Forereaching animation: How to sail in big waves

Posted by Director of Education on October 19, 2015 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper, Storm Tactics | Comments are off for this article

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!

Waves and Forereaching

Posted by Director of Education on October 7, 2015 under Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper, Storm Tactics, weather | Comments are off for this article

Here is a great question from a student with our answer below.


Hey Grant!

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.



Tides and Coastal Navigation

Posted by Director of Education on October 5, 2015 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper, Storm Tactics, weather | Comments are off for this article

ATTN: The NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course has been upgraded and updated. See below.

If you like that we update things for free, LIKE us over there —->

Snap Test:

(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)


Eastport tides oct5

ANS: Goto

(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

(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 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.

Take the NauticEd Coastal Navigation course now for $39.

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.

Coastal Navigation Course


Take the NauticEd Coastal Navigation course now for $39.

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

NauticEd’s iPhone/iPad App

Posted by Director of Education on September 20, 2015 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Celestial Navigation, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Rules of Right of Way, Skipper, Storm Tactics, Videos and photos, weather | Comments are off for this article

We think this is the world’s best sailing App and for good reason.


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

How a Barber Hauler Works

Posted by Director of Education on September 12, 2015 under Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

If you like this post Please LIKE it and LIKE us on facebook – over there ——->

Easy Rigging a Barber Hauler on Your Boat

A Barber Hauler was invented by the Barber brothers. They wanted to be able to further control the shape of the jibsail and the position of the jibsail clew. On cruising boats, its not sometimes practical to go to all the extra expense of installing all the gear they originally suggested and so various forms of achieving this have been devised and loosely now they are all called Barber Haulers.

We discuss this and many other fine tuning sail trim techniques in our advanced Sail Trim Course.

Sail Trim Course

NauticEd Sailing Nano-Forums

Posted by Director of Education on July 29, 2015 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Celestial Navigation, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Rules of Right of Way, Skipper, Storm Tactics, Videos and photos, weather | Comments are off for this article

If you think this is the greatest idea on the planet or at least just a very good one, please like us on facebook.

Posted by Grant Headifen, Global Director of Education – NauticEd.

One of the greatest things I love about my job is the ability to apply the latest technology to the sailing education industry – it is so exciting to be leading the world in this area.

And – today comes as a greatly awaited day for us to announce one of the bigger innovations in not only sailing education but in the entire community of eLearning itself.

I’d like to introduce Nano-Forums!!!!!!!!

Please watch this video and you’ll see why our Sailing Nano-Forum is so innovative and such a benefit to the sailing community at large – You’re Welcome! It represents a MASSIVE investment in technology over the past 6 months. Ummm like really REALLY massive but we think it’s worth it!

We think you will really enjoy it.

Oh and btw since this is new technology to the world and we invented it, we are coining the phrase NANO-FORUM right here right now!

What it ultimately means is that we all now can collectively crowd source information in targeted specific areas and re-use the crowds knowledge for educational drill down topic purposes in a way never been done before.

Just watch the video – you’ll get what we are talking about.

Please engage in the Nano-Forums through out our courses. Look for the SeaTalks button at the top right of every page of the course.

Start by taking the FREE Navigation Rules Course at:

NauticEd FREE Navigation Rules Sailing Course

International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Course

International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Sailing Course


Entering Experience into your sailors logbook

Posted by Director of Education on July 9, 2015 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Airline pilots, naval seamen, scientists and scuba divers all maintain a logbook. So why don’t sailors? Because it’s just in the too hard bucket with seemingly no point to do it. Until Now! If you ever want to charter, you MUST have a sailing resume. Yacht charter companies DO NOT accept a sailing certification – they will always ask for a resume which requires you to list your experience and theory courses. The NauticEd Logbook is your simple way of storing it in the cloud for all time. Accurate and up to date! AND you can only gain Rank with NauticEd when you list your experience – it’s why every yacht charter company in the world accepts our resume/certification because they both go hand in hand. To gain the Bareboat Charter Master Rank Certification you simply must have listed an acceptable amount of experience which guarantees acceptance by the charter company. i.e. 50  qualifying days on the water with the NauticEd Bareboat Bundle of courses completed is yacht charter company acceptable.


At first thought, you might think that entering all your sailing history is too daunting of a task. But it’s not – we’ve made the interface easy and very quick. The big thing is that your last entry is remembered and so you can literally enter a whole week of sailing in  14 clicks. Additionally, you don’t have to enter all  the information.

Here is how to get 100 entries done in about 20 minutes.

Start with your most recent years first. How many times have you been sailing this year, last year and the year before? Did you go mostly in the summer and some in the fall, spring winter?

