EACH rig has its own little special tricks of sailing differing from those of other rigs; but the main rules are the same for all, and one who has thoroughly grasped the mechanical laws that govern the relation of a boat's sails, hull and rudder to wind and water, and has learnt how to sail one sort of craft, can discover for himself, by reasoning and experiment, what methods must be employed on a boat of a different rig.
Let us imagine ourselves on board a yawl yacht of five tons-lying at anchor at the mouth of a tidal river. We will now describe the principal manoeuvres that must be employed in getting her under way and sailing her.
To get under way may appear a simple matter enough: yet to do so safely often taxes the skill of the cleverest sailor.
If the wind is moderate, and we have plenty of sea room, and no vessels are brought up near to us, the process is easy. We hoist all sail, haul up the anchor, and by holding the foresheet to windward cant the vessel off in the required direction, then trim the sheets, and away we go.
But supposing that a strong tide is running under us and a fresh breeze is blowing in the same direction as the tide, it will not do to get under way after this fashion, more especially if other vessels are brought up not far astern of us; for the yacht will begin to drag her anchor when sail is hoisted, or at any rate some time before the chain is a-peak; the result being that before she can be canted and got under control she will drag astern and get foul of some of the other craft. And even if she does not do this and her sails fill, she will shoot ahead over her anchor and make it impossible to get it up.
Our best method of getting under way under the above conditions would probably be as follows. First the anchor is hove short, so that the yacht is nearly over it. Then the mainsail or mizzen, according to the strength of the wind, is hoisted. Then, while the anchor is being smartly got off the ground and hauled on board, the foresail is hoisted. The tide passing under a vessel while she is at anchor gives her steerage way; so, just before the anchor leaves the ground, the tiller is put over to cant the vessel on the desired tack, the foresheet is trimmed, and thus we get way on our craft without any delay, and are able to avoid the vessels that surround us.
If there is but little wind, a strong tide under one, and a crowd of vessels brought up close astern, it sometimes happens that the following method is the only one by which one can get away clear. Let one hand get the anchor up till the chain is nearly straight up and down and the yacht commences to drag slowly. Let him, by giving her chain or taking it in, keep her going thus, never letting her drag fast. As the tide is running by the vessel faster than she is dragging astern, she still has steerage way; thus the helmsman is enabled to steer her, so as to avoid the different craft. As soon as she is astern of them and the road is clear, the anchor is got on board, the sails are hoisted. and away she goes.
If the wind and tide are in opposite directions, and the tide has most effect on a vessel at anchor so that she rides with her bows against the tide, it is often advisable to heave the anchor short, and just as it comes off the ground to set mainsail or foresail and run before the wind.
Do not set too much sail and get speed on your vessel before your anchor is on deck, or you will get it caught under your stem, and have to luff up so that a hand can clear it.
If a yacht is not anchored, but made fast to a buoy or other moorings, from which one can slip in a moment, the problem of getting under way is much simplified; for one can carry the mooring line to either bow, or to the quarter, or even astern, so as to direct the vessel's head in the desired direction. Then the mooring can be slipped, and sail hoisted simultaneously, and the vessel will get way on at once and can be steered clear of everything.
The amateur, if he puts his mind to it, will in time be able to reason out the best method of getting his craft under way under every contingency of tide, wind, and surrounding obstacles. The manoeuvre is often a difficult one but luckily the novice has generally time to sit down quietly on deck and reason out his method before commencing operations, which is far from the case with most of the manoeuvres which have to be performed when one is under way.
While we are on the subject of getting under way we will describe how the sails are to be set.
The mainsail, when furled, is tied up with small ends of rope, called tyers. First cast oH the tyers. Then top the boom a little with the topping-lift and slack out the main sheet. Seize both main halyards together and hoist till the throat is nearly up. Then belay the peak halyards while you swing away at the throat till it is taut, and belay the throat halyards. Then hoist the peak and belay the peak halyards. Then coil the halyards neatly close under their cleats.
