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Old 11-08-2008, 11:19   #1
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I usually only do really dumb things once

I've been sailing for a little over a year now and I've done a few foolish things. The most recent was as crew for a friend. The whole sail was not very smooth. The skipper had trouble engaging forward once we had the boat, a 33' Hunter, out of her slip. My brother and I were fending like mad with the help of a kind soul who ran down the dock. It turned out this guy's advice enable the skipper to engage the transmission after several minutes of futzing around with it.

We had trouble getting the mainsail up because the reefing lines were snarled around it in a big mess. We got it up and got out on the mighty Pacific, but in light winds. The skipper turned the helm over to a friend of his family's and the woman apparently decided to do figure eights for a while. We gybed accidentally a few times and, when we were on a collision course with another boat, I advised the skipper either he or I needed to be at the helm. He took over and the crisis was averted.

My poor judgement occurred when we were docking. The Hunter has a relatively high deck, so I decided to step off onto the plastic dock stairs. That was dumb. They wobbled and I fell away from the boat, off the dock, and into the next slip. I was lucky I didn't hit the boat there or the dock. I was dumb to ignore the advice of my basic sailing instructor a year ago, who specifically advised against using the dock stairs to get off a boat while docking. I was perhaps even dumber to not be wearing my PFD.

Aside from a few scrapes and drowning my Nikon S9 that was in my pocket (of course), I came out ok and learned a lesson.
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Old 11-08-2008, 11:43   #2
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Skipper,
Is there a way you could tell your friend without offending him that he is in need of some sailing lessons? A private group lesson on his boat would be a great thing. Doing this may prevent a tragedy from occurring the next time the boat gets underway.
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Old 11-08-2008, 11:49   #3
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I've sailed with him before and he is generally good, but made some serious errors in judgement that day. I talked to him about it during and after the sail. Since these are club charters and every boat is different, I test forward, neutral, and reverse quite a bit before the boat is untied. I suggested he do that immediately before ordering the boat to be untied by crew.

Putting the an inexperienced person at the helm with any traffic in the vicinity was just dumb. Based on our conversation at the end of the day, I don't expect he'll do that again.
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Old 11-08-2008, 12:09   #4
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Quote:
I usually only do really dumb things once
That works pretty well except some dumb things really can shorten the life span. Doing them a second times invites a lot more risk. Most boating accidents that have fatalities include mostly the dumb stuff. Being drunk at the time really adds up the fatalities.

Boating is the only activity I have ever had formal lessons in. It just gets a whole lot of the really dumb stuff out of the way very quickly and reduces even the just ordinary dumb stuff to a point where you can still have fun. For myself the problems that come up the most are the things you learned early in sailing class. It really is the dumb stuff you already know that gets you.

The first season of boat ownership usually has a little bit of terror, a few really lucky breaks, and an assortment of gear lost overboard and a few things damaged.
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Old 11-08-2008, 12:11   #5
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Putting them at the helm, and explaining to them while they are at the helm are 2 different things. I always made everyone backout Frolic from her slip. I explained to them in detail what would happen, why it would happen, and what we would do to make the boat behave properly.

All would get nervous, but I would explain I wouldn't let them do anything to hurt my girlfriend, and that would ease their tension. We never had a mishap out of dozens of newbies backing out. Once they were out I had them drive out of the marina, and out the channel to the bay. By this time all would feel comfortable, and alovely day would be had.

YES, watch those sneaky dock steps!
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Old 11-08-2008, 12:49   #6
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I had a friend on board last Saturday and he does not have any formal sailing training. We were in open water with no trafic and very good visibility. I stayed nearby and explained why the sails were set the way they were, which heading to try and maintain, and where / when we would tack. He has at the helm once to come about and did a nice job of it.

For traffic areas, shipping lanes, and busy channels, I don't allow anyone to take the helm who has not had formal training. Since these are charters for the time being, I take the helm to undock and dock. When I get my own boat, I'll probably do what imagine2frolic does and let others take a turn.

