SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
86 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Just thought I'd share a quick story. As some of you may know, this is our first year on the water. We've relied on the internet, a few books, and brass balls to self-teach until the wedding is behind us and we can afford a proper lesson.

So far, things have been going swimmingly on our 40yo C&C 30. We're careful to avoid questionable weather and have managed in excess of 500 miles under sail so far in our first season. A few overnights and a number of daysails.

Anyhow, having "mastered :p" the big boat, we opted to rent a sunfish at one of our state parks. I really anticipated "feeling the tug of the sails and the subtleties of steering with a rudder."

Let's just say it didn't go quite as planned. We capsized twice just trying to board and get under way. With no wind vane, I quickly realized just how poor I am at judging wind direction. We made halting progress upwind and enjoyed an hour of "sailing," but a new problem presented itself. The aged vessel wasn't even close to watertight and our frequent swims had almost totally filled the hull with water.

We turned down wind and made a desperate run for the rental dock, but it was too late. We'd turned into a semi-submersible that would have made a drug-smuggler proud. Bailing seemed to have no effect and even the slightest heel would now fully roll us. We waved off numerous "rescue attempts" from 14 yo girls in kayaks and canoes... clinging to our dignity and experienced, self-taught sailor identities. Eventually though, the open sea (pond) wore us down.

On the plus side, we were able to pitchpole.. sorta in slow motion... so that's something. Finally, the 17yo that assembled the rig for us came to our rescue and towed our stricken vessel back to base while we made the long walk of shame up the shoreline.

Next time!
 

·
One of None
Joined
·
8,040 Posts
body ballast is not quick to move or learn. little boats aren't forgiving like larger boats. And some won't even stay upright when rigged with no crew and in a slight breeze.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
5,921 Posts
Thanks for sharing!

I don't consider it merits a "walk of shame." Far from it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: christian.hess

·
Registered
Corsair 24
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
there is no shame in that my friend...dinghy sailing will humble many a sailor...and capsizing is just part of the fun

many many cruisers have never set foot on a dinghy fwiw

now about old sunfish and lasers and other small dinghies many many fill with water over time saturating the foam core to act basically like you describe...

just have fun and do not let these things slow you down

its not embarrasing if you are learning and willing to improve

look at the brightside.
 

·
Master Mariner
Joined
·
8,998 Posts
My partner's first sail was 1500 miles from Newport to St. Thomas via Bermuda on a 53' ketch. Another 5000 miles of interisland sailing, pulling strings and things, and she rightfully felt some pride in her sailing abilities. But no matter how well she knew how to do those things she did so well on our boat, she had not yet learned, why.
Enter an 11 foot dinghy loaned from the Bequia Youth Sailors and the lessons could begin. I paced her in the Zodiac and, oops, she's over. Looking rather bedraggled, she found that sitting on the dagger board was the method of choice for righting this boat, and off she went, and over again. "You might want to bail out all that water, before you haul in the main sheet again." I suggested. Long wet story short, after several hours, she had a pretty good understanding of the forces and reactions to actions, that aren't so apparent on the big boat.
IMO, one must at some point, no matter how many miles one puts under their keel, get in a small sailing dink if one truly wishes to understand sailing.
 

·
Registered
Corsair 24
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
dont say that so outload capta as some beleive you can and are perfectly fine getting your first boat a big cruising boat learn as you go and then for some magical reason sell the fully equipped boat in paradise cause it just wasnt your thing, ejem.

jajjjaaja

all jokes aside...dinghy sailing is fun, one of the best ways to understand the physics of sailing at its essence and one of the better ways to get BETTER, please excuse the redundancy!

...especially regarding trim, sail shape, weight distribution, effects of rudder control, keel or daggerboard position, how to backwind and sail backwards, how to tack faster, how to do controlled gybes, how to round marks well, FLAT IS FAST, man I could go on...

but wont

peace
 

·
Member
Joined
·
599 Posts
Love the story - been there, done that (as I think many of us have!)

IMO, one must at some point, no matter how many miles one puts under their keel, get in a small sailing dink if one truly wishes to understand sailing.
Great comment. It's worth persevering. The acute sensitivity to trim in a smaller boat, and the feel of the water on the tiller, will teach you many lessons which can be transferred to your bigger boat. On the bigger boats the sheer weight - and often a wheel - tends to isolate you from the environment, so it is a lot more difficult to "feel" what is going on. IMHO sail as many boats as you can, in addition to your own. It's fun and a learning experience; each boat (and skipper) has its foibles.

Keep it up!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,953 Posts
I took a Laser out last summer. When I brought it back a the end of the day the guy asked me how many times I tipped it. When I said "none" I thought he'd be pleased that I hadn't capsized his boat, but instead he said "then you weren't pushing it hard enough!"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
My partner's first sail was 1500 miles from Newport to St. Thomas via Bermuda on a 53' ketch. Another 5000 miles of interisland sailing, pulling strings and things, and she rightfully felt some pride in her sailing abilities. But no matter how well she knew how to do those things she did so well on our boat, she had not yet learned, why.
Enter an 11 foot dinghy loaned from the Bequia Youth Sailors and the lessons could begin. I paced her in the Zodiac and, oops, she's over. Looking rather bedraggled, she found that sitting on the dagger board was the method of choice for righting this boat, and off she went, and over again. "You might want to bail out all that water, before you haul in the main sheet again." I suggested. Long wet story short, after several hours, she had a pretty good understanding of the forces and reactions to actions, that aren't so apparent on the big boat.
IMO, one must at some point, no matter how many miles one puts under their keel, get in a small sailing dink if one truly wishes to understand sailing.
Does a soling count? Not a dinghy, but you do feel everything you do and you feel it quickly.
 

