New to sailing
Just bought my first sailboat, a Coronado 15, and am trying to learn how to sail it in Morro Bay, California. Just got back from a humbling experience, the harbor patrol was good enough to tow me back to the dock after I was defeated by the current and wind. The thing is there was plenty of wind, 12 to 15 mph by the weather service. My problem is balancing the boat, knowing how much to let the mainsail out, and handling the mainsheet and gib lines at the same time. I sure hope I haven't bought to much boat for one person to manage. Anyone with pointers would be appreciated.
All I can do is welcome you to Sailnet. I have never sailed anything smaller then a 30 ft. It's a little different. Someone will be along soon to help.
May want to take a look here...
C15 National Association Home Page
You might be able to make some good contacts and get some information on how to tune the boat.
I have sailed smaller boats including many 15' boats last season. The best advice I got from anybody along the way was "when in doubt, let it out". As a beginner this is good advice. If you're not sure how you're doing with any sail the best thing to do is to let it out and then slowing tighten the sheet until the sail just stops luffing (flapping). Generally speaking, I think this is the best advice a beginner can get to start. It's easier than trying to understand telltales or to figure it out in other ways. That being said, you SHOULD have telltales to give you an idea of where the wind is coming from and roughly where you sails should be.
I don't know how much reading you've done but
Sailing Fundamentals and Start Sailing Right are EXCELLENT beginner resources. If you have time to read them and get to understand points of sail and telltales, it'll make your time on the water that much more fun.
Lastly, as far as handling the main and the jib sheets, I think a lot of it comes with experience. You might consider sailing with only the main up. It compromises handing a bit and some argue it's harder to handle the boat but the truth is it's a lot easier to just manage the tiller and the main sheet. That's just my opinion, and it's worth a shot.
Also, you can try to get out there on a lighter wind day and/or with another experienced sailor who can give you some pointers. Formal instruction is good too, but that's a whole 'nother post :)
Hope I helped, let me know if you want me to elaborate!
Coronado 15 is a great boat, and a fine one to start with.
Don't let your uncomfortable experience stop you, just make some adjustments...
Take some lessons and/or find a more experienced sailor to go with you!
Also, save the heavy weather sailing for when you get more experience... Keep to the easier stuff for a while.
Good Luck, and Welcome!
Sounds like you had some fun:) I had a similar experience when I got my first boat, although mine ended with the boat on top of a cement dock!
Your C15 should be a fine starter boat, but learning in 12-15 solo is not ideal, although you will learn fast!
First off, be safe, don't sail solo in those kind of winds until you have a little experience. Sailing under the main alone usually works good in a dinghy. Sailing under the jib alone, as is sometimes done in keelboats, usually results in loss of helm control in a dinghy (that's how I ended up on the dock).
Go out in nice calm winds, say 5kts or so. If the boat starts to heel too much, ease the main and/or bring the bow to windward. Once the boat flattens out, fall off a little to gain some speed and repeat. Resist the natural tendency to fall off (turning downwind) without easing the main, this will cause the boat to heel even more as the sail gets perpendicular to the wind.
If you want to hold a steady course in gusty winds, follow the pattern of "ease, hike, sheet". In gusts, you will probably not be able to hike fast enough to flatten the boat, as quickly as you can ease the main. Once the main is eased, the boat will flatten out, then hike out to windward. Now that you have more "ballast" to windward, you can start sheeting in the main to pick up speed.
Try to avoid sharp jibes (bringing the stern across the wind) that involve turning the boat close to 180 deg, from close hauled to a run. A small boat, sailing under the main alone, will want to round up...fast, and could send you for a swim (err...done that too). Instead do a "chicken jibe" to turn around, by tacking and then continuing to fall off the wind, keeping the boom on the same side as it was after the tack. This will prevent the boom from wildly swinging across the boat. No shame in the chicken jibe, I have done them many times, and still do, if I think the conditions are getting out of hand.
Capsize your boat. You need to learn how to right the boat, as you probably will capsize at some point anyway. Better to do this the first time in a controlled situation, than in a freak storm. Of course, only attempt this if help is close by or you are close to land.
Get some instruction if possible. Check your local yacht clubs, marinas, parks and rec departments, etc. Often they will have classes for a reasonable price. You will learn a lot and be able to sail with others, so if you need help, you won't have to get a tow from the harbor patrol.
Check out the C15 class website and the yahoo newgroups (there is probably one for your boat). This will put you in touch with other sailors of your boat and you can probably find someone in your area to go out and show you the ropes.
Have fun on your new boat,
Welcome to Sailnet. Hang in there, you'll catch on soon enough, it just takes practice.
Piling on ...
You got a lot of good feedback, and here's one other thought.
I note that the C15 has a daysailing rig of 123 sq. ft. and a performance rig of 139. If you have the latter, sailing solo in 10 to 15, you probably had your hands full, and the additional challenge of tacking with a larger overlapping jib would have added to the complexity.
Try sailing in conditions under 10 with just the main and adjusting the centerboard to balance the helm. As you get comfortable, add the jib, or add a crew to manage the jib for you.
Have fun ... looks like a great boat to learn on.
Good advice from all above - sail in heavier winds with just the main; sail with a buddy; hook up with other sailors; learn to capsize and how to right her.
On a personal note - I too have experience with the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol. They pulled my sinking Flying Junior to safety more than once. I loved sailing in Morro Bay when I was a student at Cuesta (back in the 80's). The Rock is an inspiring back drop. I enjoyed sailing out to the dunes to hang out for the afternoon.
When I first started sailing in Morro Bay, I used to put in down in Baywood (I lived in Los Osos). I was taking by sailing buddy and a couple of girls from school out for a sail one day. An old-timer warned me about the tide ebbing soon. I "pshawed" him... after all my sailboat only needed 12" of water to draft. I didn't count the weight of 4 people and the fact that, when the tide when out in Baywood, it went "OUT"! Long story short - my buddy and I waded in the muck of the bay to pull the boat (and those girls) back to shore. I drove them home with humility. Lesson learned - listen to others; ask for help.
Best of luck with more sailing in Morro Bay.
Get some rail meat too.
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