Apparent wind speed vs True wind speed

Posted by Director of Education on July 8, 2014 under About NauticEd, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

How to Understand True vs Apparent Wind

Here is our latest wind animation built using html5 technology so that it works on computers and mobile devices. It means you can bookmark this page on your phone and use it to explain the concept of true vs apparent to anyone – even whilst out on the boat.

We are building this into our new basic sail trim iPad eLearning course. As soon as it is up we will link this page through to the App. In the meantime please enjoy true versus apparent wind animation explanation.

 

New Style and Greatly Enhanced Sailors LogBook

Posted by Director of Education on June 20, 2014 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

FREE SAILOR’S LOGBOOK ONLINE

The NauticEd Logbook has been greatly enhanced to add specific information about each logbook entry.

Previoulsy, you made an entry of a day of sailing in a specific month and identified which vessel you were on and if you were the skipper or a crew member. While this was great and served well to build up your legitimate logbook entries, we decided that you would be served better is you could add authenticity to this experience by having a crew mate verify this sailing venture actually happened. This necessitated that the actual day of the month is identified and this gave rise to the opportunity to add some more specific optional information about that sailing venture like sea conditions, miles travelled, crew mates present and other notes.

We also made the sailors logbook entry system smart and quick so that it would speed up your past history entry process. In addition, we made it easy to replace your old logbook entries with new ones. All you have to do is make a past history entry in the same month and the logbook will automatically replace any old style entries with new style entries. There is an edit your past history window page that allows you to see what still remains as an old style entry. Right now we are advising to not make entries using your NauticEd iPhone App, but to do them online instead – for now until the App is updated.

What is significant about the NauticEd Sailor’s Logbook is that it is unique. No other logbook in the world like this exists and especially no other logbook in the world allows you to gain authenticated entries through your crewmates who were present with you on the sailing venture.

Here is a screen shot of a logbook  entry page for your Sailors Logbook below. Also see  the article on Crew Mate Authentication

If you have not started your Sailor’s Logbook entry yet, Login now for free and get going. It serves as a permanent electronic Sailor’s Logbook stored in the cloud – forever – for FREE.

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Sailors logbook entry

Making a sailor’s logbook entry is incredibly simple

Bareboat Chartering in Martinique

Posted by Director of Education on June 17, 2014 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Sailing Vacation in Martinique

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Martinique-Map

Martinique-Map

The Lee family chartered a Dream Yachts Charter Catamaran for the month of June for an ultimate sailing vacation. They asked me to come with them to assist and enjoy their company for the first 2 weeks. Who can resist an offer like that? And besides – we at NauticEd needed some new chartering photos and some content material to write about. Thus for us it was a business trip.

Customer Service Calls with Beautiful Fort De France in the Background

Customer Service Calls with Beautiful Fort De France in the Background

Their loose plan was to start in Martinique and move south through the Grenadines and to just go with the flow of whatever sounded good. The only real agenda was to drop me off in St Vincent on June 14th to catch a flight back home. I’m writing this from San Juan airport in Puerto Rico in transit.

My following report on this style of chartering and what we did in my 2 weeks is going to be 5 star, 10/10. Read on!

Martinique was relatively easy to get to. There was a direct flight out of San Juan using Seaborne airlines. It arrived at 7pm and so because the base would be closed we pre-booked a taxi through Dream Yachts. This is the way to go because the taxi driver was informed of the boat slip and he took us right to the boat. The 48 foot Fountain Pugeot Catamaran was pre readied for us and we were delighted with its presentation to us by Dream Yacht Charters (DYC). We also provisioned the basics through DYC.

The next morning (Sunday) we lightly provisioned some perishables, got a chart briefing, a show through the boat, did customs and immigration paperwork (because we would be exiting the country via boat) and headed out.

Tides were not to be a problem throughout the whole trip. Here is the Navionics screen shot of the tides for Fort De France. They showed less than 1 foot if variation.

 

Tides in Fort De France

Tides in Fort De France

Without doing a complete day by day blow of all the events – I’ll give you the high level summary so that you can be convinced that Martinique et all is a definite must visit in your lifetime preferably sooner than later (just in case you’re run over by a car). One thing to note as you sail around is the incredible history that this whole area has had. For example, Napoleon’s Wife, Josephine, was born in Martinique and thus we visited a statue of her in the capital city of Fort De France. Fort De France itself is a wonderful city and while I’m not a big one on visiting a city on a sailing trip this is a must stop. The people there are all dressed impeccably, are extremely polite and all want to help. No one harassed us to buy things. We were left to ourselves to just enjoy. Thus, we ended up staying two nights in the bay right below the Fort Saint Louis area which was originally established in the Mid 1600′s.

Fort Saint Louis at Fort De France

Fort Saint Louis at Fort De France

The fruit and fish markets are wonderful and we stocked up, being grateful that we only lightly provisioned at the Base Marina.

Fruit provisioning

Fruit provisioning in Fort De France Martinique

We moved up the coast to St. Piere and again were delighted by a wonderfully relaxing township. The town was destroyed completely in 1902 by the towering mass of the volcano, Mount Pelee, above the town with approximately 30,000 people perishing. Ruins of the previously extravagant theater still exist and are a tourist attraction blossoming with flowering Bougainivilleas. See the interesting Wikipedia story of Mt. Pelee.

 

Mount Pelee

Mount Pelee

We visited the rum factory in St. Piere which is a definite must visit as well. Local rum in Martinique is awesome some of it made by locals who sell in the markets and some more professionally made. Due to the microclimates created by the terrain, Martinique grows a lot of sugar cane – forming the basis of the rum.

Depaz Rum factory

Depaz Rum factory

 

Each day we downloaded the weather forecast onto our iPads with the PocketGrib  App. It showed about 15-20 knots easterly. This is an incredibly useful App to have on a sailing venture like this. Read more about how to use PocketGRIB in our Electronic Navigation Course.

pocketGRIB forcast

pocketGRIB forecast

From Saint Piere, we decided to check out the windward side of Martinique. We set of about 9 in the morning. Upon getting closer to the north end the Atlantic swells came rolling in and winds picked up to about 23 knots. Whilst not that bad of conditions, the long tack we would have  to do or to beat oursleves up heading directly into the swells lead us to a decision about 4 hours into it to just turn around and go back to St. Piere. The decision was not so much a chicken decision, but more based in that we wanted the crew to enjoy. Slogging it out for the next 2 days in a big swell when the leeward side offered nice wind and flat seas with frequent snorkeling stops seemed like a wiser decision. However – we heard that the windward side is awesome and so don’t let that discourage you from getting around there.

