Tag: Yellow Flag

Just informal instruction

Spacing out my sailing days, and trying to pick green-flag days that won’t tax me too much, I picked this Monday.  If I remember, flag was green when I arrived at the dock after work but went yellow just as I was ready to go out.  Also just as I was walking to the dock house to check out a boat, they called on the PA for someone to give informal instruction.  Perfect.

Thomas had just got his green rating and was eager to learn what he needed for yellow.  The just-yellow wind today promised to be good for that.  We rigged mainsail-only for the experience he would need for his yellow test.  Unlike last Thursday with Allison, I loaded Thomas with many tips on sailing, details of going through maneuvers, and theory.  For feel, I tried to get him to sense the extra pull that comes when flow attaches to the sail, and I pointed out the times the boat slowed when the flow detached. He was eating it up and wanting more.

“How many more times will I have to sail before I take my yellow test?”  “Mmm, twice,” I boldly answered.  You need to go out with another person to get tips from them.  With informal instruction, you’ll get different advice from everyone.  Another person will tell you totally different things than what I’ve told you today.  You’ll have to figure out what works for you.  Then at least one day you’ll want to practice on the test course by yourself…

He didn’t know about the test course so I described it, and urged him to sail us from mid-river where we had spent most of the afternoon to closer to the dock to see if there was a test course set up.  No, there wasn’t.  Several racing programs, including a big youth regatta, were going on at the same time and all CBI buoys were incorporated into race courses.  No matter, there were two pink buoys, probably set as a starting line or leeward gate (although now badly skewed) that were relatively unattended.  “Here, I’ll show you” and I took the tiller to show how he would have to sail around buoys for the yellow test.  I talked through windward and leeward mark roundings, tacks and jibes between the marks and staying close to the course.  I didn’t mean to impress him but he was blown away.  “Wow, you had the boat going so much faster than I ever did!  How did you do that?  Is the wind stronger now?”  Huh.  I don’t know.  To not take credit for sailing better, I agreed the wind was up.  The wind was up slightly, but not a lot.  It’s possible that the quick succession of maneuvers just seemed exciting, or stirred up more bow noise.  It’s also possible that a big difference was my boat handling that maintained speed through the maneuvers.  (He, for example, didn’t have Allison’s Hobie-Cat sense of maintaining speed.)

Anyway, the sun was getting low, I had packed his head with far more information than he would be able to remember, and at the end there, had given him a boat handling goal to work toward for his yellow test.  We headed in.



Mainsail only

Forecast was for unseasonable warmth and wind was up.  It was red flag all day and I was hoping for some of it for an after-work sail.  Delays on the train ride there though got me to the dock late and in a quiet mood.  I took out a Mercury alone with just a mainsail as the flag was going to yellow for one lap up to the bridge and back.  There were a number of reddish gusts left though and it felt nice.

It was interesting that the air felt hot from the sidewalk, but much cooler from the sidewalk.  The still-cool river was providing air-conditioning.

Dark Green

It was another Stacy Saturday.  Actually it was also a CBI Open House day but it was cool cloudy and there were more than enough staff and volunteers on hand for the open house.  Stacy and I went for a day sail on an Ideal.  Flag was yellow but sailing was easy.  Later in the afternoon they dropped it to green for a while.  I tried having Stacy shoot video handheld but that didn’t work out so well and I don’t think we got anything worth posting.  If shooting video from a sailboat wasn’t crazy enough, I also tried chasing one of the Firefly races.  I stayed to the right of them at what seemed a safe distance although I was often between them and the coach boat.  I maneuvered more like the media boat on the TP52 Super Series than the camera cat at the Sydney Harbor 18 footer series.  I think I did okay, the coach paid no attention to me and none of the sailors seemed concerned.  It was fun.  The ideal had enough speed that I could fall a little behind the fleet to stay out of their way, then accelerate back up to the front to watch a mark rounding.

Thursday Women’s Racing

My first WR of the year!  I skipped last week as I wasn’t feeling well and the weather was unpleasant.  Today was great.  Flag was yellow, wind was gusty and shifting between SW and S.  Six of us showed up to race in keel Mercuries.  Pam and I were going to sail together but then we had two people relatively new that kind of needed to be paired with someone more experienced.  I sailed with Annie.

