*     *     *
OffCenterHarbor.com is a membership website with over 1,000 videos and articles on boat handling, repairs, maintenance, boat building, dream boats and more.

Sign up above to learn more, and get 10 of our best videos.

*     *     *

Preview: Sailing LILY – L. Francis Herreshoff’s Design # 43

September 11, 2015

Seldom has a man been more comfortable on a boat than OCH Founder Maynard Bray aboard his beloved L. Francis Herreshoff sloop, LILY. ¬†When we see Maynard tacking LILY out into the breeze gathering virtually every summer afternoon along the waters of the Eggemoggin Reach, it reminds us, day after day, of L. Francis’ immortal words: “Simplicity afloat is the surest guarantee of happiness.”

Get Free Videos Start Free Trial Members Sign In


– [Eric] Every time I go sailing on a boat, it’s new to me. With someone who knows the boat so well, I always learn something. There’s always something more. So I thought what if we were to go sailing with people who have this deep connection with their boats? What will we find? So I’m starting out by going with Maynard Bray on Lily, his 22 foot L. Francis Herreshoff designed center board sloop. Her hull design number is 43. She only has two feet of draft. Every afternoon as Maynard comes strolling down the dock with his oars in his hand and the wind piping up, we all get a little bit envious at the boat yard. Watching Maynard out there in Lily throughout the Summer makes me appreciate someone who knows their boat so intimately.

– Well I believe in simplicity. The fewer the lines I have, the happier I am. So I do everything possible to minimize the number of lines. So I’ve got a single part halyard main over here. Holds the sail up.

– [Eric] Starboard side of the house top with this little winch?

– Yeas we pick it up once with a little tiny winch and a removable winch handle and wind it up as tight as I can with the little bit of a handle and it’s good for the day. When I bought her she had no winches but I did feel I had to have those winches in order to keep the halyards single part. Otherwise I’d have to have a two part halyard.

– So you can raise and douse the main and jib right here from the cockpit?

– That’s right, you generally have to pull the main down a little bit. The slides don’t seem to come down by themselves. The jib I’ve got to demonstrate that right here in fact. She’s got it down haul.

– The jib down haul, again, is a line that runs from a cleat on the bulkhead at the port side, right next to the halyard, forward to a block at the base of the head stay?

– [Maynard] Yes.

– And then it follows the head of the sail up.

– Yes, it’s tied just to top snap on the sail. We just cast off the halyard. Take turns off the winch. And then take up on the down haul and down comes the jib. For example if you wanted to have a lunch right now, you could do it with no jib. Just let go of the tiller she’ll stay here forever. Flop back and forth, one tack to the other, it won’t go anywhere. See her now coming through the eye of the wind? She’s go over on the other tack and the same thing happens there. She just lazily tacks back and forth and she seems to do it in almost any wind strength. I’ve come out here and just sit and had lunch for half an hour. She just does this. So then with no jib you can get her underway again just by giving her a little bit of sheet. Helping her with the tiller and the sail’s filled and off we go. We don’t have any weigh on yet but we’ll have in a minute. The power’s blowing off, you gotta give her some sheet so it doesn’t force the stern in up into the wind. See she’s off on close reach already. Once she gets weigh on you can haul this in and off we go. You can sail like this as a camp boat pretty well. Doesn’t go very fast but she has some level helm that way naturally.

– Maynard I’d like to, if we can, get the jib back up and have you talk us through your jib sheets. You’ve got a very interesting jib club arrangement.

– Okay so we cast off the down haul, like so. off of the halyard, a couple turns around the winch and here we are.

– Maynard Lily’s got a really interesting jib sheeting arrangement. It’s a single jib sheet on either side, but I noticed it’s dead ended at the forward end of the house and then goes up through a block and back to the combing here.

