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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 05-22-2009
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Beginning our sailing adventure

At long last, my wife Karen and I are going to begin our sailing adventure!

We decided to take up sailing last Winter, when it was so ridiculously cold here in Chicago.

Our goal for this year is to learn to safely sail, and to complete the ASA 104 Bareboat course in Greece in September. To prepare for that, we have signed up with Fairwind Sail Charters here in Chicago to get us started with the ASA 101 and 103 classes (over the next two weekends). We also signed up with Broad Reach Sailing for a fractional boat so we will have opportunity to practice over the summer.

To prepare, we bought a couple of ropes to practice knots on, bought several books (The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, the ASA course book, a few others), and read like crazy. We also got a couple of videos from NetFlix to try to get a head start. I'll give a review of them at some point.

And now we're ready! I'll follow up on this thread with more details on how it went and what we thought as this goes along.

Roger
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Old 05-22-2009
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Sneak preview

On Monday, I actually got a little bit of a head start on sailing. The lesson was offered by Third Coast Cruising as part of the Broad Reach fractional share. The major objective was to become familiar with Lily, our boat for the summer. Karen was out of town.

Lily was docked at the pumpout. I was last to arrive, and we set out to practice docking and mooring. We motored into Monroe Harbor and headed for our mooring buoy. Winds were 20-25 knots, and it was a little choppy in the harbor.

I took the helm for a while, and Captain Ted asked me to circle around a mooring can, which I did fairly smartly, if I do say so myself. I kept the helm as we approached our mooring buoy. Boats are big, and I'm glad the harbor wasn't crowded yet. We had to go around at least once, but eventually we got her lined up into the wind and drifted to the pendant. We had to use a boat hook to get it up, but we eventually got her tied up to the can.

We had some lessons about tug-of-war with the boat and how not to lose fingers when mooring. After a bit we cast off again, intending to go for a short sail.

After 50 yards or so, the motor quit! Now things got exciting! I was fairly useless, not having learned about the roller furling system or anything, so I watched as we unfurled the jib and sailed he to a clear channel. I grabbed a fender just in case, but it turned out to be unnecessary. We ended up sailing her to the dock and docking her.

One lesson I learned was that tying knots under stress is way different than tying knots at home. I tried tying off the fender to the lifeline, and got confused, even though I had been tying the clove hitch correctly. For some reason, a horizontal clove hitch looks completely different to me than a vertical one.

Very educational lesson! Don't count on the engine!

From there, we went into a very detailed orientation to the boat, learning just what was kept where and learning about a lot of the auxiliary systems on the boat.

It was a very good lesson for me. My main takeaways were:
  • The book is right - you can't count on engines!
  • Tying knots under stress is different than not under stress.
  • All the prep has paid off - I mostly know the names of everything I need and I know what to look for on the boat.
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Old 05-29-2009
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I came to realize this was more of a blog, and so I went ahead and started a blog on this site to capture my experiences. I've copied all my previous posts into it. You can find it here.
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Old 05-29-2009
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Thanks for the posts RogerD, sounds like you are going about this in the right way, and a good example for others who want to learn. The Blog is a good idea, Ill have to keep uo with your adventures there.

Thanks,
Bryan
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Old 05-29-2009
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Roger—

One thing, clove hitches aren't very useful knots on a boat... a round turn and two half hitches is a much better knot for most purposes for two reasons. A clove hitch can come undone if it is not loaded all the time, and are very difficult to untie if they are loaded. That isn't the case with the round turn and two half hitches. Also, the round turn allows you to generally tie the knot even if the line you're trying to tie it in is heavily loaded.

If you haven't gotten Dave Seidman's The Complete Sailor, I'd highly recommend you get it and read it. It covers a fairly wide breadth of material and is probably one of the best sailing primers that I have seen.
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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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