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Old 11-14-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

Congratulations on a great sail. Have you run aground yet? I personally don't fully trust someone at the helm if they've never run aground. But then, where we sail there are places where you can run aground, right out in the open.

If you are anchored, raising the main is easy. You could go out a ways, anchor and get the main up. Or grab a mooring for 10 mimutes.

For holding the sail slugs up, wrap a line around the mast 4 times, as high as you can reach. Then take the 5th wrap and tie it under the sail slugs. This can hod the slugs in place while you rest to get the rest of the slugs in.

This works great when solo, since you can rest and even keep it in place while you get the rest of the slugs in. Then put the screw-thingy in place that hold the slugs from dropping down, and remove the line from the slugs and mast.

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Old 11-14-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

You should always look around and above, before raising the mast. What if that tree limb had been a power line?
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Old 11-14-2013
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Mike21- you should keep the engine in gear at an idle while raising the sail. Tie the tiller if needed. If the engine is not in gear, you are unpowered and drifting. Not good.

If solo, set up all your lines, uncoil them, get everything ready so you only have to pull the halyard, cleat, and trim the sail(s).
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Old 11-14-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

Originally Posted by Lemonshirt View Post
I purchased an old/used 20 footer (Southwest Explorer) about 6 weeks ago, having never sailed anything more complicated than a Sunfish. Between my work schedule and crappy weather, I finally took her out this past weekend. It was NOT PRETTY! First, after struggling to raise the mast by myself, I realized a sizeable limb from gum-ball tree was hanging about 25 feet over the boat ramp ...just low enough that my mast couldnt pass under it. So I had to unhook the trailer from my truck, drive home, get a ladder and chain saw, return and cut down the limb. I should have realized that this was an omen.

While I understood the mechanics of raising the sail, I struggled to get it done with the boat floating in open water. Rather than point IN to the wind, as soon as I turned the motor off, it immediately turned stern to the wind. So I fired the engine back up and got my wife to tend the tiller while I attempted the mainsail. Is there supposed to be some device/method to keep the sail slugs above the slot where they enter the mast without raising the sail? The sail was flapping in the wind as I worked feverishly to insert each slug. But I got it done.

Speaking of the wind, I guess I need to say that I greatly underestimated the force of "20 MPH Gusts". ...which the weatherman nonchalantly added as an addendum to his report of 10-15 MPH westerly winds.

As soon as I had the sail up, one of those gusts caught me offguard, snapped off a couple of the sail slugs on the stern end of the boom and nearly capsized us. Did I mention that I forgot to lower the swing keel before raising the sail?! (I put that on my mental check list for next time)
...and that my halyard magically got tangled in a knot and wouldnt pass thru the block to let out the sail.

My wife says she'll ever go out with me again.!! I guess it ended up being a good trip afterall!
Greetings fellow Sunfish sailor who moved to cruisers.

I sail single handed a lot. I have some tips for you.

Keep the motor running and in gear when you raise the sail. I don't turn the motor off until the sails have filled or I'm off the wind enough that I can just pull in the sails and be on my way.
If you've a tiller, tie it off. I have a boat with a tiller that has a cleat on the underside of the tiller. It makes securing it a breeze.
The wind will blow the bow around so you may need to make constant corrections. Hoist, bring her back into the wind. Hoist some more, bring her back into the wind. Sometimes you hit the sweet spot, sometimes not. It just makes you appreciate a crew.
I lower the centerboard first, then move to the sails. Look around for other traffic. Very important!
Get as much done as you can before leaving the dock. This includes any preparations you need for returning. You need everything at hand. You won't have time to search for the winch handle, search for the boat hook, hank on the jib, etc.
Lead as many lines aft as possible. The only reason I need to go forward is the sail ties and I'm going to solve that with some EZ Jacks. Leaving the cockpit is the dangerous part when you're single handed.

Check out some youtube videos on singlehanded docking. I use a line around a stanchion lead back to me at the cockpit. I can use it to snag a dock cleat, tie off onto the rear deck cleat, put the motor in forward and she snugs up to the dock until I get her more secure. Learn how much momentum you've got and at what speed you lose the rudder as it'll help. Mine can be moving pretty slow and still have a working rudder. Sure makes it easy to stop her at the dock.

One of the biggest things-start on lighter days until you get your ritual down. You'll get there. If you've been sailing a sunfish then you know what you need to know. You're just learning the boat right now.
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Old 11-21-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

Finally made it out for my second sail today solo. Winds were much lighter @ 5 MPH. Took me about 1/2 as much time to raise the mast and get her in the water. I motored to a dock, then hung the mainsail while docked. Much easier than trying to coordinate pointing into the wind and raising the sail at the same time. I didnt run aground, but I did feel my keep scrape the bottom a couple of times as I practiced returning to the dock under sail.

I still havent sailed using the jib. I wasnt comfortable with my skills sailing solo. And I cant figure a way to run the lines aft as I see mentioned about many vessels.

The wind totally died after a couple of hours and I had to motor back in. Too much wind. Then not enough wind. Seems like picking the right day is almost as important as knowing how to rig the vessel.
Cant wait to go again. Thanks to everyone for all the great tips.
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Old 11-25-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

The few short months we have been sailing "proper," we've yelled and screamed at each other, run aground, crash tackled the jetty with the bow, lost an antenna and six caps overboard, chosen the exact incorrect place for the rest of the club vessels to raft up, destroyed two halyards, been forced to navigate at night because we couldn't get enough speed out of the hull and dropped numerous tools into the drink.

Still we go out every weekend. Wouldn't do anything else.
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Old 11-27-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

Great post, Lemonshirt. My wife and I took our C22 out for the first time just a couple weeks ago. Neither of us had any sailing experience but a weekend ASA class. Thank goodness we opted to do it in a lake and not the gulf of Mexico, because it happened to be gusting 23 mph that day. Couple times when the boat heeled over pretty good I just about soiled myself. Our raggedy old jib actually ripped apart whilst the wife was attempting to get it down.

Unfortunately, she loved it and will never let me go sailing without her.
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Old 11-27-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

A frequent beginner's issue is dealing with the winds. Remember that what counts for your boat and safety is the apparent wind, not the actual wind. So if there is an actual 12 knot wind, it means that if you are going dead downwind at 4 knots the wind will appear to be only 8 knots; when you turn around to go home the wind will suddenly appear to be closer to 15. (It would be 16 if you could sail straight into the wind.) Begninners often get into trouble by sailing downwind in what appears to be a light breeze and discovering the real wind speed when they turn to head home.
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Old 11-27-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

Preparing to launch my 20 foot boat. Seemed like everything was going really smoothly. Raised the mast by myself. Adjusted all the stays to proper tension and then and only then did I realize that the main halyard and topping lift were still neatly coiled in the cockpit.
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Old 11-27-2013
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Re: Near disasterous first sail

re. Sail Track Stops:

I discovered these this season (after much frustration and a torn sail):

About $10.00 or so.
1989 Hunter 30'
Southern Georgian Bay

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. - Jacques Yves Cousteau
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