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post #1 of 92 Old 4 Weeks Ago Thread Starter
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Sailing skills

Sailing and cruising include a vast range of skills and "know how"... and this takes a long time at sea in all sorts of circumstances.

How much of your skill set are you typically using for the type of sailing do you do? Are some of your skills rusty from not being used? Does it matter?

If your are sailing mostly locally... day sails and weekend sailing do you think this leads to not using your wider range of sailing skills? Does the familiar lead to you letting your guard down so to speak?

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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Re: Sailing skills

We tend to day sail to travel from point A to point B so we can drop the hook and relax. It is a lot of "set the sails and count the hours go by" without too much fussing. This last trip we joined a flotilla of racers for a short while (a week) and I was amazed of how much I learned/recalled about good sail trim and reading the wind/geography. They were more interested in sailing than in covering distance and that mindset showed in they way they sailed their boats.

It definitely inspired me to put a bit more thought and effort into sailing for the rest of the trip.
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post #3 of 92 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Re: Sailing skills

Let's see - just the past two weeks I have fixed hydraulic problems, installed electronics, reprogrammed a converter, rewired both AC and DC branch circuits, installed a circuit breaker on the mains power, fixed a bad plumbing job, installed four faucets, installed a water pump, installed an electric winch, made several splices in rigging lines, reinsulated a reefer/freezer, cut a 5'x2' hole in the boat and then fixed it, did some engine maintenance, and replaced the camshaft sensors in a car.

I know the car doesn't really count, but otherwise I've been using almost all of my sailing skill set - electrics, electronics, mechanics, plumbing, construction, and computers.

Never let your guard down on a boat - it is always waiting to bite you.

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Re: Sailing skills

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Let's see - just the past two weeks I have fixed hydraulic problems, installed electronics, reprogrammed a converter, rewired both AC and DC branch circuits, installed a circuit breaker on the mains power, fixed a bad plumbing job, installed four faucets, installed a water pump, installed an electric winch, made several splices in rigging lines, reinsulated a reefer/freezer, cut a 5'x2' hole in the boat and then fixed it, did some engine maintenance, and replaced the camshaft sensors in a car.

I know the car doesn't really count, but otherwise I've been using almost all of my sailing skill set - electrics, electronics, mechanics, plumbing, construction, and computers.

Never let your guard down on a boat - it is always waiting to bite you.

Mark
Yes... these maintenance skills are constantly required...

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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Re: Sailing skills

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Originally Posted by SanderO View Post
Sailing and cruising include a vast range of skills and "know how"... and this takes a long time at sea in all sorts of circumstances.

How much of your skill set are you typically using for the type of sailing do you do? Are some of your skills rusty from not being used? Does it matter?

If your are sailing mostly locally... day sails and weekend sailing do you think this leads to not using your wider range of sailing skills? Does the familiar lead to you letting your guard down so to speak?
Last sentence first; absolutely! And not only in sailing, I might add. Got pretty close to death a few times before I realized I'd been diving way too long alone.
Age has definitely added a new dimension to boat maintenance. No longer can I squeeze into that space my 6 years old kid could easily enter, but just laying across the genset to work on something beyond it, heads down! whew, just not so simple, anymore.
Fortunately, the on-deck thing seems in control, but maybe that's because I joined this profession in the black gang and it would be logical I'd wear out that education first. lol

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post #6 of 92 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Re: Sailing skills

Sailing is 99% common sense.

Take your time think it through and be cautious.

However the 1 % time is often just after the fecal matter has hit the rotary wind producing device and you have to do the right thing right away.

I spend time and thought avoiding those 1 % times.

EG only enter harbors in daylight especially strange harbors. [ I recently watched a charter boat being driven at speed onto a reef at dusk. I later heard from the guys repairing the boat that he had indeed relied on his chart plotter and possibly got the buoyage wrong. ]

If in doubt stay out.

Never ever rely on GPS waypoints to navigate through reefs.

