Rest & Relaxation Position:
This causes the boat to naturally lose way and assume a stabilized angle sideways to the wind. If, for example, you lose your rudder on a run, heel the boat gently to leeward and the boat will luff up and gradually stop moving forward. Once forward momentum is lost, the boat will become quite stable, provided the board is full up and the sails are left to luff. At this point, you can open a beer and consider how best to cope with your challenge. Which is why I call it the R & R position!
Here is a skill that is fun to practise and that may really save you and your boat some day, especially if you are sailing in an area where no immediate rescue is to be expected.
Remembering that you can kill forward momentum and relax even without a rudder by luffing your sails, heeling to leeward and raising your board, pick a light to medium air day and uncrowded surroundings in which to do your practising as follows:
Come to "emergency trim" (R & R position) as indicated above. When forward momentum has been killed, remove your rudder and put the board down about half way. Slowly sheet in both main and jib while keeping the boat level. (I do this by standing in the boat while holding both sheets - for which I have both hands since none is now needed for the tiller!)
On a Wayfarer especially, the main turning effect comes from heel:
If you want to go straight, sail flat.
If you want to luff up, heel slightly more to leeward.
If you want to bear away, heel more to windward - very slightly unless you're eager to gybe.
If you feel you're losing control, be ready to heel to leeward and raise the board full up,
so that you can start fresh.
The sails too, can help to steer the boat. Using one sail more efficiently than the other, causes the boat to pivot about its underwater centre of resistance. Jib in, main luffing, therefore causes the boat to bear away (relatively slowly, compared to the effect of windward heel!) By luffing only the jib, you will make the boat luff up.
Remember that, especially when the boat is moving at a good clip, heel has an instant and severe steering effect, while the sails are the things to use as a fine tuning device.
N.B. If things start to get hairy: sails out, board up, leeward heel = slow down. Collect your thoughts and start over again!
P.S. You can steer with a paddle but even then, the above considerations will make your job a lot easier!
is a very useful procedure that allows you to relax even in fairly wild wind and waves so that you can have your hands free to have lunch, open the wine, light up, whatever. Heaving to is a step up from the "emergency position". It is easier on both your nerves and your sails (which do not flog nearly as much while you are hove to with some vang on as they do in the "emergency position".
N.B. In very severe and very shifty wind (e.g. small lakes, rivers), I make sure I lounge near the mainsheet and the tiller, and the crew does likewise with the jib sheet - just in case!!!
Approaching a pick-up point such as a dock, another boat with beer, etc. is best done at reduced speed and close-hauled (where speed is easily controlled, and you can put the brakes on effectively by pushing the boom out and backwinding the main).
P.S. In my experience, a boat-to-boat pick-up in a breeze is best done by having the boats approach each other closehauled on opposite tacks, and then luff up head-to-wind side by side almost simultaneously. This has numerous benefits, not the least of which is both boats slowing down!
Heavy weather tricks that may come in handy are:
1. In addition to sitting well aft on a run, you can also reduce death roll potential by sailing with your board half down.
2. Controlling your gybe: Many sailors consider gybing the scariest maneuver, but it need not be. Capsizes often occur because the gybe is done too quickly, and the boat is allowed to turn too sharply. In that case, the boom flies over, hits the water at full speed, and the boat rolls over. A successful gybe is usually performed reasonably slowly and in a controlled fashion, preferably as follows:
Doing your gybe in this way will allow you to survive most conditions. Of course, medium air practice would help here, too. During this maneuver, the boat's course is like a rather flattened out letter S, and this is therefore known as the S-gybe. If the boat should ever gybe accidentally, try at least to make into the S-gybe described above.
3. Another manoeuvre that is best practised in non-threatening conditions is what my Junior Sailors used to call the "chicken gybe": If you'd rather tack than do a wild gybe make sure you don't head up too fast but do trim your main to keep your boat moving through her tack. If you're feeling frisky in a good breeze, try heeling slightly to leeward, letting your tiller go, and just hauling the mainsheet in quickly. This will make the boat pivot under your main without the annoying and sometimes dangerous loss of speed that comes with trying a reach to reach tack without trimming the main. Of course, once you're past head to wind you need to make sure you re-establish quick contact with your tiller.
a crowded dock
4. On your signal, get your crew to give the boat a healthy shove straight back as she/he steps aboard from the dock. The illustration above is actually a bit misleading since you want to start with the rudder and tiller dead centre until your boat has cleared its neighbours.
5. Once you are confident that your bow won't hit any neighbours from the dock if you turn, gently begin to aim your rudder blade towards the shore and allow the boat to turn. If your crew is as keen as some of mine, she/he can get ready to 'back' the jib. For the scenario above, that would mean holding it out to the port side of the boat to assist the turning effort.
6. As soon as your boat is parallel to the dock, your crew should sheet the jib in on the leeward side while the helm slowly starts to bring the main in. In case your crew and/or the wind has done an excessively good job of giving you backwards momentum and you're about to go aground or hit the shore, you must be very ready to sheet both sails in quickly to arrest your backwards momentum.
7. Wait until the backwards momentum has been stopped, before trying to steer in the forwards mode. Remember that if you are desperate to go forward, only your sails will do that for you. It's very easy to fall into the wishful thinking trap of steering as though you were already going forward while the backwards momentum is still with you, and in that case all you'll accomplish is to turn the boat head to wind and at the dock again.
8. Like everything else, this is a skill that improves with practice. Do it at an empty dock in gentle conditions a few times and you'll soon look like an expert - much to the joy of your dockmates, and to the grudging admiration of the critics nursing their beers on the club porch. I've been among the latter often enough, and I can assure you it's really fun to watch someone screw up - as long as my boat isn't in the vicinity!!!!