The second best day

They say the two best days in a boat owners life are the day he buys a boat, and the day he sells it.  I’ve done both and not felt that way, but this time I have to admit a bit of relief.

You may recall a few posts back in my “3 year anniversary” post where I outlined steps for success in getting some boat progress.  Step 1 was getting the Sunfish off my “to-do” list.  I’m happy to say the task is complete.  I posted the ad on Craigslist Sunday night, by Saturday at 11:30 am  I had a firm commitment by someone to come get it, and by 3 pm she was gone.  I suspect offering it for free may have had something to do with how fast she went, but at least she’s going to a good home.  Howard in Slaughter Beach, Delaware has a Sunfish fleet of about 20 boats and said that every year he fixes up a couple of Sunfish and gets someone new sailing in it.  I’m very happy about how that worked out.

Sunfish Departure

Since Mrs. G at Boca Ciega Yacht Club had been so nice to give me the Sunfish I do feel bad about not following through and finishing the job.  Unfortunately, work, sailing and the Catalina 22 have sort of taken over my priorities.  I am in a very different place when I got the boat originally, so sometimes you have to re-prioritize.  This is one of those times.

Next step in getting the Catalina 22 ready is to get those darn Keel weldments glassed in!  I was going to go the professional route, but this weekend at the West River Sailing Club annual meeting I got an offer of help!  So stay tuned, we’ll make progress there  – soon I hope.

Speaking of WRSC, here is a picture from the roof while I was at the fall cleanup day.  It sure is a beautiful place.

Fall cleanup day at WRSC - view from the roof

Fall cleanup day at WRSC – view from the roof



Tuesday night light wind racing – single handing

This weekend I THOUGHT I was scheduled to teach at BCYC sailing school Saturday and Sunday morning, but it wasn’t so.  A schedule Snafu let me without a teaching gig, but I did wind up jumping in another open spot and teaching a couple of guys for about 3 hours Sunday afternoon.  The wind had come up to almost 10 mph.  We practiced heaving to, man overboard pickup, and docking.  All of which pretty much require you to bring you boat to a stop.  In higher winds it’s a bit difficult, but they did OK.  I got a compliment.  Not to brag on myself or anything, but one did say out of the three instructors he had, he thought I was the best.  (OK, I am bragging on myself a little bit – I admit it)

Then Monday (yesterday) on Boca Ciega Bay the wind was blowing great, but I was kind of beat, and passed a chance to sail.  That is so unlike me.  It would have been fun though.

Tonight was Tuesday night racing.  It was scheduled to be our last night of the season and the wind decided not to show up!  It was VERY light, but I told them I was going anyway and in the end everybody agreed to go.  So that put the total number of racers at 9.  Our club boats (The Catalina Capri 16.5) at BCYC are configured so they need a captain and a jib tender.   That meant one boat would have to take 3 people.  I suspected it would be possible to sail by myself, and decided to take the opportunity to try it.  Turns out it was a little difficult, but I managed.

Race results out of 5 boats:   First, First, Third, First, Fifth.

On the two races I didn’t get first, I had such a terrible start I was last over the starting line.   I think winning was a combination of 3 things.

1) It was light winds, and where the other boats had a crew weight of about 300 lbs, I was sitting light at 170.  (OK, 174 – but I’m working on it)

2) I’ve learned a lot about sail trim from all the racing I’ve been doing.  Especially the Thursday night races at Davis Island Yacht Club where I watch and listen to very experienced sailors tweak the sails to get maximum output.

3) Mark R. was in a boat, but wasn’t driving the first two races.  He almost always wins. (But I handed it to him in race four!)

Lessons Learned:

1) If you think you want to do something, but are a little hesitant (or afraid), find a way to reduce the riskiness of it if you can.  By singlehandling the boat in very light wind, there wasn’t much chance to capsize or something else terrible.  With the other boats around I was confident that if I somehow did get into trouble that I would have plenty of help.  This gave me the confidence to go and do it.  Now I’m sure I could do it in higher winds.  I think this could apply in many types of situations, not just sailing.

