Depends where you are and what you’re doing, but learning how to sail or sailing in a club is right around the corner!
So, yesterday evening, I was double checking the temps and precips at several spots to juggle competing concerns… fleet prep and launching, and also a potential last shot at some snowboarding. Interesting stuff! Had to double check to be sure… don’t take my word for it!
Yup… we are totally inverted temp-wise. Partly sunny everywhere, although it had just rained a bit in NYC.
Hunter NY (Catskill Mountains): 56° (nb: it was 59 shortly before I screen shot these)
Killington, Vermont (about 1/3 of the way up to Canada): 66° (and yeah, it was at least 67 shortly before)
This weekend is the last of the season for Hunter and Windham in the Catskills. Stratton in Vermont hasn’t announced a closing date yet, but they’re getting kinda close. Magic is already done. But Killington? 83 trails open yesterday – a few more than just a few days ago due to moving snow around and grooming. With a little luck, I might still get up for a day and a half or so without neglecting anything here in the colder south!
The cherry blossoms are popping. That means the fishing picks up, and it means that sailing weather gets more consistent soon. Sailing Club sessions are available almost as soon as we splash the first boat! Classes start in a little over a week, with Start BareboatingSM (ASA 104) on the 17th. Start (ASA 101, learn to sail) begins May 1. We used to always start in April with that: mid month. We took some bruises with weather delays, but it worked. Until, of course, it didn’t.
Global warming and related climate/weather changes have made April too iffy to jiffy reef (reduce sail) and suit up/show up for April beginner lessons. It’s not so much a matter of cold; that can factor in, of course, but most students who come for lessons have done some skiing or snowboarding, and many are regulars. They have the gear. But, too much wind is counterproductive or even unsafe for beginners. Add cold and rain, and it’s freakin miserable sitting in a boat with cold wet hands on ropes and steering sticks (tillers). Plus, hard to keep a dry butt.
June is arguably the single best month for beginners to learn to sail. It averages out two key variables: volatile weather, and time to continue practicing and enjoying as the season goes. Having said that, people learn successfully throughout the boating season. Any month can have a few stinker days that aren’t productive enough, and lead to a make-good. Our courses aren’t over until they are – when students have the skills they need to go skipper the same boat they just learned on! Otherwise, what’s the point?
“Shots and masks, masks and shots, and shots and masks!”
what George Carlin might have said about the state of things. I’m sure he’d have referenced those shots being in asses, too, but who knows.
Two of our most prolific instructors have gotten their first shots now, and it’s all on the near term horizon for those who haven’t, so there’s that. Masks have become readily available, and it’s easier to find something that fits you. As warmer weather approaches, we soon transition from actually liking the masks on cold days to probably wishing they could come off on the warmer ones.
We’re still offering our “Live 105” coastal navigation courses on Zoom, but it’s transitioning soon to Sailing Club and courses.
Last season, we went through this with the masks. We started sailing in March! True, it was a private client here and there and group lessons began later this season. But, we had the whole spring-through-fall experience with them so can offer some thoughts.
Buffs and competing products are not so good for this. True, they offer good sun protection. But, they don’t work as well at filtering air, and they don’t shape around the nose. That means COVID in, COVID out. But, they can still be used as a neck gaitor. Just keep them down and put a proper mask on in their place, or put the buff over a proper mask if it’s not too tight.
Surgical masks: in our humble opinion, they suck! They are ill fitting and only good for blocking direct spray. They usually leave gaps on the cheeks and around the nose.
N-95 and K-95: depends on the fit. At least they’re white, so they don’t get as hot as anything dark. Obviously, the material has proper filtration. So, if they fit, and don’t leave gaps at the nose, you’re golden.
Cloth masks: good if they conform to the bridge of the nose. That requires a metal fitting that can pinch over the bridge. No got? No use.
Cloth or other fabric with an inner pocket for disposable filters: these are the ultimate in our opinion, as long as the filter used is good in filtration and fit. I found a style from Ski The East that have more breathable fabric – tighter weave on the outside, and the inside layer is a little too breathable. But, there’s a large inner pocket for a filter, and a large seam that goes around the edge of the chin and jaw. The filter area starts there and goes up to the nose clip. Strangely, they supply a filter that doesnt’ fill the space and is too small. But, if you get packs of filters from another source that fit the area, you get comfortable masks that can fit properly and balance breathability with protection.
