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Boat Sailing Trim

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BOAT SAILING TRIM The first and most important thing to be considered is "Trim," for although you may have the best made sail ever turned out by the famous Lapthorn, the best shaped boat ever built by the renowned Waterman, and the smartest boat's crew that ever wet their jackets and lost their caps overboard, you will not be able to make her beat to windward properly if she is out of trim. It is not always an easy matter to find a boat's best trim, several trials will sometimes have to be made before it is arrived at, but as a general rule most boats sail best trimmed a little by the stern, some sail best trimmed a great deal by the stern, and occasionally boats are to be met with which will not do their best unless they are down by the head, but this last is unusual, and must result from something peculiar in the shape of the boat, and in the position of the masts and sails.

In man-of-war boats where the principal ballast consists of the crew, it ought to be a very easy matter to keep the boat always in trim, as men are so easily moved about from one part of the boat to the other, thus admitting of repeated trials until the best trim is found ; but yet how little attention is generally paid by midship men to the trim of their boats, and how often we see them sailing about with two or three men crammed right in the bows, making the boat plunge heavily, and carry so much weather helm that the coxswain or mid, whichever happens to be steering, cannot keep the boat from flying up in the wind ; then perhaps a happy thought strikes " young hopeful," and he eases off the mizen-sheet and the mizen flutters gaily in the breeze ; then perhaps he wants to tack, and puts his helm down, but through the mizen-sheet being eased off there is nothing to bring her to the wind, and after hanging nearly head to wind for some time, and making a long " stern board " she falls off again on the same tack, thus " missing stays," and young " shiver the mizen " when he eventually gets on board his ship, reports to the first lieutenant that his boat is an unmanageable brute and will not tack under the most favourable circumstances ; whereas had his boat been in trim, and his mizen sheet aft, and had he sailed her round gradually with small helm at first, instead of jamming his tiller " hard over " at once, he would probably have found that she was very handy, and went ronnd like a teetotum. As a

rule the best way to find a boat's trim, is to get her " on a wind " with the sails well set, and the sheets aft, but not too flat, and then trim the boat with the crew, by moving them about, until the boat carries just sufficient weather helm to ensure that she will come up in the wind (though not too quickly) directly the tiller is let go ; but it should be remembered that in trimming a boat, if it is found necessary to bring her a little more down by the stern in consequence of her carrying too " taut " a helm, or more down by the head, in consequence of her carrying too " slack " a helm, the proper way to do it, is not to move one man right forward or right aft, but to move the whole body of the crew a little forward, or a little aft ; for it is an invariable rule in sailing, and applies equally to boats, yachts, or ships, that the principal weights should be concentrated as much as possible amidships, and kept out of the ends, particularly out of the bows, where heavy weights always make a vessel plunge heavily, thus stopping her weicrh, and at the same time making her very wet.

It must be remembered that although a boat may be trimmed to perfection for sailing in smooth water, it will often be found necessary to alter her trim if she is taken out into rough water, as boats of shallow draught when pitching, even in a moderate sea, lift a considerable portion of the fore-part of their keels out of the water, but this does not happen to the same extent with the after-part of the keel, so that the balance which previously existed is destroyed, and it will be found necessary to move some weight a little further forward, as otherwise the boats bow will "fall off," she will carry lee helm, will probably "miss stays" and become generally unmanageable; but this may easily be avoided, by judiciously moving the crew a little further forward, and thus restoring the balance.