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Old 04-03-2019, 07:48   #1
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An "Exciting" Weekend!

Morning all,

New here and a new sailor, just thought I'd share one of my first "iffy" experiences sailing and ask for some advice!

My wife and I recently picked up a San Juan 7.7 to learn sailing on. It's in great condition overall, with the exception of the mainsail (which I don't know much about). I haven't sailed in years, and never properly, hoping to remedy that.

Anyways, to get to the story we went out for a daysail from Edmonds to Kingston (WA state) and the surrounding area. We've previously sailed from Shilhole, mostly short trips (15-20 NM total). First half of the day went beautifully, had a wonderful sail at about 4.5-5.5 knots, most of the time in light air.

Pt 1:

On the way back, we were running a broad reach, and for the life of me I couldn't seem to keep from bouncing all over the place and occasionally luffing the mainsail. The wind kept picking up and gusting, and I was having a rather good time but the wife wasn't. After we hit a particularly strong patch of wind, I decided to drop the sails and motor the remaining .5 NM back to our moorage. Even pointed into the wind, the mainsail was flapping all sorts of crazy as I took it down, and a small patch of clear material came loose (about 8x8"). I'm not sure what this is, perhaps part of a UV cover for the dacron? A bit embarrassing, but I couldn't find much online. I can take pics next time we're down. It's an older sail I'm sure, but we are hesitant to buy new sails while we are learning (and beating the poor thing up).

Pt 2: On our way into our moorage, we had a strong crosswind, and wifey missed a chance to jump onto the dock (she's still rather nervous about popping off the boat, understandably). We ended up getting pushed sideways by the wind into the pier, and were held there rather strongly by the crosswind. With the outboard, I could back the end up and pull away, but the nose would then point towards the pier. Naturally, there was a beautiful sunset so a number of folks were on the pier, and happy to watch a newbie sailor make a fool of himself! Are there any methods of pulling into a starboard moorage when the wind is hitting that same side? Thinking of perhaps getting a long-ish boat hook with a rope attachment so we can loop one of the cleats on the way in, or maybe pulling in to the end of the dock and walking it forward. Last few times we've come in without much wind we have had zero issue, but this time is going to be burned into my memory for a long time.

Luckily no damage to the boat, just a small 1" long scratch in the side striping where something sharp on the pier cut it./

Thanks for any advice! And if anyone knows where we might volunteer for some crew time to learn I would be grateful
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:13   #2
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodkat View Post
Morning all,

New here and a new sailor, just thought I'd share one of my first "iffy" experiences sailing and ask for some advice!

My wife and I recently picked up a San Juan 7.7 to learn sailing on. It's in great condition overall, with the exception of the mainsail (which I don't know much about). I haven't sailed in years, and never properly, hoping to remedy that.

Anyways, to get to the story we went out for a daysail from Edmonds to Kingston (WA state) and the surrounding area. We've previously sailed from Shilhole, mostly short trips (15-20 NM total). First half of the day went beautifully, had a wonderful sail at about 4.5-5.5 knots, most of the time in light air.

Pt 1:

On the way back, we were running a broad reach, and for the life of me I couldn't seem to keep from bouncing all over the place and occasionally luffing the mainsail. Were you bouncing due to the seas being off the beam? The luffing mainsail was likely either from the main sheet being too loose, or the halyard not tight enough. The mainsail is tricky, too tight and the boat wants to round up causing a hard helm. Too loose and it luffs or flaps. Beam reach should be a great sail if you get it right. Also, if you have a traveler, on the beam reach lower the mainsheet block on the traveler down to the lee side , then adjust the sheet. This will keep the main from lifting and flapping.
The wind kept picking up and gusting, and I was having a rather good time but the wife wasn't. After we hit a particularly strong patch of wind, I decided to drop the sails and motor the remaining .5 NM back to our moorage. You can release the main sheet in the wind gusts, this dumps wind out of the sail and helps with things getting so "crazy".
Even pointed into the wind, the mainsail was flapping all sorts of crazy as I took it down, and a small patch of clear material came loose (about 8x8"). This will happen when dousing the main. Having the other person control the mainsheet with a bit of tension helps to alleviate this. It's all about timing and working together. You will need to get this down for reefing too. And in more wind, reefing easy and fast keeps the boat flat and the wife happy!
I'm not sure what this is, perhaps part of a UV cover for the dacron? A bit embarrassing, but I couldn't find much online. I can take pics next time we're down. It's an older sail I'm sure, but we are hesitant to buy new sails while we are learning (and beating the poor thing up). Maybe it was a viewing window in the sail to see through it?