They come with elastic ear pieces that are adjustable, and one can tighten the top and bottom independently or together to customize the fit.
I liked my first pair so much I bought two more. I even used it snowboarding: I put it on, then put my balaclava helmet liner on around it and keep the face part down. I now need to re-order filters. I found ones at REI that are for an Outdoor Research mask product that I do not recommend (Adrenaline Sports Face Mask), having tried it as well as observing another masker’s successes and failures with it, but the filters will fit the Ski the East masks and probably many others of similar style. See links below.
Why worry about this when outdoors? Well, remember the Rose Garden super spreader event? remember there’s this thing called wind? It’s when the air blows – sometimes your way? Yeah. Being outdoors is better.. until it isn’t. Indoors, with proper ventilation and filtration, can be better (although it usually isn’t). One of our clients is a Delta pilot and says he feels far safer in the confines of a plane than in any other indoor scenario, given the turnaround time on filtering air: every 3 to 4 minutes!
And more about air travel, versus driving: some experts are going out on a wing and saying it’s MUCH safer. And, we’re talking Covid context. Here you go…
Or, lose their fishing rod… or, catch COVID. But we can all prepare well to avoid or mitigate any of that. We mitigate every time you come to learn how to sail with us.
The inspiration for this post? A recent funny a/f Instagram clip we came across and reposted. Fishing fails. Four different clips of people failing spectacularly at fishing.
I have free license to laugh. I’ve lost rigs to hooked fish twice in my lifetime, and came damn close another time. I’ve paid my dues; I know what can happen.
The first time was in my teens. The fam was in the BVI (Virgin Islands), and I was at least as interested in fishing as sailing at the time. I caught some live bait that afternoon and kept the little fish alive in a bucket pending live lining for something larger off the dock that night. Lo and behold, some other kids down there had the same idea and we were all tossing our bait to the shadow line off the dock to see what came by. It was quiet. One kid was having trouble with his tackle, so I offered to help. I put my rod down and went to help. As I walked back, I saw my pole torpedo off the dock out onto the surface of the water, where it didn’t sink – but actually glide along teasingly for a moment, leaving s little wake. Then it suddenly shot off into the night so fast it just disappeared. Gone. Done. Had to laugh; I had that kind of humor even back then.
And, no… no one actually EXPECTS to fall overboard. But we do sometimes, and that’s why we wear life jackets or PFD’s. During our Start SailingSM courses (learn to sail / ASA 101), students always wear PFD’s. What if it’s hot out, light wind, warm water, and everyone can swim? You STILL wear them. We invest in high-quality automatic inflatable jacket with manual overrides. That way, you don’t even know you’re wearing them.
We sail in very controlled settings, with an eye on the sky as well as the radar and weather apps. We don’t take you out when bad weather is approaching, and we get off the water before conditions deteriorate if we’re the slightest bit concerned. But, developing good habits during class carries over into the future of your sailing. Hard to get separated from the boat if you’re tethered to it; hard to drown if you’re wearing a personal flotation device.
The second time I lost a rig overboard? I was in my 30’s. I was on a private fishing charter with a friend from my saltwater fly fishing club, the Salty Flyrodders of New York. It was out of Montauk, and we were on a Boston Whaler Outrage (large rig; probably over 20′). Captain Ken Turco (RIP) was putting my friend Mark and me on the fish. It was wall to wall false albacore, and it was easy to hook up. They were bombing small bait on the surface, so there was really no surprise about what would happen: see fish, drive over to fish, don’t actually run through the fish, cast to the fish, hook and fight the fish.
So, we did. Fish on with each cast. We decided to experiment with how quickly we could bring each one to the boat to release it and catch another. The quicker it’s done, the better it is for the fish, as stress and oxygen debt can later kill a fish that actually swims away apparently unharmed. So, we started tightening down our drags more and more with each fish released. (Drag on a fishing reel is the braking mechanism that allows controlled slippage of the line from the reel so a fish doesn’t simply snap the line or the rod.)
