learning to sail
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Everett, WA USA
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I did my first solo sail.
Last weekend I took out a Catalina Capri 22 by myself. Winds were about 10knots.
The hardest part was getting out of the slip. The charter boat was buried under a J-22 rafted to it on the inside and a Cal 25 was behind it on the outside. So I had to move them both tight against the Cal 25 and then get onto the Capri to loose the J-22 and move it forward, then there wasn't enough room so I had to pin the front of the 22 to the corner and tie the Capri to the Cal. Finally I could tie up the J-22 properly and climb in the Capri.
Holding onto the ropes around the Cal while working the motor made me nervous. Things were so tight, every time I'd loose the ropes a bit, I'd drift across where a 36' was parked and there were no bumpers on that side. I ended up using some lifejackets as extra bumpers. After about 45 mins of messing around, I decided I wasn't going to float off the Cal safely, I'd have to gun the engine and go for it. Once I did that, I was finally free.
Getting out of the breakwater was straightforward, but I hadn't pulled the bumpers or hanked on the Jib yet and with the spade rudder I couldn't just let go of the tiller and go forward. So I tied the sternline around the tiller and it held enough for me to get it ready to sail.
After rounding the breakwater I pulled the main halyard and killed the engine. I got acclimated for a while with just the main and the engine still in the water going about 2 knts. Once I got used to things I tied the tiller nice and tight and went in the cabin for the jib. I went forward and hanked it on which took me quite a while, running back to the tiller every minute or so to keep me on a beam reach.
Once I pulled the jib halyard, things really picked up and I was doing about 5 knots. I tried some tacks and gybes and got used to ignoring the jibsheets until things settled down, then tieing the tiller tight and finally bringing the jib across and trimming it.
After an hour or so, I decided to head in and fired up the motor. It was fairly tricky for me to take down the jib, unhanking and bag it with the motor going straight up wind and the waves smacking me around. They came down without incident though.
Behind the breakwater, I was worried about getting into the slip. I tied two bumpers and two lifejackets on and came in as slow as I could without losing control because of the light wind. I used my GPS to slow down to about 1knt while turning into the slip.
At first I planned on stopping at the Cal 25 and grabbing on to it. But things were going so slow and smooth that I decided to put the moter back in gear and pull forward to the J-22. Tieing up was much easier because I didn't move the J back on the outside.
I'm a heavyset guy and it was a big workout for me. Standing on the dock tieing up, I could feel my muscles aching. That never happened in my 10-15 previous sails with crew/guests. They ached for about 4 days, but I guess that's good for me.
Any tips for solo sailing? Anything I did terribly wrong or right?
I plan to try it again any weekend I can't find guests to come along with the goal of building enough confidence to take my 10yo daughter or 13yo son out alone.