth in our Electronic Navigation course.
Anyway back on topic: 120 deg downwind apparent wind is approximately 135 deg true wind angle downwind (see Basic Sail Trim Course) which is 45 degs off the true downwind angle. You’ll be gybing to 45 on the other side, so a gybe is a 90-degree turn.
This is important to know so that you set a goal heading prior to the gybe. Pick a house, tree, cloud, something that you want to be aiming at when you come out of the gybe.
If you have an autopilot, turn on auto.
Right – so next thing to do is to set up your headsail. Take the lazy sheet onto it’s winch and crank on it decently hard and cleat off. You’re not cranking the sail through, you just want tension on the lazy sheet. You must do this so that the headsail does not wrap around the front of the forestay whilst you are managing other things.
Next – set up the main sheet. Crank in on the mainsheet to bring the mainsail towards the centerline. Leave the locking cleat open so that you will be able to let the main out fast as it comes over.
Ok you’re ready – check for traffic.
If your auto-pilot is on, tap the 10 deg button 9 times in the direction of the gybe (90 degrees – remember). If you don’t have an auto-pilot then turn the wheel/tiller a tiny bit and apply the wheel or tiller lock. Call out to yourself “Gybe-Ho” (that’s optional).
Man the mainsheet (leave the headsail alone, it will do its own job). As the boat comes around, you will feel the mainsheet get even easier to bring to center, do that. As soon as the mainsail comes across you must let the mainsheet out as fast as possible. This will prevent rounding up and excessive heeling of the boat. Lock the mainsheet cleat clutch as soon as the mainsail is out. Now get to the wheel or tiller and straighten the boat out on course.
Now release the windward headsail sheet and let the already prepared leeward sheet pick up the tension on its own. You’ll probably need to trim it in a bit. The more you originally bought in the lazy sheet at the start, the less you will need to trim now.
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This year The NauticEd Crew had a blast at the Annapolis Boat Show.
Here are a couple of fun video collages we took. They speak for them selves.
Anchoring issues? Watch this.
This post was inspired by the conversation I had with a student sailing off shore in big waves. He was wanting to know how to keep his sails full and have a more comfortable ride whilst sailing downwind. See that conversation here: Wave and Forereaching.
In our storm tactics course, we talk about how forereaching is a way to handle the waves. If you’re going downwind, the waves will still be going faster than you but you can surf them as you go down. As the wave passes underneath and you slide off the back side, your speed will drop significantly. If you don’t turn up wind, the apparent wind will and shift aft and drop way off. The headsail will become shadowed and depowered and your boat speed will drop even further. Your ride will be pretty uncomfortable with an annoyingly flopping head sail.
To keep your boat powered you will want to maintain a constant apparent wind angle to the wind usually about 130 is best and if you’ve take our electronic navigation course dealing with polar plots you’ll learn that you go faster downwind towards your destination by sailing at 130 off the wind rather than directly at at your destination at 180.
In order to maintain a constant apparent wind angle and keep boat speed at it’s maximum, you forereach the waves. This means turning up into the wind as the boat speed slows then turning down wind as the boat begins to surf.
Here is our simple animation. You’ll notice on the wind meter that the apparent wind angle stays constant as you make your turns. The True wind shifts relative to the boat (constant relative to the ground obviously). Press stop/play through out to see what is happening.
Enjoy! Take the NauticEd Storm Tactics Course. You never know when you’re going to need this information and saying “whoops I wish I’d taken that course” is just too darn late!
Here is a great question from a student with our answer below.
Any chance you can email me the barber hauler article direct?
I’m at sea, on a out new-to-us 40′ Leopard Cat on a 1200nm journey and have been really struggling to get the headsail to set right while running downwind. I currently have it barber hauled using the lazy sheet and a midships cleat, but it is far from eloquent.
The issue had been driving me nuts and I’ve really struggled to stop the headsail from back winding. It feels like a velocity header, but it is not. It feels like the headsail is too far out, but I’m sure it’s not. It feels like the headsail wants to gybe, but I’m at 130-140 awa [apparent wind angle]. Admittedly the sea is a factor – 3-5m swell, but it really feels like I’m just doing something basic wrong… But I can work it out.