False albacore are small tuna. Small, but strong. They do one thing when hooked: swim away fast and far. Hence, proper drag tension. We were getting tired fighting one after another with tight drags. And, my hands were very stiff and tired. And so, after hooking the umpteenth fish, I bobbled the rod. And almost caught it; but not quite… and it bounced off the gunwhale and into the water. I hesitated; could have jumped in and grabbed at it before it sank. But that’s not an easy reflex. I lost the opportunity, and the rod.
I just stood there for a moment. Ken and Mark eventully looked around to see how I was faring and to make sure our respective fish didn’t cross lines and tangle. They saw I had no rod. “No…” said Mark. Ken was slack jawed. I said nothing. I turned to Ken’s rod rack, grabbed one, started stripping line off, and was soon onto another fish.
Awhile later, I almost dropped THAT rod as well. That one I would have had to pay for. That’s how non-stop the action was with albacore, bluefish, and even a nice striped bass for me to score a ‘northeast slam.’ Made the cover of the following week’s Fisherman magazine, Long Island/Metro NY edition, for which I wrote a column and some articles at the time.
SAFETY FIRST. When we teach sailing, and when I used to teach some snowboarding as well, we’d discuss safety first. Then, the idea was to have fun. Finally, maybe people would learn something: but nothing happens without the feeling of security, and most people aren’t learning if they’re not having fun.
On snow? I’d teach people how to fall safely before they even got to strap one foot onto their boards. (For first-time lessons, at any rate.) Seriously: I’d demonstrate how to fall both forward and backward, and then they’d do it. I made it fun. They knew they were going to fall sometimes learning; we brought that out into the open. Once they learned that they didn’t have to fall hard and get hurt just taking a basic lesson, they relaxed about it. Then, they didn’t fall. (Not much, anyway!)
We take the same approach to sailing lessons.
What about the pandemic? We sail – with MASKS!
THE PANDEMIC IS GETTING WORSE. Yes, we have vaccines. Yes, more are likely to be developed. But, there are mutated strains now that are far more transmissible, and also now understood to likely be more dangerous once we’re infected by them. There’s a chance that one or more current or future mutations will be resistant to current vaccines. That, plus pandemic fatigue, and blatant disregard for proven science and math, is why the United States is the world leader. Not in response to the virus, but in mashing up its response and leading to a ridiculous number of deaths, most of which could have been avoided.
The simplest things remain true:
Keep your distance from others. You can’t infect, or get infected by someone whose breath you’re not breathing, either in the moment or shortly afterward. That’s the social distance thing and avoidance of crowds, or entering &/or remaining in areas where many people have been.
Use a proper mask, and wear it well. The CDC has yet to change their public guidelines, but many health experts are now saying it’s time to up the ante on the mask front. Either double up the cloth masks (wear 2), or upgrade the masks being worn (N95 or KN95). Personally, I’m back to a respirator for the laundry/mail room in my building, in Uber/Lyfts, and for the rare times I’m on a subway. Otherwise, I use multi-layer cloth masks that fit well, have an adjustable nose section, and a FILTER in between the cloth layers.
On a few occasions last year, we denied enrollment to students who expressed in advance that they were either uncomfortable or unwilling to wear masks. We rode herd on people who did attend and got sloppy about using masks, including the threat of kicking them out with no recourse or refund. We take this deadly seriously.
Are there times people can take their mask off? Yes – but only when it’s abundantly safe to do so based on where they are in relation to other people and what the wind is doing. What about inside? We spend almost no time inside, even with learn to sail. (It’s a sport learned by doing, not hearing people talk about it.) But when we are inside, we distance, ventilate, and WEAR MASKS PROPERLY.
I’m not yet eligible for the vaccine due to age and occupation. It worries me. But, just as with mitigation measures for activities I choose to do, I can mitigate the risk of exposure and infection with distancing, masks, and in some cases, just NOT doing it.
DON’T DO THIS…
Here’s a smart, pithy article on the latest about masks, with some historical quotes and some links for more info…
Well, they never really left – but our classic full-keel Swedish design and Friday afternoons are resurgent. If you know how to sail, come have some fun in our Sailing Club with either/or, or both.
