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Thread: tacking

  1. #1
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    Default tacking

    Ok, so I'm sailing as close to the wind as I can, everything is going great, I know I need to tack so I pull hard on the rudder the boat turns and then stops midway through the tack. To get it through I need to paddle. Is this normal for canoe sailing or am I doing something wrong?

    My boat is a 17ft penobscot with a big Solway Dory exped sail. I have a stern rudder and on days like today outriggers! I have a home made pivioting leaboard

    My sailing skills are limited I am learning!

    Your help would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    You might want to wait for the much better advice from more skilled sailors then me but I think what I do is bear off from the wind a bit just a moment before tacking so as to put a bit of momentum through the move. Of course it depends on the wind speed and the speed of the canoe as well.

  3. #3
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    Default

    I've tried this but just seem to grind to a halt and end up using a paddle to take me through. Today it was really windy and had loads of speed.

    On a couple of occasions I turned away from the wind and tacked that way...I'm sure this is not efficient and looses ground.

    Thanks anyway

  4. #4
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    Default

    A couple of questions

    Do you alter your weight distribution during the tack?

    Could the outrigger be countering the turning effect of the rudder?

    I haven't sailed canoes but have done dinghies. Usually ones weight is on the upwind side and when one pushes the tiller to bring the boat into the wind one then shifts weight to centre as the boat passes through the wind and when starts on the next tack one moves over to windward again.

    I appreciate moving weight around in a narrow canoe is not quite so easy - I'm just wondering if moving the weight across so the other outrigger digs in may increase the turning effect.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, this may have something to do with it. I have been moving my weight during the tack from one side of the canoe to another. I have had this problem before without the outriggers. I wondered if it was anything to do whth my set up or leeboard?
    Last edited by skeathy; 14th-May-2011 at 08:52 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default

    There are a few things that could cause this to happen and it could be a combination of any or all of them. Firstly where do you sit in the canoe. For paddling most people sit behind the centre so that the canoe is trimmed stern down. This is great for paddling as the stern drags a little and helps to keep the canoe on track. For sailing though the stern down will stop the back from kicking over quickly when you put the rudder over. If you put the rudder over hard this will just stall and cause the canoe to stop. If you try sitting further forward and turning the rudder more slowly it may help.
    The 17ft canoe, being longer than most will also turn slower than a shorter canoe. One trick to help this is to let the canoe heel well over to leeward just before putting the rudder over. This will raise the ends of the canoe up out of the water so that they don't drag, and will shorten the waterline length. The canoe will turn much more readily. I do this all the time when i tack and will put the gunwale nearly down to the waterline, put the rudder over, and as i start to go through the wind i heel the canoe over to the other gunwale. This causes the sail to flick over to the other side which gives the canoe a push on the wind and sets you up on the other tack. This is a difficult skill for the novice sailor to master as most people feel safer keeping the canoe level so it is something to practice in lighter conditions. Sitting in the bottom of the canoe, although a nice stable position to sail from, makes it harder to balance and lean the canoe over, so i would also recommend trying sailing from a kneeling position so that you can move your weight around more.
    You say that you have outriggers. Again although these will make the canoe more stable and are a great reassurance when learning to sail they will prevent you from leaning the canoe over when tacking. Also the extra windage and drag of the outriggers will slow you down more and make it more likely that you stop before getting through the tack
    Another trick to try is to back the sail as you start to go through the wind. ( if you are turning to the right, as the sail starts to go slack, as you face into the wind, push the boom hard to the left). This should push the bow through the wind and allow you to get onto the other tack.
    Is your rudder a good hydrofoil section? If it is just a flat plate it will turn the canoe but will stall more readily and cause drag and slow you down. Putting the rudder over more slowly and at not to much of an angle will help to reduce the drag.
    If you set the sail very flat and pull it too far into the centre of the canoe you will not be sailing as fast as you could. Slacken the outhaul on the foot of the sail until it has about 8 inches of curve in it. Let the boom out a little and get up speed before trying to tack. Pull the sail in hard as you start to turn to keep the power on and you should have more momentum to get you through the tack.
    All these effects are small but are enough to stop you when they add together. Just try and practice with some of the remedies until you find out which helps you and then practice, practice practice.

  7. #7

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    DaveS and I were posting a reply at the same time so sorry for repetition.

