Monday, February 17, 2014

Flying Scot Mast Step Repair (the joys and trials of sailing)

Bringing it home from Florida -- dang, that was a long drive.  It's hard to believe this is an original Douglas Hull #88 built in 1959!  She looks pretty good for her age, eh?

Pushing water

Afternoon sail with the wife and kiddos

Heeled over with Mr. Pete to leeward!

 Yikes!!  A big puff and the mast step crunched right through the deck.  Now we have work to do!

 Bedding the reinforcements

 Fairing and shaping each layer of coring

Glassing it all up with a thick mat, skinned over with 2 layers of super strong 6oz S-Glass.  US Composites is the place for all your glass repairing needs.

 Faired using microballoons

 Primed and painted with Interlux products...tapped filled and re-tapped each through hole for the step

 Properly fitted and bedded step and hinge - Nice!

Back in ship-shape, let's go sailing!!!

Best shipmates!

The full crew headed to dinner at The Boathouse

Everyone knows sailing is a labor of love.  We don't do it because it's easy or predictable -- we do it because it's challenging and rewarding -- and that is what makes it fun.  

To harness the wind in the canvas of a small vessel across sometimes turbulent waters can be peaceful and frightful in the same instant.  I hope this story in pictures gives the reader a taste of both the joys and trials that often accompany sailing.  The power of the wind can even be destructive, but thankfully, God has given us the ability to repair and overcome what has been broken, and we are stronger for it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ASA 103 Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship

One of the great things about sailing is how it brings people together from dissimilar walks of life.  Folks who might otherwise have little in common find it easy to make conversation on the deck of a sailboat.  While this may be true of any number of interests, I've found it to be particularly true of the sailing community.  Doctors, scientists, truckers, and clergyman all stand as equals on a man-made boat before the Master of wind, water, and all. 

My wife and I have just completed another step in our sailing journey with the completion of our ASA 103 - Basic Coastal Cruising Certification with the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship based out of Rock Hall, Maryland.  You can read about how we first discovered and selected the MD School in my post from our ASA 101 course here.  We had a great group of classmates and our instructors for the four day course were Capt. Don Boccuti and Capt. Andy Barton, who are both knowledgeable and adept instructors with a wealth of practical sailing experiences to share.

Thankfully, we enjoyed fair weather for the duration of the course with plenty of wind for all but the final day of the class, at which point we simply employed the "iron jib" for more docking practice.  We acquired a lot of new skills including basic chart work and navigation, reefing, man overboard tactics, docking, and much more aboard the school's Island Packet 32 "Acadame," a forgiving vessel that took fine care of its crew.  Rock Hall is a neat town on the Eastern Shore with a surprising number of restaurants serving local fare.  A few of the popular spots include Waterman's Crab House, Bay Wolf, Harbor Shack, Swan Point Inn, and The Kitchen.  Be sure to call's a small town.

We are planning to return to Rock Hall in the Spring for our ASA 104 - Bareboat Charter Certification, which will include cruise planning, more advanced navigation and seamanship, and more to ensure we have the skills to travel independently on sailboats up to 40ft LOA.  We wholeheartedly recommend the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship and look forward to the next adventure in pursuit of the dream of cruising.

With that, I leave you with a quote from that voluminous work Chesapeake and a popular favorite of our instructor, Capt Don:

"A ship, like a human being, moves best when it is slightly athwart the wind, when it has to keep its sails tight and attend its course.  Ships, like men, do poorly when the wind is directly behind, pushing them sloppily on their way so that no care is required in steering or in the management of sails; the wind seems favorable, for it blows in the direction one is heading, but it actually is destructive because it induces a relaxation in tension and skill.  What is needed is a wind slightly opposed to the ship, for then the tension can be maintained, and juices can flow and ideas can germinate, for ships, like men, respond to challenge." -- James A. Michener

