Contents - Wayfarer Institute of Technology
easily from your last known position. Plot fixes for practice frequently, and compare them to your dead reckoning position. The hand bearing compass gives you bearings on ends of islands, water towers or other landmarks ashore. Make use of "ranges" as lines of position when two objects such as the left hand end of one island and the right hand end of another come into line. The more often you do this when conditions are good, the less likely you are to be lost when conditions become difficult. Piloting a dinghy on a constant course off the wind is fairly easy. You must be aware of leeway due to wind and sometimes drift due to a current which you may not have expected. After leaving your point of departure, look back and check several times in the first half hour to see whether the point of departure is exactly over the stern when your heading is correct. If it is to one side or the other, you are not making good the course you thought you were. Usually the point of departure will appear somewhat to windward, and the angle it is off gives you an estimate of your leeway. You can start to correct for it right away. True leeway is usually negligible in a dinghy on a beam reach or better. However, if the wind has been in one direction for many hours, there may be a surface current on the water which gives the same effect. Naturally there are currents to be aware of at the major rivers entering or leaving the Great Lakes. There are often counter-currents along the shore over many miles, as along the south shore of Lake Ontario. There are no true tides on the Great Lakes, but the "seiche" can cause big movements of water due to wind and barometric pressure changes, and this results in significant currents, particularly at a narrow junction of two wider bodies of water. When you are hard on the wind, piloting is much more difficult. Allow 5° for leeway, or more if there are big waves. The problem is that you cannot keep a constant heading. The wind is usually shifting through at least 5° and often much more, and it is not realistic to hold your course rigidly when you can easily head up. Get in the habit of averaging your compass course, and tack at fixed intervals, making no more than two tacks every half-hour. The table shown below gives the time to spend on each tack for different courses to windward relative to the average wind direction.
Chapter 9: Heavy Weather The amount of thought that must be given to preparing for heavy weather is out of proportion to the number of times you will encounter it. You may expect to be out in Force 5 winds a few times on a cruise even if you listen to the radio and avoid going out when strong winds are forecast. I would not call this "heavy weather", however. Force 5 winds normally require a reef, and probably a change from the genoa to the working jib. This should become an easy routine through practice. Often it is best to reduce the jib first before the sea gets up. Some people find a jib down-haul helpful. To make one, run a piece of line through the piston hanks from the head down through a shackle on the bow fitting and back to a cleat. The line is also handy to tuck the sail under when it is down. Head-shackle and all piston hanks can then be easily reached and the crew can lie on the foredeck for all the finger work involved. The helmsman can control the halyard. Once the working jib is up, if the wind continues to increase and you need a reef, the easiest procedure is to heave to. This can be done by pulling the jib across to windward, or by going through the motions of tacking but leaving the jib on the new weather side. Al's note: I have tried the latter method twice and found it too violent. I now always heave to as follows 1. luff the sails to lose speed on a beam reach 2. raise the centreboard completely unless a nearby lee shore could be a problem in which case half down or even more is good 3. sheet the jib in to windward as tight as is reasonably possible while sheeting the main in to about the beam reach position 4. see http://www.angelfire.com/de2/WIT/efficient4.htm also With the main-sheet adjusted, the centreboard raised one third and the tiller held down to lee with a shock cord, the dinghy will be quite peaceful, bobbing on the waves, making some leeway and heeling very little. Now you can easily reef the main. With slab or jiffy reefing, it is easiest if you heave to on the tack that leaves the boom fittings on the weather side. The procedure is to slacken the main sheet, haul in the leech line and cleat it, then let off the halyard and haul the luff line until the luff cringle is close to the boom, and secure it. Another pull on the leech line brings the leech cringle down to the boom. The halyard is then tightened and secured, the mainsheet can be hardened in again, and while still hove-to the reef points are tied along the boom. Let go the weather jib sheet, and you are underway again. Al's note: For more on Jiffy Reefing you might also check out http://www.angelfire.com/de2/WIT/JiffyReef.htm . Heaving to gives you leisure to reef, bail, “get organized, or stop for a snack in heavy weather. It is surprisingly peaceful. Heave to any time you want to stop and think. Al's note: If you want even more peace while hove to,