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Tom and Mel... achievable cruising under sail and power.


Getting the Feel of your Boat
by Tom Neale

This is a continuation of Tom's Tips from his section of the web site. Go to his section there for many more tips on this subject and others.

1. Learn your boat’s pivot points. Wind blowing your boat from aft the bow will tend to turn it differently depending upon the angle of the wind and the particular characteristics of your boat. For example, if your boat has a lot of windage forward, a gust from 45 degrees will exert a major influence on the bow. If most of the windage is aft, that same gust will exert less of an influence on the bow, although still affecting the boat.

2. Study and learn from special circumstances. For example, a light powerboat with a high light bow, when breaking over a high wave in a storm, may be suddenly blown up or sideways by the wind, as the wind hits that bow. If the helms person isn’t expecting this and ready to handle it, the results could be dangerous. Other special circumstances include running before the waves and high winds in any kind of sea. Learn slowly in less severe conditions so that you’re prepared for the bad times.

3. Talk to others who have the same type of boat. Learn from each other.

4. Learn the use of spring lines. Different boats behave differently with spring lines. Practice with your boat, first when there is no wind or current and then when there is.

5. Before docking asses the potential effect of current and wind on your boat as you pull in. It isn’t enough to know that the current is generally running in one direction. Often there are eddies around a dock or shoreline that can be quite a surprise if you aren’t aware of them in advance.

6. Especially on smaller powerboats, the distribution of people aboard may have a significant effect on ride. This may become more important during bad weather. For example, it normally enhances performance to have weight down low rather than on a fly bridge. Or, when running before the seas, your boat may perform better if most of the passengers are aft rather than forward. Experiment with the effects of passenger distribution on your boat, to learn what works best under various circumstances.

Copyright 2004
Tom Neale


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