Advice to Newbs - Lessons learned from first sail

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by OldDog, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. OldDog

    OldDog New Member

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    After several months of shopping I finally got a used Laser and took it out this weekend. Had an absolute blast but not without incident. So at the risk of looking like an idiot I thought I’d start a thread on things that went wrong and hopefully get some feedback or lessons learned to avoid repeating these situations.

    1. Boom pulled out of gooseneck. During a tack as I crossed the boat I knocked the boom and in pulled off the gooseneck. I am guessing that I did not have enough vang tension and/or outhaul. While trying to put it back on, I had an idea of trying a piece of line from the van key around the mast and back to the vang key to act as a mast retainer. Actually today I saw a thread about tying shock cord in the same fashion as a means to stop the vang key from dropping out. I will try that the next time I go out but I need to get some reference marks or something on my vang. Also after I replaced the boom I noticed that I forgot to get the mast retaining line above the boom. Hopefully I’ll never have the boom fall out again but if I do I’ll make sure the mast retaining line is properly positioned when I put the boom back.

    2. Failure of rudder downhaul cleat. Actually it was a rivet that failed but caused the cleat to release the downhaul, there by allowing the tiller to come out of the rudder headstock. This looked ok during visual inspection but the lesson learned is to really give your hardware a thorough inspection and repair as necessary. Two books that I read recommend not using the tiller retaining pin as it snags the mainsheet so it’s just the downhaul that keeps the tiller secured. I was able to replace the tiller and just lash down the downhaul so I was pretty lucky. If that had been a rivet on the mainsheet block at the end of the boom that would have been an entirely different story.

    3. Hold onto the mainsheet when you capsize. The further the boat gets from you is the further your going to have to swim after it!

    4. Mainsheet tangled under rudder after righting from capsize. So the next time I capsize, I’m going to make sure the sheet is clear of the rudder before I right the boat.

    That all said, in spite of the above mentioned experiences, I had a lot of fun with the boat and I am real excited to get back out with it. I won’t deny I had a lot of concerns if the Laser was the right boat for me with regards to my level of athleticism (or lack thereof), launching, returning and righting after capsize. But after my first sail a lot of those concerns were reduced to the point where I am still cautious but not intimidated. Sure I capsized once, and will certainly do it again, but righting the boat was as straight forward as every makes it out to be, and to be honest it was a little refreshing! That was a big relief. Now I’m not so worried about capsizing and can work at pushing myself a little more aggressively towards getting to the point where I can sail the boat as it was meant to be sailed. Can’t wait to get back out!
     
  2. drenched

    drenched New Member

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    Great thread idea! I am taking my boat out for the first time this weekend. I'll update the thread if I survive. ;)
     
  3. OldDog

    OldDog New Member

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    Good luck. Hopefully you'll have nothing to add :)
     
  4. Capsized

    Capsized Member

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    The first time I took my boat out (earlier this summer), I forgot my clew tie. It sure made outhaul adjustments have unexpected results on sail shape until I realized my error.

    Lesson learned: Be sure you have rigged up your boat correctly before heading out. I know how it's easy to skip things when all you want is to get out on the water!
     
  5. reddin11

    reddin11 104429

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    3. Why were you in the water swimming after the boat, learn to dry capsize and you will never have to swim after it... also makes it easier to right, instead of having to climb back in, you just kinda fall into the boat. There is a kid at my club that can dry capsize and get back in the boat so fast he almost has no loss of speed or heading... I deff have to practice that more.
     
  6. fat-n-old

    fat-n-old Member

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    Well done. Critical self evaluation resulting in 4 clear, achievable points for development. We should all do this every time we sail.

    The two things that always strike me when I see new Laser sailors:

    1 Not enough outhaul on. (or occasionally, way too much) a good rule of thumb is wrist to fingertips distance from boom to sail foot at the deepest part. It is difficult to lose the boom from the gooseneck at this tension but if it still a problem, before exploring ways to secure the vang key, consider setting a "minimum off" for the vang with a stopper knot in the control line

    2. Rudder not vertical. Usually because there is an issue with the downhaul line and few people ever look back at it when sailing. It is well worth spending some time ensuring that the tiller fits snug in the stock and remains there without the retaining pin or downhaul line tension and developing a way of quickly getting the rudderblade down and secure. Then you can just sail and forget about it.

    Holding on to the sheet when you capsize is good advice for any new sailor. It'll never break unlike the tiller extension.

