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Old 24-10-2009, 10:26   #1
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Talking First Solo Sail - How Could it Be Better?

I finally took my 14' Vagabond sloop out yesterday. I stuffed a bunch of resolve in one pocket and luck in the other.
I checked the weather forecast, high 65 deg winds N 10mph, I grabbed my checklist with the additions from some of you, like PFD and paddle, and went for it. ALONE.
My adventure started at the local church parking lot where i practiced some backing trailer maneuvers. In the end, no amount of practice prepared me for my inability to drive a trailer in reverse. Then i headed to the reservoir.
Setting up the boat went much smoother than i thought it would. I found that leaving the doors of my truck open with music on relaxed me while i set her up. It was during the set up though that i realized i wish i had a manual for this boat. Three questions here left me wondering for the rest of the day if i would be okay on the water.

1. When i raised the mast the side stays and forstay were a bit loose. I expected it to be taut like strings on a guitar. The mast stayed up of course, but i wondered all day if all three should have been more taut?

2. When i set up the jib, i couldn't decide whether the jib sheets should go outside the stays or inside. On the bigger boats they always went outside the stays / chain plates, but on the boat the sheets seem to get caught or hung up on the stays. Can you tell me which is right for this small boat?

3. When i inserted the boat plug i started to wonder if the handle to remove plug should go on the inside of the cockpit or the outside of the transom? Both seemed precarious with the possibility of getting caught on something and accidentally being removed, but at least if it was inside the cockpit and fell out, i'd still have it and perhaps could push it back in before the boat would sink? Is there a standard for how this should be done? For the record, i kept it in the cockpit.

It took about 1 1/2 hours for me to set up. I expected an hour, but making sure i was good to go took a little longer.

Confident and prepped i headed for the boat ramp. I think overall it took me 45 min to get the boat down the ramp straight. Lesson learned.... drive down the ramp straight to almost the end then turn around. This seems to give less distance to have to drive backwards and screw up.
The trailer ended up at a crazy left angle behind the boat, but i wasn't playing anymore. I got out and it was then that i realized i would be getting wet. Even though i had prepared myself with my new west marine boots, what i hadn't prepared for was that the water depth i would step into would be deeper than the height of my boots. =(
So after both boots filled up with water like a tub, i stepped on the trailer, unhooked the winch and pushed the boat off. I walked the boat over to the dock and tied her up. Naturally the side of the boat that i had put the fender on, wasn't the side that came over to the dock.. Yeah i took a couple scratches for that. Tied up and proud, a gentleman came along in his fishing boat and tied up at the dock all nice and easy. I looked at my trailer all cockeyed in the water and looked at him and said "Its my first time". He said "you did it like i pro", i knew he was lying, but appreciated his support just the same. Asked how i was going to get the boat into the lake and i proudly showed him my paddle. "Of course" he said. I thought, i really need to get a prop for this thing.
After returning my truck and trailer to the parking area i pushed off and started to paddle my out of the no wake zone.. as if i was making a wake. It was more work than i had expected.
As soon as i felt a breeze, i traded in my paddle for sails. Raised the main, then the jib and got a good gust. I rode that gust for a while.. It was awesome. Instantly reminded me of why i went through all the trouble of setup and launch. I love sailing.
Then just as soon as it came it drifted off. The wind almost all but stopped to nothing. I was originally on a beam reach, so i tacked her back the other way looking for the wind. I really need to set something on the boat so i can tell where the wind is coming from. I'm very bad at sensing it.
After a couple more gusts, i determined the wind was done for the day and started paddling back to shore. Realizing this is the way of the sailor, i couldn't be angry. I had a few minutes of great sailing, i had set up the boat and launched it by myself and i would be appreciative for all of it regardless of the wind.
A man came out and asked if i wanted a tow back to shore. I swept the sweat from my brow and thanked him just the same, but i would make it back. This day for was me to figure out how to do it all, by myself.
Boat tied up on the dock, i went to get the truck and trailer and noticed i couldn't see the trailer behind me at all. I was driving blind. This was when i saw someone else do the drive down the ramp and turn around thing. So i tried that. It was awful. Finally a man ground guided me into the water. Grabbed the boat, walked it over to the trailer, boots filled up again..this time i knew it would happen so i laughed. The boat seemed to glide up on the trailer. The tie to the boat was an excellent suggestion by another sailor. Thanks.
After i winched the boat up on the trailer i pulled it out of the water a bit and got out to check it. It the boat had slid back on the trailer and was no longer winched up tight. I tried to push it up from the rear, winched it a little bit tighter but eventually had to reverse back in the water to winch it tighter. I had wondered if maybe there is a certain depth the trailer should go into the water to make the first round on the winch the final round, or does everyone have to do what i did?
Tear down was fine. Again with the windows open and music playing, i was again relaxed and didn't mind at all.
Oh, it turns out, when i brought the boat back to dock, a man said he had just checked the weather and it said the wind was 1mph.. explains why i had no wind!

