FAA Medical

Sep. 9th, 2010 03:36 pm
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FAA Medical says it's in "final review" now.... Do I get worried now?
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For our sailing adventure today John and I were to be on Brown Eyed Girl again. However one of the other club members had her out yesterday in 20+ mph winds singlehanding her and shredded the mainsail halyard. Thus rending the boat unsailable today. There had been some talk of John and I perhaps replacing the halyard on BEG today but the maintenance director says we really should drop the mast and check the sheave at the top for damage before we run a new halyard through it. That leaves us out of the job. :) It's time to find another boat on this beautiful morning. Did I mention our low hit 60 last night? Fall is heading to Texas in a hurry!

A quick check of the boats yields that Sunny Side Up is available so I snag her for our afternoon sail. SSU is our most basic Catalina 22 in the program. She has no lifelines, is a swing keel, no furling jib. She is about as no frill of a Cat22 as you will ever find. John was running a bit behind getting to the marina so I started setting the boat up for our sail. No furler means we have to hank-on the jib. Digging through the vberth I find all sorts of extra sails. 110 or 150? As light as the wind is today I think we'll want the larger jib. Dragging the bag out on deck I slide the flaked sail out and carry it forward. Hanking on a jib means that you orient it in the correct direction and then clip the sliding clips (also called hanks) to the forestay. Attach the jib halyard to the top of the jib and the bottom leech to a clip that's part of the forestay and one side is done. Going through the cabin again I find a pair of good lines to use for jib sheets. A couple of bowlines are tied in the clew of the jib then the port and starboard sheets are run through their blocks and made ready. I bundled up the jib in the bow pulpit and bungeed it in place with a bungee I scavenged from one of the other club boats. That wasn't so tough. I remember the first time John showed me how to set up the jib on SSU. It seems like a lot of work back then. Now it's really no sweat.

John arrives and we push off and head out. The wind is pretty dead early on so we motorsail on our way. It takes about an hour before we hit the other marina to take a break with a coke. We see what looks like a little wind so we head back out only to be skunked again for a while. We can see wind on the water down the lake more towards the dam so into the water the iron genny (otherwise known as our motor) goes once more. We move into the area that's showing some wind I try to catch what I can. Watching the wind slowly building we decide to give it a shot again and shut down the engine. I ask John if he wants to try running downwind with the whisker pole and go wing on wing for a bit. He agrees and sets the pole. As I pull in the jib sheet I nudge the tiller just a bit more to port and watch both sails fill with wind. What a petty site to see is SSU in a wing on wing sail configuration with full sails. We run a long time towards the dam in this configuration, noticing behind us that the wind has now filled in and and there's a steady wind all the way across the lake.

Before to long it's time to take down the whisker pole and jibe the back of the boat through the wind. An easy jibe later we run along the face of the dam, close hauled to the freshening wind. Finally, a bit of real sailing speed. All too soon though it's time to head in. I tack us and take up a close hauled course heading straight for the marina. SSU is really sailing nicely now with the wind. There's a lot of satisfaction to be had with a boat that is tuned well on her course with the wind when she takes you directly to where you want to go.

An easy trip back has me I finessing her into her slip with a wind on my tail. Just a bit of reverse on the motor to slow us down and John steps off and ties up her bow. A successful sail on a fully manual boat! Taking down the jib we take it over to the covered dock area and lay it out, flaking the jib (folding it in a specific, neat) manner we stow it in the bag for the next sailor. Why did I ever dread this boat before, she's a LOT of fun to sail!

Walking up the dock towards the parking lot we spooked a school of perch and chad on the surface of the water of one of the slips. They skipped and slid along the surface, speeding away and turning down to dive, a rainbow flash of their scales as they dove deeper into the gray green water. A fitting end to a good days sail.
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I knew on my drive to the marina in the predawn hour this would be a good day on the lake. The wind was already blowing at six am. The most recent forecast called for 10 mph, the one a bit earlier said 10 to 15, gusts to 20. From the looks of the wind this morning we'd be in for the 10 to 15 with excitement at 20!

