Monday, May 15, 2017

Congratulations to our new skippers

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Today was the last day of our spring sailing class. Fortunately the weather was fantastic: sunny, not too hot, nice breeze. Unfortunately, a few of our best cadets missed the class.

The cadets rigged up with no help from the coaches. We had only one boat sailing with a coach on board and he spent most of the time relaxing.





After a sailing around a little to "warm up," we started our familiar drill: Baby Ducks (link). This is a great exercise for beginners and advanced sailors; it gives the students practice and the coach can see what mistakes (if any) the students are making.



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Then, we began some serious practice: STOPPING (link). Obviously, it's important to be able to stop! Sailboats do not have brakes but we can make the stop fairly easily. What is difficult is to make the stop at a given spot, under control, so that we can maneuver to a dock or another boat. And it is always desirable to stop the boat in such a way that we can easily get going again.


Here, a beginner skipper has made a nearly perfect approach (on a Close Reach point of sail) and let the sails "luff" or flap, to lose power and slow down. These Oday Javelins are relatively heavy boats and will coast a long way with the sails totally luffing.





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Sailing on a Run (point of sail) or directly down wind. The sails are eased out and in this photo are also set "Wing & Wing."

Advanced Sailing Tip- adjusting the boom vang. If you look at the mainsail leach of the two boats, the one on the right has bit more curve. Also, the boat on the right's boom is angled up a bit more. Their boom vang is not as tight. When the water is choppy and wind is gusty, a tighter boom vang will make the boat easier to steer down wind (on a Broad Reach or a Run).






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Another beginner sailor making a successful stop. This is one of the key skills!













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This photo captures the fun of our sailing class!

We have had about a dozen class sessions, only 6 or 7 sailing sessions. Yet, we have learned the parts of the boat and terminology, the points of sail, how to steer with a tiller, tacking, how to stop, and (very important) the Right-Of-Way rules.

We also have a number of sailors who have already passed Basic Sailing and are either joining in the sailing sessions occasionally for fun (a privilege granted to the best sailors) or continuing an Advanced Class in which they study physics, communications, weather, and navigation... and practice their skills at a higher level.

One of the greatest things about sailing: there is always more to learn, always another challenge.

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Passing the Basic Sailing Course means the beginners will be awarded the Sea Cruise Ribbon and they may begin getting signed off on the "Blue Books."







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Congratulations to our sailors of Spring 2017


(as we mentioned, several of our sailors were unfortunately absent today)






... posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King 




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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Almost done... new sailors

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We're almost at the end of the class. The cadets have made very good progress, although we have had difficult weather this spring. Several times we have cancelled sailing altogether, which reduces the time we can spend sailing.

We've learned the major parts of the boat and how to rig it properly.  This involves learning a lot of new words, too!







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These cadets are sailing a Beam Reach, with Coach John Jackson offering advice... at this point, they don't need much.

To pass Basic Sailing, the cadets need to learn terminology, rigging, how to steer & how to handle the sails, basic maneuvers, and Right-Of-Way rules. This gives them the skills to handle the boats from the dock to any nearby destination, and back again safely.





Cadets who pass Basic Sailing receive the Sea Cruise ribbon for their uniforms, and academic credit. This is the equivalent of a college-level course. Once they are qualified 'basic sailors' they can continue to sail either for fun or to learn more ... like navigation, weather, communications, along with advanced sailing skills... and many of our sailing cadets have gone on to race or charter sailboats on their own.




The main purpose of the class, however, is to teach teamwork and leadership- none of this can happen just on it's own!


Here's two of our advanced sailors, handling the boat quite well. Although this picture looks idyllic, it was actually quite a rough day. They just make it look easy!





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Moments after the above photo, along comes a gust... wind strength jumped from the neighborhood of 12mph to around 20mph.

This time, everything is fine & under control. A bit later, the boat heeled over enough to have water pouring in over the side. Then it was time to start bailing the water out!





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Here's one of our new sailors, doing a great job. In this photo, we have just finished a 'Baby Duck' drill which included every Point Of Sail, Tacking, and Stopping.

This afternoon, most of the new sailors went from being able but hesitant and needing a reminder now and then, to handling the boats decisively and confidently. Big improvement, great afternoon of sailing!



... posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Good breeze, good sailing... good day!

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This afternoon was a bit windy, and we had a GREAT sailing session. We added one new skill, STOPPING (link) and we practiced Points of Sail and Tacking. We did a brief Baby Duck drill, so that is going to count towards the sailing qualification.

Today we got the boats rigged fairly quickly and efficiently... by this point in the class, the students should know all the terminology and all the knots!





