‘102:’ When 101 Didn’t Add Up For You.

The new Clinic from NY Sailing Center; it fills in the gaps left by the sailing school you went to instead of ours to learn how to sail a boat. Oops…

Years ago, we basically stopped offering rentals to the outside public, and restricted it to our own graduates. Anyone can join our Sailing Club, but before they can skipper one of the boats, they must prove they can handle it. We include one short private lesson for new members to help get them skippering.

Here’s an example: someone who joined our Club, who had 101 training and had other experience. What he didn’t do? Includes but not limited to…

  • Sailing a boat without an engine;
  • Sailing off or back onto a mooring;
  • Singlehanding.

So, in the clip below, you’ll see him doing the singlehanding part. roughly, but safely. We coached him through this after teaching him how to get off a mooring without a motor. When he was ready to come in, we coached him on that. Roll video:

One of our new Sailing Club members practices singlehanding, after a Beta version of our upcoming ‘102’ clinic!

So, why did we stop renting to gen-pop? They were all failing the rental checkout. Most schools had transitioned to courses that were only two days long, and it just isn’t enough. That’s a time-tested fact.

The other day, I chimed in on the ASA Private Instructors’ Forum on Facebook. (ASA is the American Sailing Association, the industry association we belong to for accreditation and certification. All legitimate schools in the US belong to ASA or US Sailing; most are ASA. ) There was a post relevant to this topic. The original poster mentioned that a school he had worked at did their learn-to-sail course in only 2 days, and he felt that 3 days was necessary. An ASA staff member commented, indicating that 3 to 4 days or sessions are typical for a proper learn to sail course. (Half day sessions can be quite productive.) I added this:

The trend toward 2-day courses has devalued the certification. I stopped renting to the general public years ago out of frustration with rental checkouts and wasted time due to this. Students who attended 3-day programs, where each day was spent mostly sailing, usually passed our checkout. NO student who did a 2-day course EVER passed our checkout. We wanted them to succeed and become rental customers. None of them passed muster. 2 days just isn’t enough, especially when the “unofficial” official industry standard is 4 per boat (we do 3 and some other schools do as well). We gave up; we don’t rent to the outside public. They can join our club program, get a free private lesson, sail with others, and be re-assessed.

Captain Stephen Glenn Card, Director and HBIC,* NY Sailing Center.

(*HBIC – Head Bozo in Charge.)

Two other members of the forum ‘liked’ my comment. No one disliked or commented on mine.

At least 2 schools in our region claim to have a 3-day course that is actually only 2 days of instruction. One does a few hours of classroom the night before the weekend of the course (after work; tired; bored after a few minutes). But, they only give 2 days of on-water instruction and sailing. Another does 2 days of mostly on-water, then lets students practice on a 3rd day. But, there’s no instruction going on after their 2-day 101.

So, where’s 102? Doesn’t exist. Not yet; not formally. But we’re going to offer a new clinic: “102: for when their 101 wasn’t enough for you.” This will be a clinic to have fun filling in the gaps left by other schools. It will be at least a day’s worth of time, probably broken up into two shorter sessions on two visits to the Sailing Center. Tuition? Not sure yet. We’ll debut it later this summer.

If you want to do it right the first time, here’s what we provide in 101:

  • 3 full days of instruction, each mostly to entirely on the water.
  • 2 half days of supervised and coached practice. An instructor is around the whole time, and is alongside during sail hoisting and ‘take-off’ before coaching as needed via radio and chase boat for the remainder of the practice. But, the instructor isn’t aboard. Students are sailing without one. This is the logical progression.
  • More time if needed for either instruction or practice. For example, if weather delays eat away too much time from a scheduled course, we simply schedule a free make-up session. If students aren’t feeling confident after the first practice, they can get more instruction for free before doing more practice. (This has NEVER happened.) If they want more supervised practice before renting or joining our Club, that’s fine – they get it. (This happens rarely; less than once per season.)

We also get people who join us for their next course, 103, after not taking 101 with us. They’re rarely ready for 103, and it becomes remedial. They weren’t done with 101!

You can pay a lot less at other schools to take their ASA 101 course. Of course, you get what you pay for. And then you pay more later. Or, you can just get it right the first time with us. Your move!

