Sailing Casco Bay 2007

Rich, Moby & Nicole (missing Ray and Rod)
11 Nov - Awards Dinner
I can't think of a better way to spend a cold November night than gathered around fellow sailors discussing the past summer race season. It was great to see everyone again and catch up with Rich and Nicole (wish Rod and Ray could have been there too). Of course the best part was receiving the FIRST place award for crusing class. We did play it up for all we could, making sure Jim could see the trophy from where he was sitting. He was a really good sport about the whole thing and we had a lot of fun "rubbing it in". To quote Jim, "Look out for next year!".

Again, I would like to thank my crew, Rich, Nicole, Rod and Ray for teaching me a lot and having a good time sailing together. We also can't forget to thank the race committee at Centerboard Yacht Club, Tim, Loni and Paul, for creating a fun and competitive atmosphere and running the races.

Shirt sleeve embroidery

Congrats Team Surefire!

Tim's "Cordelia", an Ericson 35
21-22 Oct - Some nice warm October days
I was hoping to have as good of an October as last year but it has been hot and cold. We had two great days on the 22nd and 23rd, highs in the 80's, but the rest of the month has been so-so. The nice thing about sailing in October is that the winds are stronger and we can still have some nice days. The old log book says that I have been out 66 times and logged about 750nm. Not too shabby for a little 22' boat!

"Vittoria", an very nice Catalina? 27

The lighthouse at Webster Rock
15 Oct - Webster Rock (Halfway Rock)
The best part about sailing in October is the wind. It is a little stonger than the summer winds, sometimes a bit too strong. Today was a bit of a challenge but mostly in the harbor due to the gust and changing direction. It makes it tricky to get the sails up. I reefed before I headed out and I also used a tether. I almost turned back after getting the sails up but headed out to the open ocean through Whitehead Passage. Once out there the winds settled down and I had a great rocket sled ride to Upper Green Is. and Junk of Pork. I kept going even though I knew I had to be back by 3pm to pick up the girls at school. Even though the sun was out it was a little chilly and the hand was on the mainsheet and tiller the whole way out.

After circling the island I headed back on a close reach which is much easier because the boat can steer itself. I even practiced steering with the sails by unlashing the tiller and adjusting the main in and out. Not too hard on this point of sail.

Got back into the harbor and went behind some buildings to lower the sails. Docked and tied up the boat, stowed the sails, gave her a quick rinse (lots of sea spray today) and got to school just in time. A great sail and my average speed was a tad under 5 knots!

Sunset behind Bug Light, nice ending to a great October day.
5 Oct - Indian Summah
What a gorgeous day! It was sunny with temps in the 80's and light winds. I motored up to Portland Head light just to give myself a head start (no pun intended!). The winds were quite variable and I found myself going anywhere from 0 to 5 knots. Luckily the tide was with me both ways. I sailed down to Richmond Is. just because I rarely go in that direction and because there was more wind outside the bay.

It was one of the most relaxing sails of the season, catching some rays, listening to Parrothead tunes and enjoying the views.

Cruising shot of the month!
2 Oct - Attitude Adjustment Cruise
I just had to post this picture taken aboard "Felicity", my friend's Pearson Vanguard. We do these occasional "Attitude Adjustment" cruises mostly to have guy time and smoke a few cigars. This is a great shot of Pheonix, an Andrews 36.

Doing a moon LOP on Jewell Is.
19 Sep - Jewell Island and Moon Sights
By a stoke of luck I was able to get two days in a row where I could go sailing. I decided to go for an overnight to Jewell Is. for the main purpose of getting a moon line of position sight. This is the last type of sight I needed to complete my sight folder requirements for the USPS Junior Navigation course.

The sail over was fantastic! A nice steady wind on a close reach got me to the island in no time flat. It took me a couple of tries to get the anchor set and I let out plenty of scope as it was low tide. There were more boats than I thought would be there considering it was a Wednesday in September. The weather was perfect so I can see why people were there!

I inflated my digny and paddled ashore with my sextant. I had a couple of hours to kill because I had to wait until the moon's altitude got above 15 degrees so I explored the old towers and bunkers. I picked a spot just south of the basin where there were some USGS geodectic markers. This gave me a known position to do my sights (yes, the GPS agreed with the published lat. and lon.).

After doing the sights I returned to the boat for some a nice hot supper but realized I forgot the fuel for my stove. Oh well, I had to eat snack food, drink beer and smoke a cigar for my meal.

This was the first time I slept on the boat at anchor so needless to say I didn't sleep too well. I did use the anchor alarm on my GPS but I still kept peeking out the portlight to check if the scenery had changed. The boat was swinging around a lot because the wind had picked up. I probably could have put up a little bit of the main to keep the boat more steady.

