Archive for November, 2011

Getting out of irons

Monday, November 21st, 2011

In our last newsletter we mentioned that if you tack too slowly and lose momentum you may end up in irons (stalled).

The rudder can only work when the boat is moving so the boat needs to be travelling at a reasonable speed before you begin to tack.

When sailing in a light breeze you may need to ease the sails, including the main’s outhaul, slightly to deepen the curve and gain the necessary speed.

Sometimes waves will cause a boat to become stuck in irons, particularly when there is not enough wind to carry the boat through.

Another thing to avoid is centering the tiller too early. Unless the boat has passed head to wind, there’s a risk of stalling.

Remember: Don’t release the headsail until the boat is past head to wind. That should ensure the boat is safe on the new tack.

So there are a few ideas to help you avoid getting stuck, but how do you get unstuck?

If you can’t get on to the new tack or back on the previous one and the rudder doesn’t seem to be working, it’s likely that you are sailing backwards, in which case the rudder will be working in reverse.

Immediately you decide the rudder is taking you backwards in the ‘wrong’ direction, you should reverse the wheel, or tiller, so that it makes the bow fall in the direction you want to tack.

If this still doesn’t work, act as you would if completely becalmed. Get your crew to hold the boom on the new tack and get their weight on the leeward side of the boat.

Let the sails out as if you were on a very broad reach. When you get the slightest hint of a breeze, tighten the sails ever so slightly and sail in whatever direction that takes you until you get enough way up to go on the course you want.

Next time you tack, don’t be afraid to broaden the attack so that you have good speed, then be constantly aware of where the rudder is until safely on the new course.

Good luck!

E.B. White

Monday, November 21st, 2011

If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most.

I must say I puzzled over the connection between sailing and the man who edited and updated William Strunk’s well-known American handbook of grammar, The Elements of Style. Some of you, however, may be more familiar with White’s children’s books, Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both now made into films.

I believe the connection was through his son, Joel White, a naval architect and boat builder.

Elwyn Brooks White was born in 1899 graduated from Cornell University in 1923 after completing his military service. In 1929 he married Katharine Angell, literary editor at The New Yorker, who had got him a job at the magazine in 1927, just two years after it was founded. He remained a contributor for the next 60 years.

In 1978 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize: A Special Award and Citation – Letters: “For his letters, essays and the full body his work.”

White died on 1 October 1985 from Alzheimer’s disease, a sad fate for a writer.