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Thread: Gentlemen in schooners don't go to windward...

  1. #1
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    Well, sometimes they have to. This Sunday we had a 20 mile slog into 20-25 knots, gusting to 30. Dalia pointed fairly well (4-5 points from the wind - too variable to really tell, inside the mountainous bay, with all the shifts), but did no better than 4.5 knots, with all working sail and jib topsail.

    Then it started to hit a steady 28-29 knots, and looked like it might increase. I went below and saw fish out of the lee portholes, and decided it was past time to reef. The proper reef would have been to drop the jib topsail and reef the main, but we were tired and hungover (BIG party Saturday night, and we slept (tried to) docked to the hosts' house, while four drunken fools karaoked until sunrise). So we dropped the foresail instead.

    Now here is the point. Once the foresail was gone I found we could ease the mainsheet a bit, and our speed actually increased a few tenths of a knot, while pointing the same. I presume that is because the main was getting cleaner air without the foresail to bend it. So here is my idea - would a schooner beat better with a big jib or jib topsail, lots of head, and no foresail? In lighter wind, main topsail, and still no foresail?

    What do you think? Any experienced schooner men out there? (I am not one!)

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    Fun to play with and forgiving too

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    What I mean is, would it be worth it to invest (I'm poor!) in a BIG genoa-like jib topsail for windward sailing, sized so that it was meant to be used with no foresail in all but the lightest airs?

    [ 08-18-2004, 06:22 PM: Message edited by: George. ]

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    It's immpossible to be objective unless you tried reefing in the same conditions. it's normal for a boat to go faster if you take some sail off her when ehe's being pressed.

    A philosopher would answer your question with a question. Would she be faster to windward if you eliminated the foresail and made the masts infinitely close together. The answer would "yes" and you'd have a sloop. You must have gone through this evolution when you decided on your schooner rig. You did not choose the most efficient sailing rig. Even if you discount the aesthetics (form follows function) the schooner is a great rig for maneuvering under sail and relatively easy to handle (do you really want a "big genoa").

    That's my take.

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    Originally posted by Hwyl:
    It's immpossible to be objective unless you tried reefing in the same conditions. it's normal for a boat to go faster if you take some sail off her when ehe's being pressed.
    I have. Well, not the SAME conditions - there is no such thing, is there? But all I got out of reefing the main before is maintaining speed while heeling less (and ****tin' smaller bricks!).

    I take your point about a big jib - I had a jib sheet parting before, in 20+, and almost got brained by the "D" ring. And you are right about why I chose a schooner - aesthetics (I didn't know better!) - but then I learned about easy helm balance, and easy maneuvering, and no hernias while making sail, and ... wouldn't trade her for a sloop if you paid me to win a windward race!

    [ 08-18-2004, 08:33 PM: Message edited by: George. ]

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    Never tried it on a schooner, but the yawl & ketch boys all say that dropping the main, and going with jib & mizzen alone can be interesting. Claim is, you can sail without using the rudder. I'm about 3 days from dumping my yawl overboard, so stay tuned (although, at 13", she may not be quite "representative" of the class).

  7. #7
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    I think the ultimate combination of sail for windward work on a schooner would be to have it rigged as a staysail schooner. However, I'm not experienced enough to be able to comment on sailing a staysail schooner windward in heavy weather.

    I think Hwyl's comment regarding your boat possibly being overpressed makes the most amount of sense here, so far.

    Besides, I thought schoonermen didn't worry about sailing upwind. What's she like on a long reach, with all her canvas up?

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    She loves it!! Leave the helm for ten minutes, no ties, and she is still doing 7-8 knots, within a point of her intended heading. Makes you wonder why you would go anywhere else!!

    But sometimes, at the end of the day, home is to windward...

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    4.5 sounds pretty slow to me. I won't tell you that I can go to windward at 6.5-7 in my 1953 Hinckley Sloop...

