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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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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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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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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.


Don
 

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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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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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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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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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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.
 

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As others have said, head up, and ease the mainsheet.

If you get a heavy gust while running (downwind, or broad reach), you're apparent wind will drastically change forward (to beam)... causing a massive heel/tilt...

if it's +10 or +15 mph over your standard wind speeds, it'll also induce tremendous weather helm (tendency to rotate toward the wind), your instinct is usually to fight it, and attempt to push against that...

The best thing to do is to ease the mainsheet (this assumes you have some kind of vang)... Easing the mainsheet without a vang, might make it temporarily worse.

I love the suggestion of sail a sunfish, not because it's a good idea (your boat is fine), but because the Sunfish has exactly 1 sail control (mainsheet). You can either ease or trim... that's it.

Anyway, in a gust, your apparent wind (think tell tales or windex or masthead fly whatever you might have) while headed broad reach/downwind will come forward dramatically (usually to beam or further forward)... easing the mainsheet should dump enough of the gust to get you flatter.

Others will argue with me on this, but sailing on main alone is OK (while learning in lighter air), but it actually creates MORE weather helm than sailing with 2 sails up, which becomes more pronounced as the winds build. If you only had the mainsail up because the winds were up (and having both main and jib up was too much sail), then I submit you would have been much more controlled, if you had reefed the mainsail, and run the smallest jib you have.

You said you tore your sail, did you instead tear off sail slugs (which are usually designed to fail before the sail itself). Sail slugs are usually just stitched on and designed to be replaced.

One more tip... learn to watch the water. Gusts rarely appear from nowhere! Darker water (looking at the surface) means puffs... you wind up looking forward for gusts while beating, and aft for gusts while running... if you see dramatically darker water approaching (see from which direction in the last line), prepare yourself to ease (or even pre-ease). You'll get good at timing them as you see them crawl across the water.

I think sailing schools are great, but there is also nothing wrong with the school of hard knocks. You'll learn your lessons the hard way for sure, but you'll also learn them quick!
 

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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.


THIS IS conflicting info...if the main is to port you are on stbd tack first of all, you say the wind is hitting PORT side meaning its coming from the opposite side or do you simply mean you got a stronger gust from the same side making you heel to port more or leeward? if so you simply got overwpowered, thats an easy fix.

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.


this is a classic mistake you actually made the main face the wind more in essence POWERING UP especially in a gust(a lot of dinghy racers use this with wind shifts to gain speed and surf, you can see it when rounding bouys on a dowwind leg

correct procedure there is depower main and or head into wind

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.

never ever leave the rudder

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

you did a couple things technically wrong, first dont power up by having the main or sails face the wind more, especially in a gust

you did not depower enough that means for the first times completely releasing mainsheet, depowering equals not heeling over too much and capsizing...simple.

Thanks!
THE ONE thing nobody is really mentioning in all the good posts is YOU LEFT THE HELM you had crew, crew drops sails...

of course if you are downwind or the main is fully out thats hard to do so the thoughts on heading into wind are right.

on small boats no matter who you think you are or how good you are you cant leave the helm without it either rounding up or down.

YOU NEVER LEAVE THE TILLER.

this is what caused the "crash"


I always tell new dinghy sailors and small boat sailors that are learning is that the mainsheet is the clutch

to depower before thinking about shifting gears(sails, and reefs) changing lanes, turning etc(I use these analogies cause it helps people understand in common terms) you release the mainsheet or push down the lucth pedal

this will imediately on most small boats and all dinghies depower you drastically to the point many fall back into the windward side and wet their butts

your on a bigger 23 footer but this is the only way to control heel and avoid heeling so much you gybe or round up and tack over unintentionally.

sooooo for new sailors

mainsheet is CLUTCH
main sail is 1st-3rd gears(power gears)
jib is 4th and 5th gear or override

hope this helps

btw you did nothing wrong...learning to sail is doing this many times

you will learn to feather the mainsheet out gradually and keep speed...

same with rudder you will learn when you have to much weather helm and learn when you need to either reef or depower main etc...

also remember that your jib is the second rudder if you will, it has to be trimmed correctly in all wind angles for you to have correct rudder feel and action.

cheers

ps. the crash you say(i edited my post) sound like you eventually gybed since you went downwind...you probably got behind the wind and the main "crashed" over...

one rule you should always heed to is:

dont back wind the main
you cant lower the main downwind(not true in some cases but just remember that the main should always be lowered or reefed into the wind, prefferably with some forward movement as it will help)

hope this helps a bit...and keep trying, practice makes perfect!
 

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First mistake: you went out solo at the helm without first having gained some experience sailing with others more experienced.
I hate this elitist B.S.

I won't add to the advice given because you already have enough to think about.

P.S. -- My dad pushed me off the dock at age 10 in a Tanzer 16 and told me to have fun. Kudos to you for getting out there and learning the best way, by trial and error.
 

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Let's put this is perspective.... you made a mistake but it's not the end of the world or even that bad of a mistake. You'll make bigger ones, trust me. :)

Hangup said it correctly, when headed upwind, just ease the main when the wind increases. Always head into the wind to lower the sail. Whenever I get lazy and try to lower the mainsail when headed downwind, it doesn't work for me either...the sail always binds in the track. But now you get to learn how to stitch a sail...a torn luff is how I learned after an accidental gybe many years ago.