Back in St. Piere we snorkeled a wreck in about 25 feet of water. The bay there is littered with wrecks which were swallowed by the 1902 eruption. They provide a wonderful home for sea life including massive barrel sponges. For Customs and Immigration, we did an advance check out of the county in St. Piere.

 

St. Piere wreck

St. Piere wreck

Heading south back down the coast we stopped at Petit Anse for an overnight. Ashore there we again found great markets and the local fisherman chopped off a kilogram (2.2 lbs) of tuna with his machete from a massive 60-70 kg tuna he had caught.

Tuna

Tuna

So that was one week – wow that went fast. Martinique people primarily speak French and they use Euros for money. Knowing some French will certainly help you get by – mine came in quite handy.

Next we moved onto St. Lucia with a stop in Rodney bay in the north. Here we checked in to Customs and Immigration, topped up with fuel and re-provisioned with Gregory the local produce man who shows up to your boat in his double decker dinghy. We asked for some cilantro to go with the ceviche we were making from the Tuna. Yes he said I have some and he promptly climbed onto the second story of his dinghy, picked some from a pot he was growing on top and gave us a little bag.

Gregory the Fruit man

Gregory the Fruit man in Rodney Bay St. Lucia

 

The sail from Martinique to St Lucia is a good one. Winds were out of the East and we were heading south – a nice beam reach with 20 knots of wind. Sea state varied but certainly there were some good 2 – 3 meter waves rolling through. I did make some fresh ginger tea for one of our crew who was feeling a little sickly. That worked!

 

Ginger Tea

Ginger Tea

We stayed briefly in St Lucia – only two nights. The second we spent at the Pitons which is a must just due to the majestic sight they provide. There are mooring buoys in the may to the south. You have to pay for permission to enter the park and also for a mooring ball. Total is about $us40. I did a little separate right up on this area due to an attitude adjusting event.

The Pitons in St. Lucia

The Pitons in St. Lucia

 

Next we crossed to St. Vincent. Here we also had some good winds – note the boat speed.

Crossing from St Lucia to St Vincent

Crossing from St Lucia to St Vincent

 

Strangely most people had told us to skip St. Vincent due to the crime. We did however decide to stop in Cumberland Bay which was about 2/3rds of the way down St Vincent just because we felt that the 50 mile trip from the Pitons on St. Lucia to Bequia Island was too far for one day. I’m so glad we stopped over because we had a fantastic experience in St. Vincent. The people are so friendly and wanting tourism. People said yes there is crime but in isolated spots just like in your country – right? And right they are. Given our experience of St Vincent and even our last night there I’d put St. Vincent back on the must visit list. I did a separate write up on St. Vincent and Cumberland Bay see that here.

Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent from the hill behind

Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent from the hill behind

 

Next to Bequia Island – Ahhh Bequia – that’s what all the yachties who have visited Bequia say. Why – don’t know – there is just a special relaxing feeling about Bequia. Why – still don’t know – it just is. Partly because of Admiralty Bay (the main harbor) and how stunning it is and partly because every islander living there tells you so.

Right Before Entering Bequia, Local Photographer Kenmore Henville came out to greet us with his camera.

Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer

Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer

He shot a dozen or so shots of us – this being one of the best. Mainly because I am on the bow.

Our Catamaran in Bequia Island

Our Catamaran in Bequia Island

We stayed two nights in Bequia just hanging out and visiting the locals ashore.

Bequia

Bequia

We did a scuba dive just out side the bay on the north end. I’ve done probably 100-200 dives in my life and I would have to say that was near the top. An unassuming little dive looking place with plenty of coral and tropical fish. We dove with Dive Adventures of Bequia. They had good equipment and friendly knowledgeable dive masters. Ashore there are some great restaurants, a fruit market and a few places to reprovision. We then headed back to St Vincent for my last night but went via the southern and east end of the island.

Either one of the following statements is true – we got up enough speed to ram right over the top of an island, there is a giant tunnel through this island  or it doesn’t exist but is shown on the digital charts. See below!

Electronic Navigation East of Bequia

Electronic Navigation East of Bequia

 

The truth is the island does not exist and for purposes of this article and electronic navigation discussions on NauticEd, I purposefully steered the boat right through it. There was no change in depth as we went through it. It is not named nor does it have a height listed with it on the chart as all the other islands do. In our Electronic Navigation Course we descibe this type of error and point out how it occurs.

Again because of the bad wrap St. Vincent had gotten with some guide books we were slightly reluctant to head back to St. Vincent but because my flight was out of there at 6:30 am we sailed back there and into Blue Lagoon harbor. There I arranged with Sams Taxi service to Pick me up at 5am. I was assured of his reliability and true to his word he was waiting for me at 5am. Blue Lagoon is a nice stop over and people there were friendly. There is a super market close by and a little bar there for some off the boat drinky time. The entrance into Blue lagoon is the smallest entrance to a bay I’ve ever experienced. The red and green channel markers are only about 50 ft apart.

Blue Lagoon St Vincent

Blue Lagoon St Vincent

 

Whilst I snuck off early in the morning the Lee family spent the day visiting Kingstown and reported having a good day at the markets with again friendly people.

That was 2 weeks – wow that was fast.

Overall, I’d rate this as one of the top Charter trips to do and certainly this is aided by the time I took to do it. The Lees still have 2 more weeks to go and they will visit Canoaun, Mayreau Island, the Tabago Cays, Mopion ( ahh mopion), Union and curiacoa then back to St. Vincent, St. Lucia with a drop off back in Martinique.

I applaud the Lees for this commitment to doing this. They are not crazy sailing people, they are just regular people who committed 6 months ago to “just do it”. They wanted a vacation where there was no rushing and could do what they wanted, under no schedule. And I myself will find it hard to enjoy doing a one week long trip ever again. Last year I did New Zealand’s Bay of islands for 10 days and that was incredible. This one week business due to our rush rush rush lifestyle is not good. By day 5 when you are just beginning to really relax and enjoy, you’re already thinking about how you’re going to catch the flight.

