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W17 Trimaran – Hove to and tacking

For one thing, this piece of video demonstrates a problem with watertight enclosures! As the little camera heats up (which it does significantly), the warmed air condenses on the inside of the case pressing against the lens, and fogs the image! Attempting to always match the inside and outside climate before closing the case is not very practical, so the only ‘total cure’ I’ve found to date is to make a small (1/16”) hole in the underside of the case to allow it to breath and equalize. The case is still very water resistant like this … but you’d have to add a plastic tape over the hole to regain its full waterproof function. Personally I seldom need that, so the small hole works fine and even if it did fall-in briefly, I doubt much water could enter the small hole against the warm internal air. (In fine weather, the small black rubber spray-proof sleeve for the camera works even better as it gives one a better hand grip).

The video starts with the W17 hove to and virtually stationary. You may want to immediately hit Pause to check out the way sails are sheeted. Some do not realize that there’s this very useful ‘stop’ mode on a sailboat, when things can be fixed and adjusted with relative ease. One can easily get to it via a few simple steps. Here they are: tack without touching the sheeted jib sheet; totally free the mainsail and push out the boom; and push the rudder down a certain degree (each boat will vary). Finally, ‘fine tune’ the situation by slightly slackening the backed jib so that the forward part of the foot is roughly parallel to the centerline of the boat. This fine-trimming can vary with each boat. To get sailing again, you bear off with the tiller; switch the jib to the leeward side and sheet in, and finally, trim in the main. The W17 will be moving again in 2 seconds and the start of this video demonstrates this.

The video then shows 3 tacks and demonstrates that there’s no reason for even this light boat to stop moving while tacking (unless one is in really large waves when the jib may need to be backed). Just watch the water flow past the hull and despite the fogged lens, one can still see it’s moving.

Particularly in waves, it’s important to slacken the main and complete the turn on just two hulls. To achieve this, it’s often better for the crew to stay on the previous weather side until the boat has totally turned, and only move over as the mainsheet is hauled back in and the rudder centered.

The video finishes with the boat doing one last tack but stopping again in the hove-to position with the jib remaining backed and finely adjusted. Forward speed is then typically cut to 0.5 to 1 knot, making it convenient mode to make adjustments or take in a reef.