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Old 18-03-2017, 17:32   #1
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Just had my first lesson on my boat

Well, a lot of people have been calling me crazy for wanting to buy a sailboat without having a clue how to sail, so I went and did it anyway. Unfortunately today, there wasn't much wind to actually sail. First I would have to say that I absolutely loved being out on the water, but at the same time i'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with how much I need to learn, as expected. My ultimate goal is to be able to sail efficiently singlehanded. I've tried to be independent my whole life and it's the same with this.

First thing I need to do is install the windvane that came with the boat. Hopefully it will be different when there is more wind, but today when we tried to tack, the headsail wouldn't make it past the intermediate forestay, so we had to go forward to help it. So the vane will help me be able to do that by myself.

Also I learned that i am not the best at judging wind direction, even though it is probably harder in light winds, I can see that be dangerous if I ever want to sail downwind.

We spent a good hour and a half docking. First pulling up to the side of a dock. It wasn't difficult at all, I was just bad a judging my speed the first few times. Then we practiced pulling in and out of my slip... and it went okay. For steering the boat for the first time, I was pretty nervous. The marina channels are prettty narrow so I had to get close to the boats on my port side before I could swing in. Also I was bad at judging my speed with this. The very first time I tried, I did it pretty well. every time after that was pretty bad. The one time I made it in the slip, but when I put it in reverse to pull the stern towards the dock, the stern went towards the other boat!

So yeah that's another thing I need to learn is knowing exactly how to control the boat when things aren't going so well. For some reason I had to think a second longer to figure out how to get the stern away from the boat next to me.

Overall i'm pretty happy. I have a ton of work to do and a lot of things to figure out. So expect more threads from me asking for help!
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Old 18-03-2017, 17:42   #2
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

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Originally Posted by odeapt View Post
Well, a lot of people have been calling me crazy for wanting to buy a sailboat without having a clue how to sail, so I went and did it anyway.

Well you aren't the only crazy one! I just did the same thing. I've never touched a sail, much less used one, but I went and bought the boat anyway!


ETA: driving this boat is much MUCH harder than my power boat I have found. Especially getting in and out of the dock. You have to anticipate what the boat is going to do LONG before you do it.
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Old 18-03-2017, 17:43   #3
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

That's all good news! I'm not miles (nautical, of course) ahead of you, just far enough that I remember the steps and recognize their value.

- Every 10 minutes you spend doing docking practice in reasonable conditions with a knowledgeable person advising you will save you an hour or two of anguish later.
- Maybe there are people who instinctively sense the direction of the wind without practice but I haven't met them.
- You'll learn ways to manage all points of sail, even downwind (Hint: either don't sail directly downwind or don't try to be fancy and just drop the mainsail. I'm sure experts will tell you that's not the right approach, and when you - and I - get to that level of expertise their comments will be correct.)
- Listen to what you're told about sail trim and all that stuff, but above all don't be afraid to play with it and see what works.
- And, you know this already, have fun doing it!
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Old 18-03-2017, 18:00   #4
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

Congrats! I did the same thing and while it didn't go perfectly, the lessons I learned were very valuable.

My best advice is: don't ever take unnecessary risks with regards to water depths unless you have no choice. Charts have many inacuracies (did I spell that right?) and GPS does as well, better to give a wide berth. And if you're in shallows, go really slow.

You seem to be taking a wise approach by taking proper lessons first so you will probably do well.