After coiling halyards, always capsize them, that is, turn them over so that the end of the halyards is under the coil. If this precaution is not taken, and a sail is lowered in a hurry, the coil will probably be dragged up to the masthead, possibly jam somewhere in a block, and prevent the sail from lowering further until some one has gone aloft to undo the mischief.
Having now got our boat under way — say under mainsail and foresail — we proceed to hoist our other sails as we sail close-hauled down the river. It is blowing fresh, and there is a look of more wind in the sky, so we will dispense with the topsail (the method of setting this sail has been already described), and get the mizzen and second jib on her. We are supposing that there are three jibs on board, so the one we have decided to use is the medium one.
The method of setting the jib requires some explanation. In the first place, we take it for granted that the bobstay and bowsprit shrouds have been hove taut before we got under way.
Lay the jib on the deck forward with its tack ahead. Hook the tack on the traveller, and the jib halyard on to the head, and then fasten the jib sheets on to the clew. The jib sheets are often attached to the sail on a small yacht by spring hanks; but these are somewhat liable to become unhooked when the sail is shaking in stays. Sister hooks, which must be seized together with yarn — moused, as the operation is called — or have a stout indiarubber ring round them are preferable. Toggles and shackles are also sometimes employed for this purpose.
The jib is now all ready for hoisting. First haul out the tack on the traveller to its proper position, and belay the outhaul. If the jib is a biggish one and may touch the water while it is being hauled out, hoist on the halyard at the same time just sufficiently to keep the jib clear of the water. When the outhaul is belayed, hoist the halyards taut and belay them. Then trim in the lee sheet.
We are now close-hauled, sailing full and bye, as it is called, that is, the sails are full while the vessel is sailing as near to the wind as she can. The steersman should stand on the weather side of the vessel. To sail a yacht to windward with the greatest advantage requires considerable practice, and the novice is sure at first to yaw her about a good deal, now keeping her off the wind too much and now luffing till all the sails are shaking and she loses her way.
The burgee or vane at the masthead will tell him when he is bearing away too much, and the luff of the mainsail will shake when he is sailing as close as he should.
The luff of the mainsail is generally lifting slightly when a yacht is sailing close hauled; but the best way of steering full and bye is by the feel of the wind on one's face; and this is of course the only method of doing so on a dark night.
We have now come to a bend in the river where the wind heads us, so it becomes necessary to tack. The helmsman sings out "Ready about!" and the crew stand by ready to tend the jib and foresheets. The helmsman keeps the vessel a point or so off for a few moments, sa as to give her plenty of way; then singing out " Helm's a-lee!" puts the tiller slowly down — slowly , be it remembered, and not too far down.
The vessel now shoots up into the wind, the jib sheet is let fly, the foresail still kept to windward helps to pay the vessel off on the other tack. The jib sheet on the other side; which now becomes the lee jib sheet, is trimmed in as soon as the vessel is turned sufficiently round. If the jib sheet be hauled in too soon, the jib becomes a back sail, and will cause the vessel to miss stays. Next the foresheet is passed over, and the yacht is rushing away on the other tack. The mainsail and mizzen have been taking care of themselves during this operation; but, if it is blowing hard, it is well to haul in the mainsheet and ease it over gently. If the yacht be a smart one in stays, it is not necessary to keep the foresheet to windward while tacking; jib and foresheet can be let go together.
A small amount of clumsiness in tacking a vessel will cause her to miss stays and get in irons, that is, she will lie up in the wind, all her sails shaking, and refuse to fill on either tack. She has now lost all headway, and commences to go astern. In order to get way on again, haul the head sheets to windward, which we will suppose is the port side. Put the tiller to starboard. As the vessel is going astern, the rudder will now produce the reverse effect of what it would were the vessel going ahead; so putting the tiller to starboard turns the vessel's head to starboard.
To assist her still further in paying off, slack out main and mizzen sheets; for these sails have a tendency to keep her up in the wind. When she has paid off sufficiently, trim the sheets, and she will soon gather way on the port tack.