For more about our Start SailingSM 101 course, navigate your way here…

Slipstreams & Slipping Sands

IN THIS RANT: the ‘slipstream’ phenomenon, and why we need to keep much greater social distance when exercising outside – sprinkled with beach pics and boating right-of-way bits.

I’m still driving to Breezy Point from time to time to slip the park crowds on nice days. Why? Social distancing doesn’t seem to apply to bikers and joggers.

Maybe it’s self-centered laziness. Maybe it’s a healthier-than-thou attitude. Hopefully, it’s lack of awareness of what I’m going to write about below. But regardless, just like “Red, Right, Returning,” it’s WRONG. No, that’s not about right-of-way, but still…

Cute birds slipping the surf at Breezy Point the other day. Even at high tide, when the surf encroaches on our social distance space, it’s easier to get in a good walk and maintain social distance than at some NYC parks… and this is still in NYC! Steve Card, photo.

The image below is from a post by Jurgen Thoelen on Medium, which describes how studies in Belgium and The Netherlands conclude we need to allow MUCH more distance between us when exercising in public by biking and running. Even just walking. Jurgen sums it up well:

When someone during a run breathes, sneezes or coughs, those particles stay behind in the air. The person running behind you in the so-called slip-stream goes through this cloud of droplets.

Jurgen Thoelen, “Belgian-Dutch Study: Why in times of COVID-19 you can not walk/run/bike close to each other.”
The slipstream effect: social distance has to increase exponentially (a LOT) when people are moving at jogging and particularly at bicycling speeds.

I’ve been bitching about bikers and runners zooming (or slogging) right past pedestrians since this crisis got real. They often don’t take any care to pass at any distance, breezing – literally – as close as a foot or two past others. They’re breathing harder, and exhaling it onto those they pass.

As a lifelong sailor and angler, I’m acutely aware of the breeze at all times. I take care to try to stay upwind of anyone talking, breathing harder for any reason, and now – at the near apex of the infection and body count in NYC – not wearing facial covering or a mask. I mostly walk for exercise, but when weather favors it I ride my bike in Riverside Park on the mid-level esplanade. That way there’s room to see what’s ahead, and astern – with no surprises. I had to all but give that up with the extra crowds on nicer days as more people have more time to get to the park. It’s the only bright side of things for many people.

One’s upwind of the other; the one-footed boob is in the ‘slipstream’ of the other as the wind is head on (from ‘bow’ of far bird coming back toward ‘aft’ or ‘astern’ bird and camera. But wait, you say – no slipstream as they’re not moving. Wrong… wind. Steve Card, photo.

So, when I’m to windward of them (upwind), I’m also aware of the breeze carrying my breath in their direction. I stay farther away. Same for walking down the street. Windward sailing vessels give way to leeward ones (downwind) when they have the wind coming from the same side. Right or left; starboard or port… doesn’t matter what you call it as long as they both have it on the same side of their vessel. The problem is that on the pavement or in the park, people aren’t meeting me – or others – half way in return.

(Meeting, for right of way, is when two power driven vessels are approaching each other head-on or nearly so. This rule doesn’t apply to sailing vessels.)

One day in Prospect Park, that caused me to politely call out a passing pair of peeps (couple) who didn’t make any effort to walk in-line rather than side by side, forcing my other half and I to leave the road and walk in the dirt. The response I got was inappropriate, and so the convo degenerated. Who needs that when trying to maintain social distance while maintaining mental and physical well-being? Sheesh…

Breeze blown surf foam at Breezy Point, with a few random peeps for perspective. Steve Card, photo.

I’ve actually given serious thought to speaking softly and carrying a social distance stick with a fuzzy soft end (like a long handled duster). That can’t be construed as a weapon if aimed at a crossing biker or runner who won’t keep clear, right? Eh… let’s not go there, and so I don’t take the stick with me. Yet.

(Crossing is when two power driven vessels encounter each other, and they’re not meeting. So, they’re each to the other’s side. Even if one is coming slightly from behind; just not mostly. Yes, this gets technical; no, we don’t need to fully elaborate here. If you’re coming mostly from behind, you’re overtaking and you keep clear of what’s ahead. Guess what? That applies to sailboats coming up on power boats! Yeah. Back to our health…

6 feet away, or 6 feet under!

