Sunday, July 20, 2014

Message from the future

Because of the logistics of chartering, it has been quite difficult to keep up with the blog.  We're already three days into our BVI adventure and I haven't even published a post about sailing class!

We're doing great. Having fun. Pictures will follow.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sailing Class

The first day of class was a Friday. And because we had 4 people (Fred had joined the party, although he would not be able to play Pirates of the Caribbean with us) we would have the class to ourselves.  We were met by instructor, Mark, who introduced himself, asked us about our sailing experience, and passed out the exams for ASA 101! Okaaaay... Glad I studied as much as I did.

Fortunately we passed and were immediately hustled into a 22' Capri sailboat. Out of the harbor. Raise the mainsail. Hoist the jib. Man overboard! Wait. What? Mark had tossed one of the ship's fenders off the stern and we had to rescue it. Shout, point, litter. Figure eight manuever, and grab the clumsy fender with a boat hook.  But no sooner did we get him aboard, than the clumsy air bag fell over again! By the fourth time overboard we started to wonder if maybe the world might be a better place without this particular fender.

That evening we settled onto the 36' Catalina that would be our home for the remainder of the course. Sue and took the forward cabin, which, we discovered did not receive the heat allotment that the main saloon did.

The next three days were an intensive, yet enjoyable, blur of sailing, charting, and testing. With the occasional meal and sleep break thrown in. Mark was a personable crewmate, but it seemed that sometimes his instincts as a sailor overrode his role as an instructor. While we were under sail he would frequently be adjusting the traveler or one of the sails and every time he did we would have to ask why he did whatever he did. Finally we just told him "Teach us to make those adjustments! That's why we're here ".

We docked one of the nights at Friday Harbor, moored at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island for another, and finally returned to Anacortes for our final exam and the trip home.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Early this year Sue and I were having a beer with a good friend, Pierce, when talked turned to the passing of the years and grabbing opportunities when they came by.  He said that a friend was going to charter a boat in the Caribbean and take his family and another family on a sailing adventure.  Pierce said that he would love to do something like that with his teen-aged son Miles.  Sue and I immediately said "You should!  That would be awesome!  We'd go with you!"

And from that "Wow-wouldn't-it-be-cool" moment, a new reality was born.

Pierce took the lead in finding a boat and we eventually settled on a 44' Voyage catamarran. We'd sail for 10 days in the British Virgin Islands starting in Roadtown on Tortola.

It is joked that the only requirements to a bareboat charter in the BVI are a funny hat and a credit card (and many charter companies will waive the funny hat) but the reality is that you must submit a sailing resume for the skipper and crew. Pierce has a sailing background from his days living in Chicago and Florida, Sue has taken a sailing lesson or two. My sailing qualifications consist of 2-3 days as sentient ballast and an encyclopedic knowledge of Jimmy Buffett lyrics. We decided to boost our sea cred by taking a four-day, sleep-aboard, sailing class which would, hopefully, culminate in our receiving our ASA 101 (Basic Keelboat), 103 (Coastal Cruising), and 104 (Bareboat Cruising) certifications.

We received the classroom materials about a month ahead of time and studying began in earnest.  Parts of the boat, standing rigging, running rigging, and points of sail were just the beginning. We quizzed each other constantly.  "What does the boom vang do?" "What's the difference between tacking and jibing?" We carried lengths of rope around and tied bowlines and figure eight knots.  We studied charts and looked at a dizzying array of symbols. 

Part of the challenge, for me, was the unknown aspect of it all.  What did they expect our background to be?  Did they think we had been sailing for years and were now just getting our obviously deserved certification?  I was fairly certain that we were expected to already know the material; and while I felt I had learned it I wasn't sure that I knew it.  If someone yelled "QUICK!  SNUB THE STARBOARD JIBSHEET AND THEN LOOSEN THE CUNNINGHAM OR WE'RE DOOMED!"  We'd be doomed.

Next... Sailing Class.  Will they pass?  Will Chris snub the jibsheet?