Next realistically start to enter an equivalent amount of days that you probably went this year. Pick dates that would be sort of reasonably close. e.g. if you went sailing say 5 times in the first 2 quarters of the year then pick a day in January, 2 in February, 1 in April and 2 in May. Something like that!

You’ll notice that when making a second entry that the last entry you made is queued up all you have to do is change the date slightly. For past entries, you don’t need to add the non asterix stuff – just the date, the vessel and if you were master or crew. In this manner you can do about 6-10 entires per minute. Now go back to last year and repeat – then the year before. Keep going until you have enough entires that realistically reflect your recent 3-4-5 years of experience. This will take about 20 minutes. If you want to go all out, go for it, invest another 20 minutes.

If you have a few 7 day charters then try to remember the month that you did it in and make the first entry then see the second entry already queued up whereby you increment the date by 1. In this manner a 7 day charter takes about 30 seconds to enter.

This 20 minute exercise will bring you up to date.

How to make a logbook entry into your FREE NauticEd Online Sailor’s Logbook

The NauticEd logbook is maintained for you for free in the cloud and is always accessible by you and anyone you specifically designate with permissions. Additionally it is easy to edit and update. You can do this either online or via our iOS NauticEd App. In the App you can make an instant entry when you get off the boat at the end of the day.

Another important feature of an experience logbook is authentication. We created a CrewMate Authentication (TM)  system whereby your logbook entries get reported as authenticated. Read about CrewMate Authentication here. So you want to be setting up CrewMates in your logbook area so that your CrewMates can auto authenticate your entries as you make them (optional but it gives credibility to your logbook).

Finally we are about to launch an exciting new product into our App. It is a gps tracking system that will record and store your daily tracks for you. At the end of the outing the gpx file is uploaded to your logbook and you can see your tracks at anytime in the future. Plus the track stores your miles for you AND this also creates an authenticated entry into your logbook. We expect to Launch this sometime early in 2016.

GPS Track entered into your logbook.

GPS Sailing Track entered into your logbook.


Another who gives way

Posted by Director of Education on July 4, 2015 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Rules of Right of Way, Skipper, Videos and photos | Comments are off for this article

NauticEd offers a FREE course in Navigation Rules – it is a fun, entertaining, multimedia online course and will bring you up to speed on what you as a responsible sailor should know. Takes about 40 minutes and is well worth the time. Plus you’ll get to see how cool we are!

This rule is one of the most fundamental give way rules of sailing. It is Rule 12a in International Rules for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (ColRegs) and Rule 10 in ISAF racing rules. Watch the video to learn the answer.

If you like this post – please like us on facebook – over there ——-> thanks, it helps us grow.

We encourage all sailors to learn the Navigation Rules – why would you not? The Rules are specifically called International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea. They apply to all boaters.

The NauticEd sailing resume is accepted by Yacht Charter Companies World Wide and we are the only global provider to facilitate the International Certificate of Competence (ICC) via online theory and Practical tuition. THE ICC IS NOW REQUIRED FOR SAILING IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. [learn more about ICC… ]

Please enjoy the video below created by a joint effort of Virtual Eye and NauticEd.

Don’t forget to sign up for the FREE course on Navigation Rules


International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Course

International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Sailing Course

Snap Test: Who gives way?

Posted by Director of Education on May 18, 2015 under Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Rules of Right of Way, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Here’s a fun little test. If you like it, please LIKE this on facebook – thanks it really helps us grow and keeps people safe on the water.

Also look over there ——-> and LIKE our facebook page. We post really fun and cool stuff on facebook.

Know the Official Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea

Tap on the answer you think is best in the image below.

So here’s the deal – if you got it wrong or hesitated,  you should complete our FREE NauticEd Navigation Rules Course.

Some people have posted really great comments about this image on the facebook post from Not under Command to is B anchored or moored and these are all relevant questions. Well done if you are thinking at this level. There is a dead giveaway in the image here as to what B is doing. Let’s just assume however that the boats are under command – I just didn’t have a good 3d image of people to place in the pic.


Sign up here now for FREE and this course will automatically be in your Curriculum!

BONUS – Sign up now and we will also give you a FREE Basic SailTrim Course.

Already A NauticEd Student?

If you are already a NauticEd student, then this course is waiting for you in your Curriculum when you log back in.

Sign in – to access you free course.


International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Course

International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Sailng Course

You’re out there all the time. You look under the sail and you see this scenario above. You’ve got to know what to do instantly. If you make the wrong decision, you could cause a collision with serious damage, injury or death. And it would be your fault because you didn’t take the time to learn and know the rules.  I feel like I can give you a hard time here, because the course is absolutely FREE. We made it FREE because the rules are that important. I’ve seen and I bet you’ve seen too many bozos out there.

