PDA

View Full Version : Sailing advice -one for the girls



Meli
11-19-2011, 04:14 AM
I'm posting this down here because this is where my sailing skills belong|:(

I love boats, always have.
I love the way they gently rock at anchor. I love the way they look under sail.
I love the way they sound, and the pure asthetics, their lines and all the things that make them lovely.

My problem?

I'm terrified of sailingY:o always have been.
My head tells me the worst I can do is capsize in 4' of water but i seem to have a primitive flight response :D

I really want to learn, just to pootle around, at least at first.

I started lessons but injured my back and couldn't finish the course.

I bought a Mirror, I loved fixing it and repainting it. I just cant sail it.
I've sailed solo in gentle winds in a boat with only a mainsail.(and a rescue dinghy onhand :D)
That was lovely.

I havent got the basics of handling the rudder with extention tiller sorted in my head yet, let alone coping with that and the mainsheet and a jib and lots of other boats around.

Now some at my club reckon I should go in head first and sail in the races, following the fleet.
Some say I should just go out before the races on a calm day (when there are other people on shore but few on the water) and just practice jibes, tacks and sailing a short course.

We sail on a small (like 1 mile long by 1/4 mile wide inner city lake with an island in the middle.
Winds are interesting because of the buildings around, but it can get crowded with small boats in the afternoons. fairly quiet with just the training fleet out in the mornings and you can be almost alone late afternoons.

Any advise?

Meli
11-19-2011, 04:44 AM
Hmm, maybe i should post this upstairs and cop the flak :D

Meli
11-19-2011, 04:58 AM
All Australians can swim (and the lake is only 4'deep):d
I think my fear comes from either...
Watching "A night to remember" as a small child :D
Or just a spatial/ inner ear/ 3 D thing.
It's worse when there are crew on board.

BTW, nice to have another girl on board, welcome :)

Meli
11-19-2011, 05:12 AM
i'm not a girl.

i speak only proverbial.

fear is not a girl thing.

LLOYD


but i do love your country and it's people, spent 6 weeks Melbourne to Carins, my fav. was Bondi, and Surfers, and a follow up on green island.

No, fear is not a girl thing, but women tend to have different depth,spatial perception and think/ respond to fear differently. Different brain chemicals different hormones, different ways of learning etc:)

Glad you enjoyed your visit :)

Peerie Maa
11-19-2011, 05:40 AM
Are thee any dinghy sailors at your club who would take you out as crew for them, to help you learn and gain confidence?

Meli
11-19-2011, 06:00 AM
Are thee any dinghy sailors at your club who would take you out as crew for them, to help you learn and gain confidence?

I can crew alright if the wind is light/moderate (my friend at the club and I took the pacer out as eye candy during the Grand Prix last year :D)
I just have a problem that I havent got my head around doing things in 3d, wind, steering, other boats, managing the sail and the rudder and worrying about another person. plus my nerves Y:o I dont like speed. poor spatial judgment or something

I didn't get my drivers licence until I was 28 :D

I think I'll be OK if I can just play with the clubs Sabre on a calm days (single sail) until I get the basics, but the other members are pressuring me into joining the races to learn and they dont arrive at the club until an hour before the races start.

I actually feel worse if I have someone else on board, not because I'm afraid of doing the wrong thing but ... I dunno I just feel I have something else to think about.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-19-2011, 06:09 AM
I agree with Nick but go further, what you need is a regular dinghy course, including madatory capsize drills.

Once you have capsized a half dozen times on purpose, the fear of it leaves you.

And a dinghy is the right place to gain the spatial awareness that bothers you.

The modern courses are very well worked out.

Peerie Maa
11-19-2011, 06:16 AM
I think I'll be OK if I can just play with the clubs Sabre on a calm days (single sail) until I get the basics, but the other members are pressuring me into joining the races to learn and they dont arrive at the club until an hour before the races start.

Does the Mirror not have a forward mast step for a cat rig?

Where is Duncan when one needs him?

Ron Williamson
11-19-2011, 06:19 AM
Yes on the forward step,but it's a kit boat, so these things get left off.
R

Meli
11-19-2011, 06:29 AM
Yes it has a forward step. Thanks Ron and Peeri, I replied above deck :D

skuthorp
11-19-2011, 07:07 AM
I hope you weren't out for the first time today Meli.

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2011, 07:10 AM
Where is Duncan when one needs him?

Cue big puff of smoke in the middle of the room...

Did someone summons me? :D

A Mirror can be una rigged Nick, but it's an absolute dog to sail. When my jib hasn't been well set up before heading out I really notice a big negative difference. I still find it extraordinary that AJ Mackinnon managed to sail out the Thames Estuary, around to Dover, across the Channel and the the canals, lakes and rivers of Europe all the way to the Black Sea without his headsail!

