Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Weather Delay, Practice Tacking


Windy and chilly on the dock
We've had several weeks of bad weather and have not been able to go sailing.

Today was only medium-bad weather, so our sailing class held a sailing exercise although we did not go out sailing.

 Today's exercise was a mix of review... terminology, rigging, steering, Points of Sail, and tacking... and new material.

The boat was tethered to the dock, so the skippers and crews could practice without risk of the boat going out of control, crashing, or capsizing.

Practice controlling the boat, without risk
This way, we can practice the moves that skipper and crew must make to succeed in controlling the boat when sailing for real.

One of the things we learned is that the wind is always shifting slightly, changing direction and gusting. This is a challenge!

The skipper steers (with the hiking stick or tiller extension, please) and handles the mainsheet. The crew helps hold the boat level, keeps lookout, and controls the jib.

When making a maneuver like TACKING (link) there are several things that skipper and crew must do.

Just to make it clear, TACKING is when a boat makes a turn towards the wind, and continues to turn until the wind is on the boat's other side.

The first thing to do is to prepare. The skipper tells the crew (crews: don't say you're ready until you're REALLY ready!). Then the skipper puts the tiller towards the sails (remember T-T-T) and the boat begins to turn.

As the boat turns into the wind, the sails will cross over and the sailors do, too..... the crew must handle the jib sheets, and the skipper continues to steer the boat in the turn.

When the boat is sailing on the other tack (boats are always "on" either starboard or port), the skipper straightens out the tiller and now the boat is sailing again.

Here is a diagram of the POINTS OF SAIL. This is very important to remember.

Next time, we hope that the weather will be good and most of the beginners will be ready to sail for real.



Monday, March 19, 2018

Underway... under sail! ... on the Neuse River


The Spring 2018 sailing class has now completed some classroom time, some parking lot time with a boat on a trailer (good training for newbies), and capsize drill at the "Y" pool (Thank you, Twin Rivers YMCA!!).

Today we got underway for real. The Navy saying for ships is "Haze Gray and Under Way" but our boats are white and yellow fiberglass. It was a gray day, overcast and chilly, but all we need is wind!

The first step is rigging the boats. That's why we studied all the terminology (funny boat words, including the names of important parts) and practiced rigging a Javelin in the school parking lot. Now we're doing it for real! The class did relatively well, the beginners had coaches help.

Now we're out sailing for real! Although it looks windy, and there were some gusts, the weather really was almost perfect.

The boat on the left in this photo is being sailed by experienced cadet sailors with no coach aboard. This is one of the "perks" of being a qualified skipper!

Here's another link to our Sailing Lessons contents page. At this point in the class, you should be able to breeze through the first 8 of them.... terminology, Boat Parts, Points of Sail, Ropes & Knots, the Capsize Drill, etc etc....

A couple of beginner sailors with Coach Murphy. As you can see, there was enough wind to get the boats really moving.

Later on, both of these beginners took turns steering the boat. This is actually one of the easiest jobs but it does take some practice to do well.

One of the basic sailing lessons is about JOBS on the boat: to be a sailor, a person must not be a passenger. Sailors have jobs! One job is to be a lookout, alertness to everything around you..... for example, a log floating in the water..... is critical to success. Another job is to handle the sheets (what is the difference between a SHEET and a HLYARD?). In these boats, the crew handles the jib sheet and often the skipper will both steer and handle the main sheet.


Here are two more beginner sailors, with Coach Mark Hittner (sitting in the middle). You can see that one of them is already taking on the task of steering, and doing a good job too! The other student is looking up at the sails which is also a good thing to do.


Did I mention that one of the perks of being a qualified sailor in New Bern NJROTC's program is that you can sail a boat on your own?

Looks like fun, doesn't it?

As a sailing coach, I wonder who is doing the job of LOOKOUT at the moment this photo was taken, but overall the sailing cadets do quite well


Here is another beginner on the tiller, steering. Actually he is steering with the hiking stick / tiller extension, which is a very good action to practice. He is holding it a bit awkwardly but will surely improve with experience....

... the hiking stick should be held cross-ways to the boat, either like a microphone or a frying pan, but always so you can steer with either a push or pull.

Here's another beginner, steering with the hiking stick.... this great to see! It is less important in a heavy, stable boat like the Javelin, but it still helps one keep control of the boat properly. In a lighter, sportier boat like the FJ, it is impossible to steer properly without using the hiking stick, so this is why we like to see students learning it early on.