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Two New Bern NJROTC cadets rigging the mainsail on their Javelin. These beginners sailed with a coach, but they might be ready for independent cruising after today!











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 It was windy enough today that the mainsails were "reefed." This means to tie off the bottom portion of the sail and make it smaller, so that the boat is easier to control in strong winds.











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Two of the Javelins tacking. The near boat (sometimes called Red Stripe Jr.) has just passed head-to-wind and you can see the jib starting to blow past the mast. It's important to begin a tack with good speed, and to control the boat thru the turn.

We had several failed tacks this afternoon, but we don't need to show photos of that.






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Sailing along on a close reach, on port tack. The mainsail could be pulled in a little tighter, but the boat is moving well.











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This looks like a close call, but it really was not. The yellow boat on the left is in the middle of a tack,  the white boat is under good control on a beam reach. You can see the reef 'tucked in' along the boom.








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These pictures do not convey the boisterous, bumpy conditions of sailing today. A southerly wind was reinforced by a sea breeze, building up to have steady whitecaps (10~12 kts) and a foot to two feet of choppy waves.

These cadets with Coach John Jackson did a good job this afternoon. Photos of sailing always make it look more calm (and relaxing) than it really is!








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 Sailing wing-and-wing, or on a RUN (point of sail).

This is faster than letting the jib flop around behind the mainsail, and helps make the boat easier to steer down wind, too.














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Now we're doing the BABY DUCK drill (link)... can you see the boats behind? They are doing a good job following!

This is a good exercise, requiring all the skills we have learned so far, and gives the coaches a good chance to either give feedback or to relax and enjoy the sail.








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Here is one of the few photos that show the waves... the water surface was somewhat rough. The waves make steering a bit more difficult, and make 'working the boat' a balancing act.









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And, as always, the day comes to a close and we have to unrig the boats.

This was both a very good practice session, and a lot of fun. Well done!




... posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King









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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rough weather day- we practice some basics

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As you'll see in the photos, this past session was held under threatening skies and strong winds.

We are getting familiar with rigging the boat, but it's more challenging when the wind is trying to tug the sail out of your hands






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Once the boat was rigged, we kept it tethered to the dock in such a way that we could swing it back and forth with the dock lines. The cadets practiced steering and handling the sails, without the risk of a capsize or of damaging the boat, if they make a mistake or respond a bit too slowly to gusts.

In this photo, the crew is having difficulty getting the jib trimmed. The sail flapping was very loud, making communication difficult at a time when it is needed most!


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This boat is CLOSE REACHing. You can see the sails are full, and are slightly eased: the mainsail and boom are not over the transom. The jib is trimmed correctly for this point of sail.

Two of the skills we practiced today was the correct position to sit in the boat, and handling the mainsheet "hand-to-hand" while steering at the same time.





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Even with the sails fully eased and flapping, the boat is heeling in the strong wind (approx 20mph).  Is it possible to sail in these conditions? Yes, but it is not a game for beginners, the skipper must -know- all the points of sail, the maneuvers, -always- maintain communication with the crew, have a quick & correct response to waves & gusts, and think ahead to avoid problems.




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The Javelins are good boats for this kind of teaching. They are built tough and they are stable, but they are also responsive enough to give the student a good feel for sailing. There is a LOT to remember, and so getting familiar with the basics of steering with a tiller (or the hiking stick... better!) and handling the sheets will help.





These two smaller diagrams show how this exercise was set up.


 When the sails are full, the boat is REALLY pulling hard... a sign that the sailors are doing it right!


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The line handling crew needed strength and attention to detail... but they did their job well and maintained high morale. Maybe this part of the drill was fun, too!


Hopefully we will hold real sailing drills next Monday. We will continue working on sailing the 'Points Of Sail' and on the basic maneuver TACKING (link), and hopefully will also practice bringing the boat to a stop under sail.



In fact, it would be very helpful to study our On-Line Lessons (link) (hint hint). There is a link to this Table of Contents in our list of links at the upper left of this web page.

... posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King




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Monday, March 13, 2017

winter comes to sailing... cancelled

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Unfortunately, we lose a few days every semester because of bad weather. Although the coaches worked today to launch and dock the Javelins, it was too cold & windy... threatening rain, also... for students sailing.

It's a shame, and ironic because weather has been so mild this winter. We've had many days that would have been GREAT for sailing... but not today.











Where are we in the class?





We've learned a lot. For review, got to the Sailing Lessons Table of Contents (link).




We should know the knots.







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We should know the parts of the boat. We especially need to know about SHEETS and HALYARDS, and how to rig the sails. The class has had several sessions of practice on this, and today we would have been doing it for real, on the water.