    Anyway depending on your sail arangement a big boat like that will still want power in a headwind. IE don't sheet it in too tight.

    Heck even with a jib up the forward 1/3 of my main is being backwinded in the heavy stuff. Let the trav down (if you have one) try to flatten the sail as best you can, but don't over sheet the thing. Stuff might start to rattle/luff as you get close to the wind, but chances are you will still have lots of power. Obviously play the shifts. Lifters are the only thing that will get you home.

    All this said, I have never sailed a schooner, but who's counting? We did 14 knots in a 24ft boat tonight downwind and 6.5 up. Still didn't win the darn race though...

    Noah

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    Sounds like your doing what these guys are
    http://www.mari-cha4.com/pub/frameset.php



    [ 08-18-2004, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: brian.cunningham ]

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    Goblin was reriged from marconi main gaff fore to a staysail rig, to her detriment. I suspect that a staysail schooner doen't get really good unless the boat is over 20 tons. Anyway, I've lots of experience on regular schooners and Grana is a three masted schooner.

    None of my boats had three stays up there and I'm not much experienced with a true jib topsail set above and outside the jib which is outside and usually higher than the forestaysail.

    My limited experience with triple headsail rigs was that the jib topsail was a light weather sail anyway.

    On double headsail rigs - jib and forestaysail - I always found more power keeping the forestaysail up and moving to a smaller jib than taking the forestaysail down. The only time sailing that I strike the forestaysail is sometimes going way down wind and even then I usually just center the forestaysail to dampen the roll a bit. You do need to do something with the forestaysail off the wind as it's the first thing wants to gybe and, if clubbed, can turn the foredeck into a combat zone.

    G'luck

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    We also only drop the staysail when running - it won't fill and won't let the jib fill. By dropping it, and steering just so, I can get main, fore, and jib to draw. That makes her move faster than with the wind on the quarter and all sails on the same side.


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    Our experience with MAGIC, our 40' LOD schooner, over the years has led us to drive to windward in heavier breezes such as you describe, under double reefed main, double-reefed (boomless) gaff fore, and (usually) just our working jib. While we can carry a (fore) staysail, it has also been our experience that it tends to backwind the fore a bit when hard on the wind.

    We often work her into and out of anchorages under main and genoa - stretched-out "sloopish" format - for the simple convenience and balance of handling. However, the genoa is large enough and light enough that it would suffer in such stronger apparent winds.

    Such wonder advice you get for $0.02, right?

    Cheers,

    Craig Johnsen

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    GRRRRRR!!! This "go to your imagestation" to post a picture makes me sick: all what has been wtritten previously diseappears then Yes, I know, I should have saved it on some notepad or else...
    Nevertheless...

    So, OK, my two cents as well (wait, that may amount for a buck in a few weeks... )

    My old "Morwenna", 55' LOD gaff schooner, was definitely better to windward without the foresail. Be it said, it was not a very pretty foresail (sorry, I don't have pics of her beating to windward....which does not mean that I am a gentleman

    Battens had been "lost" (???) at the time of this photo....
    I only had a genoa staysail and a jib. I would have liked a big jib, kinda genoa.
    I sailed a staysail schooner once, a big one: "Vagrant", with strong winds (40+) through the Bonifaccio Straits. She was doing a good 12 knots with her two staysails only, and about 40° to the wind. Impressive boat!
    I sailed "Pen Duick III", as well, and she was very very good with her battened mizzen + main under any circumstances, so...
    For a small schooner, I still think that gaff foresail is better than anything... but don't expect me to be really objective there

    Edited to add: Vagrant was originally a gaff schooner. In 1972, when I had the luck to sail aboard her (We were at the Porto Cervo Regattas Week), she had been converted to a staysail schooner , and had the biggest Sparcraft aluminum masts of that time. Still a great schooner!