I had the boat about halfway ready to depart when the text came through. "Here!" it said, I could tell she was excited. I texted her back and started heading down the dock to let her through the gate when I saw her already halfway to me. Someone else let her through before I got there. We had to laugh at that this morning. A few more moments at the dock and the motor was in the water, started, and warming up. We cast off and pulled out of the slip. We talked a bit as we headed out, I turned the tiller over to her and pointed where we needed to go while I untied and stowed the fenders, making the lines ready to deploy the sails. I bobbled the job on one of the fenders, it escaped my grasp, and plunked into the water. She turned the boat, not quite on a dime as we were just idling along, while I reached inside the cabin for an oar. It only took a moment and we soon had our wayward fender back corralled, back aboard, and headed out again.

The breeze was certainly fresher than it had been even yesterday. I told her it held great promise for her, as I wisely put on my sailing gloves. The last thing I needed was a rope burn today as I manhandled the lines to leave her to enjoy the sail. It only took a few moments to hoist the main and the boat fell off into an easy starboard beam reach as I went aft to kill the motor, lifting it out of the water in the sudden silence as the sound of the wind filled our ears. As we deployed the jib from the furler it snapped tight with the wind load and the boat instantly wanted to heel. We were on our way for an exhilarating day of sailing. It was by far the most wind I've sailed in without a crew to help, but for the most part it was easily handled.

I was a bit slow on some of my tacks, had an angry flapping jib in the breeze who didn't always want to be tamed, but a bit of effort on the lines soon brought it back into place. We must have crossed the lake 4 or 5 times by the time we first checked our time, only 8:30? A bare hour and a half with this much distance already covered? Certainly a far different day on the water for her! I decided to head down the lake a bit, show her a few other bits so took up a broad reach, nearly a run as we ran downwind. Broad reaching into a run is generally the slowest feeling point of sail, also the hottest as you get very little relative wind, but today the gusts kept things fresh for us. Our first warning was evident for increasing gusts for us. One I thought a little about, but didn't give it the attention it probably deserved.

I headed up out of our nearly dead run, pulling in on the main sheet and the jib as the energy of the wind transfered through the sails. Into a bounding gallop the boat turned, spray rising as the bow came slicing through the water, the waves building on the lake. The wind was gusting now, heeling us harder over, making me work harder with the mainsheet to keep us depowered enough not to toss my guest into the sole of the cockpit. Tacking back and forth under the higher winds at times made for some great fun single handed, not always pretty, but doable. I decided that if it was going to keep gusting this way it was time to reduce the amount of sail we were carrying. With the roller furler it's an easy job winding the jib down to about half its normal size, reducing our total sail area by at least a quarter, if not a full third.

Gone was the bounding boat and overpowered jib for the most part, but still, on occasion, we had spray over the foredeck in the gusts. The smaller jib left things much more manageable for single hand operation, we continued our sailing, back and forth again. Around the time I cut our jib down in size several other of the larger sailboats came out of the marina to play and the four or five of us danced back and forth across our end of the lake in a silent ballet of gigantic proportions. Following one another, one tacking here, there, another falling off, falling behind or turning before. At times we were close enough to call out across the water and converse, our words carried out on the wind, if only for a moment, as we quietly slipped past one another.

All too soon our time was coming to an end, John needed Brown Eyed Girl back for a birthday sail he had planned with some of his friends. Back towards our marina we headed, easily reached with the wind we had today we motored up, put away our sails and I had my guest take us back into the marina. Around the far side we went, I intended to tie the boat up on the big pier to make it easy for John. Getting in as much practice coming alongside and docking in this manner as I can under a variety of conditions is fun. I brought the boat in, spun her in the channel and knew I wouldn't make the cut I wanted on the pier as the wind was now pushing me up against it much more quickly than I was moving forward. We reached out in case we needed to brace the boat and touched down on our side lightly on the fenders. What, was I worried? Clambering over the pier railing, having my guest hold the back of the boat to the dock, I reached for the bowline I had already prepared and set. Walking the boat forward on the dock I soon had her tied off at the cut fore and aft.

A very full day of sailing this morning. The winds according to the wind graph shows them starting at 8 mph at 7 am, averaging quickly to around 14, gusting 22. Because of the new conditions I could feel my skill set growing, my decision making expanding. A few things I might have done differently today, perhaps a bit earlier, but overall a very successful day of sailing. I think I managed to fulfill my guest's want for excitement on the water in a good way. I certainly had a good time out there with a very good friend.
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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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This morning dawned cool, fall is attempting to arrive, if only for a short while in north central Texas. It was quiet this morning at the marina as I made the boat ready for my sail with John. I knew he was going to be a little late to arrive today so I had something new I wanted to try to do.

