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Old 08-09-2008, 12:44   #1
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Sailing in Dana Point Among the Tall Ships (Long)

I had quite a sail on Friday, September 5. The boat was a Catalina 320 called Lady Diane. I sailed her before a few months ago and she is now noticeably worse for wear. The crew consisted of me, my brother, and my friends Paul and Dave. We shoved off at about 2 in the afternoon in decent wind, which I would estimate at 15-17 knots. The wind speed indicator was one of the instruments that didnít work, so all I could do was guess.

With the boat untied, I shifted into reverse and gave about 50% throttle to ensure I would be able to steer the boat once I exposed her to wind in the channel. I cut power and shifted to neutral a bit too early, which the wind did a nice job of pointing out. I shifted into reverse and gave 50% power again. When the crew told me the bow was clear, I cut power, went back to neutral, and then shifted to forward. As I was steering hard to starboard, the boat began to crab down the channel a little bit, which is not what I expected. Usually, the bow will blow down the channel. With the wheel all the way to starboard, I applied power and the boat did exactly what I wanted her to. We got out of the channel without incident.

The crew raised the mainsail in the back channel. As is nearly always the case with charter boats, there were issues getting the mainsail up all the way. The crew dealt with those as I maneuvered in the channel to keep clear of other traffic. I asked that we wait to clear the breakwater before unfurling the jib because there was a fair amount of traffic in the main channel and I wanted to be able to see. We motorsailed down the channel on a broad reach and I had to shift to neutral to keep the boat at the 5 mph speed limit. In fact, we sailed along at about 5.2 knots under the mainsail only.

Two tall ships entered the channel while we were on the way out and they were beautiful. They were coming to Dana Point for the tall ships festival and parade. Part of out plan included sailing around the tall ships parade at sunset. Once we cleared the breakwater, the crew unfurled the jib and I shut the diesel off and shifted to reverse. We sailed pretty close to the wind for quite a while. The wind was steady at more than 14 knots. There were plenty of white caps. The swell was 4-6 feet, which is pretty common for the Pacific in my experience.

The boat was heeling quite a bit and there was a fair amount of weather helm. I fell off a bit and Paul and Dave rolled in the jib about 20%. We were on more of a beam reach at that time and reefing the jib did a tidy job taking care of the weather helm.

After a while, I asked Paul to take the helm so I could suck down a cold beer. Paul has more than 30 years experience sailing and, with his adjustments at the helm, the boat noticeably picked up speed. He was kind enough to tell me it was just luck, but I know Iíve got a lot to learn still.

We saw a pod of dolphin a few miles offshore and they were delightful as always. They are quite playful and social. They really seem to seek out boats for their own entertainment. Itís always a treat to see them.

We came about and set a course toward the shore. We sailed on a port tack for a while and then came about and sailed back out to sea on a starboard tack. After a few hours on the water, we decided to sail back to the harbor because we were scheduled to pick up a few more people at 6 pm. Paul was at the helm and we gybed to set our course for the harbor entrance. I remember being afraid to gybe when I just started sailing, but it is perfectly safe to do if you and your crew are on the same page.

Dave was chomping at the bit to take the helm, so Paul stepped aside. Dave asked us to let the sails out a bit so he could sail on a broad reach. Once we did that, Dave headed up to a beam reach. It was quite frustrating to sit and watch the sails start to luff because they were out too far for a beam reach. Dave kept falling off and heading up, making a mess of the sails. Itís quite disconcerting to zig zag all over the place as well.

I had enough and took the helm again. I fell off and sailed on a broad reach, which the sails had been set for. The boat picked up a good bit of speed and we reached the harbor entrance much sooner than expected. We decided to head back out and practice a race leg. I remained at the helm, my brother and Dave set the sails so we could sail close hauled, and Paul served as tactician.

We sailed close to the wind and needed to keep beating to clear the red navigation buoy we planned to turn around. Paul told me to keep pointing as high as I could. We were beating and cheating and, when Paul noticed my eyes glancing up the mast at the wind indicator, he told me to ignore that and trust the sails. The sails tell you instantly when youíre too high.

