Sail Shape Control - Back to Basics

It is easy to stop doing the text book thing once you have learned to make the boat leave the dock and come back reliably.  I always enjoy learning things by doing them.  However, I have to share the following two videos to all of my sailing friends as a simple refresher on sail shape control.  There are also lots of videos on youtube that go much further in depth on each control.

Did it!

I cajoled my neighbor into coming with me and he seems to have had a good time.  He used to have a small sailboat and I'm pretty sure New Job was definitely smaller and more cramped then what he had been on.  It took a little while but he found the spot in front of the mast that my  Gf likes to take refuge in and then he seemed to be a lot more comfortable.

  It kind of sucks that both boats I have access to are really not the kinds of craft you want to use to introduce an adult into sailing.

We worked our way up to the rt 6 bridge past lots of dredging barges and heavy equipment that are working in the harbor right now.  We made it around the little private island in the Harbor and had a dead run from there straight back to the ramp. 

Sounds fast but we were probably sailing from almost two hours.  I have a fundraiser for a local city council person to attend tonight.

I did it! I did it! I did it!
Sailtember 2013: Didn't miss a day!

Working my Waterfront Festival (29th)

My GF and I went out for a nice sail during the Working Waterfront festival.  It was sad to see groups of land lubbers standing around on piers wanting to be on the water while watching us sail by.

Quick hide your drinks, its not one but two Fire Dept. boats!  They get closer and closer... Crapo this can't be good.  Who are all the people on the back of these boats with the costumes on?!?  Why does it look like there are a collection of nuns and a priest in a Fire Boat coming at me?!?  This is getting weirder and weirder.

And then I realized I had just been blessed... It was the actual "Blessing of the Fleet" going on and we were clearly in its blessing range so "Good job New Job! Bless the lord and pass the bottle opener"

The whaleboat rowing racing or excursions or demos were going on too.  No jokes on that yet.  Way too boring for me.

While we were almost back to the cove where the ramp is, I did notice my buddy Ben's little sailboat poke its sail out and we would have come over and said hello but we had dinner plans to get to!

Padenarum to Cuttyhunk and back (28th)

This morning, my GF and I drove to Padenarum, which is a cute seaside village in North Dartmouth Mass.  It is only 20 minutes from where I live and is a sailors heaven. At a glance, there could easily be 500 sailboats and only 50 motor boats in the harbor. It's like "Where has this place been all my life?!?"

We arrived at the New Bedford Yacht Club and boarded my friend Henry's father's sailboat Restless.  Its 40 or so feet.  There were seven of us in total and Henry and I did most of the work of sailing.   Based on the wind direction as we pulled out of the harbor, we decided that a trip to Cuttyhunk would be an appropriate plan for the day.

About two hours later, I steered the boat into Cuttyhunk Harbor, we grabbed a mooring and had subway sandwiches in the cockpit.

Afterwards, five of us hopped in a small row boat to row into shore for a look around the island.  The last time five adults tried to get in the boat, the boat quickly filled up with water from a hole about 8 inches up the side.  This time, we didn't notice the fast gushing water sound until we were about half way between the sailboat and the dinghy dock. I had to make a really quick be line for the closest place to drop off my passengers and we did it with about five inches of water in the rowboat and climbing.  Needless to say, we split up and took two trips on the way back and everything was fine.

We split up once on land, and my GF and I wandered out into the woods to a nice overlook with a panorama from Martha's Vineyard and basically all of the South Coast (SE) of Mass.  It was sunny clear and almost no clouds in the sky.  Just perfect!

We had a great trip back and arrived just as the sun was setting.  Awesome trip.  My GF sounds like she likes sailing a lot more after today :)

Laser Friday! (27th)

So I am excited about this weekend.  I only have a few days to complete Sailtember successfully and this weekend I am going to be a guest on a 40 footer out of Padenarum.

That being said, I need to go sailing today too.

I brought the laser to Clark's Cove.  It was 5-8 mph out of the north and sunny.  My arms started to get cold even though they had only gotten a little water on my wet suit.  I hope this is not a bad omen for sailing over the next few months.

It was just me on the water.  I didn't see anyone until I was back at the dock.  Two guys (one Jamaican and the other is Latino) who I didn't not mention in yesterdays post, arrived at the dock as I was putting the boat in. They were half sober which was an amazing improvement over their state of barely being able to talk and drive the day before.  Once again, I got to hear their drunken speech about how cool it was that I "get out there and sail the boat" and that I have the "special clothing for the water" (wetsuit).

