Once when I was an inexperienced moth sailor trying to come ashore in Sorrento, VIC, I had to sail downwind at speed while dodging anchor lines and moored boats. It was a ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ situation as I had a whole fleet behind me and no time to hesitate. And, I had to get back to shore somehow.
Like any challenging points in life sometimes having a simple way forward and a few tools up your sleeve makes the difference.
If you or someone in your family has lost confidence in your sailing ability somewhere along the way then the following words are for you.
Do you want to get back to a place where you find pleasure in planing downwind on waves, or making the most of good weather, relax time and time for good internal reflections?
Fear of failing to get the boat off the shore on the first go, of looking silly or having to be rescued are fears we all have when starting out.
Here are a few steps to get you moving forward again (so to speak).
⛵️Get a wind pennant :
Try one of these exercises each time you go sailing:
⛵️How is your exit from the shore going to look?
- Examine the angles from shore and imagine how you are going to get upwind.
- You will need to be moving forward before you try to point upwind.
- Take into account the amount of space you will need to sail in a sideways direction across the wind.
- Allow for a little sideways slip as the boat gets to full speed.
- Tack only when you get to full speed. If you try and tack at half speed you will end up stuck into the wind or ‘in irons’ and sailing backwards.
⛵️When you are on the water practice coming to a stop near a stationary boat or mark in the water. This is like a ‘man overboard' drill so it is great to practice anyway.
⛵️Practice sailing in circles talking to yourself as you turn - I’m reaching, I'm bearing away, I’m sailing downwind, I’m gybing, Im luffing up, I’m reaching, I’m sailing upwind, I’m tacking... and so on!
Practice stopping 20 metres out before you come ashore.
- Stop the boat by letting the sail go and turn slightly into the wind.
- Have a good look at the angle you want to come at the shore and imagine sailing that angle and how you will stop.
Are you on the right gybe to turn the boat into the wind and stop?
Have you lifted your rudder up a little?
Will lifting the centreboard a little help you slip sideways to land in the spot you want to land?
I fail to do a perfect landing all the time, and but luckily that particular landing at Sorrento turned out to be just perfect (and the sailor following me just happened to be world famous. - a moment in time I wont forget!)
Recreational sailing has just blown up beyond your sweetest dreams!
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I am a New Zealand sailor who learned to sail in the beautiful Malborough Sounds and then went onto represent NZ at the 2000 Olympics.