Originally Posted by Embracing Gravity
All are damn fine points. Case made gents, maybe I can get a ball rolling sooner than I originally planned. First things first though, I need to look to get some experience under my belt.
It's too bad you aren't closer (my boat is in Forked River, NJ) or I'd offer you a ride. Not that I have a lot of experience or know what I'm doing, but if you're good at learning from others' mistakes, then you'll be a pro in no time on my boat.
Which leads me to my second point. Don't wait. Read what Don said - get out there. Buy a small boat, keep it in your yard over the winter to do any repairs, then in the spring get out and play. That's really the best way to learn. Confused about something? Ask for help here - there are a lot of us who live reasonably close to you (my home is northwest of Philly) and some might be willing to come crew for you as you're learning. But having your own boat gives you the flexibility to get out and sail at your convenience. If you get a 14-18' dinghy, throw a trolling motor and (fully charged
) battery in the dinghy before you go, this way you know
you'll be able to get home, and then you'll have the freedom to play at your leisure. Or, get a sunfish or other small boat and a paddle (forget the motor).
Yes, learning to sail well, and learning proper trim and how to bring that into being really does take time. But making a boat move through the water under nothing more than the power of the wind can be done with really no training. Just remember, on a smaller boat:
1) Loosen the main sheet (the rope that controls the angle of the boom) so the boom can swing some (this will prevent a gust from knocking you down as you're hoisting the sail), but not enough that the boom will hit you while working the halyard;
2) If you can, turn the boat so the bow points into the wind before raising the sail;
3) Make sure the outhaul is pulled tight, especially in higher winds;
4) Raise the mainsail until the luff (the part touching or closest to the sail) is tight, especially in high winds;
5) As the sail goes up, the boat may start to lean (heel) if the sail catches the wind. If you keep the main sheet in your hand or close by, you can pop the sheet free and, as long as you're out of the way of the boom, let the boom swing a little wider to take some of the pressure off the sail.
6) Once the sail is up and the main halyard is cleated off (should be quick (30 seconds?) in a small boat) you're all set. Plop back down and look directly in front of you. Keep that point ahead (i.e., try to keep on the current heading) and start playing with the main sheet to get a sense of how the angle of the sail with respect to the wind and the boat influence the boat's movement.
Yes, there can be a lot more to it, but distilled down to the basics, which is all you really need at this point, that's really all there is to it. Eventually you'll want to learn to fly the jib too, and you'll soon want to start finding the best point of sail to make the boat go the fastest possible speed, but just get her moving and get comfortable with her. And get home.