Originally Posted by purplesunshine
I have recently taken up sailing at a community boating project. It's on a large river. I passed the sunfish class with relative ease, learned the terms and could sucessfully tack and jibe as well as go on a run. I was absolutely thrilled and having tons of fun. I more or less mastered the sunfish in 3 weeks. (winds 5-10mph, w/gusts of more) I took 6 classes, 2hrs each plus going out on my own for 2 hrs a couple times.
The upcoming class is on the 16 foot boats...an older Mercury...the fiberglass version. (seats 4-5 comfortably)
I was told to practice with just the main sail and I had a few close calls with the shore while tacking.
I went out with one of the staff and the jib sheet and well...I feel like I just about died. I controled the jib and he controled the main sail and the tiller. I took the tiller and we nearly keeled over. We even took on a bit of water!!!! The wind was 15-20mph so I know that had something to do with it. I pretty much got scared to death.
I'm really disheartened. I don't think I can sail the bigger boats at ALL. I can't tack to save my life (if I hadn't been with a staff that may be true) and I really struggle with keeping my head on straight when the boat leans. In my class with two teens (17 and 15) and an older woman 60+ I am the one who keeps my head on straight but I really don't think I can do this. It's just so much more boat....but besides racing tricks there's nothing much to learn on the sunfish...I've even taken out the daggerboard.
Anyone know anything about sailing they can pass along?
Mastered the sunfish in 3 weeks?
No you didn't.
That's long enough to get comfortable with it. You have much to learn yet. Get out on your sunfish in some higher wind conditions. You're comfortable in that boat so use it to push your skills a bit. A sunfish will quickly tell you when you f' up.
But like someone else said, you're being too hard on yourself. You just started sailing. YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES. You will constantly be learning, even after 20 years of sailing. Even the professionals still broach. One thing sailing will do is beat the arrogance out of you. Just when you think you've got it, you get your butt handed to you.
I started on my little minifish...basically a smaller sunfish. I started on it as a child and she's still a good teacher. It's still fun to get her up on a plane.
My next boat was a 19' yawl rig (three sails). I have never NOT single handed her. Talk about intimidating for me!
My first outing ended in grounding the boat and an hour long struggle of trying to get the boat off the shore and to the trailer because I broke the shear pin on the prop for the outboard. Plenty of lookie loos witnessed.
Second time, the jib unraveled off the furler, got hung up and nearly dumped my boat over off the trailer. I finally got her out and a shroud broke. It has nice wooden masts and you bet I swore like a sailor.
Third time out (and remember, I hadn't had much experience single handing anything with more than a main), I had to land her under sail because the motor crapped out.
I kept at it, ate quite a few servings of humble pie and now I'm fairly comfortable with her.
I've got a few things to set up on my hunter before I start single handing her. Even with what experienced I've gained just in the process of learning a new boat, I know something will come up and make me nearly crap my pants.
I spent half my childhood at the helm of a hunter 33, but you should have seen the first time I docked my 26' hunter.
Give up because you don't like it, not because it wasn't a flawless sail.
It's a new day. Start a little slower in more calm conditions. You'll be alright. With experience, you'll get better at reading conditions and be better able to stay out of trouble.
Talk to your instructor who took you out. They'll probably know what went wrong. Use the experience to learn. Have them teach you what you should have done.
When you need a bailout, head into the wind or let the sail out. Put in more hours on the sunfish in all sorts of conditions (not a gale though).
And you know, sometimes you get a freak gust out of no where that can take you by surprise if you haven't learned how to see it before it hits your boat.
Latitudes and Attitudes
also has a bunch of instructional videos listed. Click the L&A Free TV/Video
^ good advice