Saturday, November 15, 2014

El Toro donation

While we were giving free sailboat rides to the public during Brownsville Appreciation Days, Steve approached our booth and mentioned he had a nice little wooden El Toro sailboat that he wasn't using anymore. He mentioned that his father had done some repair work and built some of the parts with his own hands. More than anything he wanted to see it get some good use. He never said it, but I could tell that he wanted somebody to love this boat.

Well the timing couldn't have been better. I've been very interested in teaching my own kids to sail, but the C-Larks have always been a bit intimidating for my 9 year old son and 7 year old daughter. However, with this offer of a smaller, simpler boat one idea led to another, and my club and I realized that we could really jump start a lot of kids using this boat. Without even seeing the El Toro I agreed to come and get it, something told me this would be a special boat.

Once I got to Steve's house and he opened his garage, I got very excited. It has a beautiful mahogany finish with fiberglass reinforcements down the center and on the chines. After we loaded it all into the back of the van I presented Steve with a PSC club hat and a certificate of appreciation. They are small tokens in comparison to the inspiration and motivation that he has given us.

The mast fit, but just barely.

This is my happy face.

At home I enlisted my kids to help me rig it up and see how it all goes together. They got really excited when we first unloaded it out of the van because they realized this was a boat that was just their size. They were even more excited when they realized how simple this would be to sail. They're already talking about racing, so I'll have to keep my eyes open for more Toros in the future. As we rigged it, I asked the kids "What do you think?" To which they both replied "I love it!" My daughter mentioned that she loved it so much that she would even take a nap in it... Whatever that means.

Now we've got it taken apart and is being stowed to keep it dry this winter. We will be making some space on our dock to keep this boat available to all members.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Work Party

Work Party is totally an oxymoron at first glance. But when you get to hang out with good friends, learn about boats, and eat pizza it really does feel like a party.

Today I was able to finish prepping our two centerboard top caps for the red boats. I've still got just a ways to go to get the new red boat's cap mounted, but the daylight and weather just ran out on us. Here is my personal assistant pre-setting all the cap screws for me. We just have to pay her in soda.

Sandy and Troy just about got both masts including stays and halyards prepped for installation. We are getting very close to having to more boats ready for the water next season.

The news I'm most excited about is Troy's idea for our hull plugs. These plugs have been quite a pain for most of us and Troy appears to have a silver bullet to make them easy to use and hard to lose. I'll get some pics and report on his prototype next time.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Elbow Grease

Our dear Commodore has more projects than you can shake a ten foot stick at. Each new boat and trailer that gets donated to the club is obviously a blessing, but it sure takes a lot of hard work to get each boat rigged consistently. More hard work than I realized for sure.

A year or two ago, Commodore Troy took on the task of reviving "Old Red Boat" which has been laid up in our bone yard above the Brownsville Marina. Many of our esteemed members fondly remembers the good ol' days of the red boat proudly flashing that breathtaking red underside. It's days of sailing and glory were cut short by a hole poked in the side due to a cleat when she was being pulled up onto the dock. This accident was several years ago, I know, because I have yet to see her sail since I joined the club. Here she is now in her final stages of repair.

Saturday, she got some TLC from Troy and Chris. She had a few holes in her transom sealed up and got the majority of her hardware attached to the hull including a new traveler. She got a good scrub and her centerboard top cap got a nice coat of epoxy after some skillful router work. I took a moment to admire the beauty of the finished piece of wood. Although it had filled in holes and cracks and a variety of materials holding it together, it was something that human hands had touched, sailed, broken, neglected, then learned to love again.

In the midst of our Old Red Boat's revival, we were donated a couple more, one being our New Red Boat. This one came to us in pretty decent shape, but we've got a list of items in store for her. 

We've got a beautiful new centerboard top cap that is almost ready to mount. The hardware was fairly in tact, but we'll update a few items for fleet consistency. I think I remember that she is missing a halyard, traveler, and hiking straps and will also need her rudder refinished. Well, at least the trailer looks like it's in good shape!

Another donation that came recently is this new Yellow Boat. Well the top is yellow... I've really got to get more creative with our boat names. She's also in pretty good shape. Probably some hardware upgrades to match the fleet, but otherwise I only see a traveler on the to do list.

Primarily we just want to get these boats ready for the water and out of Troy's garage!

You can see in the background that boats are not the only project going on in this garage. In the foreground is the new centerboard top cap for the New Red Boat. Chris is just getting ready to use the router on the Old Red Boat's top cap.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

BAD Brownsville Appreciation Day 2014

Brownsville Appreciation Day (BAD) is an event put on by the Port of Brownsville as a fundraiser for their local school and also a way for the Port to give back to the community that supports them. It also acts as a great event that raises awareness about all the activities that go on at this great little port. As is often the case, BAD brings a day of beautiful weather intersecting the rainy days of late September.

Check out the booth babe we got this year! Yeah, that's my wife, so I'm a little biased. She did an excellent job pretending to know about sailing and boating. She learned just to smile, nod, and get excited about stuff at key moments. Like me, she knows enough about our club and our boats to dispense some knowledge, so it wasn't all made up. It paid off well because she handed out some club membership forms and got a boat and an outboard donated to the club. What a lady!

Our booth and sailboat was ready to go by 11:00 am, a whole hour early! Commodore Troy used that extra time to warm up and take my kids out for a quick lesson. Each got some tiller time, and I'm sure Troy got some interesting conversation.