When i opened the boat plugs on the ramp, there is a plug that goes to the internal flotation device built into the boat, and when i opened it this rusty colored water came rushing out. At first i figured it was water.. then i felt bad because it was turing the water of the shore all rusty, so i stuck my finger into it and smelled it to see if it was chemicals.. it wasn't, but i plugged it back up just the same. I felt awful for this apparent "dumping" into the water.

Does anyone know about these open compartments inside the boat? How would water get into it? Can it rust? If so, can it be harmful to the boat?

Thanks again everyone for your support. I truly wouldn't have done what i did yesterday without the advice, support and suggestions of this forum.
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Old 24-10-2009, 10:59   #2
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LOL What a wonderful story!

Just keep doing that each week and you will sort it all out. As you said its for you to figure out by yourself.

Outside the shrouds for the jib sheets. How do I know? Ahhh the wonders of Google Image search!



There must be some adjustment for the stays and shrouds, check top and bottom. Shrouds could be small sliders fixed with screws?

All the best
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Old 24-10-2009, 11:05   #3
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Your story has bought back heaps of memories when I first sailed my 12' Heron. Crikey, the trouble you can get yourself into. However there is no better way to get confidence and learn than getting yourself out of trouble. Good on ya.
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Old 24-10-2009, 12:02   #4
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Originally Posted by Dinghy101 View Post

1. When i raised the mast the side stays and forstay were a bit loose. I expected it to be taut like strings on a guitar. The mast stayed up of course, but i wondered all day if all three should have been more taut?

The wires on the beam (sides) are called shrouds and the ones fore and aft are stays. On a small boat the tension should be just tight enough to twang them. There should be turn buckles on all of them to tighten up the rigging.


2. When i set up the jib, i couldn't decide whether the jib sheets should go outside the stays or inside. On the bigger boats they always went outside the stays / chain plates, but on the boat the sheets seem to get caught or hung up on the stays. Can you tell me which is right for this small boat?

If the jib is more then 100% then the sheets go outside the shrouds, then the foresail would be a genoa. If less then or equal to 100% then the sheets would go inside of the shrouds, in which there should be some blocks on deck to run the sheet line through. BTW 100% is the distance from the forestay to the mast.


3. When i inserted the boat plug i started to wonder if the handle to remove plug should go on the inside of the cockpit or the outside of the transom? Both seemed precarious with the possibility of getting caught on something and accidentally being removed, but at least if it was inside the cockpit and fell out, i'd still have it and perhaps could push it back in before the boat would sink? Is there a standard for how this should be done? For the record, i kept it in the cockpit.

It should be on the outside so the water pressure forces it inward. Also there should be a lanyard attached so if it were to get snagged you will not lose it.

Confident and prepped i headed for the boat ramp. I think overall it took me 45 min to get the boat down the ramp straight. Lesson learned.... drive down the ramp straight to almost the end then turn around. This seems to give less distance to have to drive backwards and screw up.

Some boat ramps you will not have that option. It just take practice. Take to a parking lot early some sunday morning and practice backing w/o an audience.

He said "you did it like i pro", i knew he was lying, but appreciated his support just the same. Asked how i was going to get the boat into the lake and i proudly showed him my paddle. "Of course" he said. I thought, i really need to get a prop for this thing. Small boats are EZ to sail right off the dock. it just take some practice. Get some sailing lessons and you'll feel a lot more comfortable by the end.


Then just as soon as it came it drifted off. The wind almost all but stopped to nothing. I was originally on a beam reach, so i tacked her back the other way looking for the wind. I really need to set something on the boat so i can tell where the wind is coming from. I'm very bad at sensing it.

Add a piece of yarn (tell-tails) to each shroud just above head level.

After a couple more gusts, i determined the wind was done for the day and started paddling back to shore. Realizing this is the way of the sailor, i couldn't be angry. I had a few minutes of great sailing, i had set up the boat and launched it by myself and i would be appreciative for all of it regardless of the wind.

Check the weather before heading out each day. It could have been worse, a storm may have blown in and where would you be now.

