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Newbie here has an embarrassing question


New Member
Hello Everyone: Well, my hubby and I live in St. Louis, MO and we are beginning to think about the upcoming sailing season. We are newbies . . . period! We bought our 73 Sunfish at the beginning of August last year and took it to the lake for the first time about two weeks later. Well, to make a long story short - we struggled. We practiced sitting on it without the sail. Then, we put up the sail, tipped it over, and practiced uprighting it according to the the "Learn to Sail in 3 Days" pdf a number of times. We had no problems doing this until the last time. We tipped the boat over and then my husband uprighted it AND THEN the wind caught the sail and the boat took off across the lake without us! WE WERE MORTIFIED AND FREAKED OUT! I had always wanted to be an olympic swimmer and I definitely exercised my dream as I sprinted after our sunfish. I was able to eventually catch up with it, but we were both SO frazzled that we decided it was time to take a rest. Honestly, we never got back on the lake for the remainder of the season. A couple of years ago, I built a makeshift sailboat from an inflatable, sail, and some spars. We did pretty well, but had problems tacking because we had no dagger board. We both decided that we really wanted to learn to sail in a real boat and unfortunately, the boat almost "ran away". Our first mistake was taking the boat out in 10mph winds. I do not think we were ready for that at all. We both have an understanding of things, but what did we do wrong for the boat to just take off without us. One minute we had our hands on it and the next, it was half way across the lake. Can anyone soothe our fears and bring us some encouragement? We don't want this to happen again!!!



Well-Known Member
What lake,..Creve Coure?? Was the line controlling the sail, cleated/tied off?? Don't do that! Just hold it so the sail won't fill if you're not pulling/holding it in.


Well-Known Member
Sorry you had a bad experience your first time out. Sailing is such a rewarding "exercise", I don't know what I'd do otherwise. :( Yes, a cleated line makes every sailboat a potential "self-sailor". :eek: When uprighted, the Sunfish will come to a stop when both tiller and line are released.

Oftentimes with two aboard, the other thinks his sailing partner has the situation totally in hand. (And vice-versa). :confused:

When winds are at 5-MPH, you can still leave a wake behind you—but 10-MPH winds are ideal for learning. (I've capsized more than a few times). I looked up "Captain Capsize", and got some encouragement:
sunfish questions | SailingForums.com

Sylvan Sunfish

New Member

Jamie, my wife and I had a similar experience our first time out. After that we jumped on you tube for some help. Check out the above videos, they helped greatly. We now love sailing and can't wait for the water here in Indiana to warm up!!



Active Member
First, you're both wearing life jackets right? OK,
next time go out with one person sailing and one on shore
do this. . .

Get under way then let go of the tiller. What happens?
Get under way and let go the sail. What happens?
Get under way and let go of both. What happens?

If the laws of physics don't suddenly change you should
be very pleased with the answer. As stated previously:
Never tie off the sail line!


Active Member
If you have really light winds, say 0-to-5 mph, the sheet can get hooked
on the tiller and the boat will run down wind. I think this is what happened
as he was able to swim to the boat which means gusts about 0-5 mph. The
goose-neck could also be set way out at 24 or greater inches which would zero
out the weather helm. You life jacket is always your best silent buddy.