Wind was forecast to be yellow with gusts to red and the flag turned out just like that. I took out a centerboard Merc mailsail only since I didn’t want to do all the work of the jib. I planned to focus on not over-exerting myself for the day. Cast off from the dock was actually a disaster. There was a little gust and I was letting the boom into the space of the next boat to let the sail luff. The dock staff started to push me out but of course the boom snagged in their rigging. I pulled it in and we retried. “Ready?” “yes” and they pushed me straight back again. The problem this time was that I wasn’t holding the tiller. The rudder went hard over the boat stopped and just blew up against that next boat over. I drifted back past their stern and tried to continue sailing backwards, but no, in a replay of the run-aground last week, the boat fell off and ran back into the dock. Bleh.
On the basin, there was a test course set up and I started sailing a quick lap. On my second lap I saw some other Mercuries converging on the course and a skiff nearby. I hailed the skiff, “Am I in the middle of a class?” “No, testing. You’re the cheat sheet!” It was funny but I sailed off to play around some other marks. Then a run down to Mass Ave bridge and the beat back. It was a nice sweet spot between going fast but not having to hike too hard or be overpowered.
I came in to rest, hang out on the dock a bit, and then go get some lunch. After lunch I finally decided to try one more sail, this time in a Laser. At the dockhouse the computer had somehow lost my red rating. Yes I am quite sure I got my Laser red last year. I remember my test well. But whatever, I’m dressed for the capsize so sure, I’ll take a yellow test. The test was uneventful. My only regret after the test was that I didn’t do some fun or spectacular wet capsize. A snap windward capsize on a run for example might be worth more spectator points than simply pulling in the sail at low speed stalled on beam reach.
After the test, one lap down to the Mass Ave bridge and back. I tried my kinetic rolling and pumping technique that worked so well last time I sailed a Laser but didn’t have as much success with it. Conditions were near planing without any kinetics so rolling the boat would sometimes roll it off the plane, being counterproductive. Some other technique must be better. I didn’t have the time to experiment.
On the beat back, in contrast to the Mercury sailing, I was overpowered and had to luff quite a bit of the sail. I was overpowered sitting on the rail and not hiking very hard, that is. I was wary of hurting myself like I did last time I sailed the Laser. Anyway, it was fun, and in the end I didn’t hurt myself too much.
Not feeling well I’d been away from sailing for while more. Forecast for Saturday was perfectly pleasant. Forecast for Sunday was hot and windy. I elected to sail Saturday and skip Sunday. As I often do, I first asked at the dockhouse if anyone was waiting for instruction. No one was so I took the day for myself with a Laser. The Laser might be seen by some as physical or challenging but for me it’s like home. It’s similar in size to the Butterfly that I learned on as a teen and while a little faster and more responsive has a similar feel. My Sonar red test last year was hard. The problem was that I didn’t really have much time in the Sonar or even any similar boats. My closest experience of any significance was in the Rhodes 19s on harbor trips in the past, but really it wasn’t that much experience and anyway the Sonar is different enough, and the sailing different enough, that I’m not sure how well the experience translates. My Laser red test on the other hand was ridiculously easy. While I have very few hours in the Laser, it’s similar enough to the Butterfly that sailing it comes as second nature.
So the problem this day was that it was too nice. I sailed to the Mass Ave bridge once, then even though I was feeling some warning signs of pain, I set off to do it again. Half way there the pain was worse. This is just pain from using muscles that were very sadly out of shape. I continued. I was sad when I got to the bridge that I had to turn around. I sailed the length of my perimeter fence and headed back. Then on the way there was the test course. One quick circuit of the test course before I conceded and headed in.
The biggest lesson for the day was that rule 42 stinks. That’s the “propulsion” rule: “…only the wind and water…to propel the boat.” Recently I’d watched with amazement some Finn races under flag Oscar — which allows them to use “kinetics” to propel the boat, in variance of rule 42. Most interesting was the rocking and pumping downwind. I tried it. I had seen that while sailors would pump at different times, most would coordinate a pump with a roll to leeward. I found that without pumping, the sail tended to be strongly full on the roll to windward but would often go slack right when the boom was coming closest to the water. So, it’s pretty simple and easy to pull the sheet at that time to keep the sail full and re-ease it as the boat rolls back to windward. Wow that worked well. The boat was going nicely, then I stopped the kinetics and it was like sailing into a hole. Most surprising was that this particular technique didn’t take much extra strength or effort. It doesn’t take much effort to get the boat rolling. Then if the sheeting is done when the sail is nearly slack, that doesn’t take much strength. This is different than what you read on the internet. You read that it’s physical and requires strong athletes. Hmm, maybe some techniques are physical but this one isn’t. How does it work? All you read on the internet is that the sailors are “pumping” with their strength and “rowing” with the sail. I think something really different might be going on: the rolling is increasing apparent wind and the pumping is simply trimming to cycle of the apparent wind. Not too hard and very fun.
Oh, but just sailing I think was overexertion for me. I won’t detail it all but writing 24 hours later here I’m still in pain.
Weather: 82F, partly cloudy, Wind WSW (straight down the basin) at 10 gusting to 20 mph. This is by MIT data since the CBI weather station seems down. MIT gives speed in mph while CBI always said knots. Flag stayed yellow all day even though the wind picked up a little more later in the afternoon. MIT showed gust to 25 for a while but I might have been off the water by then. Either way the Laser was planing nicely off the wind in the stronger gusts. I had some great rides on beam reach.