I made my ropes ready, tied my bowlines, affixed them to the cleats on the foredeck and rear on the starboard side. The motor was in the water, warmed up, ready to go. I cast off the springlines from the boat and backed her out. The first of the firsts for the day. A solo departure from the slip. I worked my way around to the other side of the marina. On the main pier of the marina is an open area where you can tie up for a short while and allow guests to board/depart. That was my target this morning.

I made my way towards the area when my phone rang. John was in the parking lot, I told him what I was doing, he said he'd come watch. Joking with me from the dock not to scrape anything hard like the big Catalina 30 we saw a couple of weeks ago do, I came in on the far side of the channel, close to the other boats in their slips. It's a bit narrow here and I wanted to turn the 22 foot boat and lay her on the starboard side against the pier. John had grown quiet as he watched me work. The goal was to place her at one of the cuts in the pier. As I finished my turn and watched how strong the wind was pushing me at the dock I knew I wasn't going to make it unless I put in a lot of power. Discretion is the better part of valor and I took what was offered. Angling her just so I touched her down on the fenders lightly against the pier and tied off the stern. John asked for a rope for the foredeck until I pointed it it was already tied on under his nose. A successful solo docking at the main pier! Great things are on tap for the day.

The rest of the day we spent enjoying the cooler temperatures and a consistent 10 mph wind. We made our way all the way to the other end of the lake to the big sand beach before turning around and heading back. We worked our way back and forth, tacking as we went, moving upwind. Stopping at Twin Coves for a quick lunch, we were soon back on the water. The lake was very quiet this friday with everyone in school or work except a very select few. With but a few lulls we had very consistent wind today. The temporary fix of our boom-vang broke on the water at one point, the rope that had been lashing it to the mast parted. I rummaged around the cabin and came up with another short length and re-lashed the block in place, a few minutes later and all the hardware was functional again! Amazing what a sailor can do with a bit of rope ;)

I took a tip from John and followed his example for a while today. While John was skippering the boat I went forward and stretched out on the foredeck. Laying in the shade of the jib with my hands behind my head I reflected on how far I've come in a short time. Until the class in June I'd never sailed a boat, now I was able to single hand a 22 foot Catalina, have developed some new friends, and learned a whole lot of new things. There are a lot of nice things in the world you know, but at that moment, laying in the cool breeze, listening the water lap against the hull as we sailed, it was hard to remember many better.
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On Sunday the 15th, after my excellent early morning sail with a friend, I had set up to go back out with John in the club boats. He arrived while my friend and I were cooling off in the snack shack on the marina. They got to meet and seemed to like each other. An offer extended for her to stay and sail on with us but alas she had to go.

We headed out to the boat that was still ready to go. Before long we pushed off and headed out. We put up the sails and set course to Little Petes again for a late lunch. The nice light wind we'd had so early in the morning for my first sail left us in the heat of the day. The perils of sailing during the dog days of summer in Texas. We tried to find a point of sail to work us towards the other marina but what little wind we had was fickle. First it'd be from the southwest, then it would switch to the northeast. Mostly it would leave us baking in the sun.

We discussed our options and put the motor in the water. A full fuel tank, we knew there would be no problems, so we motorsailed our way to the marina. The only other sailboat we saw that afternoon was a Catalina 30 who had her sails stowed and was briskly motoring her way across the lake. We weren't the only ones to decide to cheat.

Lunch was good, cool, and refreshing. The waitress offered to put some iced tea in a couple of cups for us to take with us which we gratefully accepted. Out back on the water the wind seemd a little fresher, we sailed towards the far shore of the lake a bit then tacked to set a course to head down towards the dam and more towards our marina. We made it about halfway before the wind died on us again. In fits and starts the wind would come back to tease us but mother nature was all tuckered out. We gave in and dropped the motor again, stowed our sails and headed in.

