New students at sailing school!! A long tale/rant - SailNet Community

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Old 07-29-2008
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New students at sailing school!! A long tale/rant

So, this is a rant, and a request for advice. Yesterday we (my wife and I) went to our weekly sailing lesson (my first one in a couple of weeks), and there were a number of "new" students there.

At first, I was excited to see some new blood! We had enough to fully crew 4 boats (420's and Vanguard 15's), so when we got there, I started helping out where I could, hauling boats to the beach, carrying sails, helping some of the new students set up, etc. The instructor was running around at warp speed trying to get everyone going, needless to say!

As I was helping, I did have to get a little "managerial" with one of the crew (Crew A). Not being mean or anything, just using my teaching tone (used to be a band director). They were in an awfully big hurry to get their boat in the water, despite the fact that their rig wasn't ready to go, tiller handle on top of the mainsheet, shrouds loose as can be, etc. Instructor saw what was going on, and started sorting the boat out.

While he's doing this, one of the other crews is trying to launch. They asked me to lend a hand, and as I go over, "Crew A" decides they will help, too. Of course, they decide they need to give this other crew some instruction on how to sail their boat away from shore, despite apparently only having one lesson under their belt. More of a hindrance than a help.

By now, the instructor has their boat set up properly, so we get them launched, and they eventually manage to get out away from the beach (wind coming strait in at the shore, so I can't fault them for beaching it once.)

Meanwhile, my wife's boat has gotten out, but they're having problems with the rudder not kicking down. We get that sorted out, and they're off.

Finally! I get my partner and we launch our boat, no problems, except for a wind shift and an unplanned (read "clumsy") tack heading out. Our little sail goes just fine, I was on the tiller and my partner worked the jib, I asked her what she had learned in her previous lesson (1st time in a sailboat), and we reviewed that information, and taught her how to use the telltales on the jib, discussed different points of sail, etc. She did a very good job, we had a nice time! I should have given her some tiller time, but I wasn't sure if she was comfortable enough with the boat for that, and she never asked, so oh well. If I'm paired with her again next week, I'll let her skipper the boat, and I'll play ballast.

I did keep us a fair distance away from "Crew A", turned out to be a good idea, as I think they collided with another boat while we were out there running close hauled.

We manage to run back in to shore as the sun starts to set, a VERY slow run, as the wind decided to fall off significantly. A little shifty but we did get to go wing and wing for a while, which I always enjoy. We get the sails down, I notice my wife and her partner seem to be having some problems, so we get our boat up on the trailer and out of the water, and I go help them get their stuff together. As I'm working on the jib, one of the "Crew A" guys is helping my wife take down the main. Naturally, he lets go of the halyard, which is now dangling conveniently just out of reach. As I'm trying to retrieve it, he keeps telling me to get out of the way, he'll just jump and grab it, never mind the boom that's right underneath the halyard, just waiting to snap an ankle. Teacher voice returns.

Finally, we get everything put up, pay the instructor, and walk back to our car. Apparently, the reason my wife was having problems getting anything done was her partner's lack of listening skills. Apparently this person was just going to do what she was going to do, and not really listen to anyone else. At one point, on the water, the instructor came up alongside them and was giving this person some advice on setting her jib, and she started arguing with him. This really irritates me. Coming from a martial arts background, unless you had a black belt tied around your waist, you weren't allowed to have an opinion! Seems to me, if the instructor is telling you to do something, there's probably a reason for it.

Oh, and she was pulling the passive-aggressive thing with my wife, too, which incenses me even more! Not just because she's my wife, but because she was at the helm at the time. At least on every boat I've been on, when the guy/girl at the tiller tells you to do something, you do it!

Needless to say, my wife doesn't really care to partner up with her again, and I'm not too keen on working with "Crew A", either. Listening is an important skill, I wish people would use it more!

Now it's my turn to listen. I don't want to be a jerk, I'm not the instructor, so I don't really want to lecture these people on safety, courtesy, etc. and get into a pissing contest with them. On the other hand, I WON'T let my wife crew with someone who cannot operate safely on the water. Any advice? Thanks in advance!!!
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Old 07-29-2008
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I'd talk to the instructor and see if you and your wife can be partnered with people other than Crew A... maybe Crew A should be on the instructor's boat, so that she doesn't interfere with the learning for any of the other students... BTW, don't partner with your wife... you and she will both learn better if you aren't partnered as a general rule.

It is really in the best interests of the sailing program not to allow a single person to disrupt the lessons for the rest of the people... that is a quick way to kill a program. However, it is the instructor's responsibility to make sure that this person doesn't negatively impact the others in his/her class.
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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
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