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Old 19-04-2012, 16:03   #1
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Comfort Levels on the Water

So, it has been an ongoing struggle for us, finding a way to actually get OUT on the water.

Sailing our own boat was an ordeal in relationship stress. Crewing or even just being meat on the club beer can races was to stressful. Sailing out with friends was still to much.

Last night I think we found the venue that will allow us successfully do just that.

Himself has proposed numerous basic intro courses that he thought would be good starting points. Without exception I have vetoed them, for a number of reasons, in no order of import.

While he is anxious out on the water he has a HUGE body of knowledge and is a very competent person. All of the courses offered were clearly going to be a group of landlubbers needing the most basic and simple of introductions in their intro classes. The information offered was going to already be familiar to him just through the small amount of experience he has had over the last 3 years. He knows a sheet from a halyard, how to steer with a tiller, starboard from port, downhaul from outhaul and what the cunningham is for. I can never remember myself...

In these classes he was not going to get instruction that would be advanced enough to be useful to him while providing time on the boat under the instruction of someone he could feel secure with. Trust me after a number of abortive attempts, I am NOT that person... And they all, with out exception, were expensive and wanted to tie you into a commitment. Given that they seemed to not meet his needs the cost just wasn't worth it.

Then he found a school, Afterguard, over in Oakland. Mary and Steve run a small charter/sailing instruction operation that caters to many levels of experience. They offer Wednesday evening sails for a reasonable fee and its a casual setup, something more than drop in, but not much and with a little luck you could even swing a drop in.

We went on Saturday a week ago when we knew they were sailing out with a group. Introductions were made, situations discussed. Steve generously walked us over their two Ranger 23's an discussed in some detail how they are rigged. One of our boats is a R23 so the opportunity to sail and practice on the same models our own boat was appealing. We signed up for the next Wednesday sail.

Last night I cruised by the office and picked Himself up, along with our gear and some munchies. The commute to Oakland was far less painful than anticipated and we were at the marina by 5:30.

Mary, another captain and 6 other students were gathering. The vibe was just friendly, businesslike and calm. In short order we were all schlepping out to the docks and getting the two Rangers ready to go. The boats were shipshape and the routine for rigging them was well defined and clear, instructions were given along the way, with occasional intervention to show someone how to tie a knot, the different kind of shackles, the way to identify the main halyard and the foresail halyard. The radio was id'ed. Mildly cranky motors were started and warmed up. Mary took me, Himself and Jonathon, a rank novice, with her. When both boats were ready we cast off and worked our way out into the estuary. I got a quick reefing lesson that was much appreciated. Later on I did the reverse when the wind dropped a bit. Conditions were really good, 5k winds, no swell in the protected estuary. Perfect novice sailing! I looked over to see a relaxed smile on my guy's face and felt a warmth inside. Finally seeing him look like he was actually having fun while under sail was wonderful.

We tacked and jibed back and forth, trading starboard tacks with the other little ranger, creating a diamond pattern of wakes behind us. Man, I really like this boat! Everything was smooth and low-key, perfect for easing the anxiety that dogs Himself's heels. He ran one winch and sheet, I ran the other. Jonathon got lots of tiller time, which was good, neither of us are in need of that practice.

As the light faded we headed back the way we had come. The sunset behind up over the bay was beautiful shades of orange and magenta.

As we neared the marina we powered up the outboard and began to break down, lowering sails, putting out fenders, readying for the docking. A piercing whistle from our sister ship drew us back to check on what was up. The outboard (there IS a special level of hell for outboard makers, isn't there?) had snagged it's pull line and they were unable to get the cover off to straighten it out. Mary got them on their radio and talked them thru a couple of attempts, but clearly it was not going to be an easy fix from a distance. No worries, we circled and she gave them instructions in rigging a harness to their bow while I was fixing one to our stern. When it was time to throw the sheet I had commandeered for the tow job I declined Mary's request to throw the line over with a grin. "Mary, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather YOU were the one to throw and miss and foul the prop, OK?" She laughed and tossed the line, landing it square in the cockpit of the other boat. If I had thrown it I am SURE it would have fallen short and been instantly sucked under the outboard.

