A Windward Discovery
11 July 2013 | Little River, SC
Tammy, Stephanie and I took Aria out for a daysail, then anchored behind Bird Island for the night. We dinghied ashore twice for walks, I grilled fish for dinner, made a pancake breakfast, and I swam both days for exercise. But it was during our sail that I made a nice discovery.
Winds were steady 15kts from the south, so we were beating offshore as usual in the summer, first on a port tack toward Cherry Grove pier, then on a starboard tack outside the Little River sea buoy. Not exactly Aria's favorite point of sail. Now I've long-known that my genoa cars don't come far enough aft to properly harden the foot of my 135% genoa. This has hurt pointing ability, as I can't set the draft properly. I decided to try reefing down the genoa to 110%, which moved the clew far enough forward that I could now get the proper angle of pull from the genoa car. My new genoa has loaf foam, so despite the reef, I still had good sail shape. Suddenly, Aria was sailing about 10 degrees higher. Tammy was at the helm and couldn't believe the difference. Our heading had been toward Cherry Grove water tower; suddenly we were parallel to the beach, sailing down the coast. I must say, I was a bit surprised as well by the extent of the performance improvement. In light winds, furling the genoa would be a difficult choice to make, but above 10kts of wind speed, 110% is plenty of headsail.
What does 10-degrees mean to a passagemaker? I'm so glad you asked, because I get to use my high school trigonometry. Over 24 hours, at an average speed of 6kts, the distance we can save is 144nm x SIN(10 degrees) = 25nm, or 4 hours at 6 kts. Someday I hope to be sailing north up the Red Sea, a 1,400nm beat with prevailing wind dead on the nose. Those 10 degrees will get us to the Mediterranean almost two days sooner.
Not a bad day's work on Long Bay.