Pt 2: On our way into our moorage, we had a strong crosswind, and wifey missed a chance to jump onto the dock (she's still rather nervous about popping off the boat, understandably). NEVER jump to the dock, it's very dangerous if someone falls between the boat and the dock. People first, boat second. If the docking fails, try again. We ended up getting pushed sideways by the wind into the pier, and were held there rather strongly by the crosswind. With the outboard, I could back the end up and pull away, but the nose would then point towards the pier. Naturally, there was a beautiful sunset so a number of folks were on the pier, and happy to watch a newbie sailor make a fool of himself! Are there any methods of pulling into a starboard moorage when the wind is hitting that same side? I'm not sure I totally understand the situation, but I find coming in faster, not too slow gives you more control. With an outboard engine it's very difficult though as working the OB controls and the fact that the OB has little thrust in reverse makes it hard. Thinking of perhaps getting a long-ish boat hook with a rope attachment so we can loop one of the cleats on the way in, or maybe pulling in to the end of the dock and walking it forward. Last few times we've come in without much wind we have had zero issue, but this time is going to be burned into my memory for a long time.

Luckily no damage to the boat, just a small 1" long scratch in the side striping where something sharp on the pier cut it./

Thanks for any advice! And if anyone knows where we might volunteer for some crew time to learn I would be grateful
I'll fill in in bold above... just a couple comments. But your experience is very typical, we've all been there, and as you get more familiar with everything you will learn how to get it all under control... mostly! I started in this same area with a San Juan 21, and could swear it was blowing a gale when it was maybe blowing 20!
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:22   #3
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

There are a lot of youtube videos on how to dock in a windy environment. Might be worth watching a few of those. Lots of ideas on best approach.
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:24   #4
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

Thanks for the replies Cheechako!

I'll clarify a couple items:

Were you bouncing due to the seas being off the beam? The luffing mainsail was likely either from the main sheet being too loose, or the halyard not tight enough. The mainsail is tricky, too tight and the boat wants to round up causing a hard helm. Too loose and it luffs or flaps. Beam reach should be a great sail if you get it right. Also, if you have a traveler, on the beam reach lower the mainsheet block on the traveler down to the lee side , then adjust the sheet. This will keep the main from lifting and flapping.

I believe so, the swells were coming hitting the port side at a 45ish angle. I moved the traveler to the starboard a about 1 ft, and it stopped us heeling so much (ended up about 12-15 degrees). I'll check halyard tension next time!


This will happen when dousing the main. Having the other person control the mainsheet with a bit of tension helps to alleviate this. It's all about timing and working together. You will need to get this down for reefing too. And in more wind, reefing easy and fast keeps the boat flat and the wife happy!
I'll give that a go, she was busy keeping the boat pointed towards the wind so perhaps I'll keep it slightly tensioned with another wrap around the winch as I lower?

Maybe it was a viewing window in the sail to see through it?
I don't believe so, all of the 3 windows are still there and circular, this appears to be a PART of the fabric, almost another layer on the fabric, as if it delaminated from the primary part of the sale. I think pics would help here, I couldn't find much at all online


I'm not sure I totally understand the situation, but I find coming in faster, not too slow gives you more control. With an outboard engine it's very difficult though as working the OB controls and the fact that the OB has little thrust in reverse makes it hard.
I've attempted to attach a photo. The circled spot is ours, the arrow is the wind, and the line is where we were pushed up

https://photos.app.goo.gl/rM9u5K8ZGvnMGLdW6
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:26   #5
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

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Originally Posted by BugzyCan View Post
There are a lot of youtube videos on how to dock in a windy environment. Might be worth watching a few of those. Lots of ideas on best approach.
I felt like I had watched them all, perhaps I'm just a slow learned .

I didn't see any that specifically identified how to get away from a sideways object you are pressed against. My last post is awaiting the OK from a moderator (I believe because of the photo link) that might help clarify the odd position we were in!
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:31   #6
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

Some recommendations:

If your wife (or any passenger) is nervous, take it down a notch. Reef the main, lower a sail, whatever it takes. You want them (especially your wife) to be very comfortable on your boat. If you're bouncing around due to waves or wind, sometimes a change in direction might help, even if it takes you a little out of the way.

