S/V Wild Haggis

S/V Wild Haggis
Our New Home

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sailing School-aaahhh(or is it aaarrrggghhh?)!

Last week Cameron and I started early Monday morning and hit the classroom. Cameron is running with excitement and I am lagging a bit with nerves. As soon as we get inside and meet Captain Chris, our instructor, those nerves calm and my excitement kicks in. We have a small class; just 2 others. Andre, a young married guy from Charlotte who has crewed on some racing sailboats on Lake Norman, and Mariah, a single gal from Burlington, NC who is an elemementary school principal and closer to my age. A woman after my own heart-Sweet Mama! Both so nice we all soon felt comfortable with each other. I was very grateful. Captain Chris had a great demeanor-calm, confident and enough humor to help us know immediately that we could get through this and learn something. And that we did! Perfect weather all week made for some exciting days on the water. From the first morning we were on the boat-a 24'C&C. Outboard motor and tiller. Very different from our boat with a diesel engine and wheel, but this is the way to learn! We learned the names of all the parts, lines, ropes, knots and sails. We had to put on the sails each time we went out and take them down and fold them up each evening when we were finished. So, Monday afternoon we all had a turn on the tiller(steering, my favorite!) and got used to boat. I even sailed under a bridge! Scary, but fun. Mariah sailed back under and even sailed into our slip! We were sailors! After putting everything away, we all headed to the Tiki Bar for a celebratory beer with Captain Chris(well, Cameron had a celebratory Sprite)! We felt great!

Even with the headache from all the new information trying to find its way in!

Tuesday: Not much time in the classroom and we were on the boat. The four of us were supposed to get her ready. Well, that didn't happen, but we got close. Still need to learn a few knots! Today, Mariah took us out of the slip with the motor revving. Hence her nickname-Captain Turbo! Off we went. We learned how to make the boat change directions, so all day(with a break for lunch) we sailed back and forth and up and down around the Neuse River. This means we were either steering or pulling lines to switch the sails around all day! We even changed a sail in the middle of the river so we could catch more wind. We were working hard, but learning a lot-fast! Cameron sailed us into our slip this day and he was perfect. He really is a natural! If it had not been 'Music Night' at a local restaurant, I would have been in bed at 6:00! My body was screaming, but in a good way!

Wednesday: We spent the morning in the class room learning the names of knots, how to tie them and where to tie them. If you want to feel a little spastic, just try tying a few knots really fast. Oh well, practice, practice practice! Also learned the 'rules of the road'. After all, we were actually going to be taking a written test on Thursday-horror!
In the afternoon, Captain Chris decided to let us feel what sailing was really all about. We actually got the boat all ready, under Cameron's direction , all by ourselves! The wind was blowing steady and we all got to take turns at the helm sailing all the way across the river-back and forth. A little scary, but exhilarating at the same time. A lot of power in our hands and responsibility telling our crew what they needed to do. I think we all did great! And it was fun heeling way over catching the spray in our faces... and chests amd legs...!
After all taking a turn we came back into calmer water to learn how to recover a man overbaord or MOB. The water was really calm and we were lulled into thinking there would be no excitement. Well, we were wrong! I should be learning this......but:-). Mariah, bless her heart, was at the helm going along very nicely when all of a sudden a big puff(we now know that we call it a puff and should always be on the lookout for them)of wind caught our mainsail and tipped us way over. I was on the downside and had surrendered to the fact that I was going in! Cameron felt the same way and apparently our faces told everybody else. Mariah let go of the tiller and proclaimed"I don't want to play anymore" ! Only Chris and Andre remained calm and of course the boat did not tip over and in fact, righted itself when Mariah let go. Chris and Andre were laughing good-naturedly and the rest of us were laughing hysterically! We pretty much were done in. Andre and I took turns and sailed learning basic MOB manuevers, but our nerves were shot.
Mariah felt so bad, but we all learned a lot from that. Please forgive yourself Sweet Mama!
It was my turn to sail into the slip, but I was so shaky Andre volunteered. Once again, he managed as smooth as butter which had earned him the nickname Captain Butter earlier in the week. Thanks Captain Butter!
We put the boat up and promised to meet at a local restaurant to hear Captain Chris play guitar and sing. Did I mention that he, along with a gal named Carrie, is the Wednesday night entertainment for the Silos Restaurant?
We all reconvened for dinner and music and let the day become a memory with great music and company. Thanks Chris!

Thursday: Our last day. The winds were blowing too strongly to sail what was to be our final sail of the class-alone! Chris promised us all a day of sailing in the future. For Cameron and me-a day on our own boat. I think we'll take him up on it!

