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Thread: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

  1. #36
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    IMG_20190819_121342.jpg
    Here's the rudder. For full details on the boat you can visit http://176inches.blogspot.com

  2. #37
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    I'm surprised this post has generated so much discussion, all of it welcome (except maybe the sawing off the keel suggestions, which are interesting but impractical). I still haven't sailed her since I first posted but my own guess is that the sheeting angle was wrong due to a too long traveler line, so the boat never got enough way while pointing close to the wind. I will work on sail shape, a wide turning radius and weight distribution. If need be I will add a small jib (next year, since I sew my sails in the US were I live part of the year).

  3. #38
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Will there be a tiller extension to allow you to get your weight really well forward?

  4. #39
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    What does this boat weigh and are you mostly sailing alone?

  5. #40
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    I don't think the rudder is the problem. You've got a boat designed to track straight, which is great for rowing, but even a heavier boat with that much external keel would be hard to tack. Yes, you'll have better speed for tacking if you make sure that the line you are using as a traveler is tight as possible. You essentially have to sheet that sail like a jib. But the boat still can't pivot on its centerboard like a sharpie or a racing dinghy. Workboats that were like this relied on using an oar to bring the boat around. I would prefer a small jib that can be backed.

  6. #41
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    A suggestion; ask maybe three people to go out with you. Sit them on the floorboards with the weight distributed to keep the boat on it's lines and test it with that 400 pounds of ballast.

  7. #42
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    A much delayed update. Took out the boat today after various adventures: replacing side rollers with bunks, finding and fixing a leak (damage to lapstrake seam fillet from said rollers), getting sand out of the centerboard trunk that was gumming up the CB, etc. I am happy to report that she tacks well after I shortened the traveler and started keeping up the speed into a slower tacking turn. So phew, no surgery to the keel needed.

    Other small mishaps keep happening but I'm still learning her ways. Worst thing today was finding out that our rope swim ladder is useless. Getting back in after a nice swim was a real hassle. Will get a metal one!

    Cheers!

  8. #43
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by 176inches View Post
    A much delayed update. Took out the boat today after various adventures: replacing side rollers with bunks, finding and fixing a leak (damage to lapstrake seam fillet from said rollers), getting sand out of the centerboard trunk that was gumming up the CB, etc. I am happy to report that she tacks well after I shortened the traveler and started keeping up the speed into a slower tacking turn. So phew, no surgery to the keel needed.

    Other small mishaps keep happening but I'm still learning her ways. Worst thing today was finding out that our rope swim ladder is useless. Getting back in after a nice swim was a real hassle. Will get a metal one!

    Cheers!
    Is that rudder


    strong enough to use as a step? Climbing back over the stern is always safer than over the side.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
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  9. #44
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Is that rudder strong enough to use as a step? Climbing back over the stern is always safer than over the side.
    That's a good idea which occurred to me too late. I brought the pintles and gudgeons form the US and they are not heavy duty. The pivot bolt is 1/4". The movable end of the rudder has lead shot in it to keep it submerged. And I weigh about 215 lbs. All in all I have to say no. The rope ladder hangs from a strong cleat at the aft end of the side deck but the plastic rungs slip under the bottom and there's no way we can climb. I could try to hang it from the side but like you say it's not the best. A metal ladder will probably have to do.

    Thanks.

  10. #45
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    A mizzen will make it want to point up. And an easy addition. In light airs I can steer my coquina with the mizzen sheeting.
    Re-naming straits as necessary.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by davebrown View Post
    A mizzen will make it want to point up. And an easy addition. In light airs I can steer my coquina with the mizzen sheeting.
    The Forum is a treasure chest of ideas I am thankful for them. But... second masts are never easy additions in my experience. I built another boat with a ketch rig with two sprit-boomed standing lugs: fiddly, but it worked well until the undersized foremast delaminated. I assume you are talking about a yawl rig with a small mizzen. But that would interfere with the busy transom: the sprit mainsail's sheeting (the clew is only about two feet short of the transom), the tiller, the small outboard and the boarding ladder (the latter is very important to my wife who loves to swim off the boat). I know there are solutions to these but they are fiddly. The reason I went with the sprit cat rig was the simplicity, and even that is not that easy since I can't find anybody with sailing experience to serve as crew. Sailing skills have disappeared along with traditional boatbuilding ones, pretty sad for a Greek island. So whatever helpers I have (chiefly my lovely spouse of 38 years) serve to hold the boat as it is launched and retrieved, shift their weight as needed and bail in a pinch.

