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Advanced beginner
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He did, and I wondered this too. Jeff_H is always talking about how some of these era boats are extremely tender and uncomfortable to sail (especially new sailors). Is this one of those?
 

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There is a concept, when learning to fly, which dictates establishing your personal minimums. There are rules around how much visibility or cloud height you are legally allowed to fly in, depending on your level of licensing, instrument rating, etc. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. The day your instrument rating has a wet signature on it, you are legally allowed to fly an airplane to within 200ft of the ground, before seeing the runway. You may have proven you can do it, with an instructor or examiner in the right seat, but you'd be stupid to run out and do your first solo approach to that level. You set your personal minimums higher and then lower them slowly as you get experience.

Same applies to sailing your boat. You own it and nothing prevents you from having all the sails out and heading off the dock in 20kt winds. But you shouldn't. Sail conservatively, set a wind limit, reef the sails, until that feels second nature, then press your comfort zone slightly, until that feels second nature. You'll get there at your own pace. Keep at it.
 

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Master Mariner
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As I tell my charter guests (most of whom have never sailed before, or been on any small boat, for that matter) when we begin to heel when we get out into the wind, "This boat can't tip over without waves that you will not see on this trip. Furthermore, Nikki and I prefer not to be uncomfortable when sailing, so please do not worry."
Almost everyone who sails the eastern Caribbean begins the day reefed down. It is always much easier to shake out a reef than tuck one in, especially underway.
Fear is counter productive IMO. It certainly doesn't help things and it certainly doesn't make one feel in control. This is one reason I try to convince anyone wishing to learn to sail, do so in a dinghy. THAT they ARE going to tip over, and after a couple of times they will understand how hard it is to tip over a bigger boat.
Learn to reef, reef early and keep your boat a comfortable experience.
 

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Old soul
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A simple rule of thumb is that as soon as you wonder if it's time to reef, then it's time to reef. Don't second-guess. Just do it.

If you're wrong, the worst case scenario is you are under-canvassed for a short while.
Re "Calming Breaths" Vs "Get Over It"

I am not a Calming Breaths kinda dude.

The Army studies fear. Kinda weird, until I thought about it :) Until recently (30 years or so) they were the only workplace to instruct Leadership.
Anyway I was in the part time army (in Australia) in officer training. They needed to asses how you deal with fear. The easiest and cheapest way to give the fear of death was to take us up in an old clunker plane and tell us to get out. Those that parachuted passed. They didnt care what method you used. Interesting was the different ways people reacted when we go to the ground: It was a water jump ie into water. I was first out and first into the recovery boat, and, obviously helped everyone else into the boat. Funnily enough, no one else helped. Other interesting bit was half the group were all 'man, what a buzzzzz'.... the other half were quiet. I was certainly one of the quiet half. I did it but didn't like it.

I don't think this post has helped the discussion! :LOL: :ROFLMAO: :LOL:
No... but it did revive my old parachuting days, so thanks!

I recall my first jump. This was a static-line solo jump, long before the days when novices first jumped with instructors... Anyway, I was second out of the plane.

First guy gets in position in the open hatch. Instructor taps and says Go. ... nuthin'. Guy didn't go.
Instructor taps a little harder, and yells a little louder, Go! ... nope. Guy ain't leavin.
The instructor waits, then gives the student a shove while yelling GO!

... he went.

When it came to my turn, I didn't need to be told twice :oops:.
 

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I would like to thank everyone for the great feedback. Yes, reefing tends to one of my go to strats when my nerves start to get away from me, and yes, I'm sure a lot of it is still my lack of experience working against me, since as previously stated, I know I can swim (and quite well) so if I did roll the boat, well, provided I wasn't incapacitated, I've got options.
Here is part of the problem....you say "if I did roll the boat"...

You are NOT going to roll the boat! It just doesn't happen unless you are out in extreme conditions with an extreme sea state! What IS going to happen if you heel too much is that your rudder will stall and you will lose steerage, and the boat will round up into the wind.

Heeling is a natural state for a sail boat. That's why so many boats have curved helm seats, curved cockpit soles at the helm position, etc. Heeling is normal. Heeling too much is slow and uncomfortable, but not typically dangerous.

I agree with others, racing is a great way to get good at upwind sailing, not only will you become comfortable with heeling, you will also learn what to do to reduce heel. (Hint: reefing is far from the first thing a racer does to reduce heel).

