Thursday, July 26

Anchoring Procedures

Anchoring is a simple procedure that can cause those new to the process great anxiety. If you follow the procedure step-by-step, you will give yourself the best chance for success. Even experienced anchor-ers, flub it up…the trick is to know sooner, rather than later, when it is going to go wrong, so that you can start over at the beginning.

Step 1: Scope
First determine the depth of the water in which you will be anchoring. You need this information so that you can calculate the proper scope (Figure 1). Scope is the ratio between the depth of the water, plus the height of the anchor chock above the water. I would recommend at least a 7:1 ratio. So if the water is 8 feet deep and your anchor chock is two feet above the water for a total of 10 feet, you would want to let out 70 feet of anchor rode to have the 7:1 ratio. I like the 7:1 ratio since it will give you room for error in the amount of anchor rode you let out and will make up for waves and other variables.

Figure 1. Thanks to Ohio Dept of Natural Resources

Step 2: Room to Swing
At a 7:1 ratio in 20 feet of water you will let out 140 feet of anchor rode. It is critical that where you choose to drop the anchor you have enough room to drift back. It is also likely that the anchor will drag a little before setting so having 150 feet behind the boat in this scenario is not out of the question. Of course, you can set an anchor on a shorter scope if the conditions are calm and there will always be someone on deck to watch for dragging.
Also, be aware that as the wind shifts the boat will swing around. Be sure that there is swing room. In the above situation, you would ideally have a circle around the anchor that is 300 ft in diameter. Of course, this rarely happens so be aware of the boats that are potentially going to be a problem (not everyone follows the rules!) if your boat swings one way or the other. Always be ready to haul up your anchor and reset in a more favorable location.

Step 3: Anchor Retrieval
Once it is time to go, hauling up the anchor can be a real chore without a windlass. To make it easier, motor the boat slowly in the direction of the anchor rode as someone on the bow hauls in the rode while pointing the helmsperson in the correct direction. If the anchor is set hard and will not release from the bottom easily, cleat off the rode when it is vertical with as much tension as you can get by hand. Then, let the motion of the boat work the anchor free. In extreme cases, you can motor the boat past the anchor location with the anchor cleated off, but be careful with this method since the boat is powerful enough to bend or break the anchor if it is stuck on a hard object.
If you get to a point where you cannot get the anchor free no matter what you try, tie a fender to the anchor rode and throw the whole thing overboard. Note your GPS position. Once you get home, you can call a diver to retrieve the anchor and with the GPS position and the fender floating the diver should not have any problem finding the anchor and freeing it from the obstruction.

Wednesday, July 18

Fuel Consumption

Faria Fuel Manager
By Andrew Spaulding and John Staniszewski, Crowley's Yacht Yard

As you can imagine, fuel consumption on any given day depends on many factors. There are a few that the owner of the vessel cannot control, for example, adverse wind and waves will increase fuel consumption over a given distance. However, there are quite a few fuel consumption factors that boat owners can control. 

Before you make a study of which of the below factors you are going to try to use to improve your fuel consumption, install a fuel flow meter so that you can monitor any changes in consumption. There are a few different systems that we would recommend, but the most economical one we have found is a Faria gauge and flow sensor combination named Fuel Manager.

Speed vs. Distance
Typically a lower engine rpm will lead to lower fuel consumption. Although you do need to balance this with the increased time it will take to reach your destination. Your type of boat will influence your decision as well. A planing hull will have a much better fuel consumption to speed ratio if the boat is run on a plane, but not at full throttle.

Keeping your engine it top condition will allow it to give you its best fuel consumption. Out of tune carburetors, old spark plugs, bad ignition wires, clogged fuel filters, worn injectors, dirty air filters, bad gas or diesel, corroded exhaust elbow, clogged coolers and more are all problems that will keep your engine (gas or diesel) from operating properly. If your engine is not in peak maintenance condition you won’t see the best fuel consumption numbers of which your boat is capable.

Drive Train
Your drive train components (transmission, shaft, stern drive or pod drive) will drag your performance down if they are not properly maintained. Typically, manufacturer recommended fluid changes will maintain the internals properly. Inspect the old oil for signs of metal wear…better yet have it and your engine oil sent for an oil analysis every year.

