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Old 28-04-2010, 22:31   #1
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Opening Day on the SF Bay

Last Sunday was opening day on the bay and we had been planning for 2 months to be ready to go out for the day. Extra gear, meant for upcoming system upgrades, was boxed and lugged to the house so we wouldn't be sailing with 2 cubic yards of *stuff* gummin up the works. The boat was pressure washed and cleaned inside as well. Warm gear and food was stockpiled and stowed. Gear that had done half gainers last time we were in winds big enough to heel us a bit was secured. The sheets were changed on the vberth and the bed neatly made. Our little hole in the water was a fine as we could make her.

Did our morning stint making breakfast at the club and then cut out early to set up before Garrett and Katy Rose, who were coming along, joined us. Did all the last minute refills of the water bottles, boiled a kettle full of water for warm water for at least the beginning of the sail. Unhooked the shore power and cable. It was a beautiful day and there was a small promise of wind to come later. Himself starts in about getting the headsail out to be ready, all hanked on and stuff and I point out that until the wind comes up I won't know which sail we need... and that we are waiting until the wind arrives to pull up one of the 4 easily accessible sail bags when the moment comes.

G and KR arrived and Garrett, who had heroically volunteered to retrieve the anchor bag, lost overboard on our last trip out, suited up in his swim trunks and his weird footie toe shoes and jumped in to search. It was low tide (planned) and he only took about 3 minutes to locate it and drag it up. Oh joy. I was SO not wanting to replace the darned thing! We cleaned it off (removed from bag) and I hung it on the new hardware I had mounted to the bow pulpit for just that purpose.

We all donned life vests, and put out the flag and started the motor. Now this was a very exciting moment, because while we had started the new (to us) 15hp Mercury 2 stroke circa 1994 (which replaced a circa 1985 johnson sail master 6hp) we had not yet taken it out for a spin. It took me a little finagling before I figured out the routine and got her going. The choke setup is different from the little outboard and the throttle is as well, so there was a learning curve. First lesson of the day; PRACTICE starting the motor when Himself is NOT around. By the time I got it figured out and got it going he was ready to cancel the sail because clearly the motor was unreliable and we could not depend on it to get us out and back in... ok, check, practice time scheduled so next time I know EXACTLY what combination of twists, pushes, tweaks and pulls starts her up... rather than starting HIM up!

We backed out of the slip and pulled forward smooth as silk. I can not tell you what a pleasure it was to have enough power in hand to do the job easily and to feel all 9000+ lbs of her moving along so easily. Ok all good and Himself is calming down, except he is still fussing about getting the head sail out and *ready*.

We pull out of the channel and into the bay proper and look around. Nada. Not even a breath of wind. The water is like glass despite the excellent winds the day before and the good wind promised today. Time passes and still nada. We are having fun motoring along at a nice clip and enjoying the lack of fumes and noise as the new motor purrs away in the closed lazarette with no air issues.

Finally, across the water I see waves and we head towards it. When we arrive at the darker water the breeze picks right up. Within a few minutes I head down and grab the 120. By the time I get it on deck and unrolled and ready to hank on the wind has strengthened to a nice steady breeze. But there are some white caps and Himself is looking out at the water and calling out that its getting rough, the wind must be 15 knots... the sail is too big, don't raise it. Ok. Fine. I bundle it up and go below for the measly 80 and haul it up. To be told 'nope it's too rough out. we aren't experienced enough, our equipment isn't good enough, we can't sail in THIS'...

Fuming silence and then a long bicker about the wind and its' desirability, the boat, how one acquires experience, why sailing in these conditions is EXACTLY what we want to be doing. All met with stony silence and 'we are not sailing in this. the wind is too hard.'

Until in one of the more ironic moments of my life as I look over his hunched up P.O. shoulders at... a nearby boat about the same side as ours (28') raising....

wait for it....wait for it....

the Spinnaker...

So I manage to get off my broom long enough to gently point out that the boat behind us is raising a Spinnaker, a sail most commonly used in light winds...

