View Full Version : Mizzensail during a tack.
06-16-2004, 10:48 AM
I'm getting conflicting advice on what to do with the mizzensail while going about on a small 13-foot yawl in a moderate to heavy winds. Some folks suggest letting go of the mizzensail as soon as you put the helm over, otherwise, it'll lock you to the wind as she comes round. Others tell me that the inability to conserve momentum on such a small boat means keeping the mizzen tight until the last possible moment prior to coming on-wind, and then letting her go, thereby allowing the sail to push the boat around part way, and making for a quicker tack.
I suppose this is totaly academic, and the only way to tell for sure is to try it on each individual boat, but until I finish painting her I can't try it. I'm rather new at this, and am still working on jibs, so the mizzensail has me rather mistified, and I was wondering if there is a generally accepted method? Any other advice on one person sailing with three sails would be appreciated, as well. (I realize that chewing gum while all of this is going on is totally out of the question ;) )
06-16-2004, 02:17 PM
I don’t know anything about Mizzens, but I’ll tell you about my approach to tacking a jib.
When I am sailing a small boat (less then 15) (especially solo in a lot of wind) I don’t let the jib go until I am though the tack and gaining headway. In lots of wind this will pull the front of the boat over quicker.
On a large boat (especially with a Genoa, and a fair crew) I let the jib go before I pull the tiller over, while in irons the crew (or me) pulls the sheet in (to the point of being too tight) and relaxes it after the tack to the appropriate setting.
I'm glad someone with some know was able to help. Me, during a tack I usually have to break out a paddle. :(
06-16-2004, 02:33 PM
I'm not sure, but I think that the mizzen, like the main, is self-tacking. Get the jib over and the rest is bound to follow.
06-16-2004, 02:46 PM
Friend of mine has a cat, and although he's tried the paddle bit for tacking, even that's very hard. He sail's in Tawas Bay, Michigan; so, he's always got the option of Canada... but then, that would put him the Georgian Bay, which I understand can be a real challenge. ;)
06-16-2004, 02:47 PM
This is one of those things which surely varies a lot from boat to boat, but with that caveat what works on our wee yawl is to sheet the mizzen in tight before going about. The sail's centre of effort being aft, it seems only to help bringing her bow up to the eye. As we fall off on the other tack, the main being sheeted in and the mizzen eased moves the balance forward, and we're off.
A thirteen foot yawl? What are you building [and where are the pictures smile.gif ]
06-16-2004, 02:52 PM
I'd think the mizzen should tend itself. The mizzen on Rarus is self tending through tacks. jibing, on the other hand, the mizzen has to be tended to, or it can be difficult to bring the stern across the wind.
Tacking a small catamaran with no jib is a real job. I don't think we managed it more than once on our Hobie. Whole different deal with a yawl.
06-16-2004, 03:05 PM
She's a wee yawl alright (I somehow prefer that to small yawl). Check out the post for a "Swifty 13" in the repair section, she's boat #1 for Fred Shell. Here's a photo when she was newly built:
06-16-2004, 03:06 PM
The link below has some useful comments on how to handle a Caledonia Yawl that is rigged with mizzen and jib (I have a Ness Yawl without jib). The Ness Yawl mizzen must be released at the same time the tiller is put over.
It seems to me that momentum shouldn't be a problem in moderate to heavy winds unless you are pinching or slamming the tiller over hard. When the wind is light, I've found that it is often easier to jibe.
You'll get the hang of it after sailing for a few hours in different conditions.
[ 06-16-2004, 03:08 PM: Message edited by: Don Olney ]
06-16-2004, 03:19 PM
Hey, thanks for the link to the Caledonia Yawl. Plenty of material for thought there.
06-16-2004, 03:25 PM
Well, you'll end up with a sailplan that is nicely spread over the length of the boat and in independently adjustable chunks to boot. It may at first be a bit like a Chinese fire drill, but in the long run will give you plenty of options to try and to control in your quest to achieve perfect tacks. The boat should more or less pivot about it's CLP/centerboard/keel area with the sails pushing on the ends in proportion to how much you have trimmed or eased them, adjusting the angle that the boat wants to sail to the wind.