Fog and no wind the next day, along with having to get back at a certain time, meant doing more motoring than sailing. Still, a great trip overall and my sight folder is done!!

The Wendameen with a boat load of tourist
September Pictures
Here are a few of my better shots. I love sailing and taking pictures of some of the other boats. My little Canon S500 is small enough to put in my pocket and it takes great pictures. It's also pretty rugged. It takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'!

I never get tired of seeing the Bagheera!

Ram Island Light

Perfect end to a perfect sail!

Jim in non-race mode!
7 Sep - Great Day for a Sail
It was a nice sunny, warm September day, perfect for sailing. My goal today was to do a meridian passage of the sun so I headed out past Portland Head. Unfortunately, I forgot to take into account daylight savings time in my calculation so the sun reached its maximum altitude at 12:38, not 11:38. The seas were about 4ft but I hove to and didn't have any problems until it was about 11:40 and I realized the sun was still rising at a good pace. I'll just have to try again.

On the way back I met Jim on the Mary B. heading out so I took a few shots. It's always nice to see another T22 out on the water. Of course I had to poke a little good spirited fun with Jim.

"Khaki Blue" about to cut me off
7 Sep - "Khaki Blue" and "Gigi"

Attention Sailors: Stay away from motor yachts!

Today and earlier in the week I had some bad experiences with two motor yachts, "Khaki Blue" and "Gigi". So I'm just sailing along and minding my own business when these huge motor yachts come flying right at me. OK, I'm a sailboat and they are a motor boat, so I'm supposed to hold my course so they can safely navigate around me. If I turn and they turn into me it could be dangerous. So I hold my course waiting for them to slow down or turn. Nope, they come right at me at full speed. I have to crash tack to avoid a closer call than I would like and I get blasted by their wake. Not a good thing. Worst of it is they steam through the channel at full speed only to stop when they get in the harbor and float around.

In the case of the "Gigi", they are waiting for a slip to open up at Domillo's (a restaurant I will never eat at again) so I sail up to them and ask why they felt they needed to cut me off. The captain says he was avoiding a lobster pot! Not at 150 tons and 25 knots!

With "Khaki Blue" I called the harbor master and he basically said that there was nothing that could be done. I guess the rules of the road are good only in theory. This is not what a new boater wants to learn.

In both cases I tried to hail the boats on the radio but neither replied. That's what I call poor seamanship and if I was chartering these boats I would not be happy with the captains. They are the reason tourist have a bad name here not to mention the reputation they give to motorboaters.

OK, rant over, I've learned my lesson!

29 Aug - Last Race of the Summer Series

This was one of the best races of the summer and a great way to end the series. Rod and Ray (sounds like a comedy team!) were crewing tonight and got a good workout with lots of tacking. The winds were moderate and we had good boat speed. One thing that really hurt us was our inability to point well, something that has been going on all summer but we can compensate for it by our reach and downwind performance. The best part of this race was being neck-and-neck with Jim on the Mary B.. We traded places with him about three times and he showed us some really good boat handling on some mark roundings. The killer for us was the tack back up the harbor to the finish. We also had some problems being covered by some of the larger boats because we can't stay high of them and I also misjudged two laylines and had to throw in a couple of extra tacks to round some marks. I will definitely solve my pointing problem this fall!!

We ended up in 4th place for this race, behind Jim, but we just needed to do well against "Ela Naveva" who placed 7th.

Well, the final results are in:

Surefire places FIRST in the cruising class!!!

I owe a lot to my great crew; Rich, Rod, Ray and Nicole! I learned a lot from them and had fun at the same time. It takes a lot of work on the boat and a clean bottom to win but that alone will not do it. It takes a good crew with a good attitude to make the season successful in more ways than one.

A big thank you also goes to Centerboard Yacht Club for sponsoring the race and to Tim, Paul and Lani for all their hard work as the race committee. More thanks also go to the other racers for their good sportmanship and for their help to a newbie racer and sailor.

And of course I must thank my arch-rival and fellow Tanzer 22 owner, Jim, for keeping the competition hot and for his helpful hints. I'm sure he'll be back stronger than ever next summer to regain his first place seat.

And last but certainly far from least is my new sails from Bayview Rigging and Sails! Jan did a great job and gave me one of the most important tools to win this season. Thanks!

Sunset looking through Whitehead Passage
27 Aug - Another Great Sunset Sail
Luck was on our side tonight. The weather had been threatening all day but it broke just in time for another perfect sunset sail. The winds were light and warm and on board was a Parrothead friend and her two daughters. They did a good job on the tiller (yes, even Capt. Zigzag) and were fast on the jib sheets during our "attacks". The sunset was spectacular and we stayed out late, just lazily tacking up the harbor with light winds. The Cat even snuck up from behind us so we motored a little to get out of the way. I guess they hailed us on the radio but I turned it down and put it in the cabin because of all the annoying radio checks interupting our Jimmy Buffett tunes. That was not a good idea so next time I'll keep the radio in the cockpit, just turned down but still audible.