    A few small adjustments are improving tacking performances, such as shortening the sheet traveler and lengthening the sprit by about 10 inches
    to improve sail shape (it no longer fits entirely in the boat but not an issue). And the boat is a joy to row with its generous skeg.

  12. #47
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    After sailing a couple more times in stiff winds I have realized how awkward a sprit sail can be, with all the flapping and wind resistance when brailed and need to strike down the mast instead of dropping the sail if needed. That's on top of the difficulty of controlling the shape without a boom. So I'm looking at performing surgery on the sail, which is much easier and cheaper than messing with the boat itself or adding a mizzen mast.

    I will have to fly the sail back to California (where i have my sewing machine, extra sailcloth etc.). I intend to convert the rig to a sliding gunter, which I have some experience with. The sail will be leg of mutton with or without a curve and battens put into it. Loss of square footage will be minimal and the COE almost the same. A straight gunter yard with jaws will be needed as well as a boom, things I've done before, and I can easily build them from stock lumber here in Greece. It will actually have just one control line (halyard) instead of two (snotter and brailing line) and will be reefable. I thought a curved (birdwing) yard could be cool and efficient but I have no space for a steam box or for a laminating bench. I also ruled out lug sails because of the large forces from the yard aloft on the unstayed mast (something that cracked my mainmast on lake Erie two rigs ago).

    Why did I not do this before? I guess i wanted to try something new but old (sprit sails were very common in Greece up to about three centuries ago).

    Comments and advice welcome.

  13. #48
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    You can set up the spritsail to have a both a halyard and a brail line if you want. Thames barges and other large sprit rigged boats had both. The brail line did not take in the sprit and the sprit had its own lift. Mostly the merit of the unboomed sprit in small boats is keeping the whole thing bundled together getting it in and out of the boat. Looking at your sail, it has quiet a long head, which lets it twist off more than many peakier sails. This does not improve your performance to windward. You might want to think about making a peakier sail if you go with a sliding gunter. I assume then that the mast will stay in the boat and you'll have some kind of toggle system that will let you take the sail on and off the boat. For the fastening the luff to the mast, I have had good luck using robands and toggles with these rigs.
    Ben Fuller
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  14. #49
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Yes, my previous gunter did have toggles which are good for removing the sail, and the planned one will too. I've gotten handy with the eye splices through the years. My current sprit sail does have a long head which doesn't help. I designed it so it would be easy to scandalize but I created other problems. Will be getting back to the US soon and I like to tinker so I may as well try making a more amenable sail over the winter.

  15. #50
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    In my opinion the main problem is the sail as shown in the first image. It is too shallow an angle. But you might try a longer sprit and place the thumb cleat lower down on the mast. That way you should get more tension on the leach. Which should have equal tension on both the head and the leach. On my previous 18' sprit rig my boom less sail was cut steeper. I did have a long small keel and small skeg. I never had any trouble tacking, except if there was a strong chop to the oncoming waves. Then I had to back the jib. I hope this helps and good luck

    Keep Safe but have some fun.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  16. #51
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Many many boats have been sailing happily for years with lugsails on unstayed masts, with no problems or cracked masts; you may be imagining problems that are FAR from typical because of your experience. Lugsails are probably the simplest type of single-sail rig, and very effective, too.

    Tom
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  17. #52
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Gunters have a lot of extra "stuff"
    I think tacking is not entirely a sail type fault, Optis have spritsails and they tack promptly.

  18. #53
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Gunters have a lot of extra "stuff"
    I think tacking is not entirely a sail type fault, Optis have spritsails and they tack promptly.
    Agreed, the main problem is not the rig. I've sailed a Penobscot 14 with a similar long keel, with a gunter rig and a long shallow keel like yours. It still had trouble tacking, but it was a sloop, so I could back the jib to bring her around.