And that was it.  I went home and got ready for tomorrow on the big boat.

Clark's Cove Laser sail before a meeting (26)

I took the laser to Clark's Cove today.  It was a nice breeze out of the North East, which is not a common wind direction here.  It allowed me to enjoy a decent , at times plannable wind without having to deal with any waves.

I sailed around a little with some kids that were going out for what looked like first introductory sails at the Community Boating center in Dartmouth.  They were on Sonars and after a lot of unruly horseplay on the bow, while underway and healing, one of them fell overboard.  I know the councilors want the kids to enjoy themselves, but if I was a parent, I would have flipped if I saw the way they were acting.  I wasn't allowed to get away with crap like that until I (and all my friends at sailing school) knew how to rescue ourselves and by then we knew, stay in and on the boat.

I got back on land and pack up a quick as I could because I need to get home to switch from this wetsuit into something I can wear to a community meeting tonight.

Tempest knob solo (25th)

Yesterday was long and tiring and I didn't get as early of a start as I wanted to today.  I bought the truck back and picked up my car with New Job attached to it.  I drove to Tempest Knob and decided to take a nap.  I am in no way unfamiliar with snoozing in my car.  At least an hour had passed and I slowly began to rig up the boat and launch her.  

I was like molasses.  Once the boat was in, I went out and had a chance to use the telltales that I recently put on the sail.  It was enlightening to see what the air was actually doing in the sail as it is happening.  I knew this, but foolishly have taken this long to put them on the sail.

On the way in, I almost ran into my girlfriends father and her uncle on his motor boat.  So I wasn't the only guy crazy enough to be on the water.  He actually has company and one more waiting at the dock for a pick up.

I pulled in, packed up and called it a night.  All this damn sailing is getting to me LOL!

I have also started elipticaling on my new machine:

Couples Night on the Harbor

I took my Gf out to NB harbor for the first time today.  She is still exploring sailing the the first time and it was a nice change in venue from the other three places she has sailed from.

While we were circling the little private island in the middle of the harbor, I spotted Ben approaching in his boat.  We linked up and sailed around together, both of us with our girlfriends aboard.

After we put the boat away, we drove out to the country, borrowed a pickup truck, bought a used elliptical exercise machine and brought it home.  I left New Job in Rochester and will pick her up tomorrow for a sail when I bring the truck back.  I hope the exercise machine will help me stay in shape this winter and will help me start next sailing season with a lot me endurance than I had this season.

That being said, I have been watching the entire America's Cup and I have taken a few things away from it as a sailor:
A) I'm wearing a helmet on high performance boats with low booms from now on.
B) Cardio and strength training to make you a better sailor is enough motivation for me to workout everyday.
C) I want to foil too!

Back to the Harbor (23)

After the really long sail yesterday, I just want to keep it simple today.  Although I have my reservations about the water quality, sailing in the New Bedford inner harbor is pretty easy, it has distractions to look at and there are eyeballs watching the water if anything bad were to happen.

I also want to find the other active sailors in the Harbor that Ben had mentioned.  He said there were a few other small sailboats and one of the guys wanted to put on informal races just for fun.

After being out for a little while, low and behold I found Ron, they guy that Ben had spoken about.  I sailed by and introduced myself and we got to talking for about a half hour.  I am amazed to hear of the wild times he has had with Fairhaven just to get a mooring assigned to him.  He even had to hit the town with a Freedom of Information Act request in the process.

We exchanged info and I hope to be racing with him soon.

Longest New Job Sail yet (Sunday 22)

My GF and I decided to take New Job to Clark's Cove today.  The wind was from the northwest and the sea was very calm.  We made it from West Rodney French over to Eat Rodney French, around the lighthouse, then over to Padenarum, into their Harbor, right upto NBYC and then turned around and made it back a little before sunset.  It was a good time and she enjoyed sitting on the rail and hiking out during the windier parts.

Saturday 21st

I'm kind of in the doghouse today because I didn't stop the full moon sail from leaving the dock before I could get a hold of my GF.  I wasn't the captain, just a guest, so there wasn't anything I could have done.

That being said, it is blowing pretty good and I went out on the laser for a nice three hours in Clark's Cove.  I flipped the boat to windward (backwards) and found myself deposited of off the boat as it came crashing down.  Oh, this is the first time my sailing helmet has paid off.  I did get whacked in the helmet and it wouldn't have been that bad but it could have been.  As soon as I looked up I saw the the boat had exceeded 90 degrees and was quickly flipping completely over (turtling).  I about had a heart attack from the though and swam around the back, climbed on the centerboard and gave it my all to keep it from inverting.  

