When to raise your sails

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When to raise your sails

Postby smitrock63 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:53 pm

I'm new… to everything. Have a DS 2. Have sailed her 3 times. I've taken ASA 101, but not sure of a lot of things. For starters… do I raise my main and jib at the dock? I've been using a trolling motor, then, getting out of the wind, letting the boat weather vane while setting my sails. I'm a little fearful otherwise. I need help here. I know its wrong how I'm doing it.
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Re: When to raise your sails

Postby TIM WEBB » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:53 am

Of course you can raise sail(s) at the dock and sail away, if you have the room and a favorable wind direction, but since every dock situation is different, you may have to adapt. There is no "wrong way" if what you are doing is safe for you and the boats around you. I used to mostly sail TRW at a lake that is long and skinny, with the ramps being at the eastern, skinniest end. With prevailing winds out of the east, I would often raise and backwind the main at the dock, back away from the dock, then do a little quick gybe to get going in the right direction. Once at the wider part of the lake I'd raise the jib. It's often trickier to sail to the dock than away from it. Another thing you might try, as long as you are using a motor, is to motor away from the dock, raise the jib and cleat it off to one side, shut off the motor, and secure the tiller over to the opposite side. Put the CB down, and now you are hove to. Now you can raise the main easily and without any hurry. Of course, this too requires some sea room, so your situation may not allow it. Heck, for that matter, you could motor out to an area without much traffic, drop the anchor, raise the sails there, pull up the anchor, and off you go. It all depends on your particular set of circumstances, and what works well in one set of conditions might not work so well in another. It's all about adapting to what you are presented with, and developing/having the skills to use whatever method works best for you. Keep at it - you are at a place where the learning curve is very steep, and you will be amazed at how fast you will feel more comfortable dealing with various situations!
Tim Webb
1979 DS2 10099 The Red Witch
(I used to be Her "staff", in the way dogs have owners and cats have staff, but alas no longer ... <pout>)
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Re: When to raise your sails

Postby GreenLake » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:16 am

The correct answer is "when you are ready to use them".

Of course, that just means finding out when you are ready. And that, of course, depends on circumstance.

As all situations are different, I give you some examples of what I've been doing; you may want to compare with what Tim wrote.

I'm sorting my reply by scenario.

1a. Sheltered dock with a narrow channel leading to open water. I turn the boat into the wind (as much as the dock lines up with the wind direction) and raise both sails at the dock. If the wind comes down the channel, I just push off, sheet in the sails and begin tacking towards the open water. The channel is 50-60ft wide, that's plenty width enough to short-tack -- as long as you take care to never stall your foils. Keep the boat speed up and don't try to sail higher on the wind than possible.

1b. Same, but with the wind coming from the opposite direction and the boat pointing towards land. All as before, except right after I push off (with a good shove), I sail a U-turn. As soon as the boat has turned (backwinding the jib may assist in that), I have the wind from behind and leaving the channel is child's play.

2. Beach with wind parallel to shore or blowing somewhat onshore, turning the beach into a lee shore. I'll raise the jib only. (If I were to raise the main, it would invariably drive me back on the beach). The jib I can let fly and it won't pull the boat in that state (other than a bit of drag). I will shove off, or paddle a short distance, enough to turn the boat around on any course that allows the jib to draw, get me away from the beach and gather speed. Once I have sufficient speed, I'll head up into the wind and raise the main (best with crew at the tiller). I may interrupt raising the main, fall off and gather more speed before heading into the wind again.

3. Dock parallel to open water (generally like 1a/b, except if the wind pushes the boat directly onto the dock). If there's nobody else on the dock, I'll sheet in the sails and push off the boat to try to launch directly into a close reach/close hauled course. If I find myself parked between large motor boats so I don't have "runway" then I'd need some other propulsion first to get away from the dock. In that case, probably best to not raise the main right away, because you can't let it out all the way and therefore can't fully depower it. (Using a trolling motor won't work if the wind's strong enough, it won't be able to overcome the tendency for the bow to be blown down - paddles or oars won't do that much better -- all of these should work in moderate winds).

4. Tricky cases. Docks with no room to maneuver, or where I have to back out without being able to turn the boat where it's tied up. Sometimes the only thing is to move the boat using long lines to some point I can sail off from. In winds that are not too strong, I'd motor backwards. In lighter conditions you can center the main so it doesn't catch any wind while you motor a short stretch backwards. Unlikely to succeed in stronger winds, as inevitably it will catch the wind eventually.

5. I've not mentioned raising the main when hove to; if your main has a boltrope you may be more sensitive to having it be pointing straight back than if your sail has slugs, and doing it upwind may be easier than while hove to. Both take the load off the main, but if hove to, the boom is not centered. However, it's worth experimenting with this technique and Tim describes it well. (You'll need searoom to leeward, something I don't have in my scenario 2).

6. I've not really mentioned techniques that work well for exposed areas in high winds. That's a scenario that I don't run into a lot. My favorite places to launch all have trees or buildings that tend to shelter the dock.
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