The problem is when running (150+ twa / 25tws). The only way i can stop it is to come up, but I’m sure i should be able to run!! So frustrating!
Anyway, if you can email me the barber hauler article, I’ll have a read and see what I can see.
I’ve also cc’d my friend Nathan who is a sailing coach based in Auckland.
A Barber Hauler is more for close to beam reaching and helping to shape the gap between the main and the jib. When trying to run from 130 awa and more you’re experiencing shadowing by the main. As you pointed out, as you roll the awa will change vastly because of the velocity of the roll. But also the apparent wind will change as the boat speeds up and slows down with the waves. You can use a pole to get the jib out further and to hold it in place so it does not collapse. But ultimately to keep the sails full and gain the best speed of the boat you will need to fore reach. Fore reaching is sailing the boat to the waves to keep the sails full and the same awa. As you climb a wave the boat slows down, the wind shifts aft so you need to turn up. As you surf the wave and the boat speed picks up you need to bear away. Also as the wave passes you and you slip back off the top of the wave the mast will roll to windward shifting the away forward – turn up. As you go through the trough and the mast rolls downwind the awa shifts backward – turn up.
Surfing a wave or rolling backwards off the top as the wave passes you underneath – turn downwind
Climbing up a wave or rolling forward in the trough as the trough passes you underneath – turn upwind
Ultimately from the boat polar plot that we talk a lot about in the Electronic Navigation course – your best speed to a downwind destination is going to be around 130 degrees awa. In doing this you are keeping the sails full and not shadowed – however again as you point out this is a challenge in waves. Sailing at 150 deg although seems faster because you are heading more directly to your destination, your boat speed is suffering. Also keeping the sails full will make for a more comfortable ride.
Advice is to keep the sails full at around 130 apparent wind angle and to forereach the waves.
I’ll try to put up an animation soon on fore reaching.
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The NauticEd FREE Basic Sail Trim online sailing course is now available as a regular course – still FREE. We did this for a few reasons.
(1) We wanted to incorporate the valuable information into the more advanced Sail Trim course as a requirement. So rather than just repeat the information we just wrote this piece of code:
IF FREE Basic SailTrim Course = passed
AND IF Sail Trim Course = passed
THEN Add Sail Trim knowledge to Certificate AND Resume.
But we also wanted to not penalize our older students so we added this:
IF Student = Old Student
AND IF Old Student passed SailTrim prior to Oct 5th, 2015
THEN Add Sail Trim knowledge to Certificate AND Resume.
(2) We wanted new students to gain a real appreciation for how awesome our in-house eLearning Software is and experience it first-hand prior to investing in other courses and gain partial credit for the course.
(3) We also wanted this course to appear on your free NauticEd iPad App in your curriculum to give you something to play with in the doctor’s office or stuck on an airplane. If you have an iOS device and register for this free course, it will show up automatically on your free NauticEd Course and Testing App
So now, you can take the FREE Basic Sail Trim course (for free of course) and get credit towards your overall sail trim knowledge and sailing resume.
Your NauticEd Sailing resume is accepted by yacht charter companies worldwide.
FREE Basic Sail Trim is also available via our iPad App store. Go to:
Question: You’re on a port tack, the top green telltale high on the jib sheet is fluttering whilst all the others are flying smoothly. What should you do?
Answer: Move the Jib Fairlead forward! Why? Find out in the FREE Basic Sail Trim Course of course! (But this time finish the course all the way through for credit towards gaining Sail Trim on your sailing resume.
ATTN: The NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course has been upgraded and updated. See below.
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(1) At Eastport, Maine. What was the max spring high tide height after the eclipsed super full moon on September 28th 2015. What was the min spring low tide and was it below the datum? What will be the height of the tide at noon today – Oct 5th?