An afternoon where we didn't get a lot of 'sailing' in. A little light air sailing here and there, but a lot of motorsailing to be had. The afternoon not quiet so good as the morning, but all in all, a good day on the water.
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A friend of mine needed a break from her world and this morning I was happy to help. We'd discussed it earlier in the week, she needed wind, water, and sun. A date was set and this morning dawned party cloudy and warm. We arrived at the marina around 7:30 this morning, picking up the gate key we were soon walking down the sleepy dock and talking quietly.

Before long we had the boat unlocked and made ready, a pull, two on the motor and the engine started easily. It idled quietly as I finished the last of work to push off. My friend finished rolling up the sail cover and stashed it in the cabin as I undid the lines. I question, was she ready, an affirmation, and I pushed back as I stepped aboard and set the motor in reverse.

In the early morning light, the sun muted behind the widely scattered clouds we headed out of the marina. A few fishermen, a kayak, were all to be seen. Even over the sound of the idling motor the early morning seemed to make us talk quietly. The things we talked about were minor, little things, smiles, laughs, I could see some of the tension begin to ease from her frame.

Before long we were beyond the point as I had her move to the tiller a quick lesson, the bow moves opposite of the tiller, tiller towards trouble, keep the windex atop the mast pointed at our bow and I'll raise the mainsail. She joked that I had a lot of confidence in her, I told her of course I do. The sail was raised and we fell off on a broad reach while I moved back to the tiller. Killing the motor I raised it out of the water. Another offer of the tiller, keep the bow pointed in this direction and I'll bring out the jib. More joking about trust while she handled the tiller like an old pro the jib was unfurled and we picked up speed.

We sailed back and forth this morning in the light winds. Conversation was as light as the wind, a few minor discussions about what I was doing with the lines on the boat, how to convince her to sail upwind, downwind, across the wind. The wind stayed steady enough and the fishermen were sleeping in that I braved shooting the channel between the shore and the little island this morning. It was nice to see her smile again, to watch her put away some of the things on her mind if only for a little while.

After a bit I asked her if she'd like a swim, she jumped at the offer and I made a line ready and tied it to a flotation cushion. I hove the boat to and threw it behind us, lowered the swim ladder and warned her to stay close to the line while she swam, the wind was fairly light and variable and I wasn't sure I could keep the boat hove-to for long, if we started moving again to grab the rope and that way I could leave her behind. She swam some, the wind played it's tricks, I kept putting us back in the hove-to to keep us fairly still in the water, the next time I'll just anchor. She had fun, before long she was climbing back aboard, a hand offered, accepted and she was soaking up the sun once more.

We sailed a bit more, while the wind was lasting. I had been single handing the sails all morning so that she could enjoy her day. I offered to let her try her hands with the lines, just to feel the wind, to see what she thought. I think she had fun for the bit that we sailed on with her on the lines.

Time waits for no one it seems. Before too long our time was up and it was time to head back. Moving her back to the tiller she pointed us into the wind as I furled the jib. Lowering the mainsail I tied it to the boom and put out our fenders. Into the marina we went and she was soon stepping off the boat onto the dock to hold us tight to the side by our lifelines as I set the springlines.

Were we successful? The smile she had as she left seemed to tell the tale. There will be more days on the water for her. I'm glad she accepted the offer. A low key, yet very fun morning sharing something with a good friend.

Till my next adventure.
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John invited me to sail on Brown Eyed Girl Sunday afternoon. Of course I said yes! With a noon to five slot we thought we'd try for Little Petes on the lake again. I got the boat ready for when he arrived and we were soon pushing back from the dock. The winds were light to start with, running on a broad reach that turned into nearly a dead downwind we opted to set the whisker pole up again. I climbed to the foredeck and set the pole, what was a mystery recently is now becoming commonplace. It is still more of an upper body workout than I expect, but the effort paid off with better speed across the water.

It took us nearly two hours to make it down to the other marina, even with the whisker pole out. Two hours of baking in the texas sun without much relative wind to cool us down. John pulled out his cooler and out came a container of ice cold grapes to help sustain us on our trek. They really hit the spot. By the time we came within a stones throw of the other marina we were both pretty fried from the heat. I furled the jib, took down and tied up the main and deployed the fenders again. By the time I stepped off the boat to tie up the bow I was about done for.