A man came out and asked if i wanted a tow back to shore. I swept the sweat from my brow and thanked him just the same, but i would make it back. This day for was me to figure out how to do it all, by myself.

Don't let your pride get you into trouble! Back in the 70's I spent a couple hours in the dark in the middle of the San Francisco Bay due to pride.

When i opened the boat plugs on the ramp, there is a plug that goes to the internal flotation device built into the boat, and when i opened it this rusty colored water came rushing out. At first i figured it was water.. then i felt bad because it was turing the water of the shore all rusty, so i stuck my finger into it and smelled it to see if it was chemicals.. it wasn't, but i plugged it back up just the same. I felt awful for this apparent "dumping" into the water.

Does anyone know about these open compartments inside the boat? How would water get into it? Can it rust? If so, can it be harmful to the boat?
Condensation! When the boat is in storage all plugs should be out and the boat in a position where it can all drain. As well, it should be under some kind of cover, if only a tarp, to keep the water out and the sun off. Ventilation helps too, to keep it dry.
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Old 24-10-2009, 12:08   #5
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Let the water out of the inner compartment when the boat is on an incline. It's just rusty colored water, shouldn't be an environmental problem. Usually it is a combination of rainwater and a bit of lake water that seeps around the plug. I always put a bit of line on my plug so that it doesn't stray if it gets kick out.
To tell where the wind is I put telltales on my sails and my shrouds (what you are calling side stays). Yarn works good or old audio tape and they do sell such things through marine catalogs.
Backing with a trailer is just practice.
As was said, you should be able to adjust your stays and shrouds. The shrouds can stay in the taught position when raising and lowering the mast but the forestay should able to be loosened easily so that you can release it easier.
Glad you had a great time. Never forget the plugs.
It does remind me of the first few times I trailered to the water's edge.
Buy the book "Start Sailing Right!" if you haven't already.
regards,
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Old 24-10-2009, 12:24   #6
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I have no advice to give.

But man that was one helluva good story with a good outcome.

Have fun

Paul
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Old 24-10-2009, 12:27   #7
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Dinghy101,
Nice account of your first solo sail.
Since all of your questions are answered above I can only offer that backing up a trailer gets easier. When backing up, go very slowly so you can adjust your steering to keep it straight; you are going to need to constantly adjust your steering to do this. Of course, it helps if you can actually see the trailer when it is empty; perhaps attaching some dowels or fiberglass whips to the trailer will allow you to see where the edges are when backing up in your truck.
Keep at it. The wind will eventually cooperate with your schedule.
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Old 25-10-2009, 06:29   #8
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So lets see if i've got it all....

Google images........should have thought of it myself! Darn!

Shrouds. They are called shrouds aren't they. They should be fairly tight; i can attach pieces of yarn or audio tape to them to make tell-tales; and the jib sheets should go on the outside of them. Got it.

Boat plugs... Use them! Tie a piece of string to them in case they pop out. Put the boat plug on the outside of boat to use water pressure to keep in place. Rusty colored water is ok and should be emptied. I'll have to go hit an incline and empty the rest.

Practice, Practice, Practice backing up the trailer. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Thanks again y'all... wish i could bottle you up and take you with me.
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Old 25-10-2009, 06:41   #9
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Practice backing up the trailer.
When backing down the ramp scream at anyone and anything, including yourself. Try to froth at the mouth. If people think you are absoluty nuts, crazy and crackers they will not interfere! You will get all the time you need to reverse


And have fun!
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Old 26-10-2009, 08:03   #10
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I took my newly purchased boat to the ramp, backed down like a pro, set it up like I had practiced, and slid it into the water like I knew what I was doing. The keel was rotten under the keel strip that runs full length of the boat. It immediately began to sink! Re-loaded boat and came back home with what is now a yard ornament.
You did better than my first time out by far!
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Old 26-10-2009, 08:34   #11
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The best line in the story and the one that proves ones salt.

"This day for was me to figure out how to do it all, by myself."
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Old 27-10-2009, 02:21   #12
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What a great story congratulations! It seems like you got all the advice already but here is a bit more.

1 - Check the weather channel before rigging the boat - Now that you are a boat owner the only windy days will be Monday to Friday when you are working. Save your sick days...

2 - Backing a trailer. I used to tow 30 foot glider trailers. Put your steering hand at the bottom of the steering wheel - The tail of the trailer will go in the direction you send your hand. Don't let the trailer get too far off center. Think about rigging a broomwstick or something vertical to get a sight on when the trailer is empty. Go to a wallmart parking lot and practice.

3 - The yarn in the shrouds is the hot ticket.
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