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post #344 of Old 10-07-2010
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I only started sailing this last June. Now sailing a group of group owned Catalina 22's. Early one morning I was relocating one of the boats from its slip to the main pier for my morning guests. I was riding out closer to the channel markers than the slips because it was very early still and I knew some might still be sleeping in on that beautiful saturday morning.

This is when I found out that one of the markers had drifted/been moved and I 'found' a sand berm where there shouldn't be one. Barely moving forward there's an odd lurch and sound and I stop dead in the water. It takes a moment to realize what I've done. I put the motor in neutral, then reverse and lean out towards the deeper side of things and try to wiggle the boat free. It takes an overly long 15 minutes, and now the motor has probably waken up everyone I was trying to slip by and not disturb before she finally wiggles back out the way she came off the sandbar.

Looking at the shore after I got off the bar I realized that it made sense that there's probably a shallow spot there. Pay attention to topography when near the shore of the lake Mitch (shakes head). I've made sure to stay away from that spot since then. I wasn't looking forward to having to call one of the other group members and ask someone to come tow me off. There was NO ONE moving that morning yet. Even the fishermen weren't up yet!

The other boneheaded move I've made in my short sailing career was just the second time I took someone out on the boat by myself. I'd been practicing single handing for a while with my mentor and doing okay. While I had my friend out with me I set us up in a downwind run and we talked a good long while while we scooted down the lake, not realizing the wind had come up substantially while I wasn't paying attention. When I came out of the run and we heeled 20 to 30 degrees and I just about dumped my guest in the floor of the cockpit it got my attention. Easing out the mainsheet I managed to keep things mostly manageable until I had to tack again. Fighting the jib on the tacks was eating my lunch. Looking at the lake I decided to head up into one of the coves that would block some of the wind and I eventually furled the jib partially. That made my work a lot easier and we continued to sail. What I should have done at the same time was probably reef the main but at that point I'd never reefed the main myself and I didn't have anyone on the boat that could really help much. Plus the wind wasn't really THAT bad yet. One shouldn't say that in a boat, ever...

Even though my guest was having a lot of fun, I called it quits shortly after that. When we came off the water and I closed up the boat I was more tired than I was the first day of sailing class. I looked at the wind graph later that day after I got home. It had gone to 15kts, with gusts to 20. The highest I'd been sailing in by myself beforehand was maybe 10 kts. Might not sound like much to many of you, but I'm still a baby sailor! I've since been out with my mentor several times and practiced reefing, both in low and then later in stronger winds than my first experience. It was a good lesson in my limitations. I've learned a lot because of it. Reef early and never be afraid to call it quits for the day. Love it, live it.

Great thread!
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