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Thread: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

  1. #1
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    Default Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Hi all, me and my spritsail again. I had some difficulty tacking with it, it would stall while turning into the wind. I thought perhaps the clew was not far aft enough while sailing close to the wind (which the sail can do fairly well), so I shortened the traveler. Maybe the snotter was a little loose, maybe the tack not hauled down enough. Haven't had a chance to try again but I thought I'd ask the forum. Thanks in advance.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    fotos puleezz
    A "sail" is not difficult to tack.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Does your sail have a boom?

    If not, the proper sheeting angle is critical. Generally that means running the sheet to a point as far aft, and as far outboard, as possible (often a cleat on the gunwale just forward of the transom). If you sheet a boomless sail near the centerline--anywhere inboard of the gunwale, really--you won't get good performance.

    Having the sail setting well and snotter at the right tension is also important, as you mention. You want a smooth wing-like surface with no bagginess or wrinkles in the sail, and no creases from too much tension either.

    What kind of centerboard/daggerboard/leeboard are you using? And rudder? Those are also potential issues. As is crew weight--you may need your weight farther forward to tack well.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Is it a long keeled boat, they sometimes need help to get through the eye of the wind by holding the jib aback.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    IMG_20200712_110124.jpg
    Not a good photo, from a dry run. It is a boomless sail with no jib, and the boat has what I think is a large enough centerboard (bigger than ones I had before with various boomed sails) weighted with lead shot. I have tightened the snotter, hauled down the tack and set up a traveler system for the sheet since the photo was taken. I think the traveler line was too loose and therefore the clew was not far enough aft, with the sail looking big bellied (rather than like an airfoil) while close to the wind. I have will try again soon with modifications. I hadn't realized how sensitive the spritsail is to all these, I knew about all factors people mentioned except the weight position. Maybe I should drop the CB deeper next time too.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Don't know what Nick means by long keeled, she has a 3 inch deep keel that turns into a skeg aft.
    IMG_20190827_105047.jpg

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Where do you sit in the boat?
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    It looks as though you need to build up enough speed to sail her round the tack so that she is well through before you power up the sail.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Tacking is a function of momentum, hydrodynamics, aerodynamics, and turning radius. Momentum is speed + weight. She looks slippery enough and the rig not slowing you down much. The keel forward of the centerboard will lengthen the turning radius and speed coming into the tack is critical. More board down might tighten the turn enough and more weight aboard might carry your speed far enough. Keep playing with it. Or, have a paddle handy.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Thanks everyone. This is my third boat and fifth rig, all self designed and built, so everything is a work in progress. I am hopeful that the adjustments you all suggest will work, especially the sheeting angle. I sit aft to hold the tiller but I usually have one crew. Both of us can sit further forward if that helps.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    How you handle the sheet may matter as well. Do you sheet in at the start of the tack and then ease the sheet as you go into the wind? Or do you just ride through (or not all the way through) the tack without adjusting the sheet? Could you give the sheet a bit of a tug to pull the bow around after you are mostly through the wind without slowing the boat too much?

    I'd play around with the sheet location, sheet tension at various stages in the tack and also with where you sit in the boat.
    Yachting, the only sport where you get to be a mechanic, electrician, plumber and carpenter

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Windward ability is directly related to boat speed.
    You might try falling off a bit and getting the speed up before you tack...

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    And if Canoeyawl's approache does not work, try gybing. The lesser the wind that is blowing, the harder it is to come about in many boats. That is why the maximum hull speed for the conditions makes sense out of gybing as you have enough speed for the helm to answer.
    Jay

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    With that big gripe and skeg, that boat just won't want to turn. It will track nicely as a rowboat, but unless you get rid of most of the external keel, I don't see it tacking well. One solution would be to have a small jib you could back to bring the boat around.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Yes, I did wear in the end (turned through a gybe) and it worked fine but still I want to be able to tack, you don't lose as much way. Also managed to tack occasionally but with difficulty. I'll report back next time I go out (busy with my visiting toddler grandson right now). Thanks to all.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Another detail is that small lightly built displacement boats may have more windage than momentum to carry you through the eye of the wind, they head right into the wind and stop. It is a common tactic (no pun) to start the tack from the helm then quickly move forward and put the bow down then quickly move back as soon as the bow is through.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    I'd ditch the long keel/skeg and add a CB or DB. PIVOT around a small board, rather than turn slowly and wide like an airplane.
    My weird 10 'er tacks like a bat, her rig is WAY crazy forward and she should not work at all.Here bottom is smooth, not even a small landing strip to protect the bottom.
    -PAXP-deijE.gif

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    I'd ditch the long keel/skeg and add a CB or DB. PIVOT around a small board, rather than turn slowly and wide like an airplane.
    My weird 10 'er tacks like a bat, her rig is WAY crazy forward and she should not work at all.Here bottom is smooth, not even a small landing strip to protect the bottom.
    -PAXP-deijE.gif
    It would be easier to fit a small jib as John suggests. That will push her head round. It does on my long keeled ella boat.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Jib...now we have shrouds.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    If the centreboard will go down to a greater extent it has to be a helpful thing to try.The other part of the equation is what might be happening at the other end of the boat.We have no information beyond the helmsman sitting fairly well aft to use the tiller.How long is the tiller and how effective is the rudder?

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Jib...now we have shrouds.
    Nah, this jib doesn't have to be real efficient, it's just for steering with the sails. Besides, rig the halyard to the top of the mast, and the head of the sail will be pulling against it, very unlike a jib-headed sail.

