About 3 weeks ago I finally got my chance to take our San Juan 21 up to the lake. Unfortunately, we discovered very quickly that my wife does NOT, and I repeat NOT like her first sailing experience to be in 10-15 knot winds and heeling over about 20 degrees. So much so that we spent about 45 minutes with her crying and terrified while I sailed us back and forth to get back upwind to the doc. Not a great first outing.
Fast foward to yesterday. This time we took 2 of the kids along also, and waited for predicted 2-3 knot winds max. We had to wait a bit after putting her in the water for the wind to die off a bit more (early morning storm passed through). While we waited we went into the marina restaurant for a snack and some hydration, and the waitress was not very helpful with the whole situation. She kept saying that anyone who would go out in that weather was crazy, and really freaked my wife out.
Nevermind the ninny in the restaurant, the winds were light and steady so we headed out onto the lake. I had my youngest run the tiller to keep us pointed into the wind, and my daughter and I put the main on and reefed it. No jib. Then we turned the motor off and started sailing. Slowly, but very much in control and not heeling at all. We spent a couple hours while I taught everyone the basics of how to tack, how to gybe and then we spent an hour on man overboard drills. We have one white fender, and my daughter named it Mr. Moonbob. So, Mr. Moonbob spent some time in the water. Everyone was having fun, no problems at all. I was pretty proud of my 12 yr old. He got Mr. Moonbob back onboard the first time, putting us into irons with the fender right an easy reach over the leeward gunwale. My daughter took 4 tries, but Mr. Moonbob did finally make it back aboard.
After playing around we decided to head farther upwind and tried to make it to Wild Horse Island. As you can imagine with only a reefed main the boat was quite slow. Fun, but slow. My wife suggested that we could at least try the full main, so we shook out the reef and hoisted the main. A little better, but still quite tame. It took a LOT for her to even get back on the boat, so I didn't want to push it and ask for the jib. Thankfully, she actually brought it up in conversation, and I explained that it would certainly make the boat heel a bit more, but we would make much better progress. After some assurances she said, 'Let's try it, and if it's too much just bring it back down'. SoI again had my son put us in irons while my daughter and I went forward to rig up the jib, then everyone back into the cockpit and I told the boy to turn us off close hauled. The sails filled, we heeled to about 10° and the look on my son's face said it all: He's hooked! Wife and daughter were having fun as well. All told I might have had the helm 20 minutes, the rest of the time was the kids or wife getting a feel for things.
All told we spent about 5 hrs on the water, everyone had fun and even my wife can't wait to get back out again!
So in the course of two outings we went from terrified panic and tears, to "Let's go again tomorrow!" Yay for us!
Here's a link to a couple of pics from Saturday: https://photos.app.goo.gl/83W58GKZDLYmk6RF8