Like the song says, "It was a lovely cruise..."

22 Aug - Race 12
On board for this race were Ray and Rich, my crack(ed) team of experts! The course was interesting for two reasons. First, there was no committee boat and we were doing a rabbit start with Athias as the rabbit. I'm pretty sure we did it right as we waited till Athias tacked before crossing the line. The winds were about 10kn or less but perfect for our boat. We did well to windward, not pointing high but keeping boat speed up. That is one thing Rich has taught me is that if you can't point, don't pinch trying. Boat speed is more important.

The other interesting feature of this race was an oil tanker parked right in the middle of the course. When we did the H to YB leg most of the boats went below the tanker, the shorter course but you have to go through the wind shadow of the tanker. Jim went high, a longer course but with more wind. He gained significantly on us by the time we both got to the mark. When going from L to YB, almost the exact same course we went high, following Jim's lead. We gained ground on the leaders doing this. Funny thing is Jim went low as did most of the boats.

From YB to A we had perfect sail trim and pulled away from one of the racing class boats. We did sail below the tanker and had to pass through the wind shadow but so did the whole fleet. I think larger boats had an advantage in that regard.

The wind died quickly going from H to X so it was a real drifter. We just focused on sail trim, keeping the boat heeled and not moving. A couple of times I had to clear the rudder from seaweed and thankfully it was not on there long.

After the race we stayed out to watch the John Brown leave port. What a thrill hearing the steam whistle and seeing the huge prop churning up water at the stern. It's a sight one doesn't often see and it gives you a great feel for what it must have been like when scores of these big ships were staging for a convoy to Europe.

Hopefully we hold on to our first place position! (We did! We came in third. See the results here.)

John Brown Liberty Ship
17 Aug - John Brown Liberty Ship
This was a nice littly day sail with my two oldest daughters and their friend. The winds were a little stiff so we reefed to have a more pleasent sail. I tried to tack up Hussy Sound and got to the open ocean but the seas were just a little too rough so we went between Peaks and Great Diamond for smoother seas.

One of the visual treats was sailing past the John Brown Liberty ship that was in port. These ships are amazing not because of the technology but because they built so many of them so quickly. There were over 2000 built and only two remain, the John Brown and the Jeremiah O'Brien (out in CA). I have been lucky to tour both ships!

15 Aug - Race 11
On board this week were Rich and Nicole. The weather was looking pretty good with moderate WSW winds. The course was a short one so we knew we had to do well to keep our second place in the series. The start was pin favored and we planned to just come in to the line from a reach and head up because in the past there just isn't too many boats crowding the pin. This time three boats were heading close hauled to the pin so of course we were barging so we fell off and went behind Jim. Once again, we just could not point as high as the other boats and it is something that now has come to the forefront as something to work on. It could be sag in the forestay, the cut of the genny or just as simple as my helming to weather. Rich has pointed out that I need to foot off, get boat speed, then head up. I tend to head up, pinch, lose speed and apparent wind, and have to fall off. Sounds like something to practice.

In any event, Jim does well against us going to windward but we can catch up and pass on a reach or downwind. Here again, Rich and Nicole do a good job trimming for speed. Our tacks are also quicker so we don't loose as much each time we tack. In this race it was one of the deciding factors because we only won by 28 seconds (yes, we came in first!).

There was a real exciting moment when approaching the F mark. We were hit by a squall (OK, maybe a mini-squall but to me it was pretty wicked). We saw the two boats ahead of us start heeling way over and even hitting each other as they were close and just about ready to round the mark. Rich yelled "Squall" so I eased the main and headed right up into the wind. We rode it out by just feathering to windward and keeping the boat on it's feet as much as possible. This actually helped us get to the mark quite fast. The worst of it was over very quickly but the winds were still strong. We rounded the mark and headed for a rocket sled ride down wind going wing-in-wing most of the time. Just before rounding the second to the last mark we did a gibe and I should have sheeted the main before gibing but heck, this is a race. Well we gibed and the slug holding the clew of the main in the boom popped out. We eased the main and Rich hauled on the outhaul to bring it in as much as possible.

We bee-lined it to the last mark, YB, and made a nice rounding with Jim on our tail. We stayed high, approaching House Is. and then tacked when I felt we were getting too close to shore. Jim was hot on our tail but we were to weather and slighly ahead. We couldn't make the committee boat but we just did a quick tack just before crossing. What a wild and exciting race! It really gets the adreneline going and also makes you a better sailor by exposing you to things you would not get by crusing.

