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Old 11-08-2009, 22:15   #1
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Newbie - Non-Questions

I often take new sailors out on our boat. It's great to introduce people to sailing and when a person shows a lot of interest they are often invited back.

I generally try to get the person on helm as soon as possible because trimming is the more technical part and "driving" the boat seems to be what people enjoy more.

However, I have noted that very few people ask questions about what is going on and a few just don't seem to get it after repeated "suggestions."

Example - A friend has been on my boat at least a dozen times. He seems incapable of holding a heading closer than +-20 degrees. He will pinch up and flog the sails, sometimes backwinding the genny. I pick a target far on the horizon and ask him to head for it but he soon is making s turns again. He is not totally unique.

I have tried to explain the windex and how to hold an angle to the wind but I must admit I am a bit gentle in my corrections. I guess I don't want them to think that this sailing business is too much trouble.

OTOH, I like to race and I am interested in getting their skills up so they can crew - that's when I like to helm.

So, has anyone faced this kind of stuff before? Should I just get a lot more aggressive? I don't want to turn into captain a-hole but I don't like sailing badly either.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:32   #2
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Over the last 5 years we have taken over 120 people, including 20 Sea Scouts and 20 children, sailing in the Carbbean, Bahamas, Florida, Atlantic and the English Channel with 5000 miles of off-shore passsages, all in a non-commercial setting.

Our rule is... '100% of your attention 100% of the time.'

People who lack concentration and situational awareness are a danger to themselves, the crew and the boat and do not get invited back. Our last guest, who just left the boat in Trinidad, has sailed over 60 days with us so obviously some of them want to come back!
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:07   #3
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Relax?

"People who lack concentration and situational awareness are a danger to themselves,"

I agree with this completely and it is true off the boat as well. Having said that, I doubt your friend has this issue. They just may find it more fun to "experiment' and get the feel of the boat, wind and water. +/- 20 degrees is important to you, but is it really important to the fun of sailing? The next time it happens, says nothing, see if they can get the boat back where it needs to be. Maybe he is just a tactile type person - getting a feel more than watching instrumentation, or the horizon.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:39   #4
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Dan,

Some people are just destined to be power boaters.


Take my two kids, for example. Both got the same exposure to our Hobie 16, which we bought when my son was 7 and my daughter was 6. She took to it immediately, while he enjoyed going out with the family on sails and picniking on beaches we sailed to, but never got "into" sailing the boat. At age 10, she demanded to be allowed to sail it all by herself. He was content to search for crabs at the shoreline.

I have memories of sailing with my daughter (age 15) across the mouth of the Potomac River in 20 knots of wind. On the way back to the Virginia shore, the wind had picked up, and I was beginning to make contingency plans because I could barely keep the boat from flipping at that point. She was out on the trapeze with the wind in her hair and a big grin on her face! My son ended up with a power boat, and loves to go fishing.

Some folks just don't have the desire to sail the boat or tweak the sails. They might enjoy going out on one, but they can also do without very nicely. It's a small percentage who turn into "addicts", like most of us here on CF.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:47   #5
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Dan

I have the same experience. Take new people out and they just can not hold a course at all. But then my wife who has had lessons and lots of sail time can not hold one very well either. I had a guest the other day say that "driving" was a lot harder than it looked. Maybe it means that for some of us it comes easy so we just don't understand why others can not do it.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:35   #6
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It's been said before, but I think people who learn to sail dinghies have a better feel for the boat. Keel boats, with wheel steering, insulate one from what the boat is doing. My wife can sail a straighter course than I can, but she struggles when trying to beat, just can't seem to find and hold the edge whereas I can. I learned to relate the feel of the wind on my face to the tiller and the sails in dinghies and she never had that experience.
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:13   #7
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I think we should make an effort to determine our guest’s desires, when we take them sailing. Do they wish to be:
- passengers
- participating audience
- students (casual or serious)

Once we understand their needs, we can tailor the experience to satisfy some of our desires (camaraderie, crew, mentoring).
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:51   #8
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Maybe the problem is your own competitive nature? You know what you want, when you want it, so you can get somewhere as quick as possible. Most people think of sailing as a casual affair.

Maybe you need to explain the reason they are asked aboard is that you are searching for crew. Possibly some of your friends will say no to your invite knowing your intentions.