It is important to keep the external surfaces clean of marine growth. There are many products available for the different under water components of your drive train that will fit almost every conceivable water condition from cold, fresh water to hot, salt water. I always tell people to speak with their boat neighbors and find out what works best where you keep your boat since conditions can be localized.

An experienced propeller tuner can tune your propellers for maximum efficiency in the rpm range in which you mostly run. Having the proper pitch and diameter are critical for having good fuel consumption. For the same boat you would want different propellers if you only towed water skiers or if you ran at top rpm to the fishing grounds.

A clean hull with a smooth surface is the largest contributor to fuel consumption that is likely to drastically change over the season due to marine growth. Even a light coating of slime will make your engines work harder. In previous decades only racing sailors paid a lot of attention to their bottoms. Recently with the spike in fuel prices over the last five years, power boaters have turned to bottom jobs to minimize their fuel consumption. No production boat has a perfect bottom out of the factory. Offshore racing powerboats regularly reshape their bottoms for maximum speed. Even small imperfections can cause turbulence in the water flow over the bottom adversely effecting fuel consumption.

The trim (trim tabs, stern drive or outboard angle) at which you run the boat will also affect the fuel consumption. Proper trim will give you more speed for a given rpm. Read related articles for your boat type or contact your dealer for trim suggestions. Don’t be afraid to experiment with this one…once you are on a plane try different trim angles and see if your speed goes up without touching the throttle. If you find a setting that does this, you have found more efficient trim.

Along with trim goes loading the boat properly. The big cooler filled with drinks and ice stuck in the wrong place will force you to over trim the boat to get it to ride correctly. Don’t forget all the rest of the gear – water toys, food, and of course, the people.

Wednesday, July 11

Main Halyard Adjustment

Oakcliff Sailing Center - Ker 50
Oakcliff Sailing Center Ker 50
Could use a main halyard ease!
By Keith Church, Quantum Sails, Chicago

Ed. Note: Keith Church, Quantum Sails Design Group, Chicago took the time to write this article about main trim during an extremely busy pre-Mac season. I am glad that Keith chose to focus on two main sail controls, the main halyard and the Cunningham and not try to squeeze a whole main trim study into 500 words. So, I’m sure there are going to be many questions about main trim that are not answered here. Please post those questions here to the blog and we will get them answered.

An answer to a question from the Crowley’s Advisor Number 1: Club Racers: Should I use halyard tension to shape the main on my sailboat?

Thanks for the question Rob. Yes, you should use halyard tension to help shape the main on your sailboat - but, how? The effects of increased halyard tension are to draw the draft forward as well as flatten the entry of the sail and the leech. You should be able to see this shape change in the draft stripes. If you have not seen this effect before, have one crew member ease and tension the halyard while everything else stays untouched. As halyard tension is increased you will see the draft (deepest part of the sail) move forward. Essentially, used to deepen and flatten the draft of the entire sail. If sailing upwind and using the halyard to gain max luff tension, it is not an option to use the Cunningham to tighten and loosen the luff. So, set your main halyard tension less than maximum for the conditions so that you can use the Cunningham to fine tune the halyard tension. Typically, you will want more halyard tension and therefore a flatter sail in more breeze, and conversely, less tension in lighter air.

Additional tips:
Host your main with your boat in reverse to lessen the wind effect and make sure the vang and the mainsail are released and free to run so you achieve maximum hoist. In medium conditions of 10 - 15 knots with your sail almost all the way up, your luff should be just tight enough but not boned-out, eliminating either all the sag in between the sliders or wrinkles in the luff tape. On one design boats and boats using measurement rules, there will be a black or white band towards the head of the mast. You should not try to hoist over this band. If your sail hoists above the bands, you will want to call me.

Using a magic marker, make a horizontal line on both sides of the sail luff somewhere in the first 2 to 3 feet and above the Cunningham where it is visible to the driver and tactician.
Using multiple color strips of tape, the mast person can overlap the strips on the mast to reference conditions; for example, light (4 - 10), medium (10 - 18), and heavy (18 - 25) to start. You have just set a gauge for halyard tension. As you get used to using this gauge you can add more reference points overlapping different colored tape on the mast. On my boat, I have 6 reference points over 2 inches.

