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Old 07-10-2013
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Re: From Dinghy Sailor to Cruising

Yes, take lots of pictures and post them. How many times do we have to ask?

To me, as a fellow novice, the thing that scares me more than anything is docking. I can usually leave the slip without too many mishaps (like forgetting to untie one of the six lines, or forgetting to unhook the shore power), but pulling down the fairway past boats that probably cost more to have buffed than I paid for my boat was (and still is) very intimidating. The oft-given advice here of "never approach the dock faster than you are willing to hit it" is excellent advice. As long as the conditions allow it, go slow, stay in the middle of the fairway, and swing your turns wide enough to avoid issues. Fenders/bumpers go out as you approach the marina, and the boat hook(s) come out at that time, too.

Make sure you've set up a springline that you can use to stop the boat. Know where that line is when you leave, and make sure your companion knows that it is THE one thing that they are to do. If the springline is set up properly, the forward momentum of the boat will both pull you against the finger and keep the boat from hitting the dock. If you are unsure, try it a few times, and adjust the length/placement before you head out for your "real" sail. Once that is set up properly, you'll be able to attach the springline where it belongs and KNOW that the boat isn't going anywhere, so you can pay more attention to getting everything else tied off. Learning about the springlines, and how to configure them, was really one of the best things I learned last season.

Honestly, the rest of it is a piece of cake. Yeah, you'll forget to release the traveler or vang before you hoist the sail and it won't go all the way up. Or, if you have one, you'll forget to let the boom off the pigtail before you hoist the main. You'll forget to release the furling line before you try to pull on the jib sheets. You'll forget where you put the stupid sail ties. You'll forget to point into the wind when raising/lowering the main. The sail will spill all over the deck. You'll knock your significant other in the head with the boom. You'll get rope burn. You'll trip over lines that you swear weren't there a second ago. The winch handle will always be out of reach on the other side of the cockpit, or up at the mast, just when you need it most. But these are all things that only you will even know about, and (except for the hitting your SO in the head with the boom one, which we now laugh about) really don't impact your sail. They are all learning experiences ("teachable moments"), and we all do them. Don't get hung up on them, accept that they have happened, and will happen again, and you'll be fine.
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