excerpts from
The Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club
Guidelines for Relatively Inexperienced Sailors

created by the late Peter Ayres (W1191) with a few cents' worth from Uncle Al
updated: 1 July 2020

Dear Member: At first glance the following rules may seem unduly onerous, but they are designed for your safety. The club does not run a rescue boat, except on race nights and then only to cover race participants. It is therefore very important that you are able to handle the boat competently.

The Wayfarer was designed by Ian Proctor in 1957 as a boat for multi-purpose use: learning, family day sailing, racing and cruising. 
The Wayfarer Class Association was formed in 1958, and has since grown continuously in the UK, U.S.A., Canada, and Scandinavia. The Canadian Association is very active with regattas as well as cruising events being held at London, Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa and on Lake Simcoe throughout the season. There is a class newsletter and yearbook.
Sailing Schools in the UK have used the Wayfarer more than any other class of dinghy, because it is easy to sail, very stable, and has with large buoyancy compartments.
From its introduction, the Wayfarer has been used for cruising. In the early 60's, Frank Dye sailed from Scotland to Iceland and back over 650 miles in W48 Wanderer! Since then there have been many other notable sea voyages.
The Wayfarer is also raced extensively with local and national championships held yearly, and a Worlds every three years alternating among the UK, North America, and Scandinavia. The 1995 Worlds were held at TS&CC and the 2004 Worlds are to take place out of the Port Credit YC.

Weather Conditions and Clothing:
Always check the forecast before setting out. The marine forecast can be obtained by dialing 416-661-0104.

The Club is quite sheltered even when the wind is from the south. This can be very deceptive. It may seem very hot on the patio or docks, but when you get outside the breakwater, conditions can change rapidly. Without the appropriate clothing, you can get wet, and thus very cold quickly with a severe risk of hypothermia. Donít forget that the crew takes the worst of the breaking waves and spray. You should have proper foul weather gear, waterproof bib style trousers and jacket worn over layered clothing, boots and proper sailing gloves. The lake water remains very cold until well into the summer. And even in the heat of the summer, a strong off-shore breeze is particularly deceptive. Such a wind rapidly blows the warmer surface water over towards the other side of Lake Ontario, which brings to the surface, frigid water that can numb your body in seconds. Early in the season or on days with strong off-shore winds, you should therefore consider wearing a wetsuit or even a dry suit. A personal flotation device is required to be worn at all times, so choose a comfortable one. But keep in mind that the self-inflating ones are not suitable for dinghy sailors


... before launching:
1. Check that the front and rear hatches are properly closed. The bow and stern compartments are essential for the boat's ability to float after a capsize. For this reason the hatches must be tightly closed at all times. do not use them to store clothing or food, etc. Tie the bailing bucket to the mast step or to the end of a halyard.
2. The Jib. Attach the tack to the pin behind the forestay attachment and the head to the jib halyard. Pass the sheets inside the shrouds and through the fairleads. Tie a figure of eight knot in each end of the sheet - otherwise it will fly out when you are tacking. Now hoist the jib and attach the loop at the end of the halyard to the hook on the Highfield lever on the back of the mast. The crew standing in front of the boat now pulls on the forestay while the skipper closes the Highfield lever in either the first or second slots. This tensions the jib luff, allowing you to point higher when going to windward.

Al's note: Without the aid of a mechanical advantage, it is difficult to get adequate tension, but you can get closer by having someone hang over the bow off the forestay to pull the mast forward (see photo above) while the other crew member hoists and cleats the halyard as tightly as possible. But be a bit cautious on this - I bent a CL16 mast once, using that method.
3. The Main. Slide the foot of the main along the slot in the boom. Attach the tack with the split pin and the clew to the outhaul. Attach the head to the main halyard. If you prefer, you can hoist the main to check that everything is OK, the lower it again before launching.
4. Close the Bailers.

the boat on the leeward (downwind) side of the dock. Otherwise you will be blown back onto the dock while trying to raise the mainsail and when trying to leave. Also the boom is likely to be blown into or over dock. If this happens the boom and sail may be damaged. And the main sheet will almost certainly catch on one of the mooring rings effectively tying you to the dock. This is not only embarrassing but could capsize you if you managed to tack away from the dock. 

