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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 08-14-2011
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Sailing without an Engine

I'm in my second year of sailing J22s on a small lake here in Denver, Colorado. I'm studying to write my ASA 101/2 exams, had nine lessons on the water and been on the water with friends/family about 10 additional times. Once, during my lessons, I talked the instructor into leaving under sail. On a port beam reach we sailed out after walking the boat around so she was heading out. This was so rare the marina manager and a different instructor approached me after our return to comment on it.

My biggest fear is not being able to stop - either once I'm into the slip or if someone maneuvers in front of me. With the small outboard these boats have I can at least reverse.

The marina is small and I have three slips I can park in: one is nearly straight in from the entrance and the other two require 90 degreee turns at the last minute - whichever slip I left. The marina rents small sailboats, personal watercraft, canoes and these surf board things you stand on and paddle. So some days there are quite a few people coming in/out and it seems most have no concept of clearing the entrance. But that's not always the case and the entrance has room right/left to come about for anoher approach through the buoys.

I have been practicing a stop in the lake by approaching a buoy and trying to stop dead on or abeam - but that's plenty different from a tight marina with people in canoes or paddleboats.*
  1. Am I just courting disaster wanting to launch/land under sail only?
  2. I won't do this without someone on the anchor and someone with a pole to push me off an object
  3. Is this a silly thing to challenge myself with?
  4. The boats have an anchor, paddle and usually a pole for a spinnaker - so ample tools to push off other something.
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Old 08-14-2011
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I wouldn't do it. It could get expensive.
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Old 08-14-2011
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You could have the engine running "just in case". It would be better to practice under controlled conditions than having to do it the first time under less than ideal conditions.
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Old 08-14-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailak View Post
You could have the engine running "just in case". It would be better to practice under controlled conditions than having to do it the first time under less than ideal conditions.
Do you see others sailing in/out of the marina? My experience on two lakes in Colorado is obviously too limited to know how common this is.
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Old 08-15-2011
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Everyone should be able to sail a J/22 in and out without an engine.

Sailing in and out of marinas, although not common, is not exactly rare either over here, since many of the lightweight racers alot larger than 22ft don't have engines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joelsanda View Post
  1. Am I just courting disaster wanting to launch/land under sail only?
  2. I won't do this without someone on the anchor and someone with a pole to push me off an object
  3. Is this a silly thing to challenge myself with?
  4. The boats have an anchor, paddle and usually a pole for a spinnaker - so ample tools to push off other something.
It sounds to me like you are recognising the dangers and taking appropriate measures to control them so - go right ahead!! Learning to sail in and out of any dock is something all sailors should know for the time when (not if) the engine fails.

For starters, reverse on most outboards will hardly get you out of trouble. At best it'll slow you down, but reverse it ain't.

I'd suggest:
1. Pick calm days with light winds.
2. Forget about the anchor - it'll get you into trouble. Instead, have all your people ready to fend off.
3. Take it slowly
4. Use only one sail (jib or main depending upon wind direction) set ready to drop the instant you need it to.
5. A boat-hook is the best weapon for the foredeck guy to fend off.

The key thing is learning how long it takes the boat to stop in different wind strengths and directions from the second you drop the sail (practice this approaching a buoy). That will build confidence that you'll be able to stop in time under pretty much all circumstances. We gave the foredeck guy the joyful task of whacking the buoy with the boat-hook as we drifted up to it: Too fast or too slow and he couldn't hit it!

It's not hard - enjoy the challenge!
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Last edited by Classic30; 08-15-2011 at 12:58 AM.
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Old 08-15-2011
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Even a small 2 horse air cooled outboard will not add weight but will add peice of mind when needed. In light air boat control is limited under sail. good luck
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Old 08-15-2011
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Hartley18, I am glad to hear you say it (I thought I was alone). I spent 2 weeks with my boat with no motor, I had the boat for 1 month at that point, and only sailed it 3 times. I still wanted to sail. I did this during weekdays when the lake was less crowded.

I have a capri22, very similar to a J/22 for size, except the J is lighter, and has more sail area/keel. I sailed into, and out of the slip many times on wind-power alone. IN fact, one trip was in 15-20knot winds... The trick is to know your limitations. If you've gotten comfortable with your skills on a particular boat (sounds like you have), it is logical to take every precaution, and prepare yourself for the case of an eventual emergency, of no motor. It's also good practice for crew.

Having motor at ready is a GOOD idea. Having crew to fend off, any "potential issues" better. Practicing, is wise.

I will add, that, I sailed my little capri 14.2 boat for years sans motor. So stepping up to the 22 was really not a big deal to sail away and back to dock, other than the "stopping factor," honestly it is very similar.

When we came in with no motor, in 15 knot winds... I was flying a reefed main only (keeping sail area simple, and tacking pretty hands free). Spilling wind on my way in. We were doing 2.5 knots on a port reach, at the end of the dock... 80 feet away was our slip (and 90 degrees in, and into the wind). I instructed crew, what was happening.. no time for topping lifts, or the like, boom was going into the cockpit at speed, and I would be running from tiller to dock (crew isn't really crew at this point they are ballast, no one that nimble yet except me). Everyone knew this was a ONE-TAKE only bit, but were kept in the loop to know what to expect. The boom/mainsail dropped (controlled), we are on bare poles, coasting the 80 feet. Doing 1.5 knots for my 90 degree turn.

After my 90 degree turn, coasting now at 1 knot, we slid into our dock perfectly, with enough time for me to hop off and stop the boat. It was quick, and less than subtle, but we hit nothing. We collected main/boom, and cleaned up from there once docklines secured.

I would not want to do this every time, but knowing how, and what do expect is part of sailing.

I cannot tell you how many emergency situations have come up over the years. Broken wheels, failed motors, blown sails, snapped shrouds, broken tillers, broken rudders... Do you have a plan for these things? You probably should. Nothing wrong with the plan being "call for help" or "ask for assistance" either.

Just my $0.02 glad to hear I am not alone.
This is WAY more difficult as the boats get bigger. We've been forced to do it with our 6000lb 27 footer (dead engine), and you need precision and big arms to stop that beast in the slip. But the J/22 should at least prepare you for what is necessary to do .
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Old 08-15-2011
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While there are places it would be irresponsible, it is a handy thing to know how to do. Several renowned sailors, the Pardees come to mind mind, have sailed tens of thousands of miles with no engine. It is a good part of our skill set to master, an also know that a busy crowded harbor or constricted waterway may not be the best place to use said skills, but I would much rather have some experience before a busted engine forces me to learn on the fly. I had such an experience, my engine quit as I was approaching Frankfort Michigan Harbor and had to sail to the dock. Luckily I only had to deal with 1 fisherman at the harbor's mouth.
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Old 08-15-2011
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Think what sailors of pre-industrial era did. PADDLE! I'm guilty of not having any kind of paddles on my 30ft but, seriously if you have a smaller sailboat it's really easy to move your boat with them. I'd venture to say, that a good LONG and STRONG pair of oars rigged to the primary winches (or other location,would actually work on most boats. (for docking and just getting the boat to glide into a slip) One problem is finding or making said oars. spruce or ash being the best woods for them.
Sculling is a possible way to just maneuver a boat too.
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Last edited by deniseO30; 08-15-2011 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 08-15-2011
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I've been doing "dead stick" approaches into my slip all summer. Engine in the water, idling away in neutral, ready to assist at a moment's notice. This past weekend our club held a community sail, and I could count on one hand the number of approaches and departures 2 of the boats did under power on one hand.

It's an excellent skill to have. With any luck, I'll be doing that very thing all next summer.
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