TRIM OF SHEETS - STEERING Having now got our boat into trim, the next thing is to steer her properly ; the art of steering a boat by the wind is only to be acquired by practice, but the first requisite is attention, strict attention . it is a game of skill as much as cricket, billiards, lawn tennis, or any other game of that description, and hand and eye must work together.
A well-trimmed boat on a wind is as sensitive in answer to the hand that steers her as a light mouthed horse, and requires as constant watching and humouring.
As a matter of fact the wind is never per fectly steady either in force or direction, every puff comes a little different, and must be watched and humoured by a slight movement of the hand that holds the helm ; every little wave that strikes the bow produces its effect upon the boat, which must be taken into account.
After a time, and with practice and close attention, these things become a matter almost of instinct, and are done involuntary, like breathing, and a good helmsman can feel when his boat is doing her best, but he can never afford to take his eye off the luff of the sail by which he is steering.
The trim of the sheets is also a matter which requires very close attention, a boat's sheets may always be hauled flatter aft in smooth water than in rough ; the sheets of standing lugs, and gaff, and sprit sail, may be hauled quite flat aft in smooth water, but the sheet of a dipping lug should never be quite flat, it is a balanced sail and is susceptible of the most delicate trimming to all circumstances of wind and weather, it will enable a boat to hold a better wind than any other sail that has ever been invented, and it is also a most powerful sail " off the wind," it re quires more men to work it than any other sail, but for this reason it is specially suited to man of-war boats, where there are always plenty of men ; it is quicker got up or down than any other rig, and has less gear about it, but it requires good handling, if it is well handled a dipping lug is the most beautiful and effective rig that can be put into a boat, but if badly handled it is one of the worst.