After launching: 
1. The crew takes the painter (bowline), moves the boat down the dock and ties up to a mooring ring, while the helm returns the dolly to the boat's slot in the yard. It is best to have only about one metre of painter between the dock and the bow fitting as too much scope allows the boat too much "swing" room in the shifty winds that swirl around our docks.
2. With the boat head to wind, the helm gets aboard and does the following in this recommended order:

  • do NOT lower the centreboard YET!!!!
  • attach the rudder but not the tiller. It is good to get the rudder on early before the main is hoisted and the boom starts swinging around just above the helm's head. But if the tiller is attached before the main is up, it is prone to catching the mainsheet, the mainsail or the boom as you try to hoist the main
  • hoist the main. Some seemingly very minor items can keep the sail from going all the way up to its intended position. Make sure that the mainsheet and boom vang are slack and will not keep the boom (and thus the sail!) from going up. Also, if the sail is even partially filled, it becomes virtually impossible to raise the mainsail and it is best to wait for the boat to swing back to head to wind before continuing to hoist. With the centreboard fully raised, the boat swings to the head to wind position quite easily. This is one reason why lowering the centreboard should be the last thing you do before casting off.
  • tighten the outhaul as much as necessary for the conditions. 
  • check that the vang is attached to the boom and tighten it according to wind conditions: no tension in light winds up to full on for heavy winds. 
  • attach the tiller, making sure that the pin is through the rudder head and keep the tiller in the rudder (do not attempt to sail without this pin). 
  • make sure the main and jib sheets are not tangled but are ready to pull the sail in or let it out
  • sit on the side of the boat opposite to that on which the crew will get onto the boat
  • lower the centerboard.
  • get the crew to push off; ideally pushing the bow to point away from the shore. 

Backing out! If there are boats tied up close to you but further out along the dock, you will have to back off the dock. Before letting your crew push your boat off the dock straight astern, be sure to have your rudder angled in the right direction. Once the boat is moving backwards, it's too late to make major steering corrections. Remember that the stern will go in the direction in which the back of the rudder points. Since you will want the stern to gently swing towards the shore, you will want to angle the rudder slightly in that direction by angling the tiller slightly towards the offshore direction. If there is very little space between you and the boat(s) next to you, you need to keep the rudder centred as your crew gives your boat a hefty push. This will send the boat straight astern until it has backed up far enough to clear the other boat(s). Then you gently angle the back of the rudder to turn the stern towards the shore. Once your stern is pointed at the shore, sheet in but do not revert to normal steering until the boat has begun to move forward! It is recommended that you practise this manoeuvre in non-threatening conditions as soon as possible. 

As you make for the gap in the breakwater, look out for rowers. We give them the right of way. Remember that they have very little ability to steer: the rudder on an eight is about 6Ē square.

Before you get too far off shore, try going to windward to make sure that you can manage the boat upwind in the prevailing conditions. Otherwise you may be in serious trouble trying to get back, or at the least very wet, cold and tired.
If it is windy and you are taking on some water, open the bailers, but donít forget to close them before coming into the dock.

In light winds, the crew is sitting in the boat with only the helm on the windward side. In drifters it even pays to move the crew to leeward in order to heel the boat to leeward. This helps to keep the sails filled.
In medium winds, both crew and helm are sitting or hiking out on the windward side but it is not necessary to ease out the main to keep the boat flat.
Heavy wind finds both crew and helm hiking out and it is necessary to ease the main (and sometimes the jib!) to dump wind in gusts to keep the boat flat.
Balance the boat at all times; in other words keep her flat. It may look exciting beating to windward with the boat heeled over and the crew hiking out for all they're worth, but itís very inefficient. It is also slow and it only needs one strong gust to capsize you.

CAPSIZES and capsize prevention:
Under most conditions the Wayfarer is a stable, forgiving boat. It is however a dinghy, and will capsize. The following are the common types of capsize:

capsizes to leeward:

1. being hit by a gust while sailing closehauled with sail(s) kept cleated 
prevention: in strong, gusty or shifty winds, always be ready to quickly uncleat and ease any sail you are carrying

2. reaching - particularly under spinnaker - the boat heads up, the rudder comes out of the water, and the boat loses steerage and rolls over to leeward 
prevention: in strong, gusty or shifty winds, always be ready to quickly uncleat and ease the mainsail and bear away rapidly but in a controlled manner until the boat levels out. (Donít turn too far or you could go from a reach to a run and then an accidental gybe and an almost certain capsize!)
If that looks like it isn't working, collapse the spinnaker by easing the sheet (never ease both spi sheets at the same time as this allows the spi to fill above your mast and gently but oh so inexorably capsize you)

3. uncontrolled or unintentional gybe
prevention: in strong, gusty or shifty winds, always be ready to quickly but in a controlled manner, luff up - i.e. push the tiller towards the mainsail. Unless there is a pressing reason to sail dead downwind, you will find it more relaxing to sail on a broad reach and zig-zag towards your destination. A nice, simple way to know you won't commit an accidental gybe under all but the weirdest conditions, is to bear away only until your jib starts to collapse, an indicator that the wind is now so far aft that the mainsail is blanketing your jib.