2) I watched the wind puffs on the water.  If I could I sailed to where it looked like wind was blowing .vs. where the water looked flat.  I saw other boats ignore this, and was able to gain distance on them.

3) The starting line is crucial.  I think I gave up a position I didn’t need to on both the third and fifth races, and it cost me dearly.  Last over the starting line usually means last over the finish line.  I need to understand starting tactics a lot better.

P.S.  We decided to squeeze out one more Tuesday night racing next week.  I hope the weather and tide is good!

I just sailed in the Bradenton Yacht Club 30th annual kickoff regatta

Almost every blogger eventually writes a post that begins with, “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but …”

So this is that one for me.  I’m afraid the posts will be a little less frequent now too – I’m just too darned busy.  For some reason, sailing seems to take precedence over blog writing.

So I’ve done a lot of sailing lately, and absolutely no rehabbing.  I also have some non boat-related projects that are taking up time.

This weekend, I was invited to sail on a Corsair 27′.  Here is a link that describes it in detail.

I grabbed this picture from the web here.  It’s an interesting write-up on the boat.

We sailed in the Bradenton Yacht Club 30th annual kickoff regatta.

This is a boat that really moves along in high winds.  Unfortunately there wasn’t any.  We sailed Saturday and Sunday.  3 races saturday.  2 on sunday.

Below are some shots I did during the first race Saturday.



The very first thing that happened was that our bowsprit broke before the first race.  Can you see that short little pole laying on the deck in the front and  tied up right at the bottom of the sail?  That’s it.  The sail that you see in the picture is a spinnaker.  That is the big sail on the front that looks like a hot air balloon.

Anyway, back to the bowsprit.  A bowsprit is that pole at the front of the boat that sticks out and lets you put more sails on.  This meant we had to sail against the wind with only our main sail and the jib(the smaller sail in front).  That really slowed us down.  There were lots of sailboats that came out for the race, but there was only one other multi-hull boat in our class, so we were fighting for first and second.  Since we had only two sails we could put up, and they had three.  It wasn’t much of a fight.

The course was 3 pins set up in a triangle with 1 nautical mile between them, although they sure seemed farther.

First race Saturday was fine, but slow.  We came in about 30 minutes behind the other boat.

Second race the race committee didn’t put up our second mark.  These marks are far enough apart that a lot of times you have to sail partway towards the next mark before you can see it.  We kept sailing, and sailing, and sailing … all at very slow speeds… till we saw the boat ahead round a mark.  When we went around it we saw it was actually a channel marker.  That time they beat us back by about 40 minutes or maybe it was an hour.


In this last picture you can see the skyway bridge over Tampa Bay in the distance.  We are on our way back to the starting line after rounding our second mark.  Can you see our second mark (bright yellow floating triangle)?  I can’t either.

Third race we were actually doing pretty well.  All of a sudden, we saw the entire fleet (scattered all over the bay) turn around and head back towards the start.  They had called the race.   By the time we motored the hour back to port, the wind picked up and it was blowing pretty hard.  Bummer.

Back at the club it was brewski’s, swimming pool and a great fish sandwich in the clubhouse.  I don’t know what it is, but ever since I got to Florida I just love getting fish sandwiches!

Sunday’s races were even slower.  On the first race, we went around verrrryyyy slooooooowwwwwlllllly. As soon as we crossed the finish line (the other boat had waited about 30 minutes for us)  the race committee sent us on our second race.

On the second race we spent almost an hour getting to the first pin and by the time we rounded it the other boat had already rounded the third.  We slowly went to the second mark and eventually, many days later crossed the finish line.  After that we headed back in, there was no point in doing another.

This was the second time I sailed on this boat.  The owner said he would be happy to sail with me again.  That’s good enough for me.

Even though it was slow, and not really a race – I enjoyed the weekend.  I did spend too long in the sun without my hat and sunscreen on.  Only my face got sunburned, except for where my sunglasses were.  I’m now sporting that raccoon look.   Won’t do that again.

I also went sailing Thursday at Davis Island Yacht Club on the 42′ “Long Gone”, and on Friday at Boca Ciega Yacht Club in a 16 1/2 ‘ Catalina Capri.  That makes 4 straight days of sailing.