Sail areas, heel angles, windspeed, boatspeed, waves and the characteristics of that particular boat will all figure into the equation, so it's quite difficult to make good predictions at this point about what to do with which sail during the process of tacking. Backwinding the jib, when and if needed, or leaving the mizzen set tight to weathervane the boat and then easing it to let the sail area up forward finish the tack are all possibilities worth playing with. The question of how much speed you need to carry into a tack and how sharply you can steer through the turn for things to go smoothly are also always enormously important questions, and their answers may not be the same from day to day as conditions change. The single-sailed Hobies mentioned above are a great example of that. With proper speed and by cutting the widest, smoothest arc with the rudder that you think you can get away with, in order to prevent losing too much of that speed, you learn to tack them smoothly. Too sharp a turn, or too little speed and you're stuck in irons big-time.
Your system should be drastically easier to tack due to it's sailplans ability to move the "active" sail area from one end of the boat to the other, but speed and turn radius can still be important if you want tacks to go smoothly.
Best thing to do.....go sailing and experiment to see what works best. It's gonna' be a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. You may even decide to throw the rudder away and just steer with the sails!
[ 06-16-2004, 03:26 PM: Message edited by: Todd Bradshaw ]
06-17-2004, 12:05 AM
Nice photo. But if she carries her way enough to get that far out of the channel, going about should be no problem at all. tongue.gif
06-17-2004, 09:55 AM
What Phil said, and the rest is good too.
I pretty much ignore the mizzen when tacking my Drascombe Lugger, which has a similar rig. Oh it's fun, and good, to work the sails on all points. Really looking at how various sail arrangements affect the boat in various conditions is an essence of sailing a small boat. Spending time getting to know, by sailing, is the only way to grok it. But my boat tacks well in various conditions with the mizzen sheeted in and ignored. I'll bet yours will too, unless it's lighter in weight than it appears. Not pinching, keeping the boat's speed up, sheeting in the main as you come through the tack to keep it drawing as long as possible.
A stiff short chop on the nose in light conditions might be the one exception, but only if you stall the rudder with too much helm, or are pinching and slow to begin with.
Learn how to sail backwards on the rare occasion you find yourself in irons and you'll complete the tack anyway. That means: When the boat stops moving forward, starts to move back, reverse the helm, but again, not too hard.
Go out and play with it. Someone aboard who's more experienced yet not a pedant can help.
[ 06-17-2004, 10:07 AM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]
06-17-2004, 10:33 AM
As Todd pointed out, smooth helps. A small boat has to tack faster as it has less momentum.
Anyway, I hate backing a jib except as part of a low speed manoever like backing the boat up to a dock or heaving-to or something.
On quite a few boats both large and small I find it helpful to have some reachable mizzen foreguy on each side of the boom. Slack the sheet and yank that mizzen to weather just as you start the tack, essentially drasticly overtrimming the sail so that it will act first as an air rudder and then as it gets out of stall will power the stern around.
On some yawls and narrow boats it can be hard to get a good point of purchase for this. But on a small boat, you might do just fine reaching back a couple feet abaft the tack and pushing the boom with one hand.
On Grana my single handed drill in light air when tacking her is particularly hard is to spin the wheel, drop the jib, jump up and push the mizzen out to old weather, leap across the cockpit to catch the jib as we square away on the new tack, sometimes giving the wheel a good kick to get it back to center while I'm trimming the jib. Grana tacks with great deliberation so this is not as hectic as it may sound.
I was used to responsive sloops when I first got Goblin and did not realize how much the jib held her head down. I spent a while tacking very poorly while dogmaticly not permitting my crew to release the jib before the luff broke as we headed up. Then one race I had a willfully disobedient crew member who just could not get it right. She'd release on "Ready About" no matter how many times I corrected her. She was not being smarter than I, mind you. Just a pain. But about the fifth such tack I noticed that we were tacking better than normal and later careful experimentation led me to realize that some boats turn too slowly if the jib is kept full while you bear up.
