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Old 09-07-2018, 09:07   #76
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

"Sometimes you are the show, sometimes you watch the show". Keep getting out on the water and before you know it your next embarrassment will come and go. With each one however you will become a better more confident sailor.

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Old 09-07-2018, 09:26   #77
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

We all make mistakes; that's how we learn. It doesn't matter what others think. Focus on the positive: 1) you were wearing your PFD- many "experienced" boaters don't - they are fools. 2) you righted the boat. You now have a better idea of what caused the capsize and can watch for it.

Don't beat yourself up. Learn from experience and share with others. You'll be fine.

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Old 09-07-2018, 11:10   #78
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

From your description I surmise that you either tacked and did not change your position to the windward side or that you bore off and did not sheet out. The first would have capsized towards you, the latter, away from you. I trust that this is the advise you were seeking rather than having your ego mollified. That you asked indicates that you have gotten over the embarrassment . Keep on messing around with boats, mate.
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Old 09-07-2018, 12:22   #79
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

Frankly, you shouldn't even have a concern about this experience. While it may have been eye opening it is just part of the learning experience. As for the attendants they've forgotten all about it and likely need to "rescue" someone weekly or more.

We all have a tale or two about learning how to sail. As a 22 year old buyer of a new Swing Keel Catalina 22 (1986) I didn't know how to sail. I had only been on one sailboat my entire life, a cruising Catamaran in Lake Tahoe for a one hour sail around the lake. I was hooked and had bought the above within six months.

The first time I took my brand new boat out the used outboard motor died. Its was the only motor we could afford we had paid a lot of money for that sailboat, had a mortgage, etc., Pulled away from the dock and it conked out. Fortunately we were in Alamitos Bay Long Beach, CA and the harbor patrol was passing by. They saw us struggling to keep the boat from hitting the jetty rocks (my brother had hopped out into the water and climbed up onto the jetty rocks and physically held the boat from hitting the rocks). My wife took the line from the harbor patrol and snubbed it to a cleat while I steered us towards the boat ramp.

I just thought I'd glide her into the ramp and we'd jump out and hold her steady until I went and got the trailer (youth) not thinking about the damage that could occur to the boat. As we got near the ramp the Harbor Patrol guy(s) started pointing towards a sandy beach (about a 10' x 10' area) and when I wasn't pointing the bow that way they eventually circled back into the center of the bay giving me an earful as to why I needed to protect the "hull".

I remember specifically questioning them "What's a hull"?. I was clueless. They simply headed me back towards the sandy beach and by that time I followed their request and pointed the bow towards the beach only to find about a dozen onlookers from the adjacent loading ramp standing on the beach waiting the receive us. Got away with only damage to my ego.

Fast forward three weeks (a very long three weeks) and I had pretty much studied every page of Chapman's Book of Piloting and was ready to use my sailboat. New engine in check we motored away from the dock, sails all hanked on and ready to go. When we got into the middle of Alamitos Bay we were ready to raise sails for the first time.

I at the tiller and my wife at the mast she lifted the mainsail and low and behold our boat started to move. The only problem was it was going around in circles. Round and round we went. It was a relatively light breeze day at somewhere in the 8-12 knot range. We went round and round and after trying to figure out why, in between making sure we didn't run into any other boats passing by (and they were looking at us) we hear a loud speaker say "put your keel down". I wasn't sure what they initially said but I heard it a second time, and when I looked up I could see the harbor patrol tower. I assumed it was them talking over a loud speaker out into the harbor.

The third time they said it another sailboat was passing by and they all yelled out in unison, "put the "Fing" keel down". Not quite knowing what I was doing I told my wife to lower the mainsail which she did and it spilled down onto the deck and into the cockpit. Egos bruised and feeling anxious we decided to motor around the bay after getting the mainsail all tied up onto the mast.

It wasn't until the third attempt that we were able to get the sails up, turn off the motor, and experience sailing under sails alone. We even dredged up the courage to leave to harbor and exit into the semi protected outer harbor and sail around one of the islands in the outer harbor.

Ten years later I sold that boat (I had already bought a 32' cruising boat) to a professor at the UofA and his stock broker wife. They planned to trailer it to a lake somewhere outside Phoenix, AZ and eventually after spending sometime on her trailering her down to San Carlos Mx and spending sometime on the Sea of Cortez.

I probably spoke to them a half dozen times in the fist six months they had tons of questions. Then I didn't speak with them for about five years when I received an email from the wife that they were heading down to San Carlos the next day. I assume they're still there since I've never heard form them again, lol.