Mary and Diane
14 Aug - Yes, Another Sunset Sail!
This was yet another very nice sunset sail with our good neighbors, Mary and Steve, and my loverly wife Diane. Steve just bought a boat (power) this summer so he was at the helm and handled the boat quite well. Mary enjoyed the slower pace of a sailboat and kept us all entertained and laughing. The wind was light which my wife appreciated and as soon as the sun went down we got out the wool blanket to keep warm. We stayed out past sunset and sailed up the harbor at a nice leisurely pace, no rush to get back. My kind of sail!

It's been a loverly cruise...
13 Aug - Parrothead Sunset Sail
I love doing these sunset sails especially with good friends and good weather! This time is was Donna and Keith who are both good Parrothead Phriends and a lot of fun to be with. We listened to tunes (JB and other PH bands) and had a great little sail till the wind died. We still had fun just floating and being rocked by the ferry boat wakes. As the song goes, "I'd rather be sailing to nowhere than do anything else on dry land..." (Michael McCloud).

One for the Christmas card!
11 Aug - Visitors from Across the Big Pond
It was a real treat taking one of my former co-workers and his family out for a sunset sail while they are visiting from England. It was their first sail on the Maine coast and the weather cooperated to give them an excellent experience. The two children were really gung-ho and made a great crew as we sailed out through Whitehead Passage to the open ocean. We came in past Portland Head just in time to see the Wendameen cruise by and to experience a beautiful sunset.

I feel lucky to be able to share my joy of sailing with people and it was great seeing him again and catching up with each other. He has a wonderful family and it was a pleasure having them on my boat.

8 Aug - 10th Race
It was looking pretty bleak weather-wise but things cleared out and we had a great evening for a race with wind conditions from very light to boats rounding up! It was a fairly long course but most of the time we were doing over 5 knots so it went quickly. I had Rich crewing and a new member of team "Surefire", Nicole. She has a Pearson 26 and took lessons from my former instructor, Doug.

Our start was not too bad but I gibed instead of tacked at the last turn before the start so we were off a bit, still good though. We did well going to windward with some great, quick tacks! Even though we were in less wind than the fleet we took the shorter course so we held our own. The next two legs were reaches where we focused on boat speed and course. Again, the fleet went high and we stayed on the rhumbline. At one point when the winds were light we easily passed "Mary B." and Jim yelled to us to turn off our electric motor. At the Y mark things got a little tight as three boats converged on the mark and after rounding we were all within a couple of feet of each other with us in the middle. Not much to do until boats peeled off. The leg from D to X was pretty wild with the wind kicking up and rounding up some boats. We kept playing with the main and easing it when hit with a gust. We also headed down to keep the boat from rounding up and to gain speed, something I learned from Rich. The leg to finish was on one tack and racing A, racing B and cruising classes all had line honors within a few minutes. It was a great race and I hope we did well enough to hold on to second place for the season. Having good crew makes all the difference in the world!

1 Aug - Race 9
It was a perfect night for a sail! Nice 10-12kn SW winds and warm weather. We had a good start, staying away from the crowd at the pin end and we did a clearing tack shortly afterwards. Since the tide was going out it would favor us on the windward leg so we tried to stay in the middle of the channel. We had some really nice tacks and overstood the mark by just a little bit. We had a little problem with the main getting stuck on the backstay when we turned downwind but I don't think it cost us too much time. We stayed close to House Is. to get out of the current going to YB. We had a great run from YB to L and found the sweet spot for the conditions and passed several boats! After rounding X and F we came back up to A and we avoided getting too close to Ft. Gorges where we always get headed. We made the finish line without having to tack again and we weren't too far behind S-Cape so we knew we did well. Turns out we finished first! My only regret is that Mary B. was not there!

27 July - Another Great Sunset Sail
It was another perfect evening for a sunset sail with special guest Lori and her niece, Stephanie. Lori has been on my boat a few times but this was Stephanie's first time sailing. The winds were brisk, 10-15kn, so we were sailing with a reefed main only. She handled the tiller quite well and was very brave when the boat heeled or we were hit with a wake. We even exposed her to some Jimmy Buffett music and she lived!

25 July - Race 8
Conditions were ideal for a great race. The winds were moderate but variable. We knew what we wanted to do at the start but just could not execute due to traffic and the wind dropping. The start line was set up with the pin being the favored end but that meant we really needed to be in the mooring field before the start. Not a problem except for a wind hole and everyone else trying to get there. So we started a few minutes late (tide also against us). Important lesson here is don't wander too far from the start line!

The rest of the race went well and we sailed OK. We definitely need to practice our tacks and it was a little harder with only 2 people on board. Pointing is still an issue and I think our halyards were a little too slack for the winds.

After the finish, the weather was so nice that Ray and I decided to stay out instead of going back for dinner. I'm glad Ray values sailing over food! We had a great little cruise.