He thinks on it for a few moments and the musters up a low growl of "fine do what ever you want, you're going to anyway" which I have to confess is mostly true ; -}

As a sop to his anxiety I put on the 80 and give Katy Rose, our 16 year old, instructions on running the port sheet thru the blocks around the winch and knotted off to prevent it flying free. I hand Himself the other sheet and move up to raise the sail. After a verbal "ready?" check I start hauling when to my dismay the sail fills on a port tack and the sheets fly thru the block and go whistling past. I am barely able to grab the bitter end of one sheet and secure it. So the next 5 minutes are spent recovering the sheets and getting the jib set and the lines run properly. At which point I turn to Katy Rose and ask in my most patient voice "Honey, why didn't you knot it off like I showed you?" only to be answered "He told me not too mama..."

deep breath. another deep breath. Actually I just climbed back up on the deck and hung out where I could swear softly and only Garrett could hear me. (*&^(&^%^%^%$%#@!$$%%^&%&^%^%*^%)

So we raised the main then, while I thought about my bad. Never assume an inexperienced person had retained what they have learned from one sail to the next. Never assume they will remember what to do with out actually checking that they have done it. The good news in I am the one with the rope burn across my belly. appropriate punishment I guess. Never never never assume the crew is competent until you know from experience that they are. and maybe not even then.

I took a captains class, a long time ago, and learned all the drill and passed all the tests, but it was a single handing test on a Catalina 22, and most of the hundreds of hours sailing that I have under my belt are on small fry boats. Sunfish and lazers in particular. So I don't have much experience captaining a crew. Next time spend more time going over with people what is going to happen and making sure they are all on the same page. The right page for that matter...
never assume anything... and all the obvious corollaries.

We sailed pretty smoothly from that point, with far too little sail, but oh well, better that than none at all or Himself in a tizzy worrying about being over powered. He practiced falling off and spilling wind when he felt like he had too much to handle. I practiced trimming the sails to improve performance a little bit and when we got towards the end of the day we sailed back past candlestick to oyster point.

And ran into our next challenge. We were sailing along so nicely and the wind was going to allow us to turn into the wind and pull up the channel to the marina. But Himself was predicting dire consequences if we didn't drop the sails right NOW. Every boat in any kind of vicinity spooked him. I finally started the motor to shut him up. By the time we got to the 1st markers he had himself in such a fit that as we were dropping the sails he managed to decide he couldn't pull between the markers and aborted the entry and as I looked up he was swinging us to port and heading back down the bay. arrrgh. ok so no big deal, but he had convinced himself that he had saved us from sure collision.

By dismissing his fear of collision with obstacles that I knew were a more than safe distance away, I set us up to fail. Because he didn't trust my judgment he couldn't have faith that the course I had set him on was safe. I think part of it is that as the sails come down the view on the port side was somewhat obscured. I assumed (there's that word again) that he would watch the buoy on the right (the red one) and guide us in by that. But he was so fearful of hitting something he steered towards port and when he finally saw the green buoy he freaked, because it was fairly close, maybe 15 yards, and he thought he couldn't get past it.

And then to really set my feet on the walk of shame I lost it. I was so fed up with all the drama over nothing I just went off on him. So he's stressed and tired from sailing for hours, and upset by the activity around us (much higher than we had experienced on other outings because of opening day) and embarrassed by some of the stuff he has done and I just skewer him. For everything he has not done right all day long. I was just such a total bitch. : -/

Garrett and Katy Rose of course are wishing they were ANYWHERE but with us...

Garrett and I fold up the jib and bag it while we are moving up the channel and when we get to the marina Himself hands the tiller over to me. He isn't comfortable enough to take her in or out of the slip yet.

The last few moments were pretty cool. With the juice from the new outboard I brought her into the slip with out evening kissing the dock. I mean it was stellar. and after all the underpowered, embarrassing, neighbours rushing to help us/protect the other boats in the marina, parking by braille berthing we had had already it was just so nice, even in a sturdy wind, to be able to control her so easily. That went along way towards easing the sting of all the earlier botched attempts on other days. Garrett and John were stationed on the deck ready to fend off as needed. They were both left standing on the deck as the boat drew to a total stop right smack in the middle of the slip. That was a perfect moment. I'll prolly never manage it again!

Garrett and Katy Rose jumped ship and headed home as soon as we hit land. no surprise. Himself and I put her away and stowed everything and got out all the stuff that had been put away for the sail (like the micro and toaster oven and the clip on 110 lights)

I apologized then, for loosing my patience and yelling at him. I know he HATES to be yelled at. Amazingly enough he apologized for being an ass. and we were able to sit in the cockpit and sort of get square with each other again. I have a lot to learn about crews.
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Old 28-04-2010, 22:50   #2
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there's a simple lesson to learn here: never argue a sail call. if I want the 110 and the wife wants the 85, we go with the 85. If she wants the 110 and I want the 85, we go with the 85. It's not about which sail is right for the conditions--it's about which sail is right for confidence/comfort/energy levels.

