During my teens, I raced youth sailboats at the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in Holland Michigan where my parents were members. Then in High School, I sailed my parents 25 keelboat for eight years taking short trips, hosting guests on day sails, and enjoying the challenges of rough seas. In 2007, My wife and I chartered a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and then more charters on Lake Michigan. Somewhere while sailing on blue waters, I became passionate to the idea of becoming a sailboat captain myself, with aspirations to teach others to sail and take passengers on short voyages. After researching the requirements for captains license, the goal appeared reachable, but not easy, as the requirements included 360 days of Documented Experience in the operation of vessels, with 90 of the 360 days occurring in the last three years. Since I believe I had most of the 360 days on parents sailboat, I needed a way to get 30 days on the water in three consecutive years. Therefore, I volunteered for one year with the Bay Shore Race Committee out of Holland, Michigan, and then as crew for three years on various racing sailboats. These sailboats range from 27 to 35. This goal has taken determination and persistence, as the sailboat racing included driving one and half hours on Wednesdays and some Saturdays to the marina dock for hours of practicing and sailboat racing. I think the experience is similar to dancing with many different partners, which ultimately gives you better control and command of multiple boating situations.
This spring, I passed the written exams, completed other requirements, and filed my necessary paperwork. Today I received an official response from the United States Coast Guard that my application for US Coast Guard Captains license has been approved, with Master credentials including power and auxiliary sail, up to 50 gross tons, on Great Lakes and Inland waters. The Masters license enables the captain to take more than six passengers, up to the maximum allowed per vessel.
I do not see my day job changing just yet, but I plan to use the new credentials to enjoy life in a new way with teaching others to sail, providing multi-day adventure trips, and delivering yachts.
My special thanks go out to:
- My wife and family as I was away Working on my captains license so many evenings and weekends
- My brothers, Jim, Jerry, Gary, and Pat who are all boaters, and my sailing brother Mike who is no longer with us, but long remembered
- Captain Nic Battaglia for great stories, advise, and help on tough subjects
- Captain Kim Grotenhuis for the sailing opportunities on Dorothy Gale and Paradigm
- Bay Shore Race Committee for the time on the water and great friendships
- All the boat owners that had me crew on their boats
- My employer for allowing me to escape work a wee bit early on Wednesdays
- My friends who would listen to the dreamer
- Mariners Learning System for their great self-paced coast guard captain study program
Lake Macatawa in Holland was busy and hot. The winds were dropping, so we had to rely on the iron genoa (motor). It was pleasent and the waters were busy. Big and small boats were out enjoying themselves.
Saturday, 26 May 2012, I took my American Red Cross hands on training and learned a few things, mostly legal gotcha’s. My experience with my own children and boy scout emergency room visits provided me with most of what I needed to know.
Well April 28th was the day. I passed six Mariners Learning System proctored tests in one sitting. There are four for the OUPV (rules of the road, deck general, navigation, and plotting), and te Masters 25-100 ton, and the Sailing Endorsement. The proctors had seen many students take six tests in one sitting, but only I had passed them all.
As I drove home from the test, I had time to reflect on the process. I preferred the study at your own pace so I could really absorb the plentiful amounts of information. I figured I studied over 200 hours, in all my spare time since Christmas through April. It was a proud feeling of accomplishment. Now I need to complete te CPR and First Aid training, drug test, and collect my references. Yahooo
Well it is March 15 and 80 degrees. I met up with the most of the crew on Wednesday at the barn where two S2 7.9 racing sailboats are stored. After a bit of refreshment, we started working on adding spinnaker ram cleats to the top deck and moving bottom paint line up four inches by removing the old vinyl trim and sanding out the lines.
A flourescent bulb burned out and made a nasty smell, and the 30 seconds it took us to find the burning object was high excitement. Nobody wanted the boats to burn up.
Time for a break and some pizza.
Till next week.
Eeek – Coast Guard exam for the OUPV and Master license is scheduled for April 28. I need to speed up my ability to mark the chart and perform the math. Lots of reading and practice questions.
Question of the night. Are slack water and stand of water really any different?
Send me your sample questions so I can practice.
The wind was too strong and seas too rough for the Wednesday night sailboat race, so the race was held on Lake Macatawa. See photos at this link. There were around 32 boats in the race with four different starts, five minutes apart.
I hope that everyone can occasionally crew on race committee marker boat for the race committee. This is different than the race committee boat where they have to set flags, check in boats, start the race, and record the finish times, while the marker boat is much different. Here is what I saw and why I think you may be interested volunteering on the marker boat.
There are four distinct phases for crewing on the race committee marker boat. The four steps are: 1) planning the course, 2) setting the anchors for the two race markers, 3) watching and critiquing the boats during the race, and 4) picking up markers.
Step one included a lot of experienced individuals providing input into the wind direction, weather forecast, expected wind changes into the decisions on the ultimate course. Current winds were between 60 (NE) and 90 (E) and forecasted to change. We settled on 70degrees. The forecast was for increasing winds through the evening and no bad weather on the radar for the next few hours. Therefore, we opted for a course of four legs versus two legs and the legs length of .9 mile distance. (4 x .9 = 3.6 mile course)
Now that the decisions were made, we were on to our second step of placing the markers. We motored 70degrees directly into the wind and placed our windward marker at .9 miles from the race committee boat. Then we needed to place the start/finish buoy 90 degrees port of the race committee starting boat.
Thirdly, we enjoyed and critiqued the race. Doug, who has been racing for years, knew when they were going to tack, and who would have trouble with the spinnakers. Unlike the race committee, which is very busy at the start of a race, the marker boat is free to watch and take photos during the entire race. I took photos and remembered how cool it was to receive race pictures by other volunteers.
Lastly, we picked up the markers and packed them away. I really enjoyed my leisure trip out on the race marker boat and thought you should know.
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Our crew of six raced on Lake Macatawa. The winds had calmed to 13 knots after five days of 20+ knots. Our usual Lake Macatawa course was four legs West to East loop. The winds nearly from the North meant it was going to be a West reach and East reach and we were doubtful that we could run the spinnaker.
We had a good start but we were not the first. We could have used Vaseline to pass one of divisions competitors sailboats, as we sailed for over hundred yards within feet of their siderails. We passed the mark by over a boat length to leave the leeward boat sufficient room to round the mark to port on a jibe, and as we jibed, we took notice that they were not jibing, but pushing and forcing us to unjibe and we lost momentum. Eight thousand pounds slowed to one knot.
We eventually completed our jibe, but we now had three of our competition in front us and three legs to pass them. We hit 9.3 knots in winds 15knots plus. I guess our averaged speed was 7.8 in 13 knots winds.
On leg four, one of our competition (Nemisis) was flying the spinnaker and rounded up within 400 yards of the finish, giving us enough opportunity to pass the finish line ahead, but behind the other two.
1 September 2010
Lickity Split had a crew size of six. The wind predictions from the internet noted winds at 5PM at 7 knots, at 8PM to be 4 knots, and 11PM to be 2 knots. This suggested that the regatta may be canceled because of too little wind. We prepared for sailing and headed out to the big lake, but we kept our sails down. As we approached committee boat and announced our boat was in the race. They smiled and waved back, and then announced over the radio that the race was canceled.
In my humble opinion, I believe te weather predictions are getting more reliable. Lickity Split is a J35 and she requires 7.5 knots of wind, and it depends on the waves.
Till next week, Study Winds.