First Sail Experiences

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Doug Lord, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Cocoa, Florida

    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Maybe not your first experience sailing but an experience that you've never forgotten.
    Mine was around 1963 at the Pensacola Yacht Club and I was 14. I had been involved in the Clubs junior program which involved mostly sailing the Fish Class gaff headed boats-I think they were 19-20'. My younger brother and I did fairly well though he was pretty much beating me on a regular basis.
    I think it was a regatta like the Fiesta of Five Flags-it was a big multiclass regatta sailed on Pensacola Bay-a great sailing venue.
    Somebody came up to me and said a guy needed a crew-would I be interested.
    We walked over to where the guy was setting up and MY God!-- it was a Flying Dutchman! I was so excited I could barely contain myself but I was able to say that I'd never been on a trapeze before but I bet I'd be good at it-or something pretty close. The guy was first class and had already been to the Skippers Meeting so we shoved off. I was absolutely thrilled by the performance of the boat-just an incredible "lithe" feel to it-and the trapeze-wow! The guy got a good start and it seemed like we were opening up on the other Flying D's when all of a sudden the guy said "Damn, we're going the wrong way!" I don't remember much after that except that I was enthralled by the boat and have never forgotten that feeling-just a spectacular experience........
  2. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Great first ride Doug. When going to windward, of course it is normal to fear that you are going the wrong way. One can always worry about a possible shift that would favor the boats on the other tack. :D
  3. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    My first successful sail happened on a remote coast of Michigan’s upper peninsula, near a town called Epoufette. It was a boulder strewn cove which had just a few feet of sandy beach. It was a mile from where my family was camped in a relative’s cabin. There, there was a better beach but no access to the road, except a rock strewn path. There was no chance my dad and I could get the 180 lb sailboat, I had built, to the water there.

    My dad was not a bit leery because there was a fresh onshore breeze blowing. If anything went wrong, the boat and I would surly end up on shore.

    We had tried the day before, with less wind even, but the bow stuffed a wave, which carried the 20 lb navy anchor I had there and gently set it in my lap. Luckily the boat didn’t flip. No sooner had I got it going again, I heard a high pitched ping then a splash. I looked up and the mast was gone. I dragged it onto the scow shaped sailboard’s deck and paddled back to shore.

    It was thirty miles to the nearest hardware store to buy a new snap hook. My dad did it and the boat was set up to sail the next day, which had even more wind than the day before.

    After a literal running start, I got the boat sailing marginally upwind, probably no more than a close reach. I next ran it up onto a half submerged, couch sized boulder, and heard a sickening scraping grinding sound. Just when I thought I might be swimming ashore, another three foot swell lifted us off.

    I kept my windward course, changing tacks maybe a dozen times or more. I had a point, that was maybe a mile long, to get around. As the boat got into to deeper and deeper water, and the menacing boulders disappeared, I realized I was really sailing. If I could get this thing to sail upwind, I could get it to sail anywhere.

    Thus ended my three year quest to get a sailboat and become a sailor.

    It had been accomplished with a twenty year old design, mail order plans, several rolls of duck tape, polyethylene drop cloths, lumber, plywood, cable clamps, 3/16 inch cable, four pulleys and assorted other hardware, and a budget that was one half again what a new Snark sailboat would have cost. It was also accomplished by reading at least three books on sailing, which provided almost useless information.

    I can only imagine how my dad felt, when he saw me appear on the other side of the point and sail toward him, to the cabin’s beach.
  4. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Here's a sketch of my first boat. It was probably the worst built boat to ever successfully sail.

    I had to make three modifications to it to make it work.

    1.) I had to put a head stick on top of both sails, to flatten them out some,
    2.) I had to turn the two lee boards into twin side dagger boards ( as shown on drawing), and
    3.) I had to lace the luff of the main to the mast.

    After that, it sailed quite well. It taught four people how to sail, whom had received no previous instruction.

    Attached Files:

  5. sawmaster
    Joined: May 2010
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    Location: tyler,tx

    sawmaster Senior Member

    my first sail was in a homemade lapstrake dory which my father built when I was 12.It had a higher aspect lateen sail (yard about 1 1/2 times the length of the boom) on a mast made of a fir 2x4.It had a daggerboard and some what over sized rudder and went like hell downwind.After a few instructive saing trips, dad put me in and pushed me off. It was a light air day--just enough for steerage way.He shouted instructions like "Pull the tiller toward you a little-no ,not that much,now let out the boom a bit --yeah now you got it"--after a few minutes it just clicked,and I was hooked.Dads gone now but 48 years later I'm just as hooked--and forever grateful for the gift he gave me!

  6. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Cocoa, Florida

    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    1586 Demon vs Eagle 603

    This isn't about my first sail but it was an experience I'll never forget. My younger brother died in 2012-quite a shock. He and I had grown into being best friends after a lifetime of "best enemies". One of the memories during the "BE" times(he was 15, I was 16) was when we were sailing our two Windmills-great fast little boats. He and I would go out every day after school to practice. This one day I was slightly ahead and my brother slowly caught up-we were right next to each other headed down wind on stb. I looked over at him and couldn't figure out why he was smiling but I soon found out. The mainsheet on the Windmill started on the transom-mine on a continuous traveler, his more or less centered. It went forward along the boom then down to a cleat just aft the daggerboard trunk.
    What happened is that I was suckered by that smile as he caught a gust and sped up and the aft component of his mainsheet caught me by the waist and pulled me out of my boat! My boat went about 50' and capsized.
    He couldn't stop laughing and I couldn't stop calling him my whole new-found vocabulary of "sailors language".
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