Beginner looking for advice on first steps. - RC Groups
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Sep 02, 2004, 12:04 AM
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Beginner looking for advice on first steps.

So for an occasional break from RC heli's I figured I'd give RC sailboats a try. In the area I live in, (Redmond, WA) there are a lot of beautiful lakes and the access points to Puget Sound are numerous. "It's only a two channel sailboat", I thought to myself, "It's not like it's as complicated as a heli".

With a vision of a bit of relaxed and carefree sailing floating through my brain, I went to the local hobby shop and picked up a "Sailabel RTR 36". My main reason for selecting this particular boat was that it was an ARF, and looked a bit higher quality than the other boats I'd seen in various shops. I love ARF's - I can sample various aspects of the R/C hobby quickly without a huge time investment in building up front.

So I get it home, and get it put together. I strip out the crappy JR receiver that came with it, and pop in a spare Hitec micro 555 dual conversion receiver that I had laying around along with a 4.8v 2000mah NiMH pack. Keep in mind that my primary interest is in R/C helicopters, so the receiver was in the 72 mhz band rather than the 75 mhz band. I figured that if the addiction to boating stuck, I'd get a proper 75 mhz frequency module for my 9z and a corresponding 75 mhz receiver.

Anyways, I've got everything assembled and set up on the transmitter. (Wooo 30% Expo on rudder, and a throttle curve on the sail! =) ). For a brief moment, I consider dropping a spare JR500t heading lock gyro I have laying around on the rudder, but figure there will be plenty of time for that sort of tom foolery later after I get the basics down.

I arrive down at the beach down at Mukeltio, unload the boat, and go to scout out the waters from a sailing perspective.

Hrmm, there is a pier near the boatlaunch off to the right - ok, that could make a good place to launch from... Hrmm, let's see, the wind is blowing to the left - so the boat is going to go left.... Hey, I didn't see those patches of seaweed until I stood on the pier - I see those, but what if there are patches I can't see that the keel could get caught on? It's awfully cold out, I don't feel like swimming today - also there are far too many observers about to see me make such a fool of myself =) Ok, well assuming I could dodge the seaweed patches and the invisible ones, I'm probably not going to be skilled enough to sail against the wind back to the pier. Chances are it will end up off to the left there, no problem there - rocky beach and swimming area. But wait, there is this foot long keel thing under the boat, and there are small (4-6") waves near the shore, I'd hate to see it get caught on a rock on the bottom and have the waves push it over.

Long story short, I packed the boat back up and headed home. I figure tomorrow I'll scout out locations that might be more suitable for sailing. I'm guessing the ideal spot would be someplace where the water is a couple of feet deep at it's interface to the shore, (possibly walled) and plenty of places to pull the boat too downwind from the launch site.

I was also thinking that perhaps I should 'kite' the boat with a long piece of kite twine, so I could more easially pull it in if it turned over - hrmm, wonder if I can find an outboard motor for this thing to train with =).

Any advice for a complete sailing / boating newbie? Am I just a wimp?
Anyone know of any good sailing locations around the Redmond / Bellevue / Seattle area?
Last edited by Grimtooth; Sep 02, 2004 at 12:12 AM.
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Sep 02, 2004, 10:41 AM
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Grimtooth, Just one suggestion. Just do it. It's not that hard to sail a sailboat. You literally can't do anything wrong as long as you have a charged battery in your boat.

When you go upwind, pull the sails tight and go about 45 deg to the wind. Then you "tack" , meaning turn your boat into the wind till you're going the other 45 degs into the wind. Then when you get as far upwind as you like, point the boat downwind and open the sails up wide open. Wiggle the boat a little if you can, to go wing a wing meaning jib on one side and main on the other side of the boat.

It's not hard to do and I've had no problems just handing off my transmitter to anybody and watch them pick it up within seconds.
Sep 02, 2004, 01:47 PM
Capt.Crash's Avatar
Yip just try it....hey if I can put a years work on the line with my first try... you can do it with the boat you have!

One other thing here too, just because the wind blows to "LEFT" (that's port in sailor talk BTW... ) it does not mean your boat will sail that direction if control is lost. Your boat will sail pretty much in the direction it is pointed if the rudder is admidships (except directly into the wind)....take into account the wind will push it a little to the direction it is blowing depending on wind speed. You may need to correct a little for that wind direction, with the rudder input, as you sail.

I would suggest a snag free environment if you think you won't want to go swimming

Have fun...that is what is important....your not supposed to stress like you do flying! I know cause I used to crash and burn once upon a time!
Sep 02, 2004, 04:13 PM
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My first try was on a small lake and I found that I could bring the boat back to me even when the main sheet came loose.

Sep 02, 2004, 09:52 PM
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Gave it a shot today down on lake washington, and things went quite well. There wasn't much wind, but I did pretty well. I'm still often a bit confused as to how much to pull in the sail relative to wind direction and desired motion vector, but I manged to cut around the lake pretty well reguardless.

There were only a couple of scary times when I felt like I was loosing control and the boat was being pulled by a current directly towards a man made barrier 200-300 or so feet out, but after I avoided these, it became easier to anticipate which way the boat wanted to pull for which wind direction, etc.

I manged to confuse a passing kayaker as well =)

I was out in the water for a couple of hours, and finally decided to bring it in only because I didn't know how long a charge on my 2000mah NiMH's would last in the boat. With both servo's operating, the electronics were pulling around 100-200mah, and around 70mah when they weren't moving. The resulting 10 hour conservative estimate I came up with based on these numbers just seemed too long (despite the math), so I think I'll discharge the rest of the pack tonight at 200mah and see how much time I had left.

Definantly a lot of fun, heading out tomorrow morning for the full day if it isn't raining. Maybe I'll get a bit of wind as well.


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