What Does ”Sailing By The Lee” Mean?

What Does ”Sailing By The Lee” Mean?

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In sailing, many terms can be confusing, especially for beginner sailors. One of these terms is what sailing by the lee means.

Sailing by the lee is when the boat is sailing with wind crossing the leeward side of the ship. The sailing by the lee has to do with sailing the boat that is away from the wind. There are other sailing terms also about sailing away from the wind, such as leeward, leeward side, and leeway. Sailing by the lee can also be part of an uncontrolled jibe.

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Sailing By The Lee Defined

Sailing by the lee is when the boat is sailing on the leeward side of the ship. The boat’s leeward side is the side boat away from the wind. The key to the leeward side is that the ship is sailing away from the wind.

Here are some terms that have to do with sailing by the lee or the leeward side of the boat:

Leeward Defined

The term leeward means the direction away from the wind. This is the direction away from where the wind is blowing.

Leeward Side Defined

The leeward side is the side of the boat or the boat sails away from the wind.

Leeway Defined

The leeway is the sideways slippage of the boat in a direction away from the wind.

As you can see from all of these definitions, sailing by the lee is about sailing away from where the wind is going.

Sailing by the lee is usually associated with an uncontrolled jibe.

Dangerous Uncontrolled Jibes

When sailing, one of the most dangerous things you can do is to do an uncontrolled jibe. Most sailors have done a few of these at one time or another.

An uncontrolled jib can be dangerous because the boom will come over with a large force, and if the crew is not ready or someone is standing and does not duck, they can get hurt by the power of the uncontrolled jibe of the boat.

Sailing on the lee can be part of an uncontrolled jibe. When there is an uncontrolled jibe, the wind blows on the backside or dead downwind side of the boat across the back of the stern; the skipper has forgotten the mainsail sheet. The boat’s boom makes a forceful turn, swinging across the cockpit to the other side of the ship.

This accidental or uncontrolled jibe can cause the rigging of the boat to break or a crew member to be seriously hurt. That is why trying to avoid an uncontrolled jibe is very important.

The illustration below shows the uncontrolled jibe and how it happens.

No. 1 – Boat Begins Jibe

The boat has begun the jibe by bearing way. Avoiding the uncontrolled jibe if the skipper turns up to the original course can still be possible.

No. 2 – Boat In Dead Downwind

In position number 2, the boat is the direct downwind. The wind is directly behind the stern of the ship, and the jib is limp and starts to cross the boat. The skipper can avoid the uncontrolled jib if they move the tiller towards the boom and get the wind to fill the jib sail again.

The primary warning signs that you are about ready to have an uncontrolled jibe include

  • The wind is dead downwind or directly behind the stern of the boat.
  • Jib’s sail starts to go limp as there is no wind in the sail.
  • The wind starts forcing the jib to cross over to the other side of the boat.

No. 3 – Sailing By The Lee

The stern of the boat has now crossed over through the wind. The jib has crossed to the other side of the ship, but the boat’s mainsail is still out, with the wind starting to curl at the backside of the ship.

In this illustration, the sailboat is now sailing by the lee because the wind first crosses the leeward side of the boat.

No. 4 – Uncontrolled Jibe

At this point, the wind forces the mainsail to cross over to the other side of the boat or be on the same side of the ship that the jib sail is on.

As this is a downwind, it will happen with a large force of the wind. Once the sail starts to cross over on the other side of the boat, the skipper should shout to the crew to duck under the boom.

The skipper must also steer the boat straight ahead to prevent it from turning suddenly in a roundup or doing another uncontrolled jibe.

12 Reasons Why Sailing is a Phenomenal Sport

Sailing, for me, isn’t just a hobby or a pastime—it’s a passion. Having had the privilege to sail with the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center, I’ve come to appreciate the depth and breadth of what sailing has to offer.

Here are 12 compelling reasons, grounded in my personal experiences, that illuminate the greatness of sailing as a sport:

  1. Connection with Nature: Sailing allows me to forge an intimate bond with the elements. The sensation of the wind in my hair and the rhythm of the waves is a reminder of nature’s grandeur.
  2. Physical Workout: Maneuvering a sailboat is physically demanding. From hoisting sails to steering, sailing gives me a full-body workout, blending strength and endurance.
  3. Mental Challenge: Beyond the physical aspect, sailing demands alertness and strategy. Navigating through shifting winds and currents keeps my mind sharp and focused.
  4. Sense of Freedom: There’s an unparalleled sense of freedom when I’m out on the water. The vastness of the open sea, coupled with the boat’s movement, embodies pure liberation.
  5. Teamwork and Bonding: Sailing often requires collaboration. Working together with a crew fosters camaraderie, trust, and mutual respect.
  6. Learning Continuously: Every sailing trip is a learning experience. Sailing on Lake Michigan, the dynamic nature ensures that I’m constantly adapting and honing my skills.
  7. Cultural Insights: Sailing has introduced me to a vibrant community at places like the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center. I’ve learned so much about different sailing cultures, traditions, and histories.
  8. Sustainability: Sailing harnesses the power of the wind, making it an eco-friendly sport. This aspect resonates with me deeply in today’s environmentally-conscious world.
  9. Sense of Accomplishment: Whether it’s mastering a new maneuver or navigating challenging waters, sailing offers a myriad of milestones. Each achievement boosts my confidence and pride.
  10. Versatility: Sailing is diverse. The sport caters to varied interests and energy levels, from relaxed cruising to competitive racing.
  11. Therapeutic Benefits: For many, including myself, sailing is therapeutic. The rhythm of the sea, the focus it demands, and the sheer beauty of the surroundings make it a great stress reliever.
  12. Lifelong Sport: One of the beauties of sailing is its longevity. It’s a sport I know I can enjoy for years to come, continually evolving with experience.

Sailing is an amalgamation of adventure, learning, and introspection. Every voyage with the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center has further solidified my love for the sport, reinforcing why sailing is an exceptional endeavor.

At A Bus On A Dusty Road, we talk about travel, life, sailing, and ex-pat living. We are all about “Living Life As A Global Citizen.” We explore social, cultural, and economic issues and travel.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does “sailing by the lee” mean in sailing terminology?

“Sailing by the lee” refers to a sailing situation where the wind is coming from the side of the boat that is opposite to the side where the mainsail is located.

2. How does sailing by the lee differ from sailing with the wind?

When sailing by the lee, the wind is coming from the leeward side of the boat, whereas sailing with the wind involves the wind coming directly from behind the boat.

3. What is the leeward side of the boat?

The leeward side is the side of the boat that is sheltered from the wind. When sailing by the lee, the wind is crossing this leeward side.

4. Can you explain the term “leeway” in relation to sailing by the lee?

Leeway is the amount a boat drifts sideways while sailing. Sailing by the lee can contribute to increased leeway, as the wind pushes the boat in a direction not directly aligned with its course.

5. Is sailing by the lee a deliberate maneuver or can it happen unintentionally?

Sailing by the lee can happen unintentionally, especially during an uncontrolled jibe. It’s essential for sailors to be aware of their boat’s position in relation to the wind to prevent unintended situations.

6. What are the risks associated with sailing by the lee?

One significant risk is the potential for an uncontrolled jibe, where the boom swings rapidly to the other side of the boat. This can be dangerous if not properly managed and may lead to accidents or damage to the rigging.

7. How can sailors prevent unintentional sailing by the lee?

To avoid unintentional sailing by the lee, sailors should pay close attention to wind direction, adjust sails accordingly, and be cautious during maneuvers. Proper sail trim and control are crucial.

8. Can sailing by the lee be a strategic choice in certain sailing conditions?

While it’s generally avoided due to the risks of uncontrolled jibes, some sailors intentionally sail by the lee in specific situations, such as downwind sailing in light winds. However, this requires skillful handling of the sails.

9. What should a sailor do if they find themselves unintentionally sailing by the lee?

If unintentionally sailing by the lee, a sailor should act quickly to regain control. This may involve steering the boat away from the wind, adjusting sails, and preventing an uncontrolled jibe.

10. How does sailing by the lee relate to other sailing terms like leeward and leeward side?

Sailing by the lee involves the wind crossing the leeward side of the boat. The leeward side is the downwind side, opposite to the windward side. Understanding these terms collectively helps sailors navigate and control their boats effectively.

What Is Jibing In Sailing? Steps To A Proper Controlled Jibe

A jibe in sailing is when the boat moves with the stern through the wind. In a jibe, the stern will move through the wind. Like any sailing maneuver, when you have a crew, the helmsman or the captain steering the boat needs to adequately communicate with the crew about what is happening so that they know; this is especially true when jibing.

By clicking here, you can discover What Is Jibing In Sailing? Steps To A Proper Controlled Jibe.

If your time is limited and you can only travel to Vietnam or Taiwan, I recommend traveling to Vietnam. The reason is that Vietnam is more cost-effective, offers some great cultural experiences, is a food lovers’ haven, and offers excellent history, arts, and other things.

To learn more, you can read our blog on What Is It Like To Live In Sweden Without Knowing Any Swedish? by clicking here.

Norway, Denmark, And Sweden Celebrate Christmas On December 24th.

Norway, Denmark, and Sweden celebrate Christmas on December 24th because Christmas day was permanently reserved as a holy day. The Scandinavians also celebrate on the eve of a holy day and not on the holy day itself. Many Scandinavians would attend a church service mass on Christmas morning.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading our blog Norway, Denmark, And Sweden Celebrate Christmas On December 24th.

Anita L Hummel
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