Even with 2 weeks doing Martinique, St Lucia, St. Vincent and Bequia, that was too short of a time to properly explore.

When you call us at NauticEd to Book a charter vacation, be prepared we will talk you into a minimum of 2 weeks. It will go like this – lets just say you’re zero years old right now. How many weeks would you like to design your life now spending at work versus how many weeks would you like sailing the Caribbean, Pacific or the Mediterranen? 2000/4? 2000/10? You pick! (perhaps the other way around – right?)

Start your sailing vacation by contacting us here

The point is whatever you do – make sure you’re relaxing and having true fun on your vacation. To make a booking through NauticEd visit us on this page – we don’t charge a fee and will give you all kinds of advice. Chances are we’ve been there.

A couple of tools that we used heavily on this trip was the Marine: Carib&S.America HD – Navionics Navionics iPad Caribbean (and south American) Charting App. This is the best tool ever for navigation. You can buy it here. The App shows your projected track based on your heading, leeway and current and so to get to a desired harbor, you just start heading in the general direction and then adjust course until the projected track averages you right onto your destination. I’m not suggesting this and an alternative to learning proper navigation skills however. You need the valuable understanding in coastal and electronic navigation fundamentals else you’re going to make some big and dangerous mistakes – like assuming the electronic chart is correct for one. But the iPad App was just a delight to use. We used this exclusively almost over the onboard chart plotter.

The next App we used every day was PocketGrib  App. We downloaded the weather via this App. It gives predicted wind, swell, clouds and barometric pressure. Being June there was little concern for a hurricane but using this app we were able to make sure that the pressure stayed above 1000mB. Pocket GRIB downloads an extremely small file via cellular data and reconstructs the data over the chart of the area giving you vital up to date and projected information in a easily readable format.

Prior to the trip, I arranged an international dataplan. The cost was $120 for 800Mb. I used 500 Mb over the 2 week period. I was fairly intensive because I stayed in touch with any student that needed customer service. I normal person (saying I guess that I’m not normal) would probably be fine with 100Mb per week.

I can’t say enough about this trip and what we did. I soooo much recommend it and I sooo much recommend Martinique. I’m not sure why it was left to be last on my check off list of all the island chain from Puerto Rico to Grenada. But a can say then that I must have left the best for the last.

For your first Charter trip I’d say the BVI’s is the one – hands down – must – just do it. 10 days minimum.

For your second trip or if you have not been there – go to Martinique. Don’t die with out this one. Pick up a little French before you  go – stop listening to rubbishy morning radio on your commute and slap in a Pimsleur French learning audio for your morning drive. Why because once you’re confident at chartering – we’re going to send you to Corsica (ahh Corsica – done it twice) – then Tahiti and Bora Bora.

If you want true bareboat charter consulting, give us a call and we’ll lay out some plans for you, including getting you all the confidence you need to charter. Start here

A last note – it was such a pleasure chartering with Richard. He became my friend 10 years ago when he called me and said he wanted to not just learn to sail but make it part of his life. Prior to that he’d done a weekend school course followed by renting a boat for a day. When he called me he really had no idea how to make sailing part of his life and was disappointed at that point so far in that he saw no clear path to achieve what he wanted. His first introduction was my advice to join a club, then I took him to Belize on a sailing trip. He was hooked and began coming with us on trips, sailing with the club in between. He built up to skippering the charter boats on our trips and now look at this trip. He chartered a 48 foot catamaran for 1 month taking with him his 10 year old daughter. That’s a wow. I’m impressed.

Here she is at 3 yrs chartering with us in La Paz Mexico.

Driving the Dinghy 3 yrs old

Driving the Dinghy 3 yrs old

And here she is at 10 yrs driving the dinghy.

Driving the Dinghy

Driving the Dinghy 10 yrs old

How well do you think this kind of stuff works for self esteem for a kid?

Now what?

Invest in the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master program – then fill out this form to start a booking.

Here’ my closing “Plato” shot

Hmmm I else can I help people realize their sailing dreams?

Hmmm I else can I help people realize their sailing dreams?

Sailing in St. Vincent

Posted by Director of Education on under Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

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The guide books give St. Vincent a bad wrap and many people have told us to give it a miss. Our plan to sail from St. Lucia to Bequia Island however was not quite going to work as it is around 50 nautical miles. While it is easy to do this in a day – it’s just a lot of sailing and not always desired by the vacationing crew. So we decided on a stop over about half way down St. Vincent. We picked a little bay called Cumberland Bay listed in the Guide to the Windward Islands as a good and safe stop. We also thought to conveniently time this with a Customs check-in at Wallylaboo bay just to the south the next morning.

Our guide Maurice, Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent

Our guide Maurice, Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent

What a nice and special stay over we had at Cumberland Bay. First we were met by Maurice who is one of the local hosts for the bay. He met us at the entrance with his row boat. When we agreed to let him be our bay guide/host he rowed furiously as we followed with the engines on idle into the bay.

Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent from the hill behind

Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent from the hill behind

The bay is deep and thus requires a special type of mooring much like a Mediterranean mooring but slightly more primitive. For our Catamaran, we made an aft bridle from a dock line with a figure 8 loop knot in the center. Then tying 3 dock lines together we gave one end to Maurice who rowed ashore and tied to a coconut tree. At the same time we deployed the anchor into deep water (15 meters) off the front and backed the boat towards shore. Once Maurice had secured the tree we tightened up slightly on the anchor which held us fast. The steady of shore breeze kept us out from the shore  whilst the anchor held us from swinging.

Aft Bridle ties to a cocnut tree

Aft Bridle tied to a coconut tree

 

Then began the market place (on our boat). One after the other friendly locals come up in anything that floats and try to sell us fruit, fish and local made jewelry. We embraced them all and were always able to find something to buy. Plus if you need something, the very resourceful locals will find it.

The Rasta man

The Rasta man in Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent

Maurice suggested that we dine at Mojito’s Restaurant, the only one in the Bay during this season plus he organized a taxi ride to “the most beautiful waterfall in all of the world”.

