Just looked up techniques... i think i figured out what i'm doing wrong. i loosen the mainsail as i tack but before i tacked i was bringing in the jib. the techniques i saw say leave it as is until the tack is complete then loosen it so it changes sides (and goes to the proper side of the boom).
I'll have to try that...
Yes, the main thing is to keep the boat moving forward through the tack. One mistake is to creep up head to wind, stalling the boat and putting you in irons before you even begin.
Once you are committed to the doing the tack, call "tacking!" release a couple of feet of mainsheet, push the tiller over to no more than a 45 degree angle and hold it there while you move to to the other side, passing the tiller behind the sheets. (That part just takes practice, passing the tiller without changing the angle of the rudders.)
If you have crew, they should stay on the old side until the boat is completely past head-to-wind onto the new tack, then move to the other side releasing the now windward jib cleat, the jib will naturally run to the other side and so just sheet in.
If you don't have crew, leave the jib cleated on old tack until you are on the new side and the main is pulling, then release the jib cleat (right beside you) and quickly real in the sheet to the new side.
The above description will get you through a tack without going into irons, it takes practice and fine-tuning the steps to get through the tack quickly.
Also, if you don't already know how to recover from a failed tack (going into irons).
When you go into irons you end up with the boat sitting still and pointing into the wind. At that point it will start moving backwards, so what you do is push the tiller away from you and the rudders will now cause the boat to slide backwards onto the original tack, loosely sheet in the sails so that you can "feel" when they start to drive the boat forward, once you are back up to speed try the tack again.
The only real cure for tacking problems is TOW
(Tim On the Water) .