Skip to main content

Ask SAIL: Where Should Telltales Go?

Q: My crew and I have been debating the location of telltales on our boat, a 30-footer we race only casually. We’ve already got telltales on the luff of the genoa and on the trailing edge of the main. The question is whether it makes sense to have telltales elsewhere, like in the belly of the mainsail.

Margret Price, Waterville, MI

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

That’s a good question and one that can be answered two ways. Telltales are there to show you how the wind is flowing across your sail, and the two locations where you already have telltales are the most important. You need telltales along the luff of your genoa or jib to show you just how close you can sail to the wind. (Ganted, you will be able to see the sail starting to back if you try and sail too high, but telltales are light and will indicate a stalling sail much sooner than the sail itself.) Similarly, telltales along the leech of your main are important because it’s the back end of that sail that works with the keel to provide lift when sailing to windward. Therefore, it’s critical to have these early warning signals to let you know if your main is set right or starting to stall out, bleeding off power.

Having said that, what harm is there to adding telltales all over the sail? Surely the more you know about the wind flow across your sail the better? However, I don’t think that’s really true, and I think that having too many telltales can be confusing and distract from the two very important sets that have just been described. With that in mind, you may want to add a set along the luff of the mainsail, but that’s about all you need. Less is more, as they say.

July 2016

Related

promo-2048x

Just Launched Mid-sized Cruisers

With so many manufacturers dreaming up bigger production boats, more and more mid-sized cruisers fall on the smaller end of their lines. However, “smaller” does not mean less, and the tricks for optimizing larger models have helped with squeezing more enjoyment into less LOA. As ...read more

05-DSC_0638

Charter: Lake Tahoe

A sail on Lake Tahoe has been on my bucket list since the day I first laid eyes on it, and come hell or high water, I decided I was going to someday charter a boat there. North America’s largest and deepest alpine lake, Tahoe sits at 6,225ft above sea level and straddles the ...read more

East-River-Rapids

Escape from New York Part 1

I was never supposed to take my boat through New York City. After getting sucked backward through the Cape Cod Canal on my way south from Maine, when the speed of the current exceeded the maximum speed of my little electric auxiliary, I wanted nothing to do with Hell Gate and ...read more

LEAD-Celeste-in-the-Tuamotu

A Watermaker Upgrade

As a classic-boat sailor, I’ve long held that simpler is the better. I still think this is true: a simpler boat is cheaper, she has less gadgets to break down and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you’re able to handle a bit of discomfort. Thus, for a long time, I sailed ...read more

01-LEAD-IDECsport_180919_032

Sailing Speed Records

Although the 1903 defender of the America’s Cup, Reliance, was deemed a “racing freak”—the boat pushed design rules to their limit and couldn’t be beaten, at least in very specific conditions—designer Nat Herreshoff was nonetheless onto something. A century later, purpose-built ...read more

BVIFeetup

Chartering with Non-sailors

Three tips on managing the madness First-time charterers and first-time sailors aren’t at all the same thing. One group may struggle with beginner chartering issues, like sailing a multihull, catching a mooring or dealing with base personnel. For the other group, though, ...read more

AdobeStock_455372159

A Gulf Stream Crossing at Night

Even the dome of light glowing above the city behind us had disappeared as if swallowed in a gulp by Noah’s whale. The moon was absent. Not a star twinkled overhead. The night was so dark we could have been floating in a pot of black ink. The only artificial lights to be seen ...read more

00-Lead-549215sJL2uLEa

Summer Sailing Programs

Every year, countless parents find themselves navigating the do’s and don’ts of enrolling their children in a summer learn-to-sail program for the first time. While the prospect of getting your kid on the water is exciting, as a sailing camp program director, there are a lot of ...read more