So, if you've trouble tacking the first thing I'd do is try releasing the jib a tooudge earlier so it's simultaneous with the first twidge on the rudder. If you find that the mizzen holds you high, just drop it the minute you're in the eye of the wind and retrim after the jib is secure on your new tack.
Normal tacking should not require overtrimming the mizzen or backing the main.
One thing you might try is revolving the boat. Start in irons and push the rudder and jib out on the same side. You're steering in reverse here and the force on the rudder is strong so hang on. Keep the mizzen and main very loose so you don't gather way till on a beam reach. Leave the jib backed but now put the rudder hard over the other way. As you gybe, let the main run really free but stop the mizzen amidships and let the jib run free. You'll round right back up. With practice, you'll be able to spin her right on her own heal. Have a good line handeler on the main sheet and experiment first in gentle breezes so you don't break anything.
Another tiddly trick, useful for recovering stuff lost overboard is the 'crash-tack-gybe-tack.' Just put her hard over leaving the jib alone. As you bear off, on the new tack, keep the jib backed. You may need to ease the mizzen and the main to keep her bearing off rather than settling in hove-to. Loop around gybing under the lost object and tacking just over it. By now you're revolving more than moving forward and a tight mizzen, moderatly free main, backed jib and down helm should leave you hove-to just abeam your targed and making a square drift to it.
Fun with boats.
06-17-2004, 11:18 AM
I wanna go sailing with Ian.
Seriously, it will take some time and more experience to digest what he just said, but he could teach it to me directly, on a boat, with much greater alacrity.
The rig on Windhawk's boat works the same principles, but is simpler than a larger Marconi or gaff rigged yawl. Not to discount Ian's observations. Hell, I need to study up, and sail some larger yawls, before I can even understand them.
I think the book is, Shallow Drascombe Seamanship . That's close, and it's available from the Brit Drascombe association. I've not read it, but use of rigs and boats similar to yours Wind are apparently discussed in wise detail.
06-17-2004, 11:42 AM
Your boat is essentially a heavy dinghy, so it might be fun to try this old dinghy drill:
On a mildly breezy day, lash the tiller amidships (or dismount the rudder altogether, if that's convenient) and maneuver the boat around for a while on sail trim alone. That'll teach you more than anything about your particular vessel's tendendcies and handling quirks during various maneuvers.
06-17-2004, 02:48 PM
Hmmmm... Try it without the rudder?
OK. I'm going to start her out on a shallow, sandy bottomed kettle-lake anyway; so, it's not like I'll be dashed upon the rocks by a sudden, modest gale whilst trying to reinsert the rudder; all the while cursing mine own guilelessness...
It might even be fun!
06-17-2004, 06:19 PM
Good call, lashing the helm and going by weight trim and sail trim. Many traditional boats before the windsurfer has no rudder. Tack by trimming hard and running to the bow.
Anyway, rereading your first question - heavier breeze - and looking at the picture . . .
It's likely she hasn't the mass to carry her through the wind in the same way you'd do in a gentle breeze. If you can gather three things in two hands - maybe mizzen sheet in the hand on the tiller and other hand for the jib - try tacking her very hard dropping those two sheets as you put the helm down. Bring the jib in as soon as she wants to be on the new side. Never force a jib across but there's no reason to dawdle or let the sheets be slack. Then, when you're full and by trim the mizzen.
How much weather helm does she have as it blows up?
06-17-2004, 06:55 PM
This boat steers mostly by the sails.
It takes a good design to do it.
Of course N.G. Herreshoff did this one!
Worse case you could jib instead of tack, the long way around.
06-18-2004, 09:06 AM
Because of the hard chines instead of a board in the middle, she wants to go leeward as the wind picks up. Raising the mizzen brings the balance back a little, and cuts down on that quite a bit.