Originally Posted by ppvora View Post
Hello All,
I'm a 56-year old (male) college professor. In late August 2016, I took the ASA 101 course at a sailing school on the Chesapeake Bay and (easily) passed it. Since then, I haven't had much of a chance to go sailing due to various factors. However, this year, I decided to get a season pass at the boat rental place at the local lake. The local lake is a tiny "man-made" lake (they built a dam to fill up a depression in the land). My intention was to grab the centerboard day sailers (15 footers) they have there, to practice my basic sailing skills, then probably next season find a reasonably-priced second-hand boat and go sailing on the Chesapeake Bay....maybe more in the future.

However, a certain incident occurred that has kinda' scared me a bit: The first time I went out, the wind at the local lake was going 7-8 knots with gusts of upto 10. I went out maybe 0.5 NM and turned in such a way that the boat keeled over on the side that I was sitting. In a split second I was thrown overboard and the boat flipped over with me underneath. I was wearing my life-jacket, and without realizing it even, I was able to raise the hull and come out from underneath. The boat rental center takes safety very seriously and they always have one person as a lookout for all their rentals that go out. They saw me and two persons there jumped into a motor-boat and were at my side in no time. They pulled me onto their boat.

I think I'm a fairly risk-averse person and, generally speaking, like to err on the side of safety. For example, in my 38 years of driving, I have never received a ticket for a moving violation.

Later that day the following emotions ran through me:
1. Depression: "This is the end of my sailing career -- even before I seriously started."

2. Extreme embarrassment: "Those guys at the rental place are laughing their asses off thinking about the old fool who thought he knew how to sail. How will I even make my way there again?"

3. Fear: "Wow, that was closest I've come to within inches of my life."

4. Fear (another type): Of getting verbally chewed out by The One Who Must Be Obeyed. [She didn't]

Anyway, I'm writing to seek some advise and encouragement. Is an event like this unusual? Was I foolish? I kinda' like to be by myself sometimes and it's unlikely (if I ever make it to owning a real sailboat) that I will sail the Chesapeake with others -- this is MY thing. Besides, The One gets seasick if she even sees a boat, so no chance of convincing her to join in the fun.

Any advice, stories, encouragement, even discouragement ("You fool, it's people like you who give sailing a bad name!") is appreciated provided it's honest.

Thank-you all.
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Old 09-07-2018, 13:02   #80

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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

Huh? I go out and capsize boats deliberately for fun and experience....

Everyone is more amused by your extreme embarassment than your inexperience.

Maybe you could go practice where no one is watching? Wait... no...
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Old 09-07-2018, 13:12   #81
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

You survived--and that is a really important lesson. I bet you will not be doing THAT again--so onwards and upwards.

Small sailing craft are usually performance designed--unlike cruising vessels which are more forgiving and designed for more restful passage-making. It takes a goodly gust to knock down a cruising vessel, no matter how incompetently handled.

Continue your sailing. The principles are the same, but the experience of sailing a larger cruising hull is a great deal more sedate in the moderate to strong breezes you experienced.

Really heavy weather is not to be taken lightly no matter how large or what kind of vessel you are sailing, and there are books about that subject such as the one by Jeff Toghill on heavy weather sailing.
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Old 09-07-2018, 14:23   #82
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

Ahoy Premal - I am also a 50-something academic and I capsized a small dinghy at almost exactly the moment you sent your post. Those coincidences are my excuse for adding a contrasting view to this excellent thread. It was on San Francisco Bay and my son had just returned to the dock after working through a series of excellent tacks and jibes on his El Toro in shifty winds gusting to ~15 knots. I said something like “Now let’s see if your Old Man still knows how to sail”. I proceeded to nail a few nice tacks myself but blew one, capsized, and watched the boat turtle over my head. I ducked out from under, grabbed the dagger board, righted the boat, flopped back in, bailed her out, and got underway. Despite the fact that San Francisco Bay has cold water, lots of traffic, and no one was standing by to rescue me, my wife and son were quite right to stand on the dock doubled-over with laughter. We know how to right a capsized dingy with our eyes closed, having done it ~1x10^6 times. You asked for advice so here’s some:
  1. Go back to that lake and capsize all day until you’re comfortable righting the boat then forget about it. Wave off the shore boat. They do you no service interrupting your practice.
  2. Sail the dinghy to learn an awareness of where the wind is coming from. Ignore the instruments, spar-fly, or telltales. Focus on the ripples on the water, or the way the sail fills or luffs, or if the boat feels alive or sluggish. Where’s the wind? Are your sails stalled, luffed, or “in the groove"? Sure keelboats are different, and the ASA curriculum arcana covers some of that (Rule 12(a)(i) and bowlines and stuff), but the dinghy will teach you how to read the wind. Nothing is more profound.
Later that day the wind settled and I sailed that El Toro until I felt too guilty and handed it back to the kid. He took off, out of sight, while I went back to the big boat and made tea. We have thousands of miles of offshore sailing under our belts together, and I hope many thousands of miles ahead. Some skills and lots more to learn. Cranky knees and backs complain about it and you will get wet, but forget about that. Dinghy sailing is about the wind.