    [ 08-21-2004, 08:58 AM: Message edited by: Lucky Luke ]

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    With our very limited experiences to date with sailing DECATUR our 42' Malabar Schooner, we are absolutely and totally amazed at how well the boat can be balanced under sail and consequently how well she then steers herself. Not so long ago on a light sail to one of the nearby islands, we were able to leave the helm unattended for well over 40 mins (actually timed before we got bored with the whole thing)!!!!! As to reefing and going to windward...don't yet have the know how to make a comment. Although we were able to beat part way up the channel into Trinity Inlet under our MPS type of sail in super light conditions. And the week prior we sailed downwind just under jib alone doing a respectable 3 or so knots (we were too scared to tackle the main ie. put in a reef in the foul conditions so left it and the fore lashed down tight!!!!!). So far its been pretty interesting figuring out the rig and getting to know the boat.

    [ 08-21-2004, 01:54 AM: Message edited by: Bernadette & David Hedger ]

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    Dear Bernadette.

    tenterhooks.

    we want pitchers.

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    Originally posted by Lucky Luke:
    I sailed a staysail schooner once, a big one: "Vagrant", with strong winds (40+) through the Bonifaccio Straits. She was doing a good 12 knots ...
    I sailed "Pen Duick III", as well,...
    I am starting to see why you call yourself Lucky!

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    Originally posted by George.:
    I am starting to see why you call yourself Lucky!
    I did not call myself Lucky...although I cannot complain about what life has given to me so far
    I got that nickname given to me in the very eartly days of chat on the French "Minitel" (the ancestor of present Internet). I stuck to it since... [img]tongue.gif[/img]
    (Lucky Luke is a famous cartoon character, a cow boy...not too good a nickname for a sailor, then.. )

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    Bernadette & David:
    Nice to hear about the great sailing capabilities of your "Decatur' [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Alden was really a master, specially for schooners, definitely! I remember spending quite sometime looking at "Lord Jim", when she sailed to the Med some years ago, and I was admiring "Petite Lande", the (aluminum ) sistership of your boat during the last "Nioulargue" week in Saint Tropez. How well she goes!!! [img]smile.gif[/img] "Bagheera" spent some time in Saint Mandrier ...Beautiful, although in a very bad shape at that time (bermudean main...Well, so is "Magic" too...)

    Please tell us more as you enjoy more and more your beutiful boat....and, yes, a few pics would just be kind of you...Everybody here is ANXIOUSLY waiting [img]tongue.gif[/img]

    [ 08-21-2004, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: Lucky Luke ]

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    about some pictures....I Know... I Know!!!! But you see, we don't have access to internet unless we drop into the internet cafe in town and then I've got to get hold of one that has a scanner. But I WILL try my best soon!!! I took some interior photos the other day but they didn't turn out so will try again before posting a whole heap. Please be patient.
    Bernadette. David is away in Indonesia working now. (read: schooners cost a LOT of money!!!!!).

  21. #21
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    Here is a picute of Dalia close-hauled, doing 3 knots in 7 knots apparent. Not bad, but she doesn't point as high as in stronger winds.

    I know, I know, that flag shows the main is a bit oversheeted, but she seems to like it better that way...

    Here is the crew!


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    wow, just gorgeous. Perfect.thanks for the pics George.

    edited to add for Bernadette. sorry about hassleing for the photos of Decatur. but "child of the forum" an all that.....

    [ 08-24-2004, 06:27 PM: Message edited by: John B ]

  23. #23
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    Zippyitydodah paying attention . . . I finally got hip to the very clear writing that this is aobut striking the foresail, not a forestaysail.

    Waking up is hard to do.

    Oftimes putting some space between the sails really does help. On Grana (three masts) the 'first reef' is simply to pull down the main and go happily on jib, forestaysail, foresail and mizzen. Especially to weather.

    The overlapping slot effect of a jib is a good thing on the luff behind it, but a spared sail simply bends the wind rather than makes a slot.

    In general a schooner will be more powerful with main reefed and fore still up but there are times when striking the foresail and perhaps reefing the main makes for great comfort on the wind.