I'll take a shot my jib sheet arrangement tomorrow when I head out for a race.

Tips for Meli:

1. Use your head to hear the wind. By turning it until you can hear the wind in both ears you'll have dead reckoning as to where it's coming from.

2. By using "1" above you'll be able to set a course to either be close hauled (tacking), reaching, broad reaching, or running. (I hope you've got some "how to sail" books at hand so you know these terms and what they mean).

3. How you point when sailing close hauled in a Mirror really depends upon the strength of the wind. Above 15 - 20 knots and you'll be able to point about 35 to 30 degrees off the direction of the wind with well set sails. Any less and you have to start point lower, or further away from the direction of the wind.

4. When you tack or gybe it doesn't matter that your jib flaps about for a bit. So long as you can haul the new lee sheet around the mast AS YOU COME ABOUT. Not before and not after. The same is true of your weight in the boat. If you think of the move as being something like yoga or tai chi you'll probably be able to crack it.

5. Keep your weight in the centre of the boat in light winds and on the amidships side deck or even on the gunnel and stronger wind. (Do you have hiking straps in the cockpit?) This is true if it's just you sailing or you have crew. If you have crew you should be pretty much shoulder to shoulder amidships at all times.

6. Do what Andrew suggests: Get out on Albert Park Lake as often as possible and just practice. "Feel" the wind: If you think the wind has slacked off the boat will tell you by leaning over on the side you're on, so move you weight into the centre of the boat. If the wind picks up, move your weight out to the side deck. If it's really blowing hard get onto the rail.

7. Don't be afraid of sheeting her in hard if the wind picks up. You can always bear up into the wind to prevent a capsize, or just spill wind by letting out the mainsheet.

Once you get the hang of it Meli, you'll never look back. It's just like riding a bike! :)

Meli
11-19-2011, 07:20 AM
I hope you weren't out for the first time today Meli.

Ha, see my thread, "first race" up in misc :D

Meli
11-19-2011, 07:34 AM
Cue big puff of smoke in the middle of the room...

Did someone summons me? :D

A Mirror can be una rigged Nick, but it's an absolute dog to sail. When my jib hasn't been well set up before heading out I really notice a big negative difference. I still find it extraordinary that AJ Mackinnon managed to sail out the Thames Estuary, around to Dover, across the Channel and the the canals, lakes and rivers of Europe all the way to the Black Sea without his headsail!
Yes, I discovered that already, still, it makes it easier to manage until I get braverer :D

I'll take a shot my jib sheet arrangement tomorrow when I head out for a race.

Tips for Meli:

1. Use your head to hear the wind. By turning it until you can hear the wind in both ears you'll have dead reckoning as to where it's coming from.

I can do this in the sabre, I can hear the wind in both ears when there's nothing in the way :D

2. By using "1" above you'll be able to set a course to either be close hauled (tacking), reaching, broad reaching, or running. (I hope you've got some "how to sail" books at hand so you know these terms and what they mean).

Um, sort of when I'm not getting the wind in the way of my brain.

3. How you point when sailing close hauled in a Mirror really depends upon the strength of the wind. Above 15 - 20 knots and you'll be able to point about 35 to 30 degrees off the direction of the wind with well set sails. Any less and you have to start point lower, or further away from the direction of the wind.

4. When you tack or gybe it doesn't matter that your jib flaps about for a bit. So long as you can haul the new lee sheet around the mast AS YOU COME ABOUT. Not before and not after. The same is true of your weight in the boat. If you think of the move as being something like yoga or tai chi you'll probably be able to crack it.

5. Keep your weight in the centre of the boat in light winds and on the amidships side deck or even on the gunnel and stronger wind. (Do you have hiking straps in the cockpit?) This is true if it's just you sailing or you have crew. If you have crew you should be pretty much shoulder to shoulder amidships at all times.

I have straps, I just have to screw them back down, I unscrewed them while re taping round the centre board and forgot to screw them back

6. Do what Andrew suggests: Get out on Albert Park Lake as often as possible and just practice. "Feel" the wind: If you think the wind has slacked off the boat will tell you by leaning over on the side you're on, so move you weight into the centre of the boat. If the wind picks up, move your weight out to the side deck. If it's really blowing hard get onto the rail.

7. Don't be afraid of sheeting her in hard if the wind picks up. You can always bear up into the wind to prevent a capsize, or just spill wind by letting out the mainsheet.

Once you get the hang of it Meli, you'll never look back. It's just like riding a bike! :)

Thanks Duncan, some of this is a bit beyond me at the moment but I've copied this into my bookmarks on sailing stuff.
One of the main problems is the weather has been crap for beginer sailing all year, and between that and the kids, I havent been able to get out much. I've decided to abandon the kids :D
(A bit)

Meli
11-19-2011, 08:19 AM
Righto, I'll get a gyrothingy and a lotsa sheetsa paper thingy and a walki talki thingy when I get my foreign language whatsit.