I managed a shop for a man. I would fire help within a day. Sometimes they would last a week? He told me I couldn't do that. I told him until I find the right person everyone else will get fired. It took me about 10 applicants, but the right help came along, and we worked together well until I left..........i2f
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Old 12-08-2009, 12:53   #9
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i agree with the dinghy comment above. i started on a laser pico and it was very good for developing a feel - instantaneous reaction to any little twitch of the tiller or change in sail trim - a quick swim if anything drastically wrong is done. big boats are much more forgiving (though once they get away from you the forces are way bigger) but also there is much less of a direct tactile connection. i took my first big boat lessons with a power boater and a total novice. both had more of a learning curve to climb than I did when it came to holding a course or seeing what sail trim was right.
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Old 12-08-2009, 14:42   #10
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It's true, been through the same thing; pick a point on land, watch the windex etc... some just cant do it!.. and interestingly, my grandaughter could reasonably stay on track at about the age of 6... well... until she walked completely away fromthe helm to look at something!
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Old 12-08-2009, 16:13   #11
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I used to teach sailing and my experience with that is that some people just take longer to learn how to steer. Most peoples experience with steering involves bicycles or cars where there is an immediate result to steering inputs. Some people just take longer to get used to the lag, learning how to counter steer to stop the swing counter and probably most critically, adjusting to something that changes course on its own without any steering input.

Another factor which I did not have with teaching sailing but have had it with Sea Scouts etc, is that people have to want to learn how to get better. Without that motivation, forget it. Politely relieve them if it seems they are indifferent to wanting to get better and put a different helmsman on the wheel.

As far as racing goes, there is no good reason to put a newbie on the wheel....unless you have to take a leak between races. They should be "rail meat" first. I think most people understand this.
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Old 12-08-2009, 16:23   #12
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Quote:
So, has anyone faced this kind of stuff before? Should I just get a lot more aggressive? I don't want to turn into captain a-hole but I don't like sailing badly either.
No cure that I know of. Some people never get past the second rule of sailing - It's all supposed to be fun.

The first rule being - "Don't hit anything!"

It is as good as the Admiral can do. So if they don't hit anything and they have fun, you just can't demand more than that.

You could however find some good crew this way. Some people just take to it on the first chance. Until you can get to the level that you can "see the wind" you'll never be a great at the helm. Feeling the waves and seeing the wind could make you more than good at the helm. If they had a good time too, I would not let them go on another boat.

You really have to want to sail to get better and you have to like it a lot to be able to want it that much.
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Old 12-08-2009, 21:50   #13
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Great comments so far and very helpful. Our boat is not named Relax Lah! for nothing.

We are extremely casual when casual sailing.

Last weekend we had a rather long sail. In the beginning I was offering guidance like, "What's happening now? How does the helm feel? Does the boat want to pull in either direction? Head slowly into the wind until the front end of the main starts to bulge inward and then back off just a bit. Keep the genny full, if it starts to flog bear off immediately but only slightly. See that tower out there on shore - just head for that."

After 5 hours and 2 inexperienced helmsmen, I was reduced to "turn left, straight, turn right."

Eventually my experienced S/O who was trying to sleep on the foredeck came back and said, "My turn." Then she sailed a laser straight course, at night, to the channel entrance, called the gybe and set us on the mooring 3 hours later, while I rested my vocal cords. She said she couldn't sleep anyway and could tell I was running out of breath.

I am not complaining and the two guys that were on board love to sail (enthusiasm counts for a lot). I am just wondering why they don't ask any questions.

I did have one guy who was memorable. He asked questions non-stop like a 6 year old. He is actually becoming a good sailor.

Oh and I agree with you David. I never let newbies helm in racing the situations are too tight. They are good grinders and ballast.

The other comment about letting them make mistakes is valid as well. That's when the genny backwinds and we have accidental gybes.

The sail above I actually got donked by the boom while standing in the companionway due to my not watching carefully enough. Good thing we were close hauled and the boom didn't get up much momentum - LOL...
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Old 12-08-2009, 21:59   #14
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I try to be as non-technical as possible.

I Explain tell-tales.

I let them experiment.....getting in irons, backwinding, all the mistakes WE made and how to get out of them......

One time....in open water....I got exasperated and just went below and felt the movement of the boat......in about 20-30 minutes they had the hang of it.

I am not a screamer....but I think they were getting too much information from me...
with me "out of the way.....they figgered it out.

With these two ladies aboard it turned out to be a wonderful day....and they left the boat EAGER to do it again!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 12-08-2009, 22:11   #15
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Originally Posted by Chief Engineer View Post

With these two ladies aboard it turned out to be a wonderful day....and they left the boat EAGER to do it again!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chief...you dog! That must have been a REALLY good day.
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