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  #1  
Old 07-18-2011
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Nervous newbie

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?
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Old 07-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purplesunshine View Post
......Anyone know anything about sailing they can pass along?
Maybe.

First, that is a lot of wind for a 16ft boat. Generally, you will find that the larger the boat, the more wind she can handle, so don't be afraid of moving up. Reef the sails in a far as you can, until you get used to her. I hope you had at least some reef in those winds. Always know where the wind is and round right up into it if you feel you are overpowering the boat. The no-go zone can be your friend, if you can pinch up against it.

Last random thought...... when it doubt, let it out. Always ease the sails if you are overwhelmed. They should begin to luff and depower the boat. Then trim them back in when you get your head together.

Sounds like you are right on the learning curve, nothing unusual here. Keep it up and enjoy.
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Old 07-18-2011
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Small boats like that are hard to keep upright when tacking in 15-20 I like the words Keeled over... Name of my boat If you plan of getting wet may be less fearful. From what' I've seen part of the fun of small boats is getting wet! 16 is still a very small boat. From what your saying it seems the "staff" member wanted to scare you going out in such conditions. It's your choice always. yes or no to go or not. When it's not fun anymore it's time to find or wait for lighter air. Don't assume "staff" are teaching you since they may just be adrenalin junkies and just showing off, by showing you how exciting it can be in a small boat. In my opinion. "instructors" are acutely aware of the student's fear or apprehension as things get exciting.
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Old 07-18-2011
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To continue to enjoy the sport, you really need to get comfortable with the heeling. I do not know you so am unsure how to reassure you on this other than the following:

- Most boats take more to heel further. Meaning that if the Mercury(with a fixed keel) heeled 25% at 20 knots, it takes a whole lot more to go further.
- Once you go above 25ft. most boats have very good stability and would take a lot to make them capsize.
- Learning on the sunfish was good but remember that you are the ballast in that boat. In the Mercury you and the keel are the ballast. In a larger keel boat(30+), it really does not matter where you sit as your weight is pretty insignificant(unless racing).
- Again the sunfish sounds like a great experience but your instructor should have had you capsize it a few times to get the feel of it and also to learn what it takes to right her.

Keep up with the smaller boats for more time. Don't rush it. Move up on days that the winds are more moderate. The instructor never should have let you go out in a Mercury in 15-20kts. Light winds to get to know the boat and how to handle her. Then go in moderate and finally higher winds. Each stage will have it's own challenges but in the long run it will be worth it if you do love sailing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Maybe.

First, that is a lot of wind for a 16ft boat. Generally, you will find that the larger the boat, the more wind she can handle, so don't be afraid of moving up. Reef the sails in a far as you can, until you get used to her. I hope you had at least some reef in those winds. Always know where the wind is and round right up into it if you feel you are overpowering the boat. The no-go zone can be your friend, if you can pinch up against it.

Last random thought...... when it doubt, let it out. Always ease the sails if you are overwhelmed. They should begin to luff and depower the boat. Then trim them back in when you get your head together.

Sounds like you are right on the learning curve, nothing unusual here. Keep it up and enjoy.
I don't know what reef is...is that pulling it in? I know to let out the sail.

My problem in the tack was that I'd be going on a good pace, close hulled wind comming port, I'd try to tack and either end up in iorns or being whipped around to beam reach.
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Old 07-18-2011
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I would like to add also. what are you actually afraid of? Getting wet? getting wet and embarrassed? Drowning?

boat, water, people, wind = wet or wet conditions
unsure and in experienced = Embarrassed
in a class, with safety protocols in place, and with a pfd = not likely you will drown.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
Small boats like that are hard to keep upright when tacking in 15-20 I like the words Keeled over... Name of my boat If you plan of getting wet may be less fearful. From what' I've seen part of the fun of small boats is getting wet! 16 is still a very small boat. From what your saying it seems the "staff" member wanted to scare you going out in such conditions. It's your choice always. yes or no to go or not. When it's not fun anymore it's time to find or wait for lighter air. Don't assume "staff" are teaching you since they may just be adrenalin junkies and just showing off, by showing you how exciting it can be in a small boat. In my opinion. "instructors" are acutely aware of the student's fear or apprehension as things get exciting.
He was having a blast. He was younger than me...maybe a college freshman (I'm 26) and had won several sailing races in the merc. I have capsized (on purpose) to test the sunfish. I wasn't so afraid of getting that capsized but the mercs apparently have the tendency to turtle.

I had asked to go out so he could help me with my tacking. When I tried to tack i just somehow spun and it was crazy. Too much to control.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treilley View Post
To continue to enjoy the sport, you really need to get comfortable with the heeling. I do not know you so am unsure how to reassure you on this other than the following:

- Most boats take more to heel further. Meaning that if the Mercury(with a fixed keel) heeled 25% at 20 knots, it takes a whole lot more to go further.
- Once you go above 25ft. most boats have very good stability and would take a lot to make them capsize.
- Learning on the sunfish was good but remember that you are the ballast in that boat. In the Mercury you and the keel are the ballast. In a larger keel boat(30+), it really does not matter where you sit as your weight is pretty insignificant(unless racing).
- Again the sunfish sounds like a great experience but your instructor should have had you capsize it a few times to get the feel of it and also to learn what it takes to right her.

Keep up with the smaller boats for more time. Don't rush it. Move up on days that the winds are more moderate. The instructor never should have let you go out in a Mercury in 15-20kts. Light winds to get to know the boat and how to handle her. Then go in moderate and finally higher winds. Each stage will have it's own challenges but in the long run it will be worth it if you do love sailing.
-Good to know. The sunfish didn't seem to take much to capsize. Even when I used my weight it didn't take much.
-The community boating project does have "the sloops" but we don't get to use them until advanced.
-I did capsize the sunfish and learned how to get it in control. I wasn't to afraid becuase the boat/beam/mast EVERYTHING is little and light weight. The mercury is big and heavy and just seems like alot of boat.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purplesunshine View Post
He was having a blast. He was younger than me...maybe a college freshman (I'm 26) and had won several sailing races in the merc. I have capsized (on purpose) to test the sunfish. I wasn't so afraid of getting that capsized but the mercs apparently have the tendency to turtle.

I had asked to go out so he could help me with my tacking. When I tried to tack i just somehow spun and it was crazy. Too much to control.
Capsizing a Mercury is not a good idea. They will float but not by much. You will essentially have a boat full of water and will not be able to get back to shore without a tow.

You need to learn the subtleties of how the wind and rudder act on different points of sail. When initially tacking the boat should want to go around fast. Once you approach head to wind, the same rudder angle will slow the turn and you may need to adjust or you will end up in irons. Irons is not such a bad thing. They should be teaching you about this and how to back a boat out of irons.

Go out with an instructor in light winds and have them handle all the sheets so you can concentrate on steering and how to properly tack the boat.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
I would like to add also. what are you actually afraid of? Getting wet? getting wet and embarrassed? Drowning?

boat, water, people, wind = wet or wet conditions
unsure and in experienced = Embarrassed
in a class, with safety protocols in place, and with a pfd = not likely you will drown.
Mostly getting whacked by the boat. I have a few nasty bruises from the sides, rope burns from not paying attention to the main sheet. I do wear a life jacket so I'm not afraid of drowning. I'm afraid of breaking an an arm as I seem to bump into things pretty hard. (not even the boom, I feel like I get tossed around when tacking)
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