AND my favorite the time to reef is when you first think about it.
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post #7 of 92 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Re: Sailing skills

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Let's see - just the past two weeks I have fixed hydraulic problems, installed electronics, reprogrammed a converter, rewired both AC and DC branch circuits, installed a circuit breaker on the mains power, fixed a bad plumbing job, installed four faucets, installed a water pump, installed an electric winch, made several splices in rigging lines, reinsulated a reefer/freezer, cut a 5'x2' hole in the boat and then fixed it, did some engine maintenance, and replaced the camshaft sensors in a car.
None of those are sailing skills.

They are cruising and maintenance skills.

Fastest way to learn and keep up with sailing skills is to race.
When I was doing Worlds on foredecks I could clip, hoist and set a kite before the skipper could get half way around the mark. Now this Mark would need to sit on the foredeck in a rocker figgerin which ropey bit goes through which holey bit.
But I can still do it by beer o'clock

Mark
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Re: Sailing skills

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Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
None of those are sailing skills.

They are cruising and maintenance skills.

Fastest way to learn and keep up with sailing skills is to race.
I agree with the last sentence, but not the first two.

An intimate personal knowledge of all aspects of one's boat, how it is constructed, how it is wired and plumbed, how the rigging is run and reeved, how the engines are maintained and operating - all of this puts one in sensitive tune to the boat speaking to you and what it is saying.

Obtaining all the skills to get to this level is more time consuming and wide-ranging than just learning how to precisely set sails, and steer the boat.

The best sailors I know understand the boat as a whole at least as well as where to put a traveller car.

Otherwise, the content of this thread should be "how much of your racing skills are being used or lost".

And even then, I don't think one loses the knowledge or experience itself - rather the reflexes and strength to do cruising sailing at the same speeds and immediacy as racing. For example, I haven't forgotten how to set a sail, and our sails are generally set very well, but not as fast or as quickly updated as when racing. Tacking and jibing are done the same way, only in a manner and speed that would lose a race. The boat is sailed to optimum VMG, but not if it becomes uncomfortable, and sometimes we don't set out if the weather is crappy.

Mark
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Re: Sailing skills

Quite honestly, Iím not that good a sailor, and I donít think itís all that important. Iím a cruiser, which to me means living and travelling on my smallish sailboat.

Sailing, to me, is just a desirable way of moving my home around. Sailing is like playing chess; you can learn 85% of the game in 1/2 hr, and you can play a fun game with that. But it takes a lifetime to master the last 15%.

Boat maintenance: electrical, fibreglass, plumbing, rigging, engineÖ all are far more important to my cruising life than sailing skills.

Iíve come to cruising from a canoe tripping background. I think the greatest skills I bring to our current life are these learned on remote wilderness travels. Self sufficiency, problem solving, moving slow and at my own pace, and most importantly an appreciation of my limitations knowing that Nature will kill if you give her the chance.

Why go fast, when you can go slow.
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post #10 of 92 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Re: Sailing skills

Interesting how maintenance is seen as such an important part of sailing. Whilst I fully understand the concept of knowing your boat really well especially if youíre doing long passages and keeping it in a proper functional state, I think of other things that are more important. Hereís a good example (for me anyway).

On our return passage from the tropics last year, about two days out, I ran the engine to get some hot water for the shower. The overheat buzzer came on and the temp gauge showed high coolant temp. Knowing that I had installed a new raw water impeller before the start of the cruise (maybe 35hrs of engine time), I started visualising all the other scenarios that would cause this. All of them were too large to worry about at sea so we sailed the next five days without using the engine, including strapping the dink alongside and using the outboard to get us onto the customs dock in NZ.

Much more important on the passage was the weather and what is was likely to do next, what we were going to eat, our course home, the sea state, how much drinking water we had left, other vessels in our area, sailing the boat efficiently, carrying a safe amount of sail, keeping family appraised of our position, whoís getting seasick or tired, the state of our batteries, itís a long list.

Mechanical problems were waaaay down the list in order of importance. I could comfortably lose most of my mechanical systems and still get home safely as long as the aforementioned details are taken care of. As long as the boat is not seriously leaking and the rig stays up, Iím good to go. Interestingly, one mechanical thing stands out - at least one of the toilets must keep working .

Back to the original question: do these skills get rusty? Sure they do, the same way that riding a bicycle does. But itís a short trip back to full competency and not something that I actually think about.
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