This class should be ready to begin practicing sailing the boat to a goal.














This means that for our next class, we should know the points of sail.

Note the difference between port tack and starboard tack. On starboard tack, the wind is coming over the starboard side of the boat.

One way to remember "Close-Hauled" is that the sails are hauled in tight (close to the center). A boat can be close-hauled on either port tack or starboard tack.




We should also know our first basic maneuver TACKING. Here is a brief lesson (link) on this.

See you next time!

... posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King







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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Capsize! ... What do we do NOW ???

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This Monday we held capsize practice at the Twin Rivers YMCA.

We've been learning the parts of the boat, and the terminology of boats & sailing. We practiced hoisting the sails (more complicated than it sounds!) and some of the other basic skills... now we get into a real boat that is really afloat!

It might not sound exciting to practice in a swimming pool, but it is calm and controlled... and it is the first time for many of our sailing cadets.


In small sailboat, capsizing should be part of the fun. However, it can be dangerous -IF- the sailors do not have the skills and the attitude to handle it. This is why we practice! Our Capsize Drill is found here (link).


While the rigging the boat, and the capsize drill, are simple, there is much to remember. For example, steering with the hiking stick! Here we see two beginners trying to remember everything we've learned so far. When sailing for real, for example, the crew does NOT hold onto the boom.


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The Capsize Drill is simple:  1- check on each others' safety
2- get control of the boat! This means to get a hold of the boat and keep from drifting away in separate directions. The skipper will swim around the stern to the centerboard, and hold it. This prevents the boat from turning "turtle."
3- When ready, pull the boat upright. The crew "scoops" into the boat as it comes up, so as to keep control of the boat and to help the skipper back aboard.

These cadets are carrying out Step #1... each makes sure the other is OK, before carrying out any other step.

In case of emergency, all our lifejackets have whistles so any cadet can instantly summon a coach.



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Step 2- gain control of the situation. This means keeping the boat from going all the way inverted; so the skipper holds tight to the centerboard.










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Step 3- pull the boat upright, the crew should be inside.

The reason for this is that a small boat can be very difficult to climb into from the water. Wearing a lifejacket makes it even more difficult.
Then, there is the risk of having the boat drift away. In strong wind, a small boat will skate away downwind much faster than you can swim. This is a serious emergency even if you are wearing a lifejacket!

A good crew helps his skipper get back into the boat after a successful capsize drill.







So now what?
We do it again!

Here, an experienced sailing cadet sees her crew trying to cope with an impending capsize, while steering with the hiking stick... good practice!








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Now, all the sailing cadets have practiced the Capsize Drill at least once. Many practiced in both skipper and crew positions.

Next, unrigging the boat under the supervision of Coach Murphy.

This class did very well, we are looking forward to sailing, FOR REAL




...           posted by Assistant Coach Doug King





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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sailing Class, Spring 2017, is under way



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The sailing class is off to a good start! We have begun learning all the terminology and parts of the boat (link). The work of getting the boats rigged has been done, which is one reason why it's important to know all the parts!    ...        ...       ...   Here we see Coach Mark Hittner showing the class how to get started raising the mast on an Oday Javelin. The cadets will do all the work themselves, which will prove how much they have learned.




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 Meanwhile, on our (repaired!) Oday Javelin "Red Stripe Jr" the mast is up, the boom is in place, the boat is ready to be launched. Looks like the New Bern sailors have learned a lot already!








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 How do we know that the boats are rigged correctly? What more is there to learn, before we are ready to actually GO SAILING! One way to find out is to hoist the sails!     ...    Here, a couple of our more experienced sailor cadets showing the beginners how to put the mainsail on the boom, and make ready for hoisting.


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Here, another crew is practicing hoisting their mainsail. Looks like it will not be long before they are ready!




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 So, if the coaches let the students do the work, why do we need coaches? Well, teaching is work. So is correcting mistakes.... we all make them, some make more than others.   ...  Speaking of mistakes, a cadet steered one of our Javelins (Red Stripe Junior) into a collision last fall. The boat was damaged badly enough to need repair.






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A closer look at the cracked fiberglass. The inner cracked part is secondary damage from the flexing of the hull under impact. These boats are strongly built, we are lucky that no sailor were hurt in the collision.   ... Fortunately, our coaches have experience with repairs to collision damage! Hmm, I wonder how they know these things... ...


This coming Monday (March 6) don't forget to bring a towel. We will be going to the YMCA for CAPSIZE DRILL

If you want to see what this looks like, try here (link)



...      posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King



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