Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chartering in Bayfield, WI

Tripp and I finally soloed on our second try. We took our first Bareboat Certification Course in 2009 and passed, but since we didn't go sailing in 2010, we needed a refresher course in order to be allowed to sail solo this year. This was not an obstacle, in fact, we looked forward to getting more tips and more practice.

Last weekend we chartered a boat from Superior Charters in Bayfield, WI and after the refresher course on Saturday with Mike Caswell (a great instructor) we got to take the boat out on our own on Sunday. We rented a 30' Catalina named Windsong II which is just about the perfect size for us, although having a couple other crew would have been even better. Maybe next time!

On Saturday we covered the finer points of the superiority of the diesel engine over the gasoline powered engine, the protocols of radio communication (especially the stuff about the significance of the call "MayDay, MayDay, MayDay" which means "We're about to die"), and the fact that modern day sailing vessel designs provide for boats that are self-righting and self-surfacing (read: they can't be sunk).  We had seriously flighty winds so the sailing wasn't great, but our Man Overboard exercises were quite instructive.

Sunday the weather was again perfect and the bonus was that the wind was steady at about 5 knots. After a tasty breakfast at the Egg Toss, we had our staff meeting about  the assignments for the dock departure tasks and we cast off. Captain Dan succeeded in backing out of the slip facing in the opposite direction from the breakwater so it was necessary for him to turn the boat around and try again. Kind of like taking a car for a 180 while pulling away from the parking spot. The boat owners in the area were polite, but standing guard over their possessions. In the end, no harm came to any vessel. Whew!

We had excellent conditions and were able to practice tacking and jibing until we felt very comfortable with the handling of the boat. We were never completely satisfied with the Catalina furling jib design, but we made it work.

We have two goals for sailing in  2012: start sailing earlier in the season and find some other bodies to join us. Oh, and get to know some of the other boats in the Bayfield fleet.