The reality is that heavy air sailing off the wind is far more dangerous than upwind. In all my years of racing I can't recall ever having a dangerous wipe-out sailing upwind, but downwind I have seen my share of broken spinnaker poles, blown sails, accidental gybes where the boom could kill someone instantly, almost gone overboard and other chaos!

I don't fear heavy air upwind sailing at all, but I do admit to being a bit apprehensive about heavy air gybes though!



Sent from my SM-G981W using Tapatalk
 

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I didn't read all the posts, so if this is redundant, apologies...

Fear is good if it is out of respect for the task, and the task afoot is within one's experience and skill. Fear is bad if it leads to panic. Compartmentalize. I always told my subordinates from time to time that there is no God given guarantee that every time we took off on a flight/mission that we were guaranteed to land, even if just a quick maintenance check lap in the pattern. But you trust your gear, the folks who do your maintenance (a little bit different in this exploit at times), and in two dimensional sailing, you have immense control and options as long as the boat is in good shape and proper planning has been done.

I felt that sort of "god dammit" fear one night last summer anchored solo on a small bay on the lower potomac in early July when the line of pretty severe thunderstorms predicted to stay well north changed their mind and decided to stop by and say hello for a few hours around midnight. But I had a plan (A and B), knew what to do if the anchor dragged bad or worse, and spent a lot of time after that night adding the lessons learned to what I might do differently next time. I was on night four of a five day solo movement from North Carolina to D.C., and was admittedly tired and just needed a good night's sleep. But the task at hand.

Hell, I felt a tinge of fear today coming into a new crowded marina and slip; simply because it was unfamiliar aside from walking it the day before, and the winds were, as always, not favorable for idling along and trying to then back in with a boat that goes in reverse poorly when winds are unfavorable. It all went well.

Fear is good. But just keep it tucked away to have a conversation with well after the event because you have other more important things to do at the moment. Compartmentalizing is a learned skill, and works well as long as it doesn't lead to overconfidence.
 

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Lot's of great insight here.

To OP, I don't know how long you've sailed your boat, but in my case after having sailed on others boats for years (but no racing), I've been out four times now on my new-to-me boat, and I've quickly been able to determine when the boat is heeling or has weather helm to the point where it's inefficient, and you can do the typical stuff to spill air or otherwise reduce heel as others have mentioned if you're not otherwise in a reefing situation (e.g. you're just dealing with intermittent gusts). My experience is the more you know your boat and its rigging, the more comfortable you'll become making the quick adjustments in a variety of situations. Or just reef initially until you're comfortable.

Cheers,

Annapolitan
 

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My advice would be to do some sailing in a small dinghy, or small catamaran, where tipping over is no big deal. With a boat like that you can sail it right up to, and then over, the edge. You will get to understand what it feels like when a sailboat is about to go over on its side -- and there very definitely is a "feel" to it that you will quickly recognize.

Once you are able to recognize that feel, you will also realize that you are nowhere near that point in any sort of normal heeling situation.

Whatever you do, good luck.
I agree 100% with denverd0n & Arcb about getting on a small boat! That is how I started and I never even blinked when I got on a keel boat and it heeled.

One warning before you do. Dinghy sailing can be addictive! Especially the in the exact scenario that you now fear. To me I can't wait to hit that groove. with the tiller in one hand, the main in the other, my back side hanging out over the rail, the water rushing by the other rail. What an amazing adrenaline rush at 7 or 8 knots!
 
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1968 Columbia 50
Columbia 50
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I grew up on a boat, and first starting out, I did not care for heeling at all. It was just something I was not used to, and it just plain scared me. One day we went out on a friends 30'er, and they loved to sail more than we did. They owned a big old basset hound which stayed with them on board full time. Well, we went out with them and I tell ya what. they had their rail in the water 95% of the time. I as a kid sat in the cockpit, with my hand on the rail under water, and after a while I got used to it. The basset hound moved around down below by walking on the side of the boat, and then settled in for a nap like it was held by a lee cloth. I still get nervous, but I have to remind myself that this thing is meant to heel, and will take more than I can.

My last distance trip was an all upwind cruise on Lake Michigan on a Catalina 30. A fine boat, but the weather went south, and turned into 6-12' waves gusting to 35 with a short period, and steep waves. We were reefed, and the boat just took it all in stride. Learning to accept the boat will "lean" is just a part of getting used to it, and gradually working your way up to fresher conditions over time. You can get there, just take your time and pick your weather windows, go out with others, and you will eventually gain in confidence and learn to conquer your fears..just give it time. :)
 

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You are NOT going to roll the boat! It just doesn't happen unless you are out in extreme conditions with an extreme sea state!
Worth repeating. You are worrying about something that is simply not going to happen, unless you are out in absurdly bad conditions. Don't carry full sail directly into a thunderstorm and you have nothing to worry about.
 

