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Coming home

Paperwork done – she’s mine now. Time to get her to home port at Bodkin Yacht Club. Dean, the buyer of my previous boat Valinor II, volunteered to help with the delivery. We picked a favorable south wind day with lots of sunshine.

I previously completed all the setup of dock lines in the new slip and arranged them to ease the arrival. The slip is outside facing the creek making for a simple entry.

The sail up the Bay from below the Bay bridge at Annapolis met with varied wind conditions. The course was mostly straight north.

The Departure from the West River all the way up to the Bay bridge met with steady south wind around 5kts, so a motor sail trip. With engine and some wind assist, we made about 6kts over ground even with a slight outgoing tide. (Note: the plan was for a motor sail regardless of wind to test out the engine)

North of the bridge the wind picked to 10-18kts. That provided a good chance to take her off the downwind course and try out a fun beam reach … and fun it was. She sailed well and solid with moderate heel.

At the entrance to Bodkin Creek, we dropped sails and headed in through a narrow entry channel seeing a bit less than 6ft depth for our 4.5ft draft. Once through the entrance, it was an easy run up the creek to the Club and her home slip.  A few members on hand helped with lines and she was secured quickly — time for a beverage – or two – to celebrate!

Persistence Pays

That’s what I said in my last post, and for once I was right.  Success was achieved by following all reasonable sources in the yacht brokerage world on a daily basis. For some reason, the inventory of used boats is very low at this time. I speculate that, as we came to end of the covid ‘lock down’, folks decided the future was less certain and it was time to enjoy the present. Good decision to my way of thinking.

So, a new to me boat joins my list of things to enjoy NOW.   She’s a 1989 Hunter 33.5.   She’s exceptionally well equipped both for sailing capability and cruising comfort.  The short list of projects mostly revolve around detail cleaning and organizing while I learn a new boat – always an adventure.

Part of the transition process involves renaming, which means deciding on a name. Previous boats were Valinor and Valinor II – the name derived from Lord of the Rings in which Valinor was the undying lands to which the heros went at the end of the tale. Valinor III was an option but passed on as I didn’t want confusion with Valinor II now owned by a nearby sailing friend.  To stay in the same imaginative world, I picked ‘Mischief’.  For those that know the tale, you will recognize the ‘Mischief Managed’ quote which, when spoken, would instantly hide the printing on the Marauder’s Map. I will be very careful to avoid that with respect to nautical charts…….  There will, of course, be an appropriate renaming ceremony to avoid Poseidon’s wrath with all the right words and beverage(s).

So, for all those in the Chesapeake Bay area – look (out) for Mischief (the boat that is) on the water soon.

Back in the market

Well, I’ve been there more than once. It can be a confusing place, not to mention frustrating. Yacht World, Boat Trader and assorted other sources all offer the means to sort for just what you want – in the hope that there are several good choices, and all within an easy drive to see. Then the probability is that the perfect boat is at the other end of the Country, if in the home Country at all……

So, I’m in that search stage. Have already looked at several boats that by description and pictures promised to be a near perfect match.  Therein lies the frustration part. Learning to read between the lines (lies sometime) is critical to avoiding a lot of wasted time. Granted, older boats are not going to be showroom perfect. Adjusting expectations to reality needs to be done early in the game.

Somewhere out there, within a day’s drive to see, is my boat. Actually, the one I sold a couple years ago meets the criteria.   Sadly, he won’t sell it back……

Fortunately, I also have friends in the business who are keeping an eye out for my boat, and providing good critique on some I’ve considered. It helps to have friends.

Persistence pays, or will at some point, and I’ll continue to search enjoying as best I can the process.

Being mostly optimistic about life in general, I’m hopeful that finding and acquiring my boat will precede the arrival of winterizing. There’s still plenty of good sailing weather here in the Chesapeake until early December, or later, depending on just how hardy you are.

So look for me sometime soon out on the water. Meanwhile, I will be enjoying the search and spending time with other sailors at my new boat home at Bodkin Yacht Club and crewing with a fun bunch for Wednesday night races.

Back on the water

Well, it’s been a few years but it all comes back quickly – except I never was a racer. This past Wednesday evening was only my second sailboat race. The first was several years ago for fun in my then Catalina 30. This time I have the good fortune to be invited to crew on a similar boat, but rigged out for class racing. Even got to fly a spinnaker! Proud to report, we came in first — (full disclosure, we were the only boat in our class). I’ve signed up for the season of Wednesday night races to the extent I can manage. Looking forward to sailing with a good crew and some fun time on the water. Pix follow……

Circling for the start
Good crew, good boat

Changes

Life is a moving target. To live fully, one must constantly be adjusting their aim. Practice helps, but perfect aim, if achievable at all, comes late.   I would never describe my life as uneventful or mundane. The watchword has been constant change, some minor and happening slowly, others fast and substantial. In any event, it has been an interesting ride – so far.

