Tag Archives: Father

First Fullish-Family Sail

My mother and father sailing Errant, June 2015.
My mother and father sailing Errant, June 2015.

Following the most idyllic bike ride this morning, I headed out on Lake Champlain with my parents and sister for a almost-full-family inaugural sail. Perhaps we’ll manage a full-full-family sail when my brother arrives in a little over a week?

Loosely Logged…

We had motored out of my slip at the Essex Marina and begun hoisting the sails when I remembered that I wanted/needed to install the reefing system for the mainsail.

I still need to rig one or two reefing points. I’ll try to take care of that over the course of the week… (First Sail 2015)

Fortunately I found some spare hardware aboard and managed to temporarily rig the first reef, and it turned out to be essential. The initially light 6-8 know winds quickly built to the mid-teens and before long were +/-20 knots.

I’ve now that I’ve discovered firsthand how easy and useful it is to reduce the mainsail area.

This was my first time using the reefing system, and I’ve now that I’ve discovered firsthand how easy and useful it is to reduce the mainsail area, I’m going to hustle up the requisite hardware so that I have two ready reef options from now on.

I also reefed the genoa’s roller-furler twice as the wind built. It was a powerful learning experience.

This spring while working on Errant in the shipyard at the Willsboro Bay Marina I met a friendly fellow who was spring commissioning his sloop nearby. He impressed upon me the importance of reefing and assured me that the boat would perform better once I became accustomed to reefing during heavy winds. I explained that my sailing experience is primarily rooted in small boat sailing and sailboarding which made me greedy, hesitant to sacrifice sail area when the wind was whipping. But today I learned that he’s right. The boat doesn’t round up or wallow, and no water helm to wrestle with. And I was actually able to increase my hull speed when reefed, which was an important if overdue lesson to learn.

My sister and my father sailing Errant, June 2015.
My sister and my father sailing Errant, June 2015.

Furler Foibles

We knocked around for a few hours taking turns at the helm and familiarizing ourselves with the ins-and-outs of this user-friendly Catalina 310. Once we were ready to wrap up and head in, I asked my father to furl the genoa. I rounded up into the wind, and he pulled the roller-furler line. It wouldn’t budge. He took the wheel and I tried. Nothing.

I realized that the spinnaker halyard had become tangled in the roller furler when I reefed it earlier. How? I had secured the spinnaker halyard to the bow pulpit this winter to keep it from slapping against the mast, and I forgot to switch it over when I launched. I had noticed the halyard flapping in the wind earlier in the day, and I’d made a mental note to secure it to the mast as the end of the day. Not soon enough!

By unfurling the genoa and tightening the spinnaker halyard so that it wouldn’t re-tangle, I was able to solve the problem. Relieved. I promised myself to become more detail oriented going forward.


Docking still revs up my anxiety meter… [so] I arrived at the Essex Marina with a twinge of dread. (First Sail 2015)

I was well protected from the wind and waves when I arrived at the marina, and with the advantage of a full crew to handle lines and fenders I was able to execute a relatively confident and wholly successful docking. I’m developing a slightly more intuitive understanding for Errant under engine power, but there’s still plenty to learn before I will feel as comfortable docking 11,000 pounds of fiberglass (plus plenty of windage) with a small two bladed prop and a 25hp diesel engine as I do a powerboat. But each successful docking brings me a little closer to the goal!

First Sail 2015

My father at the helm and my sister assisting with Errant's navigation. First sail of the season!
My father at the helm and my sister assisting with Errant’s navigation. First sail of the season!

Today was the picture-perfect start to the sailing season. The sunshine and warmth and wind delivered an auspicious rebuttal to yesterday’s chilly, drizzly launch. And even more fortunate, I was joined by my father and sister for the sail south from Willsboro Bay Marina to the Essex Marina.

Lazy Day Log

The mostly north-northwest wind varied 6 to 12 knots with very minimal wave action. We motored north out of Willsboro Bay and raised our sales as we rounded the tip of Willsboro Point. Smooth sailing all the way, and approximately four hours of catch-up time. My father sailed most of the way, and my sister helped with the charts/navigation and even spent some time at the helm.

Docking still revs up my anxiety meter, and while I know this will change as my skills/confidence improve, I arrived at the Essex Marina with a twinge of dread. But light winds, forethought, and ample good fortune served me well. The boat responded perfectly, and my crew stacked the odds in my favor. A huge relief!

Projects on the Horizon

Errant feels ready for a summer of sailing. I’m excited as I look forward.

I still need to rig one or two reefing points. I’ll try to take care of that over the course of the week plus a handful of other projects that I still need to tackle including ordering and installing new halyards, ordering and installing new name, sealing a couple of slow topside leaks. But all in all, Errant feels ready for a summer of sailing. I’m excited as I look forward.

Water Level Worries

Unfortunately recent rains have elevated the Lake Champlain water level by 2+ feet, and the waves are now breaking over the marina’s docks and fingers. I had to set up a temporary spring stretched across the channel just to keep Errant off the dock. Fingers crossed that the rains will diminish in the lake level will begin to fall.