Steve Card, frequent recent rant. I penned it, but later saw that someone else came up with a slight variation so I’m sure many others have.

…for walking, the distance of people moving in the same direction in 1 line should be at least 4‚Äď5 meter, for running and slow biking it should be 10 meters and for hard biking at least 20 meters. Also, when passing someone it is advised to already be in different lane at a considerable distance e.g. 20 meters for biking.

Jurgen Thoelen, in the Medium post we’ve referenced and will link to below.

So, 6 feet ain’t nearly enough! Not unless we’re walking slowly with no wind, or stationary.

That’s the takeaway. I bike; I get it. It’s hard to keep distance when people are everywhere, often moving at different speeds and directions, on foot or on a ‘vessel.’ That can’t be an excuse; it’s potentially dangerous to others…

  1. You might be infected and contagious and not know it.
  2. You might pass someone else who is.
  3. Forget SARS/COVID-19: you might hit someone!

So, if you can’t Overtake, Meet, or Cross responsibly… JUST DON’T DO IT.

Surf scenery, social distance style. Breezy Point. Steve Card, photo.
Here’s a link to Jurgen’s post on Medium with more insight into that study…

https://medium.com/@jurgenthoelen/belgian-dutch-study-why-in-times-of-covid-19-you-can-not-walk-run-bike-close-to-each-other-a5df19c77d08

And our BVI Itin was…

We got back from the trip on Saturday and loved it. All a bit of a blur and a blend, and we detoured slightly from the plan. But, for what it’s worth, here’s the answer to the challenge we put to you: identify the “default itinerary” for our BVI trips.

Here’s that same DMA chart of the Virgins, with our default ITIN spots marked with my grandfather’s chess pawns (cuz, why not).

Same chart as in last post- this time, labeled with the spots. Go ahead; zoom it up! See some detail. In the meantime, here’s the list:

  1. Virgin Gorda: Spanish Town.
  2. Anegada. There’s just the one anchorage.
  3. Marina Cay. Again, the one spot.
  4. Jost Van Dyke: east end, between Jost and Little Jost.
  5. Norman Island: the Bight
  6. Cooper Island: just the one – Manchioneel Bay.

We deviated on this trip. Not by fucking up our compass, no. We just stayed two nights at Norman and skipped Cooper this time around. We adjust based on what the people who paid to play had to say. And, sometimes the weather. Here’s a synopsis of this trip!

Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda. We anchored there after a snorkel and lunch stop at Great Dog. Then, we dingied into the marina and called a taxi to the Baths. Always breathtaking; never disappointing (except when super crowded. Several in our group were first timers and blown away by it. We grilled aboard that night.

Two women enjoying the largest of the natural pools at the Baths of Virgin Gorda.
Ah, The Baths… this is the largest of the natural pools amongst the famous boulders randomly arranged aeons ago along the south shore of Virgin Gorda. It’s a delightful spot when it’s not crowded.
Not even done with the first day, and we have happy campers! Enjoying drinks at the bar atop the Baths National Park. That’s our Director up front with a Bush Slide (Bushwhacker with drizzels of choc syrup). Mmmmmm….

Anegada. Our personal favorite, where we often spend two nights. One did the trick on this trip as all were eager to see as much of the BVI as possible. We anchored, lunched, and went ashore to explore the north side beaches (mostly by bicycle; one sailor opted for a taxi). The bikers did a beach crawl. Dinner: Anegada Reef Hotel on the beach. Various dishes were accompanied by a nice NZ bottle of Sauv Blanc. Chess match: competitive game with Gregor, but Captain Card managed to find a way to win despite a kibitzing (but entertaining) audience.

Steering… nailing it… and loving it! Kalindi taking a turn at the helm en route to Anegada.
The stunning north side of Anegada. Shallow lagoon area behind the outer reef; plenty of little bommies to explore before that. Choose solitude or manageable shared areas where drinks and food (and some shade) are available. Excellent swimming and snorkeling; diving possible; care to kiteboard? They have that and SUP too!