    One of the characteristics of the lug rig is stalling head to wind in stronger winds. It's actually the balanced nature of the rig that causes this. I race Scows with lug rigs and if it has a tendency to stop mid tack I take it as a good sign that the boat is well set up with a neutral helm. Even the best sailors in our fleet can be stalled mid tack. So I would take it that the your set up could well be nicely balanced.

    When sailing on the wind is the helm neutral, not lots of pulling - ie weather helm?

    You mention pulling hard on the tiller. That might indicate you are trying to turn her too quickly and slowing her down too much. Should only need a gentle action. Long thin canoes only tack majestically, not on a sixpence as a short well rockered dinghy might.

    Moving during the tack. You can steer the boat by moving your weight from side to side. If you move too soon you might be "steering" her out of the tack.

    I went out with a friend who could not get his boat through a tack. With my weight forward as crew, the boat tacked ok and we realised he was sitting too far back in the boat. When I went back out on my own I moved forward to adjust the sail downhaul during a tack I suddenly found the boat had tacked on its own without my even steering her. So moving forward also helps.

    In fact all you guys sailing canoes should try steering without a rudder at all! The St Lawrence River skiffs were sailed this way. Just steered by weight transfer.

    Otherwise if she is showing reluctance to carry on through the tack, I would just hold my hand against the boom, just to backwind the sail a touch and help her round.

    Brian
    Last edited by keyhavenpotterer; 14th-May-2011 at 09:18 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Gents, this is really useful. I shall venture forth into the wind (hopefully) next week and practice.

    Thanks

  9. #9
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    Default

    One thing to try before moving seats , if your trim is too stern down , is to put a large water bottle in the bow. This would lift the stern and allow it to skid across more easily and give you a bit more momentum that will help to keep you moving forward as you go through the tack.

  10. #10

    Default

    I've had to give up my yacht and have only recently started canoeing and have not tried a canoe sail.
    There's lots of good advice here about boat speed before the tack.
    Remember that when the boat is caught in irons like this it is actually going backwards through the water so to get it to turn into the wind you need to reverse the direction of the rudder. It should slowly turn you. Also, don't you have to dip your lugsail when tacking to stop it pulling you the wrong way?

  11. #11

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    Tony, you have to try sailing your canoe. You will love it!

    Original lug sail had tack fixed to bows and had to be dipped.



    balanced lugs and standing lugs have a boom and you don't have to dip them, just tack as per a normal dinghy main.



    a balanced lug has the boom loose from the mast and sail area ahead of the mast.

    A standing lug, same as the Expedition rig, has the boom end set at the mast in a gooseneck or using the rowlock to locate the front of the boom against the mast.



    Brian

  12. #12

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    Reversing whilst stuck mid tack.
    If you've got a boom, grab hold of it and push it to windward. It will speed up the process whilst stearing backwards. Let go of the boom when you're about 45 degrees across the wind. Also don't over do the rudder. No more than 45 degrees of rudder or it just becomes a brake.

  13. #13
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    Default

    All great stuff already mentioned, especially re fore and aft trim/weight distribution.

    My key points are make the turn smooth, which means steering into the wind progressively, gently to start, tightening once the turn has started. All this provided the canoe has good speed.

    Another issue is how waves can affect getting thro the wind so choose a slightly flatter bit of water if you can. Also tack between squalls, again if you get the choice.

  14. #14
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    Default

    Thanks for all the advice,

    good sailing & paddling

    Colin

  15. #15
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    Default

    Just been reading this thread with interest -

    I tend to sail with outriggers most of the time due to the nature of the waters that I sail. When I first started to sail the canoe I often got caught head to wind, halfway through the tack.

    The solution - much as Dave S said.

    1) If necessary bear away and gain speed
    2) Move forward in the boat to lighten the stern
    3) Make the turn smoothly (not too harsh) to keep the boat speed up.
    4) Lean over to leeward to raise the outer outrigger out of the water

    Get this together and the boat turns right through the tack with ease. Not as quick as a dinghy, but well enough not to stall.

    Steve

  16. #16
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    Thanks Steve, went out this weekend and tried a lot of the things mentioned and did manage to get through the tack on most occasions. Still need to practice though.
    cheers, Colin

  17. #17

    Default

    Good to hear you are making it through the tacks.

    It was pretty windy on Sunday. Where do you sail? I notice you are Halifax based. I started sailing at Halifax sailing Club, high on the moors around 1975. Lead to me moving south, yacht racing, windsurfing, lug rig dinghy racing and now canoe sailing.

    No way of knowing where starting sailing in Halifax might lead you!

    Brian

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