Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bay Adventures by David Blaszka

Sailing is not only an excellent outdoors activity, but also a genuinely traditional way to develop hard sea tales. I remember one such story:

It was soon after receiving my first rating at the yacht club that I decided to take my girlfriend at the time for a relaxing sail. I coaxed her up with lavish high-speed, boat heeling, sails flapping (of course only during a tack) tales of being on the water. Although slightly hesitant, she nevertheless desired the romance of my rumors. 

“I’ll go, but we wont flip will we?” she asked with a worried look in her eyes. Despite the crisp blue skies, it was still early spring. 

“A very slight possibility, but I assure you I got this,” I told her. Now, being a rather selfish fellow I did not give her my wetsuit and instead gave her some of my other gear for keeping…well, sort of dry. 

Down to the docks, jib hoisted, bailers up, life-vests tightened, and finally up with the main. I look at my girlfriend all puffy from my waterproof clothing meant for mountaineering and the scared look in her eyes as we push off. The winds are strong. Right away we fall into a close haul coming around the outer dock. A gust blows in and I try to let out the sails, but something’s wrong. Some idiot left a fat knot in the mainsheet right before the cleat, and another idiot forgot to check the mainsheet before shoving off. Stuck in a close haul with a monstrous gust heeling the boat flat, I didn’t have time to turn up before water starts pouring in, so over we went. With a giant slash and an AHHH ending with swallowing water my girlfriend hits the water. Soon after water hits my face with its biting cold fangs and my wetsuit took the rest of the punch, but my girlfriend…she was cold to say the least. She clung to the boat like a wet cat and glared at me under her matted hair with the most venomous look I’d ever seen.

“The waters not bad, huh?” I tried to say. She didn’t give me a response. A whaler pulled up and the driver helped her out of the water, a difficult task due to her now very heavy clothing. They drove back to the WAC leaving me to right the boat alone. It was a while before I got her out again.

-David Blaszka, Summer 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What's it Take to Win a Black Duck?  Ken Howe asked.

Some come to Duck Dodge to race.  Most come to party.  A few get excited about the theme of the night.  WYC's Deception, skippered by Alexia Fischer, has made an effort to be both the fasted boat and the best dressed this summer.  Unlike other WYC boats, the crew of Deception tries to follow the theme of the night.  The crew are pirates on a pirate ship for pirate night, A dead celebrity on the Titanic (a dead celebrity too) for Dead Celebrity night.  The crew dress as kids in formals on Prom Night, and wear sheets for Toga night.  The competition for the black duck is fierce because it is awarded mostly to the biggest screw up of the night so it is sometimes hard to get noticed.  When Deception came to the race covered with card board pieces converting it to a pirate ship the boat was finally too hard to ignore.  The card board captain's cabin surrounding the cockpit made it hard to steer around the other boats and the cardboard cannons got in the way of the jib sheets.  Not only did we win the coveted black duck but later we were given a second for all the effort Alexia put into creating the look.

I found sailing in costume was a problem.  The leather boots of my pirate costume were too slick for the deck and the long Jack Sparrow wig was blown into my mouth the whole race.  Wearing a GoPro camera chest harness conflicted with the look but it did let me capture the action like the two boats almost hitting off our bow. Like my costume that I kept taking apart, Deception kept shedding her cardboard.  The bowsprit fell off by the first buoy.  The card board cannons had to be repaired  and a small round hole had to be cut in the stern cardboard about waist high.  A working window could have served the same purpose but that was not part of the design.

At the raft up after the race Duck Dodge virgins make the required walk of boat to boat to kiss the skipper or if the skipper allows it kiss the mast instead.  This is the time to compare costumes with the other crews.  Some Duck Dodge regulars get into dressing the part but most don't dress the boat.  Flying a pirate flag just didn't compare to making the boat one big cardboard pirate ship.

-Ken Howe, Summer 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Last chapter of Old Boats of the Club, Part 5:  the Keelboats

San Juan 21
This boat and the Penguin are the only two classes of boats that the club had gotten rid of before I joined.   I don't remember anyone telling me anything about this boat.  Pretty much the only thing I know about the San Juan 21 is that it has a swing keel.

Bristol Caravel 22
This is known as a sturdy cruiser with a lot of interior room.  While not a stellar sailor, it wasn't bad.  One thing that made it worse was when a know it all student who was keelboat fleet captain decided that the 110% lapper which was the biggest sail that came with the boat was too small and that the boat needed a 150% genoa.  A sail was purchased and a track installed.  Now we had some horsepower.  The problem now was that this was always the last boat to Blake Island if it was upwind.    Years later I, I mean the know it all, did some math.  I had finally noticed that at best with the genoa the boat tacked through 120 degrees.  When sailing with the lapper which sheeted in between the uppers and lowers to a block on a post at an inboard position the boat could tack through 90 degrees.   This means if I changed jibs from the genoa to the lapper I could point 30 degrrees higher, but would lose some speed.  I would have to lose more than 30% of my speed or about a knot if I were doing hull speed under genoa to make it to my destination later with the lapper.    Since sailing that much slower under the lapper would be a rare circumstance the lapper would have been the sail of choice for most any upwind work.  By the time I had figured this out the club had bought a used replacement lapper that no longer sheeted to the post, but instead had to be sheeted outboard to the  genoa track, so it didn't point very well either.

The blue boat in the middle is Caravel, the boat on the left is Excalibur.

Caravel with its original lapper.

Islander Excalibur 26 
This felt like a fast boat, and it handled well.   My first cruising adventure was as crew to rescue the boat from Skyline Marina in Flounder Bay near Anacortes.  Keelboat users will trade off in the Islands to save having to take the boat back to the club.  Apparently one user left the boat at the marina and the next person didn't show up.  The first person made no arrangements with the marina.  A week later the marina called us and asked us about a boat that had been left in the marina with no payment. 

I was taught a lesson on this boat.  I was sailing along rail almost in the water and the boat had almost no weather helm.  I commented to the more experienced sailor how well balanced the boat was with no helm.  He looked at me funny and said look at the tiller.  I then noticed that I had the tiller in my lap, at least 20 degrees from straight.  That's when I learned that a well balanced spade rudder makes it so you don't have to pull hard on the tiller even when there is massive weather helm causing you to drag the rudder through the water like a big brake.

Columbia 26
The Columbia 26 was not a well liked boat.  Maybe it was the nearly flush deck that made it look funny, maybe it was that some felt that it was a poor sailor.

Cal 25
A donation that needed a fair amount of work.  Deception, a Catalina 27 was donated before it was put in service and the Cal 25 was subsequently sold.

Neptune 24
People complained about the transom being weak.  I discovered that the transom wasn't attached to the deck anymore, so when you pressed on it you could move it in to create a gap at the hull deck join.  The importance of a bridle on the spinnaker pole was demonstrated when the foreguy connected to an eyestrap in the middle of the pole caused the pole to snap.  The shock to the mast caused the tang for the lower shroud/spreader base made of pot metal to fail, now that there was no lower the mast bent.

Stone boat
I forget why we took a donation of a 20 foot ferrocement hull with a wood deck.  If you see any mention of stone boat fleet captain in old club documents, you now know what it refers to.