So, we ended with the written test. Just when I thought I was too old to bubble in answers! We all did just fine and passed our course. Now, we have our own log books and pages to fill before we sleep!

Cameron and I now feel like we have the beginning knowledge to carry us forward on our boat. If the mood strikes, check out The Oriental School of Sailing http://www.sailingschooloriental.com/ . I highly recommend it!

Oh, and as for nicknames...we now know that Captain Chris will also answer to 'Scooter-Boy' and Cameron-Captain Digital and myself-Captain Cleatus. Maybe I'll explain one day.......

Friday, April 2, 2010

What in the world made me think I could do this!

28 March 2010
OK, before I describe the boat and where we are, I must tell of our first harrowing adventure(well, lives and limbs were not in danger, but....)!
Taylor came down for her 19th birthday weekend and we were so happy to see her! She fell in love with the boat and got very comfortable very quickly. We had celebrations each day(which included lots of cake) and showed her around our temporary hometown.
I think she feels better about us now that she has seen where we are and what we do:-).
Well, we were hoping to take her out for a little sail so she could get a feel for the boat-her first time sailing. We got our wish today. The weather sounded perfect for an early sail. Winds were supposed to pick up later in the day followed by showers. So, we tightened everything down(at least we thought we had) and headed out about 10:00 am, planning on having lunch out under sail.
Things went well coming out of our slip(going out and coming in always make me nervous) and we were off! It didn't take long and we ready to put up the sails. Jim and Cameron took the lead and I even helped a bit. Taylor was supposed to be an observer this time. The wind had picked slightly and soon we were going 7 knots and heeling over feeling the spray and having a blast. Of course, all the things I thought I had tightened down actually were not, so I made a lot of mental notes for the next time.
Also, the lunch I thought I would make underway was not going to happen-I could barely stand up plus being down below was not feeling so great to my stomach! More mental notes. Back up I went to make the announcement, so we decided to sail for awhile and then head back in for lunch. Everyone was happy and enjoying the sound of the wind and water and no engine. We even got up to almost 8 knots!
About noon we decide it was time to head back. The winds were still picking up and the waves were getting a little choppy. So, down comes the gib and we prepare to start the engine. But it was not to be. The batteries had drained so low that there was not enough power to start the engine.(The battery situation is a blog post all its own and one of the many things to be fixed, worked on or cussed over, but another time). Two hours of sailing should not have been enough time to lose all power, but there we were. Luckily, we do have a wind generator and we started her humming to try and charge the batteries enough to start the engine. All this time the wind and the waves are continuing to pick up. And we sail back and forth in sight of our marina and no way to get back in until we can start the engine. So we charge and try the engine, charge and try the engine. By about 1:30 we give in and call for a tow. We could wait up to 30 minutes and we need to be in one spot so Jim sets the anchor. I am in charge of holding the wheel steady. This I can do-steering is another thing. After the anchor is set, Jim gives the engine one last try and wonder of wonders, it starts. We cancel the tow and the fun really begins. Is this not good news, you might ask? Yes and no. Yes, at noon it would have been great news. Now, no, the anchor is set and we have to get it up. To do this you must drive forward over the anchor to get it loose. Now, Jim really is the only one who knows how to pull up the anchor, steer the boat, drive the engine and talk on the VHF radio. Of course we all think he's pretty remarkable, but c'mon, that's going a bit far! So, we all try different jobs. Oh yeah, and were feeling a little scared by this time. The boat is rocking and rolling and Jim is giving us instructions and of course no one can hear without climbing out on deck. Well, Cameron does great on the radio because the tow boat comes out anyway since the weather has deteriorated and they want to stand by in case we need help. Oh comfort! I find that I really cannot steer a boat(wind and waves don't help, but...)and I don't know how to even put the engine in gear or neutral-both very important. Taylor ends up out on the bow trying her hand at the anchor while Jim steered the boat. So much for being an observer!
After about an hour of this we finally give in for the second time of the day and cut the anchor loose. Jim marks it on the GPS(in hopes of recovering it) and we head in. The tow is following us to help us back in the slip because of the wind. When we come in to the marina we see the dockmaster, our neighbors and the tow guys all running to our slip to help guide us in. Jim does great driving us in and the friendly faces do us all good. Just to hear the words"we've got you, you are safe" made me cry. But we did get docked around 3:45 and we passed out all our thanks.

We finally ate lunch at 5:00 at a local restaurant and began to calm down and talk about our adventure. The one great thing-the boat is great and we were never in any danger of being hurt. Just frustrated, scared, hungry and tired. So much to learn!

Now I know how Gilligan and the gang felt. It was just a 3 hour tour!

Oh, Taylor says she might come back again and Cameron and I are starting a beginners sailing class next week. We'll keep you posted!