My First Sail! Part 3

Prepare to Jibe!

With the boat moving with the power of the wind blowing upon our main sail, it was time to raise the jib. Since I was on the windward side of the boat, there wasn’t much for me to do, except to make sure my side’s jibsheet stayed orderly and out of the way. As the jib uncoiled and caught the wind, the guy on the leeward side of the boat, pulled, tightened and cranked his jibsheet until the Skipper was satisfied.

When he finished, it appeared as though we were moving much faster and heeling a bit more aggressively. And what a rush it was to finally have the sails up!

With our sails up and the boat moving, we were on a course that would eventually have us crashing into Angel Island. That meant it was time to change directions, and the Skipper prepared us to think through our first maneuver.

The first thing he was sure to remind us of was to be mindful of the boom. The boom is the beam at the bottom of the mainsail. All four of us were taller than where the boom was suspended, which meant when we change directions, the boom, as it moves from one side of the boat to the other, could knock us in the head, knocking us off the boat and/or knock us out.

Our first maneuver was a jibe, which meant that we would change directions with the stern (back) of the boat moving into the wind.

“Prepare to Jibe,” the guy at the helm commanded. The Skipper had instructed him to call out this command when he was ready to perform the manuever.

“Port ready!” I called out. This signaled that I was ready to control my side of the boat, which meant I had control of my jibsheet.

“Starboard ready!” the guy on the leeward side called out after me.

“Jibing!” the guy at the helm said. This was how the guy at the helm was instructed to communicate that he was actively turning the boat.

In that moment, the boat began to turn to the right. The mainsail and its boom moved over to my side of the boat, and no longer was my side up in the sky; now it seemed like I was a mere foot away from the water.

As the guy on the starboard side released his jibsheet, I had to control mine. With the jibsheet wrapped around a winch, I pulled and pulled until it was too difficult to fight against the wind with the strength of my own back. The Skipper wanted the jibsheet pulled more, so I found a winch handle and cranked the jibsheet even more until the Skipper was happy.

And in what must have been mere seconds, we completed successfully our first maneuver. Us three men and our Skipper did our first direction change, shifting the entire boat with the power of the wind. No longer were we on a collision course for Angel Island, we were headed for Golden Gate Bridge, which was shrouded by fog in the distance.

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