The latest significant change is my decision to sell Valinor II. That means taking off the skipper’s hat, but perhaps finding an occasional crew spot. My sailing career has been long and varied. I’ve first and foremost met and made good friends on the water throughout my travels. I’ve seen a lot of coastal US (east side), and spent many wonderful days exploring the remarkable Chesapeake Bay. It’s been a good run, and the destination has always been Valinor.

I trust there’s time for more adventures of some kind, and will share as they materialize …..

 

‘Hindsight is 2020’ they say … (This is NOT a political post)

 

We should soon put 2020 in the history book and find our way out of what has been an especially challenging year on so many fronts.

In part, because of the virus and some pretty inconvenient weather systems, this has also been a very challenging sailing season. Add to that some ongoing repair/improvement efforts on a newly acquired boat (late 2019). My enrollment in Spinsheet’s Century Club challenge proved overly optimistic. Not nearly as much time was spent on the water as planned. Even so, I managed to break the 50 day mark …..

First, early in the season I moved the boat to a new location at Maryland Yacht Club on the Patapsco River. It was a friendly and well-equipped site with a very generous sized slip and good marina neighbors.

On the down side, it was a solid 4+ hours sailing time to the Annapolis area where many friends are based and closer to my very familiar cruising waters. On the up side, it gave me opportunities to try my hand at some fun racing. Even a grand-daughter got a chance for some racing lessons at the helm of a friend’s boat.

One such race was cut short abruptly by a broken steering cable – right at the start line. It offered a little excitement and an opportunity to test out the boat’s emergency tiller system.

This new interest in racing led me to enter a novel Annapolis-based event, the ‘2 Bridges Fiasco’. This was the first year for this race which was patterned after a regular San Francisco event. It was perhaps the highlight of the season. We had good winds,10-20 mostly, and I scored an assist from very experienced crew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That experience paid off given the 130+ boat fleet, and the staggered start all of which would have otherwise been a bit stressful. We managed a respectable finish in the middle of our class – not bad for a 34ft cruising boat. We topped 7kts and put the rail in the water a few times.

 

 

 

 

Even with the virus restrictions, the Club managed a few overnight cruises with small rafting groups in some lovely Bay anchorages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For assorted reasons, I made several trips down Bay to Annapolis. One of those produced a record time with favorable wind and tide making for a really fun sail. Sadly, the usual weekend raft ups fell victim to the virus constraints.

It’s now mid-November. I’ve relocated the boat back to Annapolis at my former marina in preparation for some over-winter work. The process of setting her up for winter is underway, but final winterization is on hold pending the chance for a few more day sails. So, hoping for some moderate, breezy days and friendly crew to share some bittersweet time on the water. Barring a change in current plans, Valinor II will have a new skipper by next season. Stay tuned for new adventures………

Music on the Water

A great evening with dozens of other boaters, plenty of ‘social distance’! The Eastport Oyster Boys gave a live concert on the stage of the Stanley Norman surrounded by sailboats, power boats, and dinghies. Good music with good friends. This is a VERY popular annual event, and the EOBs deserve a big hand for doing all the work it takes to stage this event, and for a good cause. Thanks to the Stanley Norman Skipjack for hosting in a glorious day for Shorerivers / Wye River Pump out Boat… over 200 boats shared the evening and helped the cause.

I had the good fortune of leaving my boat in it’ slip and taking a ride with my best sailing friend on his boat. All the fun, half the work! That said, we managed a decent sail down Bay before motoring up Eastern Bay to get to the concert site in Shaw Bay — don’t know the country? … pull up online charts! It was about a 24nm trip. We enjoyed evening snacks and libations, and a quiet night before motoring home in the morning with less than 5kts of breeze. Another great weekend on the water!

A repost from July 2016

Current disheartening events suggest not a lot has changed in four years other than increasing partisanship and division in the Country – the responsibility for which is broadly shared across the leadership, both political parties and the media ….. (current comments in italics)

Repost…..….

Given the unfolding events of the past week (months) or so, I stopped to assess my feelings and have tried to ferret out the truth from all the hype and questionable reporting. Based on the responses I see from my on line community, and considering the sense of the Country, it is a remarkably unusual time. I have never seen a more disreputable or dysfunctional Presidential campaign in my 50+ years of experience. We face profoundly important choices in the near term that will affect our children’s and their children’s lives.

I shy away from the conspiracy theorists and extremists of all kind. Yet, recent events cannot be ignored. Evident, blatant campaign fraud; mishandling and destruction of classified materials; clandestine and unethical meeting crossing political and active legal interests; lying to the Congress and FBI; death of an email hacker in a jail cell; apparent conflict of interest and possible fraud in the management of a family Foundation. Granted that these stories are often spun for political gains, but in mass, and given the timing, it doesn’t pass the laugh test to believe there has been no wrong doing. I believe both political sides have their own set of troubling issues. (now add the violence and protests that have persisted, along with the Country’s response to the current virus)

Others have said it, and I believe it – we face a crisis of confidence in our leadership. Laws are being bent or ignored to accommodate the powerful, examples of inequality/injustice are pervasive – not just in race and life style, but across the spectrum of human activity. The elite behave as though they have the only truth, and the rest of us had better get with the program or be penalized – and the laws apply differently to them, or not at all. These conditions cannot persist if our Country is to survive in a form we can accept, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights promise.

