New to sailing. lots of questions

Jul 25, 2020
7
Catalina 22 Forest Lake
So a few years ago I bought a sailboat... And I found out why its called a mid-life crisis, because when I first took her out, I ended up in crisis. I took my Catalina 22 out alone for the first sail, just incase anything bad happened it would be just me in trouble. So, I put her in the water, tossed up the sails, and away I went. The boat screamed (hummed really) across the water! I actually was sailing, and was instantly in love. Then it dawned on me... How do I maneuver, and more importantly, how do I stop!! I was under sail after all, and even though God controls the wind, I'm not God. I decided to turn into the wind, drop sails, and motor back... I did fine turning into the wind, but as I dropped sails (main and genoa), the sheets were twisted and they only came down to the spreaders... with no one at the helm, she drifted back into the wind and the crisis began!! Long story shortened, I did a lot of praying, had a full blown anxiety attack, and by the grace of God made it back safely with half the sails tucked under my arm, and a fear of the heel..
I have since sailed her a little more (4 or 5 times) and learned a ton each time.
I don't know if my main is setup right though, and with no ferller, is it possible to reef the genoa with hank-on only?
Lastly, How do I overcome my fear of the heel? I don't mind a little heeling, but even under 10 to 15 mph winds she gets tippy quickly and my panic returns. After my first solo experience, I really don't like the heel, but love the idea of sailing... someone help! Please.
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JRT

.
Feb 14, 2017
1,970
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
Congrats for surviving lots to unpack there but you need to break down and sign up for a learn to sail class first. You need less sail for sure, reef the main at least and stay in when wind is 15+ for sure. Hank on jibs usually don't have reef points unless they were made that way, I had a new head sail made for my O'Day 25 with them and it was a nice option.
 
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Jun 8, 2004
2,563
Catalina 320 Dana Point
I'd suggest you read "The Complete Sailor" by David Seidman, small book that's enjoyable and will get you thru that tricky turning around to go the other way part. Can't furl a hanked on sail, you can take it down and sail on main alone. Here's a link to the book thru the library but it's available new, used or digital.
The Complete Sailor
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,941
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
sign up for a learn to sail class first.
:plus:

Congratulations on your new hobbie/life/mistress...;)

I'm impressed by your approach to life. Dispite your concerns about the heel, after your experience, you seem to be fearless :thumbup:. Typically, a hank-on genny is reefed by changing to a smaller headsail. It can be done, but it needs to be specially made for it. Not typical.

Hope to read more of your further adventures. You will grow into it.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Oct 21, 2015
73
Catalina 22 Lafayette, IN
If heeling is an issue, I would suggest using/purchasing a smaller (110) headsail (jib) for starters. Learn to sail that one in higher winds before moving up to the Genoa. Figure out how to reef the mainsail. A 110 jib and a reefed main shouldn't cause you to heel unless its REALLY windy, in which case you wouldn't want to be out there anyhow. You might be able to find a used one reasonably inexpensive.
Where are you located?
Mike
 
Jul 25, 2020
7
Catalina 22 Forest Lake
If heeling is an issue, I would suggest using/purchasing a smaller (110) headsail (jib) for starters. Learn to sail that one in higher winds before moving up to the Genoa. Figure out how to reef the mainsail. A 110 jib and a reefed main shouldn't cause you to heel unless its REALLY windy, in which case you wouldn't want to be out there anyhow. You might be able to find a used one reasonably inexpensive.
Where are you located?
Mike
I am in Minnesota, just north of the Twin Cities. I only had my Mainsail out yesterday, and was heeling over pretty good. What I found interesting is that the bow was being pushed by the wind and as a result I was having a hard time keeping it going straight. She kept wanting to spin... funny thing is, after about 10min of frustration it dawned on me my keel was cranked down, and we had drifted into shallower waters... It explains the spin! lol
 
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Jim26m

.
Apr 3, 2019
579
Macgregor 26M Mobile AL
Heel is a function of wind speed, point of sail, and sheet adjustment. As posted above by @JRT , avoid anything over 15 knots until you get the hang of it. You need to learn on days when you have 5-10 knots of wind. Put up the main only and get a feel for the sheet adjustment impact on heel angle at various Points of sail.

I have a tender boat for the first 10-15 degrees. This is not unusual for trailerable boats. I grew up sailing, so it doesn't bother me, but the Admiral gets nervous at 15. Several of our non-sailing friends have asked me if the boat was going to "tip over". It won't. You will get used to it after awhile, and likely come to enjoy it. If not, go looking for a catamaran or trimaran.

