Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tanzer 16 Racing with a spinnaker--cost/benefit in minutes

Tanzer 16 Racing with a spinnaker--cost/benefit in minutes  --  August 28, 2015 -- Final downwind leg of the final race of the final evening of Thursday night racing for this summer.  "What the hell, let's pop the chute!"  It was only the second time we have ever used that sail.  But we had nothing to lose.  We were going to beat a few boats, lose to more, and we were looking for a nice ride home.

As we passed the committee boat, we had the sail up and flying.  It took
another minute or so before we realized the sheet was still in the guy hook.
It took almost the entire downwind leg to get the chute up and the Genoa in.
Read on.

We got our wish; it was the fastest, funnest ride we ever had into the launching area.  But we also learned that the particular racing situation in Budd Inlet means we won't be using the chute very often.  It has to do with the length of the races.

We race every other Thursday night.  The first race starts at 1830, and they try to finish the last race by 2030.  We begin racing the first week in May and end the last week in August.  We like to do three races a night and sometimes the winds are light--thus we have short courses.  Most races last about 20 - 30 minutes -- so two maybe two and a half miles for each course--or lots less distance if the winds are really light.  That means in a 24-minute race with two downwind legs you are only sailing downwind for about 8-10 minutes. Worse--it's divided into two 4 or 5-minute segments.  Look at this picture.

Don't get me wrong.  If we had long downwind legs to use the spinnaker, we could eat up the Lidos, Coronado 15's, and 420's in our fleet.  But short downwind legs kill you!  Here's what has to happen.

You round the weather mark,  You have to set the spinnaker pole and topping lift.  We generally ignore the down haul.  You have to get the sheets on the spinnaker.  The helmsman has to hoist the spinnaker while steering with his knees and in our case tending one or both of the spinnaker sheets. The crew has to work foot of the spinnaker around the forestay to the correct side.  By now more than a minute has passed no matter how good you are (and we aren't that good yet).  Then you need to drop the Genoa and secure it to the deck.  Raise the centerboard, and now finally you can adjust the trim of the spinnaker.  In a five-minute run you will be passing the committee boat about the time everything is dialed in.

Then it will be time to head upwind again.  No way could you bring in the spinnaker and reset the Genoa quickly enough to briskly round the committee boat and start your beat to the weather mark. The benefit in minutes is nowhere worth the cost in minutes--plus by trying to do too much too quickly you will lose your Zen and you'll screw up all the fine steering and trimming needed for the upwind leg.

So--it's sad, but for us in our races the spinnaker is a great sail to have for long downwind sailing--like a day sail, but not so helpful for racing.  Of course  if it is a true drifter and nobody is moving and it looks like it could take 10 - 20 minutes to complete the downwind leg--then the cost benefit ratio changes dramatically.  We'll see next year!  Further note--the cost benefit analysis means that there is really no point in fabricating and installing a spinnaker launching tube in the fore deck.  For our purposes a bucket is fine.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tanzer 16 -- crunched your hull -- no problem -- free boat

Tanzer 16 -- crunched your hull -- no problem -- free boat -- well nearly free -- August 21, 2015
Eric the other Tanzer guy in Olympia, Washington has a deal.  He has a good hull that he has stripped for his current boat.  But the hull is in good shape.  Neither Eric nor I want to see this hull cut up and taken to the dump.  I also don't want it to become some kind of lawn planter.  So all you have to do is convince him that you are going to put the boat back into service and he will sell it to you.

If your racing got too competitive, and the hull got crunched, this could be a good opportunity to start over.  To be honest it would not be practical to gather up all the parts needed to start from scratch make this boat whole again.  But if your hull is beyond repair, this could be a good deal.

Plus you would be doing me a good turn--I so can't let this boat go to the dump that I told Eric I would put it in my backyard until somebody needs it.

If you could make this work, email me and I will put you in touch with Eric.  He is asking $25 but I bet that's negotiable.  The trailer is not included, but delivery could probably be negotiated as well.  jim

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tanzer 16 -- There's always one more thing -- you have to lower the centerboard

Tanzer 16  --  There's always one more thing  --  you have to lower the centerboard -- A couple of weeks ago I wrote that we needed to find 43 seconds if we wanted to be in contention.  I am happy to report that we found about 30 of those seconds.  That means we finished 4th out of five boats* during a three-race evening.  But it was a tight 4th--except for one race, and it wasn't our kind of weather.  With just three knots of breeze (often less)  The Coronado 15 and the Lazers had it all their way.  We did pretty well--except in race two--We just couldn't seem to get up to the line.  Finally one of the committee guys yelled at us, "Hey do you guys have your centerboard down"--OOH REDFACE.  That boat just sails so darn much better when you remember to drop the board.