We hadn’t launched our International (‘Swedish’) Folkboat last season for various and boring reasons. But it’s back! Demand dictated it.
Friday afternoons are also demand based. We had some regulars for Friday afternoon and evening sails. These Sailing Club members could only break free then, or just needed to as a way to end their work weeks on a high note and begin the weekend early. Life changed and so did demand. We tended to get out of Dodge early on Fridays to beat traffic and have a break before busy weekends.
Last Friday? All the boats went out at once! Busy afternoon. Delightful conditions, too. That can’t be predicted, but on average, there’s more wind in the afternoon and temperatures cool down in the evening. Beat the traffic to go TO sailing, not leave it. Always made sense. We have more weekday pass members in our Sailing Club this season and that’s part of what’s driving Friday sessions.
The Folkboat? It dates back to WWII! Not ours, of course – it’s a fiberglass one built by the premier manufacturer Marieholm in Sweden in the 1970’s. But the design was from a contest in Sweden. Three different designs were chosen as ‘winners;’ one man was tasked with taking the best of those designs and amalgmating them into one fnal boat – the Nordic Folkboat, which became the International Folkboat we now know.
It’s popular wherever there’s wind. Over 5,000 have been built, and that number probably only reflects major production from established builders and doesn’t even count kit or home-built boats that were off the radar.
Silent Reach basically fell in our lap and we couldn’t pass up the chance to have one of these in the fleet. Despite their rep – eats up heavy weather; countless trans-Atlantics; a few well documented circumnavigations – these boats are fine in Long Island Sound! They do well in light breeze, and point surprisingly well. Go figure. Better yet; go sailling!
Here’s an article from Practical Sailor, a sailing review rag that predated all this internet stuff and still goes strong… scroll down past blank image to link:
Here’s a link to Amazon to check listings for the book – new, used, or Kindle…
Sort of; kind of. A boat can be a small piece of real estate, but people certainly don’t have to be in each other’s laps. And, you can drive to us and avoid public transit. Which, we’re hearing, is often pretty empty. That alleviates the concern that it’s supposed to be a big petri-dish whirling cesspool of infectious spread. If we’re few and far between, we’re further from infectious.
At least out on a boat with us, or on your own if you already know how to sail, you’re doing a relatively safe, healthy, outdoor activity in the scheme of all this. Brooklyn bier gardens and rave parties: they be gone. My GF and I pretty much closed down a kewl bar we discovered on Sunday night… Bier Wax. No one’s going in no time soon now. But you should check it out when things are stable. NY Sailing Center post-virus celebration? Yup.
So, what to do with the spare time? Sailing does start soon. We hope it will start on Friday, with temps at or above 70! But the updated forecast spoke of rain, wind, and maybe some thunder. We’ll have to see.
The author is a fiend for snowboarding. All the mountains closed for coronavirus. So? He sold one his boards on eBay that had proven a little too large for him. It took three auctions, including one where the buyer basically blew off the purchase. But, on the third, people being home seemed to increase viewing, bidding, and in the end, the sale price. So, there’s that!
Right from home, people can learn navigation. We prefer to teach that as a classroom course with practice plots in between sessions as homework. But, we have one class in progress that might switch from classroom to video conference, and we will be doing that going forward on a super flexible schedule. Let us know if you want to discuss getting in on that stay-in option!
Most of us are at least a little concerned about the COVID-19 coronavirus thing. Some are very stressed and panicked. We’ll get through it as a communities and countries. Some thoughts to share on prevention efforts:
Put straight isopropyl alcohol into a simple spray bottle. Boom. You have a very efficient surface and object sanitizer. The broad mist spray gets a little of it all over. In my (not so often) humble opinion, that’s all that’s needed. No need to wipe down and rub around. My GF and I came up with that; no doubt others did as well.
Re-think all brick and mortar and in-person transactions, especially paying with cash in person. I love a coffee n bagel break in my hood, but had decided to cut this out of my routine. Today, I was sorely tempted in the late afternoon. I walked over, and there was only one other customer. The staff were using gloves. I paid with singles and said to keep the change. I disinfected. I felt safe.