We walked through the door of Little Petes and they asked, inside or outside? We both answered, inside please!! The greeter smiled, everyone was taking the AC option. A large glass of iced tea and a glass of ice water with a light lunch had us both refueled, cooler, and ready to tackle the water once more. Sitting, talking in the restaurant we saw the wind was picking up, knowing that we'd be sailing close hauled home the trip promised to feel much cooler.

Out, refreshed, we went and soon had untied and pushed her back once more. We hoisted the sails and and set a close hauled course working our way back across the lake. The wind had grown substantially while we were eating, with a lot of wind over the cockpit it felt a lot cooler. John decided he wanted to swim again so we made fast a line again and he stepped off the swim ladder and I towed him around the lake some. After he cooled down he made his way back onboard once I eased out the mainsheet to slow us. The strain of pulling himself back to the boat while we were underway at full speed proved to be a bit much for him. Before long I had the sails in tight and we were sailing closer to the wind than I'd ever sailed before. The windex was well within the area that I normally start to get luffing in the sails. At times the gusts would pick up, we'd start to heel over a bit more than I liked so I'd release the main sheet to de-power the boat a bit. Pulling the sheet back in as the worst of the gust would pass, we'd pick up speed again.

I sailed so close to the wind once that we got hit by a gust that heeled us over right as we hit a powerboats wake. The bounce on the bow coupled with the heel of the boat reduced my rudder effectiveness and the boat turned into the wind sharply. We were so close to the edge of our wind that the weather-helm the boat turned with, turned us through a tack and the main and jib came across the deck. It caught both John and I by surprise. We sorted our our lines, figured out what had happened, then tacked back to our intended course. We held our tacks better the rest of the afternoon until we were nearly back to the dock. Dropping the sails and putting the motor in I took two tries to get her into the slip straight.

What a day on the water though. Started out slow, ended out with a lot of excitement when we found out how quickly the boat could tack if you sailed her closer to her limits. There are so many things that in the beginning seemed overwhelming to keep track of, to deal with, and now it feels so comfortable. There are always new things to be learned though.

Another good day on the water behind me. Onwards to the next one!
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Some days the wind is just a bit fickle.

I took my little brother sailing on Saturday morning. Discovered a fuel spill on the boat that took a while to clean up, then had to wait on the fuel dock to open. It's okay, it was nearly dead calm very early in the morning. Once we were finally out on the water the first part of the sail went well. We had enough wind that he had fun, started picking up bits on how to set the sails such. We stayed pretty close to the marina, or at least that end of the lake. There was something about the wind that didn't feel right. About halfway through our time on the water I noticed it started to swing a bit. We'd ghost into a windless spot on the lake and slow to a stop, bobbing about until the wind decided to catch up with us. It was a good experience reading the water, looking for where the wind was, where it was coming from. When the wind would finally show itself though it might be from the south, the east, or even the north. We spent an hour or so on the far side of the south end of the lake from the marina trying to find enough wind to set a point of sail more towards the dock.

In the end I furled the jib away, lowered the motor in the water and started her up. I still say I love the motor on Brown Eyed Girl, it will start with one pull most days. She runs well. I pointed the bow towards the docks and we motor-sailed in from where we were. We'd move into some wind and I'd set the sail to catch it and we'd pick up speed above what the motor was doing for us, then the wind would change again and I'd reset. Sometimes we'd be dead in irons with what little wind there was. It didn't matter, she'd keep on chugging and taking us home.

As we got closer I handed the tiller off to my brother and had him keep us pointed into the wind. I lowered the mainsail, flaked and tied it on the boom as well as deployed the fenders. Taking the tiller back over I brought us into the marina and to our dock. Chris stepped off the boat nice and light and held us to the dock while he handed me the stern lines to make fast. Then I stepped off and brought the bow all the way home and made fast the spring lines there.

The wind may have been fickle but it was a good learning experience. Another sail with a non-club member guest and I'm feeling pretty good about single handing the boats now. I may not be the best sailor. But I am a competent one.