The first race was comical as I mistook the pin for the leeward mark, rounded it and crossed in front of Pam and Trina, mystified at my strategy but happy to take the lead and go on to win the race.

The right side seemed to work best upwind.  Once I tried the left and then met disaster tacking inside the zone.  I didn’t have the boat speed on the left to win the mark easily.  Pam was calling starboard on me and I decided to duck and then cross Molly.  I tacked, but before I could accelerate enough Molly pushed her bow above my stern and then had to luff above close-hauled.  I did two circles.  Recently I’ve been rewatching the 2017 TP52 Super Series on youtube and that move totally would have worked in the TP52s.  Not in Cape Code Mercuries though.  I needed to sail just a tiny bit farther before tacking to ensure that Molly would stay below me.

Annie had experience in college sailing but had typically crewed rather than skippered.  She was interested in skippering but the gusty wind today was intimidating and I ended up skippering all races.  As soon as racing was over though, she took the tiller and we had a nice practice.

Update:  video!

Ideal Shakedown

Stacy and I got to the dock 11ish, about as early as we could manage on a Saturday, to take advantage of wind forecast to be a little better earlier in the day before calming down in the afternoon. Flag was yellow when we arrived with wind W 8 mph with nice long gusts over 20. It was those gusts that were forecast to fade by 1 pm or so.  Air temp was 40, forecast to rise only a bit under mostly cloudy sky.  And yes, I took the camera and put it Stacy’s hands!

Yellow Flag

Stacy pleaded for a boat with a keel after I had subjected her to a centerboard Mercury last week. We took an Ideal 18, her favorite last year. I’m not sure this Ideal had even been sailed this year as a number of lines were unrigged. I organized things to my satisfaction and we were out the cut.

Traffic on the river was pretty light, there was mainsail class with a sole boat, the odd Duck boat, a small fleet of MIT Fireflys out, and then some crew shells that demanded the closest lookout.  The race coach hailed us to point out yellow marks on the Mass Ave bridge that marked the racing lanes.  I’m sorry I didn’t think to take a photo of them because it took us a few minutes to locate them.  They are vertical yellow stripes way up on the pedestrian railing on top of the bridge.  Good information to know, that if you see the shells speeding up river toward you, you can check the lane marks on the bridge and make your best guess about dodging out of their way.

After one lap up to the Mass Ave bridge and back, we went through a tack and found the jib clew luffing freely in the wind.  Oh, no, not again, I thought, remembering last year the time the jib came lose from the traveler.  The traveler looked okay this time though, it looked like a problem with the clew shackle.  I put the boat in safety position and turned over the helm so I could investigate more.  The shackle had come open and was bent but didn’t seem actually broken.  Back to the helm for a tack away from the island, safety position on port now, helm back to Stacy, and forward again to attempt to fix things.  I was able to straighten the bent shackle with my fingers.  By now we had caught the eye of the dock staff and they were out in a skiff to help.  They stabilized us a bit and I managed to corral the jib and reattach it.  All was good.

Stacy was insisting she was good for another lap up the river and back even though she was getting a bit cold.  We went, she got colder.  This time as we got back downriver, some Tiller Club racers were coming out in Sonars to practice for match racing tomorrow.  They looked great, maneuvering close to each other and sailing well.

Two more random pics:

More notes, added the next day:

This was Ideal hull 2, sail 13.  I want to do a better job this year of recording hull and sail numbers.  Enough data would start to be useful.  Other than the jib clew shackle problem, the boat sailed well.  Completing the rigging before going out, the reefing line had a little… hernia?  You know, where the rope core pushes out through the braid?  With a hard pull, I pulled it past the shiv at the end of the boom and it seems like it should be okay there.  The jib on this boat looked new.  It doesn’t have a window in it, which frustrated Stacy a bit.  I would ask her about traffic and she would have trouble checking.

New for me today was new contact lenses.  I said all last year that I was going to get contacts and I never did.  It was great to have them today.  I also had sunglasses with me, but didn’t wear them.  It was cloudy, early in the season, and I was only going to be out for a little while, and anyway, I sailed all last year and other years wearing only clear prescription glasses.  Mistake.  Today my eyes are tired.  Lesson: always wear sunglasses.