I think I’m taking off Monday from sailing, then Tuesday racing, Wednesday wakeboarding, Thursday back to Davis Island, Friday off, and Saturday and Sunday I get to take a few students in sail school at Boca Ciega out on the water.  It’s shaping up to be  busy week.






Sail on the “Southern Lady”

See, all that time helping out Phil and Laura paid off.  I got to go out with them yesterday (Sunday).  The original plan was to help him work on the engine and then go out, but Laura decided she didn’t want to be there when there was engine work going on, so we just sailed.   Rats, you mean I don’t get to be all smelly and dirty and just have to sail?  Well… OK, if I have to.

2012-06-10 Heading out

2012-06-10 Heading out

I think Phil is amazing.  The Southern Lady is his first sailboat.  He bought it thinking it was ready to sail and found out it needed a lot of work.  Three months of daily grind at the yard and now it’s back in the water and sailing.  Today was his first time out on her without someone to hold his hand.  You sure can’t consider me an old salt by any means!  He said the whole time he was out there he was thinking about how much trouble he was going to have backing into his narrow slip.   Too bad for him.  I didn’t have to do it, so I got to enjoy my time out.

2012-06-10 under sail

2012-06-10 under sail

After a while, he told me to take over.  So I did <smile>.

2012-06-10 Me driving!

2012-06-10 Me driving!

Big boats handle differently than the little ones I’ve been spending my time on.  They are definitely slower to respond, but I think they can take a lot more wind.  For a while there was very little wind and we were barely moving.  As the afternoon wore on it picked up and by the time we came in it was blowing pretty hard, although I don’t have a measurement for you.

2012-06-10 Home Sweet Home

2012-06-10 Home Sweet Home

Going back to the marina I can always see home.  It seemed closer when I took the picture.

Someday, I’ll be on a boat that goes out of the little protected bay I’ve come to know and love.

boca ciega bay to gulf

boca ciega bay to gulf

First official race

Yesterday BCYC hosted a group of laser sailors for a regatta race.  This was part of a travelling series for them and once a month they hold a race somewhere around the Tampa Bay area.  I follow a laser sailor’s blog  (Proper Course) and find it pretty interesting, so I was excited for the chance to see them in action.  (Image from the La Crosse sailing club in Wisconsin.

laser race

laser race

The powers that be at the club decided to also hold a race using our club’s Catalina Capri 16.5’s.

Catalina Capri 16.5

Catalina Capri 16.5

This is the boat we race on Tuesdays, and requires a minimum of two people.  The Capn holds the tiller and steers the boat and also controls the main sail (the big one in the back).  The crew  is responsible for the jib (the smaller sail in the front).  Typically, whenever the boat turns the jib tender has to pop the line out of the cleat on one side of the boat and pull in the line on the other and then secure it in the other cleat.  At the same time the Capn is using the tiller to turn the boat, jumping to the other side, and the main sail comes across the middle.  Apparently it’s easy to screw these two maneuvers up, as we demonstrated often.

capri parts

capri parts

It has rained all week, and before that our last two Tuesday night sailing races have been cancelled due to super low tides coinciding exactly with the time we’d have to pull the boats out of the water after the race.  When the tide is low, there isn’t enough water depth to get the boats back to the hoist dock.   When that happens, I just take a sunfish out, because it’s pretty easy to just drag it out at the beach.  Besides, I really like the sunfish.  I wish I could find a group that races them.

The race course looked like this:

BCYC Race 6-10-2012

BCYC Race 6-10-2012

Each race took around 25 minutes.  We did five races.  The lasers did around 7.  The race committe started the lasers first, then as they rounded the second mark and headed back upwind, they started us Capri’s.  Then the lasers would finish their race, and as the Capri’s rounded the second mark, the lasers would start again.  They miscalculated once and the lasers started their race as the Capri’s where coming to the mark.  That was interesting as the 3 Capris in the lead were charging into the 5 lasers starting!  No collisions occurred, and the lasers restarted.

