Four questions from a novice's first harbor solo

Michele Sladko (
Thu, 19 Aug 1999 09:02:16 -0700

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Hi Potterers,

Yesterday I took SeaHorse out for my very first "solo"... well, the other
"solo" was in the lake where I dropped off my friend and then sailed
around and then picked him back up... but yesterday I went out in the
harbor,... I did it ALL myself, except, someone helped me launch.

Okay, four questions.

1) When "heaving to" why is it suddenly okay to cleat the main, when
all the other times that is the BIG no-no ?? I tried this yesterday,
and I held the main sheet, just in case, while I watched the boat to
see what she would do. She sort of weaved back and forth, one
sail filling, and then the other... didn't go anywhere, didn't tip... so
finally when I felt it was stable, I climbed into the hatch... I don't
inside, I just stood there to fix a line on the mast... and THEN a puff
made it tip ! I was still clutching the mainsheet, and I wasn't about
to wait around to SEE how far it would tip... so I yanked it out and
it righted.... so what's the scoop? Do YOU cleat the main when
"hove to" ? Talk to me !

2) Is downwind running a dangerous point of sail? I feel so vulnerable
when the main sheet is all the way out to the little knot keeping it
from going through the block... usually I find security in knowing that
if anything happens (tipping) I can let out the main... but at this
the main IS out !! What happens THEN if a gust comes? Yes, I have
a boom vang, which I keep tight. What is the worst that will happen to
me if a gust comes and I'm running downwind?

3) As I motored out, I was under the impression that if I slow the motor
down to lowest speed (no idle on Honda 2hp 4stroke), that the boat
would face into the wind, due to the pointy end of the boat, and I could
safely raise my sails, get situated, then trim and sail away ! But
not what happened ! The boat, if I let go the tiller, would instantly
pushed by the wind, and start to turn around,... it wanted to go
Methinks that is NOT the position to raise the main !!! Finally I got
tiller lashed in the center, and the wind lightened, and it held for
enough to leap up and raise the main and get back down there before
it turned around. Please advise !

4) When ready to go, and when sitting on the windward side of the dock,
with no idle position to one's motor, how in the heck does "one" prepare
the tiller to drive you away, not into, the dock, watch the pilings that
fifty feet away, maybe less, to windward, (I think that's how you say
and the wind wants to push one back up the very shallow ramp and into
the dock, and how does one turn around, and pull their motor starter 3 to
five times (that's what it takes me) AND shove off so the running prop
banging into the dock.... HELP !!!

I am SO eager for any input y'all feel like sharing with this very novice

My father is an experienced San Juan 21 sailor, and I will certainly ask him
these things too, as well as have him go out with me and continue my
with him at my side... but YOU guys are the experienced POTTER sailors.

Thank you,

P-15 #2254 "SeaHorse"
Oak Harbor, WA