Boat Journal

Chronicling a love affair with sailing

Month: October 2009

Perfect Teamwork

One of the best ways to quickly improve yourself as a sailor is to race. You commit yourself to a schedule, you learn alot about your boat and how to make it move well. You learn to coordinate the movements of a number of different people to achieve your goal.

Readers of this blog have seen the trials and tribulations my crew and I have gone through when trying to learn those lessons.  But today, they paid off. No, we still came in last (although I am anxious to see our corrected time).  But we worked like clockwork today, which made for a very satisfying run.

We pulled the boat out of the docks and headed to the channel.  Just as soon as we reached it, we had someone come beside us asking if they could pass us.  We said of course, and moved starboard to let them pass.  Well, of course we got stuck.  Leave it to me to get stuck in that channel, close to high tide, with the tide being higher than usual. But we backed up, turned around, and we on our way.

It was cold out there today. Air temperature was in the upper 50’s.  But the wind chill made it seem like it was in the 40’s.  We had all dressed fairly warmly in anticipation.  But we all donned windbreakers with a bit of padding to help.

We motored to the buoy this time.  I didn’t want to have our usual problem of getting to what we thought was close, killing the engine, then not making it to the starting line on time. We then raised the mainsail, unfurled the jib, killed the engine and heading towards the starting line. I think the race was started early – I need to check my emails about that – but we stated within about 5 – 10 minutes of everyone else.  For us, who usually start about 1/2 an hour late, that was fantastic.

The winds were perfect, putting us between a beam reach and a close haul the entire time. And even better, we were on mark by doing so.  Usually, the winds are shifting and we’re having to turn back frequently, or tack frequently, to get to the mark itself.  Today, each time, we headed almost straight between the marks.

We worked perfectly as a team.  I kept on track, Paul and Grant, my crew, worked smoothly to get the sails moved. It was almost poetic.

We crossed the finish line about 20 – 25 minutes behind the last boat in the larger pack which, again, was good for us.  We’ve come an hour behind or, in extreme circumstances, just given up after the first leg and cruised for a bit before going in.

I think today, the only thing I could have asked for was a bit warmer weather.  Other than that, it was perfect!

And the Prevaling Wind is from What Direction?

The old jib is back.  Repair looks good! Thank you  Dan Winters!

Yesterday was the second race of the Frostbite series.  I wasn’t expecting any crew to show up; it’s been difficult to get folks to commit to a weekend, since we really hadn’t planned on racing this series in the first place.  But I headed over to the boat, figured I could get the jib up at least.  If anyone showed up, I’d go ahead and race.  Otherwise, I’d just head home to do the homework I was avoiding.

No one was there by 12:30, the time I needed to head out of the slip.  But you know how it is.  The wind, the waves, the boat all tugged me out.  So I headed out of the channel, set the sails, and aimed towards the starting buoy.

The wind was lousy.  The breeze barely moved the sails.  And then there was the barge that’s been on the river for a couple of weeks messing with the breezes, too.  But I headed on down, knowing the winds would be better at the mouth of the river, near the bay.

After I passed the barge, the winds did pick up.  I got a good 4 knots going. I still had about 20 minutes to reach the starting line, so I figured I was good.

I wasn’t.  I was well away from the barge and the winds were still shifting.  Mind you, I was near the refinery docks. But that shouldn’t have affected it that much.  Since I had a good speed, and the current tack would have taken me into the docks, I tacked away from it.  Now, though, rather than making a 90 degree turn to port, I made more like a 120 degree turn, taking me away from the mark.  Knowing the current was going to be pulling me in almost the opposite direction, however, I stayed on that tack as long as possible, then turned again.  Same thing.  Got good speed going, then the wind shifted and I wasn’t heading towards the mark any more.  Rather than keep fighting it, I just turned around and figured I’d play for awhile then head in.

The wind was nice, mind you. But I really had to pay attention.  I couldn’t aim towards anything an be assured I’d keep moving in that direction.  At one point, near the barge, of course, the wind shifted almost 180 degrees as I tried to set the sails.

I kinda wish I’d gone ahead and raced, though.  The winds picked up, as they had the week before, about an hour into the race.  It was probably some awesome sailing out there on the bay. <sigh!>