Friday, March 14, 2014

Community Sailing Program: Day 2 - Onto the Water!

My partner and I are enrolled in the Central Florida Community Sailing Program run by The Sailing Club of Central Florida. On day 1 of the class we participated in a classroom session and were given study materials. You can read more about the disparate experiences we obtained on that first day in my last post: Community Sailing Program: Day 1 - Expectations & Attitudes.
Our first day of sailing!

Onto the water we went on day 2! The sailing club has a small fenced compound near the water at Fleet Peeples Park just a few minutes east of Orlando near Winter Park, FL.

Our day started by helping clean up the boats and roll them out to the water. Three of the four class members were able to attend day two, so we set three boats into the water. A fourth boat was rolled out onto the grass nearby in order to review the names of the various boat components and demonstrate how to set up the rigging, sails, and rudder.

Reviewing parts of the boat.
After the overview, we were each directed to rig up a boat. The boats as mentioned were already in the water, this meant standing in the shallow water to do the work. By the time we were in the water working it was about 9:40 AM. It was sunny and about 65 degrees outside and the water temperature was in the high sixties as well.

Sharon rigging up her sails.

Here again our experiences varied. One class member was given constant attention to rig his boat, one was given light attention and assistance, and one was given almost no attention or assistance.

It is also worth mentioning that while rigging was going on, a couple not affiliated with the class came by on a mission to feed squirrels in the park. While the sailboat compound is off limits to all but club members, the water front lawn where the boats were put in is pubic land for all. A serious conflict arose as our lead instructor tried to direct the couple away from the launch area. Tempers were allowed to escalate, leaving the lead instructor perturbed and class members shaken.

This is a very small sailing club with about 10 boats and very limited facilities. Sailing can be held as a very traditional sport with very methodical ways.  The arrival of the strangers was not taken well by the lead instructor and handled quite poorly.  In the end the instructor was not able dissuade the couple from the area and as a result she held a poor mood thereafter.

It was a perfect day for learning to sail!

When we were ready to push off, each class member was teamed up with an instructor.  The head instructor left shore first with one class mate.  This classmate later reported that the instructor was quite distracted by the aforementioned conflict, but that the conversation eventually turned to other subjects and things evened out.  The other two instructors were very relaxed and easy going.

The lead instructor proceeded to set marker buoys out in the lake around which she planned to have us sail figure eight patterns to learn how to control the course of the boat, trim the sails, and properly tack into the wind.

The wind had other plans.  While the day was beautiful, the wind was very very light and changed direction constantly. It varied from 0 to 5 miles per hour.  he training boats were small 14 footers and even in the light wind were easy to steer, if not move quickly. With the wind so light, there was hardly any pressure on the sails which heavily affected boat balance. In this way, many of the conventions we learned in the classroom about the position of the crew in the boat, did not quite apply on this light day.

The wonderful benefit of having such light wind was that the boat moved very slowly. This meant there was plenty of time to think through our maneuvers and lots of forgiveness as we made our first tacks.

After about an hour and a half of sailing we called it quits having sailed between 1.3 and 1.5 miles. It took quite some time to make the last 500 feet back to shore, with almost nonexistent wind, we payed ultra slow motion sailing game. The biggest thrill of the day came as the wind started gusting just when we were 200 feet out, which really sped us up for our landing on the shore.

Back on shore we struck the sails and the lines, hauled out the boats, and rolled them back into the fenced compound. Finally we covered the boats back up with tarps to keep them clean for next week.

This being my first sail in decades, I took lots of photos, video, and even a GPS track of the experience. In doing this, I did take my attention away from the class itself a bit.  This worked out for me as I was quite ahead of the rest of the class in knowledge.

GPS Track from

On our next sail day, however, I will be leaving my electronics on the shore. The head instructor has a strong aversion to phones and cameras on the boats as she is sensitive to distractions.  At this point I think I agree. There will be plenty of time for documenting our sailing adventures since this little class is just a first baby step into our future dreams!

Next up is day 3 where we find ourselves back in the classroom followed by day 4's return to the water.  I am not looking forward to the boat capsize drill if the weather does not warm up a bit soon!

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