Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

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Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby Pete Weis » Sat Apr 25, 2015 9:32 am

On the 36 board there was a discussion regarding the difficulties of tacking. It was mentioned that the keels are located forward such that it makes it difficult to tack. Some knowledgeable posters described the technique to accomplish the task.

Just wondering if the location of the keels on the 32 makes it a better boat when it comes to tacking. Or are they the same location and it's the same deal when it comes to tacking the 32? Or are there other factors involved.

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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby doubledutch » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:31 am

The 32 tacks easily. The self tacking jib provides an automatic extra push as the boat passes through the eye of the wind.

I don't recall having difficulties when I sailed the 36 but my experience there is more limited.

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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby Pete Weis » Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:56 am

Someone mentioned that they kept stalling, every time they attempted to tack. So, it was suggested that the best way to tack the 36 was to set the mainsheet traveler car 18 inches to windward from center, fall off to pick up speed, and come through quickly, and trim the jib first on the new heading and then the main. Think I got that right. Some of this would be something you might do for any boat, except the necessity of moving the traveler car in advance of the tack?

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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby chicagocat » Sat Apr 25, 2015 4:18 pm

I just backwind the jib when tacking. It's an old trick I learned when growing up with Hobie 16s. Almost always works like a charm.
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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby Pete Weis » Sat Apr 25, 2015 7:22 pm

Here's the thread. Yeah. I've heard about backing the jib on catamarans. But thinwater says not to do that in his response (link below). Everyone has a different method, I guess. Marc Gershel says the same thing a few posts later when he says "move the mainsheet traveler 1.5 feet to windward" before starting the tack.

Just wondered if the 32 was easier to tack.

http://www.pdqforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2345&p=8783&hilit=traveler+18+inches#p8783

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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby thinwater » Sat Apr 25, 2015 9:16 pm

Yes, same location.

I posted this, about balance and the PDQ 32.
http://sail-delmarva.blogspot.com/2010/10/balance.html

The most critical factors in tacking any cat are:
* Get the most speed you can before the tack. Perfect trim, full and by.
* Ease the traveler after the tack. I do this by setting the traveler down ~ 2' on the new tack before I even put the wheel over. I do NOT favor bringing the traveler high before the tack--I think speed is more important.
* Turn well past the new tack and build speed before coming up. VERY important.
* Get the jib in as soon as it will fill. Very important, as this drives the bow through. The main can wait.

And this is why and how self-tacking jibs work.

The problem with back winding the jib are several:
* The boat will stop. While the Hobie has huge rudders and can easily turn away from the wind while backing, the PDQ will not respond to the rudders when stalled.
* Even if the backed sail brings it through, there is a good chance it will go back into irons when you release the jib. Remember, no rudder control and keels far forward. You need good forward motion to have control.
* It is easy to damage the sail (stretched leach). Very bad if it gets on the spreaders; sails are NOT built for this.

Watch videos of racing cats tacking; you will not see back winded jibs, you will see jibs brought in smartly as soon as they can fill. Speed is the thing.
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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby chicagocat » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:12 pm

"Watch videos of racing cats tacking; you will not see back winded jibs, you will see jibs brought in smartly as soon as they can fill. Speed is the thing."


I agree with this completely. I'm not a racing cat and I bet you aren't either. Backwind the jib.
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and 2001 PDQ 36 Classic (Tall Rig)- "Cat Tales" - Punta Gorda, FL

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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby SecondWind » Sun Apr 26, 2015 6:38 am

Throwing the wheel hard over like a mono hull will stall the boat also. A more moderate wheel position and back winding the jib works very well. You will never get a fast tack, so go with one that gets you through the wind.
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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby Pete Weis » Sun Apr 26, 2015 7:21 am

Sounds like there are different methods. It's all about practice. Wonder if the extra drag with props in the water for the diesels slows the boat more through the tacking process and might require a little different technique. I know thinwater has the outboards. Maybe it doesn't matter. Seems like even a half knot difference in speed might make a difference depending on wind conditions.