I think a few sailing lessons might be a good idea if you intend to single-hand. If you have a buddy that sails, that might suffice, but going out alone when you are trying to learn the basics is a tad risky. Always wear your PFD and tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back. Tether when you're on deck and have a proven and practiced procedure for getting back aboard if you wind up overboard. If the water you're sailing in is too cold to survive, that adds another element that needs to be addressed. My typical sailing waters are warm, I am a strong swimmer, and I always wear a PFD. If you end up in the water, you may, or may not be fully conscious, so a PFD is necessary no matter how good you can swim.

The Catalina 22 is a fine boat. Once you get yourself dialed-in, and get some experience, I think you'll really enjoy it. I really admire your spunk!
 
Jan 4, 2006
3,907
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
C'mon, after that, it only gets easier. I too am impressed by your approach to life.

You will eventually get to the point, as we did a two years ago, where we found ourselves crossing Georgia Strait in a typhoon up from Hawaii which was late arriving. It was so late, we didn't think it was coming and started out anyway (strongly not recommended). 38 kts. of wind and close hauled with a handkerchief of a main and jib for stability. No time to be scared. Just three zombies staring straight ahead in full control. We knew if we took the time to panic, everything would go downhill, and quickly. Got back to the outer dock (couldn't get into our slip) and were jumping up and down, yelling and screaming that THAT was the greatest thrill we had ever had crossing the Strait.

Practice, practice, practice and all of the other posted suggestions.
 
Jan 1, 2006
6,089
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
On my Ranger 29 I had a jib with reefing points. It really didn't work very well. Your best bet is to reef the main and use a smaller jib until you become more comfortable. It is a fallacy that a sailboat should be heeled over to a point of discomfort. Most sailboats sail better flat or close to flat. That means meat on the rail, less sail, and good sails.
 
Oct 21, 2015
73
Catalina 22 Lafayette, IN
I am in Minnesota, just north of the Twin Cities. I only had my Mainsail out yesterday, and was heeling over pretty good. What I found interesting is that the bow was being pushed by the wind and as a result I was having a hard time keeping it going straight. She kept wanting to spin... funny thing is, after about 10min of frustration it dawned on me my keel was cranked down, and we had drifted into shallower waters... It explains the spin! lol
It is hard if you are only using one sail. The jib pushes the bow one way, the mainsail tends to rotate the boat in the opposite direction. Assuming properly trimmed sails (which is an art in itself) the boat should sail relatively flat with no pressure on the tiller with both sails up. To stay balanced, if you reduce the size (area) of one sail (the jib for example), you either have to reduce the area of the mainsail (either by depowering it or reefing it) proportionally, else you end up with a lot of pressure needed on the tiller (rudder).
We have sailed with a very small jib (actually the jib from my wifes Laser II), and a reefed-depowered mainsail in winds of 20-25 knots and sailed comfortably, fairly fast, and fairly flat.
I was taught years ago by someone much wiser than me, that the jib is for power, and the mainsail for balance. Not sure if that is aerodynamically true, but it works for me. I set up the jib to drive the boat forward, and then use the mainsail to both balance the pressure on the tiller and reduce any excessive heel.
Have fun! Sounds like you are learning/experimenting! It's how most of us learned.........

Mike
 
Jul 25, 2020
7
Catalina 22 Forest Lake
Thank you all for your wisdom, and advice. I am going to look into the books mentioned, and if a class is possible near me. I intend to conquer this challenge. I know my fear of the heel comes from lack of experience, and with some practice I should be good to go. Thank you all once again!
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,958
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Don Guillette has a superb Sail Trim Guide, right here in the books setion of this site. Best ever trim guide I've ever read, and I've been sailing since 1955.
 

srimes

.
Jun 9, 2020
211
Macgregor 26D Brookings
Great post. 2 separate issues with heeling: what's best for performance and what's safe/comfortable. Seems like you concern is on the comfort side, because it doesn't feel safe.

A mono hull sailboat is like a rocking chair. It's made to tip. You just have to get used to it.

I'm guessing you're on on a lake with small waves. Know that a ballasted sailboat cannot capsize by wind alone. Go out and TRY to turn it over. Bet you can't!

Once saw what it's like to get knocked down and round up, and realize all I had to do is release the tiller and not fall off the boat and everything would be fine, I was able to relax. It became a question of performance not safety. It's feels unnatural at first, but it's safe.
 
May 23, 2016
1,014
Catalina 22 #12502 BSC
you'll be fine, congrats on your new venture!.....first time out I motored only, second time main only, 3rd (or 5th) up went the jib....all in fairly benign conditions....read all the stuff mentioned above, get the ASA book for the basics, and practice under 10kts....best of all, stick around this forum and spend hours upon hours reading old threads....many of us started in your shoes, and we ALMOST know what we're doing now.....!! (taking a class or two is great advice, even if it's on a sunfish....that way you'll know what a knockdown is and how to recover....you'll appreciate your pfd and be comfortable with heeling in no time!) Enjoy!
 