 

Waterfall Cumberland Bay

Waterfall Cumberland Bay

Mojitos was an unexpected surprise. The food was the best you can get in any 5 star restaurant but in a delightfully primitive setting complete with local dog and cat respectfully watching over with weepy eyes. Complete with Mojitos, main course of curried fish for me and banana flambé for desert the bill was about $us20 per head. To dine under a coconut tree with a lapping sea shore with incredibly polite and attentive service was the just the treat we needed after a 5 hour double reefed mainsail sail from St Lucia that day. I shan’t forget Mojito’s.

“The most beautiful waterfall in all of the world” is a tall order to fill for me. Having grown up in New Zealand, I was interested in testing Maurice’s opinion. In my opinion he did not quite hit the mark. Still, the $us15 per person taxi ride through the local villages up up up and down down down the step well maintained skinny precarious roads in a modern Toyota van through the valleys plus the waterfall was a fantastic experience.

I asked about the crime and attitude of the people from St. Vincent. Maurice recognized the problem but also was positive in that things are changing for the better and that RESPECT is highly promoted. He was more complimentary of the government than critical. A local along the waterfall path greeted us smiling and said “Thank-you for visiting our country. Please bring more of your friends we welcome them”.

Overall from one data point of one bay in St Vincent we were overwhelmed by the respect that the locals showed towards the tourists and their $us500,000 boats. We felt welcomed and yes – respected.

I’d rate Cumberland Bay, St Vincent a must stop over with a Pleasantly Primitive label.

The Customs and Immigration office in Wallylaboo we found out is only open after 5pm. And so rather than backtracking we decided to do the Check in in Bequia Island instead which is the next island to the south in the Grenadines. Rules of the country St. Vincent and the Grenadines allow you to check in any time inside 24 hour after you arrive. In general, care must be taken in all these islands to follow the Immigration rules. It is a bit of a paperwork nightmare, but still sovereign respect must be given where it is due.

A few days later we sailed into Blue Lagoon, St Vincent. It is just to the south of the capital  city – Kingstown. Again – we received a warm welcome and friendly people. The taxi driver who took me to the airport the next morning at 5am was reliable and friendly. His comment was also that there are good parts and bad parts to any country. St. Vincent has many good parts – and I agree.

I’m pretty sure if you visit St. Vincent, you’ll have a good experience.

St Vincent Map

St Vincent Map

Have you got your NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Sailing Certification yet?

Anchoring a Sailboat When Chartering

Posted by Director of Education on under Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Anchoring an unfamiliar boat

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Most charter boats use all chain anchor rode. The rules of anchoring say with chain you should use a 5:1 ratio. For example, for an overnight anchorage at a 4 meter depth plus 1 meter from the water line to your boat you should use 5×5 = 25 meters. If you have a 15 meter long charter boat then this is just over a boat and a half length. The trouble is no one has marked the lengths on the chain. So how do you know how much to let out?

Anchoring a Charter Boat

Anchoring a Charter Boat

This thought process gets a little more impossible the deeper you go. For example 15 meters deep (50 ft) you’d need to lay 16×5=80 meters (250 ft). Your charter boat does not come with this much chain/rode and nor do most boats for that matter. Typically you’ll have a maximum of 50 meters onboard. Thus at deeper depths the 5:1 rule needs to be relaxed a little to accommodate or better yet only anchor in shallower waters. The most important thing is that there needs to be plenty of chain, at least a full boat length laying on the sea floor during a strong gust condition. This ensures that the anchor is always being pulled horizontally across the sea floor and thus making the anchor dig in more rather than getting pulled upwards (and out of its hold of the bottom).

When chartering, the anchor chain is frustratingly never marked for lengths. Here’s what we do. Take with you some plastic tie-wraps. On your first anchoring, swim the anchor after you have settled and you feel it is a good length of payout. Ensure that there is plenty of chain laying on the ocean floor. When you are satisfied with the lay, mark the chain with one of your tie-wraps remembering the depth that this is good for. Mark it prior to letting out the bridle/snubber so that next time this is where you stop the paying out – then attach the bridle/snubber and pay out enough to make the bridle/snubber do its work. As you anchor at different depths you can attach different numbers of tie wraps. We attached 1 tie wrap at a comfortable 3 meter depth and then 2 tie wraps at a comfortable 5 meter depth. This made it so we would not have to snorkel it every time and be confident that what we were letting out would be fine.

See our video we shot in Martinique of our anchor chain laying on the ocean floor.

Anchoring Process

Motoring into wind the drop spot is selected. The helmsperson and the foredeck crewperson work in unison to let away the anchor.  The foredeck crewperson holds their hand up palm facing the helmsperson to indicate to stop the boat dead in the water. The anchor is lowered until it hits the bottom and then the foredeck crewperson points to the helmsperson to back the boat away. The chain is paid out at a rate to allow the chain to lay in a straight line on the ocean floor. When enough has been paid out, the foredeck crew person closes fist to indicate to stop the engines and allow the boat to continue drifting back. This will load up the anchor allowing it to set from the momentum of the boat.  The bridle or snubber line is attached and the job is done. After this, it is important to sit and wait for any signs of slipping backwards. Preferably snorkel the anchor every time.

We also used the App – DragQueen Anchor Alarm which is an anchor watch alarm. This alarm will definitely wake you in the night no worries. It did us – we had the tolerance set to low for swing.

We highly recommend the NauticEd Anchoring Course. You will learn the best types of anchors and ones to dump and make into lawn art. What types are best for each bottom type. Bridles and snubbers, The course was written by Alex and Daria Blackwell who have dozens of years of global sailing. They’ve anchored in more bays than most of us have had hot dinners. The Anchoring Course is a requirement for the Bareboat Charter Master Certification – and rightly so!

Take the NauticEd Anchoring Course now.

Anchoring A Sailboat

Anchoring A Sailboat Course

How to Pick Up a Mooring Ball

Posted by Director of Education on June 16, 2014 under Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Picking up a mooring ball can be tricky when you have high freeboard

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While lying on my stomach and stretching over the front of our high freeboard catamaran with a boat hook trying to pick up a mooring ball in Les Anses D’ Arlet, Martinique, I decided there has to be a better way. Especially since here in this part of the Southern Caribbean they don’t attach a yucky slimy line to the mooring ball that you catch with a boat hook. There is only the steal loop in the top of the ball. It’s just impossible to lift the mooring ball with the boat hook and I simply could not reach down that far to loop a line through it. What to do?