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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby thinwater » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:39 pm

"... Wonder if the extra drag with props in the water for the diesels slows the boat more through the tacking process and might require a little different technique. I know thinwater has the outboards. Maybe it doesn't matter. Seems like even a half knot difference in speed might make a difference depending on wind conditions...."

This could all be true. I'm not trying to make a point saying that I do not back wind, I'm saying that it works better for me if I don't. No, I am not racing, but better technique is still better and we can learn from racers. EVERY sailor should know how to push his boat to the limit with perfect trim, as though he were racing, since lee shores and bad weather happen.

* No props... but I can tack with them down. But it's not as pretty, true. Yes, a half knot makes a difference.
* Clean bottom.
* I keep the weight down... some. I do carry a dingy and a kayak.
* 2' extra water line has helped.
* Faster with the genoa and inside sheet track.

I'm guessing that with diesels, small jib, some growth on the bottom, some bad chop, and any mistakes at all, missing a tack would be easy. Just be careful you don't damage the jib (see it done).

But if backwinding were really required, just how would I do that with the self tacking jib? I can't. Yet I can tack the boat by simply laying the wheel over, if I have good speed and ease the main at the right time. So speed is the answer. Get it up to full speed (you may need to bear off just a tick), turn the wheel relatively fast, dumping the traveler (some or all the way, depending) just as she crosses the eye of the wind, and steer past the new tack. Harden up the traveler once she is moving and head back up. Easy, just a like a beach cat in tough conditions.
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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby chicagocat » Mon Apr 27, 2015 4:08 pm

I agree with this sentiment. I love cats and I wish they didn't turn like a damn schoolbus, but they often do.

Your point about sail drives and wind/wave conditions is very much correct. On the Anne Z (an LRC with sail drives in Lake Michigan), I often have a great deal of trouble tacking. That's because of the sail drives, but also because of the steep, short wave chop and the occasional very light air.

Cat Tales in SW Florida has outboards and the waves down here have a much longer period and tend to be smaller. In addition, the wind is much more steady. I rarely have any trouble tacking down here in Florida with this boat. In addition, the tall rig helps with attaining tacking speed in light air.

But I will say that I know a lot of cats from beach cats on up in the great lakes and many of them either backwind or avoid the problem altogether and jibe.

A cat on the great lakes reminds me of an old 66 Pontiac GTO I used to have. Very fast in a straight line, but it took a week to turn a corner.
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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby Main Event II » Sun May 03, 2015 4:14 pm

My wife and I sail Main Event II (36098) on St. Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico out of Panama City Beach in NW Florida. I "single hand" so she can relax and enjoy while I busy myself with survival. (I too raced Hobie 16s in another life and am familiar with the "back-wind" trick.) I find that I have the most trouble tacking when the winds are high. I've tried both techniques and I find that "speed" is key. I develop the best speed I can, throw the wheel hard the windward, release and sheet in the genoa before it can fill, (main is self-tacking?) and then ease the wheel back to center as the boat gains speed. Any hiccup will cause the boat to stop dead in its tracks and the freshly sheeted genoa to back wind on the new tack. Using the "back wind" technique has required me to have to take the genoa in for repair to the leach on one occasion so far. Setting the Genoa soonest negates me having to get the winch handle out. What I'm hearing in this thread is I might need to incorporate some movement of the main sheet traveler to windward prior to initiating the tack? I'll experiment with that next (windy) chance I get.

Jim B

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Re: Location of keels & tacking ability - 32 vs 36?

Postby thinwater » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:17 pm

A helpful little tip I learned years ago:

When tacking by yourself, take most of the turns off the loaded winch (all but one?), place it in the selftailer, but lead the tail around to the wrong side of the winch. When it is time to release the jib simple give the line a sharp yank, it comes out of the tailer, and everything is released instantly. You can also simply use a cam cleat instead of the selftailer.
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