Other speed gauges for the main can be done using stick on number for the outhaul, Cunningham, and boom vang. Mark the sheets with magic marker and put reference points in tape on the deck. By doing this. you are calibrating your mainsail speed related controls so you can reproduce fast trim. This also helps bring a new trimmer up to speed when switching positions in long distance races. The best time to set-up these gauges is during a long distance races as you will most likely see changing conditions.

Feel free to contact us about setting-up additional gauges for:
Vang tension
Mast butt position
Mast partner position
Jib/Genoa halyard
Rig tension
Backstay tension
Jib lead position
Jib trim angle
Rudder angle
Fore-and-aft boat trim
Angle of heel
Mainsail and jib sheets
Traveler car position

Caution; Cruising Class In-Mast Furling Mainsails:
In regards to your in-mast furler, the halyard should be tight, do not loosen it to shape the mainsail because it will most likely cause you to foul your mainsail furling it back up. Don’t try to bend your mast as this will be costly. Use just your outhaul to create shape. Sorry, but this is the main drawback to the convenience of an in-mast furler - a pretty flat sail. All is not lost, let's talk about an A3 asymmetrical spinnaker to enhance your sailing experience and put some excitement back into your sailboat. After all who wants to go upwind with a in-mast furling mainsail anyways.

Keith Church | Quantum Sails Design Group

Loft: (312) 225-0801, Cell: (312)

Tuesday, July 3

Genoa Trim

Quantum Sail Design Group
By Keith Church
Quantum Sails, Chicago

I get a tremendous amount enjoyment out of helping other sailors get more out of their sailing experience. My job is to provide my clients with the proper advice and the proper products. Here then are some tidbits of the proper advice.

When it comes to trimming your Genoa:

1. Halyard tension

Tension along the luff of the sail is a function of apparent wind velocity. In more wind, more tension is needed and vice versa. This means that when you go upwind you will need more tension than when sailing off the wind. You may want to mark your sail with a black magic marker and put a piece of tape on your head foil to gauge the amount of tension is on the sail. If you change headsails often make sure they are all marked at the same spot on the luff.

2. Genoa car lead position

Fore and aft lead position controls headsail leech tension and foot depth. As a rough guide, set the lead so that the sheet bisects the clew, applying approximately equal tension to leech and foot (if you imagined a line extending from the sheet up through the sail it would hit the middle of the sail’s luff). In an overlapping sail, the foot of the Genoa will just touch the shrouds at the chainplates when the upper part of the sail is 1-2” off the top spreader. If the foot is still round and well off the chainplates when the sail is sheeted so that the top touches the spreader, the lead is too far forward. Moving it aft will stretch the foot flat and open the leech. Stick-on number strips make a quick reference for Genoa trimmers to make cars equal for tacking.

3. Headstay Sag Backstay Tension

Headstay sag affects the overall depth of the headsail. More sag adds depth and, in particular, makes the entry of the sail rounder and more powerful. Use sag to create power in light to moderate conditions, when you need heel and are trying to get the boat going. As the boat begins to heel too much, or when the boat is up to speed and you want to maximize upwind performance, reduce sag. Headstay sag is controlled by backstay tension on masthead rigs, and by running backstays on fractional rigs with in-line spreaders. On fractional rigs with swept spreaders, overall rig tension on the side shrouds controls headstay sag, and there is not much adjustment “on the fly,” (as is the case on masthead rig boats with no backstay adjuster). To fine tune, and as a guide, it is helpful to have a system for marking the “throw,” or range of your backstay. With a hydraulic system, a numbered batten works well. This is easier and more reliable than using the poundage readout on the hydraulic gauge. For split backstays, reference the distance of the squeezer to the stern pulpit.

Using reference points on your boat to help your crew are without a doubt one the most important tools for both racing and performance cruising. For more information on fine tuning reference tools and Crew trim made easier contact Keith Church | Quantum Sails Design Group

Loft: (312) 225–0801, Cell: (312) 371–6929