Once people saw a sailboat in the bay they were already starting to make their way down to the dock by 11:30 for their free rides. Chris showed up about the same time and we were able to rig another C-Lark for action. Two boats is always better than one!

By 2 o'clock we had a steady stream of guests going for rides all the way until we shut down just after 4pm. We had families, kids, parents and grandparents from all over kitsap getting rides. Some were veteran sailors that had never been in such a small boat, experiencing the thrill of weight induced heel. Others had never been on a sailboat at all and just loved the calming peace and quiet while zipping past the marina. I think I enjoy the kids the most, especially because I make them part of my crew. Whenever somebody gets in with me, I automatically give them the jib sheets so they can help me sail. The kids are usually fascinated by the fact that they are allowed to control the boat with me.

Overall it was a great event, and I can't think of a better activity for me to give back to the Port and the community than with sailing. I might enjoy taking strangers for rides more than they enjoy the ride. I can't wait for next year!ds

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Are We Racing Yet?

Leave it to kids to quickly hit upon one of the more confusing points of casual sailboat racing... The start. There is something interesting about sailing with kids and seeing the fascination, curiosity, boredom of sailing through their eyes.

I took my kids to today's race and we went up against Troy and Sandy single-handing their own boats. The weather was tentative. but we could feel a breeze so we couldn't pass it up. As we made our way out of the marina into the more open waters the kids were excited and full of energy. Today we finally remembered our secret weapon (marshmallows) and even shared an extra bag with Sandy in hopes that we could unite forces and slow Troy down.

All three boats grouped up just outside the marina to start our first race. We decided to race up to Battle Point on the Bainbridge side, then make our way around a couple old pilings on the Brownsville Side. We had some fairly consistent wind coming from the South East. I had the tiller and main sheet, and each of my kids were in charge of a jib sheet of their own. As the three boats came in line we started the race and I quickly found some of Sandy's dirty wind. I fell in line watching Troy pull away, out of range of our arsenal of marshmallows.

After rounding the first mark and realizing that Sandy was an easier target, we caught up to her and opened fire. I think she had a suspicion that we would double cross her because her ammunition was easily at hand for return fire. Don't let sandy's easy going demeanor fool you, when racing and shots have been fired, she will defend herself. We took some sticky shots ourselves in the skirmish. The kids and I were satisfied for a time, but we really needed to set our sights on Troy and take him out. The kids and i had to get serious and really sail to make up some time.

As we came to the third mark I was feeling pretty good about the ground we had made up by passing Sandy. The kids were still working on perfecting their sheet handling skills, but I thought we could easily make a quick tack around the piling we used as a mark. I was a bit worried about our mast or boom hitting something so I concentrated pretty hard on keeping clear of the mark, but I still stayed close. As we came out of the tack I heard a twang and all of the sudden our boom fell.

I was initially dumbfounded. I looked at the mast to check that I had not hit the mark and caused damage. Nope. I then scanned down the mast for the halyard and saw it was still attached and had some tension on it. Then I realized that it was the jib sheet that had knocked the main halyard loose because my kids were still pulling the jib across the bow instead of letting the wind do it. I quickly had to give the tiller to my son since he had a small amount of rudder time. I told him where to go and just let me fix the rigging. I was able to quickly get the main sail back up and we were still in a decent position, but it didn't last.

Soon we were being passed by Sandy, then by Troy (who did touch the mark with his mast and made a penalty rounding of the mark again). We popped off a few rounds of mallows as they passed, but to no avail. We did another lap around the marks, but were never able to catch up very well. The temperature had cooled off, but the wind was picking up, so we were optimistic that we could get a couple more races in. We grouped up again to start the next race.

The next race initially had good wind, but after rounding the first mark at Battle Point, it was clear that the wind was not here to stay. It took what felt like an eon to just get to the third mark. By then the wind was in the process of switching to coming from the North, but we were out of time. We decided to call it a day and head back. The marshmallows continued to fly, even Troy had collected enough to mount a pretty good assault on us.

Both my kids got some tiller time, we made our way through two bags of marshmallows, I was able to race with some dear friends, and as usual the sailing of the day had lifted our spirits and fed our souls. At times when I am trying to organize an event I can forget why I even do this sailing club, but when I'm out on the water with my friends and family it is clear as day. There are few activities like sailing that will challenge your skill, patience, agility, cunning, and reaction to circumstance. Whether you are battling others for first place, working against the weather, or just trying to convince your kids that sailing isn't boring, it is a challenge that is different every single time. Hope to see you on the water.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Super Low Tide

Last week we were supposed to have a race, but the weather was just too nice! I think everyone was busy recovering from their 4th of July weekends, apparently the fuel dock was, too. It's hard to read, but there was a weak attempt to convey that they were out of gas with a cardboard sign. Hopefully they fix their big woodent sign soon.

The wind was pretty weak and spotty at best, so I thought since I was down at the dock I'd take our club's kyak out for a paddle. I quickly remembered that at low tides there was a shipwreck that could be seen. I took the chance to get up really close, but the video does not convey how creepy it is to look down and see a partial ship underwater below you. Enjoy!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Selfie from my homies

I can't always make it to all the events, but it is good to know that these characters can take a rockin' selfie without me around.