Sailing on the wind

Sailing on the windThe first principles of steering a yacht windward or on the wind. It is commonly said, and perhaps with truth, that the test of good helmsmanship is sailing a boat or yacht on the wind.

While "book-learning" as the yacht hands would say, cannot teach a man to sail a boat, the instruction given with the pen is not altogether to be despised. It may be a help to the beginners, and even older hands may tolerate such comment.

Suppose the yacht is close-hauled and her sheets nicely trimmed for sailing to windward, if the beginner takes the tiller in his hand without using any power he will generally find the yacht will luff into the wind of her own accord. She will turn her head towards the wind either quickly or slowly, according to the nature or character of the vessel.

Now as she luffs two things naturally happen. The sails begin to shiver because the wind begins to strike them too much ahead, and the sails, not being flat, but bellied in slight curves, some of the wind begins to strike them on the lee side as well as on the weather side. The yacht gradually begins to get more on to a level keel, because as she luffs and the sails tremble the pressure upon them decreases.

The beginner will be wise to follow our advice. At the very outset he should remember the boat will generally do much better if he keeps her rather too full than too fine. A "good full" is a good motto.