– Well it gives you a two side advantage is the reason for block on the jib cob. And that is called a jib cob. It doesn’t go the whole length of the jib. It only goes out along two thirds or three quarters from the foot of the jib. And for that reason it requires two jib sheets which doesn’t make it self tending but because they’re so easy to tend and so short, I’ve left it that way. This has some advantages. Stick her up into the wind there and see what happens. No way, we’re not gonna have any steering because the rudder is defective. So if you wanna go on one tack or the other you just grab one of these jib sheets and pull it to windward and we’ll go off on the forward tack. The bow is being blown off of the back of the jib. See it swing around?

– The bow falls off and away you go.

– Yeah you couldn’t do that with a full length boom ’cause you only got one sheet. With two sheets you’re able to choose sides.

– The last control line is our main sheet here. We’ve got basically a four part main sheet, a dead end through a block, a block, a block and then to this hollow cleat. Is there a name for this style of cleat?

– Well the Cape Cod cab boats all had them. That’s where I got the idea from and I think the reason for it is because no matter which tack you’re on, you can release the sheet. If you run the part of the sheet that’s gonna have tension on it down through the middle, you can then do the cleat thing back and forth and none of this gets under this to bind it. Let’s put her hard on the wind. We’re about a beam reach now so we’ll trim sheets. Despite what boats of this type, what their reputation is, you can trim this main sail in quite tight and it doesn’t seem to stop it. And give that jib all you can do.

– Flatten it right out.

– Bring it right in just as tight as you can.

– What are you looking for in our sail shape when we’re hard on the wind? You’ve got this sail right over the quarter, sheeted in tight. Same with the jib. What are we looking for in the rig?

– We don’t wanna have it flap because you’re not getting any power out of it. I’ll put it off into the wind a little bit. Now you can see the luff is beginning to flap and the boat is coming upright and you can sense that she’s slowing down. So we drive her off a little bit and she begins to heel over and the sail fills and she begins to move, I hope, a little faster.

– [Eric] Power up. Boy you can really feel that. As she comes into the wind, the boat almost stands up right before the sail starts going loose. Maynard can you talk us through getting overpowered when you’re headed to weather with a boat like Lily?

– Well she’s a center board boat, ballast keel of course, but you can tip her over. We’ve got a floodable cockpit so you don’t wanna do that unless you have to. So I don’t like to get anymore than having the deck in the water and when that happens, we’re not quite there now but we’re getting there, I think about shortening sail. And I do that one of two ways depending on more or less the mood if anything else. Just get the jib down and that’ll bring her upright a little bit and she feels more under control. Less heel and less discomfort. And then if you’re gonna make a long passage or you’re interested in speed or balance of the helm, you take reef from the main.

– If you were sailing along under full sail Maynard and it was just puffy, not enough to necessarily take in a reef, but you were getting overpowered, you would simply ease the main?

– Yes, trim the jib in tight, even with a windward jib sheet, so that the wind back winds the main and blows a bubble into the main and that releases a lot of the pressure and then as you say, slack out the main sheet a little bit. That combination seems to let it come up some and she feels a little bit better.

– We can almost try that now.

– Demonstrate it by what happens to the helm. You’ve got a little bit of weather helm here now. And by trimming this weather jib sheet and slack out the main, we can probably make her sail herself. Kept the weather jib sheet pretty much in there and there’s a bubble in the main but it’s probably in a little bit too tight. And I think I can get it so she’ll sail herself.

– [Eric] With that jib just sheeted in with the weather sheet as well kind of takes the power right out of that leading edge of that main sail.

– And you’ve got the helm balanced so she’ll go by herself. She’s doing it pretty much now. Once she steadies out she ranges back and forth a little bit until she finds her equilibrium.

– [Eric] It’s amazing. How about coming off the compass rose to kind of a close reach.

– Usually when you’re close reaching you’re headed for a destination. So my destination is that lobster boat up ahead. So what I’ve done is headed for the lobster boat and I’ll keep it on that heading. Slack out the main sail and the jib until they begin to luff and then pull them in again until they just fill. And that’s proper sail trim for this point of sail.

