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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 07-06-2010
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Practice makes perfect

As a second-year sailor, I'm getting to the point where I need to practice certain drills or methods to improve my basic skills. Unfortunately, I can usually only make it to the lake once a weekend, and that's often limited to 4-6 hours on the water.

In order to make the most of it, I want to strike a balance between practice and enjoying the day / sail. Last summer was mainly spent doing fewer drills and more sailing up and down the lake for the pleasure of it. But now that I'm relatively comfortable at the helm, I feel like I should fit in more drills in order to be more competent, and to be ready for less desirable situations.

That said, does anyone recommend certain drills?
I know I need the following:
  • Man overboard
  • Heave-To
  • Get out of irons (backing jib or mainsail)
Any other suggestions?

How about practice schedules? Would it be better to spend an entire day doing drills one weekend, then an entire day relaxing the next? Or would it be better to spend 2 hours on drills, and 2 hours relaxing each weekend? Keep in mind that while I'm gung-ho to improve my skills with any amount of drills, etc, my "crew" (my brother and one other varying passenger) isn't always as flexible. The ideal would allow us to make drills into a game, spending enough time to eventually become proficient at it, while not boring my crew too much.

Thoughts?

Thanks!
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Old 07-06-2010
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I think you're overthinking it. Every time you go sailing you're practicing a zillion things you'll use way more often than MOB or heaving-to.

If you want to include that stuff, pick someplace to do it, navigate to that spot, do your drill once, and then go back to having a good time (realizing that all the while, somebody is practicing helmsmanship, somebody is practicing sail trim, somebody is practicing navigation, etc.)
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Old 07-06-2010
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Practice reefing, at least until you can throw a reef in in under THREE minutes...
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Old 07-06-2010
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Heaving-to and taking in a reef and shaking it out...is a good thing to try..
When you really need to do this it will go much faster

It should take only a few minutes and then you're off and sailing again for the day...

A Man overboard drill can be rewarding by swim at the end...that should only take a few minutes as well....I wouldn't do it everytime out...

You've got a lifetime to practice.
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