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Coming Ashore

  • The golden rule of coming ashore is that its better to be a foot too far away a hundred times, than a foot too close once and break boat or jetty. The thing to do is to use the "no go area" to slow the boat down by sailing directly into the wind with sails flapping. You then judge it so that you stop just short of the jetty - an inch is ideal, 6 inches is fine. Because the No go zone is roughly a quarter of a circle, you can always get the boat alongside without the sails filling by letting the sheets go.

    Start by working out which way the wind is blowing. Remember that this direction may not be the same as it was when you launched the boat - the wind can shift! So look at wind indicators (other boats, flags) and assess how you need to approach for landing.

    Jetty Facing into the Wind: Wind blowing onto the Shore.

    jetty1.gifWhen the jetty is pointing directly into the wind the trick is to sail down towards the shore some distance away on a broad reach. Then, a safe way out from the shore, sail along the shore on a beam reach, letting the sails out and flap so that the boat slows down. As you reach the jetty, with the boat just barely going fast enough to respond to the rudder, turn directly into the wind and the boat will stop just alongside the jetty. If you're going too fast you'll overshoot the jetty. If you do, just tack and try again. If the wind isn't blowing directly onto the jetty, but is coming at a slight angle, then come in the side that is downwind of the jetty so that the wind blows over the jetty before it gets to you.

    Wind blowing along the Shore, Jetty at a right angle to the Wind.


    If the Wind is coming across the jetty then there's more chance of breaking the boat because you're sailing towards the jetty, not alongside it. Ideally use the end of the jetty so that you just sail past if you're going too fast, but it isn't always possible.So be ready to turn away and try again if you think you might be going to hit it. Sail towards the jetty fairly slowly close hauled. Let the sails right out and point straight into the wind to slow down. At the very last second - with the boat just about stationary - just turn the boat across the wind so that the crew (or you) can grab the jetty. You must have the sails let out so far that they just keep flapping while you do this, otherwise you start sailing again! If you think you're going too fast then just tack as you approach the jetty and go round again.

    Help, its all going Wrong!

    Well, it happens to all of us from time to time. Sailboats have no brakes. Well, actually they do, there are a variety of ways of slowing down a boat in a hurry.

    Its all happening to quickly, I'm going to hit something. You can slow down by pushing the sail out to act as a brake. This works very well if you are sailing upwind, is OK on a reach, and makes no difference at all if you are running. In fact all maneuvers near the shore are more difficult if you are running, so avoid doing so if remotely possible.

    OK, that hasn't come off - what else - the shore is coming closer rapidly. Time for emergency measures. Whip the centreboard and rudder up before they hit the bottom: they are particularly likely to be damaged and need repairs. Now jump out. Get out of the windward side and hold onto the shrouds, or toe-straps or something convenient in a boat like a Laser or Topper with a freestanding mast. You should be able to hold it up, and your feet will touch the bottom before the hull bashes the edge. And even if you are out of your depth you soon won't be.

    I'm going too fast for that to make any difference. Capsize. Stops the boat practically dead every time. Better to bash the metal mast than the plastic or wood hull.

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