Rudderless Sailing

The PD isn’t quite ready for the water yet, but with the weather hitting 70F I needed to get out on the water. I took our 1983 Spindrift Day Sailer 1 out to Falls Lake. I had been reading a lot about sail trim and how you should be able to steer a boat with two sails without a rudder. After sailing around for a while this thought came back to me and I gave it a try. At first I could only sail in circles which was pretty amusing, but with a little playing around I was able to do it pretty successfully. It was very interesting to see that I needed to have the centerboard raised quite high and sit near the front of the boat in order to move the center of effort farther forward. I had to keep the jib sheeted in tighter than expected and then I could vary the main to steer. I was able to tack by sheeting in the main sail hard, letting the jib fly and then backwinding the main until the bow came around. Then I could pull the jib in on the other side to really bring the bow around loosen the main and head off the other way. Occasionally this operation would stall and I wouldn’t make it all the way around, but it was easy enough to pull in the jib and build up a bit of speed for another try. Later on I put the rudder back down, but by using the same techniques I was able to make the boat self tending. It’s interesting how much weather helm the DS1 has built into the “normal” configuration. While I only plan to have a single balanced lug sail on the PD, it was a great learning experience which will help me balance the center of effort with the lug and leeboard.

The water level at Falls Lake was quite high after all the rain we’ve had. Take a look at this picnic shelter over at Sandling Beach:

a wet picnic

a wet picnic – click to enlarge

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