Sunday, October 14, 2007

Really sailing a boat, some...

I sacrificed my “Honda Racing” hat to baby Neptune today. It blew off when I looked up check the trim on the genoa. Up to then I hadn’t actually seen a lot of wind on a sailboat, so I slow in making a grab for it. We did try to use it as the victim for an impromptu “man overboard” drill, but by the time we got the boat turned around the hat had drowned and apparently sunk to the bottom. As it turns out maybe baby Neptune likes hats (Baby Neptune is the youngest child of a distant cousin to King Neptune, the god of ocean fame.) because, for the next hour or so anyway, the wind blew at better then 10 kts. We got the Catalina 309 (the same boat we were on before) heeled over enough to get the leeward ports buried in the water for short moments. We even reefed the genoa a little. Now that was some fun.

But sadly enough it was an old hat and baby Neptune must have gotten tired of it. By mid-afternoon the wind had faded. Though we tried to sail home for a while “wing-on-wing” with the light puffs of wind behind us, eventually we admitted the obvious; that we weren’t actually going much of anywhere and all of us would be late for work the next morning if we didn’t fire up the “iron spinnaker.” (Otherwise known as the motor.)
We gained the dock among a small squadron of sailboats all put-putting home with sails stowed. But for a short time we were really sailing.

So now we have about 32 hours of time on the boat with another 8 or so hours of classroom time; for a total of about 40 hours. The same amount of time it takes to get a private pilot’s rating. Just like flying, I think I’ve learned enough about sailing to go out now and teach myself how to do it. And I hope I do a better job then some of the other classes who have used this boat have done. We got to the boat yesterday to find one of the stanchions broken off and a long, wide, unsightly scrape down the port side of the boat. It looks to me like someone dragged it along the dock and hooked the stanchion on something, though the story is someone broke it off trying to keep the boat off the dock.

There are two cables that run around the perimeter of the boat called “lifelines.” These lines are held up by little fence-post looking things called stanchions. The lifelines are actually no such a thing. They are more like a “remind you that you are about to fall off the boat” lines. I think their real purpose is to make sure that you hit the water headfirst if you actually do fall overboard, since they are set right about knee high. They look cool though, and if you get heeled over far enough you drag to bottoms of the stanchions in the water. But apparently you can’t push a boat around with a stanchion without breaking it off.

In addition to a broken stanchion, (one that held a pulley block for the rolling the jib by the way) the handle on the head door fell off during our day. This could have been a minor annoyance to anyone who pulled the door to latch behind them. The good news is that the head has an opening hatch, and we could have handed the handle into sailor trapped in the head. Anyway, the boat only lists for $100,000 or so, so what’s a broken stanchion here or a latch falling off there? If I had a ton of money I’d still buy the thing just to learn on. I would hope to get a little off the list price though.

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