– The jib’s fluttering now and I’m gonna bring it back in just a touch. As a rule of thumb would the main boom and the jib club be more or less parallel to one another on this point of sail?

– I think they would Eric if the jib cob were full length. In which case I guess it’s called a jib boom. But since this one is only partly as long as the foot of the sail, I think the angle is a little bit different. You can see they’re not quite parallel now.

– It’s a great thing to check I mean if you’re out sailing for an afternoon and you’ve been on the same tack for a half an hour, I always find it’s a good thing just to ease the sheets and just be sure that you’re right in that sweet spot.

– It really is ’cause you could be oversheeted quite easily and not know it. The reverse isn’t true ’cause the sail will start to flutter if you get too much sheet slacked out. But if you’ve got them in too much, like you say, unless you check them every so often you can be oversheeted and the boat wheels more and doesn’t go as fast. I think another thing that people really need to, what way is the wind coming from is a question that everybody seems to have trouble with in the beginning. And you can face into it and the noise is the same on your ears and you know that your nose is pointing towards the wind where it’s coming from. Where’s the little man blowing the wind from is what Em used to say. And I find that looking at the waves on the water is the way to instantly tell what way the wind is coming from. You can see the little teeny weeny waves there and they’re at right angles to the wind. And a glance at them will let you know where the wind is coming from if there’s any wind at all. So I use that as a guide. We’ve got these flies on the shrouds but I never pay much attention to them. So we wanna do a beam reach?

– Sure, talk us through it.

– Alright, I’m gonna head for the house, slack out this sail until it begins to feel soft.

– Beam reach wind coming right over the beam. 90 degrees to the side of the boat.

– And then a broad reach we just keep on going. Clocking right around from close haul, close reach, beam reach is where we are now and we’ll head her down a little bit more so the wind comes over our quarter and that’s called a broad reach. So here we are and from a broad reach all the way to running the wind the boom should be square with those little wavelets. It’s catching the wind. It isn’t doing anything more than maintaining resistance. And the resistance that the sail has to the wind is what pushes us ahead or at least points the sail.

– So on a foil shape that you’re creating lift kind of a broad reach to a run, you’re just looking for pressure on that sail.

– Right and the boom when it’s square with the wind is when you have the most projected area for the wind to act against. And then if we keep on going and do a run, I think this boat wings out pretty well. We let this all the way out, keep hitting down until it beds against the shrouds. Today it isn’t blowing very hard but you always wanna watch for a chafe against the shroud.

– As soon as that boom went broad out we lost everything in our jib.

– Yeah but look what we can do with our jib. You slack of your sheet in good shape. You’ll have to help it a little bit and then the jib will wing right out there. So we’ve got more sail there to catch the wind. I guess I’ve gotta head it down a little bit more. There we go.

– [Eric] So the infamous wing and wing.

– [Maynard] Wing and wing, this boat does it pretty well. Some don’t, some do.

– Talk us through a jibe on a boat like Lily.

– Well with the wind not blowing very hard like this and the boom has nothing to keep it coming across except our head so we wanna watch that and we also wanna watch that we don’t get tangled up in the sheet. But on a day like this I’d have no reservations. Just put the helm down and let her rip. And keep her going for the fun of it. I’m gonna do the jibe and keep her spinning. See we’ve done a Hudson River jibe is what they call it.

– So you’ve taken the power out of that coming hard up by continuing to come into the wind.

– Yeah she’s luffing right now.

– Anymore pressure than this and we’d wanna talk through more of a controlled jibe?

– Oh yeah I suppose so. I’ve done this stuff and I’ve broken things but I’d like to know what the boat can do. So if you get in a bad situation with a lot of wind or you get a crowded anchor or something like that, you need to know is she gonna pay off or isn’t gonna pay off and whether she can jibe and not snag things. Then you’ve got confidence in your maneuvering. You wanna learn at a time like this, not when you need to know.