Be prepared to walk away from any environment when you see careless behavior or lack of adherence to suggested safe practices. See someone touching their face in the store when they’re ahead of you, or the hired help doing that (especially without gloves)? Walk away. Leave. And disinfect.
Don’t just wash your hands “for 20 seconds” and use sanitizer. Consider how thoroughly your’re actually doing it, and the order in which you’ve touched things. We wash our hands to get rid of stuff on them. So, once we’ve touched a faucet or container of liquid soap, it’s contaminated! Wash those as well. Then, wash your hands with more soap. THEN turn off the faucet. Apply that “last touch” mentality to every relevant scenario.
Exercise, eat well, and take some supplements. It can’t possibly hurt. It will boost your immune system and may well be the deciding factor as to whether you get this virus, and if so, how severely. For example, I’m taking vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea. I’ve been advised that the echinacea ought to be one week on and one off so I’m putting that into play. I’ve also ordered some bio-active silver hydrosol by Sovereign Silver based on a recco from a trusted health care professional. The list could go on as far as reccos; do what you’re comfortable with. No point in stressing over it and defeating the purpose.
So… about that sailing. We got back from our March BVI trip (Virgin Islands) on the 7th as we previously wrote about. Advanced courses start in late April, and learn-to-sail in early May. Sailing Club sessions could start as early as… Friday? We shall see. But it’s coming soon!
If you join the Club, and you haven’t yet learned how to sail, we’ll find ways to get you out with us or other Club members. If you can sail, then you know how it goes.
The author, our Director and HBIC (Head Bozo in Charge) often drives out from the Upper West Side, and sometimes from Park Slope, Brooklyn. If that sounds better than public transit, he might be able to give you a ride. Of course, you’ll be asymptomatic and will have taken your temperature regularly for a few days leading up to that (and again that morning). Fever is by far the most common symptom, in the upper 80’s percentile wise. That’s why the White House had started taking temps of reporters and turning away those with spiked numbers. The second most common, in the 60’s, is a dry cough. Duane Reade was due to get more thermometers in. Find or order where you can.
We’re all put out by this as well as freaked out. I’m a silver-lining kind of guy. I deal with the harsh reality of some things. I accept what I can’t influence or change. And, I look on the bright side. What can I do with the time I have, in the place that I am, that’s productive and maybe even makes me happy? What can I appreciate that’s different about my surroundings or microcosm of existence? There’s usually something.
If you’re not finding enough of that… come out sailing! We’ll be open soon. And we’ll keep our distance.
A veteran and highly respected sailor, John Fisher, was lost at sea on March 27 during the Volvo Ocean Race’s long, dangerous leg in the Southern Ocean. He was knocked overboard by the mainsheet during an accidental jibe. And, he was not tethered to the boat at the time.
This was the second overboard accident on the same boat, Scallywag, in this event. The other sailor also wasn’t tethered, and was not wearing a life jacket. The conditions were much calmer so they got him back aboard safely in 7 minutes.
Things often happen in twos in both the Volvo and Clipper Races. And, the deaths are starting to pile up.
So, why wasn’t he clipped in? Why couldn’t they rescue him? Why do race organizers send the sailors on a long dangerous leg in the southern Ocean, where one of our own graduates at NY Sailing Center was washed overboard but pulled back by his tether during a Clipper Race? Why do they go?
Well, we know that part. People drawn to participate in such events are always going to go wherever the challenge occurs. The other questions are all worth discussing. And, I’m not seeing or hearing discussions on what I see as the prime issues raised by these accidents.
First: Why are people not ALWAYS wearing PFD’s (life jackets) AND secured to the boat with a tether? First one: duh. Should require no discussion. These boats are going fast, often, if not typically, over 20 knots. They’re sailing in open ocean waters with waves and swells. Even in relatively calm conditions, it takes time to turn around, and at speeds of 15-25 knots (and we’ve seen posts that they go over 30 but I’m not convinced as of yet), the boat gets away from the person in the water quickly. The waters are often cold. People should always have a PFD on.