It came back quite nicely to 90 degrees.  I couldn't have pulled that off with my 16 year old body, the last time I was big into lasers.  After a quick check that all the lines were free, I flipped her back over and was planning again in minutes.

This got me to thinking that I need a windshield.  I have been dealing with stinging in my eyes from the huge amount of water that is spraying that your head.  I want to make a face shield that will allow me to still wear prescription sunglasses and not have spray come around them into my eyes.

Friday Evening Sail on New Bedford Harbor, Full Moon Sail in Mattapoisett

I drove over to the Gifford Street boat ramp to see how the weather looked.  It was too windy out for me to have  lazy sail in Clarks Cove, so I figured that New Bedford harbor would make a better choice.

The ramp here is in need of repair but the dock is in okay shape.  About 500 feet from the dock, there was a large set of barges to support the dredging going on for the new terminal to support the windfarms.  The dredging is to make the area deeper and it is done by dropping a huge metal scoop bigger than any boat I own into the water and pulling up the muck from the bottom and dropping it into a barge.  Just think of the level of sediment floating around...  Oh, I forgot to mention that other parts of New Bedford Harbor are being cleaned up for PCB's, so that's floating around too.  I have heard that when they scoop up dirt (further upriver near the old Aerovox Plant) it is filled with whole and parts of capacitors that are identifiable with the naked eye.

So back to my city's only boat ramp inside of our formidable Hurricane Barrier system...

Trying to avoid getting water on your feet and legs while launching a boat is nearly impossible when you are by yourself.  But to my surprise the ramp has a huge pothole underwater at the end closest to the dock.  The wheel of the trailer fell into it once I backed the boat down the ramp.  I took the boat off the trailer to lighten it up and hoped I would just pull right out but to my dismay, I was stuck, with my tires spinning and the trailer stuck in the ocean because of a what a patch of cement could have prevented.  I waded in to about my crotch and picked the trailer up, out of the hidden pothole, and walked it a few feet to the side to give it a clear way out.  If i was not strong and young, I would have been screwed and calling AAA.

I sailed around, got the lay of the land again, enjoying the fact that I would not have to sail (or get towed) through the barrier again.  And look at who I run into... Ben, the guy who was taking photos of me when I was getting a tow back out to sea when I got stuck inside the Barrier.  We chatted and sailed around for a bit.

I then got a phone call from a person who is the "Harbor Agent".  Yeah, I'm on a boat and the boating wing of the local government is calling after 5pm on a Friday to chat.  Basically, the the guy is calling to tell me that he wrote me a $50 ticket because my boat ramp parking pass (although properly purchased and displayed) had been laminated and was merely being displayed in my window and not attached to my window.  At this point in the conversation, I realized that this was the same telephone voice that had told me they were not going to come and deal with the abhorrent parking situation at the other boat ramp the day of the Azorean Boat Race.  So that day he had not wanted to lift a finger to properly run a boat ramp parking lot, but now that it is a random Friday evening, in off season September, when there are only two vehicles with trailers in th whole lot, It time for him to write some tickets.

I explained that I got permission to laminate it by the person who was at the office the day it was issued to me.  I had explained to her that the nature of Sailtember might require me to switch to a heavier duty vehicle like a pickup truck and I wanted to make sure to go over that with them before I even handed over the money.  After this explanation, like magic, the "Harbor Agent" told me to tear up the ticket and he would do the same to his copy.  Great. Let's celebrate!

Hold on a second... Who has the authority to issue a legal ticket and then under their own discretion, defacto revoke it themselves?   I could have paid the guy off, explained that I was the brother of someone important, or any other illegal/bribery/extortion themed thing to have gotten out of this ticket and "Oh, just rip up your half of it and I'll do the same" is supposed to fly?  Thanks buddy, I'm keeping the ticket.  I have a feeling this won't be our last run in.  Maybe, foresight should have me laminate it too.

Ok, I know this is supposed to be a sailing blog, and not a run-ins-with-the-authorities-at-boat-ramps blog, but it certainly feels like that's what I'm doing sometimes.

On my way back in, I waved hello to a fellow sailor who I will keep unnamed.  Just after getting past him, I got to noticed that the barge configuration had moved to be right in front of the boat ramp approach.  This forced me to do 10 tacks in 300 feet under the wind shadow of a floating bulldozer.  What fun!