Marina Cay. Got a mooring early; had to move when crowded by anchoring cats. No problem. Then, off to snorkel the Coral Gardens which didn’t disappoint beyond slightly silty water column. The fish didn’t seem to care. No one on board had been to the relatively new and, post-Irma, refurbished Scrub Island Resort. A friend on another charter supplied intel on the merits, so we hopped in the dinghy. No one on board had been to the relatively new and, post-Irma, refurbished Scrub Island Resort. A friend on another charter supplied intel on the merits, so we hopped in the dinghy. Nice spot; very expensive drinks that were disappointing to decent, but, hey – it’s a brand new fancy joint so we should have expected it. Dined aboard once more. Gregor whupped Captain Card’s ass at chess, straight up. So it goes. (nb: the fuel/water dock was supposed to be open, despite the rest of the island not offering anything anymore. The hurricanes totally trashed MC. However, it was closed all afternoon, and again in the morning. Two yachts had parked on the pier overnight after seemingly waiting all afternoon.)

Kalindi and Gregor plotting as we begin the sail back from Anegada to Marina Cay.

Transoms ūüôā Our home for the week moored at Marina Cay. We had just returned from snorkeling the Coral Gardens. Note the change in water color toward the shore of Great Camanoe in the background, and also the starboard of our twin rudders. This boat was BALANCED heeling over in a breeze! Very light helm. Just like our Beneteau 21 sloops back home.
The swim-up at Scrub Island. Worth a shot at least once to see how they’re pourin’ em on any given day. Nice spot!

Jost Van Dyke. We did a quick snack/snorkel stop at Monkey Point on Guana Island first; surf wasn’t up too much, but water clarity sucked. Nothing special in the fish life department, but it was fun to see them regardless and the cave had a school of likeminded fin fish on display as well.

On to Jost/Little Jost, which gave us a downwind sail in swells and a few jibes for good measure and balance. We moored at the back of the bay, close to the shallows and flats and also the dinghy dock at Foxy’s Taboo (yes, offshoot of the famous Foxy’s around the corner x 2 at Great Harbor). We usually anchor here, but there was a prime mooring spot so we took it.

My college fencing coach tried hard to get me to put my back hand on my hip when swinging sabre. He gave up. Here? It just works. Chie sailing us part of the way with wind and some swells to Jost Van Dyke by way of Guana Island.

After some lunch we dinghied in to shore and made dinner reservations before trekking to the Bubbly Pool, a must-see spot that’s a light walk/hike from the dinghy dock. BVI Tourism aptly calls it “the East End‚Äôs natural sea-formed Jacuzzi.” I agree! As usual, we had it to ourselves briefly upon arrival before the hordes arrived. Just the way the luck rolls for us here.

The Bubbly Pool, about to be replenished! Still frame from a clip we shot upon arrival. For the full effect, see our Instagram with a video last year (and possible another to come from this trip!).

A wave crashes into the “hot gate” leading to the Bubbly Pool, which is behind the fotog, and sends a geyser up at him.
Gregor and Chie heading back toward the dinghy dock and anchorage. Our yacht is the monohull to the right of two cats (3rd out from the point that’s roughly center pic).

Dinner was only for us. They’d let us know when we reserved that we were the only boat/table thus far, and to be sure to advise if we changed our plans. We negotiated a time of arrival, and we showed up. This is rare for this spot; it’s usually somewhere between happening and hopping. Easy night and early closing for them. But they took great care of us. Food was exceptional for BVI; we’ve eaten there before and enjoyed it, but everything was top notch including my baby backs, which were some of the best I’ve ever had.

Rough group selfie while riding the dink after drinks at Scrub Island. You get the picture… happy campers.
Kate and Chie having hammock antics and shenanigans before dinner at Foxy’s Taboo.

Norman Island. Before stormin Norman, we stopped at Sandy Cay right off Jost. We had it to ourselves briefly as usual being the first to arrive. We did a hot drop with the dinghy, and Sir Gregor volunteered to drop it off at the yacht and swim in. nb: it’s seldom calm enough to safely beach the dink here; don’t risk it. Swim or snorkel in from the day moorings. The attractions here are to beach comb and hike the path up through the woods to several elevated plateaus with stunning vistas. It’s way higher up than it looks from shore or afar. Pro tip: hit it early in the AM before heading to your next destination. The alternative, late afternoon, is often too late for securin’ your berthin.’ (This works at many popular BVI day stops before the crowds arrive.)

