Sometimes you just can’t win – racing at DIYC

I sailed again Thursday at DIYC.

Here is a panoramic of the view from the veranda of the club.  These look south and west over Tampa Bay.

2012-06-28 DIYC Southeast view

2012-06-28 DIYC Southeast view

2012-06-28 DIYC SouthWest view

2012-06-28 DIYC SouthWest view

2012-06-28 DIYC West view

2012-06-28 DIYC West view

This time it didn’t go so well.  They say disasters occur when a lot of little bad decisions combine to make a terrible outcome.

The boat I sailed on before wasn’t going out this time, so I had to find another boat.  I asked at the bar for to announce I was looking.  The volunteer coordinator asked if I had any experience.

Bad Decision #1: I said yes.  I did because I’ve sailed a lot.  Especially recently.   I’ve seen other people that had never been on a boat before there, so I figured at least I knew what the boat terminology is, which way the sail needs to be, etc.  However, the question was really “do you have any experience sailing large boats in races?”.  That answer for me is definitely a “No”.    The captain had only two people that had sailed with him before, so he was looking for really experienced people.  His first question to me was “Can you run a foredeck”.    I could see my response was disappointing.

I tried something new and decided to grab dinner at the club before the race. Based on my prior experience, I thought I had plenty of time. However, this boat was leaving about 40 minutes sooner than the other one.  My order took a long time to come out, so I got it to go and walked down to the boat.  I just wanted to see how long I had before we left so I could go back to the restaurant and eat.  When I got there he said we were leaving now, get on.  I had my dinner in one hand, a beer in the other.  How to get on?

Bad Decision #2: I grabbed the plastic beer cup in my teeth, and stepped aboard.  My left foot stepped across the lifeline to the boat and as I tried to come over with my right foot it got caught on the lifeline.   This threw me off balance immediately and I wound up hopping on my left foot as I tried to get my foot over the line.  (I think it was caught on the tongue of my shoe)  So there I was, hop,hop,hop trying to catch my balance.  Then slowly, horribly, not really in slow motion I started to fall forward like a giant redwood.  Fortunately, I was falling forward onto the deck, and not backward into the water.  I scraped my shin, knee & elbow.  I was bleeding in 3 places before I had been on the boat for 10 seconds!

Bad Decision #3:  Somehow I wound up with my beer in my hand as I fell.  I think as I was hopping, I grabbed it out of my teeth.  So without a hand to break my fall, crash, all the way down.  I never released my grip though, and managed to save about a quarter of it.  The rest poured right on the sail (jib) that was laying on the deck.  Thankfully, I never dropped my dinner so I didn’t wind up smearing ketchup and smashed fries all over the deck.  It was bad enough, but that would have made it worse.  I managed to put on this display in front of everyone on the boat.  How fun!

There were too many people for the jobs so I wound up pretty much being in the way.  Also, since everybody else was new to the boat too there was a lot of confusion about who was doing what.  There were so many lines, all with different colors.  No body pulled on the same one twice.  At one point, as we rounded a mark, the spinnaker (big sail like a balloon in front of the boat) had to come down, and the jib (smaller sail like a triangle) had to go up.  One of the experienced crew made a mistake and untied the halyard on the mainsail.  (The halyard is the rope that you pull on to take a sail to the top of the mast, it’s also the one that keeps it there)  He didn’t release it, but the captain yelled at me to “hang on to the halyard and don’t let go”.   I didn’t know what it went to at the time, and since they left the clamp on it loose, I thought it was the line (rope) that would let the spinnaker come down so we could change sails.

Bad Decision #4: When the captain gave the order to lower the halyard (meaning the spinnaker halyard)  I though he was talking to me.  I released my line and the mainsail started to come down.  Whew!  It got pretty hot there for a minute!  After being informed (ever so politely) I was doing the wrong thing, I stopped it before it got came down very much though.

I managed to rip the skin off my knuckle and begin bleeding in a fourth place by the time the trip was over.

I did take a picture of the boat, but decided that it would be better keeping the whole experience anonymous.  After the race the captain invited everyone back to sail on Sunday.  Even me.  At that time I thought I might go, but have since decided not to.  When I txted him that I wouldn’t make it, he said don’t worry about the mistakes since it went better than he had expected and that if I wanted to go they were leaving at 2pm.  I think that was pretty nice of him.

Instead here is a picture of the start of the race:

2012-06-28 Waiting for start

2012-06-28 Waiting for start

and another of the anchorage at the end of the evening.

2012-06-28 Sunset over DIYC

2012-06-28 Sunset over DIYC

This hasn’t put me off sailing, but I will be careful how I answer the experience question in the future.  My answer is going to be “A little”.



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