Hi all. I thought I would do a quick write up of my first time as skipper
this year. I hope you enjoy reading it and maybe some of you will be able to relate to it on some level.
I finished my basic sailing course, passed the written and on water
exams, and did my Red Cross swim in September. My first time as skipper
was in October of this year. I arrived at the clubhouse and the fleet folks told me they had switched me from a club-owned, 1985 Catalina 30
to a newer Catalina 30
I arrived at the slip and did my walk around. My crew arrived about the same time I did and we hooked up the main halyard
and familiarized ourselves with the rigging
. I did the pre-sail inspection
, documented the locations of fire extinguishers, and made sure everything was good to go.
The curveball for me was this Catalina
30 was in an end slip, so there was nowhere to turn to when backing her out of the slip. I decided to play it very safe and allow plenty of room between our stern and the stern of the boat behind us. This made things a little tight at the bow when turnind to starboard and heading down the channel.
As luck would have it, my instructor was walking down the dock
, stopped to watch, and started barking at us about how tight it was at the bow. One of my crew was quite experienced and did a nice job fending the bow. We didn't hit the dock
or any boats, so it was a success with a lesson learned. I think I'll ask my crew to walk us out next time we're in an end slip.
was about 12 knots when we left the harbor. We sailed south east toward San Onofre and we were moving along nicely. The speed indicator was very optimistic and showed 8 knots at one point. Since that's in excess of the Cat 30's hull speed
, I'm guessing the owner replaced the impeller for that guage with the next closest size available.
We got down to the nuke power plant in San Onofre and headed out to the yellow buoy a ways off shore there. We passed the buoy and decided to come about and head
back toward Dana Point
harbor. We executed the manuever pretty well, except I put the boat into irons for a few seconds. Rookie at the helm
After we were on course for Dana Point
, then wind
blew up on us. The indicator showed 18 knots. There was a good deal of weather helm
and it was a wresting match. We were heeling quite a bit and decided we were not sailing very efficiently.
My crew and I looked at reefing the mainsail
, but the reefing lines looked quite a bit different than those on the boats I trained on. We decided not to try to learn this particular reefing system in the 5 foot swell and 18 knots of wind. I asked about reefing the jib
and the experienced crew member
on board said we could give it a shot.
He rolled the job in about 20% and the weather
helm dissipated. We did not lose speed and, with an adjustment of the runner, we were sailing pretty upright. It was a good experience to have the weather change quite a bit my first time out. It's a primer for what can happen, even here in normally mild Southern California
There was still quite a bit of wind when we returned to the harbor. It made docking
a little challenging, but I got the bow into the slip and my two crewmembers pulled the Catalina
the rest of the way in. It was a bit of a challenging sail for a first time out and we have not had wind like that since. I suppose that was weather's way of telling me, "welcome to sailing."