Friday, March 28, 2014

ASA 105, Coastal Navigation

Part of the deal for our new sailboat was the dealer threw in a hefty discount for one of their associated school's "Coastal Navigation" course.  At the time we made the deal, the only thing we walked away with was the course materials.  And some materials!  A training chart, parallel rulers, dividers and a very detailed book.  We were encouraged to read up ahead of time and I started working the practice problems in the back of the book.

It turns out coastal navigation is really applied geometry and physics.  I haven't touched this stuff since the days of Mr. Yenser and Mr. Quinn back at LHS.

So after studying, last Saturday morning, we drove down to Riverside, NJ and found that our instructor was Captain Andy again!  Unlike ASA 101 and 103, this was a lecture only course, held in the G. Winter's Sailing center.

The class went from 9:00 AM until 4:30 PM (we got out a little early each day) and included lunch from Panera Bread.

There's really not a whole lot to show... we listened to Capt. Andy and then tried plotting the routes and bearings on the practice charts.  When things got boring, I played around with the new Fuji camera I brought along.


Vicky was always checking my chart for the answers!

She was also voted "most stylishly dressed" of the coastal navigators.

 One of our fellow students was an ENT surgeon... you'll have to guess on that.

I took a spare moment to check out the showroom...

... and grabbed a photo of Captain Gary.  He is the head of The Sailing School and will be the instructor/delivery captain on our voyage around NJ.

Finally, after two days of instruction, we took home our exams.  New charts and several hours of work over the next couple of evenings.

Finally, yesterday I packaged it all up and sent it off to Captain Andy.  Now we have to wait...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Boat Shopping

As I said in some of the earlier posts, over the winter our conversations started noting how "live", "dynamic" one might even use the term "uncomfortable" the Yacht(ette) felt out on the bay compared to the way we felt in the Navesink or out on the bay on the larger boat.  Getting from those conversations to deciding to purchase a new boat is a process I won't spend a lot of time on here.  I will note that the justification involved both of us knowing that life is short... we both have good jobs and can do this... we can always find reasons to hold off, but we will also rapidly reach a point in our lives where it's too late to jump into this.  

This is sort of a "carpe diem" sort of thing... we even watched "Dead Poet's Society" at the end of the process.

So how do you buy a boat?  What do you look for?  Where do you go to buy it?  How do you go about making all the necessary decisions to get from where we are to "new boat owners"?  

I knew from the course and chatting around KYC that I wanted something in the 30' to 35' category.  Vicky wanted new (and I wasn't going to complain on that too much).  Being new to this, we weren't set in our ways, and weren't looking for esoteric stuff.  

Quickly I settled on Catalina.  We wanted to cruise and contemplate an overnight or weekend trip.  The 27' might be great for day sailing, but it's interior space wasn't set up for anything more than a simple overnight.  We wanted two cabins in case guests came along.  We're not planning to cross oceans, though we might venture out on one, so their "Cruiser" series seemed better than the "Ocean" series (larger boats) or "Sport" series (smaller boats).  Once that decision was made it was either the 315 or the 355... the extra $50K for 3 more feet, an extra table in the Salon, and a slightly sexier bathroom just didn't seem worth it.

We then had to decide on a dealership... only one in our area was stocking this boat so we could go and see it.  Evidently you don't go to a "new boat lot" and choose the one you want... some dealerships don't even stock and just custom order boats of this size.  We compared prices at a couple of places and in the end, the difference wasn't enough to justify going to a non stocking dealer.  The one we went with - G. Winter Sailing in Riverside, NJ is a family owned outfit that seemed friendly and fair.  For the slightly higher price, they offered much more extensive training on the new boat.

So we went there and looked at the example boat they had in their yard.

It felt weird boarding a boat in the middle of winter (not to mention climbing ladders in the snow to do that).

While there we also checked out the Beneteau sailboats, but while they gave us more boat length for the $$$, the interior felt less well made than the Catalina.  

So we ordered it.  New boats are generally made at the factory for each buyer, that meant making another 50 decisions or so.  We set ours up for sailing, and eliminated a lot of the electronic and electric gadgets... no $1000 radio or $500 12v microwave and definitely no TV (if we want to watch a move, we can take an iPad or laptop).  We did include features that we think would enhance the sailing experience - a spinnaker for light downwind sailing, an electric windlass for help with anchoring, and a full suite of navigation electronics and instruments.

Now we just have to wait for our ship to come in...

History: Joining the Yacht Club

We had actually first noticed the Keyport Yacht Club when we moved in back in December 2012... they had red and green lights by their front door which at the time I mistook for tacky Christmas decorations.  (I've since realized they "port" and "starboard" lights.)  After a quick look at their membership requirements and realizing that we actually qualified, we started the process.  They came very well recommended by Captain Tracey who used to be there and we started the application process in August.

We completed the application process and joined just in time for their new member reception in October.  In this photo, Joe (head of their Jr. Sailing Program) is next to me and Jess (in charge of new members) is next to Vicky.

We soon ran into Dan and Carol who are neighbors at our condo complex... Dan is actually the architect who designed our condos.

Of course in October, the season had essentially ended.  Our first real event was the Commodore's Dinner Dance in November which was a great chance for Vicky and I to get gussied up and have a nice night out. (We also shared our first dance there.)

The yacht club is a mostly volunteer organization.  There are only a couple of staff members (janitor, bartenders, etc.) All members are expected to pitch in and help run the place.  The first work day I could make was the December dock work party.  The goal was to pull out the last of the floating dock sections (kept in the water to allow the crews to do the other work getting ready for winter), and get it ready for Olsen's to store it.  The day for this party was the same day that the first "blizzard of the century" for this winter was starting to blow in.  We had temperatures in the mid-20s with 15 mph winds.  I've never been so cold.  (I "complained" to Jess later that this activity was NOT in the brochures they handed us over the summer.)

Later in December, we had an Employee Appreciation Night which sort of doubled for our Christmas event (our real Christmas event took place during another blizzard).  By this point I was already offering my photography skills.  The place is really decked out for the holidays, so the photos came out well.

Right after the New Year, they had a "Beer Tasting" event where they the folks from Kane brewery (down in Ocean, I think) to come in and demo some of their brews.  Two of our members made the meal, and while I didn't bring my camera, I regretted not bringing it.  They made the most incredible pork osso buco I've ever had.

The new employees spent January and February planning our New Member Event. We had to find a speaker and I remembered that John Olsen (owner of the boat yard next to our condos) had given a historical talk about his father's boat building business (they made hand-crafted wood boats).  He agreed, and we cooked up some chili and hosted a really nice event.

It was just a nice enough day that several members couldn't resist going out on the upper deck to enjoy being by the water.

Our March activity was the "Anchorage Initiation Meeting" where we got to hear some of the officers explain how the launch operations work and what is required in terms of "ground tackle" to be allowed to tie your boat at the KYC mooring field.  At the end of the meeting, Sherry worked with John Olsen to figure out where all of us new folks would be located.  This happened just after we made the purchase of the new Catalina so found us a nice spot where it would still float at low tide.... we'll be "parked" about halfway out right in front of our condo.

Now everyone is waiting for the weather to break so we can get started and get set up for the summer.  Just this past weekend I helped a little at the first "Dock Work Party" of the year.  Here our goal was to get a boat in the water and tow one of the floating docks back into place so other things can get moving.  What really happened is we put the boat in the water and then started fighting with the engine for a couple of hours. I'm glad I'm not the only one who that happens to...

All in all, it's been a great experience.  The folks at KYC are incredibly friendly; I'm sure I'll learn lots from them and hopefully I can contribute something as well.