Red Boat

Red Boat

Weekend before last I had my first sail of the year.  I was invited by “B” to go out on red boat (aka Luchador).  I met him last year on “Old Shoes” and really enjoy his company.

As most of you know, I like Florida so much, mostly because I hate being cold.  But I have a new perspective on that.  He informed me that there is no such thing as cold weather – just cold clothes.

We put this to the test and went out in “brisk weather.

At the helm, not shivering too bad.

At the helm, not shivering too bad.

Turns out, he was right. I had put on only thermal long john top and bottom, windbreaker pants with insulation, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, ski gloves, ski hat and my REI rainjacket. I was definitely shivering. Once I put on another pair of sweatpants I warmed right up to only feeling cold. I think some kind of warm/waterproof footwear would be appropriate here too.  (Before next winter gets here I definitely need to get some warm clothes!)

It’s always fun to see catamarans on the water, and we got a special treat to go right by the start of a race.

Catamaran race

Catamaran race

The moral of this story is “it’s good to have warm clothes and friend with working boats”.


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.

2014-06-25 19.08.04

The skipper and crew

The skipper and crew

And the scenery is so beautiful out there.

2014-06-25 19.08.18

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.

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.


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!

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.

Friday Sail and Watching Kiteboarders

Thursday after work I went to the club but couldn’t find anybody that wanted to sail.  Steve C. said he would if I couldn’t find anybody else, but he didn’t seem to really want to go so I just decided to go home.

Friday after work I called up Steve C. at BCYC and lo and behold he was available to sail.  So we had a great sail in the evening breeze.  It usually kicks up a bit here near sunset.  The sail wasn’t that long because just before we went out another member offered to take me out on his bigger boat but since he was waiting for his wife to arrive he wasn’t leaving for about 45 minutes.  Steve and I scooted out, zipped around a bit and came right back in.  While we were out there we tried another heave to.  It seemed to be OK, but I don’t think I truly understand it yet.  On the way back in we turned downwind and sailed wind and wing, with the wind behind us and the jib (front sail) out to the left and the mainsail (the big one) out to the right.

example wing and wing - not us

example wing and wing - not us

Sailing Lesson Learned: Steve said that when I am preparing to change course, I should pick a landmark and turn to that point so I don’t wander all over the place.  I suppose when you’re out on the sea with no landmarks, you should pick a compass heading.

Unfortunately, once I got back the guy with the bigger boat had changed plans and they weren’t going out.  I didn’t want to go home.  The breeze was still blowing pretty hard and it wasn’t dark yet, so I headed over to the Tampa Bay Skyway bridge

tampa bay bridge kiteboarders - not my picture

tampa bay bridge kiteboarders - not my picture

to see if there were any Kiteboarders.


kiteboarder I saw at Tampa Bay Skyway Bridge

As I pulled up most were leaving, but there was one guy still zipping back and forth.  I chatted with some folks that were packing up and they said they were new to the sport but really loved it.  They said it was important to get lessons, but not many people were teaching because of lawsuits.  I talked to the guy when he came in, and he had been doing it a year and a half and that it was a blast.  Someday, that will be me out there…