Hope you get great enjoyment out of your new boat
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Old 18-03-2017, 18:44   #5
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

Odeapt,
I'm pretty new to sailing too. Contrary to myth there really is no such thing as someone who "intuitively" knows the wind direction. Watch the water and your tell tails. On the water the wind will create fine ripples you can see. In the distance away from you the ripples will appear darker than areas where there is less wind. This is true even if the wind is blowing contrary to the current. Once you have found the wind your tell tails will stream in the direction of the wind. You should be able to see them moving away from the stays even if the wind is very light.
Look up at you tell tails often, notice the direction they move from your stay. For example, if you are pointed north, a west wind will cut across your port side and make your tell tails fly out to your starboard side. As you observe your tell tails, feel the wind on your face. Get used to seeking the wind with your face and challenging yourself to figure out what direction the wind come from. Before long, this game of "seek the wind" and watching your tell tails will help you "magically" intuit the wind!
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Old 18-03-2017, 19:31   #6
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

One way to know which way the wind is blowing is to stick your finger in your mouth and then hold it up, it becomes evident immediately. After a while you'll get the hang of feeling it on your face.

Congratulations on your boat, you'll surprise yourself how quickly you get the hang of it.
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Old 18-03-2017, 20:09   #7
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

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One way to know which way the wind is blowing is to stick your finger in your mouth and then hold it up, it becomes evident immediately. After a while you'll get the hang of feeling it on your face.

Congratulations on your boat, you'll surprise yourself how quickly you get the hang of it.


Congrats!

I had a bunch of sailing as a mate on a small 22' boat then 20 years later I just took a 3 day course and bought a 28' Columbia 8,000 lbs. and just went at it. Grounded once, dropped sails and mothered back once but all in all it has been fun and exciting. Welcome to the club
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Old 18-03-2017, 20:36   #8
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

A couple years ago I did the exact same thing. Ok, I had a little experience here and there in dingys and hobies, but small and spread out over years.
We bought a 26 footer, convinced the seller to help set it up and take us for a demo sail. After that I just kept inviting any dock mates to come out with me.
Pretty much all sailors like to play with other people's boats.
Now I get asked by the new people to come out on theirs.
Remember, you are doing this because it's fun, keep it fun, don't sail with the angry yelling types.;-)
Learn from everyone and apply what works for you.
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Old 19-03-2017, 08:10   #9
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

Congratz on having the courage to just get started!
Regarding your issue with putting the boat in reverse and having the stern go the wrong way, I suggest you go to sea and have some fun steering the boat in reverse to get used to how she reacts. If you have tiller steering, you will immediately discover that the stern turns in the direction that the aftmost part of the tiller is pointed, so you can point the stern in the direction you're looking when you sight aft on the tiller. Be careful...if you have serious speed, the rudder is like a barn door at what is now the "front" of the boat, and it will take on a mind of its own. But this backwards steering exercise will make what you do as you're docking considerably more intuitive.
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Old 19-03-2017, 08:19   #10
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

Practice driving the boat backwards for long periods of time under power. Then you will know how your boat reacts in reverse.

I saw this on another thread. Don't come in faster than you want to hit the dock.

Good advice.
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:00   #11
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

been sailing for a half century. maybe it's time to take a lesson i'm thinkin'.
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:29   #12
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

Quote: "First thing I need to do is install the windvane that came with the boat. Hopefully it will be different when there is more wind, but today when we tried to tack, the headsail wouldn't make it past the intermediate forestay, so we had to go forward to help it. So the vane will help me be able to do that by myself.

Also I learned that i am not the best at judging wind direction, even though it is probably harder in light winds, I can see that be dangerous if I ever want to sail downwind."



As a former sailing instructor, let me begin by saying that you are obviously on the right track :-)

But please be careful that you don't draw wrong conclusions from what you, or other inexperienced people, observe. Your difficulty in coming about will NOT be solved by installing a wind vane. But there are two kinds of vanes: a wind vane at the top of the mast to show you the direction of the wind, and a "steering vane" that will steer the boat for you. I take it that you are NOT talking about the latter.

Installing a vane at the top of the mast will not solve the failure to come about.
You solve that problem by learning what the cause of it is, and what to do about it :-) Failure to come about is ALWAYS the consequence of LACK OF SPEED. So how do you make the boat go faster when there is "little wind" as you describe?