So filthy water, ass hole enforcement and massive moving obstacles... Welcome to sailing in New Bedford Harbor.

This was then seconded to me by my new buddy that I had just said hello too.  He had made his way in and while loading up, I conveyed my Sailtember story and my run in with what he described was actually the "Horror Agent".  He said that everyone who is boating out of NB has had at least one run in with the guy and he is rude and very nitpicky, often times creating rules on the spot.  He personally has had three horror stories.  More on this later, I'm sure.

Once we were done chatting a I suddenly got a call from Devin in Mattapoisett. He wanted to know how far I was because he (thought) he had sent me a text telling me to be there at 7:15 and it was now 7:15.  I have everything to go sailing many different boats in all sorts of conditions, already sitting in my car, so all I had to do was hightail it over there, New Job in tow, and 20 minutes later I was at the Mattapoisett Boatyard dock, putting on warm clothes as fast as I could.

It was the same cast as last night, and the moon was super bright.  We went for a sail for about 3 hours and it was a great night.

I got home around 12:30am.  If we had only stayed out for another hour, I probably could have considered it my sail for Saturday too, but it didn't occur to me and that might be cheating anyway...

Epic New Job Sail

I started the day by passing my city buildings department inspection, then passing my new insurance carriers inspection, followed by a service call from the cable company.  Anyone else want to join the parade through the basement?  Then I showed two apartments.

Moving on with my day, I took New Job to New Bedford for the first time.  Based on what I could see of her performance in Wareham yesterday, I though she could handle Clark's Cove in low seas and medium winds.  Today had just that. 1 foot waves at the point of Fort Rodman and blowing 10-12 from the West.

I sailed from West Rodney French around the tip of Fort Rodman, a close encounter with the Butler Flats lighthouse and then north towards the Hurricane Barrier.  I followed a tug boat into the Harbor and here I was, on the other side of the "Barrier".  It is about a 140ft opening you need to sail through.  There is a strong current and it was working in my favor on the way in.

I sailed over to the Pope's Island Marina and the Rt 6 swing bridge.  I encountered a cat rigged dinghy sailing along and the guy was about my same age.  Holy Crap! A like minded soul!  We chatted a bit and I admired the nice job he and his girlfriend just did on restoring his boat.  I hope to hear from him because I have no local sailing buddies that are actually my age.  Not complaining, but it would be nice!

One of the topics that came up was how I was going to get back out of the Hurricane Barrier.  Strong currents, tides, blah, blah, blah. You know, the kind of stuff that never gets in my way!

I told him that I was going to just try and try and try.  And that is what I did...  After the third failed attempt and having not even mad it to the midway point, I decided it was time to pucker up and kiss some motor boater owner ass.

Once again third times was the charm.  After two failed attempts at eagerly waving at vessels of the right size to tow me, a well dressed guy in a Boston Whaler slowed down and came along sides.  He seemed to "get it" without me needing to explain much of the predicament I was in.  That was funny in itself.  Then came the wave goodbye to my new friend who was staying inside the Barrier.  He is taking pictures with a big smile on.  I'd much rather be the amusement for a fellow sailor than someone sitting on their lakeside porch (a la Lake Winnipesaukee run aground)

Once on the ocean side of the Barrier, I let the guy know that was enough of a tow for me.  In thanking him, I said "You have to be one of the coolest motor boaters in town.  Thanks for the help man!".  He replied, grinning: "Actually, I'm a sailor too.  This is just my other toy."  We both got a pretty good laugh at that.

As fun as the day had been so far, I needed to now re-sail around the Fort and back to West Rodney French.  It has to be five miles or so and I didn't get out of the seawall until about 6pm.  It's mainly upwind this time. The weather was perfect though.  I had waterproof gear that I switch into as the boat started to make spray as we went into the wind and the small waves.

Little did I know that a buddy of mine was actually further out pretty much right in front of me on a 68 foot sailboat working as crew.  We had discussed meeting up later to take advantage of the full moon for a night sail.

The sunset and i realized that I didn't have my regular glasses with me, just my sunglasses.  So I could pick, dark and crisp vs blurry and brighter.  What a choice.  Sunglasses stayed on.

I pulled in under a very low but a full moon.  It was an awesome solo sail.  I had felt sick the last few days and now I felt better.  The weather, the independance, the feeling of accomplishment or getting into the hurricane barrier and talking my way back out! I have sailing blood surging through my veins and it feels awesome!