Sometimes, in a choppy sea, a boat will refuse to stay, and it becomes necessary to ware her. To do this, slack out the mainsheet and bear away till the wind is brought on the other side and the sail jibes. Then luff till the vessel is close hauled.
Whilst tacking in a river, with the tide under one, it must not be forgotten that close under either shore there is generally much less current than in the middle of the river, sometimes no current at all or even a back eddy. The yacht must therefore not be taken in too near the bank before going about, for then her bows will be out of the tide while her stern will be in it; the pressure on her stern will prevent her coming up in the wind when the helm is put down, and she will consequently miss stays.
While we are tacking down this reach, the wind freshens a lot, and we are struck by several squalls, to which the helmsman luffs up, thereby lessening the force of their impact; but he must be careful not to luff too much or too long, else the yacht will lose all her way and get in irons.
It blows still harder, and our vessel is running her nose into the short choppy sea, so it is decided that we shift the second jib for the third or smallest.
To do this properly while one is under way requires an experienced hand. To take in the jib, let go the outhaul, and as the sail on its traveller comes inboard along the bowsprit, muzzle it, that is, clasp it in your arms; then letting go the halyards, pull the sail down on deck to leeward of the foresail. Untoggle the sheets, unhook the tack and head from the outhaul and halyards; secure these last to their respective cleats, so that they cannot blow adrift, and then carry the sail below. Get the third jib on deck, and set it in the way before described.
If we had been out at sea instead of taking a short sail on a river, we should have reefed the bowsprit when we shifted jibs, and thus have relieved the vessel of the. unnecessary leverage of this weight over her bows.
In the next reach, the river bends round so that we have to put the helm up and run before the wind. The lee-runner is slacked off and all the sheets are eased off.
Further on, the river bends round still more, so that we have to jibe. As the wind is strong, this must be done with certain precautions. First the peak is lowered. Then the runner is slacked off and the helm is put up. The mainsheet must be rounded in quickly till the boom is amidships, and then, as the wind strikes the sail on the other side, the sheet is paid out again. If the boom were allowed to jibe over by itself, and the mainsheet was not thus made to break the violence of the jerk, the boom would be sprung or some other serious accident would probably occur.
When the boom has jibed over, the runner which is now the weather one is set up taut and the head sheets are slacked out on the weather side and belayed on the lee side.
In the next reach, the wind is a little before the beam, so the sheets are trimmed in a bit. So stiff a squall now strikes us that our lee gunwale and several planks of our deck are under water; so, until it is over, the mainsail is scandalized. Scandalizing a mainsail consists of tricing up the tack and lowering the peak, thus much reducing the area of canvas.
The squall over, we hoist the peak and lower the tack again. The man at the tiller now complains that in this strong wind "the vessel is carrying enough weather helm to pull his arms off" The cause of this griping, as it is called, is plain enough. When we got under way our sails were nicely balanced, and the yacht steered easily with just a slight weather helm. But we have shifted the second jib for the third, thus reducing the head sail so much that the after sails are producing the most effect, and a lot of helm is necessary to counteract the vessel's tendency to run up into the wind. (See Chapter III, on the balancing of sails.) We must now restore the proper balance of the sails by reducing the after sail. We can do this either by taking in the mizzen or by reefing the mainsail, and as the wind looks more like freshening than moderating, we decide to take down one reef in the mainsail.
In the first place we heave our vessel to. To do this we slack away our lee foresheet and haul in the weather one while we flatten in the main and mizzen sheets.
The wind striking the after sails drives the vessel up in the wind; but the foresail being hauled to windward and becoming a back sail makes her pay off. By trimming the sheets properly the head and after sails can thus be made to balance each other, and the yacht will float on the water practically motionless, with her head to the wind, and remain so for as long as we please without any hand being required at the tiller.