Also, never let anyone jump off the boat. If you're depending on heroic actions on the part of the crew, you need a bit more practice on a calmer day. You may need more fenders.

Other than that, sounds like a fun sailing day.
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:31   #7
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

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I felt like I had watched them all, perhaps I'm just a slow learned .

I didn't see any that specifically identified how to get away from a sideways object you are pressed against. My last post is awaiting the OK from a moderator (I believe because of the photo link) that might help clarify the odd position we were in!
I would probably opt to go forward with power (especially with an outboard) and get some good speed on, then turn around for a retry. As you said, going back slowly, the bow will just blow down from the wind. Did you clik on "upload" for your picture once you browsed and added it?
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:33   #8
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
I'll fill in in bold above... just a couple comments. But your experience is very typical, we've all been there, and as you get more familiar with everything you will learn how to get it all under control... mostly! I started in this same area with a San Juan 21, and could swear it was blowing a gale when it was maybe blowing 20!
My other post is awaiting mod confirmation, but one point I forgot to reply to: when I say "jump" to the dock I mean getting off the boat as it is right alongside the dock, maybe 6"-12" away. Should I have said "hopped" or stepped? Or should we be entirely tied up before departing the boat? Whatever is considered the safest route, I'll make a regular practice of ours

Pic below shows our mooring, circled area is our spot, red is the pier, and arrow is the direction of the wind. We basically got pressed right into the side of the pier, port side, and had trouble getting off. The pier/walkway is about 8ft above our heads, and the pilings are slightly inset so the pier itself was close to the mast while the hull of the boat was bumping against the pilings
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:48   #9
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

Welcome to the forum goodkat! It's a great place to chat and get knowledge.
And you have taken a great start with boat choice. But then I'm biased, I have been sailing a San Juan 7.7 for the last few years. It has been my learning boat as well.
In terms of the bouncing around on beam reach. I think this must have been related to wave action. I'm on a lake, so no swell, but I find it will roll as a large wave passes under you. They are light boats after all. I also wonder if there are battens missing, since you said the main is in rough shape.
For dropping the main, ours did not have a topping lift. I added one for safety(the boom would just drop to the deck) and last year switched it to a stack pack with lazy Jack's. It has made it extremely easy to raise and lower single handed.
The 8x8 square might be a window, but might also be a sail patch. Check if there are any old tears in that area. If you are just keeping this main to learn with, clear gorilla tape will work short term for repairs.
Docking. The split back stay and location of the outboard makes it very awkward to handle. In tight areas. With Practice it does get easier. I would suggest a throttle extension, and if you can find or build one, an extension for your forward/reverse lever. Also as said above, don't jump to the dock! If she misses and is between the boat and dock, it will hurt alot!! That is what fenders are for.
Other than that, the only recommendations I can offer are:
Find out if you have the aftermarket keel shoe. It is a lead attachment at the bottom of the keel. Increases your draft to 4'6" but really improves stability and weather helm.
Check the shroud thru deck fittings. The design allows water penetration, so make sure you seal it up.
If you have any questions or just want to chat about 7.7's send me a pm.
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:54   #10
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris mac View Post
Welcome to the forum goodkat! It's a great place to chat and get knowledge.
And you have taken a great start with boat choice. But then I'm biased, I have been sailing a San Juan 7.7 for the last few years. It has been my learning boat as well.
In terms of the bouncing around on beam reach. I think this must have been related to wave action. I'm on a lake, so no swell, but I find it will roll as a large wave passes under you. They are light boats after all. I also wonder if there are battens missing, since you said the main is in rough shape.
For dropping the main, ours did not have a topping lift. I added one for safety(the boom would just drop to the deck) and last year switched it to a stack pack with lazy Jack's. It has made it extremely easy to raise and lower single handed.
The 8x8 square might be a window, but might also be a sail patch. Check if there are any old tears in that area. If you are just keeping this main to learn with, clear gorilla tape will work short term for repairs.
Docking. The split back stay and location of the outboard makes it very awkward to handle. In tight areas. With Practice it does get easier. I would suggest a throttle extension, and if you can find or build one, an extension for your forward/reverse lever. Also as said above, don't jump to the dock! If she misses and is between the boat and dock, it will hurt alot!! That is what fenders are for.
Other than that, the only recommendations I can offer are:
Find out if you have the aftermarket keel shoe. It is a lead attachment at the bottom of the keel. Increases your draft to 4'6" but really improves stability and weather helm.
Check the shroud thru deck fittings. The design allows water penetration, so make sure you seal it up.
If you have any questions or just want to chat about 7.7's send me a pm.
Much appreciated Chris,

It appears I have 3 partial battens in the mainsail, the last time I took it down to inspect, all 3 pockets had the plastic in them (sorry for my lack of correct terminology!).