When I got home, I had not heard from Devon about the nightsail yet.  I got comfortable and started watching the day's America's Cup race on youtube.  At about 910pm, I recieved a text from Devon saying "930?".  It was like the house had caught on fire, I was out the door in a minute.

When I arrived at Mattapoisett Harbor, Devon and Mike were waiting for me, contemplating their current dilemma.  The wind was not what they thought it should be.  They had forgotten to tell me that the outboard engine had seized and was useless.  That left us with a inflatable dinghy with a motor but no sailboat with a motor and 5mph winds.  Devon's boat is 32 feet long long, it is heavy and has been in the water for five months so it is also carrying around five months of sea life growing on the hull.  The winds would make it hard to reliably come back and catch the mooring, and if the winds died down at all, we could be left adrift at night.  The flip side to all of this negativity is that it was almost bright as day outside.  The full moon and not one cloud in the sky made even a game of catch the ball quite possible.

We reviewed the details of our predicament.  The engine is there for the the following: a) getting in and out of the mooring field reliably without having to tack and gibe among a bunch of other boats, b) getting us away from danger in the case of no winds or another equipment failure (drifting into rocks, mast break, sail rips, etc) c) getting us back in to safety if a life emergency were to occur (heart attack, bad injury).

Now remember I had already been out sailing for about four hours this day with a) no motor b) no radio c) daylight on my side d) enough breeze to propel the craft.

We also had the option of dragging the inflatable w that outboard and towing the sailboat with the dingy.  This would slow down the sailboat immensely while under sail and if we did use it to tow, all kinds of other bad things could have happened, like ripping the inflatable dinghy open or it flipping backwards due to the stern being overloaded.  If we had experience towing the sailboat w the dinghy it might have been different.  The middle of the night is no time to try something new with boats.  I can totally agree with that.

So we resigned ourselves to chilling on the deck and catching up on sailing stories while tied to the mooring. We had the current America's Cup, my Sailtember exploits and their various adventures in racing and pleasure sailing to chat about. It was almost as bright as day.  After a good hour and a half we motored back in and called it a night.  We didn't actually "go sailing" but as Devon put it "You were on a sailboat" And  I finished with "That's better than 99% of everyone else sitting at home right now".  We all agreed and went home to regroup and try again tomorrow!

Feeling worse

So this headcold has settled in for the long haul and I woke up really horse.  It sounded like Henry did Saturday morning in New Hampshire.  Hey, he sailed 7 races that day, so I guess I can figure out how to get my butt on a boat for an hour today.

I recruited my girlfriend to come along and keep me company.  She recently started a job that is 20 minutes away from Tempest Knob, so if I can get there, rigg up the boat and launch it myself, she will have her first "rockstar" treatment sailing experience (no setup, just show up at the dock).

I drove out to Rochester with the dogs, left them on a screened in porch and picked up the boat.  Before I could leave her parents house, my girlfriend called me and said she was already on her way.  So she met me at the house and we drove together.  So much for rockstar treatment today!

It was nice to have someone to help me rigg up the boat.  The biggest pain of both the Laser and New Job, are erecting the mast.  Both come in two parts and once connected, they need to stand up straight and be lifted and gently lowered into the right slot just so.  It's kind of heavy, but much more so awkward.  Just having a second set of hands for five minutes is a big help.

Once up we sailed out into Wareham Harbor with more wind than we have had in New Job together.  And this time with a dry boat!  We were about an hour away from sinking twice launching from this spot before I patched the fiberglass.  Now instead of being able to measure how long we have been sailing by how much water was inside the walls of the boat (yes, that is what an inspection port is for. Its a countdown timer of how long until you are swimming back.)

We also had good luck with the sticky centerboard.  Without it you have no "traction" in the water and you will just sail sideways.  It is a terrible feeling!  To remedy this I have at various times had to swim, flip over the boat on a beach and a boat ramp, re-trailer it, as well as using brute force to lift it onto a floating dock.

With confidence, we strutted all around the harbor.  We even made it into one of the side little coves that I usually avoid due to fear of running aground or running out of wind.

The boat was moving faster than I had seen it move before and I was grateful for the extra weight to keep the boat level.

The next few days should be nicer and warmer.  In addition, the full moon is on the 19th and has been present at sunset for the last few days. I can't believe I am am more than halfway done with this crazy idea!

Freetown for a break

I'm still tired and sore.  To make things worse, I feel like I have caught some of the cold that the skipper had this weekend.  Its like a painful sore throat and nothing else yet.  It is much colder out than it has been lately and I left the windows open last night, so I'm not sure if I have a fever or just am just cold to the bone, but I'm freezing.

