Monday, November 26, 2012

Our First Sailboat Charter - Day 1

So, what do you do the day after you get your ASA 104 and 114 certification?  You do your first bareboat charter of course.  So after waking up and bidding Tracey's catamaran and our classmates farewell, off we went to the Vinoy Marina in St. Petersburg to pick up the Catalina 309 we booked for 5 days from Sailing Florida Charters.
Going from a 41' catamaran to a 30' monohull is quite a downsize, but going from a crew of seven to a crew of two makes up for it.  The boat is actually quite spacious for it's size, with a queen size berth tucked under the cockpit, a V-berth up front and a nice size salon/galley area.  The only thing that was small was the head, but who wants to spend much time there.

After we arrived, we had an orientation where we went through all the boat systems and signed the paperwork.  What I've heard about renting seems to be true.  They didn't ask to see our credentials (maybe this was just an oversight this one time) but they did want to see the credit card.

Since this was our first charter and I think it always makes sense to have help familiarizing yourself with something new like this, we arranged for an instructor for half a day.  The instructor met us at the boat shortly after we completed the orientation and got our bags aboard.  Now we've been on a 30' boat before...once.  So, seemed like a first thing to practice was docking.  After we were comfortable with getting the boat back in its slot, we took her out on the water to do a few maneuvers.

Just as with the latter part of our catamaran trip, we had pretty decent winds.  We raised the sails and were immediately reminded we were not on a catamaran anymore.  Yep, monohulls heel.

Consistent winds and large bodies of water are not things we had to work with in Colorado, so this is exactly the experience we've needed on a mono.  It definitely feels a bit different.  We practice the usual maneuvers and get comfortable with them.  Everything went fine...until we went to furl the genoa.  Normally roller furling is easy: pull the furling line while keeping some tension on the sheet and it rolls up nicely.  Someone needed to tell this particular rig that.  About half furled, the thing jams up on us.  We go forward to see what the problem is and find that one loop of the furling line has somehow found it's way around the outside of the drum.  We try to free it up, but since we are almost at the marina it would be easier to get the boat tied up and then deal with it.

One of the other Sailing Florida employees sees the issue and we end up picking him up at the dock.  We then do a little more docking practice while he works on the roller furler.  The lesson was over, and this guy is still working on the stubborn furler.  In the end he was able to get it fixed, and he changed the lines path to hopefully resolve the issue.  Kind of a bummer that the problem occurred, but the customer service aspect the Sailing Florida employees exhibited was a very refreshing change from the usual service I get, or don't get, back home.

We figured that this first day would be spent with the instructor and provisioning the boat and then we would take off for other anchorages after a night at the marina.  So, we come up with a plan for the next few days meals and head to the grocery store.  Provisioning for such a short period is difficult, and we try to figure out things that will make a couple varied meals without a lot of waste...don't want to eat the same thing for every meal and can't pack stuff back on the airplane.  We came back with bread, lunchmeat, hamburger, and spaghetti, milk, cereal, fruit and vegetables, chips, and rum of course.

Back to the boat, time for a sundowner, and off to bed so we can get an early start on our adventure the next day.


  1. Congrats on getting your certification and completing your first bareboat charter. Bet it was exhilarating!


    1. Some days more than you'll read in the post I just completed. Thanks!