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Chapter 5
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Manoeuvering under Sail

Tacking

  In this manoeuvre the bow of the yacht is steered through the wind from one tack to another. A series of tacks close hauled along a mean course allows the desired course to be made good.  This is known as "Beating to Windward".

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  A good desired course that is not exactly into the wind may also be made good by varying the lengths of legs between tacks. In a modern cruising yacht a tacking angle of 90o to 110o between tacks can be expected.

Gybing

  This entails turning the stern of the yacht through the wind from one tack or gybe to the other. In strong winds it is a potentially dangerous manoeuvre, and should always be controlled by sheeting in the mainsail to the centre line before the gybe commences.

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Tacking Downwind

  This is a method of sailing downwind by gybing about the desired course on a series of legs, with the wind first on one quarter and then on the other.

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In certain conditions it may be preferable to running dead downwind, with less likelihood of an accidental gybe.

Heaving to

  This manoeuvre is used to slow the yacht almost to a halt and to leave the tiller virtually unattended.  It can be very useful in bad weather or when all hands are needed to attend to any damage or repairs. It is achieved by sheeting the headsail in to windward, easing the mainsail slightly and lashing the tiller to leeward. The exact position of sheets and tiller can be found only by experiment and experience. Under this rig a modern cruising yacht will normally sail very slowly at about right angles to the wind.

  The sequence of progression that occurs when a yacht is hove to is illustrated.

  The backed headsail fills and swings the yacht's head to leeward. (Fig a)

  As the yacht turns to leeward the mainsail fills and gives the yacht a little headway. (Fig b)

   With the tiller lashed to leeward the rudder turns the yacht's head into wind. (Fig c)

  The backed headsail then fills again and the process is repeated.  When heaving to by reason of heavy weather, the size of headsail and the amount of reefing in the mainsail should be adjusted according to conditions.

  All yachts act differently whilst hove to, a yacht with a long keel will tend to sit quietly.  Yachts with a fin keel will tend to fore reach slowly (track forward through the water).

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