(2) You live in SanFrancisco. You’ve got friends in town and you want to take them sailing today. What are the best times to take them out of the Bay under the Golden Gate bridge and back?
(3) How often does a spring tide occur and how could you predict it?
(4) Can the water level ever get below the chart datum? Why so or why not?
ANS: posted below – see where we got these plots (in less than 10 seconds)
(1) The Max was 22.424 ft at 1700 GMT = noon EST 2 days after the full moon. The min was minus 1.818 feet (below the datum) at 23:30 GMT (6:30pm EST).
(2) The prediction is 3.675 above the datum
(3) Best go at low water slack time as the water will be flowing back into the bay after you dawdle around outside the bridge. This is right at about noon. See http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/waterlevels.html?id=9414290&units=standard&bdate=20151005&edate=20151006&timezone=LST&datum=MLLW&interval=6&action=
(4) The USA sets the datum at MLLW which is the mean of the spring low tides over the 19 year cycle lunar solar. UK and the rest of the world set the datum at LAT which is the lowest astronomical tide meaning it should be the lowest it could ever get over the 19 year cycle. Thus often using MLLW the water level can drop below the datum. Using LAT it is less likely but can still happen.
The above images were taken from http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/stations.html?type=Water+Levels and the WorldTides 2015 iOS App respectively.
These questions are a breeze when you know what you are doing and the data answers are at your finger tips on your phone or on the Internet within seconds, if you know what you are doing.
One of the really cool things about eLearning software is that you can upgrade a course on demand – you can do a big update or a little one and the update goes instantly to your students. You don’t have to wait until the inventory is sold out and you don’t have to leave schools holding old inventory to be thrown out.
Last week we did a huge upgrade to the Coastal Navigation course. Mainly because we added in lots of new technology about tides and currents but we also added better explanations of plotting courses using animations.
Understanding of tides and currents have come a long way and websites have been automated to include instant data and tide predictions. Older courses and textbooks make you rely on looking up charts (on paper) – but why would you do that on a daily basis when the exact data is at your finger-tips. Off course, you must understand the fundamentals and we teach that but now we also give you access and knowledge on how to use apps and websites for instant data. It’s what a modern sailing course should do!
Students who have taken our older course now have the benefit of the new course at no cost. Just sign in to NauticEd now and go. You can retake the tests and get up to date on latest coastal navigation techniques and understanding.
Learn the theory of course plotting, how to do it and make it second nature, how to measure distances, predict ETAs, account for current flow in course plotting, calculate current flow rate and direction, determine water depth relating to tide, best times for harbor entry, understand GPS, using parallel rulers, bretton plotters, buoys-markers-ATONS (aids to navigation), lights etc etc. Lots and lots of real examples and plotting challenges. You use a real chart. At the end of this course you will have completed the World’s most up to date Coastal Navigation Course and will fly through any other required course like the USCG Commerical Captains License navigation course.
Get free updates for life. Access the course for life. Take the test as many times as you want.
Oh and the other cool thing we did was to add in the requirement to have passed either the FREE Navigation Rules course or the Navigation Rules Module in the Skipper (or RYA Day Skipper) course. This ensures everyone taking this course is up to date on Navigation Rules. It was the responsible thing to do. We did this by adding this piece of code to our software.
IF FREE Navigation Rules Course = Passed
OR IF Skipper Course OR RYA DAY Skipper Course = Passed
AND IF Coastal Navigation Course = Passed
THEN Add Coastal Navigation to the Certificate and the Resume
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First – what is an auto-tack?
It’s when you are sailing along on a close haul about 30 or so degrees off the wind minding your own business when either the wind changes OR you weren’t watching the boat turning up into the wind. Either way the wind now is coming from the front of the boat – it back-winds the jib sail and over you go onto the other tack. Oh man that is frustrating because there is now a lot of work to do with grinding in sheets, getting back up to speed then tacking back. Whew!
In addition, it makes you look like an absolute twit of a sailor – in front of new people and especially in front of experienced people. It’s a rookie landlubber thing to do.
