Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my dinghy cruising blog about my John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. Built over three years, Arwen was launched in August 2007. She is a standing lug yawl 14' 6" in length. This blog records our dinghy cruising voyages together around the coastal waters of SW England.
Arwen has an associated YouTube channel so visit to find our most recent cruises and click subscribe.
On this blog you will find posts about dinghy cruising locations, accounts of our voyages, maintenance tips and 'How to's' ranging from rigging standing lug sails and building galley boxes to using 'anchor buddies' and creating 'pilotage notes'. I hope you find something that inspires you to get out on the water in your boat. Drop us a comment and happy sailing.
Steve and Arwen

Sunday 24 November 2013

Weather helm part 2

Nov 2013
Weather helm on your tiller

I have posted on weather helm on Arwen before but recently there has been a discussion on the JW forum and as always, I come away learning loads of new things. It is an amazing forum with some real wisdom and experience in it.

I didn't realise that adjusting the rake of the mast for'ard or aft will affect weather helm. I knew that not having the rudder fully down would, so I am up on something. With mizzen sheeted in hard, as Joel points out, his 'Ellie' has a slight weather helm and with mizzen half way out, helm appears to be neutral.

Robert sails with the tiller lashed in self steering most of the time and he notes that he has to keep the boat balanced at all times using mizzen, crew weight and the centreboard to achieve this balance.  On a beam reach he has the centreboard half way up and the stronger the wind, the more He needs to raise the board. On a broad reach He raises the board almost all the way. But even when close hauled, He doesn't have the board all the way down unless the wind is less than 10 knots. "then try lashing the tiller just a tad to windward of the centreline (i.e., to induce just a bit of lee helm) and then use only the mizzen, the centreboard and your body weight/crew weight to balance the helm of the boat, in that order". Sounds interesting and I've made a note to give this a go next time Arwen and I are out and about on the sound.

Robert makes another well thought out point "But now that I look back, I realize that self-steering taught me things about my boat that I may never have learned otherwise or at least not as quickly and thoroughly. So, maybe just look at it as a learning tool, if nothing else". Wise words indeed. Thanks Robert.

Others observed that the jib halyard is tight; that the mast stays are tight and that jib head stay is tight too. That will have a profound effect on reducing weather helm as well.

John, as always, had pearls of wisdom. "The mast can be raked forward a little, and if it is a yawl rigged boat the mizzen can be eased a little . Another thing to try is to move the crew weight back and forward and see what difference that will make. Sail trim can make a big difference as well, check that the slot between the mainsail and the leach ( after edge) of the jib is adequate to let the air gathered by the jib pass through and around the back of the mainsail, if it is backwinding the mainsail then move the jib sheet turning block aft until it is backwinding the mainsail only very very slightly and that at the bottom forward corner of the mainsail."


photocurio said...

I think there is one thing missing from your post: no boat will sail well upwind with lee helm. If you want to balance the helm to neutral so it will sail better with a lashed tiller, then thats a fair compromise.

But to sail your best to windward you need weather helm. Not too much of course: besides being a pain to hold a mean tiller, a steep rudder angle is an effective brake for the boat.

steve said...

Fair comment
Thanks for the input

John Perry said...

Hi Steve, details of our SW Area DCA winter meeting got missed out of DCA bulletin 221 (my fault), but it is planned for Saturday 22 Feb 2014, contact me for details. A good opportunity to discuss with other DCA members some of the questions you are considering here - John

steve said...

Thanks john
Be In touch