Monday, March 13, 2017

winter comes to sailing... cancelled


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.


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


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

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


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.



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.


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.


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!



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


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sailing Class, Spring 2017, is under way


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.


 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!

 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.


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


 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.


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


Monday, October 31, 2016

Practice for Mumfest? hmmm...


Today's sailing exercise was similar to what we'll be doing for the Mumfest sailing demonstration. We sailed a 'Baby Duck' drill (link) which is quite basic, and some skills were GOOD! but others need work. Most of the beginner skippers have TACKING down pat, however we still need to work on Points of Sail before the maneuvers will make sense.

This graphic shows the Points of Sail, it's a nice drawing so perhaps this will be a little better to learn than the very simple diagram.Here


Here is what our sailing practice looked like. Usually, when we have a photo of two boats sailing towards each other and it looks like there might be risk of collision, it turned out fine. This time it went KA-BLAM! Fortunately the boats were not badly damaged and nobody was injured.

Perhaps this is a mistake that we learned from?

Anyway, today's sailing class was fun and everyone improved their skills. At this point, all the students should have studied up thru the first 9 on-line lessons (link) to Right-Of-Way. We have one more sailing session, then Mumfest (Sunday Nov 13) !!!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Rigging up, going sailing, business as usual !!


We have made good progress in the class. We know how to rig up the boats... although I did see a few knots being tied twice with a frown... We can hoist the sails... We know how to steer with a tiller... We are not quite sure about Points of Sail and Tacking, but we're getting the boats going pretty well much of the time. Some of the cadets have definitely found the Javelin's gas pedal!


Here we see Coach Hallquist's team, which includes an advanced sailor, rigging the mainsail on their Javelin. You can tell that the coach is not really needed at this point


Here is Coach Jackson's team already out sailing. Can you identify any mistakes they are making? For one obvious catch, YES the skipper should be looking where he is going! But there are a few other minor things that could be done better.

The real key to basic sailing is to always know the wind direction. Everything about what the boat is doing, or what to do with the boat, follows from wind direction.

Most of the sailing class is probably tired of hearing about POINTS OF SAIL. However, we must be able to figure this out before being able to do anything further.

Just to help refresh the memory, here are the Points of Sail.

What is the difference between Port Tack and Starboard Tack? This can be very important!


Which boat here has the Right-Of-Way? Both boats are on a Beam Reach (approximately).

Once we know the Points Of Sail, we can learn the maneuvers. Today we practiced Tacking, and many of the cadets could make decent tacks. All needed more practice, especially if we expect to be sailing the FJs! A sloppy tack can stall or capsize an FJ.


Coach said "Sail right to that buoy" and they did!

Notice the jib is backwinded (deliberately trimmed to the windward side). This helps steady the boat and slow it down. Usually a maneuver we teach advanced cadets, but it comes in handy when getting untangled.


OK, let's talk about TACKING.

A TACK is a turn. It can be a turn from port to starboard, or the other way. However, a tack ALWAYS swings the bow towards the wind, then past the wind, so that the sails change sides.

The first step of a tack is to get ready. The lookout must confirm that the path is clear, crew must be ready to handle the sails and to shift their weight (especially when it's windy).

The next step is the actual turn. The skipper will always put the tiller TOWARDs the sail, and hold it there for a brief time.

The crew should release the jib sheet, and start trimming ... slowly... on the new sheet. Why slowly? Because if you backwind the jib (see photo above) it will stop the boat's turn, and the tack will fail. We know this is true, because it happened several times today!

A successful tack is from CLOSE-HAULED to CLOSE-HAULED, Spinning the boat around from a beam reach to a beam reach might work, but is likely to fail because the sails flog for most of the turn. 

What happens if the boat is on a BROAD REACH and the skipper pulls the tiller away from the sail? And keeps turning until the sails change sides? We saw that happen several times today too.

Here is a crew under good control and sailing along . By the end of the day, the cadets had reduced the numbers of mistakes they were making.