I called for the FBI Director to be fired for what I believe was a breach of justice if not law. After some consideration, and further information, I retracted that statement in part. In fact, the responsibility and accountability rests higher up the chain. The DOJ Attorney General still has the opportunity to set it right however unlikely that may be. Further, the President is culpable in his enthusiastic support of a candidate whose integrity and judgement is very much in question.

I appreciate what this Country has stood for, even with some occasional warts. I have been pleased and proud to be a citizen. Yet the treatment of all our citizens by the government has increasingly restricted our personal freedom, whether in the name of safety from external threats or the imposition their ‘wisdom’ over ours to force changes in our behavior and/or beliefs. This is all very disheartening. Should this trend continue, conditions will become far worse than merely disheartening. I fear increasing and violent turmoil if our leadership doesn’t correct the path we’re on. Worse, I see little or no evidence of that correction, and strong indications that the electorate in general is unprepared and/or unwilling to act in the Country’s best interest.

From a practical perspective, I cannot in good conscience vote for either of the presumptive candidates, (still true today) leaving my only option to vote for those ‘down ballot’ who demonstrate a willingness to bring thoughtful change to a broken governmental system – I hope others will do so as well.

Cruiser or racer?

This is a story about a little cruising boat that decided to try being a racer. It’s been an interesting beginning to this new career. For those less familiar with the sailing/racing world, most clubs have regular Wed nite, Thurs nite, and/or Fri nite class races as well as special weekend races/regattas throughout the sailing season – pretty much as long as there isn’t ice on the Bay.

So, I joined the Rock Creek Racing Association (RCRA) that does Wednesday night races near my yacht club. These are described as ‘fun’ races – a relative term when applied to sailboat racing. There is a saying that ‘any two boats traveling in approximately the same direction constitutes a race’. Yes, most sailors have a competitive streak.

I also applied for my PHRF rating. That’s a system that attempts to even out the competition base on boat performance characteristics. The purpose of racing is to test sailing skill rather that boat design. The rating for Valinor II, my Catalina 34, is 165 which is  reasonably high, meaning my boat tends to be slower in the same conditions than many other boats, especially those designed for racing.

It’s not my purpose here to describe the specifics of the racing protocol, rather to share my early experience. If all goes well, there will be more stories to tell thru the season.

Well, my first race with RCRA was pretty short. Imagine a dozen boats under sail, milling about in light wind (poor maneuvering) all waiting for the time signals from the committee boat to cross the relatively narrow start line for the race around a prescribed course. For this first race, I had no crew – just me and my boat. We were close to the start line and I had a plan for how to get across as close to the start time as possible, but not early. Early, by the rules, means you have to go back around and start again – not a good thing.  Worse, when turning toward the line, the steering wheel continued to spin around, but the rudder wasn’t moving …. minor panic in traffic with the loss of steerage due to a broken steering cable.  (Note the frayed cable and chain off the drive sprocket)

Good news, another boat came by and tossed a tow line to get me out of the race area. Put anchor down, got sails down, set up emergency tiller, retrieved the anchor and headed back to the marina. It all seems deceptively simple here in the telling.

So, first race down with a Did Not Start (DNS), and a pricey fix to the boat’s steering. Weaker souls may have quit right there. Just then my perfect race got announced.

On the west coast (SanFrancisco), they have a race called the ‘3 Bridges Fiasco’. It’s a fun race, open to all classes of boats, designed to be simple so non-racers might bring their boats out for the fun. The Annapolis Yacht Club decided to emulate that race, and called it the ‘2 Bridges Fiasco’ to accommodate the course options in local water.

The race has a pursuit start meaning each boat is given a handicap (remember my PHRF rating) applied at the start, so boats have different starting times. Those times are announced before the race. That means the order of finish is, in fact, the actual order of finish. It also means fewer boat crossing the start line at the same time. To make it more interesting, boats could sail the course in either direction. Let that image sink in given we had 142 boats registered for the 9nm race.

Rules required boats to be only single or double-handed, i.e. no extra crew riding the rails. I was smarter this time and got crew. In particular, I found crew with significant racing experience. See what a quick learner I am?

The start of this race was much better. We were only a few seconds behind our designated start time, and with only one other boat crossing the start with us. Slower boats had already gone, and the faster boats were lining up behind us for a later start.

Conditions were great. We had strong 8-20kts of wind steady from the south. That was enough wind to knock a couple boats down, put Valinor’s rail in the water and top out our speed well above typical cruising speed. We made decent time around the course. Didn’t hit any of the marks or other boats. Rounded all the marks on the correct side. We finished well down the list of the 133 boats that finished, but 11th out of 23 in our class – not bad!

A few pix …

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After these early experiences, I’ve registered for a couple other specialty races, and have crew for the RCRA Wednesday night races. I’m sure we can move up in placement!