To make matters worse, its really windy today (20mph).  As much as I would like to scream around Clark's Cove on a laser in 20 mph winds, I know that is a bad idea today.  Just the muscle that is required to get the laser mast/sail into the boat is enough  to make me want to avoid strong winds today.  Add in the cold temperatures and a headcold, and I'm really not looking forward to this.

If I'm going to pull this off today, I will have to make special arrangements to make it easier.

I decide to go midday at the warmest time of the day.  I match that with going to Freetowns Long Pond to avoid the ocean waves and open waters.  How can I go wrong?!?

When I finally get there, I make the biggest mistake first and put on a shorty wetsuit instead of a full length one.  I did this because I thought that since I needed to wade into the water to launch to boat, that I would be better off with drying skin than a wet wetsuit on my legs for the duration of the sail.  Silly me.

It ended up being an uneventful, very brightly lit, hour long sail in a lake.  My exposed skin on my arms and legs were in goosebumps and it didn't bother me one bit when I had to turn around to go home.

I'm done by 3pm and on to finish the rest of my day.  Thank god I won't be watching the frigid sunset tonight from a boat.

Back home!

I have pains in my back, wrists, and butt.  It rained most of the morning and finally cleared up by the end of the day.  Although I'd like to be in recovery mode, I still have to strategize how to get out on the water today.

By the middle of the day, its warm, almost hitting 80F with no winds at all.  I invite my girlfriend to come with me after work for a ride on the bow of the Laser. I didn't mean for that to sound as kinky as it did.

It was super calm for Clark's Cove with a great sunset and big big clouds.  We launched and who would you know was also out... The Azorean Whale Boats LOL.  Practicing in very light, upcapsizable air.  Lucky them.

We sailed over towards them so I could show my girlfriend their boats.  They didn't seem to friendly when we got close, only one person waved out of 15 or so.

We turned around and had a great waxing gibbons lighting the course back to the boat ramp.

Perfect sail!

When we got back to the ramp, just after dark, a NB Port Security vehicle pulled up, the security officer got out and walk right at us assuming we were up to no good.  Once along side our car, he was able to see the Laser hiding behind us at which point he backed off very quickly with "Oh, I didn't see you had a boat behind you and just wanted to see what was going on. You have a parking sticker, right?"  And that was over about as quick as it started.  Does this make four police contacts for sailtember now? Or five if you count the pissing cop in Freetown...

We went over for ice cream at Dairy Maid and drove down to the parking lot for the Dartmouth side of Clarks Cove.  WTF! The Azorean Whale Boat people are having a party in the parking lot. By land or by sea, I can't seem to be able to get away from these folks! LOL

J Jamboree 2013 Lake Winnipesaukee Day 3

We are tired, we are sore, the skipper sounds like he has pneumonia, but he is a doctor so let me not be the one to be throwing out diagnosis.

We all went to the regatta party and cook out last night at the Lake Winnipesaukee Yacht Club.  It was a nice clubhouse right on the lake that felt like summer camp.

Today could be very tough.  We are expecting there to be no races after 2pm which leaves enough room for possibly up to four races if everything runs smoothly.

In the end it was another gorgeous day.  

We were smooth at  silk as a team, still with mediocre results but it still felt good to be on a boat that was really operating smoothly with good communication and executing nice maneuvers.

We forgot one thing however...

Before we left we didn't check the gas in the motor.  We came in under sail and since our destination was upwind of us, we decided to motor the last 15 minutes in.  The engine died five minutes later and we found ourselves having to sail into the "harbor" (on a lake!) through a very narrow and poorly marked channel that followed a perfectly upwind course.  Danger lurked on all sides.  This could result in damages in the thousands if we don't play this right.

Its Sunday afternoon and all the power boaters in town are just heading out after having their liquid brunches.  Here we come sailing into harbor tacking every twenty feet trying to stay in the channel.  About 30 seconds after some power boater hollers to us "You know you're not supposed to be doing that" we hear and feel the boats keel gently come to rest in sand.  We are stuck aground and we are blocking the channel.  We jump into action and try to lean the boat enough to get the keel off the bottom so we can be pushed to deeper waters.  Its not working.  We get 225lb and six footer Dave out on the boom, then joined by me and let the mainsheet out suspending us out of the boat and over the water.  I'm holding on for dear dryness and for my cellphone in my pocket since we are in the "shallow end" of the pool.  We start rocking the boom.  It looks like we are dry humping it from underneath.  I let my neck relax and can see people forty feet away on shore, standing on lawns and porches, cellphones erect and snapping away.  Could this get any crazier!?!