    You are quite right...capsizing never loses it's shot of adrenalin but it soon becomes far more familiar and easier to manage...

    Glad you're enjoying yourself.
     
  7. OldDog

    OldDog New Member

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    In one of the books I read it showed a series of pictures of a guy capsizing and stepping over the gunnel onto the centeboard, kind of straddling the boat. Just like you said he dropped the boat back down and got right in and underway. Definitely looks like a skill to develope especially if you race.
     
  8. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    When capsizing to leeward stepping over the hull onto the dagger board (dry capsize) is not too difficult (for me it is normally a fairly slow capsize to leeward with time to realise what is happening). However, windward capsizes always seem to happen quickly and I am starting from the wrong side of the boat and thus I always end-up swimming round.

    Ian
     
  9. fat-n-old

    fat-n-old Member

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    This is actualy a great deal easier than it looks and well worth parctising, as Deimos says, usually leeward capsizes give you plenty of time to get over the side. For me It's usually when i've miss-timed geting my huge bulk across the boat in a roll tack. I used to do this for a rest when I was a kid.
     
  10. Muzza

    Muzza Member

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    For most of us, capsizing by rolling in to windward while sailing downwind in waves is more common than a capsize to leeward. As you develop your skills, you'll find that leeward capsizes become relatively rare.
     
  11. OldDog

    OldDog New Member

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    Hi again

    Went out second time a here is what I learned.

    1. Bass boats with trolling motors are at the mercy of strongs winds too. When approaching withing the last few yards of the dock the wind really picked and started getting squirley shifting direction. A bass boat was also approaching the ramp with an electric trolling motor. I asked for right of way and the bass fisher thankfully gave way. After we both docked he explained that he too was losing control as as well at the wind was overtaking his trolling motor and the gas engine is not allowed. Lesson learned, be watchfull for approaching gusts when landing and don't push a bad situation. In retrospect the better move would have been for me to just bear off and come around again for a second pass.

    2. When jumping out of the boat do it quickly. I have to land at a boat ramp with a pier on either site. As I was crossing the gunnel one leg got tangled in the mainsheet. (subject of another thread). This split second with me sitting with my weight on the gunnel and one leg in the water caused the boat to turn sharply in that direction. I kind of nosed into the pier. Not bad but could have been much worse.
    Lesson learned. Make sure the mainsheet is well out of the way when you go to jump out and be mindfull that the boat will turn into the direction you are getting out.
     
  12. Skye

    Skye New Member

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    Docking in some locations can be very difficult if the dock/pier is designed for larger boats. Unless you approach from downwind and can simply nose the boat to the dock with your sail luffing, you are ok. But often you end up upwind and when against the dock the sail can't luff because the boom is pushed against the dock/pier. In my early years I actually "capsized" the boat onto the dock and had the whole front of the boat pulled out of the water so that the mast was level with the dock.

    I have now learned to get fairly close to the dock, quickly luff up and release the sail from the outhaul. I grap the corner of the sail in my hand and play "human boom" approaching the last 30 feet to the dock. It if then very easy to control your speed and you can release the sail in a split second. In heavy wind you can even just make the final approach under bare poles.

    The only downside is if something goes bad you can't quickly sail away upwind. I reserve this technique for quiet harbors and tall docks.
     
  13. sailjacks

    sailjacks Member

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    About the vang, maybe tie a knot or begin a daisy chain at the point where the vang will be "max eased", or as loose as you would be willing to let it go on the water. Do this on land before you leave the dock/beach and you should probably never have the boom/gooseneck problem again. (It will take some tinkering to find the right "max eased" spot for you, but once you have it, it never has to come out: you can just leave the knot/chain etc. wherever you found to be the best spot)

    Also, if you tighten the rudder bolt (using two wrenches/vicegrips etc.), the rudder will not be inclined to kick up as much. Then, if the retaining line comes loose, the only result will be the tiller jiggling around a bit.

    Hope that helps.
     
  14. laserxd

    laserxd Member

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    The vang should be kept at least with the slack pulled up and its a good idea to pre set for the appropriate max ease setting. Outhaul should be about a hand deep at the boom cleat, make sure you have a clew tie down.

    I use the tiller pin and It doesn't get snagged, the part thats sticks out is round, I know I don't want to go swimming around looking for my tiller in 25kts and big waves. Also make sure the rudder tab in between the gudgeons is functioning, it seems pretty common to see rudders fall off with the tiller after a capsize when the clip is not working.

