Tag: Run Aground

Sonar Lessons

First though, a link relevant to last week’s post, When to communicate… an article at Sailing World, describes the situation I discussed with a boat on starboard and multiple boats on port.  (See the section “crowded situations.”)

Now, the first Sonar lesson:  don’t run aground.  Oh, I did.  It was almost comical but still horribly embarrassing.  It happened leaving the mooring.  Green flag, wind was East at 1kt gusting to 6 by the CBI dock.  That means blowing somewhat toward the island from the mooring.  I was starting from a mooring ball closest to the island.  That means very little room to maneuver, little room for retries if thing go wrong.  …  Almost any accident has multiple factors that lead to it.  A factor here was that I didn’t take measures to ensure that I would get off the mooring as reliably as possible and not need that retry.  A typical mooring cast off involves planning which tack you want, and either waiting for the boat to be heading in the right direction or backing a sail to get the boat heading in the right direction.  I typically don’t bother.  I just have my crew cast off and then I sail from however the boat happens to be headed.  Bad plan here.  I had my crew cast us off.  We happened to be stationary, head to wind.  This didn’t concern me a bit.  Close as we were to the island, there was plenty of room to back up and fall off on port.  I did.  The sail filled, and then … the boat made leeway.  More leeway, it wouldn’t start making headway, and wouldn’t do anything except round back up to windward.  Now I was starting to get concerned.  There was still a little room behind me.  I could try again, but no, not enough was different.  I needed the jib, which was furled.  Becoming a bit frantic, I had Stacy unfurl it.  She held the jib sheet the only way she knew, which of course was not backed.  I was shouting by then for her to let go of it.  … You know, shouting just hardly ever works.  It was too late.  I felt the keel nestle gently against the island.  I listened, watched, and waited a few seconds to see if maybe the boat would rotate against the island or begin to drift off the end of the island, but no, the light and steady wind was holding the boat in place.  In resignation I refurled the jib and dropped the main half way to signal the dockstaff for help.

The next Sonar lesson was soon after we had been freed from island and had entered the basin.  The top batten was stuck on the backstay.  I had a terrible time freeing it.  In the first jibe, it stuck again.  The only thing I could think of that might help enough was lowering the mainsail a bit.  I had made sure when I rigged that I had the main hoisted to the top of the mast.  Now it seemed that full height was too much.  There were a few inches between the tack and the boom.  I eased the halyard those few inches and retightened the vang and cunningham.  Another jibe to see if it worked.  The batten stuck again but at least this time it took only a little push on the backstay to free it.  The “fix” seemed to be enough.

The air temperature was mid-70’s after a week of days near or over 90 and the day was wonderfully pleasant.  Our Sonar was in demand and we yielded it after an hour.  After rigging an Ideal 18 on a mooring, one in the middle of the mooring field this time, I wanted to try again at casting off in irons.  I failed!  I tried to have the Ideal 18 stationary and head to wind for the cast off, but I couldn’t hold it head to wind.  It fell off and began making headway immediately.  Experiment over, we just went sailing.  But was it just two random events or are the Sonar and the Ideal different in this way?  The Sonar jib is larger (relative to the main) than the Ideal.  So the jib of the Ideal may not make as much difference as it does on the Sonar.  That is, the Ideal may stay relatively well behaved without the jib, including naturally making headway under more conditions.  The Sonar may be more “crippled” without its jib, and may be more prone to making leeway, much as a Mercury is prone to making leeway under main only.  Just some ideas.  It will take more experience to confirm.

Anyway, we sailed a little more in the beautiful weather, without further incident.

 

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.