Till the next sailing adventure...
Wait.. That's later today!
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It was fun today. I got to the dock just as the sun was rising. Easy light winds. James has so much experience that it was just like sailing with any of the club members. He actually took a lot of tiller time today. We set the whisker pole (I was on the foredeck) and ran across the lake in the light winds, just ghosting along until we were past the other marina where Little Pete's is (twin coves I think). We ended up seeing a buoy out in the middle of the lake past twin coves, I'm guessing that is the 'rock crusher' they are always talking about. We tacked around that and went back the other way. Really easy going sail. A whole lot of set things up for a point of sale and just ride for along time while we talked. I think we saw a total of 4 other boats and a jet ski on the lake while we were out, no other sailboats in the morning. I got the sails up and down by myself, and put her in the slip. James stepped off and we made fast the dock lines. An easy, but fun, first sail out with a non-club guest.

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Yesterday I had the day off work and John and I decided to go sailing. Out early in the morning we had decent wind for a change and worked on man overboard drills. Not that we threw either of us off the boat, just a PFD that we'd fish back out with the handle of an oar when it came alongside the boat again. A half a dozen times we ran the drill and I blew it once completly and had to come back around again, the other times were a bit fast but we snagged the PFD and the last time I drifted to a stop next to the PFD. SCORE!

The rest of the day involved us sailing with a purpose! We decided to run up the lake to grab lunch at the other marina. My first time going into a different marina than the one I learned in, a different docking situation but it wasn't anything too different. Before long we were ready to chow down!

On the way back John decided he was hot so we hove-to and he dropped off the side of the boat to swim a bit, eventually even surfing along behind the boat while I sailed around a bit. He had fun. Before long we headed back to our marina and put Brown Eyed Girl away. A good ship, good friend, good time.

Tomorrow I sail for the first time with a non club member on one of the boats. My elder brother James has agreed to go out with me. He's sailed extensively in the past and it should be a lot of fun. I have already told him he'll probably be shaking his head at me and he laughed and said no, he still remembers when he learned and all the things he ended up doing! Should be a good time, lots of stories I'm sure to hear him tell tomorrow. My only problem is that he said he'll show up at 7 when the slot starts in the boat!

Ack! Isn't this my vacation?
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The day dawned calm and a cool 78 degrees. Not bad for late July in Texas. It was early when I arrived at the marina and picked up the gate card. Walking down the dock to the boat I passed a huge heron perched at the end of one of the slips quietly watching for his next meal. He watched me, as I paused to take his picture, as if to say "Morning... keep it down friend. "

Cut to save your friends list, click for the rest of the morning! )
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According to the local sailing club, I'm now a Sailor! I've passed my checkrides and received my scheduler login. They feel I'm qualified to skipper the club Catalina 22s now!

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The day started out reasonably cool for Texas in the the middle of July. Only a bare 83 degrees as I pulled into the parking lot of the marina at 7:45 in the morning. I see that some of the guys already have Brown Eyed Girl up on the boat lift and have taken her rudder off. It's work party time to pay for the privilege of having the boats available. Lee is there and tells me to follow him and we'll go work on the other two boats.
Stuff on the work party and the checkout with added adventure! )
John told me that I'd passed my third checkride and he'll get Mike the information on it. So now I see if I will need to take a few more, or not, to get checkout privileges on the boats. I just received an email from my checkout skipper from yesterday and he told me that his assessment is that I can handle the boat in 5 to 10 knots of wind with the assistance of an untrained but willing deck hand to help with the tiller to point into the wind while the sails are raised or lowered and help at the dock when I push off or come back in. If I have a trained sailor/deck hand on board, I can likely sail in anything the boats are okayed for on our lake. So I wait to see if Mike agrees and lets me go.

That sure made me feel good to hear that from Mo.

I think my next sailing event will be Wednesday evening with Lee, and then possibly Thursday evening with John if he can get a boat for working on the whisker pole, anchoring, and man overboard drills.

Always something to learn.

But wow, what a day on the water. I'm going to have to get a sailing avatar soon for LJ the way this blog is going.
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
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.
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I kind of wish I could bottle how I felt today while sailing.
How I felt while we sat on the dock and went over the checkride.

Something I could crack open on those really bad days at the office.
When things are really going wrong all over.

I haven't figured out how to yet though.

Work starts tomorrow...
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
John at the club had offered earlier in the week to do my first checkride in the club boats this morning. The day dawned with nary a cloud in the sky, light winds, and the temperature was only 78. This is a marked change from the last several weeks of low clouds, rain, and intermittent thunderstorms. The forecast called for the wind to pick up some and a heat index of 105 later in the day, but we'd be long off the water before it got that hot.