– So getting out and going through these kind of, I’d call that a flying jibe what we’re talking about.

– I call it a Hudson River jibe because left is sailed on the other side. Let’s do a flying jibe. We’ve got the sheet in a broad reach position and we’re gonna jibe it and try to hold course. Now that catches up, but we’ve held course. Sometimes you wanna do that. We can do it again. We’re zigzagging almost directly before the wind. So our change in heading is like 45 degrees instead of, we were doing 90 probably before. So coming into an anchorage, the wind is behind you. As I said earlier the further that boom is out when the wind is behind you, the fast you’re gonna go ’cause the the sail catches more wind. So one way of reducing the speed a little bit is to sheet the main, which is what I’ve done here. Sailing virtually downwind but the main is sheeted in and we’re going slower. And you can also jibe in this, which I’m gonna do now. It’s a little tricky because you gotta be real quick on the helm otherwise she’ll up into the wind. As soon as that boom goes over when the sheet is in she wants to round right out so you gotta be really quick on this.

– So a way to depower the boat while running before the wind is simply to sheet the main in. Not everyone’s natural instinct I would say.

– But with the sail in that position, with the sheets in, you are able to jibe like we’re doing right now, if you’re quick, and maintain a pretty constant heading.

– Also gives you the ability to maneuver through a tight anchorage where you may not need, want the boom out.

– Right exactly.

– Peeling the varnish off the rail caps of the boats as you go by.

– You just have to be careful that you’re quick on the tiller because she will round up and once that happens you’re kinda out of control and you’re apt to actually scrape somebody else’s varnish. You need a boat with a big rudder and a rudder probably fairly well apt, this one hangs over the stern. Has a lot of leverage on the boat and seems to be pretty effective that way. If you hit a boat with a rudder underneath like a lot of them are, it might not work. But there again, my point is you outta take these boats out, everybody should take their boat out, and put it through its paces. Keep trying, see what it’ll do, what the limits are. One thing I always like to do with a boat is to sheet it in, stay close hauled, she’ll get there eventually on her own, she’s just rounding out now. And just put the tiller over and sit on it. And just sit here like this and see what happens. She’ll tack. See look she’s doing it now, into the wind. Helped a little by the sails and a little by the fact that we’ve got forward motion. And we’ve got enough forward motion and the jib is back it’s blowing the head off. So we don’t need a lot of forward motion to make her spin downwind. Pretty slow and pretty comfortable you can almost tie it here and I think she’d stay here and spin maybe for a while, we’ll see. All the boats are different but this is one thing I do like to do with them. See how they act.

– [Eric] What their tendencies are.

– [Maynard] She’s done just about a complete circle now and I think she’ll do as many donuts as you want her to do.

– [Eric] Right, but we’re making no forward progress.

– No just stuck in one place doing a donut around and around and around. And if it’s blowing hard then you don’t wanna do this ’cause your jib is back, which gives her a lot of heeling force and when you bear off it comes side to the wind with the sail sheeted in. It’s got a lot heeling movement out of it and not much speed. So this air is nice. If it were blowing five miles an hour harder you probably would have some second thoughts about trying to do this maneuver.

– But again just a good thing to try out with your boat. Every boat’s different.

– I think it is.

– The lateral resistance on the hull and the sail plan of the rig.

– You get your senses filled up when you’re jibing. You really wanna be on full alert and what you don’t wanna have to do is turn backwards and clear a snag on a sheet. You oughtta have the confidence that it’s gonna handle itself automatically. And that’s what I try to set the boat up to do and it seems to be working pretty well. Every year it gets a little bit better.



Get Immediate Access, Plus
10 More of Our Best Videos

Your email is safe with us.
We'll NEVER share it, and we DON'T spam.

or …


Start Free Trial

Get Instant Access as a Member to the Entire Site

  • Access all 1000 videos/articles
  • No risk! Cancel anytime
  • Get a nice discount if you join