Our own boats are always easy to handle!
No one else in my family (wife, three grown boys) has an interest in sailing -- except as passengers occasionally -- so for the past five years I've done mostly single handing of my 1975 Newport 28. In those years I've moved lines around so that I can do everything from the cockpit except pull the main down those last few feet. I'm very comfortable with her, even in winds up to 25 or so (though those are a good workout).
This past weekend I actually had a crew member, an experienced sailor from my old group in Baltimore. So, we're motoring out of Rock Creek into the Patapsco in nice winds around 5-8 or so, and I throttle down to idle to raise the main, and ask her to bring her to the wind. I've just about got the main all the way up when WHOOPS! Off the wind she falls and my crew tells me "I can't hold her!" This surprised me a bit, because I usually hold her to the wind by putting the tiller, um, behind me while I raise the main. But the crew is not used to the boat, so I wait until she comes back into the wind and finish raising the main -- only to have her fall off again and make a complete circle.
I'm sure I was looking a bit doubful at this point, because my crew tells me, "She's really sensitive to the tiller. I'm more used to a wheel in a boat this size." Well, maybe, but a 28-footer is certainly not beyond tiller length.
We sailed for an hour or so, and my crew never took the tiller again. The wind picked up to about 15-18 or so, but I didn't bother with a reef as we were heading in anyway. She heeled a bit every now and then, but nothing drastic. At one point my crew asked me if I'd had any of the ASA courses, which made me chuckle to myself, as I've had both the ASA and US Sailing keelboat and coastal cruising classes over the years.
It was an interesting experience, getting another sailor's opinion of my boat. I had the feeling my crew was a bit intimidated by her, or perhaps not totally confident in me, because I say things like "I don't worry excessively about sail trim," and will leave the tell-tales fluttering a bit on a side rather than fussing to get them perfect. If the sails are drawing well, I'd rather enjoy the ride.
It was a beautiful day, though. Too bad the afternoon light is gone so quickly.
S/V Free Spirit
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