Ours does have a topping lift, but no lazy jacks. I'll have to look into these more deepy, I have a general understanding but I held off due to the need for reaching the top of the mast for installation.

I'll definitely make sure to check the shroud deck fittings. On initial check, they appear brand new with new sealant (although I kinda want to rebed them with butyl tape).

I sent a GoPro down underneath the hull on a sunny day, and from what I can tell I do NOT have the shoe (wish I did!). If I recall the photos from another forum correctly, it is relatively obvious that it is an extension, and my keel appears to be the original draft (no seam or discernable addition on the bottom). Thank you for the offer of San Juan knowledge, I will definitely take you up on it
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:08   #11
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

Here is my keel, as a reference point. If you look close, you can see the silver on the bottom. This was last fall after pulling out of the water.Click image for larger version

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Old 04-03-2019, 09:27   #12
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

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Here is my keel, as a reference point. If you look close, you can see the silver on the bottom. This was last fall after pulling out of the water.Attachment 187165
Hmm interesting, that doesn't look as obvious as I thought I had recalled....

Here's a snip from the GoPro video it took when looking at the hull. My keel actually seems fairly...long. Apologies for the poor quality
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:36   #13
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

The deep keel Chris Mac shows is less common, you may have the shoal draft (more easily trailerable) version.
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:41   #14
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

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My other post is awaiting mod confirmation, but one point I forgot to reply to: when I say "jump" to the dock I mean getting off the boat as it is right alongside the dock, maybe 6"-12" away. Should I have said "hopped" or stepped? Or should we be entirely tied up before departing the boat? Whatever is considered the safest route, I'll make a regular practice of ours

Pic below shows our mooring, circled area is our spot, red is the pier, and arrow is the direction of the wind. We basically got pressed right into the side of the pier, port side, and had trouble getting off. The pier/walkway is about 8ft above our heads, and the pilings are slightly inset so the pier itself was close to the mast while the hull of the boat was bumping against the pilings
That's a tough slip for anyone in a good crosswind! Is there a center cleat on the dock and the boat? Or tie one to the toe rail boat center maybe. If dock has that cleat this would be my approach:
-Come in fast enough to have good steerage.
-Swing really wide on the water opposite your dock (upper right in your photo) so you can steer straight in to your slip... or swing into the dock at about a 30 degree angle in the last few seconds, that will help stop the boat parallel to the dock.
-Have a short line tied to the boat mid boat that is a big loop, or a loop tied to the end of it.
-When you pull up to your slip, step off and put the line on the cleat to hold the boat.
-Then get the real lines tied to the boat.
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:58   #15
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Re: An "Exciting" Weekend!

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
That's a tough slip for anyone in a good crosswind! Is there a center cleat on the dock and the boat? Or tie one to the toe rail boat center maybe. If dock has that cleat this would be my approach:
-Come in fast enough to have good steerage.
-Swing really wide on the water opposite your dock (upper right in your photo) so you can steer straight in to your slip... or swing into it a bit from the land side.
-Have a short line tied to the boat mid boat that is a big loop, or a loop tied to the end of it.
-When you pull up to your slip, step off and put the line on the cleat to hold the boat.
-Then get the real lines tied to the boat.
Thank you, I'll try to incorporate some of this into our next adventure! The 1st part we actually did try, came in at just enough speed to steer, and towards the dock. Problem was that the ramp going down to the dock hits about 1/3 of the way up our rolling furler, so I need to cut speed or the bow goes UNDER the ramp and the jib furler would run into the ramp. When I pop it quickly into reverse, it prop walks the stern towards the pier, and all of a sudden the boat is rotating. The outboard is difficult to access due to double backstays and the stainless steel guard rail around the back (I basically lean upper body through the rails and out over the stern)

Looks like we'll just need to be creative with this slip
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