We cleared the buoy, but it was pretty close. We did a nice gybe around it and I turned hard to starboard during the maneuver, so the stern would kick around and we would keep our speed. It worked! That was a nice bit of practice and lots of fun.

We headed back to the harbor to pick up additional crew, which turned out to be one person. As we entered the harbor, I was ready to start the diesel, but could not get the shifter out of reverse. I was getting concerned about it and really needed to focus on steering, so my brother jumped on the stuck shifter and got it into neutral. I shifted it a few times to make sure it wouldnít get stuck again, and then shifted back to neutral and started the diesel.

We headed into the East Basin and turned around to approach the dock at Jolly Roger on the starboard side. I donít dock along side all that often unless weíre going to the pump out. Dave said it was easy to dock there, but I found it more challenging than docking into a slip just because I donít have as much experience with it. There was also the matter of a boat tied off in front of us and itís important not to ram other vessels. I got the boat docked safely and my brother and Paul tied us off.

The additional crew, Monique, arrived while I was in the restaurant and she proceeded to start grilling my crew about why the boat was tied off the way it was and why the mainsail was not all the way down. She made herself unpopular right off the bat. We shoved off and my crew was a little disgruntled, but I didnít know why because I wasnít there for the grilling. We got out of the channel, set the sails, and I shut off the diesel. The tall ships were out sailing and firing their faux cannons at each other. We sailed among them and other vessels out for the parade. It was great, we had nice wind, and it was good experience for me. There was a lot more traffic out there than there normally is, so it was very demanding of me as skipper. During the time on the water, Monique was quite boorish in her desire to have things done her way and to show off her knowledge of sailing.

The time sailing with the tall ships went by very quickly and, before I knew it, the sun was setting and it was time to head back to the slip. My brother got some great pictures of the tall ships silhouetted by the setting sun. Two of the tall ships were docked and one was on her way down the channel when we got to the harbor entrance. I had the same issue with the shifter getting stuck in reverse, so I told the crew what was up and we decided to fall off, get out of traffic, and resolve the issue. My brother came to the rescue again and got the shifter free. I started the diesel, the crew rolled in the jib, and I turned around to head down the channel.

The crew was not all that harmonious while dousing and flanking the main and Paul and Monique got into it. Paul did not like the way the main was flanked and Monique was steadfast in her opinion that it was fine. Paul and my brother took ownership of the issue and re-flanked the main. I asked my brother to go below and turn on the running lights and steaming light because it would get dark quickly. Monique lectured me on how she thought the lights werenít necessary and I told her, ďdo what you want on your boat.Ē

One of the tall ships was moving slowly down the channel and was escorted by a Coast Guard vessel. Monique and Dave bombarded me with input about what they would do if they were at the helm. I am eager to learn and generally open to input, but in close quarters, I really needed calm aboard the vessel and not a bunch of yelling. I asked them to cool it and eventually told Monique to shut up. There was a word beginning with F in there if I recall correctly. I needed to listed to the Coast Guard folks who were asking me to hold my position.

While holding my position, Monique was seemingly in a panic about us blowing into the rocks. I was aware of the rocks, the wind, and the fact I needed to have steerage. I donít care for panic aboard a boat nor do I appreciate the implication that I donít understand a thing about boat handling. Once the Coast Guard cleared me to continue down the channel, Monique proceeded to opine about the conditions and what I would need to do going into the slip. I finally told her I didnít want any more opinions and that she could just sit tight and watch me crash the boat. After all, it was not her charter.

The docking went fine. It was silky smooth, in fact, and Dave and my brother congratulated me on a job well done. I have more experience docking and undocking than a lot of skippers with my experience level due to having taken private labs and practicing that over and over. I have left the slip and returned to it more than I have actually sailed, which sounds impossible.
The sail was another great learning experience for me. Next time I sail, Iíll be sure to periodically check the shifter lever to make sure itís not stuck. Iíll also choose crew more carefully. The number of boats in the charter fleet Iíll take out in the future has decreased by yet another vessel. Iím sure this is the groundwork being laid for me to be a boat owner.
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Old 08-09-2008, 17:23   #2
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Monique sounds like a real dream to have on board - LOL.

