Climbing aboard a dinghy

Dinghies, as we explain in Chapter 1, are smaller boats (usually under 20 feet, or 6 meters) that carry no ballast (weight) in their movable centerboard (underwater fin). Dinghies can also tip over. Because with this book we want you to master sailing and not swimming, make sure that your first step into a dinghy is as near to its centerline (an imaginary line that runs down the center of the boat from end to end) as possible, near the midpoint from bow to stern (front to back). (If you're not careful, you may tip the boat and end up in the water.)

If the dinghy has wire rigging (shrouds) connecting the mast (near or at its top) to the right and left sides of the boat for support, you may want to gently hold on for balance and to keep the boat near you as you step on board. You may also want to consider starting from a sitting or crouching position on the dock. In any case, keep your weight as low and close to the centerline as possible as you step aboard, as Figure 4-3 shows.

Figure 4-3:

JJ shows how to stay dry while climbing into a dinghy.

Putting the centerboard, daggerboard, or leeboard down all the way increases the boat's stability, which makes moving around the boat much easier. Therefore, putting down the fin is the first thing you should do after you climb aboard.

The boat becomes much more stable when it's moving and the pressure of the wind is in the sails. But until you're sailing, keep your weight as low and near the centerline as possible as you rig the boat.

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