Informal Instruction

April 11, 90F.  That’s right, look! it really happened, according to the CBI weather station, anyway.  Forecast as the day approached was upper 70’s, then mid 80’s, then look what happened.  Even better, while the forecast was sun, by 5:30 when I got to the dock, it was mostly overcast, so there was less glare, less risk of sunburn.  I put sunscreen on my face anyway, which has noticeably flushed with color lately, but left it off my pasty white shoulders.  Sailing stories to come, but first this photo from the pedestrian bridge as I walked from the Charles MGH T station:

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Routine Sailing Catastrophe

RSC stands for “Routine Sailing Catastrophe” or more importantly “Rudder, Sail, Centerboard.”   That’s the sequence to remember when you run aground!  You can see here that the sailors have dropped their sail.  Let’s hope they also pulled out the rudder and set it the bottom of the boat, and raised the centerboard.  An important observation though is “routine!”  The sailors are calm because here to rescue them are highly trained and experienced CBI staff Alex and Martin in a CBI launch.  Oh, I think there might be a report for the sailors to file when they arrive back at the dock, but their “RSC” should have prevented damage and kept this run-aground “routine.”

On the dock, I expected lots of new members eager to sail.  It was highly likely I would find someone interested in informal instruction.  That was kind of my plan.  The minute I waked in the door though, there were the racers.  “Sonia!  will you race with us?”  “Uh, well, I might… I don’t know…”  Omg, I might not have communicated yet how much I love racing and so how pulled I was, but my head was all set up for informal instruction.  I wanted to give it it first priority.  I walked straight to the dock house to ask (and share my photo with Alex.)  There weren’t actually any cards in the queue then, but by the time I was ready to sail, Alex had someone for me.  It was V.J., actually one of the students in Alex’s shore school I sat in on last week.

Yellow flag, and as you saw if you followed the link earlier, 8 kts, gusting to 20 from the south.  V.J. was great, I think he had a good time in spite of me leading us into a couple of very close calls.  I was explaining at one point how sailing is part intellectual — diagrams on the white board and sequences of steps — but part muscle memory — like most sports.  V.J. related immediately.  He is a musician, and said piano playing is just like that.  At some point your fingers just move on their own.

So, um, close calls, yeah.  It would have been so embarrassing to fill out a capsize report.  Worse, V.J. was wearing very nice leather shoes.  I think they got a little wet but hopefully weren’t ruined as they certainly would have been in a capsize.  He was also wearing prescription glasses, who knows, maybe as expensive as the shoes.  I tried to reinforce as a final lesson for the day the importance of a croakie ($5 at the front desk), and a change of clothes, just in case you end up sailing with a reckless instructor.

Technically, my mistakes were carelessness with weight placement.  You can only present or stress so many concepts on a first sail.  I didn’t put that much emphasis on weight because I’m heavy enough I can move my weight around and mostly control things and other concepts just seemed more important.  But then I can’t resist picking the biggest gusts to demonstrate a gybe, and V.J.’s on the wrong side of the boat because I haven’t bothered to remind him of what to do, and I have just b a r e l y enough weight to avoid disaster.

Another close call was docking.  I was letting him dock (how exciting, docking on your first sail!) because conditions were ideal for a first docking, but still his first approach was a little fast so I took the tiller to steer us around for another try.  Problem was, in snatching the tiller and main and having him scoot forward for a moment, the main had wrapped around the tiller and was fighting me to steer us into the island.  Fortunately I had just enough strength to pull against the main and not be that person in the photo at top.  Anyway, on the second try V.J. docked perfectly.  I hope he was excited as I was.

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