Monday, June 12, 2006

Stardate 60446.29 - Sailing Class Report

So there was good news and bad news during my sailing class over the weekend. We started out with classroom instruction Friday night for 2 hours, where an instructor (Wayne Turett) covered some of the basics of the boat, sailing, aids to navigation, and some other material. The class room is a floating classroom, and it does bob and roll in the harbor a bit, so I guess it quickly helps determine who is going to have some seasickness issues. No one in the class seemed to have a problem with it, however.

There was a wide range of experience in the class, from people who had never been on a sailboat before, to people who had been sailing a couple of times (like me), to people who were part of a racing team in Asia (but had never sailed "small" boats before - why was she even in this class?). I went home after the class excited and ready for sailing on Saturday.

unfortunately, winds on Saturday were gusting above 25 knots. The club/school has a policy that their boats (J/24) cannot be taken out if the winds are 25 knots or higher. So we started with more classroom instruction from Zander Lassen (two time winner of the ASA "Instructor of the Year" Award), then we formed up into 4-man crews and went with an instructor (Julian, who teaches fifth-grade in Brooklyn for his day job) to a boat (ours was the Great Republic) where we went over things like raising the sails and the parts of the boat. The winds increased throughout the day, so we never got onto the water. We ended the day around 3 PM, but I stayed with a group of about 8 people to practice knots for an hour. While I did learn stuff, it was a disappointing day because of having no time on the water.

On Sunday, the winds were low at 6:30 AM when I checked from home, but they were at about 26 knots by the time I got to the school. But the forecast was for them to die down, so we put our gear on the boat and went over some things first, and by 1000 the winds were down to acceptable levels so we headed out into the Hudson River. At this point we were down to just the instructor (Julian), Lenny, and me. We lost two crew members who did not show up and did not call. So Julian let the school know to call him on his cell if they showed up, and we pressed on. We sailed for about 3 hours, learning the helm, working the main, and practicing tacking. It was a blast!

After coming back in for lunch, we went back out around 2 PM and stayed on the water until around 7 PM. We practiced jibing, accidental jibing, and man overboard drills. Again, it was a huge amount of fun and I learned a tremendous amount. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the amount of work required to run the helm on a sailboat. You have to worry about the direction of the wind, obstacles, aids to navigation (there is an exclusion zone around Ellis Island boats are not permitted to enter), trimming the main, and when to tack. The person on the jib sheets just needs to help with keeping a lookout for other boats, and waits for the command "ready about" to move the jib when tacking.

Now, because we missed an entire day on the water, our instructor thought it best that we not take the certification exam when we got back (and I have to say that I was completely exhausted and didn't want to think about an exam at 7 PM so I completely agreed). And we have to re-schedule a time to go back out to finish the class. So I am not certified at this point, and it may be another week before we can schedule a make-up day and the exam. Julian is supposed to contact Lenny and me by e-mail so we can agree to a join session.

Overall, the class was a blast. While it was too bad we didn't get out on Saturday, all the time on the water Sunday more than made up for it. Today my shoulders and hands are sore (I wore gloves but whenever I grip something today I can tell I've been working lines), but I'm looking forward to the make-up session. The instructors and club staff were very friendly, and I am seriously going to consider joining the club.

All the pictures in the post were taken from my phone, so the quality is not that great. And we did get hit by a fair amount of spray while out there, so I'm glad I didn't take our nice camera with me. And while you are out there, you are pretty busy working the boat and learning so trying to take pictures would have been a bit difficult and distracting.



-s said...

Looks like fun! Sorry to hear that Saturday was a wash-out.

Did you have to jump in the Hudson for man overboard drills?

CAPT_Sawyer said...

With the dead rats, fish, and condoms? No. We used a life preserver as the "man" overboard.