You had fun, all the paint stayed on the boat and the wood chips on the docks. Sounds like success.
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Old 08-09-2008, 18:00   #3
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Monique sounds like a real dream to have on board - LOL.

You had fun, all the paint stayed on the boat and the wood chips on the docks. Sounds like success.
Thanks for the comment. Yes, I consider it a success when we get back to the slip with no chips, dings, splinters or injuries. From that standpoint, it was good. I had crewed on another charter with Monique and she was fine. I am not sure what prompted the attitude Friday, but it was quite annoying at times.
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Old 08-09-2008, 19:09   #4
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Charter boat?
What Company? Aventura possibly?

I was an Aventura memeber for a while, I got PO'ed when the said no to a Catalina trip, only skippered to and back maybe 60-70 times in the past 30 years, not qualified, have to take the course, yada, yada, stick it!!

They also blamed me for damage and other crap every time we took a boat out, enough already, SEEEYA!

We raced all weekend on Orca, a J44 in the Richard Henry Dana Charity regatta.

First race, Bullet (1st.) second race exploded the headsail on the weather leg, hoisted another, also exploded, found the only other sail aboard, a tiny staysail from a smaller boat, finised 5th.

Sunday, bullet again, won the non-spin class hands down and were one of the top money teams for the charity!!

BTW, we rate 33 and the closest PHRF boat was like 117 so we gave lots of time away and still smoked 'em!!
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Old 08-09-2008, 20:11   #5
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Charter company

Hi Saildoggie. It is, indeed, Aventura. The club is coming together pretty nicely, but I am somewhat frustrated with the requirements to sail the advanced boat and superboats. There are never any advanced classes because either the advanced boat drops out of the fleet or they don't get enough students to sign up. I've done a few private lessons on the Beneteau 40', which has since left the fleet. Some of the beginner and intermediate boats are not that appealing to me and I wouldn't take one to Catalina Island with more than 3 people.

I know I could join Windward where my friend is a member, do a checkout with one of their guys, and be signed off on the 44-footer. I like that club, but it can be very tough to get boats during the summer.

Congratulations on the overall very successful weekend of racing. I had breakfast at the marina Sunday morning and watched quite a few J 24s being craned into the east basin. I should have stuck around to watch some racing.
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Old 08-09-2008, 21:45   #6
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Awesome story. I used to love going to the tall ship festival at Dana Point. One year My wife and I took my Dad's Zodiac out past the break water to watch them stage a mock gun battle. It was a blast though everyone kept asking if we needed help
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:44   #7
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Awesome story. I used to love going to the tall ship festival at Dana Point. One year My wife and I took my Dad's Zodiac out past the break water to watch them stage a mock gun battle. It was a blast though everyone kept asking if we needed help
I can imagine. It can get pretty choppy with big rolling swells right at the end of the breakwater. We've seen a few folks take Duffield boats beyong the breakwater in Newport and advised them to head back. They generally appreciate the advice if we get there before the harbor patrol does.
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Old 09-09-2008, 11:09   #8
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Luckily it wasn't that rough when we went out. The swelIs were only 2-3 feet. I would have taken my dad's Chris Craft out but the batteries were dead and it was kind of an impromptu thing. We just happened to be over where the ships were moored and heard mention of the gun battle, headed back to the boat and launched the inflatable. It was still a blast though. My only regret was forgetting to grab the "flashlight" nav lights. We had nothing wth us to use for a light so when dusk came we decided it was best to head in.

Unfortunately we no longer live in California and haven't been to a tall ship festival since we left. I've heard there is one not too far away (we live just north of Charlotte, NC) but I haven't been able to find any info.
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:21   #9
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Glad it wasn't too rough at the last tall ships parade you went to. It was quite choppy last Friday.

This site brings up related links and I saw one about a tall ships festival in SC in 2007. The op of that thread linked to the event, so I wonder if it may be recurring. Here's the thread:

Volunteering for Tall Ships

Probably a bit of a haul, but maybe you can catch them next time if it's a regular thing.
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Old 09-09-2008, 13:10   #10
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Cool. Thanks for the tip. I did a little digging and it turns out the maritime festival in Charleston is recurring. The next one is going to be in June 2009.
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