Yes, that is us on the left.  A rare moment.  First across the line, and we are
on starboard tack.  Knowing that it takes about 30 seconds to tack has really
helped our starts.

*At the beginning of the season we routinely had 15- 20 boats out to race. I suspect that turn-out is so low because it is pretty well settled who will be winning the whole summer series and so most of the other sailors are staying home or going on vacation. We are left racing against some pretty good sailors.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tanzer 16 -- Need ideas to turn boat over -- updated two times

Tanzer 16 -- Need ideas to turn boat over--updated  twice -- August 8, 2015 -- Come September it will be time to paint the boat.  I need your help.  What is the best way to turn over a 400-pound boat?

I know that Ralph Krause down in Vancouver, WA and Brian Mrachek in Florida have done this. Unfortunately recent computer problems wiped out my address book.

I would appreciate your ideas, and Brian or Ralph, if you see this, please send me an email.  If anyone has done this and kept some pictures, it would make a nice post.

Thanks for your help.


Brian from Boca Raton, FL responded the same day with a good idea.

"I used two engine hoists.  One had a line hooked to the bow ring and the other hooked to an eyebolt that I screwed into the drain hole.  That way you could rotate the boat while painting.  Just be careful not to turn it so much that the eyebolt unscrews from the drain hole."

Thanks so much Brian.  I don't have access to engine hoists, but I do have dimensional lumber and plywood.  Along with a lot of rope and pulleys.  I am sure that I can rig something up that will work.

Here is a picture from the Complete Refurb page that features Brian's boat.
With his explanation, it becomes quite clear how he did it.

From Martin Robitalle came this idea:  "Two friends is all I needed to turn it over.  Be careful on the side that is touching the ground; I used an old pillow to protect the aluminum band circling the boat..."  (Editor's note.  I did this with my C Lark and you also need to be careful to protect the chain plate.  I used two 4x4's on the ground.)

Thanks Brian this will work too.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tanzer 16 Locked in irons at the weather mark

Tanzer 16 Locked in irons at the weather mark  --  August 4, 2015 --  I have pointed out several times that it can be difficult to turn the Tanzer 16 in light air.  I believe the Tanzer is a great boat and ideal for the two of us to race.  But it is important to know that the boat is difficult to turn in light air so that you can work around the problem.

The other day we were racing in light air, and IT happened to the other Tanzer just as IT has happened to us a few times. IT equals the boat got locked in irons.  Of course it happened to Eric just as it has happened to me right at the weather mark.  Not much feels worse that sitting there unable to move while the rest of the fleet just sails on to the next mark.

IT seems to happen when you don't have enough headway to complete a turn--even if you hold the jib on the lee side of the boat until the bow has passed head-wind.

I know the skipper of the other Tanzer.  He has a lot of experience sailing, and
he agrees that the Tanzer can be tough to turn.  We both used to own San
Juan 21's and felt that the Tanzer was almost as difficult to tack in very light
air--maybe more difficult than the SJ.

There isn't much more frustrating than just sitting there while the rest of the fleet moves on.  So here is my personal list of ways to avoid this situation. (It is a short list--it only has one item--so maybe it isn't a list.)  I am still pretty green at sailing the Tanzer so I offer it with the caveat that it may be worth what you paid for it.

Don't try to tack if you aren't moving fast enough.  That seems simplistic and even counter intuitive. But if you know the boat won't turn, don't try to turn it.  It you have to, sail well past the mark; then gibe.  In very light air the boat will often keep moving down wind through the turn.  This may not make your crew happy, and the rest of the fleet will wonder what in the heck you are doing. It does look very odd, but it works better than sitting there unable to move.

If you see a puff coming, stay on the same tack until it arrives.  I know it seems silly to keep sailing past the mark when you are barely moving anyway.  But again:   if you know the boat won't turn, don't try to turn it.

After you have been locked in irons a time or four this will seem like better advice.

Until then --what to do when you are stuck in irons.  The only thing that seems to work for us is use a boat hook and push the jib out as far as you can and hope that it will turn the boat one way or another. Then all your efforts should be focused --not on the race--but simply getting the boat moving again. Then you can rejoin the race, or just head back to the committee boat with your spinnaker tucked between your legs.

Sometimes you will get lucky, and the wind will fill in from the weather end of the course first.  Then maybe you can catch up with the fleet.  Sometimes they will get the wind first, and you will have a long, lonely ride back to the committee boat.  That will provide plenty of time to contemplate an important principle:   If you know the boat won't turn, don't try to turn it.