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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 07-10-2007
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Question First time sailor

Ignorance may be bliss but not in sailing. I just purchashed a AMF Puffer and have been to the lake 2 times. The first time I was just lucky and got away from the boat ramp without incident and had a fairly enjoyable time sailing around. The second time was different. I put the boat in and tied it up at the dock. As I tried to leave the dock, I suppose I made a mistake and raised both sails. The wind then pushed me back away from the dock and the boat capsized dumping me in the lake. Luckily it was only four feet of water so I was able to right the boat easy enough. My question is How do I get away from the dock in a graceful manner? Should I row out a ways before raising the sails or try to sail out? This may sound like a simple question but I had a time trying to wrestle the boat around that dock. Thank goodness no one saw me.
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Old 07-10-2007
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It depends on where the wind is coming from. If the wind is coming from the dock and land, then raising the jib alone is a good way to get away from the dock with a fair amount of control and ease...then raise the main when you're further out on the water. If the wind is coming off the water and pinning you against the dock...there just isn't any elegant way to do it—and rowing out a ways is your best bet.


If you haven't already gotten a copy of it, I would highly recommend you pickup Dave Seidman's The Complete Sailor. It is one of the best books for people looking to learn to sail IMHO, and one I give to most of the crew I have and recommend to new sailors all the time.
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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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Old 07-10-2007
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Depending on how the dock is oriented and how crowded it is, the ideal way to do this is to tie off only your bow cleat and let the boat point into the wind off the dock. If there are a bunch of other boats around, you may not be able to get away with this. Anyways, tie off the bow letting the boat point up into the wind and then raise your sails, untie and then do the pushing the boom and the tiller in opposite directions trick to get the boat out of irons (and onto the tack you want) and you are sailing. Make sure you have the board down at least partway, depending on the depth.

Good luck
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Old 07-10-2007
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As a new sailor myself I have encountered the same problems. What I have done in the past when in doubt was to paddle out from the pier. Lately I have been doing as Txmatt recommended, point the bow of my boat into the wind and raise the sail, then head out.

Hang in there and it will get easier. Everytime I go out I have learned something new.
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Old 07-10-2007
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Of course, to do what Matt has suggested requires the wind be coming from across the land or docks... which may or may not be the case.
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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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Old 07-10-2007
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camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough
Here's some good basics. Basic Sailing
A canoe paddle makes a good "engine" for getting away from the dock. (G)
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Old 07-10-2007
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Cam... that's even more basic than what Seidman covers...
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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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Old 07-10-2007
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This is great info. I think I will love sailing as I have always wanted to do it, and this forum is very nice. Thanks.
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I teach sailing to kids at a local club. You wanna see a cluster, try it with ten, overanxious 12 year olds, all at the same time. Obviously the wind direction can mess things up, but generally, if you point the bow into the wind (or in that direction) with dock lines loosely wrapped fore and aft, then raise both sails (while still tied up) allowing them to luff. Then push the boom over it to catch the wind, when it fills, release the bow line. Then ease the boom as the bow comes away from the dock. Sheet in the jib on the leeward side. Let go the stern line and sail away. Easy right? Practice makes perfect.

Last edited by knotaloud; 07-10-2007 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 07-10-2007
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The Puffer is a 12' fairly light rowing/sailing dinghy. Unless there is fairly strong wind or current, a good shove should get you far enough out to begin sailing. When the sail is up and free, it is generally pushed off to one side or the other by the wind. When you get in and start to sail, you want to pull the sail back toward the center of the boat with your weight off center on the other side of the boat. Launching capsizes (a phenomenon I am all too familiar with) generally occur when you are on the same side of the boat as the sail is or wants to be.
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