How to land a sunfish going with the wind and no beach?


New Member
When the wind blows towards the dock I get nervous going out because I've almost hit the boat a few times, but the wind mostly blows toward the dock, so..
I have no real place to land, to the left are rocks and the right is our boat and behind that is neighbors boats and more rocks. I tried to go into irons but a couple times the wind caught the sail and ripped me sideways with the mast slamming into the water so I don't want to do that. I've tried lowering the sail before coming in, which sometimes works but then I have to row in and lowering the sail while moving also isn't fun.
Any ideas?

I can’t think of any other safe way to depart and return than to paddle, with the sail down, off to the port side. The skipper would sit on the starboard deck. Keep a sail tie around the booms while paddling out and back. I try to paddle out a little further than I think is sufficient to clear anchored boats. Then bear away on starboard tack and hoist sail quickly. A cleat on the mast is real handy when you’re in a hurry. Upon returning, drop the sail straight upwind of your dock so you can almost drift back to home base. Keep a sail tie at the ready. Wrap the forward end of the boom with something to protect the forward deck when raising and lowering your sail. Good luck.
Consider tying a rope between the dock and a shoreline tree and simply sail into it.

You can hop off into shallow water and secure the main, halyard, rudder, and gather-up your personal stuff.

As for myself, my raised sail hits smaller overhead branches, then the bow wedges between two large branches. Gathering my personal stuff includes gathering caterpillars and spiders that have dropped from overhead. :confused:
Not being particularly skilled I just drop the sail. I always have a kayak paddle close by and easily accessible. With the sail down and rudder and dagger board up the Sunfish is easy to paddle.
TBH, that's pretty much my answer to most issues. I have been paddling since I was 8. Sailing came a LOT later!
I always plan on getting wet and swimming when I sail, so I turn into the wind and jump out in shallow water. In Wisconsin, I visit in the summer and sail on days when I plan on being in the lake all day. Here in California, the water in Tomales Bay can be cold but I often get pretty warm sailing so I look forward to jumping in at the end of the day. Looks like a nice lake you have there.
Can you sail in as close as you can, then round up and drift/slide/padd;e the last few feet?

Also are launching from the dock or the water, IOW can you walk the boat back in the last few feet?
Some paddling is involved, but not much. I'm in a similar situation on a rocky cove. I have a clam cleat on my mast and use a cam cleat on front of the spray strake rather than tie the halyard.
I head straight in, do a 180 into the wind and yank the halyard during the turn. I stop the turn when the sail is aligned with the boat's centerline, catch the boom and spar as they drop and set them down. I pull the keelboard, pull the rudder up and use a 2 foot paddle to place the boat. It sounds harder than it is, you just have to be ready.
And it looks cool.
Try it 100 feet out from your dock in a light wind.
rocky beach.jpg

My issue is I live on the Atlantic ocean and it is extremely rocky at the shoreline.

I discovered that using small tarps works great when coming in. As I come in I slow myself with my paddle (adjustable paddle, around 20 bucks) and turn into the wind at the last moment. If the boat hits the rocks it is protected by the tarp.
The tarp costs 5 dollars at the dollar store.51mdkAkXePL._AC_SX425_.jpg
Oldfish, your method is similar to Skipper's. In her Drascombe she likes to head straight at the dock under full sail, and when she sees me sweating a lot, she has me drop the main and she pops the mizzen loose. Meanwhile she's slowly furling the jib, and cranks the tiller over at just the right time so we slide sideways the last few feet up next to the bock, inches away, with no forward motion.

Decide if you need to be port or starboard side on. Usually a but into the wind. Head up and let the main full out so the boat stalls zero speed and drifts slowly against the dock. Do this board up or down.

landing a sunfish is easy


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