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Speed Control and Docking


Believe it or not getting a sailboat to move forward isn't intuitive or easy your first time out. Here are some tips:
              • Check your sail trim before moving the tiller. Remember, your boat can't turn unless it's moving forward, so keep the tiller centered until you begin moving forward.
              • Sailors commonly stop moving unintentionally when they get stuck in the No Go Zone. If you're stuck in the No Go Zone try:
                1. Pushing or pulling the sails against or towards the wind. This will cause the boat to rotate out of the No Go Zone.
                2. Paddling with the rudder by smoothly moving the tiller side to side (known as "Sculling"). You may have to push the tiller harder or more frequently to one side in order to rotate the boat.
                3. Once you think you're out of the No Go Zone, center the tiller and adjust your sail trim.

Stopping in a sailboat is not like stopping on a car or bike. There are two ways of stopping:
  • Point the bow upwind
  • Point the boat perpendicular to the wind direction and sheet out until your sails begin luffing (flapping). 
You cannot stop while going downwind (except by capsizing).

Speed control
There are a few ways to control your speed in a sailboat. Usually sailors use a combination of these methods:
  • Going upwind or across the wind, you can control your speed by sheeting out until your sail(s) begins to luff momentarily, and then sheeting back in to the correct sail trim. Remember, when your sail(s) luffs your boat will slow down because the sail has stopped driving the boat forward.
  • Going downwind, sheeting in too far can help slow you down a bit. But you won't be able to slow down dramatically or stop.

Docking is the same as stopping, except you usually have less room to stop, and you should try not to hit the dock:
  • Approach the dock going upwind so that you can sheet out to luff your sails completely and stop. 
  • Begin sheeting out to luff your sails before you're right next to the dock--the boat will have considerable momentum and it will take some time to drift to a stop.
  • Have the boat be parallel to the dock when you are stopping. Do not ram the dock with the bow (front) of the boat!