Month: May 2015

ASA101: Basic Keelboat, Day 2

So we woke up and packed new lunches, and lots of water for a day out on the water (and we drank all of it). We arrived at the dock at 9am, and we quickly got down to the business of reinforcing some things we learned yesterday after applying some of the book knowledge to an actual sail.

 One of the instructors brought a model sailboat to the table this time, and the principle instructor thought that was a great idea and used it a lot to demonstrate points of sail.

After an hour or so we were asked to complete our tests, I finished mine yesterday so I took the time to stretch my legs, talked with the instructors about our past sailing experiences, discussed my plans for Schooner Camp, some of our building projects past and present, and so forth. Once every one was done with their tests we went below to grade them and reinforce questions answered wrong. Elyse scored 92%, great job!!!

Skipper asked me to take the boat out of the marina so he could focus on the other students, we got stuck waiting for the tressle bridge to open, but otherwise uneventful. Once we were out into the river we hoisted the mainsail, did a few tacks then unfurled the 130 Genoa. Heading out toward the Long Island sound the wind slowly picked up to about 15 knots at its highest, and it was enough to put the boat on her ear, and we were moving along at about 7.5 to 8.5 knots over water for a good portion of the sail.

We practiced tacking and jibing, and avoiding collisions per the rules of the road and overall it was a lot of fun watching everyone take up their stations.

Elyse trimming up the main.

As I mentioned in the previous post, this sailboat is new to the current owner, so we were all learning something today. One of the folks was putting the sailboat so far on its ear that the boat started turning up her no matter how hard she tried to stay on course. Leaving the transmission in neutral causes the prop shaft to vibrate when we are moving at a good clip. It took a while to figure that out. At first we thought it was a shroud vibrating in the wind, then maybe the keel harmonic vibrating. When the skipper put the transmission in gear, the vibrations went away. Hmm, that’s something to look at.

At the helm with the wind in my hair, that backstay prevented leaning back with any comfort.

By the end of the day we’d gotten plenty of sun, and plenty of wind. Bringing the boat back in, the skipper asked me to man the helm again while fenders were deployed, sails furled, taken down and secured. This time the bridge was wide open for us so we didn’t have to putter around in circles, and once we got to the dock we cleaned up and packed up and our certification was logged in our books.

A really nice feature of being a student with American Sailing Academy (not to be confused with the ASA) is that current students are offered free evening sails on most Wednesday evenings at no cost. It’s a sales gimmick to increase continuing interest in ASA103, 104 and 105, but this a gimmick that has real value in giving students some more time and experience on the water. I am planning on taking advantage of it to log some more sea service recency for my USCG Captains License. I have enough time overall, but not within the last 3 years.

I want to thank both Captains Dave and Dave (yes both are Dave) for providing an excellent program and service. They are both fine sailors and they have a lot of experience to offer to new sailors in the New England area.

You can find them at American Sailing Academy

ASA101:Basic Keelboat, Day 1

So my Girlfriend, Elyse and I had our first day of sailing lessons today. Although I have been sailing all my life, I thought it would be fun to take these classes together, and additionally I want to get certified myself as well so I can say I have taken the classes as a student and not just trained to teach the classes. Plus it’s some more documented sea service for my captains license.

Anyway, on to the lessons. So since we live in eastern Connecticut, we chose the American Sailing Academy out of New London Connecticut. We woke up in the morning, packed plenty for lunch and lots of water just in case. Hey you never know, yesterday we went out to dinner and I spoiled my appetite by downing 4 glasses of ice tea because I was so thirsty.

We arrived at the docks at 9 am, boarded the boat and we all introduced ourselves to one another. Shortly we were at the table going over rigging, parts of the boat, the circle of wind and all the academic material about boats, pretty much all the stuff you’re supposed to already know if you studied the book they sent a full month in advance. Then some knots, with of course the main stumbling block for most folks being the bowline. We went through three different ways to tie it until everyone found a way that works for each person. I always have fun watching people learn to tie a bowline.

Learning about how not to get your hand mangled.


So the school bought the boat we were on this past fall, it was a 1986 35′ O’Day sloop. Despite the engine being run last night, it chose not to start this morning. After a bit of fiddling, checking the water separator, and checking the fuel, it looks like there was some air in the lines. So once it got started, it finally stayed started and we shove-off.

Once out of the marina and into the river Thames, we set the mainsail and went through some guided maneuvers, sailing close hauled to broad reached, tacking and jibing. The fun stuff, then for the last hour we took turns at the helm while someone else handled the sheets, and we had some good fun. We came back to the marina and the skipper docked the boat and we all went below decks to start our written exams. Now we were only asked to do half of the exam, but I went ahead and finished it. It was all second nature, and I had just completed the safe boating course a few weeks ago, so I had the rules of the road and all that fresh in my head.

Guess who’s going to be the Captain?

I asked Elyse whether she thought she got something out of the lesson and she thought it was very helpful to be able to see what she’s been studying in action. I think she’ll enjoy tomorrow even more with the less step by step instruction and being left alone to make the boat do what’s been asked.