Fun evening at the races on “Old Shoes”

Thankfully, it was another windy evening in the West River here in Galesville, MD.  The wind was out of the south-south east so we had a down wind start  [bottom of the map].  It was a bit breezy, so no spinnaker, then we had the smooth line out to the red circle (see map) where we put up the spinnaker and I trimmed it (eased it out and pulled it taut to optimally keep it filled with wind).  Wow, it did get a bit interesting since we had a following sea rocking us side-to-side and played “dodge the boat” as we met the front runners coming out of the river as a pack.  There was even more excitement as we got to the turnaround at the top of the map when the spinnaker needed to come down and the jib back up.  The sail sheets got tangled around the spinnaker pole when we had to jib before the sail switch.  As a crew member put it “I’ve never been so filled with adrenaline at 5 miles an hour!”.

The race course

The race course

Then we headed back south, doing a bunch of tacks till we crossed the start/finish line.  On the way back it was calm enough to take a few pics.

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The skipper and crew

The skipper and crew

And the scenery is so beautiful out there.

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West River Sailing at sunset

West River Sailing at sunset

Rehab junior was there, I think he may be catching the sailing bug.

ReHab Jr pretending he is a whisker pole

ReHab Jr pretending he is a whisker pole

And what is a blog post without a selfie? (Although, since I didn’t take it I guess it’s not really a selfie?)

Sort of selfie

Sort of selfie

Have fun and happy sailing.

P.S.  The garage projects are coming along nicely so I should be starting the sunfish repairs soon.  I’m thinking of converting the trailer to haul two sunfishes and buying a second one.  Stay tuned.


Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A catamaraner’s life for me!

On Tuesday nights a catamaran club sails out of the WRSC headquarters.  It is an official group, the West River Catamaran Raicing Association. (WRCRA).  They are a very friendly group of people with the attitude of winning is fun, but it isn’t everything.  Let’s race, see if we can improve, and then let’s go have a beer.  Just my style.

Yesterday I went sailing on a Nacra 20 catamaran with a great skipper.    Fun loving, very encouraging – a really nice guy.

Going sailing!

Going sailing!

Wow, what fun!  The wind was going pretty well, and heading downwind we put the spinnaker out and were roaring along at somewhere around 20 mph, maybe more.  At one point an error was made (skipper says it wasn’t mine) and we capsized.  A bit of climbing, leaning and then scrambling aboard and the boat was back up and we were sailing again.  I think there were about 8 boats out, and 3 or 4 of them went over – so we weren’t special.  The wind was definitely up.

Last week I went down to see if I could catch a ride, but none of the boats needed a newbie crew.  I went to the starting line and snapped a few pictures after the first short leg of the race.

last week's catamaran race

last week’s catamaran race

My current schedule for racing is Tuesday night catamarans and Wednesday night big boat.  I’m considering joining the WRSC shared boat program to race Lasers on Friday nights, but I’m not sure I have the stamina!

Racing with no wind

This Wednesday’s race on “Old Shoes” started off with a bit of wind, but eventually fizzled out to nothing.  It’s amazing how different it can be from one week to the next.

2014-06-18 Racing with No Wind

2014-06-18 Racing with No Wind

At least we made it out to the turn around mark, but there was no way we were going to make it across the finish line under sail.  So yet again, another night where we had to fire up the engine.  Still, I was on a sailboat with friendly people and a beer (or two) in my hand.  As they say, a bad day on a sailboat beats a good day at work.

Since the wind wasn’t trying to knock me off the boat like last week, I did get to take a selfie.



or two

Selfie #2

Selfie #2

It was a beautiful sunset.




And best of all, Rehab Jr. came along.  He liked it – says he’ll be back.

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I joined West River Sail Club (WRSC)

I joined the West River Sail Club in Galesville, MD.  They We are active sailors with lots of different fleets.  The catamarans sail on Tuesdays, and Lasers sail on Fridays.  My current plan is to:

1) on Tuesday – tag along and beg rides as crew on catamarans
2) on Wednesday – sail the 30′ pearson
3) On Fridays – get checked out on the club lasers and then start racing with them.

Three days a week MAY be enough sailing, so just in case I’ll throw in a few weekend regattas and races.  Should be a fun summer.

This weekend was the Galesville Heritage race.  I went as crew in one of the club’s Albacore sailboats.  I have to say I enjoyed that I was sailing, but the Albacore is definitely NOT one of my favorite boats.  Anyhow, there were 3 Albacores sailing in our group.  My skipper was good, but the boat was outclassed by the other two privately owned boats.  We came in last of the three, and since our group started last, our boat was last over the finish line – FOR THE WHOLE REGATTA!.  So we won the prize for that.  It’s on the right in the picture below.  Funny, Natty Bo keeps coming up around sailing for me.

