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Old 21-01-2010, 14:09   #1
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First Sail

This is a story of my very first sail on ANY sailboat. This occurred on a cold and cloudy early March day in my new to me 1976 Venture 21.

Finally, the day had arrived. The day to put the boat in the water and make sail. After co-opting my eldest daughter and her husband as the unwitting crew, we set out to rig and launch the beast, a case of the blind leading the blind.

After getting her in the water and managing not to hit that big rock by the boat ramp, we motor out about 100 yards and make sail. First the Jib, then the main as we catch wind and begin to move.

We start off downwind running wing and wing SAILING! Hmm, there's an inch or so of water there in the cabin sole, ok, no worries. We run down the lake a bit feeling splendid when we notice that one of the cabin foot wells is now full .

Ok, now to beat back to windward. We come about on a starboard tack and find that every time we try to run close hauled she falls off the wind, not much help from the tiller. Ok, the motor being down must be canceling the rudder so we lift it. Bang! The motor drops back in and refuses to stay up so we're now steering with both the motor and the rudder. Back and forth we go trying to work our way to windward but everytime we get headway and attempt to close haul, the wind drops and she falls off.

We're heeling somewhat and I remember the keel, only to find it's rusted in place. After tacking back and forth and going in circles for an hour or so, I'm noticing that water is bubbling up through the keel cable hole and both foot wells are now full.

Ok, time to motor back but the motor isn't cooperating now. Three minutes of furious cranking later, I decide to prime it. Vroom! We're off and running. A fast ski boat goes tearing by and I crack the throttle open only to have the water in the boat rush back and bury the stern and motor . Hmm, a couple of yanks and we're off once more with a bit less throttle and the crew perched on the forepeak for balance.

We get back to the ramp and the Son in law, misjudging the depth, hops off with a bowline and disappears. He pops up momentarily and we enjoy a laugh at his expense.

When we get the bowline hooked and winch her onto the trailer I notice the bowhook comes in under the winch, how strange. In a hurry to get the boat out, I pull forward. The wildly waving arms of my daughter stop me.

I get out only to find that the tires are almost flat from the weight and that the tiller, which I forgot to pull in the rush, has dragged and twisted forward into the transom. Matter of fact, the back trailer frame is dragging, Good Lord!

So we pull the newly discovered drain plug and notice another stream of water UNDER the boat. Upon checking this out we find a nice 2" hole in the hull that had been hiding behind the rub rails of the trailer. Eventually, enough water drained out that we could re-float her and get her all the way on the trailer as well as pull off the now shattered tiller/rudder.

Lessons learned? Use a check list. Take rain gear and warm clothes, we were all in tees and shorts when that cold rain just popped up. Ya need a keel to go to windward.

Sailing's a BLAST, even when it's not. So now we work on the boat so we can get back out there as soon as possible.
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Old 21-01-2010, 14:40   #2
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good one Charlie. Some of my first escapades were just as educational.

I look at sailing the same way most pilots look at flying. Any landing you can walk away from is a good one. So far I've been lucky not to do any real serious damage, although expensive damage isn't out of the realms of possibility.

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Old 21-01-2010, 14:53   #3
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Sounds like a good day really.
You learnt two things, I hope.
1. Sailing is always good for a story.
2. You want to be the one telling it.
3. It's life and death out there.

I've been lucky and have enough engineering to work some things out but the help, carefully weeded advice and support of those with more experience is invaluable.
Reading books helps, reading the forum helps, but doing it is the best way to learn.
Just please get some help.
Take note of water in the boat.
Don't cast off until you've made sure there are no leaks.
Check you can raise and lower the sails without casting off.
Check the rudder is solidly fixed before casting off.
Check the keel operates before casting off.
Get off and get some lifejackets, a buoy that will mark a man-overboard position very clearly ans a bailing bucket.
Always head upwind first, and raise the main first. The boat is stable like that, the jib is easy. It's also the easiest place to get back to the slipway from if things aren't right.
For your next two trips just motor upwind, practice turns etc. If things go wrong you've a good chance of sailing back.
Then, with confidence in your motor and steering get a bit more adventurous.
Losing the confidence and respect of your crew/passengers is a terrible thing. I've been lucky. The only things that have gone wrong so far have been things I practiced while moored up. Apart from the drive failure. Twice.
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Old 21-01-2010, 14:53   #4
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Yeah, subsequent sails on that boat were great! We put it in the Sound and sailed out to Friday Harbor and such a few times, once in 20 knots of breeze! While that ain't much for a big boat, on a Venture 21 with no reefing points, it's significant.
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Old 21-01-2010, 14:55   #5
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And did your confidence no end of good too. It's great when a hard day has gone well.
Have you still got the same crew?
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Old 21-01-2010, 14:56   #6
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Eleven, that was some time and many Gales ago. Someone asked me to post it up here after I mentioned nearly sinking my boat on my first sail in another thread. just do a search on Oh Joy to see where I am now.
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Old 21-01-2010, 14:59   #7
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Oh yeah, they still sail with me. Here's one we went out in. We lost the Genny later that night when it shredded.









The above were taken on Oh Joy on a beat to Friday Harbor in 25-30 with an ebb. My Grandson is hiding below in the house.
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Old 21-01-2010, 22:21   #8
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My god! What nice shots considering the conditions. Good lookin' boat as well. The lady and child might not want to go back out with you after all that, but at least they are still in the cockpit. You were all wise to use the life-jackets.
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Old 22-01-2010, 10:22   #9
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Actually, they loved it. Some of my other kids are jealous because they didn't get any heavy weather sailing in so when I finish with the restoration, I owe some of them sails in very lively conditions. Other than work commitments, I have NO trouble finding crew with eight kids and eight grandkids...

On Oh Joy, PFD's are required when outside of the house. The only exception is on the hook or nice sunny days with winds at or below five knots or so. No exceptions for kids... The waters around here are just too cold to mess with.
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Old 22-01-2010, 10:34   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieCobra View Post
Oh yeah, they still sail with me. Here's one we went out in. We lost the Genny later that night when it shredded.


The above were taken on Oh Joy on a beat to Friday Harbor in 25-30 with an ebb. My Grandson is hiding below in the house.
LOL! And look at that smile! That shows that you have indeed learned a lesson or two and are enjoying sailing. Glad that your experiences didn't dampen your love for sailing. We had many of hard starts only to learn to love sailing more.
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Old 22-01-2010, 16:47   #11
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Charlie, how is Oh Joy coming along? I loved reading your posts in the construction/refit section but haven't seen one in a bit.
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Old 22-01-2010, 16:51   #12
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That guy by the mizzen is my Son In Law Michael, not me. This is me after I sailed into a hole:



She's still coming along. I'm setting in that section of the portside clamp tomorrow so there will be a thread forthcoming.
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Old 22-01-2010, 18:34   #13
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Thanks for indulging me, CC.
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Old 23-01-2010, 19:25   #14
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Argh......CC's a right salt!
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