Ray enjoying the post-race cruise

"Surefire" beating to weather
Rich was out in his power boat taking some great shots! He does this professionally so it is nice having high resolution picture of the boat. Please visit his website at and browse some of his excellent sailboat pictures!

Our campsite on Jewell Is.

Moby, sure that dinghy is tied on properly?
20 July - Camping on Jewell Island
This was a trip of many first! First time staying out overnight, first time anchoring, first time camping on an island and first time using my new (used) dinghy.

I stayed on the island with some former co-workers and friends who invited me along. We had a great campsight right on the water and away from Cocktail Cove which meant my boat was unattended for most of the time. I worried about it somewhat but there is good holding ground in the cove and the bottom is mostly mud and shells. I was near the shore and may have been scraping my keel at low tide but I'm not too worryed about that considering I know I was aground in my slip at low tides last year.

We explored the island, spent a lot of time looking for sea glass on the shore, went swimming and enjoyed beers and lobster by the campfire. The weather was perfect too! We even managed a nice sunset sail (with very little wind) while we were there. I will definitely go back again this summer, maybe with the girls.

16 May - Sunset Sail
Another great sunset sail with my wife and two of our good friends. We went out under reefed main only which kept the boat very flat (wife happiness factor) but we still made about 2.5-3 knots. We enjoyed great conversation while sipping champagne and eating shrimpees saying, "I wonder what the peasants are doing today?". After a spectacular sunset we sailed back up the harbor and went past this huge motor yacht called "Passion". As we peeked in the portlights my friend said that the people in the yacht were probably looking out saying, "Look dear, peasants!". Very funny Dave!

11 July - Race 7
Well, what a difference a week makes! Today it was very challenging conditions with a strong SW wind. I was half expecting the race to be cancelled with the approaching front but it wasn't. It was also a long course, up to Clapboard Is. To err on the safe side, we reefed before going out but after sailing around a little we shook out the reef. In hindsight we should have kept it in because it cost us time at the start. Instead of lining ourselves up for the start, we were shaking the reef. We were also a little overpowered going upwind and we could have done better with a reef.

Despite the bad start, we were actually doing well and catching up with the lead boat (no need to guess who that was!) on the downwind leg and the reach to Clapboard. When we rounded the leeward mark and started heading back to mark D we were caught on port tack by Jim and we had to do a crash tack. When we came back to port we ended up with a wrap on the winch that we couldn't clear. We even tried luffing up but the sheet was too far in. After messing with it for too long (I broke a winch handle trying to relieve the tension with another winch!) we had to cut the it. We rigged another sheet and continued to race. We finished 3rd which is not bad considering the bad start and the time lost messing with the wrap.

The best thing about this race is that everyone worked together to solve the problem. We kept our cool. We experienced a pretty wild ride and learned from it. Even though this is an actual race, I consider it practice for going out in heavy weather and being able to learn how to sail in it knowing that you are surrounded with other boats that would really come to your aid just a radio call away. I think this is probably the best way to learn how to sail in challenging conditions. My crewmembers are the best and we all have the same philosophy about racing and sailing.

5 July - Race 6
It's amazing what a week can do. Luck is sometimes the biggest factor, good or bad. This week it was good. In chatting with one of my dockmates, Rich, I found out he used to do a lot of racing and was very good but in his words, "a little rusty". Well he crewed for me this week, along with Ray, in some moderately strong winds (15+ knots). Even though it was the first time we all sailed together as a team things worked out quite well. Rich was on the helm and was very good explaining what he was doing and giving direction. Ray and I were on the sheets and it was tough bringing the genny in. We had the boat on her ear for most of the race except for the down wind leg.

Our start was great, about 10 seconds off the gun, and we were able to fetch the first mark without a tack. Rich did a great job feathering the boat into the wind and keeping high. He was also good at planning the next move ahead of time. We rounded the first mark in good shape, doing a nice duck behind one of the bigger boats. We went wing-in-wing down to the next mark and rounded it VERY close. The next two legs were pretty much keeping a straight line course and getting covered once in a while by the racing fleet boats. After rounding F, heading back upwind, we did a clearing tack and go some good air and were able to fetch the committee boat without tacking again.

Simply put, having a great crew, not making many mistakes and having the boat in good shape gave us a great race and a good time. We were all very happy about doing well and know that tacking is something we need to improve our timing on. What a difference from last week!

Tom giving us racing tips
30 June - Tom Hall Seminar
Tom Hall and Dave Pierce were gracious enough to give an on-the-water seminar to the class D racers at PYC. I tagged a long as a cruising class boat. It was the first time I ever rafted up with other boats and we had fun eating lunch and meeting each other. Tom then gave an excellent class, covering topics like starts, upwind trim, spinnaker set and takedowns and some tactical stuff. It was very interesting, informative, and well presented.