My skipper gave me an old WRSC hat that she won but doesn’t wear, so I can show my WRSC pride when I’m out and about. It’s for first place in a race, so I feel a bit like an impostor when I wear it.  Oh well.  It’s on the left below.




Who Hoo!!! Wind up on race day.

As I’ve mentioned before, on Wednesday evening I sail on a 30′ Pearson (“Old Shoes”).  I spend most all  of my time in the pit cranking on the jib winches.  They only let me up on the fore-deck  “triangle of awesomeness”  when there isn’t anything going on.  some day,  some day…..

Winds for the race wound up being 18 knots with gusts to 25. (that’s 20 mph with gusts to 28)  We started on a starboard beam reach (wind coming from our right) and got across the starting line in last but pretty good position.  3 or 4 other boats went over the starting line too soon and had to do an immediate 360 degree turn as a penalty.  Not us, we were good.

Once we rounded the first mark we were going almost dead upwind, so since a boat can’t sail upwind we tacked back and forth.  With wind like this each tack is pretty intense.

Captain: “Prepare to Tack”
Crew: Checks sheets (ropes attached to jib (front sail)), wrap twice around the winch – clockwise!.  “Ready!”
Captain: “Tacking!”
Crew: wait, wait…there!  Wind has crossed over the bow and is now coming from the other side and is pushing the jib over.  haul like crazy on the jib sheet so the sail fills with wind and comes taut.  Too hard to pull by hand now!  throw another wrap or two around the winch!  Grab the winch handle, put it in the top of the winch – it locks in so it doesn’t fall overboard.  CRANK, CRANK, CRANK!!!
Captain: “Crank Dammit”
( just kidding , he’s great.  He really says “Crank! dammit”  (It’s just understood the dammit is there)
Crew: ugh, crank, ugh, crank, (It’s getting a lot harder), ugh, crank…  OK, that’s enough.

The wind is blowing so hard sometimes the sheet slips and lets the jib back out a bit and slows us down.  That’s my bad.  Lesson learned, next time throw a wrap around the cleat too.

One time the sheet gets itself in a bit of a knot so it can’t slip through the block and keeps the jib from going to the other side during a tack.  Not really my bad, but on every tack from now on I make sure it is not tangled before the tack.

Waves are pounding , some 3 or 4 feet high.  This is a bit unusual because this is the mouth of a river, not the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.  Sometimes the boat smashes straight ahead, most of the time we turn off a bit on the big ones so we don’t lose our momentum.  The boat is leaning way over on it’s side, I’m standing up almost straight and my feet are planted on the side of the bench.  Waves crash over the bow and splash back to the cockpit.  Soaking wet and dripping.  Woo Hoo!!!!

We’re on starboard tack (wind coming from right), so we aren’t supposed to have to turn to avoid a collision but another boat on a port tack (wind coming from left) cuts it close in front of us.  They are hidden from us by the sail, I look under and …
Skipper: dips down and we miss them.
They know they done wrong and give a little thank you wave for not T-Boning them.

We round the mark and head downwind on a broad reach.  Not straight with the wind, but not sideways either.  Finally realize we were going for the wrong mark, (P, not G) change course and realize we can put up the spinnaker.  Up it goes – whoops, it’s didn’t clear the jib – shake it! shake it!  OK, it’s up, wait – it’s in an hourglass shape.  Lots more shaking going on.  Now it’s full and holy smokes it’s yanking us back and forth, can’t stabilize.  Left, Right, Left, BIG Right, whoops we broach!  (We turn flat sideways to the wind with the sail pulling us horizontal – we’re about to go over because the pull is too great.

Captain:  BLOW IT!
Crew: (Me) : Release the sheet holding in the corner of the spin
Boat: Stands up nicely – what’s the big deal with you people on my deck?
Captain: Put the spinnaker away

Round the mark (we are second to last), but the other boat is lighter and scoots past us.
Crew: Take a selfie!


Wet T-Shirt selfie

Wet T-Shirt Selfie

Cross the finish line with huge smiles on the whole crew. (Except the skipper, he never smiles – just kidding, (no I’m not))

Sooooo much fun!  I love sailing in big wind.


Miles River Parrot

One picture I forgot to post in the Miles River Race post was of me with this Conure parrot.  He sure was a friendly little guy.  His name is “Spinaker”  and he actually goes sailing with the owner.  As the locals say it, I’m enjoying a frosty “Natty Bo”  – National Bohemian beer.