It was Elena’s birthday and she wanted to sail! We played hooky to skip out of work early and meet on the dock at 2:30. We took a spinnaker on an Ideal 18 with gorgeous, perfect weather. Blue sky, yellow flag, upper 60s, E wind 10 mph gusting to 16, and Elena had brought an internet radio for music! The goal was to enjoy the day and we sailed effortlessly, passing the tiller back and forth so that we didn’t have to change sides. With the great wind and a few hours before sunset we made a number of spinnaker runs down the length of the basin. I had positioned us right out in front of the dockhouse for a hoist when this happened:
I called it a 270 degree wind shift. Needless to say, the hoist didn’t go as planned. I turned the boat, trying to keep up with the shift, hoping it was a little eddy that would pass, as Elena dealt with the spinnaker continuing to back against the rigging, all to the delighted hoots of the spectators on the dock. We got it filled just as we were headed straight for the Longfellow bridge and had to douse right away.
By afternoon the Easterly sea breeze filled in nicely. Wind was light before that, but at least 5 mph with gusts to 15 from the East although the flag stayed green. Sonars were all taken so Stacy and I took an Ideal 18 with a spinnaker. Stacy’s been on the boat enough this summer that I kind of gave her the tiller without thinking, ordering “here, you sail” while I played with the spinnaker.
The first hoist went badly as I had not double checked that the halyard was rigged clear of everything else. The sail went up halfway and then stopped much to the amusement of Elena, on another boat, probably with UAP crew. She hooted and hollered as I brought it back down, detangled, and rehoisted. I hailed “love you!” back to her and Stacy and I sailed off, now with the spin nicely set.
We got in I think about 2 1/2 nice runs down the length of the basin, with a number of jibes thrown in for practice. One jibe didn’t go well, with the sail tangling around the forestay. Here I had to grab the tiller back from Stacy to expedite a jibe back to get it untangled. I was describing it later to Justin and he suggested jibing with both twings on to keep the sail a little more in control. I’ll have to experiment with that another day.
Well, not so much, really. Hurricane Jose was forecast to start bringing wind and rain for WR practice today but conditions on the Charles turned out dry and light-yellow flag. Just a few of us showed up for practice. Abigail took the opportunity to take a yellow test, then when someone else was looking for crew for an Ideal-18 yellow test, we all changed plans to help out. Three of us, me, Trina, and Elena piled on board to help Art with his test.
Before going out, Art was asking — somewhat jokingly, but slightly nervously — what was the most common reason to fail a test. I don’t think he got a serious answer from us, but from the test. Ideal 18s are pretty easy to sail. By the time one is taking the test, tacking and jibing around the test course are not likely to be a problem. The trickiest part turns out to be bringing the boat to a stop, for both the man-overboard drill and the mooring pick-up. The Ideal 18 really likes to go. With just the littlest bit of sail not luffing it scoots forward. And then once in motion, it likes to keep going. It has that keel, but then, well, we had quite a bit of crew weight on board.
Anyway, that’s the hard part. I guess my recommendation for people practicing for their keel boat yellow is to really work hard on coming to a stop. Practice man-overboard a lot, practice stopping head to wind at buoy a lot. And if you can, practice with different total crew weights and see if you need to compensate for the difference in momentum.
Oh, and after testing the four of us went back out for a spinnaker run!
I’ll go with MIT’s wind record: NE 4 mph gusting to 12.
National Weather Service forecast was for a little transition to pass over around 1pm, where the wind would drop and then come in from a new directions. Good times for sailing looked like either morning before the transition or afternoon after it. Well, Saturday morning was lost to waffles so we went for afternoon. Here’s how it went,
We got on the water sometime before 3, I think, under green flag obviously, me and Stacy on an Ideal 18 with a spinnaker. Although wind was light, this was a little bit of a new challenge as I don’t think we had flown a spin on an Ideal before. We had a couple of okay runs. The biggest problem was that at times the wind was too light to lift the sheets and the spinnaker would just hang without inflating. Other times though it went well and was fun. Someone took a photo of our pretty sail. Still, it’s kind of work to go through all the steps and puzzles of a spinnaker and after two runs we were done. We derigged it, just as the wind came up, of course. That’s okay. Green flag spinnaker practice might still be best at this point.
The racing program on Wednesdays at CBI invites both regular members and UAP (Universal Access Program) members. I did a number of these Wednesdays last year but this was my first Wednesday this year. Attendance was never large last year but there were only two others today besides me. David, whom I sailed with last year, assured me that the program was healthy, that this was unusually light attendance, possibly because of the coming Labor Day weekend.
We took out two Ideal 18’s, with me and John on one boat, David and dock staff Kathleen on the other, and Elena running RC for us. Wind was easy green flag, S, 2 kts gusts to 7, and dying. Races were won mostly with boat handling, but some with luck of getting wind. A fun element is that the blind racers, in four Sonars, were sharing our course. Credit goes to our RC for timing our starts to mostly keep us out of of each other’s way, although we were often very close. The blind fleet races at a pretty high level — far above us — so I really enjoyed having a front row seat as a spectator.
Last year I took the three-part series of “Learn to Race” classes. While I learned race decades ago, I had no one to teach me. I learned to sail and to race just by doing. I really appreciate now having some more formal instruction. To follow up the classes, there was a series of on-water racing clinics, but I didn’t have the chance to do these last year. There was a clinic scheduled today though and I just showed up and asked if I could join. Also there was Trina, and having sailed together a few times recently it was natural that we sailed in a boat together for the clinic. We traded off rolls as usual and had a great time.
Wind was red flag but just barely. 8 kts gusting to 16 from the west for a while, but dropping somewhate part way through the clinic. We sailed a centerboard Mercury and had no problems with the wind strength.
We practiced, we debriefed, and then Stacy met me for a quick sail in an Ideal 18. She is now hooked on red flag sailing but sadly the flag had gone to yellow. Here’s a pic from the Longfellow on our way to Mead Hall after sailing.
Two sails in one day. First a little day sail with Stacy and Jessica. Stacy has grown fond of the Ideal 18. It’s easy and comfortable and spirited. Wind was 3 kts gusting to 8, shifting between south and east, but it was cloudy. The primary effect of clouds at CBI, strange as it seems, is that not many members come and sail. Other than the well attended CBI 420 regatta going on, traffic on the water was light. We had a nice little sail but I dropped them at the dock because I had other plans for the afternoon, an advanced Sonar class.
Only two people were signed up in advance for the class. When I signed up at the desk, I made three. Then one person dropped out and Max had just two of us. It was pretty nice really to have an instructor all to ourselves on a boat for an hour or so. Max talked fast and we listened eagerly trying to soak up as many ideas as we could about rigging, sail trim, and all the controls on the Sonar. Then we got right into spinnaker practice, again nice to have this extra instruction beyond what is taught in the regular keelboat class.
One little point that clicked with me for the first time was a neat effect of the guy hook (or twing on other boats.) A problem I had seen a number of times was the spinnaker pole riding back down the guy, away from the spinnaker tack. Putting the guy on the hook fixes this problem! The downward pull on the guy immediately drives the pole forward against the tack. A silly little thing maybe, but I never really understood it before.