Keith Wilson
11-19-2011, 08:52 AM
Learning the terminology really does make it much easier to talk (and therefore think, since thinking is much like internal talking) about what's going on. It's not just a pointless exercise in learning the secret passwords to the club, one really does understand better. "Heading up" (turning into the wind) and "bearing off" (turning away from the wind), understanding what to do and what happens, are crucial concepts.

One suggestion - small lakes with lots of buildings around are maddening for the inexperienced; the wind is very complicated, particularly near the shore. If there's a larger lake you could go to where the wind is more likely to be steady, it will be easier.

S.V. Airlie
11-19-2011, 08:54 AM
There are good suggestions here.
Remember though. lose your fear, but not your respect of the water.

Woxbox
11-19-2011, 09:11 AM
Once you have capsized a half dozen times on purpose, the fear of it leaves you.

I agree that this is the key exercise. Go out on a warm day and capsize the boat repeatedly. The same applies with kayaks. People new to kayaking tend to be nervous about flipping. The best remedy is to roll the boat early and often, making a game of it.

S.V. Airlie
11-19-2011, 09:26 AM
I agree that this is the key exercise. Go out on a warm day and capsize the boat repeatedly. The same applies with kayaks. People new to kayaking tend to be nervous about flipping. The best remedy is to roll the boat early and often, making a game of it.Capsizing was a requirement. In time, it does become a game.I used to race turnabouts..There was an old sight seeing landing craft that was converted to a paddlewheel.Why, I have no idea. We all would see it, hop into the turnabouts, and go capsize right in front of it..well 150' in front of it because the captain of the boat wouldn't dream of going around us and would just sit on his boat and scream at us to get out of the way. It was a game for us and it annoyed the heck out of him..:)

Mrleft8
11-19-2011, 09:36 AM
Light winds are not your friend. They make handling a sail boat more difficult. Like trying to ride a bike really slow. Conversely, very high winds are not your friend either.
A nice 5-10K steady breeze is about perfect for learning to handle a small boat. Variable winds can be confusing, and for a novice frightening.
Your best bet, IMHOP, is to just get in your boat, and go. It's pretty hard to get lost on a small lake, and with anything other than terrible luck, if you should capsize, there should be someone fairly close to help you out....

S.V. Airlie
11-19-2011, 09:56 AM
Good point Doug..To add to the value of Doug's statement, I sense more people get seasick when there is little wind or none at all and the boat is rocking and rolling in what wind there is. My opinion granted, as I have been seasick once in my life..1964...

wizbang 13
11-19-2011, 10:28 AM
I taught myself to sail on a 4 ton yawl.
I think learning on a racing dingy would be harder.
I am a lousy sailor.

Chris Coose
11-19-2011, 11:59 AM
Get out of racing.

Ian McColgin
11-19-2011, 12:24 PM
A Mirror is a lovely little boat to solo in. Get out every minute you can and do stuff wrong. Best way to learn from mistakes is to make them.

Mirrors are often fitted with a forward step and alternative chainplates but can be a bit hard to tack rigged that way. With mast in the normal spot but jib down is also a problem as the boat is hard to get to bear off unless you're really slick at letting the sail out at the right pace and getting all you weight aft on the transom. All in all, you'll be happiest sailing her with jib and main.

You might find it helpful to have a couple of jib sheet jam cleats for solo sailing mounted just under the gunnel ahead of where you mostly sit and with a small block just ahead of that. That way you can take the starboard sheet across to the port pully, port sheet to starboard pully, put a stopper knot in each so you don't loose them, and you're set with the sheet you'll need ready at hand.

Your timing will improve with practice but really if you just cast off the jib as you put the helm down you can concentrate of getting settled on the other side and pointed full on the new tack before worrying about the flogging jib.

For starters, forget about the hiking stick and just hold the end of the tiller. You'll probably not be sailing in real hiking out conditions that much at first anyway.

Lessons really help. That way you'll get capsize drills, sailing backwards drills, and lots of gybing and tacking drills.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-19-2011, 12:37 PM
Hum, SWIMPAL has seemingly no fear of the water, and imho not quite enough respect for it, so I have the opposite problem...

Although many of us here are self taught, because there was very little in the way of teaching of sailing when we started 40-50-60 years ago, things are now different and I'd definitely recommend taking a course. Clubs often offer the best courses.

Dan McCosh
11-19-2011, 01:43 PM
We get about 35 recruits every summer in our club's "Adult Learn to Sail" course, where you sail twice a week with a small group in three club-owned Flying Scots. It starts with ground school, a capsize drill, then lots of sailing that ends up with some basic racing and regatta events. Lots of skill levels, including panic attacks. Maybe there is something similar there. (Like the Forum, there have been about three ADLTS marriages, or something close.)