She over saw the rigging of the tow line to their bow while Himself and I got the harness adjusted on our stern and we were in business. Mary glided us up the channel, into the marine, and up to our side by side slips and as I stepped of on to the docks the disabled boat was just nosing into her slip and I was able to easily walk her into place. What a great lesson. And in the next few minutes another great lesson in outboard triage as she opened the cowling and flicked the pull rope into place and started her up.

The boats were put to bed in a tidy shipshape fashion and we all trooped up to the office to drop off and pick up gear and belongings. There was some chat and then most of the group departed. Himself and I stayed for a moment to ask about some future dates and Mary pulled out chips and dip and crackers. I contributed the ham and cheese and bread I had brought, an Auxiliary Coastie and friend dropped in and we all sat and chatted. The sad circumstances of the Low Speed Chase was a hot topic for all of us, and Mary had had a boat in the race. Interesting to talk to such knowledgeable people. Finally at 10:30 we all headed out, stuffed and happy.

On the way home Himself admitted that twice, when the wind had picked up a little and he had felt her bite into it and heel a bit, he had felt the anxiety rise a little, but had been able to easily manage it and get back in the game.

So I think we have a starting place now. Our current goal is to finish up some work on the Cal28 so she, and we, will be ready for the Delta Doodah this July.

I think we will be ; -)
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Old 19-04-2012, 16:26   #2
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Awesome Sara! Thanks for sharing your story.

Hubby & I are signed up for sailing lessons in June and I hope we'll have such a good experience. I'm the more adventurous one but he is willing to give it a try even though it freaks him out alot. I'm hoping with some time on the water and a good instructor he will grow in comfort and confidence...

Good on you and good luck.
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Old 19-04-2012, 16:48   #3
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Thanks for sharing, Sara! This is very useful info -- as we currently own a power boat and have very little experience sailing. This seems like a comfortable environment to learn. I'll definitely keep the school in mind.
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Old 19-04-2012, 16:55   #4
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

It rather sounds like you hit on a good learning environment.
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Old 19-04-2012, 17:20   #5
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Great! My wife and I are learning to sail. Heeling was at first an anxiety-producing event for her but, with some experience, less so with time. We spent a few informal hours on the water at the end of last season and are looking forward to classes in about a month.
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Old 19-04-2012, 19:44   #6
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Sara, good story! If I read this correctly you have a 23 footer and a 28? If that is the case, while you are working on the larger boat sail the heck out of the 23. All of the skills will be transferable with only a little adjustment for weight and speed. Actually the 28 will feel slower to respond but the adjustments wont take more than a good afternoon. The first time I reefed my 26 footer I felt like I had 10 thumbs and one blind eye. I learned to reef by watching the San Francisco Bay Folkboat fleet. They could round a mark and slam in a reef in less than 60 seconds. 40 years later I am still in awe of those sailors. See if your instructor could line you up with some beer can races(preferably you and hubby on separate boats). I have never been of the competitive nature, but when I did crew on races I always learned something of value. The other side of this story is that husbands (myself included) tend to be overly sensitive to any danger (real or imagined) to our loved ones. When we are not 100% sure of our own skills it raises large stresses. Sail on other peoples boats with different Captains, and both of your skills and self confidence will improve. One other thing that might help is to take an hour and sit on your boat and read about sailing and rigging, and actually touch each sheet or halyard and say the name out loud. It sounds silly but, doing that will put it deeper into your memory.____Sail the heck out of it._____Grant.
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Old 19-04-2012, 20:14   #7
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Sounds like a nice safe environment to learn.

Just make sure that over time you and Himself are not "covering" for each other due to being on the same boat. Often one s/o always takes over on "docking" cuz the other s/o "can't" do it.

With two boats available you and himself might consider splitiing up once in a while. Always good to sail with other folks to break bad habits...