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I do sail dinghies and I own a beach cat (although I don't use a trapeze). I haven't found that either of those activities makes me more comfortable sailing with a sharp heel angle in a cruiser. I'm actually much more relaxed in a small dinghy than a big boat, when things go wrong in a small dingy you mostly just get wet, I can sail it myself so I feel more in control of everything, the freeboard is generally low and near the water, and you don't have to leave the helm to do things on the leeward side of the boat or go down in the cabin and try to do navigation while things are flying at you.

(I also totally agree with the earlier poster... nothing about upwind sailing makes me as anxious as downwind sailing. Even with a preventer, an accidental jibe can be quite dangerous, I'd much rather experience uncertain puffs on an upwind than downwind course.)
 

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Dime store wisdom

What scares me MOST is dying on a couch, bored.

May I suggest ice climbing. It's like fun, only different.

(Playing on a local icefall near Skyline Drive)

 

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Hey gang,

I was going to hijack my own thread in another message, but now that I'm really thinking about this subject, it deserves it's own message thread, so here goes.

I'll start off by admitting I'm really embarrassed to admit this, but deep breath upwind sailing with a healthy heel on the boat scares the crap out of me.

As a lot of you know, I have a Columbia 39 which has a really nice high freeboard (one of the reasons I purchased her) and when I'm in the cockpit, it's feels pretty reassuring to know that I'm pretty far away from the water.

However, in a good blow, she heels right the hell over, and again I feel stupid for admitting this (because aren't we all supposed to be fearless in this pursuit of passion) but it's a white knuckle experience for me every-time.

I try a lot of those self-help relaxation techniques when I'm in this situation, (reminding myself I can always head up, let out the main, I know how to f**king swim if I do something stupid and we actually rolled, etc etc)...but it doesn't really help. The fear of [insert whatever irrational fear I think might happen] sometimes can almost be crippling, so I usually cave instead of just keeping to the course and I'll head up to reduce the heel which helps calm my anxiety a bit (if not necessary being an optimal sail course).

I'm not sure if it's just my inexperience as a sailor commanding my own boat, or if I just don't have the "right stuff" (nerves of steel maybe) to really pursue this sport... perhaps a certain personality type can handle "fear" better than others, but at times, it's led me to doubt if I've made the right choice.. (maybe I should have just gotten a powerboat instead)...

So what I'm wondering is, do the more experienced sailors here ever experience "fear" or doubt about the decision to do this? I'm not looking for a reason to "give up or quit" I suppose I'm just looking to see how other, more experienced folks might have dealt with rational / irrational fear of certain aspects of the sport...(if they ever had to).

I'll cross a few off the list right now. I'm highly allergic to MJ, so I can't use "medical MJ" as a calming agent. I also already drink "like a fish" so that's my main go to nerve calmer for sailing upwind. Good for my liver, absolutely not. Helpful when I'm white knuckling it upwind? A bit, but not always enough. :)

Thanks gang!
I think overcoming fear is done with pure rational thought and a keen focus on exactly what you doing relative to the task at hand. Rock climbers focus on thier gear, the wall and upward mobility. Of course the know that one wrong move could send them to thier death but so can fear itself. Fear takes up alot of computing power that is better left to the tasks at hand that will keep you safe. Also, owning the knowledge and understanding of how to deal with each and every possible scenario using the equipment you have or need to procure is foremost. Lastly, asking questions instead of being afraid that you wont appear to be the ultimate seasoned sea captain on a forum or in the Marina is the fastest way to becoming the ultimate sea captain.
..and that's exactly what you did. Dont be embarrassed at all! Over the years I've become the kind of guy who could sit on a stage on a toilet reading the newspaper in front of a stadium of people...I'm just fresh out of shame. It's way overrated. Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island probably taught me more about how to think in this way than anything else. There were always consequences for embracing fear. Granted these consequences didnt involve death but they were consequences that sucked bad enough that you eventually weened off of it.
 

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Barquito
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One other thing to add to the logic that the boat won't "tip over". As you heel over, the effect of the keel becomes greater (the lever arm is longer when heeled), AND the sail area exposed to the wind decreases. As long as there are minimal waves, and there isn't water flooding in, a keelboat will not be capsized by wind.
 
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