Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I have, thankfully, no pictures of today's debacle where I totally embarrassed myself. I will spare myself the pain of recounting all the details. What I will say, is that I ultimately learned a lot more about sailing one of my boats - Frivolity, my Francois Jacques.

In a way, it's a very good thing that this shameful thing happened because I don't think I'd have learned otherwise just how much power I was dealing with and how much restraint is needed sometimes in controlling it. Normally when I sail, I don't bother to change the SL wind. My approach has been to deal with it as it comes, and just tack and tack as necessary to go upwind. What I never normally experience is a gale force wind.

Well, stupid me didn't realize that the recommended wind for the day's event was a gale force wind. And the FJ loves to heel, something else I'd forgotten in almost three years of hardly sailing because of getting deep into medieval roleplay. Well, disaster first came when I couldn't even get started. I chose the wrong boat for the recommended wind; I probably should have stuck with Twinkle, my T12. I didn't want to use Twister, the 12 Metre, because I already saw several of them being used. And I wanted one of the big pretty boats, just not the same as everyone else. Vanity... so, out came Frivolity. But -sploosh- I went as soon as the sails went up. I was capsizing, something that has never happened to me before, and I had no idea why. I managed to right myself, but then I hit a horrible spot and I was capsizing again. I didn't know why, until I went back later at night to try the FJ out again, and also consulted dear Jane Fossett's invaluable blog for the scoop on the FJ.

Herp derp, I had a sense that I needed to do the counter-intuitive thing and let the sail out, but it felt like the HUD wasn't responding and I couldn't let it out enough. Well, that's intentional. Had I known my boat better, I'd have known that the recommended 18m/s wind speed was too much for the FJ with the mainsails up. As it was, I'd have needed a crew of burly musclemen to stop the heeling, and even then it might not have been enough to keep from tipping over.

What I should have done was drop the mainsails and just sail with the jib/stay/jib topsail, or vice versa and drop the jib/stay/jib topsail and sailed with just the mainsails. There is just too much sheet open to the wind with both sets of sails up at that speed, and it will blow you over unless you can start running downwind. My instinct was right in letting the wind spill, but with the pressure to try to keep up with other cruisers, who remembers these things? People with more experience, that's who.

So, lesson learned - stop being a permanoob, and know what the hell it is you're actually driving.  I know that my instincts are underdeveloped, partly because I don't sail in real life and partly because I hadn't done it enough in Second Life.

Although I am still ashamed at the flop, I am proud that I actually learned something from this, and I am already a more confident sailor.

eta: it wasn't a gale force wind but Trudeau doesn't use knots... oops.

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