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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 05-01-2010
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1st Sail

Well, with the two of us (my son and I) having passed our ASA101 last weekend, we lost no time and went sailing today. Aside from the two of us, we had my wife, her sister and 3 little ones. I know a bit crowded but my sister in law came 400 miles to go sailing and I didn't want to disappoint.

Forecast called for NW winds 5-10 in the morning with 10-20 by afternoon.

My son was the skipper for today (we've decided to alternate skipper days), so he manned the helm and gave orders as we departed the dock and motored out close to the practice area.

My 6yr old son was terrified (even cried big tears) to get on the boat, but as time passed he became more at ease. So much so that within 15 min he came with me at the bow. The most awesome part was that by the time we came back to the doc he didn't want to get off. He was now whining that he wanted to go back out and sail.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. everything was going great and the ladies were taking lots of pictures, that is until we decided to head back and go to lunch as it was getting close to 12. Wind by now was likely 15-17 knots, at least. My son was at the helm and we needed to close-haul so that we can make it back into the channel. Unfortunately that caused the boat to heel so much so that our rail was just above the water. That's when the heel alarm went off. At first one then 3-4 . That meant that we had to beam/close reach, which then took us out again. Well this happened a couple of times and my son had had it. He was now scared of tipping the boat over himself.

I've decided to try it myself. Taking the helm I've tried to tack beam reach to beam reach but couldn't get us positioned to enter the channel. By now my son was hinting that maybe we should drop sails and just motor in. Deciding to give it one more try, we hove to (starboard tack) and put a couple of reefs in. This made the ride a lot more pleasant and allowed us to close-reach and after a couple of tacks we were in the channel safe.

We made it back to the doc by 2 PM, but we all had fun. Everybody forgot about the heeling and all wanted to get back to sail after lunch. Unfortunately the lunch took a longer then expected and didn't make it back on the water.

Observations:
1) It seemed extremely tough to stay in Irons (boat was Capri 22). Hence, raising and especially lowering sail was extremely hard. We ended up lowering sails under engine. Is there a secret to this?

2) Have to practice a lot more without any passengers because heeling is pretty scary even for us.

3) Next time, got to bring snacks on board in case our sail gets extended, especially when kids are on board.
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Old 05-02-2010
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Keeping the boat in irons under no auxiliary power will be very difficult. Residual momentum is all that is moving you forward, wind is always working to blow the bow over, and there comes a point when so much speed is lost that you lose steerage on the rudder. The best advice I have for you is to either 1. start the motor to head into the wind or 2. work faster.
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Old 05-02-2010
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Sounds like you need to learn how to reef. The bay gets a lot more wind than that on any given summer day. Learning how & when to reduce saiul before it's too late is your friend. You can practice at the dock........i2f
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Old 05-02-2010
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Although I did end up reefing (hove-to), I certainly could have done so much earlier. One of my problems will be to know what to expect on the bay versus what the conditions are in Richmond. The harbor is very protected as it is in the lee of Angel island. Things got more then we bargained for once we got out from behind the island and the wind came funneling down the straight.
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Old 05-02-2010
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well done, first timer. ya didn't panic, and that is important. anticipation of coming weather will come as you experience this wonderful pastime. get a marine forecast for your area before you set sail. this will help you get a better handle on what to expect weatherwise.........

if at all possible, use auxillary power when lowering sail. as scraf says, its hard to keep a boat with no foward motion pointed........

good luck and welcome to the world of sailing...........
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Old 05-02-2010
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I sailed the bay for 15 years. It can have many contridictions within 100 ft. Did you reduce the headsail too along with the main?.......i2f
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Old 05-02-2010
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I did my learnin' on J-22's in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, which doesn't get near the winds SF bay does. Still, we were engineless and learned to haul down sails quickly as soon as the helmsman turned into the wind. We made sure that the halyard was coiled neatly and ready to pay out, and our drill was to drop the headsail first.

When the time came, we'd send someone out onto the foredeck by the mast and turn into the wind and release the halyard. They'd pull it down as quickly as possible before we lost way, and then we'd fall off and sail in closer to the docks under the main to pull into the slip.

Docking was always the most challenging part, because the docks were a bit tight and we had to calculate wind direction and speed to make our approach spilling wind from the main, then turn into the wind just outside the slip to drop the main. We had to time everything just so to have enough momentum to make one complete circle outside the slip to lose enough speed to allow us to approach the dock "at the speed we'd like to hit it."

Always a lot of fun. Being comfortably docked and watching others coming in was just like being in the clubhouse having a beer and watching the other golfers approaching the 18th green!

Keep up the practicing and you'll get the hang of it in no time!
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Old 05-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagine2frolic View Post
I sailed the bay for 15 years. It can have many contridictions within 100 ft. Did you reduce the headsail too along with the main?.......i2f
Hmm. Reefing the jib never even crossed my mind. I'll try playing with reefing as well as depowering main/jib as I'd like to know more about "what happens if I do this" kind of thing with sail trim.

Aside from watching for accidental jibes are there no/no's as far as sail trim is concerned?
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Old 05-03-2010
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although i didn't kow how to heel sail,but your exeperience is really exciting,it is a good experience to face the danger!
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Old 05-03-2010
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Sounds like a great time.... my wife was in Sausalito yesterday so right now I'm looking at a bunch of photos from that end of the Bay. Looked like a beautiful day for sailing, and judging by the boats in the Bay, plenty of sailors agreed.

I've heard scary stories about conditions in the Bay, but you handled it admirably. Does the Capri have a roller furling/reefing headsail? If not, probably best to start with a smaller jib next time, as I think the conditions you experienced will be at the low end of typical for that area. Similarly, you might as well put in the first reef at the dock.

As for sail trim, moving clews aft (if equipped), hardening the halyards, and dropping the traveler (if equipped) to leeward are all basic ways to depower sails for heavier conditions. A sail with a deep curve will generate more power and more heeling. I find that, of these, traveler to leeward produces the most noticeable difference in behavior.

Also, there's more to "trim" than just sail trim. With your crew of 7 in a 22' boat (did you have lifejackets---properly sized---for everybody?), you should be able to get some meat on the weather rail. In the future if it's a smaller crew and everybody's in the cockpit, putting the heaviest folks on the weather side will still help keep the boat on her feet.

As far as dousing goes, there's no shame in doing it under power. However, if you're shorthanded, you can douse the jib by first heaving-to. The sail will drop right onto the deck, though it will probably need some help coming down. Once it's down the boat will probably tack herself, so be ready for that

Finally, what is a heel alarm?
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