29 July 2007

Ayala cove, 232 years later.

Ayala Cove was named for Lt. Juan Manuel de Ayala, who in 1775 moored his ship in this delightful cove on the North side of what he was to name Isla de Los Angeles. From there he commissioned the first ever mapping of San Francisco Bay. 232 years later, the sailing vessel, Mothra, visited this same spot; this time for a picnic. Incidentally, it was also about 34 years since the skipper had last gone ashore here.

16 July 2007


Hmmm . . . Posting to the blog from my phone. I guess we'll now be able to update this thing from on the water!

Stay tuned.

09 July 2007

Spinnakers & Mothballs!

Wow, what a great sail! Vanguard Dean and his son Jake joined me on Sunday for cruise from the Benicia Marina down to Suisun Bay to check out the Mothball Fleet. Mothra the Mariner really scoots under spinnaker, and proved to be ridiculously easy to control despite the high winds. We had enough wind to require a reef in the main upwind, but the spinnaker was well behaved down.

Click on the photo here to check out the video footage and have a good look at the USS Iowa. Old BB-61 is biding her time waiting for enough sponsorship to move out of mothball status and on display at Mare Island, Vallejo.

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02 July 2007

Mothra vs. Benicia

Took the family out for another sail this past weekend. We launched out of the the Benicia Marina this time. We experienced really screwy winds as the weather was beginning to build for the typical afternoon blow. We generally had around 10 to 15 knots of wind, but with some occasional blasts over 20 and huge wind shifts. We put a reef in the main and kept a watchful hand on the mainsheet.

Overall, the new jiffy reefing setup worked very well, and we learned a few tricks on how to better manage hoisting and dousing sails while underway:
  • Have plenty of sail ties handy if needed and keep a shock cord on deck to stuff the jib under.
  • Hoist the main first, then the jib! Makes things much easier to steer. (embarassing to have forgotten this basic principle)
  • Make sure all the slugs are in the luff track before leaving the dock. I had left the bottom few out, and getting them in while underway with one hand on the halyard is a real challenge.
  • Don't bother with the topping lift. On this boat it's better to just dump the end of the boom into the cockpit. This makes it much easier for the helmsman to stand up, change sides, attend to the motor, etc. without the boom hanging overhead. [edit: need to clarify this. Meant to say, "don't bother with the topping lift when the main is down." lowering the main and the boom all the way down into the cockpit keeps it out of the way on this little boat when motoring.]
After dropping the jib, we found that the boat sails very nicely on main alone. That would probably be a better way to go on days like this.

Fleet 76 Friday night races

Joined my friend Dean again a couple of Fridays ago for another try on the Vanguard 15. This time we had a steady and not nearly as overpowering breeze. Five boats showed up making for a good little fleet for some great short course windward leeward racing. Great fun! will have to do that again . . .

Father's Day Sail

This past Father's day, we had the kids out for the first time in the new boat. All-in-all, a good trip, but a few lessons learned:
  • Explaining that the boat will heel when sailing is not the same as actually experiencing it. The little one who had never been on a sailboat before got pretty scared at first.
  • Stay were the wind is. The wind completely shut down just outside the Richmond channel breakwater leaving us bobbing up and down on all the powerboat wakes. That's a good recipe to get the family sea sick.
  • If the family wants to run the outboard motor, then run the outboard motor. Once I finally came to the realization that the wind was not going to fill in, we fired up the old outboard and got the heck out of there. Everybody started feeling much better once we were on the go again. Didn't take long to get back to where the wind was blowing.
  • If your wife complains about some old worn out part of the boat, take advantage of that to order a replacement as soon as you get home. New sails are on the way--wahoo!