When it comes to sailing in a dinghy, handling light winds can be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to get the wind in the sails effectively and how to handle the movement of the tide at the same time.
That’s why we’ve put together some top tips on how to deal with light winds to make your next dinghy sailing experience a breeze.
Use the tide to your advantage
When you are sailing in light winds, even the slightest change in the tide can make all the difference. However, if you ensure that you are in the right place at the right time, you will be able to make substantial forward progress.
While out on the open water, make sure you have either a tidal stream atlas or a reliable tide table with you so you can plan your route effectively. BBC and the Met Office are among the safest bets when it comes to predicting the time and height of tides.
Just remember that the weather can influence the accuracy of these atlases and tables. Also, some tidal streams are too close to land to show up properly on some maps. This means you will have to learn the movement of the tide in those areas through experience.
Keep the wind in your sails
When you do get the wind in your sails, do everything you can to make sure it stays there. When you’re moving around your dinghy, don’t rock the boat too much, as this could reduce any momentum you have.
Also, make sure you don’t make any rudder adjustments too sharply, as your dinghy will take a little time to react to any changes. If you make too big an adjustment, you could lose the wind and create a lot more drag at the same time.
If you need to adjust your sail, make any adjustments gradually. It’s always difficult to detect wind direction, but it’s even harder in light winds. Any instruments you are using are more likely to make errors during light winds, so it’s best to judge the wind yourself and slowly make adjustments until you get the wind behind your sails again.
Reduce drag as much as possible
There is nothing you can really do about the density of the water you are sailing in. When you throw light winds into the mix as well, it can lead to all kinds of issues.
While you can’t do anything about water density, you can make things easier by reducing drag. Make sure the bottom of your boat is clean and free of any barnacles or algae. Not only will this prevent any damage to your dinghy, it will also help you go faster in dense water.
Don’t take risks
This applies to dinghy sailing in general, but is especially important when sailing in light winds. Because light winds can cause havoc while sailing, it’s important that you don’t take any unnecessary risks. Just remember to take your time and deal with any situation calmly.
To get added piece of mind while sailing, make sure you have specialist dinghy insurance to protect both you and your dinghy.