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post #41 of Old 08-15-2007
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Location: New England
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Who's In Control

So I took a Basic Keel Boat sailing class and passed with flying colors. My wife has been on a sailboat several times and I thought that she knew at least basic sailing concepts.

We used my 30-day trial membership after the completing of the class to take out a Soling for a day of sailing together.

The wind was fairly gusting 10 to 15 knots and a pretty good current from the tide. I went over the basic instructions of raising the sail(s) and how we were going to leave the mooring. I ask my wife to take the helm (tiller) and help steer us off the mooring once I back the jib and cast us off. I told here to turn left and go straight ahead once we cleared the back end of the boat next to us. The jib was backed, the bow turned, and I let go of the uncleated mooring line and we were off as soon as the jib crossed over to the leeward side of the boat. All things were smooth. Once back in the cockpit (only a second or two later) to start trimming the main sheet, I realized that we were now on a collision course with the boat that were were supposed to be going around. I could get to the tiller quick enough and we banged into the back of the other moored Soling for the club. Instead of turning left, we and turned right so we were now heading back toward the wind direction. It seems like my wife thought that turning left meant pulling the tiller left. My bad for not knowing this.

Well the first bump was over, and we were on our way. I quickly instructed her that the tiller works in the "opposite" direction. To turn right, you pull left, turn left, pull right. She tried it and got the concept.

Out in the harbor we were really cooking and I was having fun. She was controlling the tiller but still never really got the hang of it. I would say head more upwind and she would either ask where (have me point) or go the other way. When the boat started to heel, she was uncomfortable with the feeling. We were constantly correcting. She then announced that she was done with the tiller and would work the sails. This meant trimming the jib sheet every few minutes when we tacked. I quickly gave her a tutorial of wrapping the sheet clock-wise and using the winch to pull in the sail and then cleat it. I also told her when to release the one and bring in the other. We'll that wasn't for her either. She would often go the wrong way around the winch, couldn't get the sheet out of the cleat or would get knocked with boom because she was on the wrong side of the boat or not ducking low enough. It was pretty breezy and the boom moved quickly.

After a few times of getting banged, all the heeling, some rope burn, she was completely done with this experience. So we headed in.

We needed to pick up the mooring under sail, which I now know is not going to be easy because of 1) my wife's inexperience 2) it is really blowing now for this sized boat, 3) the mooring field is full (2 spots left) meaning not a lot of maneuver room, and 4) the current is still pretty strong.

I got the boat lined up on a close haul and estimated when to depower the sails. So far we were on tract for a dead on landing. Just as the boat started to stall, the current started to take us back into another boat. We were only 6 ft from the mooring, yet miles away for us. I had a choice of trying to repower and try again or fend off the boat right behind us as my wife was forward waiting to catch the mooring pennant. I chose the latter and was just going to raft up with the boat behind and then wait for help form the Sailing club tender. The sailing club tender saw that we were having trouble and rescued us. It would have been a long night if he hadn't.

Upon arriving at the Sailing School front desk, we learned that a few of the advanced classes were canceled because of too much wind and current and we weren't the only people to be fetched.

And here is the kicker, two days before this fiasco we purchased our first and a much larger (33') boat. Money had already changed hands.

It was very quiet on the way home for a few minutes, but my wife, the trooper that she is, just said "Look's like I need a few lessons".

We have been on our boat about 6 times together and I am amazed how quick she has picked the terms and concepts. A few days back we went out with a couple that has been sailing for years and they were in aw (good) of our abilities as first time boat owners of a performance oriented cruising boat.


Last edited by DrB; 08-15-2007 at 04:04 PM.
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