We then did some short practice races but the winds were pretty stong, too strong for me to single-hand very well. I reefed after the first race but the genny was too hard to bring in while tacking. I did some loops around the course but I'm not sure I did anything Tom taught. I will practice them with my crew though.

I slept on the boat and awoke to a beautiful sunrise!

27 June - Murphy as a crew
It is very true that things that go wrong happen incrementally on boats. The weather was looking good for a race with a high risk of some thunderstorms popping up. No problem, with a good crew we can keep the boat balanced and shorten sail if we need to. It must have been 95F out so I only got half the bottom scrubbed. No problem, we'll have plenty of wind. Wait, wait, wait... phone call... no crew! Time has run out, I look at the weather and decide to go out solo so I am not a DNC. I reefed before going out just in case I get caught in a squall. I called in for the course but did not enter it into my GPS. I motored out and got to the start line with just enough time to get the sails up. The wind was pretty strong and I did not have a great start just because it is so hard to get the genny in tight when single handing. Finally settled down and headed for the first mark, way behind. The racing fleet passed me after rounding the mark so I got covered a lot. On this down wind leg I tried to pole out the genny but it was hard to get up on deck and not change the course of the boat and possibly gibe. I gave up. I also thought about shaking out the reef but it would have been very hard going down wind with this strong of a breeze. I rounded the leeward mark and started back up wind, behind but tacking better. I kept hearing this gurgling noise coming off the stern but thought it was just water off the rudder. The boat seemed not to leap off its feet and just was kind of sluggish. OK, you guessed it! The motor was down for almost the entire race. In my haste to make the start I forgot to bring it up. I finally raised it for the last bit of the race. Oh, that's not all. As I was going downwind I kept looking (lots of haze) for the F mark to leave to port and as I was raising the motor I missed seeing it and went way past it. I only noticed it because of another boat rounding it so I had to go back downwind to round it. A hard beat to the finish line and I was done. I was so nice though I tacked up the harbor and skipped the dinner (I'm not sure I could face the humiliation!). I learn enough lessons from this race so hopefully I'll do better next time.

I finished 9th which is better than a DNC which counts as 11 points. There's always next week!

26 June - Sunset sail
Sometimes it's the impromtu events that turn out to be the best. I called Lori and asked her if she wanted to go for a sunset sail on this very hot day. She rounded up her friends Melanie and Ted and we headed out for a picture perfect sunset sail. We cruised in the slow lane with main only and made it up to Portland Headlight. As we were pulling into the dock, Jimmy Buffett's "It's been a lovely cruise" started to play. Can't beat that!

Smiles everyone!

24 June - Junk of Pork
It was another typical Maine day, great for sailing (OK, I'm being a little facetious)! Our guest today were Liz (my niece), Alyssa and Anna. I seem to have mostly all girl crews lately!

We started out with very little wind behind Great Diamond and I watched about a dozen sailboats ghost past as we sat in a hole but I vowed not to start the motor. We eventually got out and headed for Hussy Sound where there is always wind (or tidal current). Liz wanted to head for the open ocean so we tacked up the sound and set course for Junk of Pork rock on a nice close hauled course with the boat steering itself. We listened to sound clips from Pirates of the Caribbean while pounding through the waves. Very fun!

On the way back we were able to sail through Whitehead Passage and only lost our wind for a very short time. Luckily, the tide was with us!

Who's the skipper?
21 June - Anna and friend
One of the nice things about having a boat is letting the girls invite their friends for a sail. My youngest daughter, Anna, and her friend came for a very pleasent, light wind sail. We were able to get up to the end of Great Diamond Is. before the wind completely died. We motored back listening to sailing songs.

Is that Jim in the lead?
20 June - Race 4
This was a real drifter! I thought the winds would be light but still good enough for a race but they died shortly before the start. I was lucky to get Ray for crew again and it was exactly the opposite of the first race he crewed (20 knot winds).

The course was shortened to A-X-L-A. We headed high of the first mark (G1 by East End) because I thought the tidal current (tide going out) would carry us toward the mark but the current coming from Back Bay was much stronger than the current from the Fore River so we ended up on the wrong side and once the winds died we were carried away from the mark. Most people retired from the race but because some of the fast boats finished (one took over three hours) the race was not abandoned. I thought there was a two and a half hour limit but only if no one finishes. Next time I'll stay out there!

19 June - Alyssa and Amy
We had a very nice sail up to Chandler's Cove. The winds were pretty strong so we reefed right away which made for a very pleasant sail. We went all the way up on one tack, turned around and came almost all the way back on one tack. The girls had a great time sunning themselves and listening to tunes. It was good father/daughter bonding time!