7:45 finds me at the marina with plenty of time to apply my sunblock and decide what I'm taking on the boat with me. I really need to get a bag that is dedicated to sailing that I can leave packed with everything I might need on board the boat. My gloves in my pocket I grab my cap and am walking towards the marina down to the marina when John sees me, grins, and calls a hello from far dockside. I call back to him and we meet up on the public side of the gate. He'd asked me yesterday if a friend of his could join us and I said sure. We decide to go on out to the and get started with prep for the sail and he'd go back and walk her in when she got there. We go over where to get the gate access keys and head to the boat.
Cut for length-but a fun ride! )
John and I talked about the ride while we sat in the shade on the dock. He said that I passed all points on the checklist without a problem. He had heard I had only had the sailing class for experience wasn't sure I would be able to complete in the typical 3 rides. However once we were underway he saw that I had a good sense of all the processes, how the hardware worked, and what needed to be done. My book knowledge was outstanding, and my helmsmanship was really very good for such a low time sailor. Most folks will tend to get distracted on what they are doing and get the sails beating/luffing all the time when the first start. I tended to pick my point of sail and hold it fairly close, if I started to drift, I'd catch it and fix it. He was actually pretty impressed. I showed good habits in the marina, kept it slow, and approached docking with the politeness and finesse it demands. The icing on the cake was that I showed that I cared about the boat, the equipment, and I had a good safety mindset when it came to being on the water.

He had a few suggestions on other skippers to call on for my other checkouts and suggested I try to take the rides on the other two boats because each of them is a little different.

I'm tired but I'm very happy. I managed to pass the first checkout. One down, two more to go! I've already emailed the other skippers to see if I can set something up soon.
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
Class started out with lots of review and a bit about foul weather gear. What makes good sailing gear for sailing in the cooler months. Also a few pointers for summer time sailing. A review of the different sorts of boats and how you should think about what you want to do on the water. If you want to race a family cruiser isn't going to make you happy, and if you want comfort and useable below space stay away from the racers. A bit about how the different types handle differently. After that we went into talking about racing. How the races are started, how we run the race. We took a short break and then Mike assigned us to our skippers.

I sailed on Adagio, a 30 foot Catalina skippered by her owner Scott. Scott said that we were up for an adventure because while he has raced before it has always been as crew on other peoples boats. 30 foot Catalinas aren't known for being fast, but the race coordinators have taken all that into consideration with a handicap system. As Adagio means slow, stately, gracefully he said we weren't going to cross the line first. Racing is something else. You have a whole lot of boats in a very small area all milling around avoiding each other until we are given the go signal. When that happens everyone turns toward the 'gate' formed by the race boat and a buoy. In order to know the race you sail by the race boat before the race starts and they have it on a big whiteboard they hold for you to read. The instructions basically tell us which direction from the gate the buoys are and where we expect to go for to find the next one.

We had 3 students and Scott on his boat which actually made for a LOT of work. As it's a bigger boat the mainsail is worked a bit differently, we set the main sheet and basically set the sail with the traveler. I hoisted the main sail and then the girl I had on my crew yesterday fed the line to the furler while I pulled out the jib. Our third student was manning the helm. Now it seems that the three of us really only have a skillset based on the 4 days of sailing class. Some of us were a bit quicker on the uptake than others. This leeds to mistakes. We had a total of 3 accidental jibes today during the race and just before. Accidental jibes are dangerous in that the boom swings from one extreme to the other. It gathers a lot of speed and hence force. Scott and I were the only two that were in the range of the sweep but managed to see it coming and call it out quick enough that we all made sure to stay below it. The good thing is that we didn't break the boat, nor did we sweep anyone into the water. I'll say that I was the only student to not accidently jibe the main today, though I almost did once, so we had nearly 4. The reason why we were having problems was because we had all came over from tiller boats to a boat with a wheel . So every time we needed to fall off the wind we would turn the wrong way on the wheel as a wheel and a tiller work in opposite directions. The other reason was initiation of the new helmspeople.