    I found by accident that off the wind in a howler keeping the main furled and letting the foremast do all the work is really nice.

  24. #24
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    hey schoonerfolk,
    what's the biggest schooner you would (or have) sailed with only 2 crew? I"m trying to picture worst-case: night reefing solo while other one steers. though of course with schooer hull, maybe it's easy to heave to so both can reef...? Anyway, 40-45 feet is clearly not a problem; you can do that even in a cutter or sloop. 50'? 55'?

    And BTW, as I've got my handy Alden book right here, which Malabar do you have? they're ALL amazing. Drool...

  25. #25
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    Arcturus is 54 ft I think. Bruce would sail her comfortably with 2 in most conditions but I'm sure he wouldn't take her offshore with just 2. 390s are pretty bulky boats. I don't think her biggest working sail would exceed 500 ft though.? staysail rig she is.

    edited
    website says 53.

    [ 08-25-2004, 01:13 AM: Message edited by: John B ]

  26. #26
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    Originally posted by ErikH:
    hey schoonerfolk,
    what's the biggest schooner you would (or have) sailed with only 2 crew? ..
    I used to sail Defiance (40 + feet on deck ---dial a number overall) regularly on my own.

    She's a Murray Peterson / Aage Neilsen coaster style, her first skipper and building supervisor was Pete Culler, go and take a look at her. She is being refitted (once again!!!) by Eric Schultz in Bristol.

    I never reefed her---(maybe once, so many boats in my life)just progressively pulled sails off===that's one of the beauties of a schooner.

  27. #27
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    Originally posted by ErikH:
    hey schoonerfolk,
    what's the biggest schooner you would (or have) sailed with only 2 crew?
    Silvana and I sail Dalia alone (well, Lua and Estrela come too, but they can't help with reefing ). Dalia is 57' on deck, 35 tons. Sil is 51 kg.

    Dalia has lazylifts on main and fore, downhauls on the headsails, a Dyarchy jibstay (no going out on the 'sprit at night, thank you ), and all sheets lead aft to the cockpit. Short-handed we don't use the gaff topsail - too lively to take down in a blow.

    Reefing a schooner is easy, because you can heave-to with fore and jib while you work on the main, or vice-versa. Again, the quick, easy, and safe reef is to just drop whole sails - a one-person job in Dalia with the lazylifts. But putting a reef in the main eases the helm without reducing speed in some conditions.

    Shorthanded and/or at night, we are conservative and reduce sail early, even at the cost of speed.

    But we wouldn't go offshore at night shorthanded. Two people can handle the boat, but they eventually have to get some rest. You need another watch for any longer passage...

    [ 08-25-2004, 06:29 AM: Message edited by: George. ]

  28. #28
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    My thought about the largest boat I'd take out with two is: Same as the largest the weaker of the two would take alone.

    Depending on the boat, sometimes larger is easier. Goblin had a main somewhere between 750-800 square feet. Once upon a time that was felt too large for singlehanded work but it was not too heavey to hoist alone, went up and down in the lazy lifts easily, and the boat was large enough that even that biggest sail could be secured in all weather from a safe stance.

    Grana, of course, is very much designed for easy singlehanding with each sail under 500 square feet and she'll lay quietly almost anywhere you point her while you set or strike or reef a sail or go below for a little bowel relief or whatever.

    A traditionally rigged schooner up to about 40 tons - gaff mainsail still well under 1000 square feet ought to be riggable for singlehanding but that would be a very competant sailor always looking at lots of searoom.

    Example: I was singlehanding Goblin in a Reverse Hurricane Cup back from Nantucket. Started conservativly with double reefed main, mainstaysail, forestaysail and the smaller jib so that I could maneuver at the start and the very short weather leg. But once clear and on a lovely broad reach I got the big jib up, then the Fisherman (very big sail) and finally shook the reefs out of the main.

