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[personal profile] slipstreamsurfr
Mo scheduled Sofia for us for Friday evening after work. We finally caught a break and didn't have and rain for a change when I wanted to sail. Today we had another problem though. We are halfway through July now and quickly entering the dog days of summer in Texas. That means lots of long hot days and light winds. At the marina the wind monitor was reading calm to 1 or 2 knots. Not much power for the sails to work with.

I got there early and retrieved the card access key for the security gate from the club lockbox and waited. Mo arrived and was surprised that I already had the access card, not realizing I've already been giving about half of the codes needed to do everything I need to as a sail away member. As we walked to the boat he asked what I thought I needed the most work on. I suggested to work on docking and undocking. He was game for it as we didn't have much wind to work with. At the boat he asked if I knew the make ready procedure for the boats. I said I did and he told me to go ahead. I unlocked the companionway hatch, again he was surprised I had the code, and started untying and putting away all the covers. I pointed out that the rolling jib was gone on the boat and Mo said that they must have had a tear again. He said not to worry about it, there wasn't much wind and if we sailed we'd try it on the main alone.

I finished things up to his satisfaction, a few point outs here and there how he does things a little different than I was shown by John and we were ready. He worked with me on the push backs and undocking. Practicing having me back the boat under water to the middle of the channel and then working us back in. Bringing her in at an angle from the upwind side, to turn her straight to let her drift take her into the bumpers of the slip. Back and forth I did the maneuvers, again and again. Fine tuning the speeds, the inertia, learning how the boat reacts and just how far she will glide without any power on. The answer is, a lot further than you think.

We then decided to motor out of the marina and try our hand at sailing in the light winds. Pointing into the winds we went to raise the main and had to untangle some lines that had been left in a mess by whoever it was who took down the jib. I eventually got things straightened out from the foredeck and got the main hoisted. Then back to the back I tried to fill the sails with what little wind we had and set a course.

It was pretty amazing really. We were only running the mainsail, so very much under powered, not nearly enough sailcloth out in the wind. Yet even with the non to extremely light wind, the sail would fill, the lift would develop over the curved front and the boat would glide slowly, quietly, forward as if by magic. It was cool, very, very cool.

I would try to pick a point of sail that would get us the most speed (not much) and then Mo and I would talk about this or that. We got into a discussion of reefing the sails under high winds, or when you should reef. Mo showed me how on Sofia there is already a reefing line in place for the rear reef point and how the front of the sail reefs. What we'd need to to do reef it.

We finally decided to give it up and head back into the marina. Started the motor, pointed us into the wind and handed the tiller to Mo I went and brought down the mainsail. A quick wrap up of the sail with the sail ties and we were ready to head in to the slip. Mo brought us in and then wanted to take the opportunity to show me one more technique. If you are heading into the slip and don't seem to have quite enough momentum to get there you can 'scull' the boat with the rudder. If you work the tiller back and forth the rudder can function a bit like the rear fin on a fish and provide just a bit of a nudge forward. You wouldn't think it was big enough to make that much of a difference, but it does. Sculling won't work too well if you have a big headwind, but on a calm wind day, it provides more thrust than you might think.

Back in the dock he let me close up the boat, put on the covers, tie up the tiller, stow all the lines and close and lock the lockers and companionway. He told me good job, that some days there just isn't really enough wind, but just wait until fall. A cool day, a light wind, sailboats on the lake and powerboats hiding in their slips and garages. That's when sailing is really fun.

I can't wait.

So that was checkride number two. We'll see if I get away with only having to do one more ride or if they'll not count this one as we didn't quite get through everything on the list due to the lack of wind. I don't know, and I'm not going to worry about it because in the end, it's all sailing, it's all fun.
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September 2010

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