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carol b 06-16-2002 05:34 AM

Fear of Heeling
I''m a rookie in this new venture of sailing. I really have no fears of adventure, having done things like whitewater rafting in a kayak, parasailing, rock climbing, hiking the Main coast, etc. But heeling makes my hair stand on end. I''m trying to get used to it, and logic tells me this is what sailboats do. But how do I get over this fear I so desperately want to do? Is this a girl thing or is it just me?

gandydancer 06-16-2002 05:48 PM

Fear of Heeling
I, too, am new at this and heeling freaks me out. I totally love sailing and want to be good at it. From what I understand, it is normal, but just takes experience to reach a comfort level with it and to know how to properly react to it. I prefer to be an asset, not a liability, while sailing so I am determined to conquer this one! I guess more time on the water may be what it takes.

owlmtn 06-18-2002 01:41 AM

Fear of Heeling
Fear of heeling is a normal reaction. We spend our whole lives identifying level and solid with security. My wife too initially had a tough time with heeling. Standing in the forward end of the cockpit where she could brace herself with the cabin made all the difference. now you can''t scare her on a boat. I think being able to control things with your legs gives a feeling of security. try it and see, Jim L

928frenzy 06-18-2002 03:59 AM

Fear of Heeling
My wife too was very uncomfortable whenever the boat heeled more tha 5 degrees. A sailing lesson with an with an experienced instructor solved her fears. He put the boat through it''s paces and had it heeling at 25 degrees - all along saying "THIS is what''s is supposed to happen" and "this is why sailboats have rounded hulls". After sailing this way for an hour or so, my better half was completely at ease with heeling, especially when she''s at the helm.

~ Happy sails to you ~ _/) ~

MaryBeth 06-20-2002 10:12 PM

Fear of Heeling


It''s natural, don''t freak out.

Try steering for a while, and letting the boat actually heel while you are steering. Once you feel you are in control you will be able to begin to be less afraid. Some of the fear comes from not being in control of the vessel. Then you have to learn to trust those steering. Helped me. Course I had 3,000 miles under my belt before I knew what the bottom of the boat looked like!! Talk about freaking out!!

And don''t be afraid to stand in some ungodly poses while steering. On one trip to the BVI I spent what seemed like years with my knee in my armpit. (Not really, but you know what I mean.) We had really bad weather, but needed to make the headway.

Something that also may help is "surfing" while someone else steers. That''s nothing more than standing in the cockpit and obtaining a great stance with your balance, but it''s fun and teaches you balance and to be able to look out over the bow and both rails and not be so afraid. Now, never have one of your hands more than a few inches away from a secure handhold, for safety''s sake, please, but it''s fun when you can ''surf'' through all kinds of bounces and bumps and heels.

Fair Winds,

bullseye 06-22-2002 12:11 AM

Fear of Heeling
its not you carol,its a girl thing :) (i hope thats not sexist)
my girlfriend was petrified of heeling at first,& when she started to steer,she was constantly pinching(sailing too close to the wind)the the boat would not heal.
this fear is quickly overcome by doing some sailing on a large yacht,in good steady wind,there will be no chance of a knockdown,compared to dinghys.

all yachts are designed to heal.
most yachts are tippy at first when they start to heal,which can be unsetteling,but once they reach a certain degree of heal,they become very solid & it will be very difficult to heal it further.

male friends can tell you all sorts of things,but nothing builds confidence faster when you start sailing,then doing a sailing course,through a good sailing school.

good luck

bullseye 06-22-2002 12:15 AM

Fear of Heeling
actually the person ive seen most scared of healing was my father,& hes not a girl

MaryBeth 06-22-2002 07:12 PM

Fear of Heeling


Sorry, it''s a girl thing, but when you say all yachts are designed to ''heal'' that''s true in an aesthetic sense, I guess. I feel great on boats. To heal is to cure, to heel is to list seriously to one side.

Females have a much more sensitive inner ear. More than 70% of Meniere''s disease sufferer''s are female, I am one of them. I have never, ever been seasick in all that I have been through,(which has been some nasty crap, let me tell you, often taking care of those who were seasick) but after a few years on land I began to feel dizzy and sick. Long story short, after 2 surgeries, the last 6 months ago to have one of my inner ears removed, I have regained balance and sanity, tho I am deaf in one ear. Feel great now. I am just sooo glad that over the years I treated those with seasickness with respect and great care and tenderness. Karma comes around.

Unfortunately, one of the causes of that nasty, queasy feeling is fear. Not being in control causes fear. Thus my statements on steering and seeing that you are in control of the situation. Not to mention that oft times when it''s the "boyfriend" on the boat, he is sometimes a bit harsh and quick to bark direction and reprimands.

Fair Winds,

paulmcquillan 08-21-2002 09:29 PM

Fear of Heeling
I teach some in my free time, and have found someting that works to build an understanding of heeling and reduces the concerns.

It''s sort of a personalized righting-moment test.... a take off on how racing rules committes actually measure the stability of a sailboat.

At dockside, pass the spinnaker halyard to a few friends. Cleat the other end to a big cleat on the boat. Let all the freinds pull and try to heel the boat. It will go over some, and then become VERY difficult get to to heel any further.

Other approach, install a clinometer in the forward part of the cockpit. You drive, or your get to tell the driver when to ajust sail trim/reef to reduce heel.

Hope those ideas help.

Sailormon6 08-23-2002 09:49 AM

Fear of Heeling
Carol b,

Look at it from the perspective of the wife of a guy who just bought his first sailboat. She goes out with him on the boat and it heels to an angle of 25 degrees. Common sense tells her that when something leans over that far, it is about to fall over. Hubby assures her that everything is o.k., but she knows that he is just learning to sail, and, even though he thinks he''s an old salt, she knows he''s just an old windbag. She has no confidence in either the boat or the skipper. To dispel her fear, you have to prove to her that the boat is not going to fall over, and that the skipper and crew can control it.

I think 928 frenzy has the right idea. He took the wife out with an experienced instructor, who was credible to the wife, who showed her how stable the boat was, and who showed her how she and hubby could control the angle of heel. Her fear was displaced by knowledge.

Go sailing, and when the boat heels to an extent that makes you uncomfortable, ease the mainsheet. You will soon realize that you can control the extent to which the boat heels, and you won''t fear what you can control.

Good luck.

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