As suddenly as we ran around, we were free again after three grueling minutes of total embarrassment.  However we still had about two hundred feet to go before we arrived at the dock.  Land at last!

About an hour later, we have the boat disassembled, on a trailer and ready to go back to Mass.  What a weekend!  I can't believe I have to go sailing tomorrow! LOL

J Jamboree 2013 Lake Winnipesaukee Day 2

This photo and the others photos that are credited to Al Herte were generously provided to me and remain the property of Al Herte.  Thanks for being the cool guy that wants to take photos of people enjoying their sailboats Al!

We have a very long day of sailing ahead of us.  The first race is at 10am and we need to eat breakfast, pack provisions for lunch, travel to the boat, get out onto the water and practice a little before the races start.

A duck wandered aboard looking for a snack or a ride south.

The weather looks good, no rain in the forecast.

It turned out to be perfect fall sailing weather. 15 mph most of the day, never below 10.  Lots of sun and barely any waves for the amount of wind we were having.

We got seven races in for the day and our best finish was 4th place.  It's hard to tell what was holding the boat back.  Was it a poorly tuned boat, bottom paint that had more drag than everyone else, a helmsman who wasn't sailing upwind fast enough, local sailing knowledge about how the wind acts on different parts of the lake or some other unseen difference in how they were sailing thier boat versus how were were sailing ours?  This is very hard to answer for me and it became a frequent topic of conversation all weekened: "Why are we so slow".  If we had been in my Laser, I could have given you at least five answers but I don't know the J-80 well enough to say.

The rest are from Al... (we are under sail number 808)

J Jamboree 2013 Lake Winnipesaukee Day 1

So when I arrived the boat was already in the water and the mast was already erected (it travels laying down on top of the boat, see photo).

This is a competitors boat being put in behind us.

We had to rig up the boat which means a lot of attaching wires and ropes and measuring the tension on things and the balancing everything out.  And to make matters more complicated, there are tables of tension levels for each part based on the level of wind you expect.  So you can re-tune the boat based on the forecast.  We probably returned the boat four times over the weekend, at least one of those times was while underway.

The weather forecast had been for very light air and possible rain showers.  The first race was scheduled for 230 so we decided to get out there early and get some practice in.  After we got out to the open water and had all the sails up, we came into the open part of the lake where you can see a few miles and we spotted rain already coming down on a near part of the lake, that was so hard and intense that it looked like a white curtain had been unrolled across that park of the lake rendering everything, including whole islands, invisible.

We put on our foul weather gear on and although we were only a 5 minute motor back to port, the sails were already up, we didn't see lightning or hear thunder, and we needed some practice, so we stayed out.  We got rained on ferociously for about fifteen minutes with five minutes of sprinkle before and after.  It rained so hard that the mainsail had a waterfall coming off the bottom from all the water sliding down it. It was wild.

Once the rain cleared, the winds picked up a lot, as 10 other J-80 sailboats appeared (with dry sails and dry crews) and the races were on.  We had three races in total and our boat had mediocre results.  We were getting smoother and learning to work with each other as a crew and although we were cold and wet we were having fun!

The rest of the team:
Dave, Henry, Russ

We are staying in Weirs Beach, which because of the time of the year (not hot and the leaves are still green), is dead.

Thursday before the regatta

I went to Clark's Cove this morning with the Laser and tried to do my best not to hurt myself or otherwise over tax myself.  I have a lot of driving to do to get to NH today. Then racing most of the day for the next three days straight.  So in all reality, this mornings sail is basically just to keep my streak going.

There is a point traveling south on West Rodney French Blvd. when the hurricane barrier ends and the view of the water and the exposure to incoming ocean winds becomes apparent.  At this point, every time,  my head switches from "driver" to "sailor".  It's New Bedford's "big reveal" so to speak.  Lot's of places have a spot or two like this, but this one in particular speak to the heart of a mariner. The one on East Rodney French is probably quite similar, but I never approach my home sailing grounds from that direction.

The wind was really blowing today.  I was glad that I basically only had a one hour commitment otherwise I could have really tired myself out.  I flew across the cove in less than 10 minutes, and basically ran the same reaches back and forth from the Dartmouth beach back and back to the ramp to check in with my fisherman friend I made while rigging up.  The orders I had left him with were "Call the police if I'm flipped over for more than 5 minutes." He replied "Nah, I'll just jump in and get you." Gee, what a considerate idiot! The cove is  about a mile across and it was blowing 15+ mph with waves.