First Sail, 2018

First day of sailing for the season.  CBI opened a few days early!

I started this journal a year ago but for me anyway, sailing seasons are separated with a long winter so its making sense at the moment to archive 2017 and start the 2018 journal clean.  The 2017 posts are at https://soniasailing2017.wordpress.com now.  WordPress.com has a pretty good feature for moving content, but unfortunately, the theme and settings were not preserved.  I may try to improve it up a bit or I may just leave it.

Sailing again felt good!  I got to the dock with Stacy a little after 5:00.  Stacy was remembering jumping straight on to a boat and sailing, but I was giving her an estimate of an hour before we would be sailing.  It took a little time to renew the membership, move back in to the seasonal locker, and otherwise get all ready for sailing, trying to be extra careful to remember all the little things that have to be done.  A little before six we were rigging a centerboard Mercury and soon joining the Friday Informal Racing underway, with a good fleet, largely of Tiller Club racers.

Flag was yellow under heavy overcast sky, surface air temp 54F.  Wind was NNW at around 6 kts in the lulls and 12-15 kts in the very distinct gusts.  I hadn’t looked at the weather much beforehand but arriving at the river, I looked at the water and said to Stacy, “Oh, this is a tough wind direction…”  The wind comes through the buildings of MIT quite shadowed, and as it attempts to reconnect over the water, there are these big changes in wind speed and direction both.

My race performance was unimpressive against this competition.  I sailed just one race (which was my plan) and finished last.  The prestart seemed to be going okay but I badly misjudged how slowly Mercs accelerate.  I’ve been watching all this high performance sailing on the internet where boats wait just behind the line until the last few seconds (literally!) then sheet on and leap across the line at full speed.  The boat end didn’t seem terribly crowded so I maneuvered to a couple of boat lengths behind it with 30 seconds to go and told Stacy “at 20 seconds, we’ll pull in the sails and start racing.”  Beep, beep.  “We’re racing!” I said.  We trimmed the sails — and sat there — for the 20 seconds it took the boat to start moving.  As the start signal sounded we were moving, but still two boat lengths back.  A sad second tier with little company as most of the fleet was on the line of course.

I hung on their heels but didn’t make any progress through the fleet.  Excuses:  1.  I wasn’t watching the wind hardly at all.  A fatal failing in this wind.  I was paying more attention to delivering a smooth and easy boat ride for Stacy.  Her body doesn’t fit well in the little Mercs, and especially not the centerboard Mercs.  I think I maybe only subjected her to the centerboard Merc once last year.   Excuse 2:  I didn’t always make Stacy trim the jib as well as it could have been.  Oh, I told her to do plenty with it, but I let lots of stuff go rather than give her continuous direction.  Excuse 3:  The sail was way too flat.  I tried easing the outhaul to the limit of they way I had tied it with a taut-line hitch, but that wasn’t nearly enough.  It was still too flat most of the time.  Once the boat got up to speed, and especially in gusts, it was fine, but it didn’t have enough pocket to accelerate well when we needed it, for example after our non-roll tacks.

My plan, with just one hour to sail before sunset, was to race one race, then daysail, or, evening sail.  As RC went into sequence for the next start, I headed up river and asked Stacy how much time we had.  25 minutes.  The plan was to sail 10 minutes, turn around and head back.  Close timing, but it was close reach toward the Mass Ave bridge and then broad reach back.  If the wind held, it should be doable.  Under the overcast sky, it seemed likely.  I don’t know exactly but I think we arrived at the dock somewhere very close to the posted time of sunset so we weren’t getting scolded.  We were however the last boat back.

In spite of a last place finish, a sloppy jibe at one point, being last boat in, and an inexcusably hard docking, sailing felt good and went well.  The worst came later that night as my hands and fingers cramped badly, being five months out of shape for holding the mainsheet.

Day over, first sail 2018

Last year on my first post I included two nice pics, one from the dock at sunset and one of last boat in.  This year I had Stacy snap this pic from the dock with her (very primitive) cell phone.  I couldn’t get that pic of the last boat in though, because we were that boat!