Take the FREE NauticEd Navigation Rules Course now for FREE. Did we say FREE?

If you have an iOS device then download our FREE NauticEd App and take this course here for FREE off-line when you are waiting in the doctor’s office or stuck on an airplane.


Why not take the test every 6 months or so just to stay current?

We even have a paper book that you can order from Amazon to keep on your boat.

Buy it here:

Or Learn more about the Paper book here

And one more place to get the International Rules is here as a eBook App for iPad.

FREE GUIDE:  Learn how to gain a sailing certification with NauticEd

Mast head light confusion

Posted by Director of Education on April 20, 2015 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Rules of Right of Way, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Here is a question from a Student who posted it on Disqus. I felt it was important enough to post out here for public. Displaying correct lights on boats is important.


Could you please provide more of an explanation for the following:
Although ‘steaming light’ is used extensively, this does not have a definition within the IRPCS [International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea], the correct definition being a masthead light.

If the tri-colour light can replace the stern and red/green pulpit light on a sailboat how can it be unacceptable to use the tri-colour light with mast head light? If you are under power you of course need your steaming light/ mast head light illuminated. So if you don’t have pulpit or stern lights aboard as you are using a tri colour light how can you do this?


Agreed – lights can be confusing at the onset. In this particular topic, sailors tend to get confused because they think  a mast is only on a sailboat. But, a mast head light is also used (and defined for use) on power boats. Take a look at this image shown in the rules. It shows a power driven vessel longer than 50 meters using two mast head lights.

A large Power vessel displaying two mast head lights.

A large Power vessel displaying two mast head lights.

Here is the definition of a mast head light in the rules:

(a) “Masthead light” means a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel.

Note also that is does not say the light must be at the top of the mast.

For sailboats, a tricolored light is a light described by rule 25(b) in USCG Nav Rules. It is at or near the top of the mast and is for sailing vessels less than 20 meters in length. It is an optional alternative to having the lights down on the hull or pulpits. It faces a white light to the aft 135 degrees plus red from directly forward around to port 112.5 degrees and a green light directly forward and around to starboard 112.5 degrees. This makes up 360 degrees and meets the requirement for a sailboat sailing. When the sailboat turns on it’s engines it must also in addition to the white, red and green above, display a white light 225 degrees facing forward. You can name this light what ever you like but it must exist. These white “mast head” lights are also defined by the distance they must be seen by – it does not mean they have to be at the top of the mast. On power vessels they are typically at the top of the mast because that is what the mast is for.

Here is a sailing vessel under sail only with a tricolored light


Tri-colored lights on a sailboat

Tri-colored lights on a sailboat


On a sailboat less than 50 meters in length, a mast head light (white under power light) can by just “up the mast” anywhere. It’s not part of the tri color. It is white and faces forward 225 degrees and is to be used when the sailboat is under power. You also might be confusing the term mast head light with the two all around red and green lights at the top of the mast. These are not mast head lights. They can be used in addition to the hull or pulpit mounted red green and white. The rules prevent a top of the mast tricolored light AND the two all around red and green at the top of the mast. This would create confusion and may be your source of confusion. i.e it is unacceptable to use the tricolored and two all around red and green lights. Again the mast head is white 225 deg forward facing to be used under power only.

Here is a vessel with the two all around red and green lights.

The Vessel sailing "on starboard" is utilizing the optional two all around red and green lights.

The Vessel sailing “on starboard” is utilizing the optional two all around red and green lights.

Here are the rules as stated:
Rule 25 – Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars

(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:

(i) sidelights;
(ii) a stern light

(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 meters in length, the lights prescribed in Rule 25(a) may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen. [note this is the tricolored light]

(c) A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the lights prescribed in Rule 25(a), exhibit at or near the top of the mast, where they can best be seen, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in conjunction with the combined lantern permitted by Rule 25(b).

I hope that helps.

I highly recommend that you complete our Navigation Rules Course. It is free for everyone.

International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Course

International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Sailing Course

We also have a Paper Book that you should order and keep on your boat for reference.

The book is a stand alone excellent explanation of the Rules of the Nautical road and is a good and quick easy read. It has additional really cool features. Through out the book you will see QR Codes. When you scan any QR code with your mobile device, the book element comes alive and shows you animations and videos.


To get a QR Reader – 

For iOS use the built in function of the NauticEd APP – go here:

For Android go here:


Order the International Rules of Prevention of Collision at Sea Book from Amazon.