    Holding the mainsheet might be good if you capsize to windward downwind and the sail is still filled pushing the boat away. If the sail is flat on the water just grab the boat.
     
  15. OldDog

    OldDog New Member

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    Went out yesterday and was afforded the opportunity to try this. Either I’m too slow or too heavy (probably the latter). I managed to stay in the cockpit and as the boat was lying on its side I tried to stand and get over the gunnel to right the boat. What happened instead was I completely rolled the boat 180 degrees mast down pointing to the bottom of the lake. I was then afforded a new opportunity to recover a turtlled Laser! :D One more skill acquired, one less thing to fear. Opportunities abound!
     
  16. drenched

    drenched New Member

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    I managed to finally take my boat out for the first time so I can now happily contribute to this thread.

    1) Kailua bay conditions were supposed to be 10-12mph but ended up closer to 12-18mph. I car topped on my Xterra using Walmart "noodles" to pad the rack. The wind was manageable but lighter winds would probably have been better.

    2) My wife and buddy helped rig and launch. I did all the sheets. My rudder is bolted down (does not kick up) so it was last after the boat was in the water. My friend attached the rudder while I held the boat in place but he managed to feed it incorrectly through the traveler without me noticing. I performed a magnificent capsize right in front of the dock.

    3) Did not sheet in enough during tacks and managed to tangle the tiller and mainsheet.

    4) In higher wind conditions I did my tacks very slow. I capsized several times trying to get through the NGZ because the wind had started blowing me backwards reversing the tiller steering.

    5) My PFD kept catching on the boom during tacks. My sail had a decent shape but is there something I can do to give me a little more clearance? Another 3" or so and I would have been good.

    6) I will not make the Olympics any time soon. :)

    On the positive side:
    1) I had a great time!

    2) Capsizing is not nearly as violent as crashing while in a windsurfing hardness.

    3) I made my final three tacks!

    4) I could cover the entire bay (~1.5mi) pretty quickly. Sailboards are faster but not by much.
     
  17. laserxd

    laserxd Member

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    The trick is getting getting onto the board quickly, close hauled to beam reach you'll usually be hiking so you're in a good position to step over onto the board, windward capsizes on the downwind legs are the most common area for turtles in racing.

    it takes some practice to get it, it only takes a few seconds for the boat to go into a turtle, in big waves you're more likely turtle, if the boat starts to turtle its usually quicker and easier to jump in and swim around.
     
  18. OldDog

    OldDog New Member

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    It seems most of my near (and both of my full capsizes) were to the windward side. Two most probable causes are (1) admittedly I am overweight for the boat and (2) it's a radial so there is less sail area to support my excess ballast. Actually when I am sailing I’m not hiking out a far as the rest of you guys. Also where I sail the wind is very gusty. It can blow pretty strong and then die out in a snap. I find the boat very responsive to wind shifts so this is a different sailing experience all together compared to my last boat.

    One thing I am noticing is that when I’m sailing close hauled on a pretty steady gust, when I bear off I expected the boat to want to heal leeward as I am now presenting more sail area. What I am finding instead is that as I bear off the boat want to heal windward. If this gets extreme the boat to turn windward into the no-sail zone. Now with me hiked out and no wind in the sail this is when I capsize (or come close). Both of my capsizes were a result of this. What I learned to do is really pay attention to the boat and in some cases lean in as I bear off. I then reset my sail and hike accordingly to flatten the boat. I was also pretty happy to find that I am getting better at seeing the wind and anticipating the gusts.

    Great incentive to get in better shape so I’m working that issue and I plan on getting the standard rig so hopefully spring I’ll be in a better position.
     
  19. scars_scrapes

    scars_scrapes New Member

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    my biggest advice to a potential Laser buyer is...You better like swimming, cuz you are going to be doing a bit of it
     
  20. Theodore

    Theodore New Member

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    You should not be capsizing to windward on a beat..unless you weight upwards of 500 pounds. Bearing off, if you're not luffing, will make the sail LESS efficient. It's not about "presenting area", it's about getting the sail acting as an air foil. That is why you capsized to windward.

    If the boat is heeling to weather (heeling on your side of the boat) it should want to bear off, not head up.

    Are you sure you're not confusing bearing off and heading up? Your nomenclature seems confused.
     

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