    This is schooner weather and we ploughed through the fog with the log pegged, passing one IOR monstrocity after another, they all working hard and myself at my ease, well armed coffee at hand and pipe lit.

    So, it's up to about 25 knots SSW by the time we got to Hyannis and I was beginning to wonder just how I planned on stopping.

    Crossed the line and started to round up but in those seas and wind I realized that if I didn't drift into the breakwater before the sail was shortened I'd have a hard time gaining weigh to clear it and tack before washing up in front of the Compound.

    Heart firmly in teeth, I gybed using my perfected luff-at-the-end method. That is, I bore off still on port tack charging the breakwater, got the jib over and set up the fisherman's lazy sheet just hand tight. Then I slammed her to starboard casting off the running back and fisherman (old sheet) bringing her around so far that the main was stopped by luffing abeam rather than pulled up by the sheets. We took a fascinating death roll that slopped water over the coachroof and almost touched the main partners, then paid off and down the channel we raced, now with me doing a vigorous security call on 13 that large vessels might want to stand clear of me, expecially when I got to the bend and had to gybe again. Finaly got all sail down in under Egg Island, which I hit with enough momentum to stay stuck for the few minutes it took to get everything down except the two staysails which gave me enough to ease on over to my mooring.

    Had I not been racing, I'd have gotten the main and fisherman down somewhere out by Tuckernuk and come in far more sedately.

    When you have lots of searoom, handling lots of sail is not so bad, even in tough weather. It's when you're closing on that lee shore that anticipation, extra hands, or both really count.

  29. #29
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    Originally posted by Ian McColgin:
    My thought about the largest boat I'd take out with two is: Same as the largest the weaker of the two would take alone.
    Silvana can't take Dalia out alone - raising and tightening the main halyards would be too much for her (maybe if her life depended on it, but not for fun).

    But she can tack, jibe, heave-to, and take down all sail by herself, and if she had to could bring Dalia in under fore and staysail (or engine!). So we figure it is safe to go out with just the two of us. We hoist sails together, and if something happened to me she could bring us in by herself.

  30. #30
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    Originally posted by Ian McColgin:

    Heart firmly in teeth, I gybed using my perfected luff-at-the-end method. That is, I bore off still on port tack charging the breakwater, got the jib over and set up the fisherman's lazy sheet just hand tight. Then I slammed her to starboard casting off the running back and fisherman (old sheet) bringing her around so far that the main was stopped by luffing abeam rather than pulled up by the sheets. We took a fascinating death roll that slopped water over the coachroof and almost touched the main partners, then paid off and down the channel we raced, now with me doing a vigorous security call on 13 that large vessels might want to stand clear of me, expecially when I got to the bend and had to gybe again. Finaly got all sail down in under Egg Island, which I hit with enough momentum to stay stuck for the few minutes it took to get everything down except the two staysails which gave me enough to ease on over to my mooring.


    You are a hell of a sailor, sir!

    I saw this jibe-to-a-reach maneuver on another post. Tried it on Dalia once in light airs, but am still too chicken to try it in a blow, even though Dalia has shock absorbers on the mainsheet. I would think that it might actually work better in a blow, as the boat turns faster. Dalia has no fisherman yet, and we installed running backs for the topmast but haven't used them yet - we don't use the topsail when it blows hard. Should I try it, or does it take a lot of skill to do right?

  31. #31
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    Bump!

    Rainy day, no sailing, next week is a holiday and we go cruising to Parati, still wondering about that jibing maneuver...

  32. #32
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    Gybing in heavey weather is always perilous and I recomment practicing in moderate blows first. I was unable to translate sloop gybing to Goblin. A lot of sloops will pay off the wind with the boom tight in and will at least stay pointed down wind as you draw the boom in just before the gybe.

    Goblin would not pay off unless the main was eased and she's head right back up wind if you tried to bring the main in when running. Given that there were many fathoms of main sheet, it was nearly impossible to find crew who could drag it all in and then let it out the other side.