Sandy Cay, almost in its entirety, as seen from under our Bimini on the boat. Some beach at each end is cut off but this is the whole island. Flat, right? It’s higher than it looks. Check it…
Open water as far as the eye can see… right after that little Island to the left! View from most of the way up Sandy Cay.
Looking down at the moored yachts, and out toward the western Virgin Islands, from part way up Sandy Cay. Our yacht is one of the last two on the right.

We enjoyed Norman itself enough to stay two nights! That’s a first on our trips. Anegada and Virgin Gorda are other spots where we’ve lingered an extra day & night sometimes. We anchored at the Bight in a spot we can usually get away with that strikes a nice balance of serenity and equal opportunity to get to where we want to play here. We snorkeled, chilled, etc and then BBQ’d for din din.

Captain Caffeine, or just a true Coffee Achiever? Either way… totally works. En route to Norman Island, which was an upwind leg with plenty of tacking practice through Thatch Cut and then Sir Frances Drake Channel, and eventually right up to the entrance to the Bight. Boom.

The next day, we chose to do the moderate hike up the ridge for amazing vistas, and then day sail around Norman before grabbing a mooring at Benures Bay for the day. Yup; both Benures and Soldiers now have some moorings; this wasn’t the case when we were last here a year ago.

Sir Gregor at the helm as we circumnavigate Norman Island for a fun sail. We’re on the south side, looking south here, with some swells. This is a still frame from a video clip we’ll probably post on our Instagram (links to all social media are on all pages and posts).

We enjoyed the day here; Gregor did a second hike to another location. Then, back to our anchor spot and drinks and Danger Jenga ashore at Pirate’s Bight before a last supper aboard.

The next morning was both gloomy and beautiful as we motored back to the base and prepared to head home. We got lucky; as soon as the boat was docked and the engine off, it rained. But, as is usual, it was brief and we didn’t get soaked before we departed, and we wished we could have stayed just a little longer.

Looks like a heart, right! Well, those who came for the first time did fall in love. Those who returned, rekindled. Final ride: back to the base at dawn and sunrise, looking roughly east.

For more about these trips…

see our Sailing Vacation Course page, and visit our Instagram!

Turn Initiation: it’s not just for Skis and Snowboards anymore…

As we’re deep in the throes of a cold start to the winter – polar vortex/arctic blast kind of cold – thoughts are somewhat removed from sailing.¬† But not entirely.

While on the slopes enjoying fresh pow over the holidays, and warming back up to techniques shelved during the boating season, I was reminded of the concept of turn initiation.¬†¬†Don’t ski or ride?¬† Don’t even sail yet?¬† ¬†No problem – we’ll break it all down and maybe even get you stoked in the process.

Looks like this rider either tried an abrupt start or ending her last turn that way. Wasn’t there; can’t be sure. But it looks like she made a zig-zag of quick pivot turns in a that are on the right in pic. Her edge and bottom of board are a brake right now. Good if she wanted to stop quickly. How does that translate to the rudder of a sailboat? Read on…

“Turn initiation” is the technique used to get a ski or snowboard to go from flat on the snow to beginning a turn to one side.¬† Anyone who can link turns on either kind of plank knows what I’m talking about.¬† It’s like this: we make certain motions to suggest to the equipment that we want to turn instead of going straight.¬† After it starts listening, we add more motion to shape and complete the turn to the extent we want.¬† Regardless of what kind of turn we make, we have to start it – and eventually end it.

Same with boats!  Techniques, and consequences for ignoring them, are different.  Thankfully for sailing, there are usual no real consequences.

If you ski or ride, but are beginner to intermediate, it’s time to think about this again as you begin your snow sliding season.¬† ¬†You experts out there don’t think much about it, but warm up your technique and self-critique as you get your form back each season.

These guys are about to go down a moderately steep trail at Killington in Vermont. Skiers have two planks. Duh. Translation to sailing? Twin rudders that can operate independently. Kewl!

Back to sailing and turning a boat.¬† Let’s leave special techniques like steering with sails, and with body weight, out of it and focus on the thing we all use all of the time: the rudder.¬† (Don’t even sail yet?¬† That’s the fin that we turn back in forth behind the boat to make the boat turn, like a paddle stuck in the water and angled to one side.¬† Makes the boat turn.)