Just go back sailing and don't make that mistake again. Look for new mistakes to make... they're out there and they'll eventually find you. Another thing - don't let the experience scare you or your friend...on a sailboat the noise and heel often masks a rather benevolent situation. You weren't in any real danger though you may have thought so.
 

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Caberg has a bit of an edge but he follows my train of thought. Do you need classes, years of careful mentoring, thousands of dollars in gadgets, years spent on a sunfish on a lake feeling the boat. No. Sailing is not rocket science. Any bozo can make it go. But, competent sailing is a mix of knowledge, experience and common sense. Knowledge can be garnered from training, classes, books, videos, talking to a sailor or maybe, just figuring it out. Experience is different from knowledge, but similar in that it can come from some of the same places, classes and training, but for the most part it comes from doing. Be careful though, some folks are very experienced at doing things wrong or dangerously. The third component, common sense, really only comes from inside you. It really can't be taught. It just has to be. You mix the three components together, and you can be a competent sailor. Racing, INMO, is another mater. But if you're taking your sweetheart out on the water for the afternoon, a sailor can do well without setting foot in a class or a yacht club.

That said, I would guess that you are very new to sailing. One word for you . . . Sailing for Dummies. Yes, it's real and pretty good. A video, Sailing with Confidence, shows how to leave the dock, hoist the main, trim, gybe, tack, everything but cracking a long neck at anchor. Spend your Saturday mornings with one index finger in a coffee mug and the other perusing YouTube for sailing movies. The Complete Trailer Sailor by Brian Gilbert: excellent for us trailerables.

One class that I absolutely insist on (like I have that authority) is Sailing and Seamanship for the USCGA. Absolute must. There are just as many laws on the water as on the road but many (maybe most) state require NO license. Just dumb.

One thing that you seem OK with is presenting your stupid mistakes to the world. That's excellent because even the stodgiest of us have long lists of mistakes that are even dumber and more life threatening and we lived to trim another jib. SO, learn from your mistakes, and get back on the water.

Look for my first captain's log on this forum in a few minutes. I posted it a few years ago so some folks may have seen it. A comedic look at our first "cruise". I don't cover the time that we ran aground trying to set anchor, hit a buoy the size of a VW bug, or sailed over the jetty into 4 feet of water. Those are other times.

Don
 

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christian.hess put things very nicely, and brought out a point no others did - and a critical one from a safety perspective - never, never leave the tiller unattended. If you leave the tiller, make sure you have an autopilot or spare hand managing it - on a boat like yours a couple of bungee cords will do. But just letting go of the tiller is like letting go of the steering wheel of your car - at 5 mph, perhaps. But on a freeway? Or while driving down a rocky road?

There is a lot of good advice here - lessons often teach you quicker and safer, but the school of hard knocks works too. As others have said, in a sudden gust let the main out, or head into the wind. As you discovered turning downwind "falling off" the boat picks up a lot of power and speed. But all of us have done it, normally once, normally early on while learning. Getting the a bit scared is normal and healthy, but persevere!
 

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Another thing - don't let the experience scare you or your friend...on a sailboat the noise and heel often masks a rather benevolent situation. You weren't in any real danger though you may have thought so.
I am going to disagree here. The dangers were considerable.

It sounds like nobody was clipped on or wearing PFDS. So if someone had gone overboard recovery might have been doubtful.

People die every year in this exact circumstance. Man falls from boat, presumed drowned | Local News | The Seattle Times

heading down wind in a squall with the mainsail up and the helm lets go of the tiller now a roundup is more likely but a gybe is possible. With a gybe on a small boat a boom strike to the head is very possible.

People die every year in this exact circumstance. South African Cruising Sailor - Boom Death in Oz

However neither happened so no muss no fuss. The OP I think realizes that it was a dangerous moment and the outcome could have been much worse.

Sailing is 99% common sense. However in those 1% moments you need to know what to do.
 

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I hate this elitist B.S.

I won't add to the advice given because you already have enough to think about.

P.S. -- My dad pushed me off the dock at age 10 in a Tanzer 16 and told me to have fun. Kudos to you for getting out there and learning the best way, by trial and error.

its also seems that person didnt read the post with dedication since the op wasnt sailing solo, but did indeed have crew...:)
 

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Two very important things:

First: You did not have an “accident” (unless of course you had to change your shorts afterwards). Accidents usually mean you exchanged insurance numbers afterwards. The boat got away from you. It will be the first of many. We call things like what happened to you “going sideways” or “pear shaped”. Proper lingo is important in our sport.

Second: Now that you have dusted yourself off and read through all the advice, it is time to fix your mainsail. Post us a picture of the rip so we can help you repair it yourself or if you need to send it to a sail maker. My suspicion is that your sail is old and your budget is tight so let us help you get back on the water.

Ps. Where do you sail out of?
 

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In my lessons, the teacher said over and over, "Tiller toward boom, avoids doom." Edited: the teacher didn't say this next thing, I misspoke, but a sailing friend told us that if you get in trouble, release the tiller and the boat will turn into the wind. Which,if wrong, shows me to not listen to this sailor friend.

The teacher also taught us to gybe properly, cause first he taught us about an accidental gybe. Which is ugly and scary. So now, I'm cautious about going downwind and always watching the jib to see what it's doing. If it starts to luff, drats, I can't remember what we had to do to get a bigger angle, but I remember tiller to boom, avoid doom!!

So for newbies, I do think lessons are valuable unless you have someone experienced to teach you. And I also think that the lessons must be followed up with time in the boat, which we haven't been able to find, :(
 
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