This young lady sailor is holding the tiller extension cross-ways, and she appears to be doing a fine job steering.

Did we mention that sailing is actually fun? It's a lot of work, of course, but the reward is wonderful.

And looking at this photo, we see yet another student steering with the hiking stick! Well, to be fair, this particular young skipper has a couple of semesters of experience and should be doing it properly after all (which he is).

You can see by the wake that the boat is moving right along too.


What goes up must come down, and boats that go out sailing must come back in.

Here are the NJROTC sailors unrigging their boats and putting everything away, "squared away."

We are looking forward to next time.... maybe it will be just a little warmer?

...    ...    ...  posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Capsize! What do we do now?


The New Bern High School Navy Jr. ROTC says THANK YOU to Twin Rivers YMCA  !!

As sailors, we have to cope with all kinds of surprises. Generally, boats DON'T want to do what you want them to do. Tipping over is kind of fun on a hot summer day, but it can be dangerous (especially in cold water) and it usually happens as a surprise.


After the cadets carry the boat into the YMCA pool, Coach Murphy guides them in rigging it up


If your boat tips over, what do you do?

Well, it might be a good idea to keep in mind a couple of things to NOT do:

NEVER lose track of fellow crew members or your skipper..... check on everybody's safety

NEVER abandon the boat and attempt to swim to shore

NEVER rush to attempt righting the boat..... calmly take control of the situation


The US Coast Guard statistics say that many boating capsizes result in fatalities (over 100 per year on average). This is tragic, because with good skills, capsizing is not dangerous.

This is why we have training!

 Our Official Capsize Drill


The Flying Junior, or "FJ," is a standard youth/junior and collegiate sailboat. They are simple, responsive, and a lot of fun. Because they can easily tip over, it is important to be able to handle a capsize before going out on the water.

Three sailors find themselves in the water, and their boat laying on it's side. The first thing to do is to make sure that all on board are safe ..... "YOU OK ?!?"


When a boat has capsized, all kinds of bad things might happen. A person could get trapped under water. The boat could drift out of reach, in fact when the wind is strong, a capsized boat will blow away quite rapidly...... possibly faster than you can swim! Always keep a grip on some part of it!

Another DO NOT to remember- NEVER try to climb up the cockpit of a capsized boat. You will just pull it over on top of yourself. Also, don't try to stand on any part of the rigging or mast. If you are hiking and end up sitting on the high side of the boat, that's OK. But if caught by surprise, just let yourself into the water and float in your lifejacket.

The next thing to do is to get control of the situation, and take control of the boat. The skipper swims around the stern and grabs the centerboard, preventing the boat from "turtling" (when the mast is pointing straight down, the hull looks like the shell of a big turtle)

When all is ready, the skipper (or the crew, if they are the one holding the centerboard), pulls the boat rightside-up, and the other person "scoops" into the boat. This is part of keeping it under control.

You may have heard "Don't Ever Bounce On The Centerboard." This is good advice..... they are strong but you are exerting great leverage...... just pull steadily


Here are two more beginners going over into the drink.

 It is the job of the advanced sailors to manage the capsize drill, they are very good at it. Part of the fun is getting to pull the mast over and capsize the FJ on purpose!



... posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cold weather, sailing anyway!


Thanks to Coaches John Jackson and Russ Robinson, the sailing class sailed large keelboats this week.

Here is half the sailing class sailing the Jackson's Tartan 34 Georgie Girl. This involved the basic skills they've learned, but also some new things like handling winches.


Unfortunately, we don't have photos of the other part of the class sailing the Robinson's Tartan 37 Rampant Lion. But here's a view of the cold wind across the river as Georgie Girl heels just like a smaller boat in the breeze.

Most of the class is advanced sailors, and we can work on navigation and radio communications while we sail.

Thanks to Head Coach Jerry Rezab for the photos.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Autumn Sailing


We've had some weather setbacks, but we have also done some sailing.

Here are two of the advanced sailors, headed out from the dock. They have the boat moving relatively well in light wind.


Here's one of our advanced skipper, sailing close-hauled in light air. You can see all the tell-tale (ribbons on the sail) are showing good air flow, and although it doesn't look as exciting as heavy-wind sailing, this requires a high level of skill.


This is the same boat but now we have one of our beginners taking the role of skipper.

It takes a bit of practice to handle the mainsheet and the tiller at the same time. Here we see the newly-minted skipper beginning a TACK (tiller towards sail).


Light wind can still be fun.

