Tag Archives: knot log

SAILING NAKED!!!! (Learn to sail without Electronics) chart-plotter

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Sailing Naked

So, far we have shed the anemometer and our knot-log. Now for the painful part, the beloved chart plotter. I guess you could say that the chart-plotter is like our underwear (I’ll bet Raymarine, Garmin, Furuno and Simrad never thought their staple product line would never be used in the same sentence with underwear). Both may well be the hardest to shed. But be brave naked sailor want-to-be, we will do it together and get this boat navigation down.

boat navigation

What is it about the chart plotter?

The chart plotter really isn’t all that magical in its basic operation. We attach a GPS antenna, that doesn’t do anything more than receive from satellites our exact position on earth, and places that location graphically onto underlying charts on a TV screen. Yea yeah I know they do lots more buts that’s all extra stuff.

The good news is that if you use your chart plotter then you’re already familiar with using charts. So your dilemma in shedding your chart plotter is just to figure out where you actually are and to locate that spot on a paper chart. That my friends, is known as navigation.

Boat navigation

Boat navigation is the skill set that changes everything. It is what separates people that sail (maybe very well) from sailors. Navigation opens the doors to your dream destinations. Having the ability to navigate safely without electronics allows you to travel near and far with confidence. It also gives you something to do while on that long tack between A and B.

When you set out on your naked voyage you have two choices. You can have faith that Poseidon will guide you safely to where you want to go or you can keep track of your location, study your intended route and monitor your progress making changes and decisions along the way to accomplish a safe passage. The first…yeah, not so much. Navigation takes training and practice. Navigation gives you confidence and once mastered it, is very rewarding.

How to learn boat navigation?

So, how do you learn these valuable skills? The best way is to enroll in an American Sailing Association (ASA) Coastal Navigation (ASA105) class. At Sailing Florida we offer a full range of ASA classes including 105. Yours truly teaches this class and I need the work.

The ASA has established prerequisites for ASA105. Those prerequisites are the successful completion of ASA101, 103 and 104. However, they only apply if you actually want ASA certification. You can attend a 105 class and learn the art/science of navigation without getting certified.

ASA class formats

ASA 105 is offered in two formats. The first is a home-study course where you have the study material and you progress at your pace. When you are done you come to class with me for one day and there we review your work, iron out the rough spots and review for the exam. You then chose to take the exam and have it grade in class or you take the exam home, have it proctored, and mail it back to me.

The second option (and the one that I highly recommend) is a 32-hour class. We can set this class up to fit your schedule (days, weekends, or evenings). Contact Captain Dave or myself to discuss all the options. See you there!

Time to go sailing naked!

So there you have it. We have shed the anemometer, the knot-log, and even our beloved chart plotter, learning boat navigation at it’s core. We’ve talked about alternatives to all these expensive power consuming, mind dulling electronics. We have a path to Sailing Naked, wow I feel free already! FEEL THE BREEZE! YAHOO!

Hey, I just got a great idea. Let’s put together a Naked Sailing trip. Let’s set out on a journey! Let’s go to Key West NAKED! I like it! Contact Sailing Florida or myself and let us know your thoughts. We will learn a lot, have a lot of fun and accomplish something that not many have tried. Basic sailing skills will be required (and maybe no cameras) but that’s about it.   I love it when a plan comes together.

Thanks for reading and I expect to see a bunch of naked sailors on the dock. You know I’ll be there. Go out sailing and be On the Water…With Captain Frank…Naked!

SAILING NAKED!!!! (Learn to sail without Electronics) knot log

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Sailing Naked

Today we will continue on our quest to find the freedom and guts to go sailing naked.   What instrument are we going to eliminate today?  I vote for the knot-log.

knot log

So, what exactly is the knot log?

