The way a person becomes a solid sailor is about as varied as anything there is. Some learn from their great grand pappy; maybe others buy a boat and figure it out on their own. There are endless paths towards the final goal of becoming a competent sea-dog, but obviously we here at ASA, have a path we advocate that we believe is most effective. That path revolves around the concept of acquiring knowledge and skill from a trained certified professional, then utilizing what’s been learned in a real-world environment. And when it comes to late-stage core fundamental training, we believe participating in flotillas is an excellent idea.
It’s June and that means the annual Summer Sailstice is upon us! According to organizers, “the Sailstice is a worldwide celebration of sailing on the weekend closest to the summer solstice.” This year, that means June 20th will be chock full of sailing events going on all over the United States and beyond. It’s a day to celebrate what a great sport sailing is and to get out on the water.
It’s pretty incredible what’s happening across the country on this year’s Sailstice. From Maine to Hawaii there are events of all sizes, shapes and themes. In accordance with the spirit of the day, there are races, expeditions, overnight cruises, rally’s and lots and lots of raft up parties.
Of course ASA is part of the action. The Sailstice offers a chance to win prizes for being a part of the day, and ASA has donated some great books to the cause. The American Sailing Association community is, of course, also quite involved. Here’s a list of the various ASA affiliate schools that are hosting fun events:
In anticipation of the upcoming flotilla sailing charter vacation in St .Martin on November 13-22 we bring you – the top five cool things about sailing in this awesome Caribbean cruising ground, known as the The Renaissance Islands.
- Check out the mud baths at Tintamarre Island!
They’re about 100-feet inland and said to have magical regenerative properties! Pack mud all over your body, including your hair and soon enough you will have skin soft as a newborn baby. Don’t forget to wash it off before you leave though or you’ll scare the Bejesus out of the rest of the world with your weird tribal look.
- Take an underwater submarine voyage at St. Barts!
It’s not quite a submarine but, it is 22-seats beneath the water’s surface. Stay bone dry and witness all the cool underwater life St. Barts has to offer. There’s often parrot fish, angel fish, barracudas, butterfly fish, sting rays and all kinds of other cool specimens swimming around.
- Snorkle Scrub Island!
Scrub Island is a beautiful place on the planet. There are all kinds of coves, bays, reefs and islets that contain rare sea life and gorgeous underwater sea-scapes. A day snorkeling around the island and you might spot a yellow frogfish or maybe even a golden-faced coney. Fun on tap!
There are as many sailing knots as there are stars in the night sky — or so it seems. But the reality is that most sailors can get along with only knowing a few, as long as they’re the right ones. In this blog I’ll single out three very important sailing knots, explaining what they’re used for and how to tie them. Don’t forget, it’s necessary to practice these in order to get them down. Your fingers need the tactile learning experience in order to develop muscle memory that will allow you to tie them quickly when you need to!
Knowing these basic knots will make you more useful as a sailing companion. Next time you go out sailing with a friend, take a charter, or join a flotilla, you’ll feel more comfortable helping out around the boat when it’s time to put fenders out, tie up to the dock, or make a line fast.
So, read about the knots here, and practice with any old piece of rope you have handy. (A synthetic rope like the ones used on sailboats works best!) Then sign up for an ASA sailing course to get hands-on practice.
The bowline is the king of sailing knots. It has been in use by sailors continuously for at least 500 years. Simply put, the bowline is way of turning the end of your line into a loop. Why is this useful? You can tie it around a post or other fixed object to make the line fast, or on smaller boats it is used fasten the halyard to the sail. It can also be used to tie two lines together. It has a number of practical uses as well, such as hanging a hammock. Under pressure the bowline tightens, so it won’t give way. However, note that it’s impossible to untie while bearing a load!
HOW TO TIE IT:
Step 1: Form a loop near the end of the line. (How much of the line you leave will depend on how big you want the final knot to be.)
Step 2: Run the end of the line back through that loop.
Step 3: Next, run the line around the standing end and back through the small loop.
Step 4: Now grasp the end and pull the knot tight.
Step 5: You should have a large loop now! Congratulations, you’ve tied a bowline.
2. Clove Hitch
A clove hitch is an extremely useful and quick knot. It has the advantage of being very quick to tie and untie, but it doesn’t hold nearly as well as the bowline. On sailboats, one of its most common uses is hanging the fenders over the side as you come in to dock.
HOW TO TIE IT:
Step 1: Wrap the end of the line around the post (or whatever you’re attaching it to).
Step 2: Cross the line over itself and wrap it around the post again.
Step 3: Loosen the last wrap slightly and slip the end under, then pull it taut. This is a way of “locking” the knot.
Step 4: Give it a few tugs to make sure it’s secure, and you’re done!
3. Cleat Hitch
This type of knot is designed especially for one purpose, and I bet you can guess what that is. If you said, “Making the line fast to a cleat,” you were correct. As you might imagine, this is used all the time on a sailboat, whether you’re docking, towing a dinghy, or rigging a preventer. Knowing how to do it will make you a much handier sailing companion!
HOW TO TIE IT:
Step 1: Make a wrap around the base of the cleat. Begin your wrap on the edge furthest away from where the line originates.
Step 2: Make a figure 8 on the cleat. If the line is going to be under a lot of pressure, and the cleat is big enough, repeat this two or three times.
Step 3: Add a hitch to the final turn to lock it. Do this by making a loop with the tail end underneath, hook it around the cleat, and pull taut. The tail end should be pointing away from the line’s origin.