At the most basic level, we angle the rudder to one side or the other when we want to turn a boat.  Some boats have a stick attached called a tiller, found on smaller boats and almost mandatory to learn with.  Once the boat is in the upper 20-foot range, and especially at around 30 feet, it tends to have a wheel instead.  As the rudder is angled more to one side, the pressure of the water hitting it pushes it back the other way, taking that end of the boat with it.  The boat pivots in the middle, and turns.  (The direction the fin aims is also where it want to go once it gets moving.)

So, to make a slight or narrow turn, the rudder does not need to angle much to the side.  To make a sharp or tight turn, the rudder needs to move pretty far over.   Turn initiation is really the rate of motion to get it started, so that the whole process works better.

On a board or skis, if we suddenly wrench the plank over to the side, we often catch an edge in the snow and catapult or slam.¬† No fun.¬† But if we get the edge to gently start engaging, and then add more edge and pressure, we can smoothly get the plank on its edge and into a turn.¬† Can’t usually skip steps: have to START the turn before shaping and completing it, before ending it.

I haven’t skied since I as a boy, but I’ve watched a lot of skiers.¬† Good skiers are graceful in their transitions.¬† I’m a pretty solid boarder – somewhere in the advanced range by objective standards I’ve come across. I’ve watched a lot of boarders too.¬† I won’t pretend I know how to turn skis.¬† But Im supposed to be expert at understanding how to turn a board, as I’m a certified instructor.¬† So, I’ll talk about boards.

“I PISS on snowboards and boarders!” That you?¬† That’s fine. We’ll just shred around you and share the slopes with others.

For most turns on a snowboard – and some experts say all – we initiate by twisting the front of the board slightly so one edge is pressing into the snow and the other starting to lift.¬† Think of holding the ends of an ice cream stick with your thumbs and forefingers.¬† Now, think of holding one end level, but rotating or twisting the other end slightly.¬† That’s the general idea.¬† In the air, this does nothing but flex the stick.¬† But on snow, one edge of that stick presses into the snow, and starts to take the rest with it to that side.

Of course, we add some at the other end, and make more of a turn.  And, release.  And, rinse and repeat, maybe mixing it up from time to time to not get bored.

How do we translate this to turning a sailboat?

Think of the rudder as the edge.  initiation is turning the rudder ever so slightly to suggest to the boat that it should stop going straight, and to pivot.  Once it listens, we gradually increase the rate of turn but angling the rudder more.  But at what rate?  And how far?

This is the beautiful part, elegant in its simplicity.

We slowly, steadily, move the tiller to the side.¬† One simple, steady motion.¬† Easy.¬† How far?¬† Until we like how much the boat is turning.¬† For how long?¬† Until we’re half way through the turn, at which point we reverse the motion at exactly the same rate.

What if we need the turn to happen quickly?¬† Well, there is no shortcut here unless we’re throwing the boat around with our body weight, and/or using sails to help turn the boat.¬† Again, let’s leave it at rudder only for this discussion.¬† (And even when we’re using other techniques, rudder action doesn’t change.)

Too many sailors just jam the rudder over hard when they want to make a quick and/or large turn, especially for tacking (crossing through the wind quickly and ‘catching’ it again on the other side).¬† Jamming it over skips the initiation.¬† Consequences?

Drag.  The rudder is now sideways to the water, creating lots braking resistance.  Imagine gliding along in a canoe or kayak, and suddenly jamming the paddle in the water off the back end, with the flat side perpendicular to the direction of travel.  Sea brakes!  Craft slows down.  Think of air brakes on a plane.  Overuse them at the wrong time, and the plane starts to drop.

Stalling.¬† Because it’s angled too aggressively to the flow of water, the water doesn’t flow around the far side of the rudder, and and bottlenecks against the near side.¬† ¬†Water flow around the rudder allows the rudder to take the back end of the boat with it in an arcing turn, and therefore makes the front go the other way, pivoting around the middle.¬† Stall the flow, and we stall the turn.¬† (This also increases “leeway,” both when turning and when trying to go straight, for those with more sailing savvy.¬† It’s why excessive rudder angle has to be dealt with one way or another when going straight.)