I got back to my house, changed clothes, changed gears, packed the car and I'm off to NH for the weekend.  Sailtember is hitting the road.


So this weekend I have been invited to crew on a J-80.  This is a smaller J-class boat that has the distinction of being able to "plane" (hydroplane).  That means that once you hit a certain speed, you stop pushing through the water and start riding on top of it (like a motor boat does when it is going fast).  This change in resistance causes the boat to surge forward and hit speed levels that it otherwise would not if it was still pushing water out of the way.  The Laser also has the distinction of being a good planing boat and it is by far the most affordable way to get this thrill.

So today I met up with the boats owner in Marion to help pack her up for the road trip to Lake Winnipesaukee.  We strapped her down, shrink wrapped the shrouds and tinkered with this and that.  My experience in getting my own trailer roadworthy and all the advice I have received from my after work auto-shop drinking buddies was all very helpful.

You can all place you bets now on how this Honda Pilot will fair over 700 miles of driving this weekend.

After helping out Henry, I launched the laser from the Town of Marion's "boat ramp".  It is sand with rubber mats on the ground for traction.  The only parking allowed is for people with town stickers.  They have fancy bathrooms and showers but no real ramp.  Henry had just pulled his boat out of the adjoining Boat Yard, subsequently I could park my car and trailer in his boat's parking space (he stores it on land).

I dropped the boat in at what looked like low tide.  I had no problems with the sand.  I saw maybe three people anywhere around me and a huge harbor filled with easily five hundred yachts.  Mostly sailboats but a good amount of motor boats too.

I passed two middle aged women rigging up a Bullseye.  I wished them a "Happy Sailtember!" as I passed. Later on I realized that the one other time I had sailed into Marion, the one with the large brown hair was out on this same Bullseye.  Wow, what a coincidence and she must be out on that thing all the time!

I sailed out and found a cute island that had a lot of privately owned shellfishing beds.  They were like metal cages in rows with surprisingly few indications to boaters to stay away.  I decided to pass this island on the leeward side and pretty soon, my centerboard was starting to bump into unseen underwater things (aka the bottom).  I swung around and headed back the exact way I came worried about how far into the shallow area I had actually made it.  Thankfully I came across the two ladies in the Bullseye and over light conversation, they allowed me to follow them for a safe passage through the shallows.  The belong to Beverly YC, the Bullseye is build by C.C. Shipbuilding in Wareham, the same builders that built the two boats that I learned the most on as a kid, the C.C. Mercury and the Typhoon, the shipbuilders and designers of all these boats are members of their same club and therefore they have a significant following.  Its so nice to have conversations on the water.  It is completely different than on land. I can't quite explain it.  It is similar to conversation on real hiking trails.  Everyone is in a good mood, happy to see someone else that appreciates doing what they are doing, and there is no one else around, so it feels like destiny or coincidence has brought the two parties together.

I then sailed around the harbor, looking at real estate, waving at people whose backyard run into the sea, checking out boats I cannot afford and seeing what the kids hanging out at the Tabor Academy docks were up to.  It was getting dark and it was time to go in.

The beach was empty, the parking lot was quiet and the tide was even lower now.  I was left to do my little unrigging chore by myself.  I have become quite good at it given the frequency that I am sailing lately.  Once the boat was packed away, I took some photos thinking my day was done.

After I took these photos I got stuck trying to get back up this sandy hill.  It was terrible.  I would roll back, get the mats perfect (clean them off, level the sand underneath), clean off my wheels and every time I got up the mats would give out, roll up around the tires and I'd have to start all over again.  Experience is the only thing that kept me from really getting stuck.  Thank god for all those stuck-in-the-sand moments in Utah and Arizona.  I never let myself dig in too far and dammit I have a tow strap hidden in the body of the car, just for this moment.  Just before I gave up, I decided to reduce the weight of the car by disconnecting the trailer and pulling it up the beach myself.  I actually got the whole trailer and the laser to the top. I'm a skinny ox!

The car made it up on the first try without the laser attached.  This experience proves to me that I need to transition to using a "beach dolly" to move the boat by hand from a parking lot to the water and ditch the backing up the trailer method.  This is what Derek and Eric were doing in RI last week and it sure did look easier!

You learn something new everyday.  This weekend will be like a few days at school for me :)