Wind speed vs safe learning? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-26-2004 Thread Starter
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Wind speed vs safe learning?

This weekend the wife and I tried to take our first sail on a new 22'' cruiser/racer we bought. More motivated than experienced, we ended up in some real trouble on the water. Scared the pants off of me, as things went to crap so quickly that it caught and left me stupid.

What would others consider "too much" wind for a new/learning sailor? We tried going out in 15-20 mph lake winds. That was a big mistake, and over our heads. What is a safe window of wind speed? Any rules of thumb that might help?

I quickly learned that if you take a 22'' sailboat, power it with a 6-hp outboard and point it to 20-mph headwind you will go backwards (smile). And when ''backwards'' consists of shore rock, it is not a pleasant experience. We could not even get the sails up, and ended up grounded.

It was only after being towed back to a marina that we noticed there were zero other sailboats on the lake -- and only about 3 powercraft, even though its a monster sized lake, with easily 20-30 craft on a normal day. We maybe should have noticed that earlier (smile).

All fear & soiled undies aside, we cannot wait to try again! Even scared I loved the hell out of it.. heh...

Any advice on helping to define one''s limits -before- they are reached would be sincerely appreciated. First-time horror stories gladly accepted.
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-27-2004
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Wind speed vs safe learning?

A lot of this depends on the specific boat, and sails being flown. A typical 22 foot, trailerable swing keel boat, equipped with a 135% to 145% genoa begins to become over powered in 12 to 15 knots of wind. If you have a 100% genoa you can extend this range upward a little bit. At the upper end of the teens, you will want to have a reef in your mainsail.

An experienced sailor could have a relatively easy time handling a typical 22 foot boat in that configuration (100% jib and a reefed mainsail) in 20 knots of wind.

For a beginner it probably makes sense to sail in winds that are below 12 to 15 knots.

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post #3 of 5 Old 04-27-2004
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Wind speed vs safe learning?

After completing a whirlind sailing course I took my wife sailing in San Diego Bay aboard a Catalina 22. We were having a great time until becoming overpowered and getting knocked down. Funny, they never covered that in the class. It may have been a blessing that you were unable to raise your sails.

That experience has defined our subsequent sailing career...I now own my own boat but will not forget the feeling of helplessness and frustration at my total lack of control. And the first mate, God bless her, makes it very clear when she is uncomfortable with the conditions. It''s true, sometimes discretion IS the better part of valor...

Look out and see how the other sailboats are reacting to conditions prior to casting off and consider reefing at the dock. It''s hard to have an enjoyable sail if the mate has no confidence in the skipper. Enjoy.

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post #4 of 5 Old 04-28-2004
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Wind speed vs safe learning?

Sorry your outing was a bit traumatic--that was alot of wind for a first time out. If you can, get on the boat with your first mate and practice raising, lowering and reefing the sails with little or no wind, ideally tied to the dock. Get a sense of action and consequences before heading out. Also a 6 hp motor should have been enough if it was a long shaft, so if you can, on the same calm day, try some traverses around and about with the motor to get a feeling for it. You were out in alot of wind for beginning, under 10 knots is great. Planning for what happens next is quite a big part of sailing--go over the plan with your mate. I go over docking procedure with the crew every time: first, second, third. Leaving and returning. Also for sailing: giving yourself lots of sea-room before attempting to raise the sails can spare you the indignity of a tow home: my first outing on my C-22 was on a 6 knot day but I still had one reef in the main leaving the dock.
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-29-2004
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Wind speed vs safe learning?

Everyone else has had good advice for you, I don''t have any to add. I just wanted to say that if you do follow the above advice, and begin methodically teaching yourself while the wind is low, you''ll be suprised how soon you start wishing for stronger winds! If you really practice your sail handling, steering (ie, through the waves), and reefing, 18 knots of wind will be fun!

Good luck,
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