    I think this boat has a centerboard of some sort. I've sailed something like it, a Penobscot 14 with a sloop rig, and I would not want to sail that boat without a jib to help me tack. Like the boat in the picture, it has a long external keel that keeps the boat from tacking properly.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Jib...now we have shrouds.
    So? Less work than ripping the keel and skeg off and making good, which might screw the rudder hangings up and the boat's balance by losing the area of the skeg.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    I have a 20' pulling boat dead straight on the keel with deep ends that takes about an acre to turn but in a straight line she is hard to keep up with.
    I rigged it for sail because I can and the only way to tack was with a small mizzen that I could back. It works every time, even when dead in the water with no steerage, which is what inevitably happens!.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    I have a sprit rigged boat that stops very quickly while tacking if I don't do everything right. The next thing she likes to do is to go backwards. In that case I throw the tiller over the opposite direction and she'll turn through the eye of the wind.
    Will

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by willmarsh3 View Post
    I have a sprit rigged boat that stops very quickly while tacking if I don't do everything right. The next thing she likes to do is to go backwards. In that case I throw the tiller over the opposite direction and she'll turn through the eye of the wind.
    This is another maneuver for sure, but a deadly one if it is blowing.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Once again thanks for the suggestions. But sorry, I'm not taking a chainsaw to my boat to improve tacking agility.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Try moving aft when tacking to see if that helps. I'd also consider making a longer sprit, so that it comes down closer to the gunwales at the point it crosses the mast, making it easier to adjust while seated.

    Do you sail with the CB fully down, or does it stop at a backwards angle? Does the boat have a lot of weather helm or does it balance nicely with the single spritsail?
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Thome:
    Helm seems balanced enough and CB does angle backwards. I will try sitting aft (which I have been doing) or forward (as others have said, may add a tiller extension). I'm sure a longer sprit would improve things, might use a bamboo pole (hard to find long lumber here).
    I'll try everything other than keel surgery and report back.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Couple of things: A tiller extension will help you trim the boat well. Almost every little boat like this without one will tail drag when solo sailig. Been seeing that for years. An old XC bamboo ski pole is ideal as you can run a line out of the end to a hole on the tiller for a low tech universal joint. There are nice commercial fittings. I don't like to just use a bolt unless it is really easy to lift the tiller.

    Getting forward and to leeward is the ticket for trim to tack. I can sail my skiff rudderless as long as there isn't much of a sea and tack with such a bit of trim.

    As others have suggested make sure you have way on and sail her around like a big boat, don't slam the rudder down like we are used to on racing dinghies.

    All else fails just grab the foot as she goes through the wind and back her a touch.
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    If your boat is sensitive enough to be steered by shifting only your weight, ditch the rudder and steer by balance. Using an oar to just bring her about on a new tack can make things easier as well. Some St. Lawrence river skiffs were and are steered and tacked in that manner. I once had a dory that was one of those cantankerous critters that worked better in that manner. Also, adding ballast in the bilges can give assistance in carry thru if the hull is extra sensitive to currents and wind shifts. Or just try carrying an extra person and see what that does and then add some sand bags and see if the weight helps. Often it takes a bit of time to learn what is best for handling a touchy boat. Another trick would be to add a boom which could allow more sensitive and effective flattening of the sail close on the wind by clew and hoist tension control.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 08-03-2020 at 12:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Another detail is that small lightly built displacement boats may have more windage than momentum to carry you through the eye of the wind, they head right into the wind and stop. It is a common tactic (no pun) to start the tack from the helm then quickly move forward and put the bow down then quickly move back as soon as the bow is through.
    You could have been talking of my Mac. sailing canoe in light air.

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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Ben's points in post #29 need to be carefully considered and I find myself nodding in agreement.I couldn't count the number of times I have opened the Launchings page in Woodenboat And seen a beautifully built modern take on a traditional boat which doesn't stand a chance of performing as well as the boat that it draws inspiration from.The proud builder,who may be ten inches taller than the original builder and maybe 85 pounds heavier sits where he can grip the sturdy tiller and is quite oblivious to the sheerline pointing at the tops of the trees adjoining the waterway.We rarely see a bow wave,because they tend not to move too fast.Possibly because the traditional rig didn't generate the power to drag that much weight in a badly trimmed boat at a great speed.The good old salt didn't have a tiller extension to keep his lithe body from weighing down the stern and wouldn't really have needed one and the new builder simply wouldn't deviate from the plans to include such a thing.

    Jay has added some very valuable pointers and they should be digested.We still haven't seen the rudder in the thread and I would hope it isn't the all too common barn door outline with no more concession to hydrodynamics than having a small radius on the corners of a rectangular slab.Simply shifting the drag to one side of the boat isn't the same as having an efficient rudder section applying a lateral force to the stern.Michael Storer's method of applying a good approximation of a foil section to a rudder or daggerboard might aid the performance of the boat in all phases of sailing and not just when tacking.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    ^ Adding to that, traditional boats were built to work. Carrying passenger, stores, nets. So the helmsman sitting by the tiller was only part of the dead weight.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Tempo is a crab skiff having a gripe giving her a keel from stem to stern, no jib and a large (but foiled) barn door rudder. Tacking is a slow measured process of sheeting in while slowly pushing the tiller over. She'll always tack unless I'm pinching too much.
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  35. #35
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by willmarsh3 View Post
    I have a sprit rigged boat that stops very quickly while tacking if I don't do everything right. The next thing she likes to do is to go backwards. In that case I throw the tiller over the opposite direction and she'll turn through the eye of the wind.
    Yep, it works well if you ease off the main and fall well away onto the new tack.

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