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Bob in Alabama
08-14-2009, 01:59 PM
Silly question, but I'm newly back to sailing after about a 30 year hiatus. Just completed a 15 ft plywood sailer with sunfish rig. What is a reasonable lower and upper limit for wind while I'm re-learning how to sail on the local lake? This afternoon forcast is for 5 knots. I have paddles but I'd hate to get stuck on the other side!!

Bob

Dan McCosh
08-14-2009, 02:05 PM
When I first learned to sail, I was about 10 years old, in a dinghy in the Detroit River. Getting becalmed meant having the current take you down stream. The Coast Guard once hauled me back. Then I tried Lake Huron in 25 knots. Didn't ever tell my mother, though. Still remember surfing those waves that afternoon.

Thorne
08-14-2009, 02:34 PM
Question won't be how little wind (build oars) but how much. And of course you can't really predict how much the wind will rise and fall during sailing trips, either.

The oars will allow you to drop the rig and get home even in relatively high winds. As for the rest, that will be determined by your courage, life insurance coverage, and cell phone reception...:D

Here's a nutmeg with oars -
http://www.smallboatforum.com/SBF%20Image%20File/Nutmeg3.jpg

Tealsmith
08-14-2009, 02:36 PM
The sunfish rig is simple enough to control with one line. Just keep your hand on it and you can dump the gusts pretty quick.

DGentry
08-14-2009, 03:11 PM
5-10 is often great for (re)learning. 15 and up is likely pushing it, esp your first few times back. Later, that'll be when the fun starts!

Sail upwind, first. That way you can drift back to your starting point if all doesn't goes as planned.
If the wind is light and variable, don't sail too far - paddling a sailboat sucks.

Have fun!
Dave

flydog
08-15-2009, 07:54 AM
5-10 is often great for (re)learning. 15 and up is likely pushing it, esp your first few times back. Later, that'll be when the fun starts!

Sail upwind, first. That way you can drift back to your starting point if all doesn't goes as planned.
If the wind is light and variable, don't sail too far - paddling a sailboat sucks.

Have fun!
Dave
I am in full agreement. I built a 12' sailing dinghy and sail it on a lake GA. I have found that Spring and Fall are the best times to sail with steady winds blowing. Summertime winds here in the South are usually short-lived and the result of a storm nearby. Yes, paddling a sailboat sucks!

Hwyl
08-15-2009, 08:16 AM
At 5 knots you'll need to know how to sail in light air, the Beaufort scale is useful
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A876864, this particular one describes 5 knots as "Wind felt on face, leaves rustle, flags stir". At 15 knots you should be sure of knowing how to sail.

Bon Channce

Dan McCosh
08-15-2009, 12:56 PM
Dunno how this boat is shaped, but an actual Sunfish is pretty easy tp paddle by lying on the deck and using youre hands swimming--like a surfboard. As for the minimum wind--if you can see ripples, you are going to move all right. If you see whitecaps, it's probably too strong on an inland lake.

Thorne
08-15-2009, 02:25 PM
Dunno how this boat is shaped (snip)

See photo above. Too much windage to hand paddle or even canoe paddle very far in much wind. But if you drop the rig and bend to the oars, you should make it back to the dock or ramp under most condtions.

Chip-skiff
08-15-2009, 02:30 PM
A steady 5 (ruffled water) to 10 (small waves) is good for learning, and leaves a decent margin for experiment and error. That is if you screw up, you aren't likely to dump it.

Having a steady wind (in both speed and direction), you can concentrate on trimming your hull (by shifting your weight) and the rig. On inland waters, this often means sailing in the morning or late afternoon and evening rather than midday, when heating and circulation cells (the first stage of thunderstorms) can produce hard gusts and abrupt shifts in direction. Rising columns of cloud are a clue to changeable winds. If you're on the water and see a front approaching, or start catching hard puffs (look for dark patches) get off right away.

It also helps to keep your body positioned so you can adjust your weight quickly to keep the boat in balance, (i.e. don't slouch over with your back against one side and your legs stretched out, which is comfy but a hard position to get out of). In my 15 foot skiff, I often sail in a kneeling position (kneepads are nice), resting my bum on my heels.

Another really smart thing that almost no one does is to rig up your boat and then tip it over in waist deep water near shore, so you can get a realistic idea of what it takes to right it, bail, and re-board.

There are descriptions of this in sailing how-to books. The main thing is to apply the techniques to your own craft. To capsize in a blow, in cold deep water, is a bad way to learn.

When you know your craft well, on all points of sail, and can trim, tack, and gybe without hesitation, then more difficult conditions add to the fun.

Good luck and happy sailing.

donald branscom
08-15-2009, 02:45 PM
September -light steady winds.

Flags gently waving.
If flag is flapping and making noise that is 25+ knots
If you see white caps that is 35=45 knots.

Hwyl
08-16-2009, 04:17 AM
September -light steady winds.

Flags gently waving.
If flag is flapping and making noise that is 25+ knots
If you see white caps that is 35=45 knots.

Those numbers are a little on the high side Donald, you could divide them by at least two.