May 12, 2019
1
Catalina 30 Clearwater Beach
great tips from a great community of experience!
One more - not sure if your midlife crisis was at 40, 50 or 60+ or your agility.. but do consider when you sign up for a class, I truly believe that the smallest boat you can fit in with an instructor is the way to go as you'll get the best feedback from the boat and really pick up boat feel... it will be "tippier" - but that will help with your familiarity and boat feel. I'd say a sunfish or a day sailor less than 15 feet... :)
Enjoy - you can't go wrong!
 
Jul 13, 2015
768
Catalina 22 #2552 2252 Kennewick, WA
Lastly, How do I overcome my fear of the heel?
Let me tell you a little story -- as I think this is a fundamental philosophical question that deserves a non mechanical answer:

So I'm a liveaboard in the South San Francisco Bay, I'm getting into sailing big time and have taken all the ASA classes-- during non class weekends one of the instructors puts together private chartered weekend excursions so folks can get much more indepth experience.

Beautiful windy sunny day on the Bay (10-12KN) with a choppy 6' swell running against an outgoing tide and we decide we need to put our 38' C&C under the golden gate bridge cuz that's what cool sailors do. The second we hit the open ocean swell (and the tide) with the stiff breeze we are cranked over, bow smashing, water flying everywhere kinda rodeo. I'm actually holding on for dear life at the upper stays midships wondering if we are going to die.

Fast forward to present day-- that flight or fight response is perfectly natural, but it was based out of a lack of knowledge (still learning!) and perhaps more importantly a lack of understanding and trust in the machine.

When my skills improved-- my confidence improved exponentially, and at some point I actually started to trust in physics and the properties that keep sailboats (mostly) upright.

You received a ton of good detail in this post-- you need all of it, and you need some time in the saddle to get comfortable with your craft and your skill. AND-- don't be a hero, take someone with you for a while. Single handing is a thing-- but likely not your best place to start. Work up to it over time.
 
Oct 21, 2015
73
Catalina 22 Lafayette, IN
Let me tell you a little story -- as I think this is a fundamental philosophical question that deserves a non mechanical answer:

So I'm a liveaboard in the South San Francisco Bay, I'm getting into sailing big time and have taken all the ASA classes-- during non class weekends one of the instructors puts together private chartered weekend excursions so folks can get much more indepth experience.

Beautiful windy sunny day on the Bay (10-12KN) with a choppy 6' swell running against an outgoing tide and we decide we need to put our 38' C&C under the golden gate bridge cuz that's what cool sailors do. The second we hit the open ocean swell (and the tide) with the stiff breeze we are cranked over, bow smashing, water flying everywhere kinda rodeo. I'm actually holding on for dear life at the upper stays midships wondering if we are going to die.

Fast forward to present day-- that flight or fight response is perfectly natural, but it was based out of a lack of knowledge (still learning!) and perhaps more importantly a lack of understanding and trust in the machine.

When my skills improved-- my confidence improved exponentially, and at some point I actually started to trust in physics and the properties that keep sailboats (mostly) upright.

You received a ton of good detail in this post-- you need all of it, and you need some time in the saddle to get comfortable with your craft and your skill. AND-- don't be a hero, take someone with you for a while. Single handing is a thing-- but likely not your best place to start. Work up to it over time.
You are soooo right. I taught myself to sail a sunfish about 10 years ago (while in my 50's). Bought a C22. After sailing about 8 years I enrolled in the ASA 101-103-104 sequence. I wanted some "big" boat experience and also wanted to bareboat charter in the future. In the 101-103 course I was in a class with three people who had never sailed prior! When it came my turn to sail, (after evaluating my capabilities) the instructor wisely asked what I wanted to learn. He could tell that heeling was a concern for me. (Not that I don't like it, but I have capsized enough in my Sunfish in the past!). So he and I calmly took the boat to "the limits" repeatedly, and learned how it felt and how it recovered. Just as pclarksurf says, once you learn about, experience and trust the physics, it becomes a lot more fun. It just takes time. It's also good if an instructor or a trusted friend can show you, and you can sit back and observe. Have a great time!!!!
Mike
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,941
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I would second, or should I say, third that. I feel dinghy sailing is a great way to learn. They give you the best idea of what kind of heel a boat can take. They also feel less consequential if they go over, so you can explore the limits. Once you can understand that there are differences between an unballasted dinghy and a ballasted big boat, you can start to get comfortable knowing you are sailing within the boat's limitations. Experience is the only sure way to overcome these "intellectualized" fears. However, you don't want to completely overcome them. They keep you thinking and attentive.

-Will (Dragonfly)