Here is a couple of tips on how to prevent that. (thank goodness)
(1) As soon as it has happened take the wheel and do a giant turn to try to bring the boat back onto its original course. I’m not talking about just turning the wheel – it has to be a giant turn and it has to be fast. If you have a tiller then bring the tiller all the way over.
The reason you have to do this large and fast is that you still have velocity in the boat and the rudder at this point is still pretty effective but it has to overcome the very large force on the front of the boat because of the wind back-winding on the jib now pushing your boat around. You have a few seconds to use the rudder to quickly overcome the force and get it back around. The further the boat goes through the wind the greater the force at the front of the boat. Acting fast prevents the turning force on the jib from getting too big. The other thing that is happening is that the boat is very quickly losing velocity and this is making the rudder less and less effective. Force on the rudder is proportional to the square of the velocity. So if you halve the velocity the rudder become 4 times less effective.
So do a large and fast turn on the wheel or tiller to get the boat back to its original heading.
(2) Another thing to do is to instantly release the jib sheet. This totally takes away the front turning force on the jib, giving all control forces back to the rudder only. Provided you have any speed left in the boat, usually you can get it back around.
Number 1 above is best because it involves less grinding – if you can get it back. Number 2 should be instantly done if number 1 is not working. All in all both have to be done fast.
In reality, this should never really happen to you if you are constantly aware of the wind forces on the boat. You can feel these forces easily because the boat heels over (even slightly) due to the wind. If the boat begins to stand up straight it is happening for 1 of 2 reasons. 1- you are heading too close into the wind either by not paying attention to your heading or a wind shift to forward or 2 the wind suddenly dropped. In both cases you will make a turn downwind. 1 is obvious but 2 is because if the true wind drops then the apparent wind shifts to more come from the front of the boat. Thus in both cases, when the boat stands up you should be turning the boat downwind. Number 2 (wind drop) is not going to make you auto-tack but number 1 a wind shift to forward or an unbeknownst unwatching turn into the wind will make you auto-tack.
Thus the zeroth way to prevent an auto-tack is to feel the boat. But this takes more experience.
Anecdote: One time I was out with some friends sailing. I had a friend steering. He kept on doing autotacks – from just not paying enough attention and not feeling the boat stand up and not making the turn down wind. I told him the next time he did that he would have to start doing all the work on the jib sheets. That fixed him – he doesn’t do it anymore. Hee hee. Learn by fire!
Here is a quick animation to show a rookie helmsperson not paying attention and turning the boat up into the wind. Half way through you release the jib sheet removing the forward force and then also doing a big turn downwind with the rudder.
Here is another great similar article on a concept called pinching and what it is doing to the boat and how to feel it and how not to do it.
Some sailing courses/books try to give you the stiff technical stuff on sailing. NauticEd courses get right down into the nitty details like this to make you a better sailor all around.
Take the NauticEd Skipper Course and learn the technical details but also so many tips and tricks you’ll come out looking and sounding like a professional. For Beginner to intermediate sailors, the NauticEd Skipper Course should be your first stop.
Here is a fun interactive image of names of things on the mainsail of a sailboat.
Test yourself can you get 100%? Click on a letter to expose the name, click again to hide. Have fun and share this with your sailing wannabe friends.
If you like this kind of teaching, you should take the NauticEd Skipper Course.
We think this is the world’s best sailing App and for good reason.
NEW APP WAS UPDATED ON SEPT 20th 2015
First off, it is free (that’s good) and second off with that you get NauticEd’s free course on Navigation Rules. Pretty soon we’ll also add NauticEd’s FREE Basic Sail Trim Course.
In addition, any course that you have invested in with NauticEd automatically appears on your App. And to top that off, you can also take your tests for all your courses on the App offline. That’s a big wow!
There is zero reason not to download the App – and imagine if everyone did and took the FREE Navigation Rules Course. You could stop worrying about if the “other guy” heading at you knows the rules or not. So spread the word generously.
Bored in the doctor’s office? Take the Free Rules of the Nautical Road test!
Download the NauticEd Course and Testing App now