First Accident What Did I Do Wrong? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 69 Old 06-26-2014 Thread Starter
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First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

Hey all! I just recently purchased a 1975 Venture of Newport 23'. I've been out about 5 times and have had the main sail up three times.

Today we were sailing with the wind at a 45 degree angle. The main sail was out port side, keel down, and we were cruising nicely for about an hour. All of a sudden the wind started hitting blowing directly port side pretty hard and the boat started to tilt heavily port side.

I tried to turn us directly downwind to take some power out of the sail while and told my friend to pull down the main. She couldn't pull it down so I left the rudder and yanked the main down.

As soon as I left the rudder the boat tilted hard and everything crashed around in the hull. I pulled the main down and ended up tearing the top of it. Which I'll post in a different thread.

What did I do wrong? When you feel the boat leaning too much leeward how do you correct it to prevent a capsize?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 69 Old 06-26-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

Somebody here will type a short story on procedures but my short answer is

Turn into the wind and sheet in then secure the main sheet so the boom can't crash across the deck.

Then lower the main sail.

If as you say the boom was out when you let go of the tiller and went to lower the main I'd say you are fortunate nobody was hurt.
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post #3 of 69 Old 06-26-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

You went wrong in turning down wind to de-power. You need to head up and luff the sails to de-power. Also when you head downwind the slugs will bind in the mast track. That is why the sail tore. Next, you left the helm. When in trouble, a move that works in most cases is to simply head in to the wind. Consider buying a good book on sailing technique. ASA has some excellent ones. Learn how to Heave-to. You also might consider taking some lessons.
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post #4 of 69 Old 06-26-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

On a boat the size of a Newport 23, I would assume you can reach the mainsheet while you are holding the tiller. Ease out the sail. You will immediately reduce heel and you can make a better plan to get the sail down.
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post #5 of 69 Old 06-27-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

Too much wind, dump it. Pop your main sheet and or jib sheet and the boat will right. Use your momentum to turn up wind. If you have to go forward, wrap each jibsheet around the tiller a couple of times. This will keep you on course, more or less, while you do other things. If you simply turn into the wind in a blow, the centrifugal force of the mast will cause you to heel worse, maybe much worse, until you come about.

Did you mean that you boom came crashing down? Consider a Boomkicker. About $100 for your size boat. It keeps the boom where it should be. Should be controlled with a vang.


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post #6 of 69 Old 06-27-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

Maybe you should see if you can borrow or rent a small boat such as a Sunfish and get someone to show you the basics of sailing before venturing out again. Sailing these small boats gives you the same issues to deal with as a larger boat without the costly consequences of mistakes.

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post #7 of 69 Old 06-27-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

First mistake: you went out solo at the helm without first having gained some experience sailing with others more experienced. Sailing is a lot of fun, but can quickly turn fatal if you don't know what to do - and it's clear you didn't know what to do because you thought that you could de-power the sail by heading downwind.

Luckily no one was hurt this time, but please do sail under some more experienced skipper before going solo again - maybe even pay someone to teach you how to sail your boat right.
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post #8 of 69 Old 06-27-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

Turning towards the wind that's currently blowing too hard feels counter-intuitive. It also feels counter-intuitive to release the mainsheet (which I think many of us imagine as letting the sail get bigger or catch more air). But you have to do one or both of these things in the situation you found yourselves in.

Wind shifts can be difficult.

When I've been in that situation and have heeled the boat over too much, I've tried to convince my friend to say, "Head up" or "Spill the main" rather than "IDON'TLIKETHISIDON'TLIKE THIS".

You might be able to keep sailing with just the jib/genoa while the mainsail gets fixed. Sometimes only dealing with one sail can be simpler. Good luck and thanks for sharing your tale.
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post #9 of 69 Old 06-27-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

Yeah sailing is a mystical, mysterious "only those that had lessons can do it sport" LOL

Main sheet = the line/s that you use to control the mainsail. Sounds like you had a "gybe"

Is this what or like what happened?

You Tube = cheap lessons

Suggestion, when learning remember "When in doubt, let out" Meaning if you are over powered on the main sail "let the mainsheet out" to spill the wind but if a quick change causes it gybe, Duck!! and try to not burn your hands by pulling in the mainsheet as it goes over. (not many of us have managed to slow it down LOL )

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Last edited by deniseO30; 06-27-2014 at 08:23 AM.
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post #10 of 69 Old 06-27-2014
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Re: First Accident What Did I Do Wrong?

Heading downwind sounds good in theory. The trouble is that the moment a heavy wind hits such that it keeps you heeled over, if you have a boat with any kind of beam, weather-helm will make the boat want to round up and may not let you head downwind until the boat comes up. The more a boat heels, the more assymetric the waterline contour gets (it starts looking like a banana). Modern boats with fat ass-ends develope tremendous ammounts of weather helm when they get knocked down.

When knocked down, reef or lower the sails. However, like you, I prefer to head downwind to mask the jenny to make it easy to roll in. It is a beach to roll in a 150 jenny when it is flapping violently in the wind.

In my humble opinion, you need to get out of the comfort zone to learn good heavy weather techniques. Also, if you aren't tearing a sale up occassionly, you are probably not getting out of your comfort zone enough. You need to develope a first-name relationship with a good sailmaker. Sailing is an expensive sport.

Last edited by snotter; 06-27-2014 at 08:43 AM.
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