Sunday, June 14, 2015

First Time Singlehanding!!

So... It's a few days past our 2nd anniversary of sailing (the sunset cruise on the Kathleen D).

During that time, we took 3 different ASA course, I've studied many books and owners manuals, and we had a full and rich season sailing together last year.  But Vicky's new job will have her out of the country from time to time, and if I want to go out while she's not around, I either have to find some crew friends, or learn how to do it myself.  (Even if I have crew friends on board, if they're not sailors, I have to know how to do it all.)

So today, after 3 shakedown cruises where I did all the important parts, I swallowed hard and dropped the mooring line.  I was off on my first time single handing Seas The Day.

What a rush!

Sailing by yourself is kind of cool... it's a perfect way to "live in the moment" and forget all the worries of life because all the time you're brain is occupied (looking out for other boats, checking the lines and sails, steering, etc.).  It feels sort of like the first time I drove by myself... lots of freedom, lots to pay attention to, you're brain is just "ON" (on full power too).  I'm sure eventually it will become a bit like driving today (you can almost do it in your sleep), but I'm way far away from that point currently.

I also had to face the fact that there are some things I didn't really do well.  (I can't blame Vicky for a bad tack!)  The first was when I was crossing the channel and a barge was coming up.  I thought I might pass in front of him, but not with enough margin for my comfort, so I tacked away.  I didn't plan that tack as well as I should have, so if you were behind me, I'm sorry for the confusion.

But all in all... what a feeling!

Here's a time lapse from the GoPro I mounted on the pushpit rail (go over to YouTube to see it in HD).

Ed and Angie (friends from KYC) captured some photos of me again.

Thanks Ed!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Quick Trip with John

I wanted one more time to practice getting on and off the ball by myself, but with another person on-board to back me up.  John got off of work mid-afternoon, so we went out for a couple of hours.

The first order of business was to refill the tanks now that Vicky is in Asia again.  She can use all 27 gallons washing the boat in one evening.  We got up to the dock and filled up.  This water will last me until she returns.

While at the dock, I had john get out the bowsprit.  This is a big aluminum strut that holds the "spinnaker" (in quotes because it's not really a spinnaker, but rather a code X... I think... this all gets confusing).  Any the bowsprit holds the spinnaker out in front so it can get better air when we use it.  Unlike a true spinnaker, which is a big colorful sail for sailing downwind, this is called a "reaching sail" and it is big and colorful, but it acts a bit like a huge jib.  It's not really good for close hauling (as close to sailing into the wind as you can get), or for running (sailing 180 degrees away from the wind) but I'm told it can help you in between those two extremes when the wind is light.

Our first spinnaker was not made correctly so we exchanged it over the winter.  We finally got it all unpacked and while John was along to take the helm, I went on the forward deck for half an hour to get it all sorted out.  The wind was extremely light which helped... after a couple of tries we got it hoisted correctly.

It is a grand sight...

After we sailed a little (maybe 5 minutes), we rolled it up on the furler and I packed it away as John began motoring back to Keyport.

Tonight I hope to get a few photos of the "boat light parade" taking place at the other end of the bay.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

If you come sailing with us...

When we purchased Seas The Day, we set her up so that one person can sail her.  Most of the lines all come back to the cockpit and coupled with the autopilot, an experienced skipper can handle her pretty well (not to say that I am one...).

But to us, sailing is a social activity.  It's best enjoyed with friends, and all during the winter we've had lots of conversations that included the phrase "you should come sailing with us".  So we wanted to put together a post giving guidance for those who want to join us.

First:  Are you ready to sail?

Think about this... are you physically ready to try it?  Do you like being on the water?  We're generally on the water for about four hours (though it could be longer).  If you're worried about being out for so long, we can pick an itinerary that allows us to get back quickly, but if we sail away from Keyport for two hours, then it's going to take us that long to get back.

To me, sailing is much more calm and pleasant that being bounced around in a motorboat.  But sailboats heel (lean over) and that is disconcerting for some people.

The very young and the very old probably don't want to try it with me as the skipper.  Children especially should be old enough to reason with (Those under 13 are REQUIRED to wear a life vest), so I generally recommend age 5 and above.

That being said, there are exceptions to every rule.  I personally know a 3-year old girl who has (and will always have) more sea time than I do (I expect she might be a better boat handler than me as well), but she started sailing with her family at 6 months of age.  I waited until I was almost 50 to start.

Below, are a few things to think about to make your day on the water more comfortable.


We all think about a day of summer sailing as something like this...

The reality might be something more like this...

The fact is that being out on the water can be both warm and cold... sometimes on the same day.  So dress in layers.  Go ahead and put on that swimsuit...  the wind might die down and we all decide our best bet is to just catch some rays in the warm sun.  But put some other layers as well.  Generally in July and August we were comfortable in shorts and a polo shirt.  However, do bring along a windbreaker (and maybe even some sweats if you're prone to getting chilled).

About shoes... Vicky spends an inordinate amount of time cleaning Seas The Day.  We're not asking everyone to go out and get boat shoes (with white soles that don't scuff the decks), but please don't wear sneakers (or anything) with black soles.  Most shoes with the tan polymer soles are OK and so are most flip flops.  If you don't have anything else, then just throw the black sneakers below once you get on board and go barefoot on the boat!

Safety & Sun Protection

Safety first... All Children under the age of 13 MUST wear a life jacket from the time they set foot on the yacht club dock until they are off it.  Some children are OK with this (like the girl above)... others are not...

I strongly recommend that adults wear them as well.  (You might be able to swim well, but can you swim long enough for me to figure out how to get back to you?)  Along the lines of safety, expect that we'll spend 10 minutes talking about safety as we get the boat ready to depart.

