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Tips and Tricks

Gone sailing and still lost? Come to Supervised Sailing Hours to get help :) Otherwise, here are some pointers to help you along:

Sitting and Sailing

                • Try to keep the boat flat by shifting your weight to counteract any heeling (where the boat leans away from the wind).
                • When your sail(s) is luffing (flapping), it will make a considerable amount of noise. Don't panic; this is normal.

How do I tell which way the wind is coming from?

                • There are many ways to do this.
                • Look at the water; the waves travel in the same direction as the wind.
                • Try turning your head back and forth.
                • If you're truly stumped, dip your hand in the water and hold it up in the air with the boat stopped.

How do I tell if I'm going upwind or downwind?

  • Here are some tips. All of them assume that you are headed in a straight line and have good sail trim.
  • Going upwind:
    • It 'feels' a lot windier and noisier than going downwind.
    • Your boat will heel consistently to one side, or lean away from the wind.
    • You'll find yourself sitting much farther out from the center of the boat to counteract the heeling and keep it balanced and flat than you would going downwind. 
  • Going downwind:
    • It 'feels' a lot quieter.
    • Your boat may tip from side to side in an oscillating manner but probably won't heel consistently to one side.
    • You'll find yourself sitting closer to the center of the boat to keep it balanced and flat than you would going upwind.

What is the difference between a tack and a gybe? How can I tell which one I just did?

  • In a tack:
    • If the sail switched sides after you pushed the tiller towards the sail (and away from yourself), then you have just performed a tack.
    • The wind will be blowing against the front of the boat and it will 'feel' windier than a gybe.
    • It will feel 'slower' than a gybe; the boat actually slows down momentarily while turning through the No Go Zone.
    • The sail(s) will swing across slower than it would during a gybe.
    • If there is enough wind, the boat will be heeling consistently to one side prior to the tack, and then after the tack, it will heel consistently towards the opposite side.
  • In a gybe:
    • If the sail switched sides after you pulled the tiller away from the sail (and towards yourself), then you have just performed a gybe.
    • The wind will be blowing against the back of the boat and it won't 'feel' as windy as a tack.
    • It will feel 'quicker' than a tack; the boat will not slow down much at all except for the moment in which the sail switches sides.
    • The sail(s) will swing across much quicker than it would during a tack.

How do I sheet in or out and steer at the same time? I only have two hands.

  • You can sheet in easier if you pass the slack you pull in with your sheet hand to your tiller hand temporarily.
  • Resist the urge to bite your mainsheet; it's gross and it can hurt you.
  • Avoid wrapping the sheet(s) around your hand or any other part of your body; a sudden gust of wind could pull your hand into a block (pulley) or tighten the sheet painfully around your hand or other body part.

I got stuck against the outer dock / I ran aground / I got stuck in the lily pads. What now?

  • This is more common than you would expect and it happens to all of us at some point.
  • If you are being blown into these obstacles, try sheeting your sails all the way out.
  • If you continue to be blown into these obstacles, you are probably headed downwind into them. Try to rotate your boat upwind by paddling aggressively.
  • Try rotating your rudder into the kicked-up position and pulling your centerboard or daggerboard up momentarily to clear the obstacle. Return them to their sailing position as soon as you are free, or you won't be able to control your direction.
  • If you cannot sail away from the obstacle, paddle aggressively. If the sails are preventing you from making progress via paddling, lower them into the boat.