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Hints for the Anomalous Sheets Puzzle

Posted in Adventures in Maintenance

The current Puzzle appears to have some of you stumped. The principles behind it are of serious importance when it comes to choosing things like sheets, blocks, and winches for your boat, so I’m going to take the step of offering some more hints on the answer. These hints are meant to help with some of the possible answers.

Here is the puzzle: There are two sailboats going to weather in a breeze. They have identical waterline lengths, and identical sail plans, with an identical main and a jib on each boat. Both are in identical true windspeed, in clear air, in the same sea state, temperature, etc., and their sails are trimmed for maximum efficiency. But the sheet loads on one of the boats are fully four times the sheet loads on the other. How can this be?


First hint: heavy boats can – and often do – have lower sheet loads than lighter ones of the same size. So ask yourself, what is a big characteristic of very light boats? Why would you make a boat light?

Second hint. With two boats of exactly the same size and weight, one might have higher sheet loads than the other, depending on how the weight is distributed.

Third hint: The Mother of All Winds is Apparent.


If you think you have an answer (or two, or three), post to Deadline for entries is noon Pacific Time, Monday April 30th. We will randomly choose a winner from among the sufficiently realistic entries, and announce the winner on May 2nd. Our Fabulous Prize this week: a copy of my book, The Rigger’s Apprentice, complete with suitable inscription and autograph.

To see my most recent post, about rigging misadventures aboard the bark Sea Cloud, visit here.


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