Sounds like a perfect learning experience to me. The only real way to learn to sail is cast off the lines and do it. Sailing like flying is one of those things in life where the test comes first and the learning comes second. You've clearly passed the test and are learning a lot of good lessons. Most of what you learned is typical stuff but the two things that stand out in my mind are your flirting with hypothermia and tripping on deck. Those are the only lessons from your experience that could really prove dangerous. Remember that "real sailors" are not embarrassed to crawl on the foredeck, they are embarrassed to fall or go overboard. Also, it takes some will to stop and adjust for conditions but many of us need to heed that inner voice. In my situation, its more often about going below to get a long sleeve shirt and another coat of sunblock on the face and neck. In cool areas you need to heed that voice as soon as that inner voice say's "your getting cold". I know from experience your concentration and judgement become degraded quickly when you become chilled and the heat can impair your performance also.
As for sailing lessons you probably need to focus on reefing and getting the sails down. Its difficult (maybe impossible) to flatten and depower old baggy sails. In building winds, you can find yourself overpowered and needing to either reduce sail or just get them down in order to be safe.
It seems to me that you are very clearly on the right track.
s/v Palmetto Moon
1991 Catalina 36
Last edited by PalmettoSailor; 02-08-2010 at 05:40 AM.