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Rookie sees too much wind, ignores sign of peril.

CapnJoe

New Member
That was the headline for my most recent attempt at getting my Capri 14.2 wet over the weekend. I have had the boat in my garage for the past 8 months working on improving a few things, but I didn’t buy it to sit in my garage. I bought it to get wet. My goal with this boat is to develop my skills single hand sailing to the point I can have my wife and/or kids aboard to take a ride without having to rely on them to do any work. My last trip out over Labor Day 2021 was my maiden voyage with this boat and it was great. I was able to put the boat where I wanted and felt in full control. My trip this weekend was the exact opposite.
I was watching the weather forecast and for once this spring my schedule was free for the day and the sky was going to be dry. The only issue was the wind was forecast to be about 13knots and gusts up to 20. I tried to read through other posts to identify the limits of this boat and only found suggestions based on preference and skill. I had just outfitted the boat with new hiking straps, refit the cuddy door to seal closed, and built a homemade mast float. With these additions and my unfounded confidence I set out to the lake.
Upon arrival I ignored the first sign of no one else on the lake at 11:00 on such a nice sunny spring day. Plenty of people out for a walk wearing hoodies, but not a boat on the water.
Rigging the boat near the launch ramp I ignored the second sign, when I had difficulty keeping my hat on my head. I attributed it to the odd angles I had to hold my body and neck to see to the mast to make sure all all my rigging was tangle free.
Having the empty boat immediately start to drift downwind as the boat lifted from the trailer as I dropped it in on the launch ramp was sign number three that I ignored. Having to push and pull the boat from inside the water to keep it off the rough sides of the ramp, and having a nearby walker step in to help navigate the boat to the sandy beach I intended to launch from were signs four and five.
Sign six I ignored was a local sailor who offered a hand, seeing I was in trouble getting my sails raised on the beach, asking questions about how I intended to get off the shore with the wind driving me back onto the beach and without the depth needed to get the centerboard down. At this point my ego was in full control and I was going to show him that I could do it myself. (As he helped feed my main into the mast as I hauled on the halyard and he pushed me deep enough to get the board down.) Dispite his suggestion that the wind might be a little much for my experience I did get off the beach and start to follow the shoreline in a beam reach. I was able to tend to the sails enough to stop the luffing and get a bit down the shore, but every time I tried to turn into the wind I would heel more than my confidence allowed and I had to let the air out.
I decided I had enough and tried to tack and head back down the beach. Unfortunately the wind had my main sheet all over and when I tacked the traveler caught the tiller and pinned the rudder against the boat. This would have been a challenge enough to send me directly back into the beach, but a family of kayaks had made their way between me and the shore. The wind was driving me straight toward the young girl and her father with no way to turn away. I was able to let out all the sheets and fight the rudder free to swing just behind the back of the kayak with the father reaching out his hand to push them out of the way and stay dry. I took the boat right onto the sand, hopped out to get it fully beached and took a breath. I dropped the sails, stowed them in the cuddy, gabbed the bowline and started marching the boat back down the beach toward the launch ramp.
Retrieving in this wind did not go as planned either, mainly because I forgot to raise the centerboard, so that just added to the adventure.
All in all, no one got hurt. I learned a valuable lesson regarding my ego, the signs of too much wind, and doing things yourself isn’t always the best answer. Now I have a better calibration regarding what too much wind looks and feels like to make better decisions. I also have a little less confidence, probably a good thing, regarding my ability to sail.

I forgot to mention that I also got the experience of righting the boat after a capsize. Another great lesson except my mast head float was on the beach, so I’m still not sure if it works on the water.

On to the next adventure. Happy sailing!
 

aquaman

Active Member
Wow! A lesson burned is a lesson learned! Check out my posts, you'll see how I set up my Mod 1 for motoring, sail changes (which can be made when underway), the ramp and dock setup that I enjoy, etc. I happily sail under the conditions you experianced. Set up the reefed main for hoisting after I motor away from the dock. Running with only reefed main simplifies boat handling and does tolerate the gusty days. And if it gets too windy out there, I flake the main to the boom and motor over to the windward side of the lake and drop anchor. Then take a swim, sit back, and relax! Conversely, if wind drops I can shake out the reef and also hoist the jib which was bungeed on the front deck. Being able to change sail configurations while underway is a good thing.
And I do have a Baby Bob for turtle protection, but in 5 seasons I have yet to capsize. Came close a few times, though!
Owned a Catalina 22 for 6 years and managed to duplicate that sail and boat handling stuff downsized on Capri. As far as shore launching goes, that would not work for me. If a lake doesn't have a decent launch ramp arrangement, I'm not interested.
Cheers!
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Well written adventure, and good advice we should all heed. Glad nobody was hurt and a valuable lesson has been learned and shared. Thanks
 
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