26 March 2008

3 Ways to Swiftly and Easily Tack a Sailboat

You can swiftly and easily tack a sailboat by observing some important rules. You must: use a mainsail to tack a small boat; use a jib to tack a sailboat; and, be aware of problems that will likely occur during tacking.

Tacking is also called coming about, which is a sailing tactic done by making a turn from one side of the wind to another side by having a turn through the direction from which the wind comes. To make a quick and smooth tack effectively, you should thoroughly follow these steps:

Use a mainsail to tack a small boat

You can tack a small boat with a mainsail only. You can do this by:

* Preparing your tacking task by sheeting the sailboat’s mainsail tightly and closely to the wind without having to lose the speed of the boat.
* Warning other crew when you are about to tack. You need to shouting the “Ready about!” command.
* Transferring to the other boat side when tacking a small boat that does not have a ballast or perhaps has just little one. Make sure to move as fast as you can prevent the boat from capsizing or blowing away.
* Shouting “Hard alee!” when you are ready to tack. It signals that you are going to push the tiller firmly to the lee side which will cause the boat to turn up and then tack.
* Continuing to maneuver the boat to a new direction while the turn carries on. Be careful not to over steer, as this may cause smaller boats to capsize.

Use a jib to tack a sailboat

To tack a sailboat with the use of a jib will require similar steps like the ones above. Although, there are a few additional steps:

* Immediately prior to the turn, prepare the jibsheets. During the tack, release the one being used and bring in another one swiftly while the jib is crossing over to the other side.
* When the jib is blown backward during a tack, it’s time to release the jibsheet. Simultaneously, hurriedly pull in the jibsheet to the other side, preventing the jib from fluttering away to the side.

Be aware of problems that will likely occur when tacking

Being aware of the possible problems that would probably happen while tacking is very important. Here are some points to be cautious of so you are able to handle any of these circumstances when they arise:
* In irons – the boat will stop due to turning the boat very slowly. If this occurs, you need to get back to your usual speed and try the tack again. You can avoid this by speeding up and moving close to the wind before you tack.
* Over-steering – is turning the boat quite far subsequently to a tack. If this happens, you have to lower the sails to accelerate speed. After that you can steadily raise your sail to reach to the hoisted position.
* Snagged sheets – the best solution to this is prevention. To avoid sheets from seizing any foredeck fixture, maintain some tension on the jibsheets before and throughout the tack.

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