Our First Year w/ our C & C 99
Thought I would share some thoughts about our first year on our C&C 99. Before I get started, I'd like to mention how helpful this forum is for all things sailing. Many articles and tips found here made our first year a much safer and enjoyable one. We bought our 2003 C & C 99 in April and launched May 1. Having an experienced friend/captain aboard on the maiden voyage certainly made us feel far more confident than going it alone. We had been sailing for just about a year prior to buying our first boat. For a new boater, I found that everyone assumes you know everything, and as such, you need no help. If you don't ask questions, no one tells you anything. In other words, everyone is happy to help as long as you ask. To get started, I made a list of stuff to bring from home, on the boat when heading out sailing and off the boat when heading home. This was really helpful. I never forgot the keys to the boat or left the power on.
I had acquired a small sailing reference library but the books only go so far. I found reading sailing books was no substitute for experience. Also. every boat is different so the books were of limited use. Books on board include The Handbook Of Sailing by Bond and the Narragansett Bay/South Coast Cruising Guide. I got them on eBay for a lot less then my local book store.
On our first day out alone, we made sure we knew exactly what we were doing step by step and where we were going. From discussing which dock line to release first to charting our brief outing, we took no chances. We ran between two green cans with just the Main in Greenwich Bay, RI. It was stressful to say the least, but we learned to trust our electronics and charts over time. Every time we went out we ventured a bit further. We moved to a mooring about Memorial day. One day I forgot to secure the furler and the Jib unfurled. I added that step to my list. Also, as recommended by a friend, we got a mooring buoy. That really helped my first mate pull the mooring line. She was really happy with me that day. Shortly thereafter, two large Cormorants decided to make a home on our spreaders. Every time we went to the boat, we had to spend an hour cleaning off the bird poop. We stopped by our local rigging company and they put spikes on the spreaders. Problem solved! Lesson learned. Make friends with your local rigging company.
We raised the Jib after a few trips and the boat really performed nicely. We headed south one day to Hope Island and the next time out made our way around Prudence Island and back to East Greenwich. During the summer, we got caught in a few rain storms and sailed in some heavier than expected wind. About half way into the year, sailing in a 2-4 ft sea with 20kt winds, we ran aground. It was not a pleasant experience to say the least. We had to call SeaTow as we were getting pushed to shore and it was getting dark. My wife's confidence was shot. She made me buy new inflatable life vests and a lifesling and for a period of time, every time our depth would sound a 10' warning, she would panic. She calmed back down after a few uneventful days on the water.
Speaking of electronics, I called RayMarine on few occasions to get some tips on the gear on board. They were quite helpful is discussing some operational aspects of my GPS/Plotter and sounder. Learn to trust your electronics but keep your chart nearby.
About three quarters into the summer, we took our first guests out on the bay. My wife's friends, then mine and the in-laws. We kept the kids and landlubbers engaged by letting them steer. Not always a good idea we found out. On a calm day, no issues, but in unpredictable winds, it can leave the inexperienced guest at the helm. New rule...no guests alone at the helm and they stay on the windward side of the boat. Its no fun when the guests get scared.
As the year went along. we found we needed to clean the bottom more often. No one told me this was an important maintenance. We picked up a full Kt when the bottom was clean. We bought a dinghy and a used outboard. The outboard never worked very well but I didn't want to spend $1k on an outboard to get to my boat. I'll need to revisit that plan next year.
So throughout the year we sailed around 20 times. I need to keep a better log. Seems we used our boat more than many of our neighbors in the boatyard. We're really proud of that fact. Next year we'll look to join in with other boaters and pick up a mooring around Newport and Wickford . We also hope to get to Block Island at some point in the summer.
Thanks to SailNet for all the help.