controlling your gybe: Many beginners consider gybing the scariest maneuver, but it need not be. Many capsizes occur because the gybe is done too quickly, and the boat is allowed to turn too sharply. In that case, the boom flies over, hits the water, and the boat rolls over. The gybe must be performed reasonably slowly: 

  • The crew and helm move near the centerline of the boat. 
  • The helm pulls in and cleats the main so that the boom is a few inches short of hitting the shroud, and gently begins to bear away. 
  • The crew now has a very important job: He faces the vang, grabs it with his windward hand and exerts reasonable pressure as he prepares to pull the boom over. 
  • The helm continues to bear away until the wind gets behind the main and starts to backwind it. At this point, most of the pressure will come off the mainsail. This tells the crew (who is still exerting reasonable aft pull!) that the gybe is now possible and safe to do. 
  • Just before winging the boom over, he can warn the helm by saying "gybing!" or words to that effect to remind the helm to duck. Only the crew will know best when the moment is at hand. 
  • Now comes the part that can make your gybe much safer: As the boom crosses the centreline, the crew keeps holding onto the vang and tries to slow down the rapid swing of the boom by pulling against its momentum as if desperate to keep it from going all the way across and slamming against the far shroud. This buffers the gybe an amazing amount. 
  • Meanwhile, the helm very briefly pulls the tiller back towards him as if to gybe a second time. This lets the boat come out of the gybe facing downwind instead of continuing to turn which causes heeling, a tendency to keep turning, and often, a dump. 
  • Once the boat has steadied away on its downwind course, get the board down part way and slowly head up as required. 
During this maneuver, the boat's course is like a rather straight S, and this is therefore known as the S-gybe.  Doing your gybe in this way will allow you to survive most conditions. Medium air practice would help here, too. 

If you feel you really canít gybe, then you will have to tack around, doing what Junior Sailors used to call the "chicken gybe". This is another manoeuvre that is best practised in non-threatening conditions. Remember to keep your speed up all the way into your tack. Don't head up too fast but do trim your main to keep your boat moving through her tack. If you're feeling frisky in a good breeze, try heeling a bit to leeward, letting your tiller go and just hauling the mainsheet in quickly. This will make the boat pivot under your main without the annoying and sometimes dangerous loss of speed that comes with trying a reach-to-reach tack without trimming the main. Of course, once you're past head to wind you need to make sure you re-establish quick contact with your tiller.

If the boat should gybe accidentally, try at least to make into the S-gybe described above.

capsizes to windward:

1. the death roll: boat can and will roll over to windward while running before a stiff breeze
prevention: as for #3 above, in strong, gusty or shifty winds, always be ready to luff up - quickly but in a controlled manner - i.e. push the tiller towards the mainsail. 
Unless there is a pressing reason to sail dead downwind, you will find it more relaxing to sail on a broad reach and zig-zag towards your destination. A nice, simple way to know you won't commit an accidental gybe or death roll under all but the weirdest conditions, is to bear away only until your jib starts to collapse, an indicator that the wind is now so far aft that the mainsail is blanketing your jib.
If you must go dead downwind in a blow, avoid twist in your mainsail which is a main cause of the boat rolling from side to side on a breezy run, by using lots of vang tension. With luck, a Wayfarer will roll once or even twice before finally taking the plunge (while a Laser rarely gives you any warning!). If such rolling starts, rapidly shove the board down half-way and luff up to a broad reach. To be on the (somewhat) safer side, you can sail a breezy dead run with the board half down and make it harder for the boat to roll from side to side.

2. boat is severely headed by a gust while sailing close-hauled and capsizes to windward
prevention: in strong and very shifty winds, watch for gusts as indicated by darker patches on the water. Do not hike flat out unless this is absolutely essential. Rather, lean out a comfortable amount and be ready to move inboard if necessary. Also, be exceptionally ready to uncleat and rapidly ease the jib which is the prime cause of such a capsize as it fills on the wrong side and forces the boat to turn and complete the tack while both crew members are still on the former windward side. While the crew is letting the jib fly, the helm should bear away quickly and ease the main a little while the boat still has forward momentum thus keeping the boat from tacking. 
If pointing a high as possible is not a major concern, ease the jib sheet an inch or two from its normal close-hauled position. The gives you more margin of error in case a shift severely heads you. Now it will take a larger shift to put you past head to wind and fill your jib on the wrong side.

