Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hurricane Florence hits our fleet


The NJROTC Sailing Program has been cancelled by Hurricane Florence.......... we hope to resume sailing in spring next year.

We have had several hurricanes threaten our program and our boats over the years.... in 2010 (H. Earl) and in 2011 (H. Irene) particularly but most cadets will remember Hurricane Matthew just two years ago.

H. Florence was very powerful, following an unusual path and bringing over 10 feet of storm surge and 90+ mph winds.

At this point, we are not sure of the status of the fleet. We don't even know where some of them are, although any that were washed away and lost are probably damaged beyond repair.

The coaches homes all suffered damage and it is unlikely that we will be able to commit the time to work on the sailing program for another month. This would put us so far behind schedule that there is no chance of sailors completing the basic qualification this semester.

 Instead, when time permits, we will focus on recovering and repairing what we can.

This program is still better off, materially, than when we began over 15 years ago.

Our sympathy, our hopes, and our determination to improve go out to all victims of Hurricane Florence.


... posted by Assistant Sailing Coach Doug King


Monday, April 30, 2018

Sailing Today..... yes, finally!


This afternoon was beautiful, sunny, not too hot, there was even some wind! After weeks of bad weather, we were really glad to get out on the water and see how much we remember about SAILING.

For the first time this year, the advanced sailors took out the FJs and had some fun in the "sports car" boats. A few of the less-experienced were nervous at first, but all had a good time and everybody gained some good practice.

At the far left, you can see the cupola of the old Post Office in historic New Bern,  with some of our boats and cadets sailing...... the one coming towards the camera very fast is an FJ


Here is the single most important thing to understand about sailing: the Points of Sail, which is really just a way of describing and defining the angle of the boat to the wind.

 The coaches were a little disappointed that the cadets are still weak on this, let's make we master this diagram..... it's simple, really!


Here's two of the advanced cadets finding the excitment in sailing an FJ. They are preparing to gybe, just as a gust hits.

HINT: it is easier to steer downwind in strong winds when the vang is tight

Standing up in the boat is often a "show-off" move but it is also a good way to capsize, or fall overboard. In this case, the boat is trying to swerve one way while the skipper is trying to steer another way, and the crew cannot decide whether to hike out to flatten the boat or to wrestle with the jib sheets. 

 A close call? Not really, the two boats passed with a safe distance apart, and both were under good steering control the whole time.

In the event that the boats were coming too close, which one would have Right-Of-Way? (link) This is still a topic to be covered in this spring's sailing class!


Two beginners with Coach Jackson..... each took a turn as "skipper" this time, and did well.

Can you tell what "Point of Sail" this boat is on? You can see by the wake that they are moving along nicely, so the sails are set or trimmed correctly......


Here's an FJ zooming by a Javelin, as well it should. For one thing the FJ skipper is one of our best sailors and has some racing experience.

 We encourage sailors to move into the FJs as soon as they can, because these boats are not just faster, but they are more responsive (better feedback for learning) and with only two people, the cadet sailors gain much more experience quickly.


Three beginners with Coach Hittner.

Are they ready to take command of the boat on their own, next week? That's what we are working toward.

 ...  written & posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King


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