Formal training does cover a lot of dumb things one could do while sailing. It even covered the dock steps, but I thought I knew better. Wrong. I have since reviewed my instruction materials with a sharp eye out for things not to do.
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Old 11-08-2008, 13:14   #7
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I think your skills increase by an order of magnitude when you go from mastering a task to teaching it. You have to focus on the process, putting into words things you learned over years of experience. Just try to quantify "feel". You also must be looking far enough ahead to anticipate any errors your trainee might make and be certain to step in early enough to keep all errors recoverable but not so soon that the lesson is lost. My point is to encourage all captains to teach others. It will make you a better sailor. Even relatively green captains will benefit from teaching in situations in which they have confidence. Keep willing trainees on a short leash, providing an insight into the decisionmaking process. For more casual sailors, a supervisory eye will suffice. Just don't stick them on the helm and walk away.

Brett
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:02   #8
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Renting boats presents new challenges everytime a new boat in the fleet is encountered. Here are a couple of my "dumb" guy moves.

Catalina 27 - Grinding the starter for 3 minutes trying to get the engine to light off. Opened lazarettes and cabinets checking for fuel cocks, etc. etc. Finally, held the key over in the glow position for 30 seconds - doh! When ambient is always 30C (like here) you don't think about this sort of stuff - LOL.

Catalina 22 - Pulled the zip chord about 10 times before a) pumping the fuel ball from the tank and b) putting the dead man cutout back on - LOL.

Always inspiring to the guests to have the skipper being totally frazzled by like the second task on the boat - ha, ha...

Beneteau 40.7 - Couldn't get gas to come out of the stove - crew very rebellious about their tea break - Skipper, checked the bottle, gassed the bottle off a bit to confirm. Checked the bottle valve, traced the lines "all the way to the stove." Gave up. I took a turn, same drill (no assumptions that he had done it right) - Finally found the cut out in a cabinet. So much for tracing the lines all the way to the stove - LOL.

The key is to put the mistake behind you and don't dwell on it. Make each mistake stand alone on it's own merit - Ha, ha, ha, ha....

Seriously - you dwell on the last mistake and you will likely not be paying attention to the next potential one.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:21   #9
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LtBrett - completely agree that teaching makes you a better sailor. I also found that sailing with crews with varying levels of experience is a valuable learning experience. I started out always having a friend on board with about 30 years of experience. I learned a lot from him and still sail with him, but I've sailed quite a few times without him recently. When he's on board, I ask him for input. When he's not, it has forced me to know what to do and I've learned a lot from being in those situations.

Ex-Calif - fortunately, the club I belong to does a pretty good job with providing a boat manual, which explains the location of all safety equipment and any special instructions including starting the engine. All of the boats have inboard diesels, but there is some variance in starting procedures among the 3 Catalina 320s, all of which were built in 1994. I read the instructions, but I've been with a few other skippers who don't. This is one reason I won't put a boat in charter when I buy my own.

One exception to the boat manual was a Beneteau 40' that didn't have even an owner's manual on board. During the pre-departure checks, my crew and I could not get power to the electric windlass. We called the operations folks and, before they got back to us, I discovered that the VHF radio had some wiring problems causing it to power off intermittently. I carry a handheld while on board, but it is intended to be a backup. When I discovered the radio issue, we buttoned the boat back up and scrubbed the sail for the day.
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Old 12-08-2008, 21:58   #10
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I love the word "futz"

It isn't exactly fix up

and it isn't exacty **** up (my asterisks)

It is, kinda in the middle.

Now fiddlefarting is another story
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Old 12-08-2008, 22:12   #11
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Chief,

I think you should get togther with Gord and create the imprecise dictionary. He could help a lot with this stuff given his precison.
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Old 13-08-2008, 05:30   #12
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FUTZ: To waste time or effort on frivolities; fool around, fritter time away, to spend time frivolously, lazily, or aimlessly ...

Probably an alteration of the Yiddish “arumfartsn zikh” (literally, “to fart around”)

FIDDLEFART: To linger aimlessly, to “goof off”, to look busy while accomplishing nothing.
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Old 13-08-2008, 06:15   #13
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Hey Gord, the first (FUTZ) fits me now. The second will be me latter today when I finally get to the job late.
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Old 13-08-2008, 06:27   #14
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and I love conch FRITTERS, so let me fritter away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Conch
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Old 13-08-2008, 10:44   #15
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Ok, now I am really enjoying this thread!
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