The knot log is a transducer that protrudes from the bottom of our boat usually located ahead of the keel on or near the centerline.   It is important for the knot-log to be out front in clear water so that the water flow across it is the same no mater what tack or point of sail we are on.   The log has a paddle wheel that spins as the boat travels through the water.   It works just like the anemometer that we spoke about yesterday.   Unfortunately, unlike the anemometer, the knot-log is vulnerable to being fouled by barnacles and debris in the water.   It is also notorious for being inaccurate.   There are new designs that help to eliminate this problem but they are still not the norm.  The knot-log gives very different information than your GPS.   It measures our boat’s speed through the water while the GPS measures our boats speed across the ground.  

You ever find yourself sailing along and all the sudden realize that the boat feels just awesome?   When we have our sails trimmed correctly and the boat on the correct point of sail it just feels right.   Guess what, we’re probably sailing the boat as fast as it can go at that moment.   When was the last time you went sailing and said, “Hey, I think I want to slow down”?   That just doesn’t happen.   When sailboats are hauling butt they’re going 6.   That’s already slow, right? Most of us want to go “fast”, so slow just isn’t a skill we want to develop although many of us seem to have a natural ability to accomplish it.   When the boat is “fast” it has that awesome feel.   We don’t need to have a digital display flashing in our face telling us what we already can feel.  

We should be able to be at the helm in a comfortable position, with the boat at the optimum angle of heal (about 12 degrees), the rudder at 3 or 4 degrees to leeward and the wheel being held loosely between our thumb and pointer finger.   If that’s not going on then there are only three things to look at and they are:   Sail trim, amount of sail up and point of sail.  

Sail trim:

If our sail trim is poor the boat will be slow.   Most sailors tend to overtime their sails.   The tendency is to trim in to far.   This will “bind up” the boat and may well increase weather helm.   All well designed boats have a tendency to turn into the wind.   This is a good trait that adds to safety (if there is a problem at the helm the boat turns into the wind and slows or stops) and the ease of steering (by giving the helmsman a little pressure to “feel the rudder” with).   But as with most things in life, too much of a good thing is not good.   With over-trimmed sails we need to apply more rudder angle to keep the boat sailing straight.   More rudder angle equals more drag and that equals 5th or 6th place at the end of the race.   Under-trimmed sails means we are giving away power and drive.   Proper trim will allow the boat to sail fast.

Amount of sail set:

This is really an extension of sail trim.   Regardless of how well we trim our sails if we simply have too much or too little sail exposed to the wind the boat will be slow.   Obviously if there is not enough sail out the boat will be underpowered.   Being underpowered will make us sail at a lower angle to the wind (sail fat). It takes sailing fat to get the boat speed to where we expect it, so while the boat speed may be okay our journey to the free rum (directly upwind) will take longer and that equals slow.   The opposite problem is too much sail out and that will make us overpowered.   If we are overpowered we will experience an excess of weather helm. We counter-act that weather helm by turning the rudder leeward. Keeping the rudder turned increases drag and slows the boat tremendously (it is also exhausting to hold the helm against the added pressure).   In the worst case picture the rudder is unable to hold the boat on course and it will round up into the wind.   Now, that’s really slow.   It is important for us to get to know our boat and discover what amount of sail is appropriate for the wind conditions on any particular day.  

Incorrect point of sail:

If we have deployed the correct amount of sail and we have trimmed those sails perfectly for sailing close-hauled but we are sailing on a close reach then our boat speed will be terrible. It is crucial to be sailing on the point of sail that we think we are.   Our talk yesterday explained how to be sure we are sailing the way we want.   Go back and read it again if you are having trouble with this. All of this aside, does it really matter whether we are sailing at 5.2 or 5.4 knots.   At the end of the day we will be where we want.   Our trip planning skills prevented us from planning a trip based on speed that closely monitored.   Didn’t it?   How could we plan for that level of accuracy anyway?   Ever here of current?   So, if we spend a great day of sailing with proper sail trim, proper deployment of sail and on the point of sail that we say were on we will get our boat from point A to point B as quickly as possible.  

Go practice, better yet get an instructor and go practice.   By doing so, these things will become second nature and you’ll have more fun on the water.   Knot-log? Knot now!   Ah, I can smell that freedom comin my way.   Naked sailing here we come.   See ya tomorrow On the Water…With Captain Frank