Friday, 4 October 2013

East Coast Sailing Adventures

It might seem to be a bit of a busman's holiday, but after a 23 hour bus trip from Mexico and various flights and planned and unplanned nights in hotels over several days we arrived in Halifax, I went sailing ...  Of course I could not directly go sailing as need to buy long underwear, warm socks, a flashlight and such to replace the items in my sea bag that did not arrive ...

On our way ...

Trip one:  The RCN's Sail Training Vessel - STV TUNA - was heading from Halifax to Marblehead, MA as a combined adventure training for some of the crew of HMCS HALIFAX and a delivery to prepare for the Marblehead race.  The skipper was my former student, and intrepid adventurer, John.  John had not done a trip of this distance before, let alone with a very novice crew, and I was looking for a free ride to Marblehead so it was a perfect match.  Plus, it is always fun when John is involved.  Day one was a bit (OK, a lot) bumpy and miserable, but the novice crew (most of them had one days sailing experience) did well.  We arrived in Marblehead in the middle of the night and could see Fourth of July fireworks as we approached the mainland. John chronicled the adventure in his blog.  I used to manage the TUNA program so it was gratifying to see that the program was still going strong.

The Crew from HMCS HALIFAX (They did not look as chipper 24 hours later)

Good Luck Kiss from Liz

Last Minute Checks


Marblehead, MA
Trip Two: We got into Marblehead at around 0300, had a few beverages until the sun was up and then slept for a few hours.  I then moved over SV Dogsled - my ride for the Marblehead Halifax Ocean Race (MHOR).  The next two days were a flurry of getting to know the boat and helping get her ready for the race.  Dogsled is a Kaufman 47 which has done very well recently including a win in her class in the 2012 Newport Bermuda race.  It turned out that I was not the only newbie to the crew, but everybody gelled quickly.  I was a watch captain (which was pretty redundant with Michelle on my watch having a decade on the boat) and helmsmen.  The race is "supposed" to be a spinnaker reach/run but ... we never actually flew a symmetrical the whole race.  We had really light air for the crossing of the Gulf of Maine.  Crossing the border into Nova Scotia was yet again signaled by a thick bank of fog.  Along the whole length of NS, Halifax was windward. Great fun on the helm barreling closehauled through the fog crossing regularly with the rest of the fleet.  Unlike any other offshore race I have participated in, we were surrounded by other boats the whole way.  At buoy HB, after about 360nm, we got into a shouting match for mark room with a big Swan ! We finished middle of the pack.  Not what we were hoping for of course but not bad considering the thrown together crew and the technology failures (the owner's computer crashed meaning no gribs or routing data). From a personal perspective it was a great learning experience with a great bunch of sailors.  Miles also chronicled the race in his blog.

Woof Woof - SV Dogsled
Luxury Accommodations (and wet, very wet).

Wet outside as well ...

Not a cruiser - 47' but a bit less gear than Fluenta
The day after arriving into Halifax a tad fatigued, I was back into jacket and tie (where are my cufflinks ?) and went to the change of command parade for my old squadron.  A bit of a contrast ...


Trip Three:  Haradly a week later, I was teaching a Sail Canada Advanced Cruising Course for the STV TUNA program.  It was perhaps the easiest course I have ever taught.  One of the students is a professional ship driver and the other, a professional pilot (ex CF104, CF18 and now Airbus) with more time on the water than I have, should really be teaching Advanced courses.  Anyway, any excuse to go sailing.  For the final navigation portion we had some traditional dense fog, steep swells and a bit of wind.  On the way back into Halifax we were still in dense fog and the radar was u/s so I called VTS to let them know our intentions. They reported no large commercial traffic but considerable pleasure craft.  This seemed a bit odd considering the fog we had been in for hours but sure enough 15 minutes later it was bright and blue all round.

Heading Home
New RCN Ensign
Taking a break from docking practice to walk the waterfront in Halifax.
Pilotage

Rogue's Roost (Appropriately)
In several years of doing Wednesday night races out of Shearwater Yacht Club I have always been trounced by George Carson in his Bombardier 7.6, SV Windspirit.   I figured the only way get across the line ahead of him was to go racing with him.  I was jib trimmer and he was on the helm so I guess I crossed the line ahead of him ...  

Trip Four:  Chester Race Week is the largest keelboat regatta in Canada.  I was lucky enough to sail in JZeusII9 in the J29 One Design class (thanks for the introduction Joanne).  Lots of fun and learnt lots sailing with an experienced crew especially having the sail designer (Victory Sails) as the helmsmen.  I was the jib trimmer and was pretty wrung out by the end - four days of racing, three races a day and three windward/leewards a race is a lot of sailing.  We were second overall which made the skipper pretty happy as it meant JZeusII9 was top overall for season. It was my first experience of one design and I'm looking forward to more at some point.  Our Race Committee did an amazing job and it was one of the smoothest run races I have been involved with (not that I have done too many).  I also had the opportunity to attend lectures from the original designer and owner of JBoats, Rod Johnstone and local sailing experts.

The view from the boat I was staying on.




Of course, there is more to sailing than racing.  Wendall (Liz's father) and I got the Glastron 14 back in service after 15 years of disuse. We had a nice sail with the kids and their cousin Ryan out of Wood Islands, PEI and in the North West Arm in Halifax.  The Wood Islands trip also involved jigging for the evening's dinner of mackerel.

Mackerel for Dinner

The Mighty Glastron 14
Liz, the kids and I also visited Lunenburg where we visited the Fisheries Museum and saw Bluenose II being prepared for her eventual launch.
Historic Lunenburg

Yet more boats say the kids ...

Bluenose II

Of course there were a few social visits with sailing friends from Halifax.  We had a chance to see Grant's new amazing house.  Grant is a hull surveyor and was instrumental in the success of the STV TUNA program. He is also a great mentor in teaching me boat maintenance.  I also had a chance to chat with Eric about his sailing adventures as we worked on his boat at SYC.  Eric is the owner of Sea Survival, one of the guys who restarted the TUNA program and was a mentor for a lot of my offshore sailing so it was fun to catch up.

So, perhaps a tad odd to go sailing on our "holiday" from the boat but good fun as always and always lots to learn.

Max

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