Chris Coose
11-19-2011, 01:51 PM
That's why it's a good idea to get little kids into all kinds of sports before they get big.
I think it's all related to the body memory of the height of the center of gravity when the skill or sport was first learned.
You can always pick out a skiier who began when they were 3' tall.
I still sail my blue jay as if I were the 10 year old kid.

Taking on sports at full physical growth usually takes a lot of letting go fear. Valium.

S.V. Airlie
11-19-2011, 02:04 PM
Chris has some valid points...

Chris Coose
11-19-2011, 02:11 PM
Likely the greatest underlying reason I moved to Maine to raise kids Jamie. It's a playground around every corner.

The valium suggestion was, of course, a joke but unhooking the brain from fear somehow ought to occur before you even put up the sail.

johnw
11-19-2011, 02:53 PM
I have one sister who loves heavy-air sailing, one who freaks when the boat heels at all. But she didn't mind riding on the back of her boyfriend's motorcycle in high school, so it's not like she's naturally fearful.

And my brother still doesn't drive. After I taught him to sail, my parents wanted me to teach him to drive. I refused, because he can't visualize what's going to happen next and he seems to have about a 2-second delay built into his neurology, which means he would not be a safe driver. I've been teaching sailing for decades, and one thing I've learned is that people have a wide variety of learning styles and abilities. By all means, take lessons, it will keep you from developing the dangerous habits that result in capsizes, and teach you to deal with capsizes.

I think Andrew is right, you need to get a sense of control. If you can't find a class to join, get a good book, such as Alan Brown's Invitation to Sailing, and read it. Study the diagrams, especially, because being able to visualize what's happening is very helpful. I've written up some drills for teaching sailing for the instructors in the program I helped start, and if you must be self-taught, you might find it helpful to put yourself through some of the drills.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/33095770/Drills-for-Teaching-Sailing

Knowing the physics of what keeps the boat upright seems to help many people, so again, look at the diagrams. Keep in mind that some boats, like the Mirror, are designed not to capsize too easily, while others, like the Laser, are designed to be righted easily and sailed away. Practice your capsizes in the latter if at all possible.

Some people (like me) have an unreasonable feeling that they are good sailors, and if they screw up, it's just because they didn't know that particular thing, not a reflection on their competence. They can get in trouble from overconfidence, but if they don't drown the learn quickly.

It's an interesting reflection on our culture that while men and women have equal ability at sailing, women often are slower to develop confidence in their ability. Be a bit of a feminist and keep that in mind.

Ian McColgin
11-19-2011, 03:03 PM
There are some sailing schools that focus exclusivly on women. It helps get command issues out of the way faster.

johnw
11-19-2011, 03:07 PM
There are some sailing schools that focus exclusivly on women. It helps get command issues out of the way faster.

I seldom have to do this anymore, but with couples I've had to place myself between them and make it very clear that there is only one instructor in the boat.

Ian McColgin
11-19-2011, 03:14 PM
I take couples, but only out individually at first. I've had a couple of heterosexual couples where the woman became the better and more confident sailor.

johnw
11-19-2011, 03:16 PM
I take couples, but only out individually at first. I've had a couple of heterosexual couples where the woman became the better and more confident sailor.

As you might expect, that happens about half the time. It used to be a problem for the guys, but the culture is changing.

S.V. Airlie
11-19-2011, 03:24 PM
The only woman who has sailed with me and did a good job..well a good job having never taken the helm has been Kat. When I ask if anyone wants to crew, I never make it gender specific. The only case where I did kind *of crossed the line was for someone who was seriously handicapped and I was nervous about taking her on board..Yes, she was female in this case. Could have been a male just as easily though.Now if it a long haul, I might expect a bit of experience and that too is not gender determined.

And yes, I have taken a female crew member with me in Uncas for the parents actually from Maine to Oxford MD. No..nothing sexual as you might expect or think or wish..As a favor. Her now ex boyfriend was controlling, a real ass, and her parents, who trusted me asked if I could do a favor for them. And yes, they knew I was not a threat having known the daughter for 15 years from the age of three on..
Okay..I'll duck now to hear the umm comments.

Meli
11-19-2011, 03:54 PM
thanks, There's too many good suggestions to reply individually (including the valium :D)
I joined in the current sailing group yesterday. mastered the bowline in minutes :D
It was too wet and thundery to take the boats out, so we did some shore based tack and gibe practice.
I think I'll spend some time sitting in my boat looking silly, playing with the sheets, extention rudder and jib (with the mainsail off)

I can join the classes anytime they are teaching, so I'll do the capsize practice next warm day :D

Most of the instructors here are excellent, just one or two capt Blighs :D

Ron Williamson
11-19-2011, 06:56 PM
Some people speak loudly so they can be heard and understood,not because they are tyrants.
Jus' sayin'.
R