The answer is two-fold: 1) IF you can make the boat go faster by getting your SAIL TRIM right, she is likely to "come over stays" because both her additional inertia and the greater effect of the rudder at greater speed will drive her "through stays" (to use the old expression). 2) if your trim is right, and she just won't go any faster, then you simply turn the other way. Making, say, a 260 turn to port will bring you to exactly the same heading as making a 100 turn to starboard. Doing the latter is called, "gybing" (as you probably already know). An older, and better, term you will hear experienced sailors using is "wearing". "Wearing" means "turning the long way about". "Gybing" is the act of bringing the boom over on the new side in a controlled fashion, so you can actually "gybe" without "wearing" :-). For your present purposes you can use the terms interchangeably. Because wearing means bringing the wind, such as it is, in from the stern, it requires handling the sails just so. We can return to that. Just learn from your first time out that it is NOT a vane you need to get, but understanding :-)

Many, many small boats that have "intermediate forestays" require somebody to go forward to "sort out the mess" when sailing in conditions of very low wind. When the wind is stronger, it will do the work for you as long as you "fall off" a little upon coming through the wind, i.e. you turn away from the wind a little. You can always correct your heading once the sails are on "the new side" and correctly trimmed.

Remember also that there are TWO wind directions, the "true wind" and the "apparent wind". When the boat is NOT moving, what you feel on your face is the "true wind". As the boat picks up speed what you feel on your face is the "apparent wind". Once you are moving the true wind is pretty much irrelevant. You trim to the apparent wind. Tie a bit of wool to a shroud or a stanchion and it will always show you the direction of the apparent wind. So will the wind vane at the top of your mast - if you have one - but I find that the wool on the shroud works works a lot better, particularly in low wind when the boat is rolling on a swell because it is not affected by the swing of the top of the mast.

So that will solve your difficulty in "judging wind direction".

Play around with those things next time you go out. See how that goes. After that we can talk about handling the boat under power. As you've learned, it is NOT like driving a car :-)!

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Old 19-03-2017, 09:41   #13
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

Good for you jumping in and going for it! My wife and I had no sailing experience either before we bought our boat. We figured what's the point of spending a few thousand dollars on lessons when we can spend that money on a boat and teach ourselves. Keep doing what works for you!
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:44   #14
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by odeapt View Post
Well, a lot of people have been calling me crazy for wanting to buy a sailboat
Crazy is the best thing to be. We have the most fun and the most adventure.

WIND DIRECTION: Put your finger in your mouth (for real, seriously) and pull it out wet. Hold it up, vertical, slightly above your head. The side that gets cold is the direction of the wind. Very low tech. Really works, even at night.

If anyone gives you a hard time, put your still wet finger in their ear, and rotate slightly.

Here's another low tech method...close your eyes...turn your face until wind is hitting both cheeks equally. Really feel the wind on your cheeks. Open your eyes...you are staring into the wind. I don't know why but it seems to work better with eyes closed.

Sometimes you have to help the jib across the bow. It happens.

If you plan to sail alone, get an autohelm. Just do it.
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Old 19-03-2017, 09:55   #15
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Re: Just had my first lesson on my boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamburking View Post
Crazy is the best thing to be. We have the most fun and the most adventure.

WIND DIRECTION: Put your finger in your mouth (for real, seriously) and pull it out wet. Hold it up, vertical, slightly above your head. The side that gets cold is the direction of the wind. Very low tech. Really works, even at night.

If anyone gives you a hard time, put your still wet finger in their ear, and rotate slightly.

Here's another low tech method...close your eyes...turn your face until wind is hitting both cheeks equally. Really feel the wind on your cheeks. Open your eyes...you are staring into the wind. I don't know why but it seems to work better with eyes closed.

Sometimes you have to help the jib across the bow. It happens.

If you plan to sail alone, get an autohelm. Just do it.
The finger thing never works for me if the winds are light.

Another thought for you with very light wind. Light a stick of inscence and watch the smoke. Or use a cigarette if you smoke. Make sure that you aren't placing the smoking thing behind an object that will protect it. Bring the smoke aft away from the dodger.
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