The Telltale – February 2022

THE wake-up call

As Dr. Frankenstein is reputed to have said, “It’s ALIVE!  It’s ALIVE!  Well, yes, the Port Oliver Yacht Club really is still alive.  It just needs a couple of dope slaps to get it moving.  The Club looks rather good; the docks are floating; and the Lake level is up above summer pool.  The docks are not secured to the land, so don’t put your boats on the docks quite yet.  Wait for the Dock Master, Greg Glass, to give the signal.   Besides, the water is still rather cold.  And there is a large raft of logs and trash blocking the end of the ramp.  Which brings up the first installment of Coming Attractions.  


On Saturday, March 12, from 9:00 until 12:00, we will have a clean-up of the Club Property.  Other than the mess at the end of the ramp, there are leaves to be picked up and other house-keeping tasks to be completed.  At 12:00 we will have a potluck meal.  Please bring food to share.  After the meal, there will be our first meeting of the year. 


Founder: “Founder” is an unusual word in that it has many different, unconnected meanings.  Of course, we have the five “founders” of our Club, Bud Burford (father of John), Joe Mayfield, Don Mayfield, Paul Huddleston (father of Joe, Phil, and Lee), and Joe Huddleston (brother of Phil and Lee).  There is “founder” which means melting and casing metal.  There is “founder” which is to disable an animal, especially a horse, by overfeeding it.  But the “founder” that I am interested in is the nautical context, where founder means to submerge or sink.  This species of founder comes from the Latin fundus which means the bottom or base.  So, a sinking boat is expected to end up on the fundus. 

Apophenia:  The human tendency to link unrelated things.  (For example, including this term in a sailing club newsletter.)  😊

Duning-Kruger Effect:  People who know the least about something often seem confident that they know more than everyone else.  (Now my bet is that you think that term is apropos to a sailing club. 😊)  

Weatherly:  The ability of a sailboat to sail close to the wind with little leeway.  A modern racing boat can sometimes point almost to 30° off the wind.   Most cruisers do well to sail to 40° or 50° off the wind.  Viking ships and square-rigged boats struggled to sail 70° off the wind.  Whereas clipper ships could sail up to 65° off the wind.  That may not seem like much of a difference, but consider that they were traveling very long distances. A small advantage added up to a big difference.    


The air will soon feel warm, except for a few cold snaps such as “Dogwood Winter,” “Blackberry Winter,” and “Linen Britches.”  But, the water will remain cold for several more months.  The point is, if you get your boat in soon, please keep the temperature of the water in mind.  First-of-all, launching your boat is going to be a “bracing” experience.  Give some thought to how you might be able to launch without getting wet.  It can be done with a little forethought.  

As you go out onto the Lake, please wear a Personal Floatation Devise (PFD), that is, a life jacket to those of us who have been around a while.  Of course, it would be prudent to wear your PDF even in the summer, but in the early spring it can be more than just handy.  A warm body falling into a cold lake can practically paralyze the person’s muscles.  Climbing back into a boat or righting a capsized boat may be easy in the summer but nearly impossible in the spring.   And, even if it does not save your life, it will make it easier for us to locate and thaw out your body. 

For those days when the air is cool, remember that cool air is denser.  So, a brisk wind which would be wonderful in the summer may be harder for your boat to handle in the spring, same wind speed but much more power.  Adding to that, the winds in the spring tend to be stronger.

So, do not dilly-dally,   Get your boat ready enough and go sailing.  The Lake is calling you.


The first order of business is the selection of sails.  Reconsider flying that 155% genoa.  I know that it is beautiful and makes your heart leap up, but it can easily overpower your boat.  Save it for the summer doldrums.  

If you can reef your main sail, think about doing so before you go out.  When there is a nice gentle breeze in the Cove, look out at the main body of the Lake.  If you think that you are looking at a herd of wild, white stallions, think again.  They are whitecaps that appear when the wind reaches 12 to 13 knots.  A prudent sailor will put at least one reef in her main before going out.  When she gets out on the Lake and discovers that the wind is within her capabilities, she can always shake out the reef.   You will find that it is a lot easier and safer to put in a reef while you are sheltered and shake it out later than to go out and get beaten up by strong wind while you try to put in a reef. 

If you are getting healed over too much for your comfort or even rounding up, you need to adjust your center of lateral resistance relative to your center of effort.   Say what?   Your center of lateral resistance is your centerboard or keel.  Your center of effort is the combination of your sails.  

Most people think that the only purpose of the centerboard line is to raise or lower your board according to the depth of the water.  But they are missing out on a very useful tool.  Most centerboards are attached at their forward end.  When they are lowered, they pivot on that forward attachment until they are essentially vertical.  But there are a lot of positions between vertical and horizontal.  If your board is all the way down and your boat is healing more than your like, you are probably “tripping over your board,” in other words, the wind is trying to push you sideways and the centerboard is pushing against the water to resist.  The push of the sails is above the resistance of the board so the sideways push tends to heal the boat over.  When you first pull on the centerboard line it does not lift the board straight up.  It starts the board pivoting on that forward attachment.  The first few inches of the line raise the board very little.  What those first few inches of line do is move the board aft.   When you do this, you will be moving the center of resistance of the board under the main sail.   The boat will not round up or heal as much.

For boats with fin keels, of course you cannot raise the keel.  But you can move the keel slightly farther aft my moving weight forward.  If the bow is down and the stern is up, the center of resistance will have been moved aft to some extent.

One more line with which you need to become familiar was invented by a distant relative of our Member, Tom Cunningham.  It is called a cunningham after Briggs Cunningham.  It is a line that runs through a grommet in the luff of a mainsail about a foot above the gooseneck (where the boom attaches to the mast).  If you have reefing on your boat, the first reef point grommet is probably a few inches farther up the luff.  The cunningham is used to tighten the luff by pulling down on it.  

You may ask, “Why not just lower the boom or raise the sail higher?”  A very reasonable question.  Raising the sail higher or lowering the boom does tighten the luff, but it also affects the whole sail in ways you might not want.  Another good reason is that most racing boats have black lines around the ends of their masts and booms to prevent a sailor from using a larger sail or stretching her sail larger.  Take a look at your own boat.   Now you don’t have to wonder what those black bands are for.  By using a cunningham, a sailor can tighter her luff without going over those black lines.  

So why would you want to tighten your luff?  The topic of this article should give you a clue, heavy weather sailing.  When you are sailing you want the deepest draft of your mainsail to be as close as you can get it to your mast.  As you know, the wind moving over that bulge is what creates the lower air pressure, which in turn, moves your boat.  But without a cunningham, as the wind increases in strength, the bulge tends to move aft.  Normally the lower air pressure at the front part of the bulge pulls the boat forward.   As the bulge moves aft, the lower air pressure will pull less forward and more to the side, slowing the boat down and making it heal more.

If you do not have a cunningham grommet in your mainsail and you want to add one, please note that the grommet has to be embedded in a lot of extra pieces of sail cloth to keep it from ripping the sail.   

Lee Huddleston, Scribe

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