Aug. 28th, 2010

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This morning my little brother wanted to sail with me. I took him out a couple of weeks ago and he was so excited about it that he bought his own pair of sailing gloves. I figured it was time for him to go out again and learn a bit more.

I got to the marina early, made the boat ready and headed for the big pier to try docking at the cut out in the railing again. The wind was dead this morning so I wouldn't have to fight it to get into position this time. I stayed well inside of the channel markers, but a bit wide of the boats in their slips and somehow managed to find a sand bar hidden under the water with my keel. It was one of those moments of "that felt odd, what just happened, why did we stop moving..." The first time I've ever run a sailboat aground. This, in the supposedly safe channel. I knew that 'deeper' water should be towards the marina so I moved to sit on that side of the boat and leaned out to help heel the boat to shallow up the keel a little. I also put the motor in reverse. Now I know why they never talk about using the motor much to help in an aground situation. A little 4 hp outboard trying to unstick a 2400 pound sailboat is almost amusing. With a bit of judicious wiggling and gunning of the motor as well as leaning way out on the boat towards the marina I managed to free the boat from the sandbar. That could have been mighty embarrassing, having to call the club director to tell him I stuck a boat hard in the sand. There were a few powerboats starting to move about, I probably could have gotten a tow out, but without knowing exactly how the sandbar ran I would have been really leery of getting someone to pull me off it unless they were to pull me straight back from whence I came. Well, lesson learned. I will stick closer to the marina piers and not trust the channel markers quite so much in the future. Still, it wasn't too bad, I may have stuck her, but I also managed to unstick her without anyone else's help.

Since I was free of the sandbar I continued my approach to the big pier without any wind to bother me and managed to place Brown Eyed Girl right up against the cut in the pier this time. A quick tie up and it was time to wait for my brother. Once he arrived I put him aboard the boat and told him it was a day of learning for him, was he game? I talked him through starting the outboard, once it was going I untied the boat and pushed us off. I let him motor us out of the marina, steering well clear of the sandbar this time!

We had pretty consistent wind today, it wasn't especially strong, but it was a nice break from those dog days of August we'd been stuck in for so long. A bit of talk, a few examples to show how things worked and I soon had him in the helmsman's seat. I worked the jib for him while he handled the mainsheet and decided when we would tack. He did pretty good for his first real day at the tiller. Only a few accidental tacks and I only had to warn him away from an accidental jibe twice. I hadn't intended to have him do any real jibes today but on a couple of occasions they were the best answer to the movement puzzle so I talked him through them. I think he's got a good sense of the danger of an accidental one, but is also now well on his way to understanding them and not being afraid of them.

I let him sail for about 3/4 of our time today before I took the tiller back to get in some practice of my own. This time I put him on the jib sheets, explaining that before you can be a skipper, you've got to understand how to work all the parts of the boat, and how all the pieces come together in order to have a well functioning and efficient sailing vessel.

All in all it was a nice day on the water again. I learned several new things, and even got too teach a little. The student survived, as did the boat. I think we'll call it a win!

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