A few options I thought of immediately was to send a crew member out in a dinghy or even more fun – to jump in and swim it.

Still, there is a better way with so much less effort. We did this in Petit Anse in Martinique. All you need is:

(1) Make a dock line that will reach to the stern whilst tied to a cleat at the bow without any knots in between.

(2) Drive the boat to bring the mooring ball to the aft of the boat next to your swim platform

 

Bring the mooring ball along side

Bring the mooring ball along side to the aft

 

(3) loop your dock line through the steel loop on the ball.

Place the Dockline through the mooring ball ring at the aft of the boat

Place the Dockline through the mooring ball ring at the aft of the boat

(4) Then just walk your free end to the bow and cleat it off as the boat backs away. Initially, make sure the dock line goes around the outside of everything on your boat – lifelines, stantions and shrouds. Do the same as you walk back to the bow with the free end. The helmsperson uses the engine to keep the mooring ball close to the boat as you walk forward so that the free end does not get pulled out of your hand.

(5) On a catamaran – use one more trick. You’ve got to, at the same time, get another line through the mooring ball loop to take forward for the other hull. Thus, take an extra line and put it through the mooring ball loop at the same time as the other. Take it forward as well but making sure that both ends stay on the boat.

(6) Once you have secured the first dock line to one hull, then take care of the other side with the second dock line. All the while taking care that all the lines are clear of wrapping around each other or on the inside of a forestay or anything else. It’s best done with two crew members one assigned to each line and a helmsperson who can maneuver the boat to keep the ball close to the boat. The second dockline will probably not reach from the forward cleat diametrically opposite the boat to the aft – that’s ok just leave both ends free and cleat them off once the first line is done. Just take care not to drop either end (we did but quickly retrieved it with a boat hook).

Secure the Line to the other side of the boat using the second dock line.

Secure the Line to the other side of the boat using the second dock line.

(7) Finally make adjustments to the lengths to get it just right.

Adjust Lines to get it just right

Adjust Lines to get it just right

 

You can even achieve all this by backing the boat up to the mooring ball and letting the boat swing around after it has been cleated off.

Train your crew to let go of the dock line if it gets too taught and is going to pull them over. You can always start again. Practice makes perfect.

In Blue Lagoon, St. Vincent the Mooring field is quite tight. We used this trick again without a hitch. Practice this method at your home waterway next time you are out. Then by the time you get to the Caribbean, you’ll be an expert.

 

 

 

Sailing Vacation Attitude

Posted by Director of Education on under Bareboat Charter, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Your Own Attitude Makes or Breaks Your Own Vacation

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Southern St Lucia is known for the swarming and pushy “official guides”. Each one claiming that they are the official. Years ago when I visited by land and sea I was overwhelmed and was glad to leave. At one point we had a dozen “guides” pushing for us to hire them people whilst in the background men carrying machetes with 30 kids holding out their hands begging for money. Thus, this time around I wasn’t too keen to return – although they say it has become better.  Still we stopped over at the Pitons National Park because they are incredibly majestic and not to be missed in this lifetime.

The Pitons in St. Lucia

The Pitons in St. Lucia

About 2 miles out we spotted our first “guide”. With our research done, we already knew where we wanted to go and thus we didn’t need a guide to take us into the mooring field. We tried to wave him off. No luck. As we approached a mooring ball there he was holding up the loop. So we decided we’d get another ball. Nope – that didn’t work he just moved to the next one. Again we tried to wave him off. No luck. As we approached we clearly stated that we did not need help to lift the mooring loop 5 feet into the air and frankly I was wanting to document our aft pick up method for a NauticEd article. As we bought the ball alongside he put the loop onto our cleat then demanded $EC10 ($3). And his demand was insistent. This kind of extortion does not sit well with me and thus we refused to pay. This lead into a fairly heated reply from him with a lot of name calling at us making us feel very uncomfortable. He claimed we ripped him off because he had to spend money in petrol to come out to us. Within seconds another showed up trying to sell us fruit followed by 2 seconds later a jewelry guy and then a guy claiming to be the park ranger was demanding not very politely for $EC50 ($US15) for the mooring ball when we had already paid for ‘Rights to Moor in the national park” to customs in Rodney Bay earlier. It was all too much.

Upon reflection over a rum drink later on we concluded this: That we were there for our own selves to have a good time. Getting worked up over a few dollars is just not worth it – albeit it was extortion and intimidation tactics.  The right thing for ourselves to enjoy was to embrace the system that exists. We were not going to change anything by our righteous stance. There was no point in creating bad air on the boat over $20  when the charter cost plus airfares etc. was thousands upon thousands.

We decided thereafter we would embrace everything:
 The very next day a local sailor from Martinique somehow decided he was in a race with us.  In the wide space of the Caribbean, with both of us on port tack he bore up and parked his course exactly 100 meters ahead of us. We were both now on a broad port reach. He in a monohull and us in a cat. I decided to pass on the lee because I did not want him to get rounded up in the high winds at the passing moment. As I got closer I gave him plenty of room yet he began coming down again onto our track. Upon passing he was only 5 meters to windward. With both of our headsails luffing. I could not turn up to fill the head sail for fear of hitting him. To get away from him I would have had to gybe 90 degrees away from our course. Crazy.

As the overtaking boat I am obligated to give way yet he is also obligated to maintain course which he was not. As we completed our pass he began coming down further right in behind us with about 2 meters to spare. We pointed at our fishing line and held the rod up. He continued and gybed and went right in behind us catching our lure on his hull. All this with thousands of square miles of ocean. Go figure.

He then anchored in Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent – 50 meters away from our boat. In keeping with our new embracing ideology, I decided to take him a rum drink and have a talk. His claim was that we did not give him room and thus he had to do what he did. He did not have very many (none) apologies. I smiled and listened and wished him good voyages.

I left not to sure how, with land about 5 miles to port of him giving plenty of room to at least hold his course and how he was luffing us down off course gave him any room for justification. However, there seemed no point in arguing. I was sure however that in his own mind he felt wronged. He accepted the rum drink as an apology from me. The only explanation to that I can have is that he’s just a poor sailor and should take NauticEd courses. Haa Haa LOL.