  19. #54
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    I could cut that forefoot off and stick it back on ten times before you can sew and rig a jib.

  20. #55
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Gunters have a lot of extra "stuff"
    I think tacking is not entirely a sail type fault, Optis have spritsails and they tack promptly.
    Unlike an Oppie which has a nice flat bottom and a daggerboard to pivot around, as others have pointed out your boat has a long keel and therefore a general unwillingness to do anything other than track in a straight line.

    That being said, boats like yours can tack so, whilst I'm not 100% sure from the photo in post #5, I think the issue may be to do with the position of the mast in the boat.

    As you go into the tack the main will lose power and you are therefore relying on the boat's momentum to overcome its natural tendancy to keep going straight whilst you have what is effectively an enormous flag mounted on the bow flapping away and dragging the bow back downwind again.

    I don't think that simply swapping to a gunter rig will help too much (but concede that it might) as you still have all the sail area mounted on the bow that needs to be pushed through the wind.

    I would probably avoid adding a mizzen mast. It may help get your bows into the wind, but the issue seems to be more about getting the boat's nose through the wind and onto the other tack. I occasionally sail an 18' dayboat fitted with a mizzen and it can be a pain when tacking. It takes me into the tack well, but then the boat stalls pointing head to wind. Often its best to completely release the mizzen before starting the tack

    It's a big job, but if it was me and I was determined to be able to tack whenever I wanted, I'd try to find a way to move the mast back a foot or so and change the rig to gunter to that it's a taller and thinner sail (it would keep the centre of effort in the right sort of place and not shift it too far aft which using the existing sail would do).

    If not then I'd enjoy the boat as she was and accept that gybing might be the best option - so long as you don't often try to short-tack up a narrow rivers or the like...
    Last edited by AndanteEd; 09-21-2020 at 01:23 PM.

  21. #56
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    I could cut that forefoot off and stick it back on ten times before you can sew and rig a jib.
    I suggested that, but Mr. inches nixed it.

  22. #57
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    OK guys. Thanks for all the suggestions, but no need to pile on about the keel. I have already accepted that the tacking problems are not mainly due to the sprit rig, although as I said I can tack pretty well after I installed a traveler sheet system. In fact I decided to change the rig not because of how the boat tacks but because the rig itself is balky, impossible to reef and has too much drag when brailed. This being my first sprit, I clearly cut it too square which makes it hard to shape right. I decided on a gunter because I had a very good experience with it in the past. As for how long it takes me to modify a sail vs. cutting off the forefoot, you have no idea how well-equipped I am for either (long story short I can sew or modify a sail fast, whereas I am not well situated for serious carpentry, e.g. no table saw).

    So it seems that we are at a stage when helpful suggestions have morphed into pontificating.

    BTW, my name is not Mr. Inches, it is Yorgos (not that it matters). 176 inches is the length of the last two boats (minus stem and transom top) I designed and built.
    Last edited by 176inches; 09-24-2020 at 12:33 AM.

  23. #58
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    When the answer suits you ,they are good suggestions.
    When they do not...it's pontificating

  24. #59
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Ok thanks

  25. #60
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Couple of sandbags might help. As others have suggested, maybe get your weight forward. Also, just glancing at the one picture you posted, I suspect your snotter is too high on the mast (by about two feet guesstimate), though that wouldn't affect tacking all that much, though if the sail has a nice shape it will pull longer as you head up. I had a Woods Hole sprit sail boat rigged seat-of-the-pants (based on old pictures) and it had a HUGE long sprit which was necessary because I'm of the opinion you need to come close to bisecting the angle of the peak (between the head of the sail and the leech) to get a good sail shape, just like a genoa jib lead bisects the angle of the foot and the leech (depending on wind strength and point of sail). also, you might have a really long tiller and possibly not getting a sharp enough angle on the rudder, though of course if you're sailing it through the eye of the wind rather than pivoting through the eye of the wind, that won't be a problem. Just some out-loud cogitations. And one other thing--putting a boom on a sprit sail can work wonders. Especially downwind (though that isn't your problem here)
    Last edited by earling2; 09-23-2020 at 06:44 PM.

