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Discussion Starter #1
Have you ever learned a lesson "the hard way" when it came to sailing?

What was the biggest mistake you've ever made sailing(or related to sailing) and what did you learn from it?
 

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652 Posts
Our dumbest leading to the worst of all situation was in March '08, when we got caught in a Force 10 storm in the Gulf. The storm was a fast moving cold front moving down the US at around 25-30 mph, packing internal winds of 50-60 knots. Sailing on a broad reach in SE winds, we got hit broadside from the North and knocked thgouhg a 110 degree arc, down to cabin trunk handles and sails in the water, when we rounded back up and started to drop sails, a jib halyard went over board, tangled in the prop and stopped the engine. As a result, we had to turn and run before the storm for the next 36 hours until the storm petered out - 180 miles South of our original rumb line.
Lesson learned - tie a knot in the bitter end of your halyards, so they can't run out through the block - how simple is that?
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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5,242 Posts
Claire,
This is a really good question. I've learned too many lessons the 'hard way' to make a concise and sensible post on the subject. I've also learned a lot of lessons the 'easy way' by learning to sail on smaller, less expensive boats that didn't mind being tipped over.
There is a really good thread here that really asks the same question you have and it has been running since 2007. You should check this out: http://www.sailnet.com/forums/seamanship/35108-whats-your-biggest-bonehead-move-sailing.html
Hours of reading about other peoples mistakes and lots of fun and lots to learn from.
Cheers.
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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3,619 Posts
Reef EARLY not late.

Reef the FIRST TIME you think about it.

When in doubt REEF, it is never the wrong thing to do when cruising.

Bone heads moves were not doing the above.
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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5,242 Posts
TQA's advice on reefing rings true to my ears. I would only add that sometimes even when racing that reefing your sails is a good idea.
Our last official race on the Hudson River had gusts reported to be up to 38 knots and we put one reef in our main sail and then figured out how much jib we could actually use - which was not much, even on our heavy 27' boat. We still got blown over in gusts but we finished and because we wore our personal flotation devices (PFD's or life vests) we finished 2nd. Several boats were disqualified from better finishing times then ours because they did not obey the Race Committee's edict that PFD's were to be worn at all times by all boats. I tended to agree with them even though it is not my custom to wear a PFD when out for a calm day sail since the conditions were way beyond calm and borderline chaotic with numerous boats dropping out of the race voluntarily.
This lesson only confirmed my belief that reefing is as important for a racer as well as a cruiser but was only learned the 'hard way' because we kept at it.
There are many other lessons that can be learned the hard way that do not involve reefing the sails in a blow. Ground tackle, aka, anchors and moorings, engines, electronics and heads can offer many ways one can learn the 'hard way'.
Bone headed moves come from not thinking about the 'what ifs' in any situation. There are a lot of 'what ifs' in this life.
 

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Chastened
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I'll never understand the reluctance to reef exhibited by some people. Once the wind reaches a certain point, a reefed sail is faster than running around over-canvassed.

I love a 20kt breeze with small sails. I make good SOG.
 
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