Fifth Sail: Sailing North for Hauling

Jim at the Helm
Jim at the Helm
Thursday’s sail north from Essex Marina to Willsboro Bay Marina with Jim and Mark was a great way to wrap up my first (extremely abbreviated) season sailing Da Capo/Errant. Smooth sailing with moderate to light winds and calm seas; bluebird skies and cool-to-warm temperatures; and the companionship of two close friends who are both intricately woven into my boating/sailing narrative.

Sail to Power to Sail

As I’ve mentioned previously, I grew up sailing. My father taught my brother, sister, and me to sail — first a Paceship 17 (P17), then an Alcort Sailfish, and later a Tiga sailboard — when I was a youngster. Probably between 8 and 14 years old I was strictly a sailor.

I envied neighbors who had powerboats, mostly because it opened the possibility of waterskiing which I had learned to do. But my parents were keen on the environment, not motorboats. So when I got my first job as a dock boy at the Westport Marina (owned and operated by Jim and his family), I took advantage of every opportunity that I could to operate powerboats. Jim was my boss, but he was a benevolent boss and soon a friend. He opened up the wide world of powerboat opportunities, allowing me to take out the staff at the end of the work day for an end-of-shift ski. I jumped at every opportunity to join him (or his brother Larry) on rescues, zooming through often messy conditions in a Shamrock workboat that looked like a miniature tugboat. I shuttled boaters out to moorings, moved boats between slips, delivered boats to clients with waterfront docks elsewhere on Lake Champlain, and weaseled my way into just about any boating experience I could finagle.

In short, during my teens and early twenties I barely sailed at all!

Mark During Last Sail 2014
Mark During Last Sail 2014
But I found my way back to sailing in my mid twenties. I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico (check out our current adobe oasis!) and windsurfing on the desert southwest’s tiny manmade lakes offered the perfect antidote to lake-longing. My girlfriend and I acquired a hodgepodge of secondhand gear and taught ourselves to chase high dessert storms.

In my early thirties my brother and I balanced summer ski boats with Hobie Cat 16 sailing. To this day I consider sailboarding and small, fast catamaran sailing to be just about the most exhilarating watersport out there!

But I’m missing a chapter in my boating narrative. In my twenties and thirties I began to dream of sailing and cruising in larger monohulls. Mostly it was daydreaming. Reading and rereading worn Nautical Quarterly volumes, flipping through sailing magazines, and wandering marinas. Some day…

As in my early power boating days I pursued any and every opportunity to get aboard a sailboat. Shortly after moving back to the United States after living in France for almost four years I began collaborating with Jim and Mark on an e-commerce project called ShipStore.com. Mark was living on a sailboat in Benecia, California and racing an asymmetrical dinghy on weekends. Cool!

I remember like it was yesterday the sun soaked day that Mark and I spent with our brides sailing, eating, brainstorming, daydreaming on his sailboat Wandering Rose. Ever since he’s encouraged my desire to sail and cruise (and possibly some day, even live aboard). And Mark was instrumental in helping me evaluate Da Capo/Errant.

So it seemed apropos that I should conclude my skinny season number one with both Jim and Mark. One opened up the world of power boating (effectively wooing me away from sailboats) and the other guided me back to my sailing roots. Narrative perfection!

Following a charmed afternoon of sailing, we dropped the sails and headed into Willsboro Bay. The good folks at Willsboro Bay Marina invited me to spend the night in the slip of Da Capo/Errant’s previous owner, ensuring that I would be ready bright and early to bring the boat to the service dock / travel lift for hauling.

We cracked open the rum and grilled a tasty supper on the boat. Lots of laughter and libations later, Jim headed home and Mark and I turned in for my first night of sleep on the new boat and the last night of boating for the season.

Good Satellite Radio Karma

Sometimes life rhymes. Or so it seems. And when it does, it’s especially fine to accompany it with an appropriate soundtrack.

As I drove to the marina at the outset of this journey look what came up in the playlist…

Anchors Aweigh, by Bob Crosby
Anchors Aweigh, by Bob Crosby

Third Sail: Sailing with my Father

Sailing with my father, September 2014
Sailing with my father, September 2014

A perfect day for sailing! Warm and sunny, winds variable 0-15 knots, and — best of all — a chance to wile away the day on Lake Champlain with my father.

My dad taught me to sail 30-35 years ago (a story for another post). It seems appropriate that for my first day sailing Da Capo (soon to be Errant) without my friend Mark at my side, coaching and encouraging, I should have my father onboard to balance out the sailing team.

Thanks, Dad!

Winds were light but mostly steady making for easy, enjoyable sailing and plenty of time to swap sailing stories. My father didn’t grow up in a sailing family, but he learned to sail in his teens and twenties with friends. He shared a couple of fun adventures that I’ll recount anon if he offers his blessing.

From start to finish our sail was a delight. He sailed much of the time, and Da Capo performed predictably, reliably, and 100% enjoyably. Even docking, a hurtle I’m yet to perfect mentally or in execution, proceeded smoothly.

All told, it was a confidence inspiring outing.