Sorry, only one color still had ink… On your left: outline of a sailboat and its rudder, shown twice – straight, and also cocked slightly to port (left). The curved lines and arrows show how the water would flow over it on both sides and allow good turn initiation. On your right: severe rudder angle typical of many sailors when they make a large turn, especially to tack (cross through the wind quickly). Arrows and squiggly lines show turbulence with little to no water flow.¬† This is what happens if you simply jam the tiller over.¬† What a drag…

It’s slightly counter-intuitive at first.¬† “I want to turn hard, so why not just turn the tiller/wheel hard?”¬† Doesn’t work that way.¬† You’ll get there sooner by starting slower.¬† A slow, steady, linear motion of the tiller (or wheel) gives you everything you need:

  1. Turn initiaiton.  Suggests to the boat what you want to do, and it gently begins.
  2. Shaping.  We turn the rudder enough to get the turn shape/speed we want.
  3. Completion.  So simple Рhalf way through the arc of the turn, we just reverse what we did with the rudder at the same steady rate!

The tiller moves in a linear fashion, but the boat turns in a crescendo/decrescendo.¬† See?¬† We’re teaching to both logical learners and musical/rhythmic ones!¬† ¬†If we graph it out, we’ll see different patterns for the tiller and the boat…

On your left: graph of what the tiller motion is like – linear in speed.¬†¬†On your right: the effect this has on both rudder angle and boat’s turn shape: good turn initiation, shaping, and completion. WooHOOO!

The more rudder angle, the greater the turn.¬† To get there, we simply move the tiller steadily to gradually increase rudder angle, and therefore the rate of turn.¬† Your boat will take over, and the rudder will follow.¬† When you feel that, you’ll know you got it right.

Then, you’ll be ready to shred!

Want to learn more about turning a sailboat?  See us at NY Sailing Center in the spring.  We start in April.

Want to learn how to snowboard?  Already ride, but want to improve or take it to the next level?  Our Director, Dockmaster and rambling Editor at Large, Captain Card, is a certified snowboard instructor who loves to teach.  Hit him up to discuss getting out on snow.  This can be as close as Mountain Creek, NJ (an hour from the GWB), as far as South/Central Vermont, or mid way at Hunter or Windham in the Castkills.

Kids Trip, BVI: it’s a Wrap

Our inaugural Kid/Parent trip is in the books, and it was a resounding success. We’d been planning to do this for awhile. ¬†It’s always nice when a trip exceeds your expectations, and that’s what happened. Now, we’re thinking of an annual Kid/Parent flotilla during the Presidents’ Week.

Meet the First Families… (Note: click any pic for full size/res – can click twice on lap/desktops)

The afternoon sun had us all squinting but it’s all good. Just about to depart!

Both Moms were¬†graduates of our adult learn-to-sail program and continued sailing with us. ¬†One had already gone on to get her own 27 footer locally in the northeast. ¬†All the kids had some exposure to sailing,¬†and were mostly the same age, so it was a good fit. ¬†We scheduled a slightly shorter week than normal for logistical reasons and at the end of it, we were hearing,.. ” I don’t want to leave.” ¬†That’s a good trip.

While it was mostly oriented at the kids, in this case aged 10-12, the difference between a kids’ itinerary and one for adults is mostly details. The allure of the watery and warm environment, swimming and snorkeling, and some hiking and sight seeing works for all.

Grins are good. Running along the north shore of Tortola en route to Jost Van Dyke.

We managed to get in a fairly typical itinerary of islands and anchorages, even including Anegada as the winds were relatively calm. Jumping in from the swim platform seemed to rank highest in customer satisfaction.  Snorkeling and running around like banshees on the beach placed and showed respectably.  One medium hike and one that was arguably a little too long went over surprisingly well.

Marine sightings included one dolphin, several large sea turtles, more large tarpon than usual, a spotted eagle ray that came flying out of the water like a bat out of hell chasing bait fish, a fairly curious ‘cuda (just for the Captain who was off on a snorkeling flyer), and numerous colorful and oddly shaped reef fish found by several of the kids and adults

Winds were light this time, and we didn’t have to reef once. ¬†We saw others with reduced sail plans on occasion but we didn’t see the need, even with kids. ¬†The boat just didn’t heel much. ¬†When it was ‘sailing for the sake of sailing,’ the kids were fond of pointing out when the boat speed dipped below a few knots, and when it made more sense, we occasionally motor sailed to keep it moving.