There was no altercation and I moved on leaving harmonious feelings and me free to enjoy the rest of my evening knowing that I took the easy way out. Forgive and forget!

As we pulled into Cumberland Bay we also used our new attitude to interact with the locals constantly barraging us with stuff to sell.  Maurice our “boat boy” (it is a legitimate term used for people who help you handle mooring and anchoring your boat) was extremely helpful in helping tie our boat back to the coconut tree. We paid him $EC30 ($US10) and a few extra bucks for other help throughout the day.  With all the other vendors we objectively looked at their stuff and bought many trinkets etc. but also resupply of excellent fruit and locally caught fish (caught by a guy who acted in Pirates of the Caribbean (shot mostly in this area)). I even gave an onion some foil and some olive oil to a local who was cooking a fish for the sailor who cut us off earlier that day (Still no thanks were given to us from the sailor).

Just before entering Admiralty Bay in Bequia Island we read in the guide book about Kenmore- a local guy who races out in his small dinghy, not to greet you but to take high res digital photos of you whilst you are under sail (for a fee of course). And sure enough a few minutes later here he comes bouncing off the top of 2 meter waves holding up a very expensive camera and a whistle to warn you of his impending shutter finger.

 

Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer

Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer

Whilst you can decide to get sick of everyone trying to sell you something – again our new embracing attitude kicked in and we ran to the bow for the photo pose.

The next morning Kenmore arrives at our boat with very professional images framed print plus digital USB stick of us on our boat giving us a definite memorabilia of our trip. Which we gladly bought.

Hully Gully under sail

Hully Gully under sail at Bequia Island

What I’m presenting here is that you have the ability to make your vacation good or bad. You can embrace or not. You have already paid the thousands investing in this vacation, why not spend a few extra bucks on just having a good time. If you don’t think $us3 is worth a mooring loop lift of 5 feet  it is probably not – but just do it anyway. Chances are the local guy is friendly and can give you local information worth more than $3 anyway.

Have fun on your vacation.

Bareboat Chartering – Shaking out the Bareboat Charter Dust

Posted by Director of Education on June 7, 2014 under Skipper | Comments are off for this article

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Hi – Grant Headifen here. I’m about 3 days into a Bareboat Charter trip in Martinique in the Caribbean. This is one of approx. 2 dozen such trips all over the world. I don’t say that to make you jealous or create envy, I say it to present that even with this amount of experience, things still “go bump in the night”. i.e. stuff happens and you should be prepared and expect things to happen. The good news is that if you’ve got the knowledge, then you will know what to do. Armed, you can now expect the expected.

The point is that this is an unfamiliar boat with unfamiliar gadgets and different ways of running lines and most likely, crew that have never done this before. Thus, your first day or so is going to be spent shaking out the Charter dust. And on top of that, inexperienced people (non NauticEd students) have likely had the boat before you and screwed a few things up which were not caught by the Charter Base on turn around. etc etc. More things to expect to go wrong.

Embedded here then is an incomplete list of items that’ll help you get faster acquainted with your boat and keep you in vacation mode i.e. save you money from not breaking stuff. Breaking stuff means a trip back to the base or waiting for the base to come to you.

Things to Expect

Raising the main.

The mainsail is usually stowed on a charter boat in a stac-pac like this. Lazy-jack lines guide the mainsail down into the stac-pac when lowered

 

stac-pac

The lazy-jack lines and the boom toping lift are notorious for catching the battens on the way up. Watch them like a hawk. You should to loosen the mainsheet a little to allow the boom to swing. This helps keep the mainsail centered along the boom as it goes up. The helmsperson needs to motor directly into wind. A big mistake is that the helmsperson watches the sail going up and tries to steer according to whether the sail is too far one way or the other. This sends the boat all over the place by over steering. Rather, have your helmsperson steer to a point on land (or a cloud) into wind. They then adjust their heading according to land but do not steer according to the sail – the boat will be all over the place. It is better yet to have the persons raising the main to tell the helm to steer 10 deg port or starboard depending on their observation of the battens.

A crew member also needs to be designated to keep a watch out for traffic, fishing pots, reefs, shallow areas and land ahead. It is easy to get distracted by the sail difficulties and run right up onto the first reef out of the harbor. Like … embarrassing!

With a roached mainsail, the battens will even get caught on opposite sides of the boom topping lift. Watch out for this as the main goes up.

Additionally, reefing lines are always going to get caught up on your first mainsail raising. The last person who stowed the reefing lines will have probably pulled them in tight to clean up loose lines. That means as you raise the main, you have to make sure that they feed properly out. Sometimes they will be even wrapped around the outer end of the boom which is an impossible place to reach when the boat is swaying around – best check that before you leave the dock.

Other times the reefing lines will get caught in the jammers at the gooseneck end of the boom. You’ll need to be aware of this as the main raises.

Reefing Jammers

Reefing Jammers

These are the gooseneck reefing jammers. Make sure they are loose to allow the reefing lines to slide through.

Don’t pull the reefing lines in as you lower the mainsail – instead stow them on top of the sail stac-pac in their natural condition as the main lowers.

Reefing lines stow in stac-pac

Reefing lines stow in stac-pac

Reefing lines are stowed on top of the sail in the stac-pac. Don’t pull them in – it only makes the sail raising difficult.

Once you lower the mainsail, the sail and reefing lines are going to look like this.

After the drop

After the drop

Don’t allow the reefing lines to drape out of the stac-pac over the boom, they will swing up and over and tangle in absolutely anything without you noticing.

This is a real picture of the reefing line which swung out and wrapped itself around the deck broom. This picture was not staged it really happened.

Reefing lines catch on anything

Reefing lines catch on anything

 

Instead after the drop do a clean up of the reefing lines and the sail.

Cleaned up Stac-Pac

Cleaned up Stac-Pac

Then go around and do a clean up of all the lines for a tidy ship.

 

Tidy your lines

Tidy your lines

Once in Tahiti the dual halyard lines were twisted about 4 times around each other – this doesn’t look like a problem when the sail is down in the stac-pac but as it gets near the top of the mast the twist doesn’t allow the sail to go fully up. If this is the case – ask the Base to take out the twist before you head out – just untwisting the block will not fix this – it is systemic with the halyard line and the twist has to be taken all the way out of the line to the end.