Remember, practice makes perfect! Don’t be surprised or discouraged if these sailing knots don’t come out right the first few dozen times you do them. But enough practice, and they’ll become like second nature. Armed with just these few knots, you’ll make a great addition to any crew, including one of the charter groups on our flotillas to places like Scotland, Croatia, and Tahiti.
Ready to get pumped up for sailing season? This video from Discover Boating should help. Sailors, powerboaters, anyone who loves the water: come one, come all! Summer is nearly here.
What does ASA have on tap for this summer? Oh, nothing much:
–Certifying thousands of sailors and helping them take their sailing experience to new heights.
–Flotillas in the Caribbean, the San Juan Islands, Greece, the Aegean Rally, Croatia, Southern California, and more.
-Our Member’s Event in St. Petersburg, FL: A week of sailing, relaxation, and sunshine at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Marina.
-The release of our new cutting-edge textbook: COASTAL CRUISING MADE EASY
Every year ASA organizes flotilla cruises around the world. In 2011 alone we’ve been to the Bahamas, Greece, Croatia, and the Pacific Northwest, among other wonderful destinations. Still to come this year are cruises in Southern California, Florida’s Pine Island Sound, and Tahiti.
We’re hitting the ground running in 2012, too. Here are the flotillas scheduled so far:
St. Martin and the Leeward Antilles, April 20-28, 2012. With visits to French St. Martin, Dutch Sint Maarten, British Anguilla, and other stops along the way, this cruise will be a mix of European sophistication, with fine shopping and eating, and relaxed West Indian vibes. Not to mention great Caribbean sailing!
Victoria and San Juan Islands Flotilla, June 15-22, 2012. This flotilla will visit the Canadian city of Victoria, which boasts a spectacular harbor. Other stops on Vancouver Island include the vibrant seaside town of Sidney and tiny, laid back Genoa Bay. We will also be sailing the beautiful San Juan Islands of northwest Washington. Wildlife abounds in these areas and includes bald eagles and orca whales.
For more information on these flotillas and how to register, click here.
This guest post by ASA’s Brenda Wempner is about ASA’s 2011 adventure flotilla in the Exuma Islands (or “Out Islands”) of the Bahamas. Find out more about ASA’s flotillas here.
As the ASA Instructor and Representative on the first week of the ASA Exuma Islands Flotilla, I did not know exactly what to expect. These were new waters for me, new people and boats that I had never sailed before. John Baker took the helm of the boat I was on and easily pointed it out of the small harbor. The water was breathtaking. It changed from emerald green to the bluest blue. It was crystal clear and I could see the bottom despite the depth. The guides for our trip were Dallas and Andrew. They followed the four Sea Pearl sailboats closely on a power cat motorboat. Our small group on small boats adventure had begun.
Stay tuned for more great stories and videos from Brenda!
Continuing “Croatian Tapestry”
The builders of Korcula were excellent urban planners. Inside the walled city the narrow alleyways feel mazelike, but in fact they are laid out in parallel lines with only a couple cross streets running the entire length. The ancient builders positioned the streets this way to take advantage of the seasonal winds: Warm Sirocco breezes are the city’s natural air conditioning in summer, while the cold northern Bora Boras, coming from the perpendicular direction in the winter, are blocked out.
Our passage back to Milna from Korcula gave us first-hand experience of the biting Bora Bora, beginning at 8am. After a lovely sunrise, it began to rain by the time we collected our boats’ papers from the reception office. I had (very stupidly) elected not to pack my hefty foulies on this trip, thinking ah, it’s the Adriatic–any weather we might see will be nothing compared to winter in the Pacific Northwest! Well, that was true, but I still wished I had my foul weather jacket as we headed out into the wind-tunnel Korculanski Channel. I settled instead for garbage-bag couture.
Due to the snarly weather, we had agreed on a radio protocol: every hour on the hour we would check in and report positions. Having the rest of the fleet close by was certainly a comfort when we hit weather–one of the many perks of flotilla sailing, I realized that morning. It was a bit of a bucking-bronco ride, especially on our little boat (the smallest in the fleet). One of the neighboring big boats even hung back near us to make sure we were fine (thank you Hedda Gabler!!)
We skirted the edge of a distinct squally-looking cloud bank, and hugged the southern coast of Hvar. Though the forecast predicted strengthening conditions throughout the day, the winds were tempered in the shadow of the island, and the waves settled significantly by the time we motored in to Milna. Everyone was wet and aching for a hot shower, and luckily for us, Milna had the BEST showering facilities. I really think there may be nothing more satisfying in life than a hot shower after a cold rainy sail.
We congregated for dinner at a restaurant that sat just beyond our med-moored sterns. The catch of the day was a grilled steak from a 50-kilo tuna. Even the resident kittens got a fresh chunk! Freshly dressed and warm, with a roaring outdoor grill wafting the savory fragrance from the biggest tuna I’d ever seen, I was prepared to sleep soundly under the patter of rain on the cabintop.
As we motored away from Milna to return our boats the next morning, I was glad we experienced a little weather on the trip. Weather makes the food taste better, the beds more comfortable, the showers more spa-like. It made me feel like we’d properly “done” the Adriatic. So we piled into busses and returned to our villa in Trogir having been baptised by that jewel blue sea. I took away the warm flavor of bijela kavas, unlabled bottles of home-pressed olive oil, a thousand stunning photographs, and some med-mooring tricks up my sleeve.
(Oh–and I also took home a sparkling little ring on my left hand. You never know what’s going to happen on an ASA sailing flotilla ladies and gentlemen!!)