We have finished our practical lessons on the J/22. Our last lesson in the basic keelboat and coastal cruising line will be on a J/30. It’s made by the same company, but is about 8’ longer. There are also some other differences, including the sail set up as well as steering and anchoring. I’m looking forward to being on a bigger boat, just to see what the difference is between a 22’ and 30’ boat is in terms of handling and sailing.
With a J/22, when you step on the boat, the boat tips a bit. Ok, when I step on, it tips a lot. I’m a big guy and when I set foot on the boat, you know it! When we first starting lessons, one of our instructors said, “Give a warning when you are stepping on or off the boat.” So, it became habit, especially for Matthew to say, “Coming Aboard!” when he stepped on the boat. And “Stepping Off!” when we arrived at the dock. I sometimes forgot to say anything when I was stepping on and Matthew would, in his own kind way, remind me to give warning.
Usually it was a teenager tone….”Coming aboard dad?”
“Yeah, sorry I forgot to say something, I thought you’d notice”
“Thanks dad, just give us the warning before you tip the boat.” There was an element of truth to that, especially if he was on the same side of the boat I was when I stepping on! I’m pretty sure we are going to design a shirt that has a sailboat and on the front it will say “Coming Aboard” on the back it will say, “Stepping Off”. I’ll post a picture once we have the design made.
It actually got to be such a habit for Matthew, that even when he was the last person getting off the boat, he’d announce “Stepping Off!” We’ve given him a fair amount of grief for that!
So in our last lesson, we had an hour or so of good wind and were able to practice a man overboard drill at sail instead of at the motor. It was nice because you could tell when you were at a beam reach! There was a fair amount of practice of tacking and gybing. We even put two reefs in the mainsail while in motion, which is important to be able to do, because you put reefs in the mainsail when things are getting rough, so if you’ve never done it…well, you could be in for a difficult time.
Then the wind died. So, well, let’s practice anchoring, tying knots, and discussing the pros and cons of different boat types. Generally, talk about what kind of boating we want to do in the future.
Then our instructor drops a little bit of a bombshell. “Your next lesson will be on the J/30. It’s a really different boat than the J/22. If your instructor on that boat is doing his or her job, they’ll just say here’s the boat, figure it out!” Wait…what? I don’t know how a furler works, is there a windlass on the anchor, it’s a steering wheel, not a tiller. I had a whole host of panic thoughts go through my head. Then I took moment to breath. It’ll be ok. We can figure these things out, and if we’re about to break something, the instructor will step in and stop us. Not that that’s going to happen, but that’s what they are there for.
Once we finish the practical lessons, it’ll be time to take the ASA 101 and 103 written exams. Several yacht brokers that have YouTube channels have said insurance will be easier if you even go to 104 (Bareboat Chartering) as well. So, we will have some decisions to make. Do we go ahead and do 104, do we hire a coach to sail with us on our boat and use that to our advantage with insurance?
For now, the process of learning to sail a smaller boat and the mechanics of sailing has been enjoyable. We’ve got a better handle on what to expect and how to do things. Obviously, we aren’t quite ready to jump aboard and cross the Pacific, but at least now we know what a reef is and the difference between the tack on a sail, tacking, and which tack the boat is on. And, yeah, I feel pretty confident that we can get a boat sailing and while it might heel more than we want for a few minutes, we can get it righted pretty quickly!
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