Here's the best shot I currently have of her bottom. There are aluminum strips on the bottom, so she sits nicely on the ground:
By the way, is "hard chines" the correct term for her keel?
06-18-2004, 09:08 AM
Also, that's a nice looking boat Bob.
06-18-2004, 09:19 AM
You have twin keels.
The chine is also called the turn of the bilge usually a bit below the waterline but not always. Flat bottomed and V bottomed boats may have a hard chine if there's a noticable angle usually at or just below the waterline.
While your darling has an angle between the flat bottom and the garboards, the dory like planking seems to make her more like soft chined or multichined depending on how seriously you take the angles plank to plank. I figure that if you could steam bend in frames, the curve is gentle enough that it's soft chined. If the angles are severe enough that you need some sort of sawn and gussetted structure, then it's hard chined.
Is there a web site showing more details of the design? Does she have provision for lee boards or bilge boards?
Twin keels are hard to design to be really quick as there is lots of hydrodynamic drag if the waves from the two keels conincide near the hull. However, this matters little at low speed and a small boat like this can't be overly quick. Still, it looks like the balance is a bit odd and the mizzen might have been added to make up for the apparantly aft-ish center of lateral resistance.
Addendum: I was rereading your last post and looking at the picture and you've described exactly what I mean. The boat wants to fall off (what you mean, I think) by go leeward) without her mizzen. "Weather helm" is the tendency of a boat to head upwind if you let go of the helm. It's also the amount you have to hold the helm to counter this. A "lee helm" is when you have to hold the tiller down to counter the boat's desire to fall off the wind. A lee helm is very bad. A little weather helm is good. Most boats increase the weather helm as the breeze picks up and the boat heels over. If you're over-canvassed and/or poorly balanced, the boat can weathercock uncontrollably.
Just to clarify, 'leeway' is the difference between where the boat's pointed and the actual track made good through the water. Your boat is likely to make a visible amount of leeway, maybe 10 degrees or so. When sailing to weather, look back at how the wake appears to angle away from your upwind quarter.
[ 06-18-2004, 09:27 AM: Message edited by: Ian McColgin ]
06-18-2004, 10:50 AM
Thanks, Ian. Although, I grew up with boats, and my grandfather & his father owned a boatyard here in Michigan where they built scow schooners & steamers during the late 1800's; my father, and all of my uncles owned aluminum motor boats as soon as they became practical, (just tired of refinishing wood, I suppose). So, I'm very new to sailing.
This boat is the prototype (#001) that Fred Shell built by hand for the line of kit boats he sells as the "Swifty 13" out of Vermont. See: www.shellboats.com (http://www.shellboats.com) for a bit more info. I do have a set of plans for her, and here's another picture of her from the side.
I have spoken with Fred, but I don't want to pester him so much as to become anoying; so, that when I really need his insight, I won't feel as if I'm putting him out. The folks on this website are great sources of information.
By the way, here's a picture of a steamer my g-grandfather built:
The Milwaukee Public Library entry for the steam barge Bessie follows:
Publisher [Milwaukee, Wis.: Milwaukee Public Library, 1989- ] Description items in folder : ill., photos. ; 22 x 28 cm.
Note Official no.: 3122.
Wooden steam barge built in 1880 by Harriman at Fair Haven, or Swan Creek, Michigan for Schnoor.
Engines: High pressure non-condensing 14 x 14, supplying 114 H.P. built by Dry Dock Engine Works in Detroit, Michigan in 1880.
Builder: J. S. Ruby
Built: Fair Haven, MI
Gross Tonnage: 89.22
1882 Owner Schnoor of Sandusky, value $4,000. Abandoned in 1915.
Owners include: J.H. Hudson, Sandusky, Ohio; J.S. Thompson and the Thompson Bros., St. Clair, Mich.; John Stevenson, St. Clair; Cynthia M. Brewer, Cleveland, Ohio; S.B. Meyer, Sandusky; River Rouge Sand Co., Detroit; Standard Sand & Gravel Co., Cleveland.
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