Sailing Instructions

Finally, you are actually going to sail!

We will assume you have your sailer all set up, safety gear on, flag flying, and a great place to sail.
Your course will be across the wind, or at 90 degrees to the true wind. Let's assume the true wind is coming from the North; you will be sailing East-West and back. Since you will be making all your turns into the wind, that means you will be turning North at the end of each run. Also, since you parked upwind, your turns will always be towards camp. See how easy this is?

Time to go sailing. Let the sheet all the way out, pushing on the boom if necessary to give the sail maximum angle away from the sailer. Position the sailer 90 degrees to the wind (facing east or west). The sail will luff, which means it is simply acting as a flag. You will notice that the luff pocket just behind the mast is fluttering. Have a seat, and place your feet on the pegs. Pick a point to sail toward, anything will do as long as it is along the east-west course line you will be sailing.
Gently sheet in, just enough to get the sailer moving forward. Resist the urge to sheet all the way in at first. At this point the luff pocket will have a nice firm curve, like an airplane wing.

At this point you will be moving forward, and as you begin to gain speed, the wind that you and the sail feel will change. This is called "apparent wind". The apparent wind will gradually be coming from an angle ahead of you. This angle will move forward as your speed increases. A good analogy is this; you are driving a car in a crosswind, yet when you stick your hand out the window it feels like a headwind. As the apparent wind moves forward, you will need to sheet in the sail to compensate for the change. The goal of sailing is to have air flowing down both sides of the sail, creating lift. An easy way to tell if you have the correct sail angle is to look at the luff pocket, the area just behind the mast. As you accelerate the apparent wind will begin to backwind the sail, causing the luff to flutter or wrinkle. Sheet in just enough to harden it, taking the wrinkles or flutter out. This ensures you have flow over both sides of the sail. Don’t sheet in too much, or your sail will merely be a wall to the wind. Always be prepared to sheet out if you feel overpowered or are going too fast.

By now you have reached the end of your crosswind run and need to turn back in the opposite direction. Remember, you will be turning into the wind, which in the example will be North and toward camp. You will need sufficient speed to go completely through the turn, since you will decelerate as you head into the wind. As you go through the turn, the sail will luff, and pass over you to the other side. Turn into the wind, sheeting in as you head upwind. This will help you maintain your speed. Turn sharply enough to get around and headed in the opposite direction. As you come out of the turn, you will probably need to sheet out so that you are not overpowered. Once you are on your new course, adjust the sheet to maintain your speed. When you reach the end of your run, turn into the wind just as you did before. You will be sailing in a rough figure eight pattern, always turning into the wind.

Coming to a stop is very easy. Remember, never put your feet down at any speed above walking. Simply turn directly into the wind, the sail will be luffing right above you. Stopping distance depends on your speed and that of the wind. You may come to a quicker stop in higher winds due to the drag on the sail as you head into the wind. Practice coming to a stop at various speeds. Give yourself plenty of extra room until you familiarize yourself with the distance required to stop.

Next: Advanced Sailing Techniques