13 June - Third race
It looked like it was going to be another screamer tonight and I considered reefing before going out but didn't. That was the right choice because the winds died just after the start of the race. We had a great start and did really well to the first mark. Going to YB we were struggling between keeping the boat speed up and from having one of the racing class boats go high and cover us. We ended up having to tack just before the mark and going around a few boats that were slowly making their way around. The course was shortened and we did well going to the next mark by staying high and letting the current set us to the mark. The last leg was up wind again and we really didn't know which side of the line to finish on because the cours was shortened. Do we cross the side originally intended or do we cross the side facing the last mark. I need to look up something about a string rule.

We did well. Second place and only 6 seconds from first. The big question was where was Jim, our arch rival?

One of six passing Bug Light
11 June - Canadian Navy Convoy
I was just out for a pleasant sail and the first thing that happenned is a tanker came through the harbor and pretty much forced me to hove to against the side of the harbor so he could go through. A call on the radio would have been nice!

After that I cruised up to Bug Light and then a convoy of military ships came through (Canadian I think). This kind of limited my sailing but it was neat watching them come in. One has to be careful to mind the 500 yard minimum speed, 100 yard keep out zones. A sail boat doesn't have too many options but I tried.

Also ran into Bill and Karen in the Pearson 26. He is new to sailing and I have seen him a couple of times. Hopefully he'll find my website so I can email him some pictures of his boat.

Bill's Pearson 26 "Panacea"

6 June - Second Race
Well, again I was lucky in getting a crew for this race. Ray, the husband of a teacher I work with, is a good sailor that wants to get some racing experience. Lisa was also going to crew but alas she missed the boat by a few minutes (so sorry Lisa!). The wind was light at the club house and some of the guys were saying it will kick in from the NW soon. They were right, it kicked us pretty good!

It was a long course (we did about 13nm) and it was a short downwind start. We got there in time for a few tacks and Ray did well timing the start. We did really well getting to and rounding the first mark then we began the struggle to go upwind. The genny was just too hard to get in tight and timing the tacks was hard with just one crew. We sheeted to the windward winch to make it easier to trim. I am thinking we should have reefed to stay flatter and improve boat speed. As it was I was letting a big bubble develop in the main which improved our speed. Of course in all the excitement of 20 knot winds we weren't really sure of the course so we made a few tacks that we didn't have to. Each tack cost us time and in the end that is what killed us. Ray did a great job on the tiller while I tried my hand at working the sheets. Even in low gear the winches were at their limit. I expect it is a combination of such a powerful genny and it being 155% instead of the class association #2 of a 140%. We also got headed just before the Y mark and should have gone higher but we ended up tacking twice to round it. Downwind from Y to X was a rocket ride but we never gained any ground. We ended up in 7th place (out of 9) so at least we weren't last on corrected time.

Jim was happy at dinner and he should be. He out-sailed us fair and square. I really need some practice in high winds but not solo sailing.

I almost had a near disaster as my mainsheet fiddle block almost came apart! The bolt was halfway out and I luffed up to take the pressure off and get it back in. Racing really stresses the gear and any weakness will show up so number one priority is everything must be perfect. I have new Harken blocks on order and hopefully they'll get here before the next race.

Lesson learned: when you get headed before a mark, tack and go a bit higher because it is better to overstate the mark a little then have to tack two more times.

I am glad Ray could crew and I hope he will be one of the regular crew this summer.

30 May - First Race!
Well, I was having trouble scraping up a crew so I was planning on doing the first race solo. As luck would have it I was able to get my old sailing instructor (no, he's not old, maybe I should say my former sailing instructor) Doug and his friend Lisa. We got a late start waiting for Doug (well worth it though) so we didn't have a lot of time to prep. We ended up on the committee boat end (not favored) and had a leeward boat luff us up at the last minute so we lost headway (very light winds) and couldn't make it around the CB so we had to make a loop and go up again. Despite the bad start we had much better wind than the rest of the fleet and we ghosted past them (with the other boat that was with us) to the first mark. After rounding we went low hoping to get some wind but then decided to go way high where we could see some wind. That definitely cost us time but we still did alright. After rounding the next mark the wind turned on like a switch and we had a rocket sled ride to the finish (over 6 knots the whole way).

From the chart you can see the times we were headed and then tacked. You can also see after the first mark when we decided to go high to get wind. And after the second mark how we could have done better by following the rhumbline closer. The wind had shifted and we were on a close reach at that point.

It was great having Doug and Lisa and we ended up in 2nd place! What a nice way to start the season.

25 May - Collecting GPS Waypoints
The buoys in Casco Bay have changed for some reason (certainly not because CYC uses them for racing marks?) so the course marks for racing have changed. This sail was to go and collect GPS waypoints for the new marks so that I can use them to construct the course for each race. It was a very mellow sail with good wind. It was a little tricky handling the sails, getting close to the buoys, saving the waypoint with the GPS and taking pictures.