Second: Why are people not ALWAYS secured to the boat with a tether? It’s a critical last line of defense. John Fisher wasn’t clipped in. He unclipped to go forward to do some task that he or they felt was important enough at the time to go forward for. He might have been about to clip back in to another jackline (security line or webbing that the personal tether attaches to). If that was the case, why aren’t the boats rigged to allow “make before break,” as they say with combined battery switches? Many boats have that when it’s not practical to rig a continuous jackline. Perhaps this boat was and it was user error. Wasn’t there; hasn’t been posted; don’t know.
If Mr. Fisher was tethered in, he probably would have survived. Because he was not, he had little chance of being recovered at all, and even less alive. I’m seeing arguments in different forums where one sailor will criticize decisions on board as well as the entire event as organized and ruled by race management. The flip side sees sailors calling these shameless, bitter, angry rants that show that the first sailor doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and defends the personal liberties and sense of adventure of the people on the water.
And, the person who just died.
But the basics are patently obvious so I won’t further belabor them here. I just wish that the defenders of the race and the participants – and the dead – would get their head out of this perspective and see the bloody obvious, and discuss something they’re not, and should be given their experience with this kind of extreme sailing, to wit…
THIRD: Here’s something that’s less obvious. The gear sometimes fails. That wasn’t the case here. However, in both the Volvo and Clipper races, and in other races and non-race passages, tethering systems have broken and sailors were in the water with the boat sailing away. The faster these boats go, the more shock load is put on the connections when they come taught. At 20-25 knots, I can’t even imagine what the PSI load would be based on the average weight of a sailor plus water resistance with safety and survival equipment. Occasionally, it’s not enough.
I hear and read about different types of connections – which are stronger, which are more practical, how to balance the dual needs (including how to not flay ones knuckles on the gear aboard the boat).
What I’m not hearing about is this: shock absorption. If the tethers were rigged with something elastic to gradually absorb the shock load, the load on the components would be less severe upon ultimate impact. That could only help. Of course, it might make the tether more awkward. I suppose it could, indirectly, lead to a greater risk of fouling onboard and actually causing someone to get twisted, off balance, and go overboard in the first place. I’m not going to pretend I’ve worked this all out.
But, it needs to be done. I propose that either…
The tech be improved with a method of shock absorption if feasible;
The boats be mandated to stay below a specified top speed. The faster they’re going, the more risk, as it’s caused by increasing wind (which, in open water, is soon accompanied by larger waves). It’s easy to track; the boats are accurately tracked by satellite at all times.
The Southern Ocean is a brutal area to sail. Perhaps the race should minimize time and distance spent sailing here, or avoid it altogether. That’s been bandied about on various forums. Regardless, the obvious safety measures of always wearing PFD’s and always being clipped in must be mandated (if not already), and observed. And, as people WILL be tossed, knocked, or washed overboard anyway, the equipment must be improved or the boats slowed down. Or, both. We can have high quality racing and have much better safety as well.
But first: people are still not always wearing PFD’s or tethering themselves.
Who wouldn’t agree with the need for starting with that?
Here’s an article on the tragedy that has the most detail we’ve been able to find…
Well, yeah – we went out on that super warm day in February, but that doesn’t count. We officially kicked off our 2018 sailing season on March 31 and Easter Sunday, April 1. No foolin! On both days we chose our Pearson 10M, Kilroy Was Here. (Our Pearson 26, Second Wind, was an option as well.)
The Longest Season in the NortheastSM – another way we give you MORE.
Anywho, Saturday saw light and variable breezes to start out, including a little motionless hang time. It’s all good in the Sound and its surrounding bays and harbors… there’s little current, and very predictable commercial traffic. Soon, enough wind picks up to sail meaningfully, even as little as 5 knots. (Don’t try that in NY Harbor and the Rivers.)
Later, the southwesterly picked up just like a summer sea breeze, but cooler of course. We made it to Stepping Stones Lighthouse, our modest goal, before that and rode it almost to Fort Totten off Little Neck Bay.
We passed the light again, then decided that was plenty of fun and rode the building breeze back in to get docked up. This was a Club sail with two members present- Adam (graduate of several of our courses who went on to bareboat in the BVI based on that), and Piers, a recent learn-to-sail graduate who’s going to take 105 next weekend and 103 & 104 as the season progresses.
Easter Sunday was a teen outing put together by a long-standing client and friend of the Sailing Center, Jim, who has a small daysailor of his own. The young adults had a blast, all taking turns steering, and eventually letting Jim have a shot.