    One day I went around a mark gybing to a close reach and my crew did not even come close to handling the main - but all was well as the wind stopped it and rather softly at that.

    If you have a fixed back stay, you need to be sure that the boom won't lift and tangle in it.

    You absolutely must be sure that the large sagging bight in the mainsheet won't snag on anything like cleats, winches, steering wheel, or helmsman's neck. On gaff boats, the boom often overhangs the stern by a good ways. Usually with the sail well out on one side, the bight of the sheet will fall inboard during this gybe, but if you're slow or if a wave catches it, the bight could go under the boat's stern. I think it good for the helmsman - that's usually the person closest to the sheet parts - to just grab all parts with one hand and direct the slack across.

    Try it in light air to work out the kinks as it will be ever so much more exciting in a blow. I think at least half the high wind gybes that are survived are done this way but just unwittingly.

    It helps to be morally prepared for the feel of the wind after the gybe. Running off the apparant wind is less by the speed of the boat. While many boats can be a handful trying to broach on the following waves, even the waves feel less running. You'll be going to a beam are slightly near reach so you'll be catching the seas on the beam and the wind. Basicly, she'll lay right over. It's not a death roll but you want your crew prepared for a little water shipping into the cockpit.

    At one point the Wianno fleet was breaking a lot of gaffs in high wind gybes. I think this was due to the decreased elasticity of the hallyards as they experimented with kevlar and such. That's diminished as most went back to dacron peak hallyards, they ease the peak downwind anyway, and the prevalance of windward/leeward racing rather than the old triangle reduces the need to gybe anyway.

    This gybe to luff approach will work safely in lots of wind - I've used it in winds up to 45 kt - so long as nothing blocks the path of the boom. Making sure the main sheet gets past unobstructed is the whole deal.

  33. #33
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    Morwenna (gaff schooner with a looong boom) was unable to gybe with anything above force 4.....or perhaps I was not able to. She had running backstays with levers, and while it was very easy with moderate wind, as I could sheet the main in a little only, loosen my both backstays and take the whole bundle of the sheet in hand a push the boom across, I was physically unable to fight that big main with any stronger wind, having to do that with the main sheeted in, as she would go down wind that far only and then broach. Could not do anything even with rudder hard over. I never dared to try anything more "violent", where I would have needed both backstays tight: would have surely lost the gaff!. I tried - once - to lower the main peak hallyard in order to gybe, but ended up in a mess ! Finally, the best way was to loose some speed - not that much - and have the main down if ever I had to gybe, which was never a problem with the foresail, well sheeted in and with the preventer tight in. I think that, if ever I had been caught in a situation where I would have had to gybe in strong winds with the main up, I would rather have gone about "lof pour lof" (in French).
    Actually, one would better say that "gentlemen in schooners don't go downwind"

    [ 09-04-2004, 12:39 AM: Message edited by: Lucky Luke ]

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    I am glad I changed one thing in Dalia's sail plan from the Gloucesterman original - I shortened her main boom from looong to just loong , and increased the foresail accordingly. I was very insecure when I decided to do it, but it worked out fine, and she jibes well - although in very strong wind it still takes some effort to sheet the main in, and the weather helm gets wicked.

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Southern Maine
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    Originally posted by Lucky Luke:
    I think that, if ever I had been caught in a situation where I would have had to gybe in strong winds with the main up, I would rather have gone about "lof pour lof" (in French).
    Actually, one would better say that "gentlemen in schooners don't go downwind"
    I'm guessing you mean,tacking instead of gybing (jibing). That is (I'm told erroniously) called "wearing ship" in English. Apparently "weaing ship" goes back to the days of square riggers, when tacking was a risky maneuvere and they would gybe instead.

    Edited to say: It's probably spelt "waring" from "wary"

    [ 09-07-2004, 07:28 PM: Message edited by: Hwyl ]

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