Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Second On Water (not) Sailing Lesson

We had our second sailing lesson.  The weather was beautiful again...except there wasn't any wind. This makes actual sailing a bit difficult.  It was good though, we had a chance to try a bunch of other things we needed to practice.

This time it was only my wife and I, the instructor, and a guy who has done a lot of sailing and wanted a checkout so he could join their rental club.  Since the checkout was so experienced, virtually everything was done by my wife and me.

After leaving the dock, we started the lesson by running the boat aground...intentionally.  After discussing the various ways you can get a mono-hull sailboat unstuck, we heeled the boat by getting everyone on one side and pulled it off the sandbar with the engine.  We also learned a very important and subtle point...if you are ever stuck, give a rope from your boat to anyone offering to help.  If you take a rope from the boat that came to assist, they may legally have salvage rights to your boat.

We then motored over to a good anchoring spot to practice setting an anchor.  We were told we needed 7 to 10 times the water depth worth of rope for the anchor...so of course we had to start out by measuring what we had on board. We then attached the anchor rope to the mast and manually lowered and set the anchor.  Since the reservoir bottom is muddy, they use a Danforth anchor but for rocky and grassy bottoms  we were told a plow type anchor would be better.  After confirming it was set well, we then manually pulled the anchor back on board.  Definitely getting my exercise today.

The instructor then had me attempt to approach a buoy as if it were a mooring ball, to demonstrate how a sailboat glides.  For my first attempt, the bow of the boat just passed the buoy as it came to a stop...pretty good...we should have had no problem picking up that "mooring" ball...nothing like these folks.

After that, we went to practice docking.  As long as you go slow, steering the boat isn't the hard part.  People on the bow and stern lines do more to guide the boat safely to a stop at the dock.  And then there are the lines...the bow line, the stern line, the spring lines.  And don't forget the fenders...and the commands you tell the crew to deploy them to the correct side.

Another fun and educational day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

First On Water Sailing Lesson

FINALLY!!!  After a cold that turned into a sinus infection and then threats of snow during a prior weekend, we had our first on-the-water sailing lesson at the local reservoir.

My wife and I and two other students went out with an instructor in one of the J/22's (on the right side of the dock in the above picture) that the sailing school uses for primary training.  It was a beautiful day with light to moderate winds, just perfect for our first lesson.

We learned quite a bit.  Making the boat ready to sail (we actually found an issue with the engine and switched boats), rigging the jib and main sails, departing and returning to dock, sailing various points of sail, tacking, gybing, when to use some of those knots we covered in the classroom, how far the boat can heel (and how exciting a wind gust can be when the water is almost to the deck), and the list goes on.  Each student had a chance to take the helm (steer) as well as handling and trimming the sails.

In an earlier post I mentioned all the terminology in sailing, and I'm pretty well convinced that vocabulary is the hardest part of this class.  When I "had the helm" I found that I had to ask the instructor  what the proper commands were on several occasions.  "Ready about?", "helms-a-lee", "ready to gybe", "gybe-ho"...why can't we just say "Ready to Tack", "tacking", "ready to gybe" (this one makes sense) and "gybing".  In the legal system there are some initiatives to write laws in plain English...wonder if someone has thought sailing could benefit from this. Of course, without all the terminology, sailing wouldn't seem all that romantic and mysterious, right? ;-)

All in all, a great day.  Can't beat educational AND fun.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Cost Research

Just a quick post this time.  In my continuing research on the money issue, one of the best "answers" to the annual cost of cruising question I've found was in this article from the Beth and Evans site:

Cost of Cruising

They have collected real user data and created three fictitious families to demonstrate the average annual cost of living and cruising on a sailboat.  Obviously everyone's situation will be different, but this article written in 2006 seems  to be a reasonable starting point.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Making Lemonade

Well, I thought by now I'd be writing about our "on the water" sailing lessons, but I've come down with a cold so I haven't scheduled those lessons yet.  In the meantime, making the best of it when I've been feeling well enough, I've continued with some research.

For the research, I've created a new page (as previously promised) where I can save the more useful links I run across.  You should now see a navigation bar just below the site banner that will take you there.

As for the current research, I've been looking at the dreaded "money" question.  How much does it take to go cruising?

It is the question everyone wants answered yet doesn't seem to have one.  Well, OK there is one: "It takes just a little bit more than you have."

I do understand why there isn't a good answer though.  Just as everyone who lives on land lives in different homes and on a different budget, the same would naturally hold on a boat.  Our daily lifestyle choices make a big difference, things like:
  • Do you eat out a lot or cook meals at home (and how gourmet are they)?
  • Do you have a big home and lots of "toys" (and can you live without them)?
  • Are you a do-it-yourself type or do you have lots of "people" on speed dial?
And if your plan is like mine, to drastically change how you live, that only complicates the equation.  While lifestyle differences can have a big impact, I think one of the questions that many struggle with is this:  How does a boat compare with caring for a home.  I'm still trying to figure this out, so sorry, no answer here today.

What I can say I've found is that, while there are examples of annual cruising budgets from $6000 (US) a year and up, there do seem to be quite a few in the $12000~$18000 (US) a year range.  That's pretty cheap living in paradise.

Check out some of the links I've added to the Money section of the research page.  And as I find  more information of interest, I'll add it to that page.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cruising Thru Research

Sitting on the deck of the boat with a margarita in hand working on your tan...that's the life, right?

I think reality may be more along the sentiment I've seen several places that cruising is the art of fixing your boat in exotic locations.  Fortunately I'm reasonably mechanically inclined so I hope that will serve me well.

Eventually I intend to create a research page, but for now I thought I'd start with a few links that I've found helpful in learning about cruising and living aboard in hopes it may help others that may follow...

Confessions of a Long Distance Sailor - Free online ebook.  Older story, a good read.
The Cruising Life - Essay from a cruising couple.
Cruising Life - Another essay from another couple.
Youtube Videos - Because you can find everything on Youtube.

The one thing that worries me a bit is that it seems that of the people that have tried this (that I've found so far), many seem to have only lasted between 3 and 5 years.  Still looking for an example of 20+ years.