Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sailing in the Galveston Bay

Our insurance, Lloyds of London, required us to have a licensed captain verify Paul’s expertise before we can take off on our own. Therefore, we called Paul’s previous sailing school, which is only across the lake from us, and they punished Captain Adele by having her go out with us.  

She is very knowledgeable about sailing, has an abundance of patience, and is a thorough teacher, all of which are very important attributes for a captain to have for instructional teaching. 

The first time we went out, it was for a short, 3 hour sail. It was enough time for Paul and Captain Adele to do several maneuvers, such as reefing the sails, tacking, and learning more about the chart plotter and other instruments and how to read and utilize them under sail. I was positioned at the helm trying desperately to keep the boat into the proper wind directions. If I follow my instincts, I was usually correct, however, I found using the instrumentation confusing, taking us into wind positions that weren’t what we needed for hoisting the sails. It took awhile for me to get the hang of it.

We had to sail back to our marina in near darkness, which was a challenge, since it was difficult to see the markers. All in all, it was a worthwhile learning experience, however just not long enough to feel as though we had accomplished a degree of success.

The next time we went out, Captain Adele had saved the day just for us, so we were able to do some more time-consuming maneuvers.

Once again, she positioned me at the helm to drive. (What? Is she crazy?? After that last fiasco???) I have to admit, I do love being behind the wheel...any wheel, truthfully. I was born to cruise. Then Paul went forward with her to hoist and reef the mainsail. It was a windy day, thus reefing the sail (which is simply not raising it all the way up) was necessary so that the boat wouldn't be overpowered. 

When the two of them came back to the cockpit, they let out the jib, (the little front sail, for those newbie’s like me) which they also reefed (didn’t put up all the way). We sailed on some different points of sail (close haul, close reach, beam reach, and a little running…but not much, for fear of jibing). If you think of a clock, with the wind coming from 12 o’clock, from there it’s Close Haul at 1, Close Reach at 2, Beam Reach at 3, and Broad Reach at 4, then Running at 5 & 6. If you have an accidental jibe, WATCH OUT!!! This can happen if the boat is in “running” position with the wind behind you and the wind grabs the sails, which can cause the boom to come tearing across the cockpit, maybe taking someone’s head with it on it’s way across to the other side!!! This has been known to kill people. So, needless to say, Capt. Adele wanted to keep us out of the "jibe" zone. 

We practiced some "man-overboard" (MOB) figure 8 maneuvers, and “heave to” (stopping the boat in wild seas so you can take a break, eat, get something to drink, etc., so cool…love that maneuver).

When we returned back to the marina, she had Paul practice parking the boat in our slip several times. That’s not as easy as it may sound. And anyone who does it now with ease, can remember his/her first time doing it, and I bet you can relate to that. And no, it’s not like driving a car…because the boat doesn’t stop on a dime, or a quarter, or a silver dollar. You can’t just stop it. Oh, no, no, no. You don’t have brakes! YIKES! You have to always be aware of the wind, the currents, the tides, etc., and what you need to do with the engine to make the boat work for you. There’s a lot to it. It’s actually a nerve-wracking experience the first time.

Paul did well that day, but we also realized we both have a lot more to learn and to practice before becoming proficient at the various maneuvers.

We will be going out with Captain Adele again soon. Hopefully, the next trip will prove to be smoother in all ways. It will be nice to feel competent and seaworthy on our boat, so we can start taking some short trips, then eventually, longer and more involved journeys. It’s all a process called “learning to sail” and that is a process that also encompasses the ever-eluding attribute of “patience”. We’ll get there, though…we feel certain! 


  1. WOW sounds like A LOT of work, and you are really getting the hang of the lingo....way to go. Have fun! Sherrie n Ricky

  2. Thanks guys! We are working hard on getting this boat ready to sail. We'd really just love to take off, but have to wait until Paul gets his "OK" from the captain we've hired to see if Paul is ready to sail a boat without help.

    We hope to go out again with Capn Adele next week, if possible. In the meantime, we are sanding and varnishing, sanding and varnishing...etc. :)

    Thanks for your's always good to hear from you two.

  3. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that next post is about YOU learning those skills too! ;)

  4. Thanks, me, too. I'm reading the books...but there's so much to do right now, I'm not consistant with it.
    Would like to learn more before I take the classes, so I know a little about what's going on. The hardest thing for me is judging the wind direction and where the sails need to be in that wind. Confusing. I'll get it though. Just practice. Both of us need that! Lots of it!!

    How are you two doing? Is it cold there? It's like Spring here in Kemah...we have had clear blue skies, with temps at about 75° the entire week. So beautiful. However, knowing Houston, it will be in the 90's by the first of April. Not looking forward to that. Hot and humid! But for now, it's just gorgeous.

    Nice to hear from you, hope you two are well.


  5. Continuing to follow you, congrats on your progress! So wonderful to see you both learning all these new skills . Debbie and Glen

    1. Debbie and Glen,

      Hi guys, Nice to hear from you. How are things where you are? This past week has been absolutely gorgeous...75° and not a cloud in the sky...and NO WIND! Yahoo! We got lots done up until yesterday when the winds started up again. Still blowing today. It's March...and that's what it does in Kemah/Galveston/Houston in March. What's the weather like there?

      Thanks for following and for your support.

      Stay well...and warm!
      Diane and Paul