The other essential safety items are sun protection.  We keep a little sunscreen on Seas The Day in case you forget, but we buy the cheap stuff.  You might want something better.  Don't forget sunglasses... remember that the sun hits you from the normal direction (from above) but also reflects off the the water as well.

Food, Drink and Seasickness

First, I'm not a licensed Captain and therefore I would never dream of charging you for a day of sailing with us.  I would like to point out, however, that a well-fed skipper is a happy skipper and a happy skipper is a safer skipper.

Relax... I'm kidding.  We'll figure out food options depending on the trip.

Seas The Day has a complete galley with oven, stove and refrigerator.  But most of the time we just bring some sandwiches in a cooler.  Should you choose that route, remember that mayonnaise and summer don't mix well unless you're planning on eating right away.  Besides, I find that ham and Swiss on rye sandwiches (with lettuce, onions and tomatoes... with salt, pepper and oregano) go better with spicy mustard (Grey Poupon, please... you're on a yacht after all).

Seriously, you do expend more calories sailing, even though you're mostly sitting or standing (think of it as a 4 hour low-impact core workout).  We keep a bunch of snacks - mostly granola and protein bars - on Seas The Day along with lots of water, so just ask if you're hungry.

In terms of drink.  Realize that the wind blowing past you all day WILL dehydrate you.  Plan to drink a lot of water.  We have a head (boat speak for "toilet") if you need it... we just ask that you aim well, and don't put anything in the head that you haven't eaten first.  (Yes, ladies, that means... um... well... ah... "carry in, carry out".)

We don't drink alcohol while underway.  Period.  I don't want "drunk boater" listed as my cause of death (or anyone I'm responsible for).  If we tie up to the mooring ball just before sunset, we "might" have a little wine on board for just that occasion as we wait for the launch.  However, all boat trips end at the yacht club bar, so we usually have our drinks afterwards.

That leaves seasickness... the only time I've been queasy on Seas The Day was during the delivery trip when we were out on the ocean for many hours.  We mostly sail on the bay and won't usually go out if the bay is rough.  Still, I keep a few remedies on board and you're free to bring your own protection if you wish.

So... a quick summary

1. Dress in layers
2. Please, no black shoes
3. Kids MUST wear life jackets (and I recommend them for everyone).
4. Bring sun protection (sunscreen and glasses).
5. Plan for food and drink (but no alcohol please).

Finally, for more information, here a great link to an online course that will tell you more than you want to know about your first sailing experience.

ASA's "Your First Sail" online course

I hope you join us!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


I got a new camera (a GoPro Hero 4)!

So on both of the shakedown cruises, I mounted the camera to one of the struts on the bimini and recorded some video to see how it looked.  To keep the times reasonable, I sped up the videos, but you can still get an idea about our sailing experience.

The May 29 video, below, is just some sailing at 4x and then some of our motoring (& Vicky cleaning) at 10x.

May 29, 2015 Shakedown Cruise

The May 30 video, below, is mostly our pulling out from the mooring ball and then motoring back to the ball at the end of a cruise.  The combination of the water movement and the high speed video makes it look like we're moving, but if you watch closely you'll see that we're just bobbing around the mooring ball until I throw it overboard at 0:45.  The same apparent motion happens on the back end.  The cut at 5:00 starts the final 20 ft of motoring back to the mooring and by 5:10 I'm heading up to pick up the ball... the rest is just putting Seas The Day away for the night.

May 30, 2015 Shakedown Cruise

Finally, one last video... this is a long timelapse of the storm that brewed up over Raritan Bay on Sunday night.

Storm on May 31, 2015

May 30 Shakedown Cruise.

(I'm still catching up on some blog posts from a week ago...)

On Saturday, we took Seas The Day out for one last Shakedown cruise.  This was mostly to be sure I felt comfortable going for short sails by myself, so I took care of all sailing, motoring and dealing with the mooring on both ends.

As we were just pulling out of Keyport, I noticed this boat gaining on us (they all do... we're still learning).  It was Ed and Angie from the club... and THEY HAD A CAMERA.

So I finally got some photos of Seas The Day out on the Raritan Bay!  Enjoy Angie's photos below.

So we're pretty sure Seas The Day is ready for the summer.  Now all we need are some crew guests.

We heard about thunderstorms coming for Sunday and since I started a new job on Monday, we decided to stay ashore on May 31.

Back in the Water! May 29 Shakedown cruise.

I'm a little behind on my blog posts...

May 26th:  We got back from Seattle on Monday, spent Tuesday looking for houses (we're relocating to the Wilmington, DE area), and returned home to this...

Seas The Day is back in the water!

We were busy with the job search, so we had to wait until the weekend to take her out for a shakedown cruise.

May 29 & 30:

On Friday, we had our first shakedown cruise.  I went out to Seas the day to pull the window covers off, and work on the electronics.  I had recently updated the Raymarine chart plotter's software and also tried to update the maps, but couldn't get it to display correctly.  (It was using the "World" map, which showed that I was in Keyport, NJ and even got the fact that I was in the water, but no depth detail or even shoreline beyond basic triangles... not very helpful.  Eventually I got the display to show the new maps and we were ready!

Vicky joined me and we were off for a late afternoon cruise.  I'm going to be sailing solo once she heads back to Asia for a few weeks, so I tried doing all the sailing, giving her a relaxing cruise.  It was great to get to try this with her on board as a back up.

Her relaxation ended as we began to motor back to Keyport.  Vicky loves to swab the deck, so she cleaned as I navigate.  Finally, we pulled in... I was able to retrieve the mooring ball by myself and we enjoyed the sunset from Seas The Day before calling for the launch back to KYC and our condo next door.