with a tiny boat; new to sailing
I've been reading a lot of forum posts from this website, and learned quite a bit. You see, I dream the same dream as many others, here: to singlehand a sailboat that I can be proud of, perhaps pick up a lovely companion from time to time, and enjoy life!
As I've read, in a number of threads, I have done - I've purchased a small sailboat to learn on. Only $300 for both boat AND trailer! It's a fair enough price, I expect; it's a Dolphin Sr. 14'4" LOA, and pretty close to that LWL.
Lateen rigged, it's very similar to a sunfish, but with a larger well for the sailor to duck into. I find that I much prefer to sail from that position, anyway, with the sail high on the mast so it catches the wind better. On the other hand, she tends to heel a bit, sometimes. I'll learn to deal with her better, soon - so far, I've only taken her out twice, after all!
She pretty old, my little Dolphin Sr. Probably produced in the early 70's? It's hard to tell, as there are very few forums or groups that are active with this model boat. She had a crack in her hull, when I picked her up. Another crack in the bottom of the well, even though it had been (inexpertly) glassed over. The old girl has a number of fiberglass patches that were inexpertly applied, actually; they're well enough applied that I can trust them to remain, and give strength, but quite obvious with the fiberglass grid showing under her paint. Considering her small size, and that she's probably with her final owner, I broke down and simply epoxied the cracks. Someday, I hope to have her hull worked over properly, and see all of the repairs fixed so that her hull is once again smooth and pretty, but for now - for learning - the simple fact that she's a sailboat and once again water-tight is enough.
I mentioned above that she's similar to a sunfish - actually, her sail is a sunfish sail. Both boats run identical sails, even if the rig is slightly (very slightly) changed.
I hope to learn a lot more about sailing, here. From all that I've read so far, I'm sure I will.
What have I learned, so far?
I can sail with the wind - but then again, so can a leaf.
I can sail across the wind - but tend to heel over quite a bit if it's more than a slight breeze. hmm. This I need to improve on.
I can tack into the wind - once I got the hang of it, it was quite easy.
A good part of the information I've used for my "How to Sail" lessons is from a sunfish sailing lesson book that I was shown online. I think I want to know quite a bit more than this book has to say. I truly enjoy even something as simple as sailing back and forth on a small lake, but desire to learn as much as I can about sailing her, as quickly as I can... Obviously, the Dolphin Sr is not my dream boat - she's my classroom, and likely to be my good, old friend in future years, but a blue-water boat, she's not.
I look forward to getting to know the rest of those who frequently e-dock on this website.
Happy sailing to you all; May the wind be at your back, the skies clear, and... (insert preferred sailing accessory here).
Good for you. Keep studying and practicing, you'll improve. Are you easing the sheet on a reach?
On the heeling bit, dinghies are very sensitive to weight distribution. I was out on my Snark dinghy over the weekend in up to 20 knot gusts and you knew when you got hit with a puff.
Next time she starts to heel, see if you can lean your body away from the sail. In dinghy sailing, you'll tend to be on that side anyway to help keep the boat flat. You'll notice as you lean out she'll come back to vertical. You'll quickly learn it does not take a lot of movement on your part to achieve this. If you have a deck to lie on, you'll eventually find yourself perhaps out over the water (hiking out) to counteract the heel. It quickly becomes second nature.
I looked around some other threads about heeling, and took the advice "when in doubt, let it out," and this basic rule of thumb seems to help quite a bit.
mpickering - I've seen videos of people in their little sunfish sailboats catching the wind and hiking out; the basic difference, to me, is that I'm not so much interested in getting the maximum possible speed, as I am in just enjoying a relaxing afternoon's sail. I do move my body to the upwind side of the boat to help offset a little of the boat's heel; it just tends to want to heel further than I like. I'm making myself grow accustomed to small amounts of heel, though - 10 - 15 degrees, or so.
I guess you could say that I'm trying to learn to sail a dinghy sized sailboat as if it were a full-sized sailboat. It's the entire reason I got such a small boat, anyway - to learn on something small and twitchy, so I can move up to something larger and steadier.
Keep at it. We all went through this. Study and practice. You'll improve. It's a great pastime.
Here is a pic of the Dolphin: Dolphin Junior sailboat for sale
It is practically a Sunfish like the one I was sailing in today with 20+ knot gusts in LI Sound. What a ride!
mpickering is right that your body placement on that kind of boat is all important, especially when the wind picks up. There were 2 grown men out on a Sunfish today and it took both of us hiking out to get far enough upwind that we were able to broad reach (45' downwind). We got the hull up on a plane and were just flying along in the gusts. I came back from that sail soaked from the boats spray.
It takes a good sense of the wind and balance to be able to keep a boat like this right side up.
You learned one of the tricks which is to let the sail out a bit in puffs but lean out, hike out and see how that balances the boat as well. The other trick for when the boat starts going over is to turn the tiller (steer) into the wind a little, or head directly into the wind and get into irons (without momentum).
You should also do a capsize drill (if you haven't already) with your boat to practice righting it.
Little boats or dingys like the Sunfish can be a lot of fun. They can often have their challenges too.
I like your challenge: learn how to sail.
Keep going out sailing.
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