  26. #61
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Thanks earling2. My problem with a longer sprit is that it's very hard (so far impossible in fact) to find stock lumber longer than 4 metres here on the island. In any case for many reasons listed earlier I don't like the way the spritsail handles in general. If I'm going to put on a boom I may as well change the rig to something that worked well for me in the past (sliding gunter).

    AndanteEd'a suggestion to move the mast back is the most difficult one I've had so far. I'll try everything else first.

    Cutting off the forefoot, despite what Johnw said, is something I did contemplate and may do yet. But it would be necessary to remove stainless steel screws embedded in epoxy compound and having someone cut a new strip of hardwood to line the new keel (I don't have a table saw). It will take away valuable sailing time, whereas I have the whole winter in California to resew the sail. I don't understand why my reluctance to do this before I try other things rubs some people the wrong way, but it is what it is.

    Cheers,
    Mr Inches

  27. #62
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    A heat gun or soldering iron applied to epoxy-bedded screws for a bit makes removal fairly simple. Not sure why you'd need a new hardwood strip? Won't the old one remain in place on the part of the keel you don't cut off?

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  28. #63
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    I like the hardwood strip to protect the keel against the sand while beaching and against the keel rollers. I guess I could use FB tape instead. It's all doable.

  29. #64
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by 176inches View Post
    Thanks earling2. My problem with a longer sprit is that it's very hard (so far impossible in fact) to find stock lumber longer than 4 metres here on the island. In any case for many reasons listed earlier I don't like the way the spritsail handles in general. If I'm going to put on a boom I may as well change the rig to something that worked well for me in the past (sliding gunter).

    AndanteEd'a suggestion to move the mast back is the most difficult one I've had so far. I'll try everything else first.

    Cutting off the forefoot, despite what Johnw said, is something I did contemplate and may do yet. But it would be necessary to remove stainless steel screws embedded in epoxy compound and having someone cut a new strip of hardwood to line the new keel (I don't have a table saw). It will take away valuable sailing time, whereas I have the whole winter in California to resew the sail. I don't understand why my reluctance to do this before I try other things rubs some people the wrong way, but it is what it is.

    Cheers,
    Mr Inches
    I don't have a problem with you not wanting to modify the keel, I was just telling Wiz that you'd already rejected the idea.

    Cordially,
    Mr. W.

  30. #65
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Ok Mr W, I'm sorry I read that wrong. I do value feedback and I do believe you that the keel is interfering.

    Informational question for you and everyone: traditional boats, especially carvel ones, do have substantial keels just because of how they are built. Are they all bad at tacking?

    Cheers,
    Y

  31. #66
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    Quote Originally Posted by 176inches View Post
    Ok Mr W, I'm sorry I read that wrong. I do value feedback and I do believe you that the keel is interfering.

    Informational question for you and everyone: traditional boats, especially carvel ones, do have substantial keels just because of how they are built. Are they all bad at tacking?

    Cheers,
    Y
    Not quite so, sharpies, for example, can be made to spin in their own length. I've also seen traditional boats with flat plank keels. The long external keel is more typical of rowing boats, which need to track well.

    One example is the melonseed, a row and sail type with the emphasis on sailing:



    The sneakbox even moreso:



    of course, heavier boats with plenty of ballast can hold their way better in a tack, so they can have more of a gripe to the forefoot.

    Your boat appears to be based on a rowing type, and it's lighter than the type would typically have been. Keep in mind, a lot of these boats, when they were used as workboats, there was no problem with using an oar to get the boat on the other tack.

  32. #67
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    Default Re: Tacking difficulties w. sprit sail

    I designed this boat to row well (skeg) and for the CB pivot bolt to be under the hull (I had leakage issues with the last one). I cannot remove all of the keel forward of the CB for structural and other reasons. The remaining question is, is it worth reducing the forefoot depth by say half to improve tacking, or use some of the other remedies. Using an oar would be fine as long as I had a tiller extension (which is a good idea anyway).

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