Heeling - the mystery solved

It only took 2 weeks.

It was literally on the final stretch home that I finally "got it."  Heeling - that terrifying event that causes me to panic for some unknown reason.  Well we finally figured it out!

Every time I've been at the helm when a big gust comes I panic.  The wind catches the sail and the boat leans over, sometimes pretty heavily.  Just like it's supposed to.  But I panic.  Apparently it's because I thought I was supposed to do something.  And I had no clue what to do.  We finally put 2 and 2 together and Mark was able to explain a few things to me.

First he showed me the change in the water ahead - between breaks in trees or around a small island or bend in the river, for example.  That gave me a good head's up as to when the boat would be going through a gusty area.  Then he told me to just hold my course.  No one's told me that before.  Just hold the course.  So when the wind blew and the boat leaned I thought I was supposed to do something, I just had no clue what to do.  So I panicked.  Now I know.  I stood at the helm for a while after that and was able to predict when the gusts would come and then  hold my course.  I know I'm over simplifying in this explanation, but that's pretty much all there was to it.  I'm sure there will be unexpected/stronger than expected gusts in the future, when I'm at the helm, that will catch me off guard.  But now that I know to just keep on sailing, I'm good.

Don't get me wrong - that does not mean that I like to spend a whole day with the rail in the water, but at least I don't want to curl up in a little ball every time the boat leans.  I'd say that's a serious improvement.


  1. BRAVO ! ! ! This is cool, you learn and we learn ;)

  2. I don't want to step on any toes here, but in the interest of sharing things I've learned from my husband... I think heeling is the #1 reason that many women (and some dudes) don't like sailing. In my years of sailing, I've discovered that some think that heeling means that you're going faster, doing better... But, if you heel to such an extent that your rudder is not straight, you are essentially dragging an anchor (the sideways rudder) through the water and therefore impeding your speed. The solution, ease off on the traveler to the point that you can straighten your rudder. This brings the boat to a more even keel and allows it to go forward more efficiently and more comfortably. Win Win! Hope this helps you, it did for me! Tammy

  3. Thanks, Tammy! You are exactly right. I've had it explained to me by books, our delivery captain, friends and my husband - all very logically. But my irrational fear was just that - irrational. And as soon as I realized that the fear was ACTUALLY due to not knowing what to physically do when at the helm (and learning what to do) the fear is just about gone. I'm sure practice will ensure this sticks. I can certainly see why this fear could cause people to give up sailing altogether, but I'm too stubborn for that. If I can continue to suffer through docking the stupid thing, I can surely get over heeling.
    Love following along on your trip - especially the detailed stories of the out of the way places you guys are stopping. Thanks for sharing!


We ♥ hearing your thoughts! ⚓️

Popular Posts