Next week, we shall try the Baby Duck Drill (link)!


... posted by Coach Douglas King

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What do we do when there is NO WIND??


Hurricane Matthew came thru our area a week ago. We were fortunate to have little damage, the boats were unrigged and stored. Now, the coaches have re-rigged the boats.

Beautiful weather, not a breath of wind.

The plan is to launch the Javelins and move them to their regular slips. Not only is there no wind, but the hurricane rains inland have flooded some areas and the river current is MUCH stronger than usual.

The cadets had to paddle against the current. It was a workout but it was also a success.

At this point in the class, we should be beginning sailing drill. Everyone should know the ropes & knots (link). We should be familiar with steering with a tiller, and Points of Sail. Everyone has TACKED (link) several times in our two previous sailing sessions.

Approaching a dock under (arm) power is different than under sail; however some things never change.

It is more difficult to steer a boat moving slowly, yet it is obviously a bad idea to approach the dock too fast. The crew must be prepared with dock lines (in this case, the boat's bow line).

When handling boats around docks, one of the precautions is to NEVER get a body part (particularly hands or feet) get caught between the boat & the dock. Yet we must also take care to not let the boats be damaged against the dock.

There is always more to learn. The class is making good progress, today we also reviewed Points of Sail, Tacking, and Stopping. The whole course is available in our on-line lessons (link). In our next session, we should begin sailing drills and students should be able to sail the boats without coaches assistance. That's what this is all about!

... posted by Assistant Coach Douglas King


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall Sailing Sessions Underway


We've held 2 class sessions, one at the school and one on the water at Bridgeton Harbor. Last week the sailing class had to be cancelled for bad weather, so we are trying to catch up.

So far, we have studied basic terms, and practiced rigging the boats. To get the sails hoisted properly, we must know standing rigging & running rigging, halyards & sheets, port from starboard, rudder, tiller, and why they call it "the boom." Here's our lesson pages on terminology.

The cadets showed they remembered most of the rigging & terms from 2 weeks ago... not bad, y'all!!

We not only have to remember the details of 'boat words' and which part connects to what rope, we have to keep in mind that we in a different and potentially dangerous world on the water. For example, there is a right way to get on a boat, not doing it the right way can have bad results!

Huh?!? Is there a "right way" to get in a car??!!??!

Here you can see the element of TEAMWORK in the cadets rigging their Oday Javelins.

We have a web page lesson on basic rigging


Once the sails have been rigged and hoisted, the coaches check everything. Then we get underway! The beginner sailors have coaches with them in the Javelins.


The first sailing session is simple- sail back and forth, getting used to steering with a tiller and handling the sails. One of the keys to making it work is WIND DIRECTION.

Our gold-colored Javelin, with Coach Jackson, in on a nice easy BEAM REACH (point of sail). Is the skipper sitting in the correct position?


Docking a sailboat is kind of like landing an airplane. It's not necessarily difficult, but it certainly doesn't happen smoothly all by itself.


Under the expert direction of Coach Hittner, this cadet skipper & crew docked their boat almost perfectly, and Head Coach Rezab (in dark blue T-shirt) is on hand to recognize their accomplishment.

Here we see the next crew waiting their turn to get aboard with Coach Hittner.


Each crew got approximately 20 minutes of sailing time, this is not much. However we had to switch crews and give every cadet some sailing time. Hopefully, we will get rigged up and underway faster next session, and thus gain more sailing time.

Oh yeah, next time... we will move forward with learning about TACKING (which we did today) and POINTS OF SAIL, with more practice on these maneuvers too. Here's the next web page lesson 


Class is almost over- the last part is unrigging and putting all the gear away.

Here we see one of the advanced sailing cadets showing some beginners how to properly roll up a mainsail.

It is important that we keep these boats and the gear SQUARED AWAY. This is safe, it is efficient, and it lets the world know we are capable and serious.

... posted by Coach Douglas King