The big rule is watch watch watch as you raise the main and if the main halyard is tensioning up really tight, then something is really wrong – STOP and look.

One time in Tonga we even lost that main halyard up inside the mast – yes my fault for not watching but the last charterer had untied the figure of eight stopper knot in the end. Whaaaa!

Lessons: – Before you leave the dock, trace all the reefing lines. No that you as experienced sailor know what they do but look to see what is pre-screwed up. Make sure they are ready for feeding out. Become very familiar with all the lines (including the ends of them). Trace them with your eyes before, during and after raising.

Without a doubt, every-time as you are raising the main you will need to lower the sail a little to get the battens to come up in between the lazy jacks. Just get used to it. Watch out also for the boom topping lift.

Genoa unfurling.

The genoa furling drum is a potential area of a tangled mess. An over wrap in the drum will cause difficulty when furling the genoa back in. Watch the drum like a hawk as you unfurl the sails. Keep back tension on the furling line using just one wrap around a winch or use an extra crew member. If the furling line is allowed to spool in loose, overwraps will occur and worse yet the line may spin off the drum and into the area below or above it. This can be a disaster. In Martinique this caused about a 30 minute untangle job near sun down as we were coming into an anchorage.

Things to check before you leave the dock

Light Bulbs and Switches

Prior to leaving the dock, do a full check of all light bulbs. Our dining light bulb was out – fortunately we were able to fix it. In checking all the bulbs you’ll also learn were all the switches are. Sometimes the boat manufacturers put them in obscure places.

Fans

Check the operation of cabin fans prior to leaving dock. Last thing you want is a whining crewmember.

Wind Scoops

Some bases have them some don’t. The closer to summer you are the more recommended these are. A wind scoop is a small parachute type contraption that directs wind down into your cabin. Check for existence and ask. Also ask to have the base show you how to set up. They are a bit tricky at first.

Windlass reset

Make sure you know the position of the windlass reset – if you don’t know what this is – hmmmmm – take our Bareboat Charter Coure.

Waste Holding tanks

During your boat briefing, ensure you learn how these work on your boat. Unfortunately and unbelievably, some charter companies still allow a no holding tank set up or worse yet some permanently shut out the holding tank because they can’t be bothered explaining how a holding tank works to non educated charterers. This is a crying shame. Nice harbors are filled with boat excrement. Voice your opinion to the base manager if they engage in this poor behavior.

Heads

Check proper operation. I’m pretty sure you’d rather have the base fix a head problem than you at sea.

Cooler drain plug

Keeping water in your cooler keeps ice around longer. If the drain plug is missing, you’ll be battling the ice situation all week.

Electronics

Time spent at the dock checking the electronics before you go out is going to be worth it. Often times the wind meter or autopilot have problems.

Dinghy Engine

One time in the BVI the last charterer did not screw on the engine tight enough. The base failed to check it and 1 hour out we were dragging the engine in the water behind the dinghy on its safety line. It took 4 days to get the engine running properly after spending time cleaning out the carburetor et al.

Dock Lines

One time in Greece we did not have enough dock lines. Med mooring was a challenge without enough. Then when we got back to base they charged us for loosing one.

Powering Your Devices.

A lot of boats these days have a built in inverter to convert 12v into 110/240. But don’t assume that the boat will have your type of electric plug. They will either be a European plug or American and who can say what it will be. Bring a prong converter (not a transformer just a prong converter) most devices these days are smart enough to handle either voltage.

Stove, oven and broil/grill operation plus fridge and freezer

Check em – nuff said.

Data Roaming

Data roaming in foreign countries is very expensive. However, you can arrange with your carrier prior to leaving to get a data roaming package. This is advisable. You can then text using the WhatsApp App and talk via skype and download weather data.

This blog was posted under sail in Martinique using prepaid international roaming data. Just as a gauge, during the first week, I used about 200 MB downloading emails and sending 50 or so WhatsApp texts and a couple of skype voice calls.

Navigation

Download some useful Apps from your own internet connection at home. Get the Navionics App for your charter area. Get the Pocket Grib App for weather.

 

Things you ARE going to screw up

I say this more as a challenge rather than a prophecy, however these are items that easy get overlooked with the distractions of a fun vacation.

Hatches

Undoubtedly, the call of “close the hatches” to the crew receives a tertiary thought with the excitement of the upcoming sail. This means at least one or 2 crew mattresses are going to be soaked with salt water. Not that I’ve tried it but salted sheets don’t sound too appealing. As captain, it’s just best to run through the cabins yourself and check hatches.

Dinghy Painter

Before you leave the dock, check that this is long enough and in good quality. Then just assume that you are going to chop it up with the charter boat prop because invariably when you put your boat in reverse you’ll probably forget about the dinghy and back over the painter line. Here is the challenge – just try for one week not to chop up the painter.  Tip as you come into a mooring, anchorage or dock secure the dinghy close to the boat so that this can not happen.

Dinghy Elbow

An excited crew member jumps on the dinghy and wants to drive. They start the engine without looking and drive their elbow into their spouses face.

Dinghy Beach Landing

Never allow the dinghy to sit sideways to the beach.. One wave will teach you not to do it again.

Lines in the Water

Dock lines dangling in the water are a disaster because wrapping these around the prop in a marina with 20 knots of wind is the last thing you want. Get in the habit of checking dock lines prior to starting engines.

Fishing Line

As you come into a mooring, anchorage or dock, wind in your fishing line. Obvious but… the excitement of a new anchorage overcomes the fishing line thoughts. Perhaps tie a handkerchief to the helm as a reminder.

Crew knots aka things that come undone in the night

Assume that crew knots are not knots.

Water Maker

Some newer boats have them. They use a lot of battery power and you will constantly be fighting your battery charge because most of your engine running will be supplying the water maker. From experience, having a water maker on board is not a license to use as much water as you want. Often you will find that the cost of diesel (to create electricity to create water) is more than the cost of water. That and the added amount of engine running time required to keep the batteries charged is almost not worth it.

Is that it?