Just make sure you get the boat with the good engine and the good instrructor ;-)
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Old 19-04-2012, 20:29   #8
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Ahh the Cunningham,what a noble and well respected name, a name fit for a king...surely any person with such a name should rule the sailing world(pun intended)... sounds like a good plan...DVC
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Old 19-04-2012, 20:48   #9
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Sarafina, this would be a fantastic blog topic..where is your blog? dang, would love to see that beautiful Ranger 23 sailing :-)
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Old 19-04-2012, 21:13   #10
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Sara, I just reread your post and realized you have over 4000 posts. I understand that this forum gives a lot of information, but get the hell away from the computer and untie the dock lines. Get out there and do it, even if it is just motoring around for 20 minutes. If you scratch your hull from inexperience docking it will be a cheep lesson compared to doing it on a later and larger boat. Please dont take this as criticism , take this as encouragement. GO FOR IT.____Grant.
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Old 19-04-2012, 23:16   #11
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarafina View Post
On the way home Himself admitted that twice, when the wind had picked up a little and he had felt her bite into it and heel a bit, he had felt the anxiety rise a little, but had been able to easily manage it and get back in the game.
When Wonderblond started out these were the moments of her greatest tension. She would feel the power of the wind in the sails and realize that the wind could be stronger than she was. At that point she still hadn't made friends with the wind, still hadn't discovered that the wind was there to get her where she wanted to go if only she would spend the time to understand it.

Hang in there. You can make friends with the wind, even over there in the slot. Tell Himself that Bash recommends, the next time he's at the helm and he feels the wind giving him a nudge, that he remind himself that the wind is not his enemy. Feel it, learn to see it, track it.

Most of all, make friends with it.
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Old 19-04-2012, 23:56   #12
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Thanks all for the kind encouragement. Interesting to see how many couples are, to some extent, in the same boat as we are ; -)

Grant, No criticism felt, but what you missed is that I have a fair bit of experience and am not "stuck" on the dock myself. While I admit to having an embarrassing post count here most of that is about boat restoration and system upgrading. We started the Cal 3 years ago and are (still) working on her. The rest are fallout from being a cat wrangler.

The Ranger is a newish project. I sailed it a bit when we first got her, but ran into issues when we took the mast down to replace sheaves and halyards... Somewhere around here is a frustrated thread about the nasty little stainless screws in the cover plates on the inboom sheaves on an aluminum boom...

And don't get me started on outboard motors... ; -)

And Bash, I had to giggle. I made an official mantra for Himself.

"The wind is your friend."

I make him repeat it when he starts thinking or talking about sailing being risky. But I will pass on your words, and Wonderblonde's experience, because it's always good ta hear from another source. Mary made a similar comment last night and he and I just looked at each other and laughed ; -)
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Old 20-04-2012, 00:16   #13
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

Sara,

Don't worry, himself will adopt "the wind is his friend" on that first passage that takes you from 10*N to 10*S.
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Old 20-04-2012, 00:22   #14
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

I don't understand. Is it not practical to take your own flush-deck Cal 28 (always a bit faster than my Dad's Columbia 29/Defender flush-deck sloop -- talking about the 1960s) out for a sail?
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Old 20-04-2012, 01:10   #15
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Re: Comfort Levels on the Water

No, Currently it is not. I can singlehand either of them, but the two of us going out on either boat isn't working. He doesn't so much need to learn how to sail as learn how to feel secure on a boat. The learning to sail will be the easy part. It's the mental block he has that is causing problems.

He needs confidence, that he can manage the boat and that the boat will take care of him. He has unrealistic expectations about what actually sailing is like.

One of the things he took away from Wednesday's sail is a sense that things just do not, especially on a boat, go according to plan. When we have gone out and had any trouble he has felt that disaster was looming and peril was just around the next bend.

Once he forgot to secure the fridge door closed. On a tack the door flew open and the weight of the door pulled the fridge over. I saw it as a pain in the ass, he viewed it as indicative of how dangerous it was to go "that fast". The winds were maybe 5k that day. On another trip he struggled with his turns and over steering rather than making a nice 90 tack. His lack of that skill seemed to confirm to him that he was not good enough to be out there yet. And the day the motor wouldn't start on the Cal when it was time to head home? I dinked around and got it started in 10 or 15 minutes, but by then he had worked himself into such a knot! I viewed all those situations as something to deal with, work around, fix. He saw them as indicative of a larger threat.

Which is kinda odd when you consider that this is a man who has raced cars, gone skydiving, walked on coals, taken flying lessons, traveled all over the world, spent a week in a (crewed) charter in the Caribbean. He isn't what you would classify as a shrinking violet. But he is really struggling with sailing.

It was great for him to see problems arise (the recalcitrant out board on the other boat) and to see how calmly and smoothly Mary dealt with it.

That's why I am so excited that the lesson went so well. He is enthusiastic and looking forward to next week! I don't plan on going every week. It will be good for him to go with out me.
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