We did the true City Island-style Lighthouse Loop! Okay – technically, not – we didn’t go around Stepping Stones. Not worth it; tricky passage and waste of distance and time. But we went just past it and turned and looped alongside. Good enough. Then, we went very close to Gangway Rock, cutting between it and it’s very nearby gong buoy. How close? THIS close…
Then, on to Execution if the wind held and the teens steered well. And both did their duty. So, we went all the way around Execution and its red nun on the far side, and then tacked to head back to City Island Harbor and then around into our off-season slip for Kilroy on the Eastchester Bay side. Lovely ride.
Did we mention the fun?..
Want to get in on it?
Our Sailing Club has Skipper memberships for those of you who are ready to just go. We also have Social/Crew memberships for those who are not. Want to bridge the gap? Of course, as a school, we have courses, clinics and even private instruction. We have what you might need not just to skipper a day sailor in Long Island Sound, but to cruise the whole thing or charter a Bareboat yacht in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or anywhere else charter companies exist for that.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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 ourInstagram!
We tried her out last weekend, and liked her… so we got her. Say hello to the newest acquisition in our fleet…
We’ve seen these boats around for a few years – and by around, we mean the world. Or at least the hemisphere. But these boats get around, literally and figuratively. “Silent Reach” was built in Sweden by the preeminent manufacturer of this class, Marieholm. We first saw them in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) at Biras Creek Resort. Then, back at the ranch on City Island, we saw the very one you see pictured above and learned what they were. And now she’s ours.
So, what’s the deal with Folkboats?
Born of a design contest in Sweden in the 1940’s
Over 5,000 have been built (prolific)
Over 4,000 are probably still sailing (whoah)
They started out as wood but became fiberglass in 60’s and onward
Traditional design with full keel
Point very well and are super seaworthy (circumnavigation-so)
Popular all over
We sailed Silent Reach on a light wind weekend day with some motorboat chop. The wind was a little stronger when we were rigging, so we used the working (small) jib. Despite the smaller sailplan in light wind, and a dirty bottom, the boat pointed well, sailed fairly fast, and was maneuverable for a full keel design.
The next time out, after closing on her, we had more wind. So what did we do? We used the larger jib (genoa)! This is one stiff boat. Yet, she’s lively and fun to sail. Can’t wait to see her true pedigree when we clean her bottom.
International Folkboats are also known as Swedish Folkboats. They’re popular in Scandinavia of course, but they get around the world. We’ve seen references to a Transatlantic and a circumnavigation so far. That means these are ocean-capable boats, yet, they are fun on inland waters too for both daysailing and pocket cruising. The previous owner of Silent Reach sailed her to Block Island a few times.
Here’s a sister ship with the same color cabin top/deck and similar hull color (Silent Reach was the same red originally but had recently been repainted professionally)…
The one above is sailing with its working jib. Here’s one under genoa:
The boats were originally wood with wooden spars (masts and booms). The Marieholm ones that are prevalent are all glass outside except for the tiller. This makes them lower on maintenance yet still appearing quite traditional. The interiors have a lot of wood.
Engines could be inboard or outboard apparently. Ours is o/b. They were designed to have the engine in a well in the transom (see the hatch under the tiller in the shot above). Some put them on the transom too, as shown with the red sister ship further up.
What will we use her for? The sheer joy of sailing. She’ll predominately be a daysailer. She can be overnighted as well, although space is a little tight belowdecks. Ours has an Origo 2-burner stove and a porta potti. Nothing fancy, but with the V-berth and two settees, there are places to sleep. And being very stable, she won’t rock around as much as a lighter fin-keel design.
Despite being a more classic design with traditional transom and full keel, there are performance elements to the Folkboat. Note the fractional rig. The boats have adjustable backstays, for crying out loud! Plus, sliding gooseneck for the ultimate in shaping ability, and a cunningham for tweaking that shape. Large mainsails with manageable headsail choices make for performance and ease of handling.
“Silent Reach” will be available to our graduates (and well qualified outsiders) to rent as well as to our Sailing Club members. Come see, and sail, an example of sailing history that won’t go out of style!