Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Worthwhile Day

Capt. Ashton was planning to have this weekend be just orientation for a gaggle of captains, but since 2 of my scouts wanted to sail, I talked him into making the regular Saturday Sail a go.

It was the first sail for 2 scouts, and the first "real sailing" for the 3rd. We also had a 3rd adult on board, a captain-in-training.
Capt. Finn covered a lot, using the at-the-moment situation to teach pertinent sailing theory in a real-life setting. We hove to, reefed the sail, tacked and gybed.

The wind was stiff, so we actually needed to reef the sail. Had the boat heeled, scouts nervous, skipper hollering "YEEESSSS!" and smiling her thanks up to the sky. We were out about 30 minutes longer than scheduled, then headed up to the boat yard.

One of my scouts had asked me if there would be service hour opportunities after the sail. I hadn't planned on it, but because he asked, I set it up. Several phone calls and emails later, we had a total of 3 scouts wanting to work, and another Youth Protection certified adult.

The 3 scouts took turns with power washing the cutter-rigged MacGregor 23, helped clean out the Venture 21, helped take out sails to dry, fold sails and put them away, and straighten out a massively tangled anchor rode. After the first hour, we were hot and tired, and one scout suggested using the power washer to create a cooling mist, which we all--even the dog--enjoyed. The scouts impressed everyone with their effort, and they were a real help with the boats.

As I was waiting for a sc
out's parent to arrive, Capt. Ashton and Capt. Reynolds showed up, ready to replace the halyards and step the mast on the brightly clean MacGregor 23. The scout and I helped with the halyards while he awaited his ride, but he had to go before the mast was stepped. I had never helped with or saw this before, but was ready to lend a hand, starting with reinstalling the spreaders and attaching the spreader boots, then pulling the rope attached to the forestay to raise the mast, and, finally, being the one with the wherewithall to get the mast aligned just right. I believe I averted disaster at least once. Things were a little hairy there for a few moments, but we did it! A sailboat always looks nicer with a mast.

Kudos to my scouts for how fast they learned, how well they listened to Capt. Finn and Capt. Danny, and the excellent work they did in the boat yard. Their interest- and ability to apply themselves made my effort to organize worthwhile. I hope we do it again soon.

In the meantime, I hope they practice those knots, start learning points of sail, and the parts of the boat--so they can be in good form and candidates for the long cruise. More kids on more boats!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Half Shell Water Taxi

This past Saturday 6 scouts--4 totally green--crewed for the Half Shell water taxi at the Occoquan River Festival. They surely learned the importance of knowing their knots and how to hear- and take orders quickly.

Capt. Samworth started the day with an orientation of the boat, safety review, and docking procedure. He showed how to use the fire extinguisher and the old fashioned type, a bucket with a line tied to the handle, for pulling water out of the river.

Scouts came aboard for shifts of varying length, and each had a turn at the wheel. It was a true pleasure to be piloting the 81-year-old historic wooden boat up the beautiful, serene Occoquan River, looking at herons, mergansers, geese and flowers while the weekend traffic crawled on the I-95 bridge overhead.

The scouts and I had a great time! I truly appreciate Capt. Samworth's willingness to have us aboard, and especially value his- and his friend Dave's patience with the scouts' greenness.

I also appreciate all who came through as promised. They made this Skipper's life sooo much easier--and, they got themselves on my good side, the one that says, "Reliable scouts get first dibs!"

You can see more photos at the "Half Shell" Water Taxi Photos online album if interested. Photos of Capt. Samworth's horrible sandwich made the cut, somehow. Morbid fascination, I think.

I commend each scout for taking this activity seriously, applying him/herself, learning quickly, and doing a great job of crewing. It was fun to be there with them as they discovered new things they can do, important real-life job things! The experience of crewing on the Half Shell is invaluable in giving the scouts confidence in their ability to handle boats, to take on adult responsibility, and more. I look forward to seeing what further interests it sparks in them.

The only problem is the pickle loaf. Thanks to Capt. Samworth's horrible sandwich, Rebecca discovered something new, "good" (so she thinks), and has made a resolution: "I am going to get pickle loaf the next time I go to the grocery store. Hmm, Tuesday I could make a sandwich for dinner, and bring it with me for the skipper's conference. Are you sure you don't want a pickle loaf sandwich? The one I had on the boat had: pickle loaf, cheese, horseradish, salsa, and salami. We should have pickle loaf on long cruise. Every day!"

My reply to Rebecca, "You have become downright audacious! Pickle loaf on the long cruise, indeed!"