Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dreams Do Come True

Steve and Liz aboard T'ai Chi out of Toronto are living my dream.  I've always wanted to convert my modest assets into a boat and shoving off for far away places.  They were overnighting at BHYC as part of their year long adventure to the Bahamas.  I was fortunate enough to hunt down a chart of the local waters for them, which afforded me the opportunity to have a visit on T'ai Chi a beautiful Cabo Rico 42.  Sadly my visit was brief, however a few key words from their blog suggest there are some parallels in our lives...camping, canoes, three kids, agriculture, science, bees and of course my obsession (labour of love), sailing.

For now, I will live my dream through their eyes.  Altho I feel like we just took one step closer to our dream becoming a reality.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Race #3

Sail #17:  25/07/12 - 8.4 nm, 5 kts / h, 1.44 elapsed time

What a fun race with the top 3 boats finishing within 4 minutes of each other.  We originally thought we finished 2nd on corrected time for this race, but on a recalculation we narrowly beat our sister boat, Wings, to take our second first in the Wednesday race series.  This would turn out to to be a critical adjustment since we could drop our DNF from the last race, altho we were still scheduled to be in the Bras D'or Lake cruising for the final race.  As luck would have it, that race didn't happen due to lack of wind, so we won the Wednesday Series with our 2 first place finishes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's in a Name - Sailing Terminology 101

ter-mi-nol-o-gy (noun) - the system of terms belonging, or peculiar to a science, art or specialized subject.

"Stop using strange terms to describe a's a rope not a 'sheet'".  Ah perhaps, but the "good gospel according to Wikipedia" would suggest...not so fast landlubber...

"In most cases, rope is the term used only for raw material. Once a section of rope is designated for a particular purpose on a vessel, it generally is called a line, as in outhaul line or dock line. A very thick line is considered a cable. Lines that are attached to sails to control their shapes are called sheets, as in mainsheet. If a rope is made of wire, it maintains its rope name as in 'wire rope' halyard.

Lines (generally steel cables) that support masts are stationary and are collectively known as a vessel's standing rigging, and individually as shrouds or stays. The stay running forward from a mast to the bow is called the forestay or headstay. Stays running aft are backstays or after stays."

For some reason...for which I am sure I'll never understand...some folks have developed a phobia to learning the proper nautical terms for a sailing boat. In fact it's moved beyond phobia and into a down right resistance. I was reminded of this again recently when we compared sailing terminology to other sports. While I agree that "left and right" are easier to relate to that "port and starboard", why does sailing terminology incite such resistance, when soccer terminology or keeping score in tennis, is just common sense?

Give me a break, since when was "zero" synonymous with "love", or a "goalie" a "keeper". Aren't all the players "keepers" or are some more expendable than the "goalie" who is the only true "keeper".

Imagine the ridicule bestowed upon the casual football (football...not soccer) fan, when they referred to the "quarterback" as the "thrower". However, calling the dude throwing a football the "quarterback" makes as much sense to the true fan as referring to the toilet as a head does to a sailor. Golf, "a walk ruined", according to Mark Twain, is full of ridiculous terminology. Who ever dreamt up that a "birdie" was "one under par" if "par" makes any sense on it's own. Don't take my word for, but when has Robin Williams ever been wrong?

As confusing as terminology can be to the casual observer, used in context, it avoids a lot of confusion, which on a sail boat...or football field...or the soccer field...or the tennis "court"... is important to the outcome. For example there are lots of "ropes" on a sailboat. There is only one main sheet. There should therefore be no confusion when the crew are asked to pull in the mainsheet. There's only one.

That still doesn't explain why 3-2 in a tennis match (not a game), is 40-30. And I still get confused whether the "deuce court" is on my port or starboard...errr...left or right side.

Terminology can, in some instances, be as frustrating as learning a new language. However, trying to communicate with someone who doesn't speak "your language", is a sign of respect. Just like learning golf terms or how to keep score in tennis demonstrates that you have an interest in the subject and are willing to learn the language. However, I need to remind myself that not everyone is immediately fluent in "sailing" and so a shroud may need to "that wire" for now.

However, there is nothing more pleasing than having someone aboard who wants to learn the "art...or science...of sailing" and is not afraid of learning a new language.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Allison's First Saddle Island Cruise

Sail #16:  22/07/12 - 13.5 nm

Saddle Island is truly a special place and we love spending the afternoon there, particularly if the weather is nice.  We talked about so much that Allison wanted to make sure she got out there at least once during the summer.  So we decided to take she and Robert out for the day.  It's an amazing beach to walk at low tide, but it's also a fantastic place to swim and explore at high tide.  We were joined by Fly-Bye-Wire.  

