Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
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One thing I think that most couples who are new to sailng don't think about, even if they are both really into the idea of cruising, is that both of them will often effectively be single-handing the boat when they are out... the other will be sleeping, plotting their position, cooking in the galley, bleeding the fuel lines, whatever... Each really needs to have all the abilities to navigate, sail, dock, reef the sails, and anchor the boat as if they were single handing.
There have been a few horror stories about how the husband fell overboard, and the wife didn't know enough about sailing the boat to do a successful MOB recovery.
That said... when a couple is out sailing... one of the couple should definitely take the responsiblity of being "captain". Sailing a boat by committee is a dangerous and foolish way to do it. They also need to be able to work as a team, as well as independently. IMHO, if they can't do both... the marriage is on its way to being sunk... but that's just me.
As for small boat sailing... I think sailing a dinghy is an excellent thing to do, even if you have no ambition to race them. Dinghies and smaller keelboats, like J/24s are so much more responsive to sail trim, crew position, steering changes, and such, that you really do learn a lot more about how these affect a boat's performance. Crewing on a race boat is also a good thing, especially in light air races. Maximizing the performance of a boat in light air is just as important to the cruising sailor IMHO, as it is to the racing sailor. Being able to tweak a boat and get her moving in five knots of wind could be the difference between firing up the iron genny and ghosting along in splendid silence... It could also be worth a day's time over a longer ocean passage.
Sailing in heavy wind is far easier, in some ways... than light air, which requires far more knowledge of tweaking the boat to get her to perform.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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