Sadly, “stuff” happens on a sailboat. The good news is, planning and preparation for the things that go can go wrong actually go a long way to preventing the situation from coming up. Checking tide tables prevents groundings. Examining standing rigging locates problems and helps prevent the mast from coming down in the middle of a sail. Checking coolant flow from the exhaust keeps the motor running smoothly.
Practice, on the other hand, is what gets you through a problem when “stuff” does happen. We practice crew overboard recoveries … not because it’s a fun part of sailing … we do it because if someone does go overboard we want to get back to them quickly and safely. Without practice, crew overboard recovery is not an easy task.
Sailing into slips is another thing that requires practice. Anyone trained at Tradewinds was introduced to sailing into slips on the second day of Basic Coastal Cruising. You had at least two opportunities to do it, one upwind … one downwind. Have you done it since? If not, you are not ready for the time your propeller gets fouled, the fuel line gets plugged, or the motor overheats because the impeller goes out. Tradewinds preventative maintenance program stops most of these things from happening, however, as I said, “stuff” happens. Each of these three problems came up during April! Knowing how to sail the boat back to the dock or slip was the perfect solution in each occasion. But, that’s not a fun thing to do if you haven’t practiced ahead of time.
Start small and work up. The Capri’s are great boats to develop, practice, and refine skills of all kinds.
- Start by using the practice buoys. Learn how much speed it takes to stop the boat beside the buoy on a close reach … upwind … downwind.
- Put the fenders out, move to the “D” Dock pump out station and practice side tie docking under sail. Have the motor running in neutral as a safety backup.
- Once you are comfortable with how the boat handles, find a couple of nice padded slips and practice docking in slips. On any weekend, after about 11:00, there are a number of Tradewinds slips available to practice on.
- Move up to a slightly bigger boat and repeat the process.
You will be amazed at how much easier it gets with a bit of practice. And when you do sail in it’s great for the ego because of all the ewwwws and ahhhhs you hear from the spectators.