At least we didn't have much in the way of squeeling on the race today. Though when I managed to blow holding a course on my leg and we had to do another tack to get enough room and space to turn the buoy you could hear the crew of the boat behind us laugh as they overtook us. Yes, we were THAT close. There is a LOT of remembering who has the right of way in sail racing. You can't just try to dive in front of someone and take their wind around a corner necessarily. There are right of way rules to be followed and even then it's really something to be jockeying around that close to other boats and trying to gain an advantage and trying to not slide against someone else. As students our race was pretty open, a lot more room between us all than you see in the more serious races.

After the race we furled the jib and set the traveler on the main to make it easy to do simple tacking back and forth and my crew member from yesterday got to finish up from the end of the race to tacking back and forth working us back towards the marina. Sailing can be as active, or passive as you want it to be to an extent. At least on a bit larger boat. It reminded me of sailing with Len in his Hunter. We put away the jib and just sailed on the main, we had to sheet it in and out more than we did on the big Catalina but that's just the difference in how the boats are rigged. I see why folks say that racing will hone your sailing skills. But I'm also glad that the race is behind us now. It'll take some work to get comfortable with the idea of sailing in a race, especially a serous race.

Back nearly into the marina and Scott started the engine. We dropped and flaked the mainsail on the boom. He brought us in and backed into his slip like the old hand he is with his boat while I stood on the foredeck with a boathook to snag the side of the dock he'd asked me to to help hold us in nicely as he got off the boat, put on the spring lines on the stern of the boat then walked forward and handed/tossed me over the spring lines for the bow for port and starboard. All in all there were some really good things learned today.

We ended up in 12th place out of a field of 15 boats. Not bad, all things considered. We all had a lot of fun and now everyone has their completion certificates from the sailing seminar. So much more to learn, but I have some new friends and new opportunities to sail. I'm sure that there will be many more 'lessons' to learn.

It'll be great when I am comfortable enough to take one of the 22 foot club Catalinas out on my own.
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
Day three kicked off well today. To the marina again with plenty of time before class started. We spent a lot of time reviewing things from the previous lessons and then we talked about man overboard drills, a lot more on points of sail, and more. After a handful of contests, things like who could tie a bowline the fastest we broke for lunch and then crew assignments.

I was assigned to Mo on the club 22 foot Catalina Sofia. So it was a crew of Mo, me, and another student. She said she had some sailing experience in smaller boats. Interestingly we found out that Sofia use to belong to Mo, he donated her to the club a while ago. This way she gets sailed more often and the club handles the slip and maintenance through the program. Looked to be a win all around.

We sat out under the picnic table cover on the dock just down from the boat and he told us a bit of his history, asking ours. Asking how the class has been going for us, a bit on this theology of teaching and asking us if there was anything we really wanted to make sure to cover today.

Mo was very thorough. He would explain something to us, then do it, then quiz us on it, then one of us would do it, then swap. In a lot of ways I felt like I learned some of the old lessons again, but this time I started to really understand what was happening. My fellow classmate said she had some previous experience but not in several years. She had a problem with the boat heeling over under a strong wind. She would tend to squeal/yelp/scream any time we ended up over more than maybe 10 degrees of heel. Mo tried to reassure her, but there was just something about it that got to her. It was almost as if she had a tilt switch. The big problem was that when she was helming and controlling the main sheet and we would get a gust that would make us heel she'd yelp and seemed to panic and then forget what she was doing.

I think she was getting a little better by the end. I know that when I was helming that I fairly quickly developed the sense of when a puff was about to blow up that would start a heel and I'd depower the main by sheeting out or falling off the wind a little. That tended to keep the yelps down a little at least. It's all a learning experience.

Mo really worked with us, trying to help us see and understand the points of sail better. He also had a different way of handling the tiller when we tacked. As that was pretty problematic for me the first time, it's hard on my knees I was happy to try his new way. It actually worked out better for me, less twisting and feeling frantic as I switched sides. It worked really well. I still have problems with the commands to falling off or heading up. I get backwards with things a lot still.

Mo said we were doing really well for only our third day. He's offered to sail with either of us any time to continue our sailing education after the official classes are over. I think I will probably take him up on the offer.

Tomorrow is the last day of class. Race day! They are putting us together in teams and the class will run a race against each other. I have no idea how THAT is going to go.

Till tomorrow... I'm beat...


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September 2010

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