Day One: mid-afternoon departure, after receiving the boat at noon, so lucky to get to an anchorage at all and happy to punch it under power.   Went to Marina Cay, a good jumping off point for other anchorages. Great shake-down snorkel for all, all of whom were brand new to it with one exception.

Captain Casual, trying to not be Captain Obvious (as in not over coaching, as she got it right away). First leg of trip, less than half an hour out.

Day Two:¬†off to Anegada. ¬†Forecast seemed to favor it, and once we poked our nose out past the main islands, it was confirmed in real time. This was one of the best sails of the trip, never needing to motor to keep up a good cruising speed. ¬†All who wanted to steer got plenty of time. Some ocean swells, but nothing we couldn’t handle from a comfort standpoint.

Made lunch and then took an open-air taxi ride to Loblolly Bay and Beach on the north shore, one of several great spots. ¬†Across the inland pond we were able to see part of the resident pink flamingo colony of the island. ¬†Far away, but they were there. ¬†Snorkeling, scrubbing energy on the beach, tightrope and hammock games, and a little ice cream didn’t hurt.

Apres snorkel ice cream. Loblolly Beach, Anegada.

Day Three: Virgin Gorda.  not enough wind to justify trying to sail back so we motored and made the time pass with games and snacks. Moored up at Saba Rock, then the kids did what they do best: jump off the boat for awhile.  The Captain organized a day trip for the group to The Baths, the famous boulder formations at the other end of Virgin Gorda.  They had a blast while the Captain caught up on correspondence, scoped out a new snorkeling spot, and shot some pool with pepperoni pizza for sustenance.

Not a typical scene anywhere – except at The Baths on Virgin Gorda. This is just one of many spectacular pools amongst the boulders.

Day Four: on to Jost Van Dyke. ¬†Combo of sailing and motoring to get the miles under the keel, but it was a fun ride. ¬†Gentle ocean swells at times and otherwise flat. ¬†First, we moored off Sandy Cay and did a dinghy drop of passengers to play and explore the small island, which was donated by Rockefeller in 2008. ¬†It’s a delightful swim over a sandy bottom to get ashore, then one can take a short scenic hike to the top and back down the other side for great vistas and getting the wiggles out. ¬†Huge hermit crabs are scattered around the trail here.

Much taller than it looks, little Sandy Cay is a great day stop. Swim in from your moored or well anchored yacht; hike up the trail to the top and back around the other side.

We anchored off Little Jost Van Dyke for the evening, affording more diving maneuvers (mostly cannonballs) off the swim platform before we did a group trip to he Bubbly Pool, a moderate walk from the dinghy dock.  This is a small beach almost completely enclosed with lava formations and rocks, through which the open Caribbean surf rolls in from time to time making a foamy whirlpool of things.  Very fun and relaxing; well worth the walk.

The Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke. Waves break through the rocks and tumble in, creating a foamy, refreshing bubble bath.

Day Five: more snorkeling and swimming before weighing anchor and setting sail for Norman Island, our last anchorage of the trip.  We sailed most of the way, furling up before negotiating Thatch Cut at the west end of Tortola, and then enjoying our first real beat of the trip with several tacks thrown in as we zig-zagged along St. John.

After mooring in the Bight at Norman, we dinghied in for the long hike to Money Bay towards the other end of Norman. ¬†One kid/parent turned back after making a good show of it and played at the main beach, including a kayak rental. ¬†The rest of us trudged on and made it to Money Bay for a secluded snorkeling expedition followed by lunch and a more downhill return. ¬†Followed, of course, by ice cream and virgin daiquiris…

One of the scenic overlooks on the Norman Island hike.

Next up: snorkeling at the Caves off the headland of the Bight.  Excellent visibility this time; not many schools of fish but plenty of large parrot fish, a few trumpets, and other individual and paired sightings.  Followed, of course, but scores of jumps off the back of the boat once we returned.

Rinse & repeat. And repeat. This never got old for them.

What didn’t we do? ¬†The Willy T, appropriately. ¬†There’s always the March 18-25 trip (still room for two more people…).


Kids & Parents in the BVI. ¬†it was meant to be, and will be again next year. ¬†Many of you have asked about this; we’ve been preparing for it; and now it’s a reality that we’ll keep exploring with you in the BVI and elsewhere.

See some more pics and clips from this and other trips on our Instagram!