Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Orleans
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You mentioned difficulty in getting her to head up. If you haven't reefed the main in time, nor "reefed" the jib or switched to a smaller one, you'll end up with lee helm in the puffs. Why? Because you let your main all the way out, completely luffing, to keep the boat on her feet so she doesn't heel too much (gentle hint: it's "heel" not "keel").
The result is a luffing main and a full jib, too much center of effort forward, lee helm, won't head up, so you can't luff the jib with just the tiller, you have to let it out (or trim the main back in) to restore neutral or weather helm. If you're heading downwind, the lee helm will diminish, and you can broad reach with just jib and no main just fine. But you can't go upwind that way, and you were trying to claw your way off a lee shore, so you needed the main.
This is why I favor reducing headsail size first, 'cause it's harder to do after the wind and seas pick up, while reefing the main can usually be done safely even if it's screeching, as long as you still have some headsail to close-reach with during the process. Also, if the roller reef/furling turntable is going to jam, I'd rather know it at 18 knots than at 28.
All things considered, for a beginner you did okay. Keep it up, you learn something each time.