·
Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
Joined
·
3,217 Posts
My first boat was a mini-fish (2 feet shorter than a regular Sunfish) with a sunfish's rig. Illegal to race with the much larger sail, it taught me a lot.

next up was a GP14. A slightly larger boat, but a proper dinghy, not a "board" boat. it was more forgiving, but harder to sail with a proper Fore n aft rig with jib (and spinnaker if I dared.. which I didn't)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
86 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thanks all for boosting my spirits. It really was fun. Just by the time I got the hang of it, we were waterlogged. Will def try again with better equipment. Maybe we'll rent two and chase each other around.
Any recommendations on a rental spot north of Baltimore?
 

·
Registered
Corsair 24
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
after the first sails its actually easier going solo...the sunfush is no slug btw

the big rigs attract the bigger sailors
 

·
A perfect day!
Joined
·
116 Posts
Sailing a sunfish can be a hoot! When you get a good feel for it, try sailing standing up! One foot port, one starboard... Strong wind...15 kts...I used to shift my weight and put the port rail in the water, skimming the water with the edge of the sail! Lots of fun....
 

·
Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
Joined
·
3,217 Posts

·
Captain Obvious
Joined
·
2,378 Posts
I think there was something wrong with the boat you rented.

I have a Sunfish. There is no way to waterlog it. The cockpit is tiny and the hull is like a gigantic surfboard filled with foam. If you could somehow manage to submerge it, she would pop back up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
86 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I think you're right Sal. The cockpit was maybe 2.5' long and 18" wide with another foot of storage space to the stern. Early on, even when that was full of water, she was very buoyant. > an hour later with 300lbs on board, the stern was 3" underwater and the bow would dive under going downwind.

There certainly was some humility involved, but perhaps embarrassed is better.

She was telling anyone who would listen that we had a cruising boat, and then there we are, floating in our rented lifejackets, holding onto our half sunken vessel... the only adults in a pond full of adolescents who continually ferried our possessions (flip flops, cooler, sunglasses) back over to us.

It really was a blast though
 

·
Registered
Corsair 24
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
yeah its obvious it was not in perfect shape...down here we used to race them against guatemala, and those guatemalans had a thing for sunfish...they are also very good on lasers...

basically some even preffered the sunfush over lasers as it can be more forgiving...and less sail adjustments to sail fast

in fact most can get on a plane real easy on a sunfish, on a laser you need a litttle more technical abilities and better body position.

apples to apples

any dinghy can be waterlooged if you have spider cracks or a badly sealed eye or hardware or at the pintles, etc

lasers shouldnt waterlog either but we battled to high hell here with the mids abusing them all the time

if your sunfish is adapted with a drain, the tried and true method of checking if it is waterlooged is to slap some soap in there and pump it up with a dinghy pump.

if you see bublles out of places you have a leaking hull...

fixes abound, some better than others...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
I started sailing on a Sunfish. Owned my own for a while - actually, two of them, but one was a basket case I used for parts.

It is fairly common on Sunfishes for the hull/deck seam to leak over time, enough that the hull becomes waterlogged. That's why they have drain holes that you unplug after sailing. Sometimes, you see one that didn't get regular draining but should have, and the foam filler has also become waterlogged sort of like a sponge. The way you tell, if you are shopping for one, is to weigh the bare hull. Not sure if I'm remembering the correct weight right this minute, but IIRC if it weighs much over 120 lbs, it is likely wet inside.

The common cure for this is to cut in a couple inspection ports in and leave it sitting for the winter with a fan circulating air through the hull.

So - while a badly waterlogged hull has to be fixed over a long wait, it's possible that Beej's rented boat may have done better later in the day by simply standing it upright on land with the hull drain (not the cockpit bailer) open.

edit: I can't remember if the hull drains were stock. I never was around a brand new one. All that I have seen had one or two. If they weren't there from the builder, it must be a very common addition.
 

·
Tartan 27' owner
Joined
·
5,241 Posts
Thanks for sharing that Beej.

I learned to sail on Sunfish as a teen. Now in my mid 50's I act as an instructor for a teen Sunfish sailing program. The program has about 20 old Sunfish hulls collected from here & there over the years.
The teens in the program seem to like going out on a boat with 4 or sometimes 5 of them on board. Fortunately we don't let them go far from shore.
One group took out a boat that leaked badly and sure enough, the hull became waterlogged just as you described. We noticed them pulling a capsize drill near the swim area and could see that the hull was low in the water so I went out to "resuce" them. The "rescue" consisted of the command: "swim to shore" since the beach was less than 50 yards away. This left me alone with the wallowing hull which sailed no better than a drunken whale. The water in the hull would move constantly move around making it impossible to keep it on a point of sail. Fortunately the swim area had a rope around it which I used to pull the lurching Sunfish to shore.
It is for this reason that we install an extra drain plug on each old Sunfish on the transom. Most Sunfish came with a drain plug on the beam of the deck which was not very convenient to use. With the drain plug on the transom we only needed to pull the offending boat a ways up the beach and let it drain before attempting to put it back in it's rack.
I had one solo sail of a Sunfish this summer in about 15 knots of wind. I doubt I ever have gone so fast on a Sunfish as this time as on a broad reach the boat was planing & screaming over the water in the gusts.
On a keel boat it doesn't matter if you are steering from anywhere in the cockpit. On a Sunfish (any dinghy) everything matters and you have to do EVERYTHING at the same time. Very different animal than keel boat sailing.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top