Just completed the ASA-103 Basic Coastal Cruising course over a 3 day weekend. Once again I was back at Black Rock Sailing School, Charlestown, MA.
Day-1 - 2-3 hours of classroom, cabin of a Hunter 33, we did some review of terms and techniques from ASA-101 Basic Keelboat, walked through the check-in process for the Sailtime system, very complete and done with a blackberry handheld. AFter classroom, we fired up the iron genoa and practiced coming and going from the slip and a parrallel dock for a few hours. The wind is was blowing on the dock, so we got to practive a kick-off technique...which allows us to unparrallel park even in tight quarters...if we do it right. We had lots of room, only left our skipper on the dock once, but managed to pull it off. Then we did it backwards, kicking off the stern and backing out. The person in the 60 foot power yacht behind us looked a little nervous, but it was good experience. We did eventually raise the sails and take a spin around Boston Harbor.
Day-2 - More classroom, jacklines and other safety equipment, some Aid to Navigation work and then back out for a few more docking drills then it was off to the outer harbor to practice mooring pickups, which I have done a hundred items, and dropping an anchor, which I had never done, but was much easier than I would have thought. Our first drop was off a mooring field near Pleasure Bay, we got it down, but never got a very good set, it appears that the holding ground was a fairly soupy mud. We then cast off for the other side of the bay and dropped the hook off Thompson Island. We got a much better hold, and in fact it took a while to get the anchor clean, very thick mud. After that it was more sailing and some dead reconing, I love studying charts, so that wasn't bad. We ended up on the back side of a squal and got gusts of 22 knots +, which was exciting, we reefed the main for a little while, which was easy on the Hunter with an in-mast furler. Watched some moron on a 25+/- foot sailboat almost not make it out of the way of a cruise ship leaving the harbor...moron is an understatement, this guy could have counted the rivits...
Day-3 - A little classroom, ATONS and some what-ifs, the out on the harbor where we steered a dead reconing course in a zig-zag around the harbor islands and out and around Boston Light. Came back through Hypocrite Channel and back into the shipping channel. At one point a Coast Guard inflatable raced up to us and asked that we stay to the right of the channel to give room to a cruise ship that was getting ready to leave, we were already planning to do that, probably a lesson learned from the day before. After we cleared the cruise ship the skippers hat flew off, one more opportunity to run the man overboard drill, with a successful hat retrieval. At this point we were running late, we hadn't done the written test yet, and were beating into a 13 knot headwind coming into the harbor, so we furled the sails and motored in. Once we got back and secured the boat we aall sat down to take the test. I ended up at the helm for the ride into the slip and hit a picture perfect crosswind landing...probably my best of the weekend. Another 100 question multiple choice, but more difficult than the Keel Boat test. Lost of questions on ATONS and at least one very complicated, pick your navigation path. Took me a little longer than the first test, but I am happy to report another 100%.
Sunday was probably one of the nicest days of the summer for sailing in and around Boston Harbor, 12 - 15 knot Westerlies and only a handful of clouds in the sky...a picture perfect day to finish up the class.
Once again our instructor, Brent, was phenominal...he knows his stuff and he really knows how to teach it. I am going to have my wife and oldest take at least the Basic Keel Boat next summer with Brent. My wife is a bit nervous on boats and I think he has the peronality to set her at ease.
Next summer, Sailtime Membership and Bareboat Certification ASA-104.