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Old 05-07-2012, 12:10   #1
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New sailor itching to cruise

So I bought myself a boat, good solid boat. 26' Columbia Mk II in great shape. Its moored in Squamish BC and the only problem with that is the winds... On a mild day its 10-15kt winds, and on a sunny day there is a vortex outside the entrance to the moorage where winds can hit 25-35 even if its a calm 5-10 out in the sound. Windsurfers love it, parasailors love it. One day I might love it, but it certainly makes things a bit hectic getting in and out.

I finally took the boat out without the instructor three weeks after buying it (the instructor was also the sellor, so he gave me a good 4 hrs instruction in exchange for a partnership on the boat), sailed with just the genoa on the roller furling. It was a wonderful day.

Next time I tried to take the boat out to drop some crab traps. Winds were 10-15 kts with gusts. I didnt want to pop up the genoa, as I figured sailing around to drop crab traps would be a bad idea. Wind was blowing me around all over the place; I turned back, fearing the weather might get worse and that in that kind of environment I'd probably not be able to be precise enough to recover them anyway.

I need more instruction to play around with the main. First day when we were out with the instructor, with genoa and mail we came out in to that 25kt vortex. The heel was nearly 40 degrees. I didnt mind and found it exciting, but I'd probably not be so comfortable if I wasnt out with a CYA instructor.

Next thing I want to do (what I was going to do when I had dropped the traps and was killing time to let the crabs get into the traps) is practice setting anchor, paying out the chain and rode etc.

I'm a very lucky buyer as the boat was totally teched out for racing by a previous owner at one point. Everything is backrigged for single handed sailing, its got cars all over the place, tons of extra winches, all the reefs have locks just above the cabin. Only problem is its a pretty complex rig and a bit intimidating - last thing I want to do is start raising the mainsail and trying to trace the reef lines and have the boat drift beam to wind and end up in a harrowing situation.

The instructor suggested that I just sail with the genoa up, and when I did on a nice day it was a great day. We were sailing 15 degrees off wind with the genoa sheeted in tight, we were going so fast that the dinghy started porpoising. Played with a variety of tacks, with the wind on all different directions and even with the wind with the genoa bagged right out forward.

I want to also learn how to heave-to, but I'm not sure if it is possible with just the genoa. Most methods seem to require both the main and headsail.

I am itching to cruise up the sound and go places where I can overnight (either with anchor or by paying for transient moorage). When I use the term "cruise" understand that it is relative to my experience, I may only end up going 40-60km max away from my moorage, and I know may others here wouldnt consider that cruising at all.

I am based in relatively protected waters between Vancouver Island and the BC mainland. No blue water.

Anyone have any advice as to what I should learn before taking off too far from home, or in what order, or if I have the hang of it enough to give it a whirl? I dont intend to do any night sailing or going out in rough weather; with the exception of the crazy stuff near the moorage in that vortex, which I've dealt with now a few times. Sure is a hell of a way to learn how to sail in strong winds in Squamish!

Anything that if I do know I shouldn't go too far without knowing?
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:21   #2
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Re: New sailor itching to cruise

I would power out with the main alone to clear air. Be careful, the boat may be uncontrollable at times under headsail alone. Now that summer is arriving you may find the problem is no wind...? or do the afternoon winds in the summer blow like stink off the straight up there?
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Old 05-07-2012, 15:02   #3
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Re: New sailor itching to cruise

She wasn't unstable at all, even gybing heading downwind with 15 knots behind. The boat weighs about 7000 lbs loaded, the keel is a full fin keel with about 3000 lbs on the keel alone
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Old 05-07-2012, 20:23   #4
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Re: New sailor itching to cruise

yeah, downwind I use just the headsail alot. As you head up, there will reach a point where the boat may not steer though. You will need the main to heave to. Probably only be able to heave to in mostly flat water.
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Old 06-07-2012, 00:08   #5
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Re: New sailor itching to cruise

Your boat is 5700 lbs with 2500lbs pounds of ballast unless it is the rare shoal draft with 6600lbs and 3200 lbs of ballast. I have always thought that the Columbia 26 was a great weekender and coastal boat, but the first thing to learn was to reef early. They are noted for having heavy weather helm,but that is cured by reefing. I learned to reef by watching the San Fracisco bay Folk Boat fleet. They could slam in a reef in less than 60 seconds. I was amazed, but after trying it a half dozen times I could do it on my Contessa 26. At the first signs of the boat being hard to control, reef the darn thing and life will be easier. Sail the heck out of the boat.____Grant.
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