Wednesday, May 31, 2017

If You Come Sailing With Us - 2017

(This is an update of an earlier post)

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...).  Sailing singlehanded (alone) is a great way to relax, live in the moment and enjoy the sea, 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 might 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 if needed, but if we sail away from Keyport for two - three 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).  The lean is kept to about 10 to 12 degrees on calm days, but in a gust, it can get to be 20 degrees or more.  This is perfectly normal - just the effect of the forces of wind and water - but it can be disconcerting for some people.

Here is a video of a typical day on the water.  It starts with a few minutes of getting ready, switches to sailing about 1/3 of the way in and finishes with coming back to port.  Note that the video is at 10x speed... the experience is much more calm than it appears at 10x.

In terms of age, 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 young 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 anchor and catch some rays in the warm sun.  But put on some other layers as well.  Generally in July and August we are 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.  This is a Federal law and is not negotiable.  Some children are OK with this (like the girl above)... others are not... (it doesn't matter... kids still have to wear them until we get back on land).

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 basics 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 (or more natural, etc., etc.).  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. And we've had some seriously kick-a$$ spreads.

Sushi & Champagne (just a little for the Skipper - see below) while underway!

Seas The Day has a complete galley with oven, stove and refrigerator.  But most of the time we just bring something 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).  Realize that the wind blowing past you all day WILL dehydrate you.  Plan to drink a lot of water.  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 or thirsty.

Which leads to... 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 have a garbage can just behind the hatch above the galley counter.)

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 afterward.

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 natural remedies on board and you're free to bring your own protection if you wish.  (Only a few guests have gotten queasy and that usually happens when they go below to use the head if we're underway at the time.)

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 sunglasses).
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!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Opening weekend 2017

With the knowledge that Seas The Day was in the water, we started scrambling to get all of our "boat crap" together and ready for the trek to Keyport.  It made quite a pile in the kitchen... bedding, first aid and seasickness kits, towels, toiletries, boat cleaning stuff, a small amount of food, a large amount of water, etc.  We loaded it all up and hit the turnpike.

Once at Keyport Yacht Club, we caught the launch and headed out to Seas The Day.  The skies looked ominous, but the weather held... low wind, no rain and so we began the process of stowing it all...

As we finished stowing items, we then began the work on cleaning everything.  Some of us had worse jobs than others...

While Vicky got the head and galley up to her standards, I focused on double-checking the engine, topping off the batteries and checking out the rigging.  

After a couple hours of work, it was finally time for the first sailing trip of the season.  It was a rush to feel the wind on our faces and see the sails out.  The weather was perfect... 7 knots of wind was a little light, but made for a nice pleasant beam reach.

We tested Otto's steering capability (he still seems to be doing well).

After a bit, we doused the sails and used the diesel on the way back to charge the batteries.

On the way back to Keyport, Vicky started working on the brightwork.

Once back at out new mooring, we celebrated with a sushi and sunset dinner!

We didn't feel like packing formal clothing, so we skipped the formal Opening Day ceremonies at KYC, but I did happen to capture it while photographing after dinner.

I photographed the sunset (as well as a couple of my friend's boats).

After a good night's sleep, I awoke to a dense fog that rolled in early in the morning and stayed around for a few hours.  I also discovered that I had no coffee on board.  I thought seriously about issuing a Mayday call for that, but figured the USCG might not consider that as much of an emergency as I did.

I don't have more photos, but Vicky spent some time Sunday cleaning the boat and we went to the dock for water.  While there we conducted some business with new friends and later had lunch with John at the new JakeaBob's facility in Union Beach.

Later we met up with the Millers at KYC before continuing back to Delaware.  Bad weather was predicted for overnight and Memorial Day, so we made the trek back.

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 Launch Day!

OK, so my last post was a little in error... my mooring was assembled, but not yet set.

I received a text early this morning from Dan the Diver showing that the weather was cooperating and he was all ready to install it.

Once it was all in (once the mooring is set, you only see the floats and the pickup stick) he called Pedersen's (our boatyard) to let them know the mooring was ready.  

Fortunately Seas The Day was all ready and things happened quickly after the mooring was set.  I received a call from Jane at Pedersen's mid-morning that Seas The Dat was next.  Unfortunately, working in Delaware, I had to let them tow Seas The Day out and put her on the mooring.  Later in the day Dan sent me another photo...

So we're in!  Tonight's entertainment is running all around the house trying to remember where we stashed the boat crap when we brought it home last October.  

It looks like this is going to be a working weekend.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A New Mooring!

