Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tacking and Jibing

The two most important maneuvers in sailing are TACKING­ and JIBING. Either one is a course change in which the sails move from one side of the boat to the other, from starboard to port tack or port to starboard tack. When tacking, the bow of the boat turns into and "across" the wind. In a jibe, the stern of the boat crosses the wind.

To tack, the helmsman says "Ready About" to alert crew to the activity about to begin. After the crew has responded "Ready," the helmsman says "Hard-a-lee," to indicate he is pushing the tiller hard to the lee side of the boat, the side the sails are on. He may actually use a wheel instead of a tiller to turn the boat, but the command Hard-a-lee" remains the same.

The boat now turns sharply upwind and the wind is spilled from the sails completely. All the sails luff momentarily. The crew releases the jib. For an instant the boat is heading directly into the wind. Without stopping, the boat continues to turn in the same direction so that the wind now comes across the deck from the boat's other side. The sails begin to fill on the new leeward side. The jib is taken in and all sails must be checked to see if they need adjustment.
The boat is now sailing on a new tack. She has COME ABOUT changed direction, usually no less than 80°.

To jib the sailboat also changes course to bring the sails over to the other side, but does so while sailing downwind, it is the stern, not the bow as in tacking, that swings across the wind in a jibe.
The Helmsman says "Prepare to jibe", and at that sig­nal the crew begins to haul in the mainsail until it is amidships. The helmsman waits for the for the sail to be brought in under control, says "Jibe Ho", and pushes the tiller away from the sails so that the wind catches the sails on the other side from aft. (A wheel go the opposite way.)

When sailing downwind the sails are eased way out, and travel some distance across the boat to catch the wind on their other side. A jibe can be dangerous if this maneuver is not carefully controlled. As the wind catches the sails on the new side the crew eases the MAINSHEET (the sheet that that trims the mainsail) and trims the JIBSHEET on the new leeward side.

ACCIDENTAL JIBE - Whenever jibing, or close to a jib, watch for a accidental jib. One for which the crew is no prepared. With inattentive steering the wind may catch the back side of the sail and throw the boom violently across the boat to the other side, risking serious damage rigging and to the heads of crewmembers.