Would you rather get from Point A to Point B twenty minutes faster, or get there where everyone feels confident, comfortable, and relaxed?

I realize that in the story above you ultimately went with the smaller sail, but consider the possibility that it was the argument over whether to do so that poisoned the day.
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Old 29-04-2010, 05:28   #3
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I see the shoe is on the other foot. Many women complain that men yell. This is kind of the role reversed. Maybe you should send himself off for some lessons? Hopefully it will just improve!.......i2f
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Old 29-04-2010, 05:43   #4
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Great narrative, Sara. Made me feel like I was right there in the cockpit with you guys.

I like Bash's point--going with the "lowest common denominator" as far is sail choices go. I've been guilty of sailing a boat somewhat hard in conditions I was perfectly comfortable with, but a couple of the crew had clinched teeth and white-knuckled grips. Not a good way to move them up the experience/comfort level curve.

The fact that the two of you made peace in the cockpit after the experience says a lot of good things about your relationship.

p.s. I'd sail with ya anytime!
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Old 29-04-2010, 10:47   #5
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'The shoes on the other foot' really nails it in this case... I have more experience on the water, am more comfortable on the boat and am naturally more of a risk taker.

I have read so much about getting women comfortable on the boat and how to introduce them so they have good experiences and want to do more. I have really tried to be patient and not go too fast, but I guess I need to move at what feels glacial to me to give Himself room to get confident. I am way more willing to go out and make mistakes, learn from them and move on. Part of it might be age. He is older than I and understandably more concerned with getting injured. Also, as I think about it, I swim like a fish and he doesn't like to even put his face in the water. So maybe there is a really basic reserve in that dynamic for him.

Patience is not (yeah, I can hear the snickers already...) my foremost virtue. It will be good for me to practice it while we are doing this.

As far as lessons, he is taking a coastie class and we are sailing with a very experienced friend. On those trips I practice being a frail flower and letting the guys do everything. I am in charge of drinks and food. I don't have to be the captain because it's not our boat so our friend, who is a great teacher, takes point, and it's great for Himself to learn with him.

What really sucks is I just want to be mad at him for being such a fornicating cat, but I know that it's my responsibility to do a better job so that he learns and enjoys.

The idea that the lowest common denominator should call the sail had never occurred to me and my gut reaction is to resist it! but it makes sense. Like putting the slowest hiker in front on the trail to set the pace. At some point he has to begin to see that we can handle more. I hope!
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Old 29-04-2010, 14:55   #6
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I do remember the discussion about furling jibs we all had. You thinking himself should be on the bow changing headsails on a blustery S.F. summer breeze. Bless your strengths, they are to be admired......i2f
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Old 29-04-2010, 15:13   #7
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Originally Posted by imagine2frolic View Post
I do remember the discussion about furling jibs we all had. You thinking himself should be on the bow changing headsails on a blustery S.F. summer breeze. Bless your strengths, they are to be admired......i2f
yeah, ok, not so much maybe... ; -}

and thanks!
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Old 29-04-2010, 18:55   #8
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Sara, Maybe you could quit your day job and be a writer. You have an enjoyable style.

My wife and I started sailing 22 months ago, learning together mostly. Took lessons, chartered. Did not like chartering so bought a 39' boat that we keep on Puget Sound. We both bring different strengths and weaknesses to the boat. I am stronger, slightly. She is comfortable on the foredeck when its choppy, I am not so much. She frets docking but is marvelous with lines when I dock. We take advantage of each others strengths while slowly challenging the other to work on the stuff that is more challenging.

When we first got boat I had issues with heeling. I knew the boat wasn't going over, but I didn't trust it. So for months we reefed when everyone else was surely snickering at us. Now its different, we reef at 20 knots before 13 or so. I have yelled a few times and felt like an idiot for it and apologized. Of late we have come to the understanding that if one of us raises their voice they are very concerned and want immediate input and or help.

The best thing that happened to us is we found a life long sailor who even at his tender age has a marverlous teaching style, very quiet, self effacing and makes our boat sail like a guided missile. I would think you and himself could find such a mentor and it might really help. Himself might have a new found respect for your skills when he hears the same instruction from someone else. If not together maybe you could gift him a class at one of the local schools.

all the best
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