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Old 06-21-2007
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Sounds like a blast, I learned to sail a similar way...pretending I knew what I was doing enough to rent 11' hunter excites on Greenlake in Seattle. Then 16' Catalina's in lake union... Then I finally settled on buying a 42' boat which was a very questionable idea but I'd rather jump in with both feet than never get in the water I guess :-)

The first time out was awesome, as I looked like a real fool after pretending I knew what I was doing and convincing the owner I wasn't going to lay the boat down...and I just sat there, and drifted into the dock. Eventually I got out but I found myself having to push the boom out one way or another and hold it with my hand. I still have no idea how that worked, because I had no idea which way the wind was blowing.

After going out a few dozen times, I found both turning slowly and gradually increasing the rate I'm turning into my tack (sweeping into my tack) and sitting as far forward as I can to be pretty important in a cat boat. You want your center of gravity to be as close to the centerboard as possible, keeping weight off the stern because it can cause a lot of drag (depends of course on the shape of the boat). And you want to ease into the turn, to keep raking the keel over from causing a lot of drag. But by the time you start to come about, you don't want to be turning too slowly because facing dead into the wind will cost a lot of headway. So start out turning very lightly, and then gradually increase the angle of the keel...as you begin to come about, gradually decrease it. Smoothing the tack out will help you keep speed, and help prevent those fun surprise heels that happen when you go from a dead stop to a broad reach with a full sail.
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