After a nice swim off the boat and a light snack, we went ashore in the tender to explore the beach.  The winds picked up nicely in the evening which made for a nice sail back to BHYC.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Off to a Quick Start This Racing Season

Given we are still relative rookies when it comes to sailing, any accomplishments we have in racing are likely more attributed to luck than skill.  However, based on the BHYC race results so far this season, there is one other possibility: the Redwing is just a fast boat.  Of course, as our most recent race result (a DNF) will attest, there limits to any theory.  We know that in extraordinarily lighter winds, Exploits, is not a happy boat.

The traditional first race of the season at BHYC is billed as a "fun race", with a staggered start according to boat speed.  This year we had some new boats in the fleet and one of them Willit raced for its first time at BHYC.  A total of eight vessels made the start line in spite of the forecasted rain and were treated to a nice sail on a day with no rain.

We battled the whole way around and seemed to be in a dog fight at every mark, which made the race more exciting.  Exploits doesn't seem to perform as well on down wind legs, but we quickly regained our position on the windward leg and finished a respectable 4th out of 8 boats.  Abigale (a Redline 25 - which of course is related to the Redwing) led the entire race, with Wings (our sister boat) finishing second despite problems with their spinnaker.  Our dock mates, Fly-Bye-Wire (a C&C 30 - cousin to the Redwing) finished third.

Our Wednesday Race Series kicked off on June 27.  I recruited the Skipper of Abigale for Wednesday nights and he has been great.  Our first race turned out to be a drag race.  We finished first on corrected time with Wings second.  Redwings first and second would become a theme for the next few races.

June 30th was our next race and Jude was back running our sheets.  We finished second to Wings which was a great boost to Judy who was getting tired of Abigale's Skipper having success aboard Exploits when she wasn't there.  Nut Case was back for the July 7th race and we fully expected to see our placing drop given the fact that the J27 looks fast even when it's tied to the dock.  Nut Case lead from start to finish but once again the Redwings were first and second followed by the Redline on corrected time.

We had a fantastic windward leg and closed the gap on Nut Case and passed Gaila.  Abigale choose to make a quick tack rounding the last mark which likely allowed us one less tack and a solid second place finish. If we were feeling over confident, that was quickly going to be put to rest after our second Wednesday (July 11) night race.

The evening started with the crew announcing he had gone for a cortisone short earlier in the day for a frozen shoulder condition he was battling with.  He felt good to go despite the treatment so we headed out.  Just after we received the 5 minute warning there was barely a ripple on the water.  I just knew it was going to be a long painful evening for us.  Little did I know how long and how painful!

We unfurled the jib with 4 minutes to start and watched the jib slowly and gracefully slide off the furler and into the water.  The snap shackle on the jib halyard came undone, which not only meant the sail was released, but the end of the halyard was now at the top of the mast.  I looked at Steve, who was white as a ghost, either from the shot in the shoulder or the realization that one of us (the lighter one of us - him), was going to have to go up the mast and retrieve the halyard. We borrowed a "chair" of sorts from Wings and hoisted Steve to the top, without incident. Fortunately for us, the fleet delayed the start for 5 minutes to give us time to redeploy our headsail.

It turns out that I snagged the snapshackle during a practice session with the spinnaker.  Of course the sail was rolled up so we didn't know it had become detached until we unrolled it.  I made sure the put plenty of tape on the snapshackle before we hoisted it to avoid a similar problem in the future (altho I believe I am cursed when it comes to that spinnaker).

The race was straight out to Jollimore's Reef and back, about 3 miles.  The only wind, which we discovered too late, was a light breeze coming off the shore.  We got out into the Bay and the only progress we made was from the tide, which unfortunately was also pushing us away from the mark.  As we approached the mark, the lead boats were on their way back.  The Skipper of Between the Sheets was actually fishing for mackerel, an indication of the conditions.  It didn't seem to hurt him tho, since they eventually finished 3rd.  Maybe he hooked a fish and had it pull him in!

We actually missed the mark and had to tack back, against the tide and do a 270 around the mark.  If we had any forward momentum it was gone by that point.  We actually rolled up the head sail and maintained the same speed, altho I expect we were going backwards!

Of the 7 boats that started, only 3 managed to finish, altho all were well over 3 hours.  Unfortunately our rules for calling the race are not clear, so the results stand which really hurts us in the standings (like we care about that!).  We're going to miss a number of races when we're off cruising in the Bras d'Or Lakes next month so we're racing for the enjoyment not the trophy!

