Category: Sailing

Adventures with wind and water.

Great sailing today

My friend Brian, Dad, and I went out on Texoma today on Vampyrita as part of a revitalized “Buddy Sail” program. The Buddy Sail program was started by Jay at Texas Charters. The idea was that Jay would send out a note at the start of the week saying which boat was going to be taken out that coming weekend, and whomever wanted to show up could go sailing for $50 which paid for part of the day’s charter fee.

Jay closed down and moved to Key West to run a charter on a beautiful boat called the Freedom Won. But his old pal Greg is keeping the Buddy Sail tradition alive. Greg bought Jay’s Ranger 23, Vampyrita, and today we took her on the first voyage of the newly-revitalized Buddy Sail program.

The day threatened to be stormy but it was actually picture perfect. Dense cloud cover for most of the day kept the temperature down and the winds averaged about 15 knots but died down substantially around 2:00. We had a light shower every now-and-then but nothing terrible–we all agreed the sprinkles were refreshing and of course had the added benefit of bringing with it that sweet, after-rain smell.

If you are in the North Texas area and you are looking to spend an afternoon sailing but you don’t have a boat, check out Greg’s Buddy Sail Yahoo Group. I’ve been on several now and I’ve found them to be a fun, friendly, and cheap way to enjoy sailing.

Excellent sailing two weeks in-a-row

Dad and I had the second week of excellent sailing in-a-row. Last week we went out on a Hunter 34 named Vesper Light. We covered about 30 miles in the 5 hours or so while we were out. Today we went out on a Catalina 42 named Cakewalk. Both outings were part of a “buddy sail” program at Texas Charters (link not working when I checked it last) up at Lake Texoma. They send out an email during the week with the name and model of the boat going out that weekend and whomever is interested replies and then shows up. Unfortunately, Jay is shutting down the whole operation to concentrate on his charter business.

Last sail of 2004

Last sail of 2004 was New Year’s Eve day. The wind was perfect. It was a bit chilly but uncharacteristially warm for late December. I was good in a long sleeve t-shirt. Christy came with us for this sail which was also uncharacteristic. We sailed from 121 to Sneaky Pete’s and back. The return trip was in record time and on the same tack the whole way. We sailed her right into the slip.

I was impressed with my kids–they didn’t get bored (or at least didn’t express it) like they sometimes do. My son actually took a short nap in the v-berth. My daughter was excited that she got to take the helm for a little bit. Neither of them love sailing enough to suggest it on their own but given the choice between going and not they always choose to go. I think a lot of that has to do with wanting to be with their Dad and their Grandpa. As they get older it’ll be fun to see if they catch the bug.

Read a couple of good sailing-related books recently. Both are very quick reads and very interesting. The first is To Harness the Wind,
by Leo Block. It is a history of the development of the sail. It really
covers more than just that. I learned all sorts of useless tidbits like
the origin of the terms starboard and port.

The other was a gem I stumbled onto at Half Price Books called Those Vulgar Tubes: External Sanitary Accommodations Aboard European Ships of the Fifteenth Through Seventeenth Centuries
by Joe J. Simmons, III. If you’ve ever wondered how early seafarers
“took care of business” look no further. Like To Harness the Wind, you
can pick up more from this book than what you might expect from such a
narrowly-focused title.

Summer Sailstice

Summer Sailstice was a lot of fun. I invited some friends to join me on the lake to celebrate the longest day of the year. We hit the water at about 10:00 or so to try to beat the heat. Unfortunately, this time of year in Texas, you aren’t going to win that battle. We were dripping with sweat before we left the slip. And, the 17-20 mph winds that had been forecasted were nowhere to be found. They were more like 0 to 7.

We had a little bit of excitement starting off. This was my first time alone in the boat with crew full of first- or second-timers. I should have taken a little more time checking the rigging before we left the dock. When I asked for the main sail to be raised, the boom goes swinging to windward detached from the mast. What made it worse was that the bolt rope on the main hadn’t been fed into the groove in the mast so the whole thing was swinging with the halyard as the pivot point. Luckily there was no wind.

I quickly realized that the downhaul had come uncleated. That allowed the boom to rise out of its groove and detach. Prior to this day, that downhaul didn’t look like it had been touched in 30 years but my Dad just threaded a new main sheet so maybe it came loose during that or maybe it just worked itself free.

In any case, no one took a boom in the face and we quickly recovered. After that we sailed a bit before heaving to and enjoying a refreshing dip. We actually did that a couple of times in between breezes. All in all, a below-average day of sailing but a great day of hanging out with friends on the boat.

Open Source meets the Open Ocean

Open Source meets the Open Ocean. Even the lobster fishermen get it…

Seafaring the Smart Way. The mariner’s life has always been fraught with danger, especially in the treacherous North Atlantic. This will never change, but ‘smart buoys’ — which contain information about sea conditions — can buy a sailor valuable time. Michelle Delio reports from Portland, Maine. [Wired News]

Now, if only we could drop a couple of those buoys in Lake Lewisville, we’d be all set.

Great sailing at Lewisville today

Great sailing today. The wind was way up on Lake Lewisville. Lots of other sailboats out. Dad decided to bring one of his dogs, Sassy, along for her inaugural sail. She was pretty excited. About ten minutes after we got the sails up, she decided she’d go for a swim. She had been acting like she was going to jump in despite our reprimands. She finally couldn’t take anymore. She took a leap right off the stern. We immediately executed the dog overboard procedure. My son stood lookout while I eased the main sheet and fell off the wind. We then came back through all points of sail, tacked and headed back towards Sassy who was frantically trying to chase us down. Unfortunately, we blew right by her. We had to come about again. I came alongside with her to starboard but we were really screaming. I let the main luff while Dad hung over the starboard rails to snag his dog. We still had too much speed. If Sass had been wearing water skis she would have easily been up and probably could have slalomed. After a good keel hauling, Dad and I managed to pull her in. She thanked us by shaking water all over the place. Our slip neighbor, Randy, was coming towards us. With our jib flying, our main luffing, and Dad and I hanging over the side by our toenails, he probably wondered what in the hell was going on. “Dog overboard,” we explained. The rest of the afternoon was uneventful. The three of us kicked back and enjoyed the sun and wind while Sassy barked and howled from her confines in the cabin below.

The motor is back

Got the motor back on Dad’s boat last weekend and sailed for the first time in a while. The problem with the motor was that over the summer, the gas had moved in and out of the carb, eventually gumming it up. The guy who worked on it said to run the engine at least once a month for 10 minutes at idle and 10 minutes in gear. He also gave Dad some sort of fuel additive that is supposed to help. Another boat ownership lesson learned.

My son is becoming quite the sailor. He’s a lot more confident walking around the foredeck than he was initially. He’s also been put in charge of winch covers, fenders, and the sail bag so he’s happy about that.