We were lucky to have a warm autumn day, the calm weather was good for beginners to gain confidence.

The sun was already setting and the wind died, so our sailors paddled back to the dock and put away the boats and all gear, "squared away."

 ..... posted by Assistant Sailing Coach Douglas King


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sailing for Mumfest


 A cloudy day, but enough wind to sail.... and good occasion to make a voyage to downtown New Bern!

The sailing cadets, including the new class of beginners, sailed across the Neuse River from Bridgeton to the Galley Store docks right at the foot of Pollock St. Mumfest was in full swing, with musicians performing, crafts displays, and of course traditional fare like cotton candy funnel cakes.


The fleet of 4 Javelins put on a brief display of sailing maneuvers for the crowd at Union Point, then docked and took a break for lunch.


 Head Sailing Coach Jerry Rezab and Coach Jeff Hallquist supervised the sailing fleet from a motorboat, and provided safety back-up. Things went very well.

The advanced sailors had a great time and got to show off a little, and the beginners got in a full day of practice. A great experience!


posted by Douglas King



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Moving forward...


Another good sailing day; and again with a hurricane on the horizon. That is part of this region's weather pattern, as sailors we must deal with the facts.

Because of the risk of storm winds & high water, the advanced sailors did not rig up the FJs today, we left them secured. However we did sail Javelins again today, and carried out a few more exercises intended to build skills & confidence.

Beginner sailing cadet with Coach Gormley, preparing to hoist the mainsail 

It should be easy for you to identify the parts of the boat in this photo

By this time in the class, we should know the basic parts of the boat: Hull, Bow, Stern, Gun'l,  Rudder, Tiller, Centerboard, Rig, Standing Rigging, Forestay, Sidestay, Mast, Boom, Jib, Jib Halyard, Jib Sheets, Mainsail, Main Halyard, Main Sheet, Outhaul, Boom Vang, Cleat(s). We should know at least three basic knots, and where they are used on the boat.

We've gotten a good start on actual sailing skills, so all the terminology for basic parts of the boat should be easy for us at this point. Now, half the class is made up of advanced sailors, and so we are throwing yet more terminology at them! What is the gooseneck???

One of the fun things about sailing is that it is truly a different language.

Sailing conditions were gusty today, and that makes the Boom Vang more important. Here is a crew of advanced sailing cadets, listening to advice and practicing how to adjust their Boom Vang.

Were the advanced sailors disappointed to not be sailing the "sports cars" of the fleet, our FJs? Probably yes. However it was good practice to sail the Javelins.

Now is a good time to go over our Sailing Drills (link). These are both practice and demonstration of skills necessary to qualify as an NJROTC sailor, and also to realistically control the vessel under most circumstances. 

One of the skills that our advanced sailors need to practice is steering the boat and working the sheets together. It was common today to see a boat turn, and the sails either remain in the same place (pulled in too tight for the Point of Sail) or flap while the sailors figured out what to do next.

The Javelins may not be "sports cars" but they can move right along. This one is kicking up a wake, sailing on a Close Reach.

We also practiced STOPPING (link), this is a fundamental skill.


 Meanwhile, the beginner sailing cadets were sailing in the Javelins also, with coaches helping.

Here are two newbie with Coach Hallquist. They are on their 2nd underway session, practicing steering and handling the sails while actually out on the water. This follows practice in rigging up the boat, and will be followed by more practice in unrigging and putting everything away properly. We expect our sailors to keep their boats and gear "squared away."

With a hurricane lurking over the horizon, it was overcast with gusty winds. This photo shows a nice calm moment in sailing the boat!


 We have two yellow Javelins, at this point all cadets are out on the water. For some classes, we have to divide the sailors in two and have them take turns. One of the coaches primary jobs is to care for our fleet and keep the boats in good sailing condition.


 Sailing on a Close Reach, hopefully these cadets will be ready to handle the boat on their own soon.

This Javelin could turn slightly towards the viewer, toward the wind, and pull the sheets in tighter, and the boat would be Close Hauled.

We expect the advanced sailors to be able to skipper their boats upwind efficiently, sailing Close Hauled smoothly. For beginners, this is a difficult skill.


 Time's up, back to the dock, time to unrig the boats and get back on the bus.

 The sails must be properly rolled and stowed, the boats correctly tied to the dock, rudders removed, and all gear put away.

This is part of the basic sailing qualification.


 Yes it's work, but it's fun too.

And well worth while!

. ... posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King