14 May - Chase JD

It was another great day in May for sailing. The forecast was calling for 15 knot winds so I reefed before going out just to be on the safe side. Shortly after passing Bug Light I spied JD cruising up around Peaks Is. so I did what any normal red blooded sailor would do. I took off after him! I followed him up through Whitehead Passage and was slowly gaining on him when the wind just died. I hove to to shake out the reef and lost some ground. I was just sailing along fine with a light wind when WHAM! The wind suddenly went to about 15 knots and shifted about 90 degrees. I was uncomfortable heading out single handed and unreefed so I hove to again and put the reef back in. I decided to give up the chase as JD was long gone south so I headed back the way I came. When I got along side Ram Is. the wind just dropped as dramatically as it rose. This was fine by me as I wanted to be in a cruising mode anyway. I sailed through the Hussy and through the gap by Pumpkin Nob and up between Peaks and Great Diamond. Once I got out from between the islands the wind picked up again so I headed in.

JD's boat, "SalTrek", has a new mizzen mast so now he has a yawl. I think it was the extra sail area that made him go so fast!

Hove-to for a break
8 May - Wild Ride

Today was a day of many lessons learned. It seems like it is good every once in a while to test yourself and your equipment to make sure you don't get complacent about safety.

First Lesson: If there is a small craft advisory posted, think twice about going out. After today I would put my boat in the class of small craft. The good news is that I did check the weather and even though I knew the winds would be 15-20 knots I was pretty sure I could handle it. I went out under reefed main and working jib. It was one of the first really warm days and the sun was shining. How could I not go sailing. My reasoning was that if it was too bad I would head back in. My plan was to head up wind first so that I could come back down wind. I tacked up the harbor and it wasn't too bad so I decided to go downwind to Cousins Island.

Second Lesson: Try going up wind outside the harbor before going way downwind. Right at the entrance to the harbor the winds tend to get flukey, gust and changing directions, so after working through that I decided to go downwind first. Big mistake. It was a very pleasent ride down wind, even caught some rays and relaxed. Went wing-and-wing for a while and really flew, most of the time 6 knots or faster. Once I got to Cousins Is. I turned around to come back and realized the wind had picked up and it was a struggle to keep the boat on her feet. I tried easing the main a lot and it was really flogging and the boat speed was way down so I pinched and feathered the boat into the wind and we got back up over 5 knots and the boat was on her ear. Tacking was an adventure trying to get the jib in before the wind nailed it and getting back to the tiller in time to keep the boat from falling too far off the wind and rounding up. I took a break behind an island, hove too and ate lunch.

Third Lesson: The flogging of the sails may loosen up some knots. After finally tacking back to the harbor I had one more tack to take me behind a tanker to lower my sails. I come about, haul in the jib sheet with all my might and the knot lets go! I'm flat on my back, the boat is getting ready go over, so I quickly gibe, get back on the original tack, hove to (very exciting in 20+knot winds with gust), retie the jib sheet, come out of the hove too and find out I rigged the jib sheet the wrong way over the shrouds! Another gibe, back hove to, check for leeway room, rerig the sheet, gibe out, tack and get behind the tanker! All is well! Sails down, motor on, wet and wild ride back to the marina where I pull into the slip first shot like a pro. I could even take my time getting out and cleating her down. I was very proud of myself.

The things I did right were wearing my life jacket with the handheld VHF clipped on, not panicing and knowing how to hove to, securing everything and clearing the cockpit when the wind pick up, and having a plan for getting into harbor and getting the sails down.

Things I could have done better: rig jack lines and have a tether ready before I need them. I thought about it, had a jack line rigged but the tether I have uses carbiners which don't release under tension. I will make a tether with some quick release shackles. Until I have that tether, I will not go out in bad weather solo. I should have also heeded the SCA and stayed in the slip, especially when solo.

Once I got back to the slip, I had a beer and started cleaning the salt off the boat and sails. I was good to push the envelope and get some experience with strong winds.

Portland Head lighthouse
6 May - First Sail!

Well, I went for an early launch (May 4th) this year because most of my major "restoration" projects are done. I did have to scramble to get my painting (boot stripe, water line and bottom) done but I had two good days in a row.

It was a perfect (but cool) day with some great wind. I got the boat up to 6 knots and pointing really well. I was under reefed main (hey, first time out better err on the save side) and my new 110% jib (thanks Jan at Bayview Sails and Rigging). I just tacked up the harbor and headed out past Portland Head to buoy "8". I turned back because it was getting chilly.

I have a new slip at South Port and it looked challenging enough for me to practice docking against a mooring ball. After about 10 trys I decided to go for it. Everything worked well and it looked like I've been docking there all the time. Practice is very important and a mooring ball is much more forgiving than a dock.

No problems what so ever on my shake down cruise. I'm ready for guest!