Now go sailing. There’s not a moment to lose.
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Old 09-07-2018, 14:46   #83

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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

And then get a 16ft beach catamaran and learn how to stuff and cartwheel it in 25kts!! Woohoooooo!! Wear helmet plz... Come home completely exhausted and exhilarated and repair your boat for next time!! Wow!!

It's also good fun breaking the rigging off in the middle of a small lake on a windy day - that was a real blast! Get out there and do it on the lake or the harbour until you aren't intimidated by anything - THEN get offshore with a REAL skipper and learn what's smart and what's not smart.

If you don't want to exist at this level, then please go out with someone else. Suffice to say, if you're offshore in a big blow, if you don't have plenty of experience, the right gear, and balls of steel - you're a statistic and then the regulator is going to make a new rule, and we hate rules hehehe..
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Old 09-07-2018, 16:08   #84
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

If it's any consolation, you are doing it right... you just waited so late in life that it feels wrong. I taught both my kids to sail in sunfish and they weren't allowed to go out without me in the boat until they solo'd... which, at my house meant do exactly what you did. Dump it, right it. Not that I wasn't watching them like a hawk, but they also had to get back in and sail it back home, something that the rental crew didn't allow you to do it seems.

Go again. If you dump the thing, learn from it. There's no better way to learn. The bigger the boats get, the harder they are to dump (and right) but it won't be a problem if you've learned to sail and been swimming a few times.
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Old 09-07-2018, 17:20   #85
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

Time to take your wife out : )
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Old 09-07-2018, 17:22   #86
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

Never fear, it's the small boats without a keel that will get ya! Forget about those tiny things they are too unstable. I, like you, started sailing later in life. I highly recommend the ASA courses and reading as much as you can. The other thing I found was We have a sailing meet up here in Kemah TX where on friday evenings a guy who has a nice boat takes people out and we all get to help out. I think you need to befriend someone with a boat (a real boat) and learn, and most importantly practice. My instructor at the ASA school said to volunteer to crew or cook or what ever to be able to spend time sailing. Give it some time and take some steps to learn all you can. Don't give up on it if it is something you really want to do. Where you live there are tons of people with sailboats. I hope this helps, and don't feel bad, we have all had moments were we were the most inexperienced person there, but we kept coming back and regardless of the embarrassment we persisted. You didn't get to be a college professor over night and this is the same. It takes time and consistent effort.
Hope this helps,
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Old 09-07-2018, 21:46   #87
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

No reason to be embarrassed, most of us have had far worse occur. The only question is have you figured out what happened and how to avoid the same problem? If not, do it again and ask the rescue fold as a start. they may know.
"Old California"
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Old 10-07-2018, 02:33   #88
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

When I started powerboating, having been a stick-and-rag man from childhood, my trainer told me: "Remember that in all types of boating: first, there are no new mistakes - every one has been done before; and second, your instructors have done most of them, themselves!" (It's called learning). And it's a lifelong process. Never be scared of asking someone else's advice.
Enjoy your boating - safely.
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Old 10-07-2018, 05:32   #89
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

Please, no need to be embarrassed. I did exactly the same thing after my ASA 101, 103 and 104 classes were complete. I was at a state park and rented one. My then wife and I found ourselves in the water capsized in a matter of minutes. Yes, it was a humbling experience, but that did not deter me from continuing to sail. I've chartered multiple times and sailed in the BVI, St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Anguilla and St. Barts. I comfortably single hand sail 40 foot monohulls and catamarans. I just don't go near those 'dinghy' sail boats although I should. Paul.
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Old 10-07-2018, 07:13   #90
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Re: Embarrassing story, seeking advice

I completed the sailing courses and when my trainer signed my papers and handed them to me he said “ this doesn’t mean you know how to sail, it means you are making your mistakes legally. I am 62 and passed 103 4 years ago

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