Our performance impressed some of the old timers at the club.  They know I’ve only raced a few times on Tuesday so I don’t have much experience.  Our results where Third, First, Second, Fourth, First.  For a total of 11 points.  Sometimes they throw out the lowest score, and in that case we had 7 points.  Since the Capri races where sort of thrown together, there were no race sailing instructions that made it clear which method would be used.  If you don’t throw out the bad one, we tied for second but then lost the tie breaker to come in third.  If you DO throw out the lowest score, WE CAME IN FIRST!  ha!

SAILING LESSON: As we came downwind on the last race, the boat a few boat lengths behind us was catching up.  You would think we would go the same speed since it is the same boat design, but what was happening is that we were getting “dirty” air.  The boat behind us was positioning their boat so that their sails would be right in the path of the wind as it came to our sail.  That meant that instead of getting the full strength wind they were getting, we only got some of it, much the same way when you put a building between yourself and the wind you will be sheltered from it.  We were sort of doing the same as them to the boat in front of us, and we both (us and the boat behind) caught up to it.  I came off to the left side of the boat in front, and then the boat behind me started covering the boat in front.  That allowed me to scoot past and then it was a photo finish as the three of us crossed the finish line.  That was the last race and our second win!

Wow, sailing is fun, and racing is fun too!

CapnRehab in a collision at sea!

I am so dreadfully behind in all that’s happened.  There is just no way I’m going to get it all into this blog.  Although this happened two weeks ago, I feel like I just have to write about it.

On May 12, I took out the club Catalina Capri to watch the BCYC Bikini Cup race.  The big sailboats were tearing around Boca Ciega Bay and we were doing our best to stay out of the way.  Actually, we did stay out of the way.  They are big boats, we’re a little boat, it’s a big bay – you do the math.  It was easy.  I took my son Alex (of sunfish moving fame) and at the last minute invited J. along.

We had a great time and a little before the race was over we headed back in as J. had some after race cooking responsibilities to take care of.  You know, I’m never sure if this is an eating and drinking club that sails a little, or a sailing club that eats and drinks a lot.  Actually, I think our club byline is that we’re a drinking club with a sailing problem.  Anyways, I digress…

Partway through the sail I let J. take over because it’s nice to let other people sail, and I’m a nice guy.  So he starts taking us in.

As we’re heading back to port, we are going almost directly up wind.  This means as a sailboat with no motor, we have to tack. and tack, and tack.  Back and forth as we work our way back to the dock.  In the picture below, we are the red line.  We’re coming up from the bottom towards the dock at the top.

BCYC Sail Collision 1

BCYC Sail Collision 1

You may have noticed a yellow line in the picture.  That is a motor boat that came up behind us.  There is NO WAY they didn’t see what we were doing going BACK AND FORTH, OVER AND OVER!

So they come roaring up till the get to the no wake marker.  It is on the two posts you can see right at the tip of the wind arrow.  Then they idle without a wake like good little motor boaters.  They are still going faster than us.  As they get to the end of the little yellow line, we are almost to the end of our little red line STILL GOING BACK AND FORTH!  We are headed for a collision, but the husband on the boat jumps up, grabs the controls from his wife, and in a heroic effort, jams the gear into reverse with a VROOOM, WHMMMMM, stops their boat and keeps it from running into us.  That was a little dramatic of him, but then he yells out “SORRY ABOUT MY WIFE, SHE DOESN”T  KNOW ABOUT SAILBOATS TACKING EVEN THOUGH SHE GREW UP WITH ONE”.

I thought that was very rude of him towards his wife, but at least he didn’t let us collide.  We go back to tacking, because we’re doing it about every 15 seconds.  Keeps us kind of busy.  We go a few more feet towards the left wall, then tack to the right and suddenly, THEY ARE RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!

BCYC Sail Collision2

BCYC Sail Collision2

While we were absorbed with not running into the left wall, they came around us  (at idle speed) and got right in our way.  Guess what?  We ran into them.  Not once, but twice.  We bumped them (T-bone style), veered a little left, but the wind gusted and swung the bow right back and bumped them again.

