Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Steering Tips and Tricks.

For all you new sailors here are a few more tips and tricks to advance you along your sailing learning curve.
You have three ways to steer you boat.  The first one we talk about is the rudder.  Push the tiller off center and the rudder pivots such that water pushes more on one side than the other and the the stern of the boat is pushed left or right.  Like a grocery cart being pushed backwards.  Fine enough so far.  You can steer the boat with the rudder. However.... 

There are two other ways to turn your boat.  The first is to shift the weight of the skipper and crew to either minimize or accentuate the heel of the boat.  When sailing, if you let the boat heel to one side the boat will  turn toward the other side.    The last way to steer the boat is to  use your sails to increase or decrease weather helm.  Remember that when turning the boat it tends to pivot at a point roughly over the centerboard. Most of the mainsail is aft of this point.  So when the force of the wind hits the mainsail, it has a tendency to push the boat such that it turns around that pivot point.

You will know that you are becoming an expert helmsman when you use the rudder less and less and use your weight and sails more and more to steer your boat.

These pointers are generalizations which are true.  As with all generalizations there are a few exceptions.  However, as a beginner working toward your Helmsman rating there are no exceptions! Follow these "rules" and you will be on your way to becoming an excellent sailor.  Next blog - How to "See the Wind"

Charlie

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