Teaching Connie to sail

Started by Wayne Howard, Apr 22, 2023, 04:41 PM

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Wayne Howard

So I have a girlfriend who's never been on a sailboat before. I only have one rule aboard a boat, NO YELLING!. So we take the boat out one fine February day after the cool front has passed. The air temperature is not bad but it would be very hazardous to fall into the water. The wind is kicking but we're not going to stay out all day. Just a quick jaunt down the ICW from Chocolate Bay and back. I am working the jib and Connie is on the tiller and the main. Somewhere on the ICW, we get hit with a big gust and do a crash tack. I slip to the high side and I'm working the jib to keep us moving. Connie is still on the low side with the tiller in one hand and the whole mainsheet in the other and she has a death grip on both! And the wind is slowly pushing us over. I am very calmly telling Connie to open her left hand which is preventing the mainsheet from releasing and luffing the main. Connie however can see the water behind her getting closer and closer as we lean farther and farther. Just when I was bracing to take a February swim, Connie lets go of the mainsheet and the sail runs out and start luffing. The boat pops back up on her feet under just the jib and we reset our places and head for the ramp.

Another story but it's not Connie who messed up. Mid-April, I think. We were on Chocolate Bayou heading upwind to the bay. Connie is steering and I'm running the jib again. She starts out doing great with steering and tacking and trimming but I was noticing that the later tacks would set up and suddenly veer off. After 4 or 5 of these, I am thinking she is doing something wrong and I look back to ask her what the problem is. When I look back, I see the port gunwale go underwater and a mullet swims between the side of the boat and the stern cleat. WE'RE SINKING!!! Connie asks what's wrong and I tell her to head for the boat ramp. I get to the stern of the boat and look over the back and see the hull plug is not screwed in at all. Mni Ole is a daysailer, not a water ballasted boat. I screw in the plug so we won't get any more water in the hull. Back at the ramp, we haul the boat out of the water but just enough to get to the plug and remove it. The tires on the trailer are on their rims from the weight of all the water and there is a steady stream of water coming out of the hull. We grab our lunch and walk over to a shady spot to eat it. After a leisurely lunch, we get back to the boat and see that the tires are almost back to normal but there is still a solid stream of water coming out of the boat. After about an hour, we decide just to head back to the house as today seems to be done.

And you know what? In spite of these and other incidents we have had while sailing, she still goes out on the water with me.
Wayne Howard
Master and Commander of S/V Impetuous
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing.

Captain Kidd

Like they say, you're here to tell the story. All's well that ends well.

My wife wants nothing to do with the tiller, sheets, excessive heeling or "story making". Just a calm outing. With us pushing 70, I'm thinking we're nearing the end of "family " sailing. Although she did suggest just yesterday that I go ahead and buy a new motor for the big boat. We'll see.


Some lessons get learned the hard way. I'm speaking from experience

Riley Smith

We've had our share of scares in the past. The worst was 1/4 mile from the dock where we got into a swirl or something. Nothing I did helped, and Sonya's eyes were as big as saucers as we kept going and going. I was on the side and telling her to come up on the side deck join me while holding the tiller to turn to port toward where I THOUGHT the wind was coming from. We were cooking pretty good on a reach when all of sudden everything went crazy. But the WORST part was Lauren had gone under the deck in front where a little kid will fit, and I was having visions of getting her out of there if we got wet. And fighting all the rope a catboat has....
I had released the sheet and suddenly everything just stopped. Total time was about 10-15 seconds of terror. I've told non-sailors that you never understand how you can scare yourself silly at 10mph until something like that happens.

Captain Kidd

If you haven't noticed (I just did this morning), there's quite the story on the Precision forum here. Check it out.