In between races we have had some fantastic weekend sails, including hosting the crew of Nut Case this past Saturday and our neighbours from the cottage on Sunday.  Both were great all sails aboard Exploits seem to be!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Driver

Sail #15:  14/07/12 - 8.2 nm, 4 kts / h, 2:11 elapsed time

Quiet sail out the bay, past the cottage and in on Sunday evening.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Needle in a Haystack

Sail #14:  14/07/12 - 16.7 nm, 4 kts / h, 3:56 elapsed time

We've been talking about fixing up the moorings at Saddle Island for 2 years now, but the club members finally got serious this year and made a heroic effort to first of all find the moorings and secondly, attach new moorings lines to it.  Turns out finding moorings after several years of not being used was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Several of us on calm days trolled the water off Saddle in our tenders looking for the moorings and one member spent hours in the water with scuba gear, without success.

Mike Hoyt, always being inventive, decided to drag my grapnel anchor back and forth across the bottom off the back of Exploits.  Ok, so this didn't seem like such a crazy idea at the time.   However, as one can expect, and anchor is intended to secure a boat and prevent it from drifting, which is exactly what happened when it caught a rock.  I was worried Mike was going to be hauled off the stern hanging onto a anchor rode.  Explain that to the Coast Guard!

We made a couple of exciting, yet unsuccessful passes and so we decided to all it quits.

It wasn't a great sailboat day, but it was great to have Mike and Heather aboard Exploits.  They are both extremely knowledgeable sailors and we always manage to pick up a tip or two every time we're out with them.  We also enjoyed hosting them back at the cottage for the evening.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Race #2

Sail #13:  DNF and almost DN Start!

It's ironic that this was our 13th sail of the season given the bad luck we had on this night.

The Spinnaker must have caught on the snap shackle on the end of our jib halyard and accidentally opened it, because when we unfurled the jib, it gracefully drop off the furler into the water.  BHYC is however the friendly yacht club, so my fellow racers delayed the start while we scrambled to get the jib back on the furler.

Unfortunately there was absolutely no wind and so the race out to Jollimores and back was a challenge.  We misjudged the turning mark and the tide carried past on the wrong side of the mark.  Making the mark was now virtually impossible, or at the very best, we won't be able to finish the race in any reasonable amount of time.

We opted to drop the sails and remove ourselves from the race, a decision that could possibly hurt us in the series standings given our first place finish in the first race.  Gaila sailed the race as well as possible, taking advantage of what little shore breeze there was.  To add insult to injury however, Between the Sheets, finished third, despite the fact that Skipper Norman fished the entire race!

This definitely was not our night.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Marshville Cruise

Sail #12:  08/07/12 - 20.1 nm, 4 kts / h, 5:20 elapsed time

Sunday was a beautiful day, altho we could have certainly taken a bit more wind.  Jude and I decided to take a long leisurely sail out past Jollimores Reef and across to Marshville where my Aunt Janice has a cottage.  The Brule Point Party Barge was motoring around Brule Harbour and likely enjoyed the calm waters more than we did.

We managed to get down to Marshville (Little Truro) but opted to motor sail back since the tide was pushing us off course in light winds.  Once we got back into Tatamagouche Bay the winds seemed to pick up a bit and we noticed Fly-Bye-Wire were flying their cruising spinnaker.

Our spinnaker is affectionately known as the "divorce papers", since it seems to create undue stress every time we try to fly it.  However, it seemed like the perfect day to practice, so we decided to fly it on the run back to BHYC.  Without incident I might add.  Or so we thought.

It seemed to be caught on something and so it was a little difficult to get down, however we didn't give it another thought.  The next Wednesday night race would prove to interesting indeed!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Race #2

Sail #11:  07/07/12 - 7.1 nm, 5 kts / h, 1:30:52 elapsed time

Redwings finish first and second with a Redline (our little cousin) finishing third.  Lots of battling throughout the race and very exciting right down to the finish.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sunday with the Sanford Sisters

Sail #10:  02/07/12 - 14.7 nm

Rebecca, one of Allison former running team mates from MUN, her boyfriend and sister joined us for a relaxing sail around the bay.  It wasn't a great day for sailing but we did enjoy some great weather and good conversation and some beautiful scenery, including a bunch of seals enjoying the sun at the reef off Jollimores.

Sanford sisters

Exploits anchored off the cottage

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day,eh

Sail #9:  01/07/12 - 14.4 nm

Light winds and warm temperatures...oh and a cottage full of university students...could only mean one thing...Saddle Island!  We reunited with Fly-Bye-Wire and Torch who we spent last year's Canada Day with at Saddle Island.  We arrived back to a beach fire at BHYC and a spectacular fireworks show.