Fast Tip…by Dana Sims…Interlake Reminders

FAST Tip – – Interlake Reminders – – Dana Sims (FT15-05)

It seems like it has been a long time since our last ASI sailing opportunity, but, finally, the Interlakes are due to be back in the water on May 2nd. As we enter the new season, I thought it would be a good time to send out a few reminders on Interlake sailing safety and boat care.

Regarding the wearing of PFD’s (Personal Flotation Devices):
• Although not mandatory, wearing a PFD is always a good idea. Other than during the excellent ASI Capsize workshops, most people don’t plan to capsize. It just happens.
• During every on-the-water Instruction Class, ASI requires that all persons on board wear a Type I, II, III, or V PFD.
• Type V (Hybrid Inflatable) PFD’s must be worn to be counted as a regulation PFD.
• All persons less than 6 years of age must wear a Type I or II PFD at all times.
What’s one of the first things I should do when rigging a boat?
Check the centerboard to make sure the pendant is working properly and lower the centerboard halfway. This provides some boat stability, making it less “tender” when rigging. Do not lower the centerboard all the way at the slip since the water is too shallow. Do not drop the centerboard abruptly because of the danger of breaking the cable or damaging the centerboard trunk.

Other Rigging reminders:
1. Make sure retaining rings are installed, and not damaged or distorted, in the forestay and sidestays to chain-plate clevis pins.
2. Inspect the running rigging halyards, sheets, cables, shackles and blocks for damage and serviceability.
3. Always keep a firm grip on the jib or mainsail halyard shackles when connecting sails to them. If not, the weight of the halyard line can haul the shackle up out of reach.
4. Make sure all lines have stopper knots. Avoid the thrill of watching the end of a line slip through a pulley during a jibe (or gybe – British spelling).
5. What is the toughest part of rigging the Interlake? Shipping (attaching) the rudder! Attach the safety cable first. Make sure the pintle safety cable is also attached. To prevent scoring the afterdeck, do not drag the rudder across the afterdeck, but do not use the flotation cushion for this purpose, as it can be damaged, rendering it useless for emergencies. The rudder should be lowered over the side and brought to the stern, then shipped.

When should I reef the main sail?
Preferably, at the dock. It is much easier to reef at the dock and take it out while under sail, if not needed, than it is to reef while under way. Reef the Interlake when the true wind velocity reaches 16 – 17 knots. Kent Lake and Stony Creek Lake will have small crested waves. Small trees will begin to sway. Learn to estimate wind speed – refer to the readily available Beaufort Wind Scale Chart. This chart tells you what visible things to look for to estimate wind speed.

Why reef? Won’t the boat move faster the greater the wind speed?
The Interlake 18′ under full sail does not move faster in wind speed over 17 knots. The boat may slow down and it’s definitely harder to control.

How come? Under full sail in strong winds, the boat heels excessively.
Excessive heeling :
1. Makes the underwater hull shape asymmetrical increasing weather helm and resistance, slowing the boat
2. Makes the sail’s angle to the wind less efficient
3. Brings the rudder out of the water and makes it less effective
These combined factors make it more difficult to control the boat, especially in sudden gusts. Excessively heeled boats ship water and boat balance becomes problematic.

I spend a considerable time as Dockmaster, particularly during times when mentor sails, or student classes are in session. Dockmastering can be a very entertaining and educational experience. It also helps ensure safe sails and helps to prevent damage to our boats!

What issues do I see the most?
• Excessive pulling on halyards. Usual reasons – twisted halyards, tight main sheets or jiffy reefing lines. If you can’t pull up the sail with a normal amount of effort, check and see why.
• Tiller should be removed from the boat except when in use. This will prevent the tiller from catching on other boats or be a tripping hazard.
• Paddles, paddles, paddles. Nothing is more upsetting for those of us who are mentors, instructors or do maintenance on the boats, to see boats coming in to the dock and there no paddles in sight. Paddles should always be out and ready for use – to get the boat to dock (preferably) or keep it from ever hitting the dock.
• Watch for other boat traffic. “Ready or not, here I come” is not a good boating philosophy. Watch for other boat traffic and make sure that it is evident, to them, what your plans are.
• No plan “B” – another serious fault. This applies to leaving the dock and returning. Do you have a plan if something goes amiss on your attempt?
• High speed landings – there are no prizes for the fastest docking. I have never heard anyone comment that “they docked too slowly”. A nice slow docking is usually accompanied with comments like – “nice job”, “great job” or the like.
• At wind speeds of 10 KTS or more, it takes considerable “paddling power” (physical conditioning, aptitude, and experience) to get the boat from the slip to the J-Dock, bring it in safely after sailing, and then return it to the boat slip. Make sure you have “Capable Crew”.

The Dockmaster is there to assist, not be your hero. Most times when you sail, there will not be a Dockmaster on the dock.

Do not depend on someone being there to save you.

When de-rigging the boat:
Sail folding and rolling reminder
ASI practices: Jib – rolled top to bottom; Main sail – rolled bottom to top
One way to remember is that when rolling the jib, you want the lines/sheets at the bottom to wrap around the rolled sail. And then, the main is rolled the opposite way, bottom to top.

Cover clips – when putting the cover back on the boat, always have the curved part of the “s clip” facing down. This will prevent the sharper pointed end from digging into the boat.

Centerboard up – store the boat with the center-board in the fully up position. This will ensure that the center-board won’t hit the bottom if a strong wake occurs or another person steps on, and keeps it out of the water for mold growth.
Every sailing trip is a learning adventure. The winds and weather are always different. Hope you all have a great sailing (and learning) season.

Past Fast Tips – FAST Tip Burgee Articles

Thanks to Don DeRyckere for input on this topic.

Any question, comments, or suggested topics can be sent to

“FAST (For A Safer Trip) Tips are written by ASI members for the ASI membership, and apply to the operation of ASI vessels. While the contributing members may not be experts in a particular sailing field they are experienced members who have developed some “best practices” and wish to share them with their fellow members

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