If you missed the post about our first day of sailing lessons: Learning to sail weekend… Friday
Despite being exhausted from the day before, Shelly and I woke a little early and headed to the marina after a delicious breakfast of Bonnie’s famous french toast. We walked the docks for about 20 minutes and came across this gal. I’m not sure what the skeleton in the rigging is for (maybe to keep the birds off the deck? or just a joke?) but she was a beautiful boat and very well taken care of.
We even came across a boat that was “home ported” (the city and state listed on the back of a boat just under the boat’s name) from our hometown of Birmingham.
We also came across a beautiful Beneteau Oceanis 45 on another fairway. The guy that came up from below was pretty grumpy, but the young lady who emerged from the companionway was super friendly and full of smiles. I’d be giddy too if I were taking out this $400K, transom dropping gal! We’ve seen lots of interior shots of the Oceanis in our boat searches and I have to tell you, no matter what people’s opinions are about Beneteau, those people DO know how to build a beautiful boat!!
In the classroom, we found John hunched over his laptop and staring at the weather radar. His smile told me we were going sailing that morning. A smile crept across my face, too!
Again, Kathy helped us rig the boat for departure (attaching the halyards, un-bagging the jib sail, engine prep and testing, and so on). When John stepped aboard he asked Shelly to take the helm today first, since I took us out of the marina the day before, and asked me to hang out on the bow as our lookout — someone has to be at the front of the boat as we round the fairway corners since the person at the helm, in the back, can’t really see what’s crossing the lane until it’s too late. And I have to say that my beautiful bride did fantastic on her first time using an outboard engine. She effortlessly motored us around the barrier walls and out of the marina like we were gliding smoothly on a calm pond. It’s no small feat either using that clumsy tiller — for those who’ve used one, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Once out in the open, John had me raise the main and jib sails while Shelly kept us pointed into the wind — so the boom wouldn’t swing around and knock me off the boat — and though we had very light wind that morning (no more than 3-4 knots) the little Capri moved quite nicely through the calm water.
It was so calm at times that John and I got into a game of “lasso the wench” while Shelly ran through her points of sail drill. She had us on a nice close reach into the wind here.
Above, we are taking a break and having some laughs while “hove to”. It’s a technique John taught us that has always confused me — until we actually did it. The simple explanation is that you just put the boat in “park” on the ocean. The reality is that it’s not that simple. To successfully do it you have to ease the boat across the wind direction while letting out the line on the boom and keeping your steerage pointed towards the tip of the boom until the wind pressure is off the mainsail and on the jib sail. The rudder is angled in a way that the force of the water on the rudder balances out the wind force on the forward jib. The result is that the boat stays stable and slowly drifts away from the wind and you can take a break from the work of sailing and go below to cook dinner, get a drink, or whatever.
After our break, John walked us through reefing drills — dropping the main sail a little, hooking in the first reef, and re-tying the out-haul line at the end of the boom. For those who don’t know (which included us until we took this class) reefing the sails is just a fancy term for bringing the sails down some, shortening them, so that in higher winds there is less surface area for the wind to grab. Reefing is something you would do in storms or when the wind is blowing 20+ knots — like the next day, Sunday. And just as a little teaser for the next post… Sunday’s winds were insane! The seas were like riding a rollercoaster and we seriously almost lost the little boat TWICE!
But today’s winds were light and calm, thankfully! Because the other option was a massive thunderstorm system that had been threatening to come into the Bay from the southwest all morning. Kathy had been keeping an eye on the radar all day and had her phone beside her and ready to call us in if it started turning north, but it never did.
Note to self: Put on sunscreen even when you think you’ll only be out on the water for an hour. (insert “moron” comment here.)
Second note to self: Check the expiration date on said sunscreen. DOH!
Yeah, we didn’t and ended up looking like lobsters.
With the day winding down, John had Shelly crank up the little outboard so we could head in. Just look at those muscles!!
Shelly kept us pointed into the wind while John helped me take the mainsail down.
Yeah, she’s so good at the helm now she doesn’t even worry about hitting that multi-million dollar cruiser on the starboard side (the one that takes $25,000 to fill the fuel tanks).
At the dock, Kathy and crew were waiting on us to help dock the boat. Above, Kathy (on the far left) is waiting with the stern line while I was up front cleating the bow line.
And with our full day of sailing instruction over, Kathy took us back into the classroom for a short review of what we learned. It was amazing to be out at sea all day and finally have actions and “doing” associated with what we had been reading about. You can only learn so much from reading, but until you do it you never really fully understand. It really drove home all the classroom work we had the day before.
That night we went out for dinner and drinks with friends, Annie and Phillip, of HaveWindWillTravel.com and heard all about their refit of “Plaintiff’s Rest”. I can’t imagine how much of a challenge it’s been for them to pull their mast, have the rigging and supporting stringers replaced, but she’s going to be a better-than-ever boat when they’re finished.
At Phillip’s suggestion we tried the “seafood corndog”. My first thought was WTF? But the shrimp and grouper filled deep-fried goodness wrapped in a cornbread shell was heaven! We told them about our day sailing (while Annie was probably secretly laughing at my sunburned face and thinking “newbie!”), drank margaritas and Julep cocktails, and talked sailing.
I have to say that the food at The Union Public House was fantastic! The story is that a local top rated chef and a creative genius bartender got together and opened the place up. They have such a unique menu that at first glance I was thinking what in the world?, at things like the scallop and shrimp pot pie, but Shelly ordered it and it was seriously delicious!!
And at the end of the great evening, we hugged Annie and Phillip goodbye (sadly, none of us thought of snapping a few pics) and headed back to the BnB where we showered, coated ourselves with Aloe, and flopped face first into the soft pillows.
The next day would be our “sea trials” test and written test — something we were both nervous about — but little did we know the weather would be the absolute worst conditions we had ever sailed in. EVER!
Sailing Into The Blue
Lance & Shelly