I had my third sailing lesson today, where we learned how to retrieve a man overboard and how to dock safely. We practiced the man overboard drill a couple times, but most of our lesson time was spent practicing tacking and jibing around, both cruising and aiming for a specific destination (a red car that was directly upwind). Each student got time on the tiller, with two others on the jib sheets and one idle. We rotated through each of these stations twice.
On the first rotation, I was approaching the wall at the side of the channel and I asked the instructor, "What do you want me to do?" We had learned both tacks and jibes, and I wasn't sure which one I should be doing. The instructor replied, "You're the skipper. What do you want to do?" I decided to tack. "Ready about?"
I have a tendency to want to trim the jib too early, so I need to fix that next time around by being more patient and waiting for the sail to come around to the other side of the mast before pulling it taut. I also need to work on my commands - I tend to forgot the second part of them. Otherwise, I think things went smoothly.
On my second rotation at the helm, the instructor left me tack up the channel uninterrupted while we all discussed the points of sail, advanced sail trim, and ways to build up experience. Sailing on my own was a great feeling. I think I am finally starting to get the hang of it. All the concepts make sense once you've tested and tried them on the water and actually felt the response from the boat - the way that the boat tends to pull itself toward the wind when the sails are sheeted in to tightly, the fluttering of the yarn string on the sail that tells me that this side of the sail wants more wind, the heeling of the boat over to one side when it is picking up speed in an upwind point of sail... It was all pretty overwhelming at first, but it's starting to settle into place as we see how all of these things act and interact together.
Tomorrow is my last lesson and the capsize recovery drill. I will be bringing a bag of dry clothes and a towel for that one!