We next lower the mainsail on deck, and remain hove to under foresail and mizzen. Having now much less after sail set, we must let the jib sheet flow and perhaps give the foresail a trifle more sheet to prevent our vessel from paying off too much.
And now to take down our reef. If the reef-pendant is not already rove, as it always should be on a short-handed craft, we proceed to reeve it. Fig. 43 will demonstrate how this is done. The boom has a comb cleat on either side of it. As we wish to take down only one reef, we reeve the pendant through the first hole of one of these cleats, a knot at the pendant end preventing it from slipping through. Then we pass it through the first reef cringle and down through the first hole of the other comb cleat.
Now we haul on the pendant till we have boused down the cringle to the boom, and then lash it securely.
Next the tack is secured to the first reef cringle on the luff of the sail, the foot of the sail is rolled up, and the first row of reef points are tied.
Having got our reef down, we hoist up our reduced mainsail, slack out the main and mizzen sheets to let the vessel pay off a bit, then let go the weather foresheet and haul in the lee one and proceed on our voyage. The sails are now nicely balanced again, and the man at the tiller no longer grumbles at the arm pulling weather helm.
In the next reach the wind is ahead, and we have to tack again; but the tide has turned and is running strongly against us so that we find we are making no progress. We therefore decide to return home. The helm is put up, the mainsheet is eased off, and we bear away to run up the river.
By-and-by we are close hauled, and we observe that our sails are standing very badly, the jib especially so, for its luff is bending round in a great bow.
The cause of this is that our ropes have stretched, and a pull on the halyards all round becomes necessary. While the steersman luffs up for a moment so that the sails shake, a hand swigs down the jib halyards and belays them. So again while a pull is being taken on each halyard in its turn, the steersman luffs up, thereby relieving the sail of the pressure of the wind, but without stopping the vessel's way.
And now we approach our moorings; the tide and wind are both with us. We lower our head sails, steer the yacht so that she takes a sweep round into the wind, and we haul in the mainsheet as she comes up. We bring her up head to wind, and she loses her way just as we are alongside the mooring buoy. A hand forward picks up the buoy rope with a boat hook and secures it. Then the mainsail and mizzen are quickly lowered, and we stow the sails at our leisure.
The method here described is the most usual one of coming up to moorings.
To perform this manoeuvre with confidence requires considerable experience. The moment at which the vessel should be luffed up into the wind and the nature of the curve she should be made to describe depend on a variety of circumstances. The strength of the tide must be taken into consideration, and also the tendency of the boat either to shoot far ahead or lose her way quickly after she has been luffed up into the wind.
A very slight mistake will bring the vessel up short of her moorings Then, having lost her way, she will drop astern with the tide and possibly get foul of some other craft before head sail can be set and way can be got on her.
We would therefore recommend the novice to always have his anchor ready to let go when approaching his moorings.
When the wind and tide are in opposite directions the manoeuvre is sometimes rendered easier; for then the vessel can be made to run before the wind up to her buoy under her mainsail, and then, the sail being scandalized, she will no longer be able to stem the tide, but will come to a standstill close to the buoy.
If the wind is strong, she can run up under her foresail only, which can be lowered as soon as the buoy is reached.
To come to an anchor, the usual method is to lower the head sails, haul in the mainsheet, and luff the vessel up into the wind till she stops her way; then let go.
Before coming up to the anchorage a few fathoms of chain should be ranged before the windlass, sufficient at least to allow the anchor to reach the bottom when let go.
It is best not to let go the anchor until the vessel has begun to gather stern way; then give her chain gradually until she has taken out enough — šthat is, under ordinary circumstances, about three times as much length of chain as the depth of the water. If the chain is allowed to run out all at once it will fall on the top of the anchor, a coil will get round one of the flukes, dislodge the other fluke from the ground, and the vessel will drag.
The end of the chain, especially if no windlass is used, should be secured to a bolt in the chain locker or otherwise; else a careless hand may let it all run overboard and thus lose both anchor and cable.