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship - ASA 101

Over the past year or so, the family and I have been attending the US Sailboat Shows in downtown Annapolis.  We've come to really enjoy the area, the vendors, having the opportunity to climb aboard so many different types of boats, and generally taking in the sites.  During our visits to the show, we took an interest in taking some formal sailing courses, gain experience on larger boats, and build our confidence and expertise so we could charter and one day cruise aboard our own boat.  We have sailed mostly boats 25ft or less up to this point without any formal instruction.
After talking to representatives from the various schools and reading up on the course offerings of each, we were consistently drawn toward the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship.  There were several reasons for this:
- The staff was genuine, friendly, engaging, and down-to-earth
- The price of the courses seemed reasonable and discounts were offered to those who attended the sailboat show
- The courses are longer in duration relative to some of the offerings from other schools, which meant more time to practice the skills taught with a qualified instructor
- We could "live aboard" during the class and experience a little taste of cruising life
- The school is in the quaint town of Rock Hall, MD, which is within a reasonable driving distance
My wife Amber actually took the lead in reaching out to the school to schedule the class.  She was excited and nervous.  I was just thrilled she was the one who had been motivated to take the class and I wasn't simply being the adventurous husband dragging her along on one of my exploits.  The class turned out to be everything we had hoped it would be and then some.  The difference in our confidence and ability from Day 1 to Day 4 were really amazing.  Everything from sailing knots and their applications, sailing theory, procedures for pre-departure, how to check the oil on the Yanmar diesel, how use all the equipment aboard the boat, invaluable experience with docking techniques and standing turns, proper sail trim, how to read the water, how to communicate with crew, anchoring, etc, etc.
Our instructor for this course was Don Boccuti, USCG Licensed Captain and Certified ASA Instructor.  Don is a patient, even keeled, and highly capable instructor.  His thorough explanations of not just how but why, his depth of experience and insight, as well as the thoughtful teaching style demonstrated a clear commitment to our success in learning the material and applying it on the water.  We had a lot of time to practice our newly acquired skills and develop as much mastery as one can hope to do within the framework of a four-day sailing course.
In the evenings, we enjoyed watching the sunset from the deck of the Island Packet 32 while docked comfortably in the slip at the Lankford Bay Marina.  We also enjoyed trying the local fair at some really great waterside restaurants in Rock Hall.  The town felt like stepping into another place and time where life happens at a slower pace and folks know and respect each other.
My wife and I had an unforgettable experience and both passed our exam with flying colors and demonstrated the skills on the water to earn our first level ASA Certification. We would highly recommend anyone who is interested in building a solid foundation of sailing competency and skill to consider the MD School of Sailing and Seamanship.  I know we can't wait for our next course in Coastal Cruising Basics.
*** This post was not solicited nor are we in any way affiliated with the MD School of Sailing and Seamanship. If you'd like to know more, feel free to leave a comment and we're happy to share our experience.  ***

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Baltimore Aquarium and Historic Ships Maritime Museum


This was our first visit to Baltimore and we really enjoyed the downtown area around the aquarium.  Of all the big aquariums we have seen, including Atlanta, Denver, and Chattanooga, the Baltimore Aquarium probably rivals the best we have seen in terms of the number and quality of the exhibits.  We also found that each exhibit had been designed to ensure you were able to view the animals while still retaining a natural feel to the habitat. 

Another great thing about the aquarium is that it is located right on the water, making for really great view of the harbor and the entire downtown area.  The aquarium is also directly adjacent to the Baltimore Maritime Museum, home of the USS Constellation and the home port of the Pride of Baltimore II.  There are also plenty of restaurants within short walking distance and the general cleanliness of the entire area is refreshing.

My one complaint is we are continually disappointed, but not at all surprised, by the way nearly every aquarium, museum, zoo, or natural science exhibit is run by people hard at work to indoctrinate children and unsuspecting adults with a naturalistic worldview.  These institutions display diagrams and narrated exhibits that make claims which have zero founding in actual science beyond conjecture and theory.  If they would stick to the verifiable facts or at least caveat that the views they espouse are theoretical (not scientifically confirmed or even verifiable), these institutions could retain their intellectual integrity and respectability.  Unfortunately, this is not reality and would nullify their agenda.  I'm sorry, but we did not macro evolve (even given billions of years) from jellyfish and there is zero scientific proof that jellyfish have ever reproduced anything but jellyfish.  That said, we find these are opportunities to educate your children about legitimate science so they can learn to separate fact from fiction.

We did enjoy our day in Baltimore and we would highly recommend a visit.  Getting to see the Pride of Baltimore II under sail and up close and personal was a special treat as it is rarely in home port.  If you get the opportunity to visit, we would encourage you to do so.