I admit, I was a little startled.  So startled, I laughed.  Not because it was funny, but because I couldn’t believe they were such a dumba** to put themselves in such a position.  Well, I guess I shouldn’t have done that, because another guy on the boat started yelling and saying I wouldn’t think it was so funny if there was any damage to his boat and made a big show of checking the side to see if there was any.

They never stopped.

They never asked if anyone was hurt.

They just kept on motoring back to their marina.

They violated so many rules of the road, it just isn’t funny.

  • First, they saw us for heavens sake!  They knew we were tacking and had limited manueverability.
  • Second, vessels under sail are the “stand on” vessels when dealing with small motor boats.  Motor boats are “Give way” vessels.
  • Third, an overtaking vessel must stay clear of any vessels they overtake.  (Overtaking are “give way” vessels)
  • Forth, you must stop and offer assistance in any maritime accident
  • Fifth, they’re just dumba**es.

Actually someone on shore hollered out to see if anyone was hurt.  And we were fine.  It was a low speed collision and there was no damage to our boat.

Later, I remembered that the collision regulations (collregs) say there is no right of way, and that everyone involved in a collision is in some way responsible.  So I got to thinking, “what was our responsibility”?

I guess our skipper should have been looking around and been aware that the other boat was not staying back.  Even if he didn’t do that, he might have been able to turn back into the wind and stopped his forward motion.  I’m not exactly sure how much room he had, because it seemed like as soon as we turned, we ran into them pretty quick.  I think there might have been some room.

There is no doubt J. was startled.  Maybe didn’t react as quickly as he should have, but that’s armchair quarterbacking at its best.

Bottom line – be careful out there.  You’re surrounded by…. well, you fill in the blank.

First time in a Sunfish Sailboat

This is a catch up post, this happened Thursday two weeks ago.

I found out at club work day that the Boca Ciega Yacht Club (BCYC) has about 10 sunfish sailboats.   In the picture below the small boat beach is in the middle left.

Boca Ciega Birds Eye View

Boca Ciega Birds Eye View

Any club member can use them, and since they are one person boats I won’t need to find someone to go with. I was shown the shed with all the gear.  The club member showing me was kind enough to point out all the gear needed. No time for a tutorial, but at least I knew all the parts.

Fast forward to last Thursday after work. I’m heading home, driving down I-275 and realize there might be enough time to go check out the sunfish. By the time I got home, I guessed there was about 1 1/2 hours before sunset. I wanted to go, but was feeling hesitant about trying something so new and different completely on my own. Yes, there was just a little bit of fear hiding in those justifications I was making to myself that “there really isn’t enough time” and “I don’t really know what to do”. I finally said to heck with it and just went.

I went down to the club, pulled the gear out of the shed, loaded the boat on a dolly, rolled it down to the beach, rigged it up as best I could figure out.  Next time I’ll check out Google before I go.
This is a picture of the rigging that has to be put on: (Sorry it’s not a very good picture)

sunfish parts

sunfish parts

I headed out but immediately turned around when I realized I didn’t have the mainsheet feeding through the pulleys correctly. (That’s the line in the picture that goes diagonally up from the back of the boat to the bottom of the sail then forward along the bottom of the sail and back down again to a little round black circle.  Once I got that fixed I headed out again, only to realize I didn’t have the rudder under the main traveler. (I’ll have to take a picture of this, no way am I going to describe it clearly)  Back to the beach one more time and then it was about 20 minutes of tooling back and forth in the little inlet.   I didn’t go far because by this time the sun was hitting the horizon.  The whole thing was to prove the concept.  Could I set it up and go out by myself?  Apparently the answer is yes.

It was a real victory over the unknown to get out there and just go for it.  I think there is lots of stuff like that in life.  You might want to do something and think you MIGHT be able to do it, but a little bit of fear is in there too.  Sometimes you just have to risk it and go for it.  The victory over the first time out in a sunfish might seem little, but it could be big too.  Overcoming fears and doubts can be just as much a habit as plopping down and watching TV.  It’s your choice.  What is it that you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid of doing?  Can you bite off a small chunk and go get yourself a victory?  Go for it!