The chain should be marked at every five fathoms, by attaching a small piece of cord to the link. The loose end of the first cord can have one knot tied in it, the second cord two knots, and so on. The length of chain that is overboard is thus easily ascertained.
Our vessel being now moored or anchored, we neatly stow our sails, fasten the tyers round them, belay all halyards and sheets, and coil the mainsheet and the other falls. If the ropes are dry, belay them slack, for a shower would shrink them, and if they were belayed taut all the life would be stretched out of them.
In the course of our cruise we did not contrive to get our yacht aground, which was perhaps well for us, seeing how hard it was blowing.
When a vessel has run aground, the method of getting her off again varies with circumstances.
If the keel is in soft mud and we were not running before the wind when our vessel struck, we may get her off by slacking the main and mizzen right out, so that the wind does not press on the sails, or by lowering the mainsail and mizzen, while we haul the head sheets to windward, so that the head sails turn her bows round and drive her astern at the same time. If this is not enough to move her, we can assist the action of the sails by shoving her off with poles; also by making our crew run from side to side to roll her and so dislodge her keel from the mud; or, if she is only aground forward and the rest of her is afloat, by bringing the weight of all hands aft and so lightening the bows.
But if she has run upon a sloping shoal of sand or shingle, the above method will seldom prove of any avail, for the opposition of the hard bottom will prevent the keel from turning. Under these circumstances, our only plan will be to lower all sail and drag her off by the same way that she came on, that is, we must shove her astern with the poles and if that is not sufficient, take an anchor out in the dinghy and let it go in the deep water some distance astern, when we can haul her off with the cable. If the anchor holds well, we can — in case our own strength is insufficient — clap a watch tackle on the cable or pass it round the windlass so as to gain more power.
If we were running before the wind when we got aground, we must in this case also lower all sail and haul the vessel off stern first.
If the tide is dropping, there must be no delay in getting her off, or the water will leave us, and we will have to remain where we are till the next flood.
Be careful not to run aground on the top of high water spring tides, or you may be neaped as it is called, that is, you will not have water to float you off until the next springs, and must remain stuck in the mud for maybe a fortnight.
Many of our smaller and little-navigated rivers have narrow channels winding among extensive shoals. These channels are often but indifferently marked with beacons, so that a stranger attempting to find his way up them at half flood or later, when the shoals are covered, will in all probability run his vessel ashore.
His best plan is to remain at anchor at the mouth of the river until low water, he can then work his way up the channel on the young flood, when the shoals are uncovered and the channels easily distinguished. And even if he does run aground, the water is rising under him so that he will soon float off.
While sailing a small craft, if you pass close under the lee of a large vessel, you will find that she will take all the wind out of your sails and you will be becalmed. Look out, if the day be a breezy one, for the sudden blow with which the wind will strike you again when the vessel is passed. As your vessel will probably have lost nearly all her way while under the lee of the other, the first pressure of the wind will be entirely exerted in heeling your craft over.
Therefore lower your peak, or have your sheets ready to slack out while under the lee of the other vessel.
The spinnaker is the only sail on board our yawl whose management has not been described. When not in use, the spinnaker boom is topped along the mast, and secured by lashings to the shrouds. To set the spinnaker, cast off the boom lashings. Lower the boom over the side, keeping it still well topped up. Guy it with the fore and the after guys. Bend the outhaul and halyards on the sail. Belay the sheet loosely. First haul the sail up with the halyards. Then haul it along the boom with the outhaul. Then trim in the sheet.
Before we leave the subject of handling a fore-and-after, we will point out that if a vessel be sluggish in stays, it is advisable, instead of leaving the foresheet fast and keeping the foresail aback till the vessel has paid off on the other tack, to let fly the foresheet as the vessel comes up into the wind, thus taking the pressure off the head sails and making her come up the quicker; then, as soon as the vessel is in the wind's eye, to haul the foresheet in again, so that the foresail to windward helps the vessel round. Keep it to windward no longer than is necessary; then, as before, let fly the weather sheet and trim in the lee.