Nope – this list is not exhaustive in fact it’s just a small part of chartering and a small taster for all the charter tips we give in our bareboat charter course. And as you can see, chartering is a lot different from taking your own boat out on the bay for an overnight in your local waterway. You might be a good sailor but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an equally good charterer. Like English and Math, they are two different disciplines

We highly advise becoming a NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master. With this certification, we teach advanced aspects of yachting and chartering and in particular, details on the above plus many more skills and tips to make your $5000 – $10,000 vacation go off without a hitch. The cost of the educational materials is just $175. This compared to just one boo boo, a trip back to the base because you or a novice crew member broke something, forgot to check something or even hurt someone is infinitesimal. The course package is comprehensive with over 40 hours of study materials from real sailor authors who have countless amounts of real global sailing experience. Yacht charter companies very much like the NauticEd Certification because it exceeds all of their requirements and your resume is complete.

Included in the Bareboat Charter Master Bundle of Courses is:

  • Skipper Course
  • Maneuvering Under Power
  • Anchoring
  • Bareboat Chartering
  • Coastal Navigation
  • Electronic Navigation

Then, once you log 50 days of sailing in the NauticEd logbook (with certain qualifying restrictions) you will be awarded the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Sailing Certification. We also advise a practical verification from one of our global sailing schools to gain the Practical Verification Stamp on your certificate.

Please enjoy your charter trip – have a ball.

Grant Headifen

Understanding Tides

Posted by Director of Education on May 4, 2014 under Skipper | Comments are off for this article

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How the tides work in practice

Here is an animation we came up with to help understand how the tides shift by about 1/2 an hour later each day when you have a diurnal tide (twice per day). Notice that the first high tide starts out at about noon, the next high tide occurs just after 12:30  after midnight followed by just after 1 pm the next day. This is due to the moon circling the earth about every 28 days whilst the earth rotates itself every 24 hours. i.e. In relative terms the moon appears to rotate around the earth  every 24 hours and 50.4 minutes but because of the bulge effect 2 tide cycles complete every rotation cycle.

This animation and others are embedded into Module 1 of  our NauticEd Skipper Course. Module 1 covers weather and sea conditions where you learn about tides and tide prediction, currents and weather prediction along with the best Apps to find the information quickly.

A few other things to notice is that the rate of the tide is falling fastest at half tide and the rate is the slowest at low tide and high tide. This is defined by the rule of twelve which is further explained in detail in the Skipper Course. The bulge effect is also fully explained. i.e. how do you get 2 tides every moon cycle?

 

Take a look at the NauticEd Skipper Course now!

skipper course

Skipper Sailing Course

 

 

3 Reasons to Twist Your Sail Out

Posted by Director of Education on April 30, 2014 under Bareboat Charter, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

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Perfecting Sail Trim and Twist

Here are three reasons you should be twisting out the sail towards the top of the mast

  1.  Get rid of excessive heeling
  2. Match the wind at the top of the sail to the wind gradient
  3. Drum Roll … The most important … Change heeling force into forward force.

(1)   Getting rid of excessive healing forces.

I’ve written on this topic a few times mostly because it is an important fundamental topic of understanding the forces on a sail.

In a right triangle, a force applied evenly over the surface can be considered to act in one place. This place is called the Center of Pressure and is the geometric center of the right triangle and is 1/3rd of the way up the triangle. It is found by crisscrossing the corners and midpoints.

The propensity to heel is called the Heeling Moment and it is derived  from a multiplication of the wind force magnitude and the height of the Center of Pressure.

Thus, the heeling can be reduced by lowering the Center of Pressure. You can do this obviously by reefing but also by twisting out the top of the sail which changes the triangle shape.

 

Twisted mainsail lowers and moves the center of pressure forward

Twisted mainsail lowers and moves the center of pressure forward

This also has the added effect of moving the Center of Pressure forward which reduces your weather helm.

(2)   Match the wind at the top of the mast to wind gradient

Wind velocity at the surface is less than wind velocity at the top of the mast due to friction of the surface on the wind. This is called Wind Velocity Gradient. In addition there is another effect called Wind Shear which is due to coriolus effect dependent on the distance from the equator and if northern or southern hemisphere. This wind shear creates a different direction of wind at the top of the mast than at the boom height because the wind is seen to twist as it slows down.

When you combine Wind Velocity Gradient and boat velocity you also get different apparent wind directions on the sail. This is best described in detail in our free basic sail trim course.

Because of this effect the wind at the top of the mast is more from an aft direction. Said to be “more aft”.

 

Wind Velocity is different in speed and direction between surface and top of mast.

Wind Velocity is different in speed and direction between surface and top of mast.

When flying a sail then you already know to match the sail angle to the wind to make it most efficient. If the wind direction at the top of the mast is more aft the sail direction must change to be more let out moving up the mast. To achieve this you twist the sail out by allowing the aft of the boom to rise up. This loosens the leach of the sail and allows it to twist out at the top.

Adjust Sail angles up the mast to match apparent wind direction

Adjust Sail angles up the mast to match apparent wind direction

Control your leach tension via the boomvang. Keep in mind also that your mainsheet will also control leach tension as well. If your mainsheet is in tight, loosening the boomvang will have no effect. When you let out the mainsheet this will deliver the leach control to the boomvang. You can then use the traveler to re-center the boom.

 

(3)   Changing Heeling Force into Forward Force

This is not talked about much but it is the most important when thinking about making your boat go fast.

The force acting on the sail from the wind can be thought of as being approximately in the direction perpendicular to the battens.  As the sail is twisted out in going up the mast the force then shifts from sideways unwanted heeling force to desired forward driving force by the nature of its direction.

Twisting the Sail Changes Heeling Force to Forward Force

Twisting the Sail Changes Heeling Force to Forward Force

This then is very important. As you know, not only should you always have your sails let out as much as possible just before luffing to fly the sails efficiently but you should additionally be looking up the sail and adjusting twist as much as possible to translate the resultant force to be forward acting rather that sideways acting. Increase twist until upper sail luffing occurs then tighten slightly.

As with point 2 above use the boomvang, the mainsheet and traveler as your controls.

For more information on Sail Trim, take out Free Basic Sail Trim Course and our advanced Sail Trim Course.

Get started on your Sailing Certification with NauticEd today. We really focus on teaching you all the aspects of sailing. This kind of stuff makes you look like a hero in front of your crew.

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