Recently (2015 season), the Keyport Yacht Club mooring field had a number of boats break free from their moorings, so last year they ordered an inspection of all moorings.  Back when I purchased my (used) mooring, I thought I was buying something that was a permanent installation.  Of course, they can fail... that's why boats break free.

Last spring (2016 season), I thought I had passed the inspection.  Maybe there were two inspections, or perhaps there was a miscommunication, but I got the go ahead to put Seas The Day on the mooring and we had a fine season.  So I was surprised last fall to find out mooring inspection reports were mailed - I had not received one, and even more surprised when I received the following report.

So clearly, I had to invest some money in a mooring.

After getting some quotes, I decided to stay with Dan from Brother's Diving (yes, Diver Dan) and after some weather delays, my mooring was placed yesterday.  Here are some photos Dan supplied.

We start with a 500 lb pyramid anchor.  These are the 2nd strongest type of mooring anchor (only the helix screws that screw into the seabed are stronger - they're MUCH more expensive).  Any lateral force tips this over and the sharp edges dig right into the mud underneath Seas The Day's home.

A length of heavy chain (right) is connected to the pyramid with some shackles (visible above) and the heavy chain is connected to some lighter chain by some shackles and a swivel. 

At the end are two Dyneema (rope) pendants that hook onto our bow cleats.  Each fall when they winterize our mooring, they save the best pendant from the year before (the dirty one on top left) and we're required to get one new one (clean one on bottom left) each season.

This year we also got a new mooring ball.  We switched to a newer style that has only recently been allowed at KYC.  This ball will stay in the water and the pendants (shown above with their swimming noodles - to keep the ropes from chafing on the mooring ball) will simply be picked up and placed on our cleats.

Dan (pictured below with his helper) also supplied a photo with is all nicely laid out on his rig (at the top of this post).  Finally you can see 3 of the pickup sticks (the white with red stripe is mine - I think) which hold the pendants ready to simply pick up as we approach the mooring.

So here's a diagram borrowed from Chapman.  We have a pyramid instead of a mushroom anchor, but the rest is the same.  On a typical day, the heavy chain resting on the bottom pretty much holds Seas The Day in place.  The chain length is several times the deepest we expect the water to get.  So the mooring allows for a lot of movement while keeping Seas The Day in place.  If the wind gets strong, then everything slides and the edge of the pyramid digs in to keep us in place.

There's a lot I like about being moored (instead of staying at a slip).  The disadvantage is one of convenience... we don't have power hookups (extension cord would be too expensive) and Vicky misses having water right there to clean the boat with (we have to go to the KYC dock to fill up our water tank).  An advantage is the mooring results in Seas The Day always pointing into the wind - even small breezes will swing her around, so you always have a breeze coming in the front hatch.  

The big advantage to me is one of security.  The marinas in our area don't really have good dock security (gates, etc.) and even when we stay at a place like Liberty Landing, I'm aware that pretty much anyone can just step aboard Seas The Day.  On a mooring, a significant amount of water separates you from the casual passer-by.  (And we have KYC launch operators keeping an eye on things.)  

Finally is the issue of privacy... in a marina you're right on top of your neighbors so you hear everyone quite clearly (if I sneeze, I get a "God bless you!" from the boat next door).  Here on a mooring, I'm separated from neighbors by a fair amount of space so the boats can swing around on our mooring.

So now that the mooring is in place, we have to wait for another weather system to pass and they will launch us!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Movie Night - One Simple Question

Tonight it was confirmed from other sources... storms are coming this weekend and we have to wait a bit more to think about putting Seas The Day back in the water.

So next best thing... Sailing Movie Night!

Tonight we choose One Simple Question, an adventure/documentary about a sailing couple who take off in search of an iceberg.

The movie is engaging... I'm told it presents a great story about life on a small boat at sea.  I found it to be a nice mix about sailing, climate change and even a touch of romance.

Check it out!

Holding at T-minus...

We're very eager to get Seas The Day back in the water, but...

We don't have confirmation that our mooring is ready - the weather hasn't been cooperative, so we'll have to see how that goes.

Speaking about weather, well, my ears perked up during the news tonight when Hurricane Glenn started talking about how horrible this weekend will be.

So I went on to to see what Keyport looked like and it wasn't pretty.

You should know that we're strictly fair weather sailors.  Yes, we did get caught in the one squall last year and I've done a lot of reading about how to handle those, but I'm not ready for sustained 20 to 30 knot winds with gusts into the 40s.

I sent an email to our boatyard and mooring guy saying "don't rush on our account".