Self-Rescue after the Capsize: Ok so you forgot to read the last section!  The boat is on her side with the mast and main on the surface of the water, the crew is somewhere below you in a heap, and you are standing on the lower side deck with gallons of water pouring in around your feet, while looking up at the other side deck towering above you like the north face of Everest. 
You should be, you have only about thirty seconds in this position before the mast fills with water sinks and the boat turns turtle on top of you. 

What to do if the boat turns turtle:
If you thought it was difficult to get onto the centerboard before, itís much more difficult now. There are two ways and neither are easy since the boat floats high in the water. If you can find the jib sheet under the boat, pull it out and throw it over the bottom. Swim around to the other side and if you can reach it, use it to pull yourself up onto the bottom. This is not easy, as there is nowhere to put your feet to push up with. The other option is to try getting up at the stern, as it is the lowest part - again not easy. Once you or your crew are on the bottom, pull the centreboard up so that it sticks out of the bottom and hang off it to encourage the mast to return to the horizontal position. From there, proceed to the

regular capsize routine:
So what should you have done?  Get on the centerboard before the mast sinks of course. For most people its almost impossible to pull oneself up and over when standing on the centerboard case or the lower side deck. Instead, go forward and step onto the mast where it comes out of the deck. Then turn to face the side of the boat. At this point the edge is only 2 feet from the mast youíre standing on, so itís easy to roll over, slide across, and stand on the centerboard. 
Now you are in control, the crew can climb up the same way and with you both on the board and leaning out the boat will come back up. As it is coming up, one of you rolls in. The other waits until the boat is certain not to re-capsize immediately and then gets in - quite possible with help from you. 
The boat will have water up to the top of the centerboard case. That is a lot of mobile weight, which will run to the lowest side and tend to capsize you again. So keep in the middle to balance. Do not try to sail the boat in this condition. It is best to let the sails flog (for once!) and pull the board full up. This will allow the boat to sit quite stably as she won't be going anywhere (except slowly to leeward). Keeping the board full up gives you another bonus as you bail like mad: the board plugs most of the top opening of the centreboard box and largely prevents water from coming in through that opening. When the level is near the bottom boards, you can open the bailers and sail on a reach to empty the rest. Now go in and get dry!

Note: Again - self-rescue is something that should be practised in non-threatening conditions so that the real thing won't come as too much of a shock!  More information on self-rescue is posted here.

Heavy weather: If you are sailing to windward and sitting out with the main and jib eased but are still overpowered, don't hesitate to luff up so that the front part of the jib is also backwinding. Donít forget to hike harder and ease the sail before the next gust hits you.

Heaving to: The Wayfarer will heave to very nicely in all winds, so that you can sit quietly, eat, change clothes; adjust something; or just rest. 
To heave to, 

  • put the boat onto a beam reach and luff the sails until the boat loses way
  • pull the jib over to the windward side of the mast and cleat it so that it backs
  • let the main off but, in any kind of strong wind, keep the vang on to reduce flogging of the sail which is not only bad for the sail but also wearing on the nerves
  • push the tiller out to leeward and keep it there until you are ready to start sailing again
  • if you have lots of sea room, try heaving to with the board full up which has two advantages: the boat drifts to leeward so fast you don't need to hold the tiller to leeward, and, the boat heel much less, even in strong gusts
Returning to the dock
Close the bailers before entering the gap. Select a spot on the leeward side of the dock.  Aim for one of the rubber tires if possible. Helm takes control of the main and lets the jib luff while the crew gets the bow line ready and sits on the foredeck with legs ready to extend on either side of the forestay (the approved fending off position).  Try to approach the dock on a slow close reach, easing the sails as necessary to control speed. At the right moment come head to wind pointing to your chosen spot on the dock. The slower your approach, the closer to the dock you can sail - often to within a foot or two - before you luff up head to wind. If you come in too fast, it is probably at this point that you realize that the Wayfarer is not fitted with brakes!  If you are really going too fast and the crew is unwilling to absorb the impact by putting his feet out, tack away and come round again. If you are not going too fast and are on a close reach, you can slow the boat down by going forward and pushing out the main. If you stop too soon, pull your sails in or, if all else fails, try paddling.
Once you have reached the dock get the crew to tie up securely - if you think it might be wise, check the knot! Get the sails down, remove the rudder, raise the board, and only then bring the boat parallel to the dock. 
If you have difficulty pulling the boat out on the dolly, get one of the members to show you how to use the winch. Put the gear away with the sails dry and re-open the bailers to allow rain water to escape. The boat is not designed to withstand the pressure of hundreds of pounds of water from within.